It’s hiking season! I’ve been down to southern Utah several times already to hit the trails. Most have been dry and clear, and a couple still had 8 inches of snow. The anticipation of hiking season always gets me excited. Now is great time to get your perfect hiking shoes, lace them up and break them in so when you’ll be ready to hit the trails.
If you’re not quite sure which type of shoe or boot would be best for you, read the recommendations below to help you find out.
Hiking shoes have evolved in the last several years. For a long time, the main shoes of choice for hikers were heavy, leather, high-top hiking boots. They provided excellent grip and ankle protection, but were extremely heavy, and would take days to dry if wet.
There has recently been a shift in the hiking shoe market. More and more hikers are choosing a lightweight, low-top hiking shoe that is waterproof, provides good grip across all types of terrain, and dries quickly. Whether you are a trail runner, a beginning hiker, or looking for a shoe for hiking through water, we have all our recommendations as well as links to these shoes.
Check out this list of the best mens hiking shoes and best womens hiking shoes below.
I’ve always been a huge fan of Merrell and Keen hiking shoes. While those are the main brands that I wear, I realize that there are other excellent brands of hiking shoes and boots.
Mountain, Desert, and Dry Trail Hiking shoes
My favorite dry hiking shoes are the Merrell Moab Edge The Moab has been one of Merrell’s most popular hiking shoes for the past few years. The Moab Edge is very comfortable and the new mesh upper makes it breathable. It’s a great shoe for dry trails along all terrain. Here is a link to the women’s Moab Edge.
My next selection is the Merrell Capra Bolt. This shoe is very breathable and lightweight. Great for trail running while still providing cushioning. Not only does it have great traction and grip, but these shoes look great too. The Capra Bolt is also a great looking shoe for women.
The Merrell Moab Ventilator is one of the most popular low-top hiking shoes for both men and women. They provide the hiker with breathable mesh to keep the feet cool, while also providing heel and toe protection. The Ventilator comes in both men and women’s sizes.
Perhaps one of my favorite shoes is by Salomon Speed Cross 3. They are ideal trail running shoes and are getting harder and harder to find. Lightweight, sleek, and great for all terrains, and found in men’s and women’s sizes. They look great too, and come in several different colors.
The brand with the best grip on all surfaces, especially in water would have to be the brand Five Ten. For years, the Five Ten brand has been the best canyoneering and climbing shoe on the market, providing superior grip and fit. Recently, Five Ten has started to expand to also come out with hiking shoes. These are also made with the soft rubber soles that grip to all surfaces. For those new to hiking and canyoneering the number 5.10 refers to a climbing grade, with 5.10 being a challenging technical climb. The Five Ten Camp Four is a great low-top hiking shoe available for both men and women. They may not be as flashy and stylish as the Salomon Speed Cross 3, but they are an excellent hiking choice.
I have hiked thousands of miles in dozens of pairs of hiking shoes and boots. Some I’ve liked so much that I got multiple pairs before they were gone. Unfortunately, shoe companies always want to come out with new styles and do away with tried and tested shoes. It’s too bad. One of my favorite hiking shoes were the old Keen McKenzie watershoes. I had four pairs, and the shoes became very popular due to there versatility on the trail and in the water. Why they phased them out, I’ll never understand. I will say this, my preferred brands right now are Keen, Merrell, and Salomon due to the comfort, function, and support, but The North Face, Columbia, Chaco and Vasque all have quality hiking shoes and boots as well.
My preferred water hiking shoe is the Merrell All Out Blaze Sieve shoe or the new Merrell Capra Rapid Sieve. They are great for amphibious hiking. This means that while it is ideal for hiking in creeks and streams, it can also be used on dry trails. This shoe provides more coverage than a water sandal and still feels like a shoe.
The Salomon CrossAmphibian is also a great shoe for river crossing and hiking. It has a great wet grip sole as well as a mesh upper that promotes drying.
The Keen Arroyo 2 and the Keen Owyhee are two excellent choices of water shoes as well. The Arroyo 2 comes in both men’s and women’s sizes. Both provide toe protection and both can be used for normal trail hiking. They drain quickly as well. The Keen Owyhee is available for women as well.
Water sandals are another excellent type of hiking shoe for water hikes. The Keen Newport H2 for men and women as well as the Keen Clearwater CNX for men and women are ideal water sandals. They provide the traditional rubber toe protection offered by Keen. The back part of the both the Newport 2 and the Clearwater CNX are both open. I know that several hikers prefer wearing open toed sandals when hiking through water. Those are fine, however I prefer a water shoes that offers protection for my toes, so if while I’m walking through a creek and kick a rock, I don’t want to break a toe. Here are some options that for hikers that prefer
Traditional Hiking Boots
Some hikers, especially those that are doing extended backpacking trips and are not looking to walk in streams and creeks, not do any trail running, will prefer the traditional high-top hiking boot. Here are some solid choices for hiking boots.
The Keen Targhee Mid, the Merrell Moab Mid, and The North Face Hedgehog Fastpack Mid are great hiking boot choices. They all have excellent traction while providing outstanding ankle support. They are available in women’s sizes as well.
For years, the best shoes for canyoneering and climbing for years have been Five Ten. Canyoneer is a term for a person that hikes, climbs, and rappels through technical slot canyons which require the aid of climbing ropes. These are great boots to do water hikes as well. In fact, equipment rental shops near Zion exclusively rent Five Ten shoes for those hikers doing The Narrows and The Subway in Zion National Park. The Five Ten Canyoneer 3 is a great selection for canyoneers or for those doing water hikes.
What about socks?
While I usually don’t wear socks when I hike out of personal preference, I realize that I am in the minority. Here are great selections of hiking socks to choose from. Darn Tough socks, SmartWool socks, Bridgedale socks, and Patagonia socks are all excellent choices for hikers. The all have a variety of colors, sizes, and length. My wife likes to wear socks, and she likes these:
Don’t forget to bring these essentials on your next hike:
Here’s some other hiking gear we recommend:
(Click on an item for more information)
And here are some of our favorite hydration packs.
Hope this info helps you prepare for your hiking adventures!
To see some of our favorite hiking trails, click here.