TOP GEAR PICKS

Best Backpacking Boots: Traverse the Rugged Terrain with Utmost Comfort

A man climbing the mountain wearing a pair of backpacking boots
John C. Porter
Written by John C. Porter

You do not have to be a hiker to want excellent shoe traction. To provide trail runners and hikers superior grip, a lot of companies are beginning to employ sticky rubber on their outdoor footwear.

This aspect among others, makes the hiking boots suitable for their application, although some features may vary depending on the design and brand you are using. This article will provide a guideline for selecting the best hiking gear, along with a review of the best backpacking boots available on the market.

Tips & Tricks every hiker needs

When designing the hiking boots, most manufacturers put into consideration aspects such as insulation and breathability. Your feet have thousands of sweat glands, which is the reason why manufacturers are always searching for a better way to ensure ventilation is maintained through their fabric uppers and leather.

For a long time, waterproof shoes have been criticized for causing the feet to sweat, but the invention of Gore-Tex Surround Technology has turned things around. The Gore’s membrane is certainly waterproof, although some feel that it does not have ample breathability.

Image presenting the Merrell-hiking-boots

For the membrane to begin letting sweat escape, a certain amount of heat needs to accumulate inside the boot to establish a temperature differential which drives the movement. The Surround Technology establishes an active way for pumping out the heat more efficiently and faster.

When getting your boots for the first time, it is imperative to try them with socks on. If you are going hiking or camping, you will need to wear the boots with socks, which adds cushioning and temperature control. In addition to that, socks can be moisture-wicking as well as anti-bacterial.

You can also decide to trek in your sock liners to create a moisture wicking effect and add comfort to your gear. Since the hiking socks are heavier than the regular ones, it is imperative to wear them the first time you are trying your boots so as to ascertain whether or not they are a perfect fit.

Man wearing a pair of Salomon X Ultra Ii Gtx hiking boots

The longer you will be hiking, the greater will be the demand on your feet and body, and for that reason, you will need support from your hiking boots. A longer trip often involves carrying a heavier backpack, requiring more boot support both around the ankle with the heel support and under the feet with a sturdy midsole.

In all these, the most essential aspect you need to remember is the weight. Despite the benefits a durable boot offers, lightweight hiking shoes have some advantages too. For instance, a lightweight boot can save you about 100grams to 200grams every time your foot moves, so you will be able to save some energy over your hiking period.

Product NameLiningWeightSoleBest UsePrice
North Face Fastpack IIGore-Tex waterproof membrane1 lbVibram rubberWear to work, casual wear, hiking, travel, going outCheck price on Amazon
Salomon QuestGore-Tex waterproof protection2 lbContragrip soleOutdoor adventures, mountaineering, survival, via ferrata, backpacking,Check price on Amazon
Salewa WS MTNGore-Tex Performance Comfort membrane,3 lbVibram AlpineOutdoor adventures, backpacking, survival, hiking with snowshoes, campingCheck price on Amazon
Asolo FugitiveGore-Tex liners2.12 lbAsolo’s TPS soleTravelling, backpacking, survival, hiking, campingCheck price on Amazon
Arc’teryx BoraGore-Tex2.19 lbEVATrekking, backpacking, hiking, campingCheck price on Amazon
Oboz BeartoothB-Dry membrane3.8 lbRemovable BFit DeluxeOutdoor adventures, backpacking, survival, hiking, campingCheck price on Amazon
Vasque St. EliasGore-Tex waterproof construction3.46 lbEVAOutdoor adventures, backpacking, survival, hiking, campingCheck price on Amazon
Asolo TPS 520Gore-Tex waterproof

3.31 lbAsoflex thermoplastic insoles, Vibram outsolesTrekking, backpacking, survival, hiking, campingCheck price on Amazon
Zamberlan 996 ViozGore-Tex lining3 lbRubber SoleMountaineering backpacking, survival, hiking, campingCheck price on Amazon

Features To Consider

As a hiking enthusiast, looking after your feet is one of the most significant things you need to do. Selecting the best boots can be quite confusing, especially if you have no idea what you need to consider. Choosing the right gear can mean a whole difference between a painful and a comfortable hike.

Unlike with purchasing normal boots, where aesthetics is usually a great factor, hiking boots need to be selected for a purpose. It is essential to consider various aspects such as the terrain you will be trekking, your hiking season, and the shape of boots. Other essential factors to consider include:

Waterproof Materials

The Gore-Tex inner lining is important as it helps maintain warmth and keep your legs dry. The leather uppers (around the ankle) and the rubber lowers (around your foot’s bottom) will assist in keeping wet snow and water out.

A man wearing a pair of waterproof boots La Sportiva hiking boots

When choosing your hiking boots, you should consider picking the ones with Gore-Tex waterproofing as these are best for use in cold weather backpacking.

Outsole

This is probably the first thing you need to consider when purchasing your hiking boots. This is a rubber strip or TPR along the boot bottom that features a tread. The patterns of the tread will vary depending on the boot you purchase, but all will serve the same purpose.

A pair of Outsole backpacking-boots

If you are trekking in mud, the chunkier patterns are the best, while the shallow tread will be well-suited for a rockier terrain. The Vibram is usually the most popular brand that most people prefer. For a long time, it has been a symbol of quality, but this is not to say other sole brands will not be suited for you.

Insulation

There are many kinds of insulation materials available on the market today. One common insulation material used for hiking gears is Thinsulate. This material, in addition to others such as Zylex, wool, and polypropylene offers warmth without providing bulkiness. When considering this aspect, try to choose boots with: Four hundred to five hundred grams of insulation, Double-layer insulation for cold hikes.

Man wearing a pair of hiking boots

A single one has one insulation layer normally provided by inside materials, while a double layer boot has both the inner and the outer insulation. A single layer is fine for a basic hike, but in the case of extreme winter camping and hiking, consider the double layer style.

Right Cut

Hiking boots usually come in different styles including high-cut, mid-cut, and low-cut, and each boot has its benefits. If you are considering to go winter hiking, choose a boot that is mid to high-cut as these will be able to support your ankles during the treacherous winter terrains and help in keeping water and snow out.

Breathability

With heavy insulation and thick waterproof materials, some backpacking boots are not as breathable as they are supposed to be. Breathability affects internal moisture and comfort, making it a significant feature.

A pair of hiking boots and a mountains landscape

Be sure your shoes are made from one of the materials below to ensure moisture protection and exceptional breathability:

  • Nylon
  • Gore-Tex
  • Split-Grain Leather

Top Product Reviews

The hiking season is fast approaching, and that means hikers and backpackers are hoping to retire an old set of hiking boots, while some of them thinking about investing into their first set of boots.

Searching for that great pair can be pretty much daunting, and which is the reason we tried to disclose the best performing boots available. Ranging from intensely high-tech boots designed for scaling mountains to section level options designed for your normal day-climb, our rundown of the 9 best hiking boots will present something for everybody. So get out there and check them out!

North Face Fastpack II North Face  Fastpack II

Price: Approx. $160

Weight: 1 lb

Specific features: Gore-Tex waterproof membrane, fabric-and-synthetic, rubber sole, Vibram rubber outsole, reinforced toe cap protection

Best use: Outdoor adventures, backpacking, survival, hiking, camping

Description: The North Face Fastpack II Boot is a lightweight and protective shoe that is designed to endure hardpack terrain. The Gore-Tex waterproof hiking shoe is designed with entrenched cables for the mid-foot support and an improved Ultra Protect Cradle Guide for reliable support.

In appearance and performance, this boot closely looks like a high top trail trekking shoe. It is a great boot if you like a close fit shoe. True to its name, the North Face Ultra Fastpack II Mid GTX is a shoe you should always consider when going on an ultralight backpacking tour as it offers an excellent ankle support and is also a light gear to have.

This backpacking boot is targeted soundly at backpackers and hikers that do enjoy going light and fast. The flexible sole is greatly comfortable and good for carrying light stuffs. The lacing system is likewise striking for its supporting system that embraces the foot cozily to the sole.

PROS:

  • Well made
  • Comfortable
  • Quality material
  • Practical
  • Durable

CONS:

  • There is a slight discomfort due to the extra-hard fabric linking the tongue to the backpacking boot

Related: Do you want a pressure relief insole for your boot? If yes, then you can check out the New Balance IPR3030 Insoles. The insole was designed by a team of pedothists and doctors to enhance body alignment and balance.

Check the price on Amazon

Salomon Quest 4d 2 Salomon Quest 4D 2

Price: $175 – $230

Weight: 2 lb

Dimensions: 16 x 12 x 5 inches

Specific features: Gore-tex waterproof protection, synthetic sole, updated salomon contagrip outsole, molded EVA ortholite removable footbed,

Best use: Outdoor adventures, backpacking, survival, hiking, camping

Description: From the ground up, the Salomon Quest 4D 2 Boot is a high-performance gear that you would love to have for your backpacking adventure. Stable enough for a harsh terrain, Nimble enough for trekking, and strong enough for rugged surface these boots eat up the miles. Its Contragrip sole offers excellent grip across various surfaces on and off the trail. Its 4-D Advanced Chassis offers great torsional stability and foot support.

Its uppers combine various materials which are supportive and flexible at the same time. Additionally, it has an excellent lacing system and a solid ankle support to give you a peace of mind when moving down the steep slopes.

Its advanced chassis offers the base which propels the Salomon Quest GTX to the top for stability. While wearing this boot, you will feel more than confident jumping around the barricades and moving over muddy trails with hanging roots. Additionally, the combination of substances Salomon utilizes for ankle collar are firm and comfortable.

PROS:

  • Long lasting comfort
  • Great size
  • Durable
  • Great lacing system
  • Decently light
  • Supportive

CONS:

  • The exterior parts take time to dry totally
  • Not so suitable for trail running
  • Likely occurrence of foot fatigue in case you are carrying a heavier load

Related: if you want a high-performing waterproofing wax for your boot, then you can check out the Nikwax 4A2 Waterproof Wax.

Check the price on Amazon

Salewa WS MTN Salewa WS MTN

Price: $160 – $370

Weight: 3 lb

Specific features: Gore-Tex, HDO Sport E-tip gloves, 360-degree rubber Rand, Gore-Tex performance comfort membrane, climbing-style lace closure

Best use: Outdoor adventures, backpacking, survival, hiking, camping

Description: You will find everything you require to get into the wilderness with the Salewa WS MTN Boot for women . These are serious hiking books with the alpine-inspired design fitted with the Gore-Tex waterproof membrane to provide you with the breathable performance you would require when getting into the remote areas.

Their upper parts are made of wear-resistance Cordura and thick suede, and a full-wrap rubber is used for the reinforcement. The shoes are fitted with Salewa’s 3F EVO system designed for ankle protection, while allowing mobility for an easy hike.

The Vibram Alpine soles will perform exceedingly well on rocky, rugged terrain, but that is not to say they will not handle smooth section of trail easily.

Looking like a blend between an alpine boot and an approach boot, this backpacking boot is designed for harsh conditions and rough trails. The boot has a defensive rand that enfolds around the whole lower area of the boot for complete isolation from snow, rock and other trail flotsam and jetsam.

PROS:

  • Stout mix of an alpine and approach shoe.
  • lightweight
  • Great support
  • Amazing performance on rocky landscape
  • Stability

CONS:

  • Not everybody will like the runs warm and stiff build.

Related: Do you want comfortable, soft, vast diameter bootlaces? If yes, then you can check out the Greatlaces B06X1 Boot Shoelaces. Comes in standard lengths for all backpacking boots.

Check the price on Amazon

Asolo Fugitive Asolo Fugitive 

Price: $190 – $250

Weight: 2 lb 2 oz

Specific features: Water-resistant split-grain leather, Gore-Tex liners, Gore-Tex membrane

Best use: Outdoor adventures, backpacking, survival, hiking, camping

Description: Today, the Asolo Fugitive Boot is probably one of the most sought out boots on the market. Its ability for use during backpacking, hiking, light mountaineering, 4 season trekking, and 3 season glacier travel make it one of the most versatile shoes to own. Although they are not specifically crampon compatible, they work best with strap on crampons. They are also waterproof and offer an excellent break in.

With the Asolo Fugitive GTX, you can travel on your backpacking tour thanks to their versatility and comfort. Although they have an average weight of 3 Pounds, the boots offer excellent traction and support with their outsole, and their ultra-secure lacing system helps in minimizing heel lift.

The linings of the boots help to keep the bone of your feet dry on wet days. Their low-profile aspect makes your hike so comfortable that you will think you are using sneakers for your trek. Once you decide to use these boots for your backpacking tour, you old clodhoppers will be left to collect dust in the closet.

PROS:

  • Durable waterproof leather
  • Great fit
  • Exceptional design and performance
  • Perfect for extreme landscapes and all climate.
  • Highly functional lug sole
  • Support
  • Stability
  • Traction

CONS:

  • There is possibility that the layered sole will peel off due to exposure to outrageous temperature changes
  • Low breathability

Related: If you want good and affordable insoles for your backpacking boot, then you can check out the Superfeet Heritage Insoles. These insoles offer proficient-grade orthotic curve support and solace for your feet.

Check the price on Amazon

Arc’teryx Bora Arc’teryx Bora

Price: $260 – $280

Weight: 2 lb 3.1 oz

Specific features: Durable water repellent finish microfiber, EVA midsole, custom 3-D toe and heel protection

Best use: Outdoor adventures, backpacking, survival, hiking, camping

Description: Going on an outdoor expedition or an extended hiking trip? The Arc’teryx Bora Backpacking Boot got you covered. This versatile technical gear features rugged seamless uppers, Adaptive Fit Liners, and custom Vibram outsoles that make it possible for you to traverse rugged terrain and unstable conditions confidently.

Born in the Coast of the Canadian wilderness, the Arc’teryx is a high-performance technical boot that offers the support and protection to enable you to engage in your hiking escapades confidently. This is meant for women looking for technologically advanced boots to maneuver through the rugged terrain and changing conditions. You can never go wrong with a pair of Bora Mid GTX boots.

This backpacking boot never dissapoints. The Arc’teryx Bora 2 are certainly among the best outdoor gears produced by the Vancouver-based brand. The boot accompanies an effectively separable tongueless liner that is produced using a breathable nylon monomesh insulation that keeps you chill and dries quick. It is quite possible for you to even change out liners depending on climate and conditions (i.e. a warmer liner for cool climate, a more breathable liner for hot climate).

PROS:

  • Highly comfortable and functional removable liner
  • High-class comfort and protection
  • Great waterproofing and insulation from the hard external shell
  • Good breathability

CONS:

  • Expensive
  • Overkill for most hikers and easy terrain

Related: Whether you want to glue your backpacking boots for a tough day hiking trip or day’s work, the Boot-Fix B00Q3ID Shoe Glue can amend your boots!

Check the price on Amazon

Oboz Beartooth Oboz Beartooth

Price: $220 – $230

Weight: 3 lb 13 oz

Dimensions: 12 x 8 x 4 inches

Specific features: Removable BFit Deluxe insole, BFit lacing system, BDry membrane, Non-marking carbon rubber outsole

Best use: Outdoor adventures, backpacking, survival, hiking, camping

Description: The Oboz Beartooth Hiking Boot can be regarded as “old school” rough and tough boots which are loaded with new technology. The armored uppers combine the leather, rubber, and a man-made textile that is lined with a waterproof membrane. Its support is derived from a midsole and a stiff outsole coupled with molded heel counters, and its soles are well lugged.

Lacing of the boot combines a heavy duty metal hardware and an instep strap attached to the heel counter. The availability of loops is the back help pull the laces on. Inside the boots lies a removable insole which features forefoot and heel cushioning. These shoes are designed with serious intentions, and they are relatively thick compared to some mid-season trail sneakers.

It takes some effort (both twisting and bending) to flex the boots by hands. The Beartooths are clearly designed to offer significant stability and support. The construction looks clean and neat. They are assembled using stitching and glue, making the boots appear neat and gapless. Although some stitching appears beneath the insole, it does not seem vulnerable and risky to wear as there are no sharp edges.

PROS:

  • Overall a great choice
  • Less expensive
  • Reasonably priced
  • Well formed
  • Amazing supports
  • Highly comfortable whether in cold or warm weather
  • Moisture wicking for insulation against heat

CONS:

  • Possibility of sore spots on the arches or ankles due to the slight intense supports

Related: if you want standard bootlaces that guarantee comfort over the instep, then you can check out the Greatlaces Kevlar Boot Shoelaces. A polyester shoelace garnished with Kevlar stitching guarantees a reliable and long-lasting boot lace.

Check the price on Amazon

Vasque St. Elias Vasque St. Elias

Price: $140 – $190

Weight: 3.46 lb

Dimensions: 12 x 8 x 4 inches

Specific features: Gore-Tex waterproof construction

Best use: Outdoor adventures, backpacking, survival, hiking, camping

Description: The Vasque St. Elias Backpacking Boot has numerous features you may find suitable for your backpacking adventure. The boots’ upper construction give it its amazing look.

The shoe uses a high-quality leather with minimum seams while the molded rubber toe cap adds to its unique features. The tension of the thread and the leather trimmings lead to an upturned edge which protects the thread of the seams from abrasion.

On the downside, manufacturers have identified that the synthetic material used in the ankle collar could easily be scuffed by sharp rocks and sticks. Nonetheless, the use of the material creates comfort at the ankle and helps in saving weight. Appearances can be deluding with the Vasque St. Elias boots. What may resemble a leather clunker from a separation really is a complete present day boot that most people cherish. The blend of support and solace is highly impressive.

With an overwhelming pack on, the EVA padded sole and TPU shank sufficiently offer steadiness and pad for putting on severe miles, but if you are just taking off for the day’s hike, the backpacking boot is reasonably nimble and flexible. More, the St. Elias boot is a reasonable value, undermining its main rivalry above by $40 even with its sturdy, nubuck leather mesh.

PROS:

  • Highly comfortable
  • Good weight
  • Durable
  • Support

CONS:

  • Quality control problem with Laces and eyelets

Related: If you want good insoles for your backpacking boot, then you can check out the Superfeet Premium Insoles.

Check the price on Amazon

Asolo Tps 520 Asolo TPS 520

Price: $240 – $300

Weight: 3 lb 5 oz

Specific features: Asoflex thermoplastic insoles, Vibram outsoles, nylon linings, Gore-Tex waterproof

Best use: Trekking, backpacking, survival, hiking, camping

Description: If you are in need of the most protective, most durable, and the most supportive boots for your backpacking tour, the Asolo TPS 520 Hiking Boots is as close as you can get. If you are in need of support and protection, but do not require anything heavy, the Asolo TPS 520 boots are an excellent option to go with.

These shoes provide the most amount of protection and support for your feet. Its ankle support rises, so high onto your ankle as the nylon shank offers underfoot stability. These boots will hold up to long hikes and heavy loads you subject them to.

Numerous hikers swear by full leather, full length, tough hiking boots for hiking. The full grain leather encompasses and secures the Gore-Tex waterproof membrane layer and once softened up, the boots will carry out their task for years. In general, there are loads of positives about this hiking boot that makes it to be a great choice.

PROS:

  • Waterproof
  • Comfortable
  • Warm in the winter
  • Great ankle and arch support
  • Ideal for heavy stuffs over long distances
  • Good looking!

CONS:

  • Expensive
  • Heavy
  • Extremely warm in the summer

Related: if you want a good waterproofing gear that can protect the leather of your boot form sun, snow, rain and salt, then you can check out the Atsko Sno-Seal Original Leather Protector.

Check the price on Amazon

Zamberlan 996 Vioz Zamberlan 996 Vioz

Price: $250 – $280

Weight: 3 lb

Dimensions: 14 x 14 x 6 inches

Specific features: Zamberlan airsystem padding, high resistant treatment hardware, rubber sole, 2.6 mm thick leather

Best use: Outdoor adventures, backpacking, survival, hiking, camping

Description: The Zamberlan 996 Vioz Boot will give you protection and comfort for the long haul and by “long haul,” it means they will offer you the extended durability you deserve for your long trek and 4-season hikes.

The boots are a masterwork of performance and comfort, with features which make it an all-day, all-week comfortable gear. Its Gore-Tex lining offers breathability and utmost protection, while its Microtex moisture-wicking collar lining made from nylon helps in controlling excess moisture.

The Zamberlan Flex System allows your ankle to move forward securely without compromising support. The padded sole is built with polyurethane for expanded rigidity and hence the boot offers awesome solace when you are conveying a heavyweight backpack or climbing on technically difficult rough trails.

This backpacking boot offers awesome comfort and performance. It is intended for long hiking trips and also for mountaineering on steep rough trails. The boot has a durable and tough upper made of waterproof full-grain calfskin. The Gore-Tex lining beneath the leather upper guarantees that your feet remain dry on wet terrain and in rainy weather.

PROS:

  • Great stability
  • Traction
  • Support
  • Quality materials
  • Durable
  • Highly comfortable

CONS:

  • Low breathabiity

Related: if you want a gear that can make you backpacking boot last longer and remain comfortable even in outrageous conditions, then you can check out the Obenauf’s LP Boot Preservative protects leather.

Check the price on Amazon

Concluding Thoughts

Now that you know how to choose the right boots for you, and that you know which of the models are the best on the market, we hope that making the right choice will be much easier. Take another look at the models we reviewed and see which features best suit your personal needs so that you can make the perfect choice.

A pair of Meindl Toronto GTX

On the other hand, if you already bought any of these boots for backpacking or fast packing in rough terrain or sloppy conditions, you could share some of your experience with them with our readers, in the comments section below. Also, you could let us know if  your backpacking team members have problems matching your pace? Thanks for reading and e will be more than glad to hear from you!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
John C. Porter
John C. Porter

John is passionate about hiking long distances. His record is over 65 miles in one day with backpacking gear. John hiked over 10 thousand miles, tried over 100 hiking shoes and visited 56 countries so far. His favourite hiking route is West Coast Trail on Vancouver Island in British Columbia, Canada.

  • Jerry Richards

    If you are a keen backpacker like me, then you know how important it is to get the right shoes. I went through several brands before I discovered the Oboz Beartooth Hiking Boots. They soon become my favorite brand. They are just heavy enough to give you firm footing on rough terrain, require a short break in period and have comfortable fitting.

    • John C. Porter

      The Oboz Beartooth Hiking Boots is quite popular and gives value for your money. I particularly like the streamlined look of this and they are very sturdy, as well. Like many trekkers, we love boots that allows our feet to breath and offer superior traction and comfort. Good choice on this one, Jerry!

  • Katie Brown

    My brother got himself 2 pairs of Arc’teryx Bora Mid GTX backpacking boots and I was so jealous I had to get myself a pair in the women’s version. Now I know why he likes them so much. The shoes are so comfortable and do not even need any breaking in – I wore mine straight from the box onto the trail.

  • John C. Porter

    it’s a good thing there’s even a his and hers backpacking boots nowadays. Most couples I know prefer one brand for both of them, and I know a lot have the Arc’teryx boots. They are also very durable and stylish.

  • Robert H. Foster

    I have always liked the Asolo. However, many recent reviews highlight sole glue failures, requiring liberal use of duct tape on the trail. Is there a way to evaluate the shoe before it separates mid-trip?

    • John C. Porter

      If the boot looks good to go, then the only way to evaluate it is as you go along.

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