Men’s hiking shoes are better than ever. I really can’t believe how much better my current Vasque Breeze AT GTX hiking shoes are compared to previous pairs I have owned. It is truly remarkable how much footwear improves each season. This is our brand new guide to the best hiking shoes for men to get right now. These are the top hiking shoes for 2021.
Hiking shoes can be divided into two main groups. The first group of hiking shoes is durable, supportive, and protective and are suited for a wide variety of terrain. These heavier weight hiking shoes are essential in mountainous rocky technical terrain. These are the shoes you will want if you do long rigorous day hikes or weekend backpacking trips. The second group of hiking shoes is much built with the cushiony comfort of trail running shoes in mind but with some typical hiking shoe features. They are much lighter in weight and are more suitable for less demanding, less technical, easier, and shorter day hikes. You may want to invest in both a rugged pair of hiking shoes and a lightweight pair of hiking shoes. We recommend this since not all hikes are equal. Why not be prepared for a wide variety of terrains and hikes?
Our top picks for the best men’s hiking shoes are organized from heaviest to lightest in the total weight of a pair.
After hours of trying on and closely reviewing the best hiking shoes made by the best brands, these are our top choices for men to consider.
Table of Contents
- Vasque Talus XT Low GTX
- Vasque Breeze AT Low GTX
- Oboz Men’s Bridger Low Waterproof
- Oboz Men’s Sawtooth II Low Waterproof
- La Sportiva Spire GTX
- Keen Men’s Targhee III Waterproof
- Merrell Men’s Moab 2 GORE-TEX
- Salomon X Ultra 4 Low GTX
- Merrell Men’s MQM Flex 2 GORE-TEX
- Salomon Outline GORE-TEX
- Arc’teryx Men’s Aerios FL Low GTX
- Vasque Breeze LT Low GTX
- Danner Trail 2650 GTX
- How to choose the best hiking shoes
The Talus XT GTX is the most durable, stable, and supportive hiking shoe made by Vasque that you can use on any terrain. This shoe is suitable for long day hikes or weekend backpacking trips.
- GORE-TEX with Performance Comfort Technology is waterproof and breathable
- 1.8-2mm durable nubuck leather upper
- Molded polyurethane (PU) midsole
- Dual-density EVA footbed
- Vasque Exclusive Vibram Mega Nuasi outsole
- Megagrip Compound aggressive tread grips any terrain
- 1082 grams
This is a tough and versatile hiking shoe that works for a wide variety of terrain. The Vasque Breeze AT Low GTX is one of the most durable yet comfortable hiking shoes you can get. The standard width fits a wider foot and also is available in a wide width as well. I own these hiking shoes and I picked them because they have a tough and grippy tread, and also offer incredible foot protection for rocky technical terrain.
- Waterproof GORE-TEX membrane
- Nubuck leather and abrasion-resistant mesh upper is durable and breathable
- All-Terrain midsole with EVA Cushioning Pods is supportive and cushiony
- TPU shank adds stability and foot protection
- Protective rubber toe cap
- Vibram Contact Grip with Megagrip rubber compound outsole
- 1021 grams
The Oboz Bridger is a great all-around hiking shoe that is built for comfort, support and foot protection. The mostly leather upper is durable and tough.
- B-DRY waterproof and breathable membrane keeps your feet dry
- Nubuck leather and abrasion-resistant mesh upper
- Single density EVA midsole
- TPU chassis helps prevent bruising and adds stability
- Tough, supportive outsole with rugged multi-directional tread
- Rubber heel counter keeps your foot in place over tough terrain
- Extra protection with rubber toe cap
- 1004 grams
A lighter weight versatile hiking shoe by Oboz. Also available in a non-waterproof version.
- B-DRY waterproof and breathable membrane
- Wide forefoot and toe box
- Nubuck leather upper with breathable mesh vents
- Dual-density EVA midsole cushions foot
- Nylon shank adds stability and support
- Rubber heel counter keeps heel and foot securely in place
- A rugged outsole with multi-directional tread
- 986 grams
The Spire GTX by La Sportiva is a lightweight hiking shoe for day hikes in variable or rugged terrain. If you have hot feet this hiking shoe may be for you. The GORE-TEX Surround lining grants and La Sportiva Nano Cells combine for a super breathable shoe.
- Waterproof with GORE-TEX Surround lining
- Abrasion-resistant mesh upper with ultra-breathable Nano Cells
- Compressed EVA midsole with unique ventilation channels
- Ortholite mountain hiking footbed is supportive
- Anti-torsion stabilization system provides stability on varied terrain
- Vibram XS Trek with Impact Brake System outsole delivers traction and grip
- Protective toe cap
- 880 grams
This is the most popular and iconic hiking shoe made by Keen Footwear. This hiking shoe delivers comfort, durable, protective and is suitable for a wide variety of terrain.
- KEEN.Dry waterproof and breathable membrane
- Full leather (durable) and mesh (breathable) upper
- Compression-molded dual-density EVA midsole provides support and cushion
- Rubber toe cap
- TPU heel capture system adds stability
- ESS shank for support
- Internal shank increases stability and protection
- 4mm multi-directional lugs for excellent grip
- Leather mud shield delivers extra durability and protection from the elements
- 873 grams
The Moab 2 hiking shoe is the most popular shoe (and boot) made by Merrell. The GORE-TEX version is going to be a good pick for most hikers. This hiking shoe is a great all-around versatile option that offers a perfect balance of comfort, protection, and durability. Merrell aims for out of the box comfort right away with the Moab 2 hiking shoes.
- GORE-TEX waterproof membrane
- Synthetic leather (durable) and mesh (breathable) upper
- Bellows tongue keeps debris out of the shoe
- EVA midsole delivers stability and comfort
- Protective toe cap
- Nylon arch shank adds stability
- Merrell air cushion heel support
- Vibram TC5+ outsole with 5mm lugs
- 844 grams
This hiking shoe is awesome. I really like how it is geared towards the fast, aggressive, power hiker. The Salomon X Ultra 4 Low hiking shoe is designed for grip, stability, and protection along with the comfort of a trail running shoe. This shoe is available in a wide width. It is built for stability on uneven and challenging terrain.
- Waterproof with GORE-TEX
- Synthetic upper is durable yet breathable
- EnergyCell EVA midsole
- Gusseted tongue keeps debris out of the shoe
- Protective toe cap
- Quicklace system keeps your feet snug
- New ADV-C Chassis by Salomon provides extra stability
- Sensifit by Salomon holds your foot snugly in place
- Contagrip MA rubber outsole delivers grip on wet, dry, and loose rocky surfaces
- Deep, aggressive multi-directional lug pattern
- 780 grams
A new fast-moving hiker by Merrell that harnesses inspiration from trail running shoes, but is more rugged, durable, and protective.
- Waterproof (PFC-Free) GORE-TEX membrane
- Tear-resistant mesh upper
- Tongue-integrated lacing system keeps your feet snug and secure
- Bellows tongue keeps out trail debris
- Merrell Air Cushion heel delivers support and stability
- Rock plate for underfoot protection
- TPU toe cap delivers some foot protection
- Merrell Quantum Grip rubber outsole offers grip on rocky terrain
- 5mm lug treads
- 709 grams
If you like Salomon hiking shoes and are looking for something that is comfortable as a running shoe or sneaker but has the grip and protection of a hiking shoe, then check out the Outline. And if you live in a hot and dry climate and do not need a waterproof shoe, you can also get the Outline without the GORE-TEX lining. The Outline is a fantastic lightweight hiking shoe that is perfect for hikers that like to run on the trails.
- Waterproof with GORE-TEX lining
- Synthetic mesh upper is breathable
- Water-resistant treatment applied to uppers for extra weather protection
- Protective mudguard protects feet and increases durability
- Contragrip MD rubber outsole is durable
- Protective toe cap
- Gusseted tongue
- 5mm lug treads
- 700 grams
A minimalist, lightweight, fast-moving, high-performance hiking shoe. The Aerios FL Low GTX is another great shoe that was inspired by trail runners but adds more durability and grip for a variety of terrains. This hiking shoe is perfect for light day hikes.
- Waterproof and breathable GORE-TEX lining
- Cordura mesh upper
- Compressed EVA midsole for cushion
- TPU shank for extra support
- Vibram Megagrip outsole
- 690 grams
If you are a fan of Vasque hiking shoes and want a lightweight shoe, check out the Vasque Breeze LT Low GTX hiking shoe for men. This hiking shoe draws inspiration from faster-moving trail running shoes but offers more tread and stable cushioning underfoot. The Breeze LT Low shoes shed weight (25% less than the Breeze III Low shoes) from the outsole with the Vasque exclusive Vibram LiteBase outsoles. These shoes are best suited for easy less technical hikes.
- Waterproof Gore-Tex membrane
- Durable abrasion-resistant synthetic mesh upper is light and breathable
- Dual-density Enduralast EVA midsole
- Tough Vibram Ground Control LiteBase outsole with Megagrip Compound
- 626 grams
The Danner Trail 2650 is a really nice looking hiking shoe. Super stylish. Made in America, this hiking shoe draws inspiration from the 2650 miles of the Pacific Coast Trail. It is built for moving quickly over a variety of terrain. This hiking shoe is also available in a non-waterproof style for those hikers that live in a hot dry climate. This is the lightest men’s hiking shoe of the bunch.
- GORE-TEX lining is waterproof and breathable
- Durable leather and lightweight textile upper
- Ultra-lightweight EVA midsole
- 3-layer Ortholite footbed for support and cushion
- Vibram 460 Outsole with Megagrip performs in wet and dry conditions
- Danner Trailguard TPU shank delivers stability and underfoot protection over tough uneven and rocky terrain
- 365-day warranty
- 595 grams
How to choose the best hiking shoes
What should you absolutely look for in your new pair of men’s hiking shoes?
The simple answer is comfort.
Comfortable feet are happy feet that can hike for longer periods of time and distances.
Okay, let’s cover what you need to know in order to stay comfortable in your hiking shoes.
Hiking shoe fit
First, buy some quality hiking socks. They are essential to sustaining comfort on hikes. Wear them when you try on new hiking shoes (in-store or at home).
The best fit for hiking shoes is snug, but not tight. The goal is to reduce any chance of your foot slipping around in the shoe. Try on several of our recommendations and determine what shoe best suits the shape of your foot. Pick out a shoe that has that wraparound feel to it. Do not buy a hiking shoe that has any feeling of tightness or has a pressure point. If the shoe is too tight, you will end up getting blisters. You should be able to wiggle your toes.
If you have wide feet look for a model that offers wider widths and compare to the regular width.
Pro tip: For the most accurate fit test out hiking shoes later in the day. Feet swell as the day (or your hike) goes on, and you want to take that into account. Also, spend time in each pair of hiking shoes that you do try on. At least 5 minutes. Move around. Go up and down stairs if you can. Walk and jog. Take the time to see how each different option performs and feels on your feet. If you wear orthotics, bring them. For extra comfort, consider buying insoles (footbeds) that are sold separately and are better quality.
Waterproof hiking shoes
We highly recommend buying a pair of men’s waterproof hiking shoes.
Why? Much better value, and comfort.
Most waterproof hiking shoes are not that much more expensive, if at all.
Plus, you are bound to encounter wet or snowy conditions at some point. You want to keep your feet dry to avoid getting blisters. Comfort is key when it comes to a fun time out on the trails.
Get a pair of hiking shoes that has Gore-Tex lining or an equivalent type of fabric that is both waterproof and breathable. Almost all the top brands offer waterproof hiking shoes these days. And, they are cheaper than ever.
If you live in a very dry and hot climate, then we do not recommend getting a waterproof hiking shoe. There is no need, and your feet will breathe better.
Ventilation and breathability
The materials used in hiking shoes impact ventilation and breathability.
The goal is to avoid getting sweaty, damp or wet feet that will cause blisters.
Look for a hiking shoe that is a blend of leather (a small amount is often used to make the shoe more durable) and synthetic materials.
Or go for a lightweight hiking shoe that is entirely made of synthetic materials. This will maximize foot ventilation and breathability, keep your feet dry, and give you the best chance of avoiding blisters. Also, if they do get wet they will dry faster than leather shoes.
We recommend avoiding shoes that are constructed entirely of leather. They do not breathe adequately, are much heavier, and take a long time to dry.
Most people love the idea of shoes that offer the most cushioning. People often think more cushion equals more comfort.
However, this is not always the case when it comes to hiking shoes. Sometimes, a stiffer shoe with great traction is better and more comfortable. Particularly, when it comes to rocky uneven terrain and longer hikes. A stiffer, more durable hiking shoe will prevent bruising and discomfort caused by rocky trails.
If you know you are going to be hiking only very easy, flat, buttery soft trails, then perhaps a hiking shoe that offers more cushioning could be the better choice.
For most hikers, you want to get a shoe that strikes a balance between cushioning and stiffness. The midsole (space between the upper/top and the outsole/bottom/tread) construction is what determines the degree of cushion vs stiffness. EVA (ethylene vinyl acetate) is a material used to provide more cushioning. While polyurethane is used to provide a more firm, stiff, and durable feel to a shoe.
Stability and traction
Stability and traction are linked together to provide grip on the trails. The more grip you have, and the less time spend sliding or skidding around will drastically reduce the chances of developing blisters, or worse falling down and hurting yourself.
Look for outsoles that are made of durable materials and have treads that will grip a variety of terrain.
Vibram is a popular brand of outsoles that are known to be very durable and provide excellent traction and stability on a number of types of surfaces (wet or dry).
Treads with multi-direction lug patterns across the whole outsole and that have a significant depth (5mm) will give you superior traction.
Full nubuck leather or suede uppers are going to deliver the most foot protection and long term durability. However, this decreases breathability. They may not be an option if you are hiking in hotter climates.
Look for a hiking shoe that is a blend of leather and synthetic materials in the upper if you want a more versatile shoe.
If you live in particularly hot climates go for a synthetic abrasion resistant mesh upper.
Hiking shoes that have TPU shanks in the midsole will be more stable and durable and help to reduce bruising from rocks.
For durable outsoles and tread, you can’t go wrong with Vibram.
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