Best Hiking Footwear

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I got into hiking/backpacking starting in 2015 and since then I’ve learned a lot about the importance of choosing the right type of footwear. I’ve owned 5 primary styles of shoes and boots for the purpose of hiking, backpacking, and camping so below I will talk about my experience and preferred application for each.

In the beginning, when I was naive, I started out with a style of combat boot that’s similar to what’s used today in the military. I figured if people are able to run 5+ miles in them in the military, then they should be a viable option when it comes to hiking with the benefits of added protection and ankle support. I quickly learned while hiking/climbing up the backside of the Flatirons in Colorado that it was a terrible choice. While they were a tolerable choice for flat land walking and everyday work use, they were heavier than I expected and didn’t breath well during my hike, which left me fatigued and frequently resting on my way up.

Next I’ll cover the rest of the boots I own/owned and give my opinion on their best application, because I will tell you now that I don’t think boots are the best option for hiking. However, I do prefer them in specific circumstances.

Merrell Moab 2 Vent Mid Hiking Boot

  • 100% suede leather and mesh
  • Imported
  • Vibram sole
  • Removable Insole. Breathable mesh lining
  • 5mm lug depth ; Molded nylon arch shank ; Bellows, closed-cell foam tongue keeps moisture and debris out ;Merrell air cushion in the heel absorbs shock and adds stability
  • Merrell M Select FIT.ECO+ blended EVA contoured footbed with added zonal arch and heel support

I got these boots as a backup pair to my primary hiking shoes that I wore at the time. I wanted to try out an ACTUAL hiking boot, designed for the purpose of hiking, and I liked the Merrell shoes I had so I figured I’d try out a pair of their boots. I thought it’d be a good choice for added stability, extra ankle support, and was tall enough (but not too tall) to prevent snow from getting in at the ankles when I wore them during winter. Overall they did a fine job on all those accounts. They were also vented which helped keep my feet cool, and as long as I wore the right socks in the winter my feet never got too cold. I wore them on a couple of longer day hikes (5+ miles) and they were comfortable enough, and were a major step up from the combat boots I suffered in previously. If I may nitpick on them for a second, the minor things I disliked about them were that they were somewhat boxy (wide) and occasionally I’d kick the inside of the opposite boot and stumble slightly (maybe I’m just clumsy). They were slightly heavier than the hiking shoes I have gotten used to and just didn’t seem as mobile (due to the mid-top ankle support and the wider base) and comfortable compared to my shoes. Overall they are a great boot if that’s what you’re looking for, and now I mostly wear them when I go camping instead of backpacking.

Keen Targhee II Mid Waterproof Hiking Boots

  • 100% Waterproof Nubuck Leather
  • Made in the USA and Imported
  • Rubber sole
  • Boot opening measures approximately 12.5″ around
  • Low-profile upper with ghillie lacing for comfort and secure fit,This style is running a 1/2 size small. We suggest ordering a 1/2 size larger than your usual size
  • Easy-on heel pull; Padded tongue and collar
  • Breathable leather lining.This style is running a 1/2 size small. We suggest ordering a 1/2 size larger than your usual size
  • Lugged outsole; Contoured heel lock.4mm multi directional lugs
  • Weight – 17.4 oz / 493.3 g

These are a pair of boots I was gifted from my father after he bought them for himself and then decided they weren’t really for him. I knew Keen also made really great hiking footwear but hadn’t had the chance to try them out since I’ve always been mostly pleased with all the Merrells I’ve owned. These Keen boots are a bit more narrow compared to the Merrell boots I have so they may not be optimal for people with wider or swollen feet (for me it’s not a problem). I haven’t gone any far distances in them at one time yet (maybe only a few 2-3hr hikes) but so far I find them a bit more comfortable than the Merrell boots I own. They fit a bit better to my feet without leaving too much room inside, they’re not as boxy so I’m not stumbling over my own feet, and they seem pretty light weight. These are a mid-top waterproof boot so I like to wear them in cooler and wetter conditions (might get too hot inside in hot climates). The mid-top doesn’t support my ankles as much as I expected but it helps keeps snow from falling in and I actually prefer the extra mobility at the ankle so for me it’s a positive.

Next Up – Hiking Shoes

Merrell Moab Edge Hiking Shoes

  • 100% Mesh, 3D Printed
  • Imported
  • Rubber sole
  • Mesh, 3D Print Upper
  • Vibram TC5 Outsole
  • Nylon Arch Shank
  • Merrell Air Cushion
  • EVA for Stability
Merrell Moab Edge

These have been one of my favorite shoes I’ve ever owned. They are super comfortable, light weight, vented, mobile, durable, stylish (IMO), and pretty much everything I would want in a good hiking shoe. I can’t count how many miles I’ve walked in these, but I can say I’ve had them for about 3 years and I still wear them most of the time for everyday shoes. They are a bit worn out now (a couple spots on the non-mesh outer shell of the shoe are starting to peel) but I hiked hard in them during the first 2 years of owning them and wore them frequently because of how comfortable they are. I don’t know why I decided to try out a different style of shoe when I was so pleased with them, but I guess now I have something to compare them to that make me appreciate them even more. I would recommend these to just about anyone. I see they have since come out with a newer model, Merrell Men’s Moab Edge 2 Sneaker, which I have not tried out yet, but they also have great ratings on Amazon.

Merrell Moab 2 Vent Hiking Shoe

  • 100% Suede leather and Mesh
  • Imported
  • Synthetic sole
  • Performance suede leather and mesh upper
  • Bellows, closed cell foam tongue keeps moisture and debris out. Molded nylon arch shank
  • Protective rubber toe cap, Breathable mesh lining
  • 5mm lug depth
  • Vibram TC5+ sole

These are my newest and current pair of hiking shoes. I decided to order these once my last pair (Moab Edge) were starting to wear out and I chose these based off the Merrell Men’s Moab 2 Vent Mid Hiking Boot that I own and liked well enough (I just wanted the lighter weight shoe style with more mobility in the ankle). I will say I don’t like them quite as much as the Moab Edge pair I wore previously but they aren’t terrible either. They seem to have a bit more room near the toe of the shoe (height-wise, maybe even width-wise) so they may be optimal for people that get swelling in their feet when they hike a distance. I have to tighten the shoe strings pretty tight to reduce the excess room but when I walk and the shoe is bending and stretching it makes too much noise for my liking. Almost the same noise you’d imagine for rubber boots. That may not bother most people, but to me it’s a bit of an annoyance. The positives about the shoe (like the boot) is that it’s vented and helps keep your feet cool and dry. They’ve also been durable so far. I noticed I stepped on a good size thorn that pierced the bottom sole but never penetrated through. Overall, they’re a decent shoe, but maybe preferable for people with wider feet or feet that swell.

Best Hiking Footwear Ratings

Understand that each type of footwear has certain advantages in different conditions over others. The following ratings are what I have found most comfortable and utilitarian from the last 5 years of experience.

#1 Merrell Moab Edge Hiking Shoes

My overall favorite hiking footwear. Comfortable, lightweight, vented, durable, and stylish.

#2 KEEN Targhee II Mid Waterproof Hiking Boots

Very comfortable boot, waterproof (optimal for cooler wet conditions), and mobile.

#3 Merrell Moab 2 Vent Mid Hiking Boots

Comfortable but a bit boxy. Vented. Durable. A solid boot choice.

#4 Merrell Moab 2 Vent Hiking Shoes

Decently comfortable, but a bit roomy in the toes. Vented. Durable. Most likely preferable for people with wider feet.

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