An all-terrain lifestyle requires all-terrain boots. Whether you’re a day trekker or a through hiker, pairing your journey with the best walking boots on the market will allow you to go further and stay comfortable tramping from dawn to dusk.
Our broke backpacker collective has wandered across the ends of the earth, and none of us would have made it very far without the right walking boots protecting our feet.
While there may be tons of cheap walking boots on the market, you’ll quickly find that this is a part of your gear kit that you’ll want to invest in properly. Low-quality walking boots won’t just provide frustration; they can lead to injuries and quickly end trips before you get your rhythm going.
I’ve seen hikers walk for hours, only to turn around just before the summit, as their hiking shoes weren’t prepared for a surprise snowfall the night before. To prevent your next trek from ending early, I spoke to every hiking expert in my address book, combining the knowledge of an entire team of wanderers who have walked thousands of miles in the right shoes.
This list of the best walking boots on the market is the result of my queries. Amassed from hikers, climbers, and risk-takers across the globe. Follow along as we dissect the best boots made for walking.
Quick Answer: These are the Best Walking Boots of 2021
- #1 – Best Overall for Men – Salomon Quest 4D 3 GTX
- #2 – Best Budget for Men – Merrell Moab Ventilator
- #3 – Most Comfortable For Men – Tracker II FG Men’s
- #4 – Best Waterproof for Men – La Sportiva Nucleo High II GTX
- #5 – Best Wide Footed for Men – KEEN Men’s Durand Mid Wide
- #6 – Best Walking Shoes for Women – Salomon Women’s X Ultra 3 Low
- #7 – Best Walking Boots for Women – KEEN Targhee II
- #8 – Most Comfortable For Women – Tracker II FG Womens
- #9 – Best Budget For Women – Salomon Vaya Mid GTX Hiking Boots
- #10 – Most Fashionable – Joules Montrose Lace Up Hiking Boots
Salomon Quest 4D 3 GTX
- > Completely waterproof
- > Extra layers of ankle protection
- > Reinforced laces
Merrell Moab Ventilator
- > Reasonably priced
- > Great traction
- > Slick style
Tracker II FG Mens
- > Stylish and powerful
- > Environmentally friendly
- > Lightweight
La Sportiva Nucleo High II GTX
- > Best in class weight
- > Grippy soles for rocky terrain
- > Breathable and waterproof
KEEN Men’s Durand Mid Wide
- > American made
- > Waterproof
- > Versatile
Salomon Women’s X Ultra 3 Low
- > Built for women, not adapted
- > Advanced rubbers increase grip
- > Can also serve as running shoes
KEEN Targhee II
- > Full, ethically sourced leather
- > Good performance and price combo
- > Light enough for long hikes
Tracker II FG Womens
- > Made from recycled material
- > Minimalist
- > Comes with a 100 day Trial
Salomon Vaya Mid GTX Hiking Boots
- > Break-in fast
- > Grippy outsole
- > Tons of comfort features
Joules Montrose Lace Up Hiking Boots
- > Extra padding in the right places
- > Stylish metal eyelets that last
- > Easy to take on and off
Best Walking Boots For Happy Feet
Every broke backpacker on our team has put some serious miles into their footwear. We consulted loads of road dogs with strong opinions to come up with a list of our favorite walking boots for feet of all shapes and sizes.
To be considered one of the best walking boots, the shoes on our list all stand out in one particular category while providing plenty of features you’d expect out of high-quality footwear.
Our staff picks for 2021 are lightweight, waterproof, durable, and affordable. Take a look at our top boots and pair your next adventure with the proper footwear.
#1 – Best Overall Walking Boots for Men – Salomon Quest 4D 3 GTX
Our pick for best overall walking boots for men is Salomon Quest 4D 3 GTX
- Weight: 2 lbs 13.6 oz
- Material: Nubuck Leather, Gore-Tex Contagrip Rubber
- Price: 230
Salomon has cranked out industry classic boots for over 70 years, and their flagship boots are so damn good that we’ve ranked them as the best overall walking boots for three straight years. No other boot on the market has combined a complete waterproof package with lightweight comfort built to last for thousands of miles.
A high ankle helps keep your feet pointing forwards no matter where you are trekking, and Gore-Tex Performance technology protects the entire boot. Details like these make the shoes great for all-terrain hikes.
While these boots will get you through days wandering through cities and staying comfortable through travel, they’re really built for getting out into the woods. For a walking boot that can handle every scenario, these shoes can accept any quest.
- Completely waterproof
- Extra layers of ankle protection
- Reinforced laces
- Extra protection can feel warm
- Don’t easily fit in luggage
#2 – Best Budget Walking Shoes for Men – Merrell Moab Ventilator
Merrell Moab Ventilator is our pick for best budget walking shoes for men
- Weight: 1 lb 15 oz
- Material: Suede Leather and Mesh
- Price: 100
Day hikers and commuter-friendly, these budget shoes are built to handle everyday use with ease. While not the most heavy-duty walking shoes on the market, if you aren’t preparing to ask too much out of your shoes, you can walk plenty of miles in these bad boys.
Merrell’s MOAB walking shoes have been imitated across the board, but nothing holds up to the original. These shoes aren’t flashy, and they won’t promise you the world. They will be comfortable right out of the box and break in with ease to provide reliable hiking comfort.
The MOAB 2 has picked up right where its predecessor left off to provide day hikers a casual walking shoe option that won’t break down on the trail or the wallet.
- Reasonably priced
- Great traction
- Slick style
- Not waterproof
- Won’t hold up for through hikes
#3 – Most Comfortable Walking Boots For Men – Tracker II FG Mens
Meet the most comfortable walking boots for men: Tracker II FG Mens
- Weight: 11.6 oz
- Material: Leather
- Price: 269
I don’t always associate minimalism with comfort, but these Tracker II shoes are out to prove you can have it all. Lightweight and stylish, these shoes check off plenty of boxes and are well equipped to take you further.
Don’t be scared by the minimalist design. This workhorse of a boot can handle all terrain and keep your feet feeling supported no matter where the journey takes you.
To top it all off, the boots are made from entirely natural and recycled leather to create an environmentally conscious powerhouse within the industry. Just because the materials are recycled doesn’t mean they’ve lost any abilities. The comfortable shoes are completely waterproof and built for ascents and all-day use.
- Stylish and powerful
- Environmentally friendly
- Can get lost in the mud
#4 – Best Waterproof Walking Shoes for Men – La Sportiva Nucleo High II GTX
La Sportiva Nucleo High II GTX is one of the best waterproof walking shoes for men
- Weight: 16.8 oz
- Material: Nubuck Leather, Gore-Tex surround
- Price: 199
Keep on dancing in the rain sporting these high top walking shoes. La Sportiva’s hiking option is wholly encased inside Gore-Tex’s breathable waterproof technology that has won awards and kept feet dry worldwide.
This edition of the popular walking shoes features both wide and narrow fits to allow the boot to fit into more scenarios. The ankle protection on these offerings goes a full inch higher than mid-protected boots to keep your whole body in sync.
Recently updated to fit more feet, these waterproof masterpieces will help you through anything mother nature can throw at you to make great company rain or shine.
- Best in class weight
- Grippy soles for rocky terrain
- Breathable and waterproof
- Insoles lack arch support
- Eyelet durability issues
#5 – Best Walking Shoes for Wide Footed Men – KEEN Men’s Durand Mid Wide
KEEN Men’s Durand Mid Wide is our pick for best walking shoes for wide footed men
- Weight: 1 lb 6 oz
- Material: Nubuck Leather
- Price: 195
Wide-footed wanderers suffer from less choice when it comes time to swap out their walking shoes. KEEN has stepped in with a solution, providing a comfortable and protecting wide shoe that takes all the benefits of their flagship model into a wider sole.
The shoe is lightweight and waterproof, rocking a shock-absorbing midsole that begins to stand out as you start to pile on the miles. By switching out the foam styling on the inside of these boots, KEEN made it possible to find a shoe that can provide a powerful blend of comfort and performance.
You don’t need to be a hobbit to enjoy the extra comfort provided by the Durand Mid-WIde, but anyone looking for a wider walking shoe will feel at home trekking in these shoes.
- American made
- Struggle to support a full pack
- Sizing is often ½ size off
#6 – Best Walking Shoes for Women – Salomon Women’s X Ultra 3 Low
Our pick for best walking shoes for women is Salomon Women’s X Ultra 3 Low
- Weight: 11 oz
- Material: Synthetic Textile
- Price: 150
Designed as a cost-effective walking shoe built explicitly for women’s feet, these shoes work all day through all-terrain to keep you moving forward. Descent Control technology makes these shoes suitable for technical climbing and navigating rocky walks back to base camp.
The breathable sole and fully waterproof Gor-Tex linings provide high feet protection while staying lightweight and comfortable.
Advanced technologies packed into these shoes at every corner combine with a design completely geared towards women to create a complete walking shoe. If you’re only going to one pair of shoes, the Salomon Ultra 3 Low will get you through every scamper.
- Built for women, not adapted
- Advanced rubbers increase grip
- Can also serve as running shoes
- Doesn’t offer ankle protection
- Might not fit true to size
#7 – Best Walking Boots for Women – KEEN Targhee II
KEEN Targhee II is our pick for best walking boots for women
- Weight: 17 oz
- Material: waterproof breathable leather
- Price: 140
A nice blend of low-key style and high-quality performance, if you want a pair of boots made for walking, that’s precisely what these KEEN Targhee II’s will do. Torsion Stability load-bearing support and impact management allow your feet to bounce off rocks and bumps with ease, and the mid-top design will keep you protected and dry no matter which path you’re following.
The leather sourced in these boots comes from certified tanneries that seek to lower their environmental footprint without sacrificing quality in build. The shoes are full leather, which generally means they will last longer than mixed material boots.
These boots are a clear step above the cheapest options on the market and will provide a high-quality fit and performance while still holding a budget price.
- Full, ethically sourced leather
- Good performance and price combo
- Light enough for long hikes
- Low-quality waterproofing tech
- Lots of stitching wear
#8 – Most Comfortable Walking Boots For Women – Tracker II FG Womens
Tracker II FG Womens is one of the most comfortable walking boots for women
- Weight: 15 oz
- Material: Leather
- Price: 240
Natural foot freedom, a comfortable style, and boots made for women justify the higher price point of these Tracker II boots. These shoes blend a minimalist style into a boot that still provides plenty of arch support as zero-drop shoes.
You may feel the lightweight features when trying to get a grip on descents, but the boots more than make up for their lack of grip in other areas. A high top provides quality ankle protection made for scrambling up inclines, and the utterly waterproof leather keeps things nice and dry.
All of this wrapped up in a recycled leather package that is environmentally conscious and high-performance, makes this one of the most comfortable, stylish, and high-performance boots on the market.
- Made from recycled material
- Comes with a 100 day Trial
- An expensive option
- Not the grippiest boots on the market
#9 – Best Budget Women’s Walking Boots – Salomon Vaya Mid GTX Hiking Boots
Salomon Vaya Mid GTX Hiking Boots is our pick for best budget women’s walking boots
- Weight: 12 oz
- Material: Textile
At just 12 Ounces, the lightweight protection offered up by these Salomon ladies walking boots make them the perfect companion for traveling, hiking, and taking care of business. The shoes are ready to go out of the box, and female adventurers have found the shoe capable of supporting treks across the world.
These shoes provide a unique combination of a wider, more protective outsole and ankle support while still weighing practically nothing. An extra outsole layer with Contagrip rubber feels roomy and soft, and Gore-tex waterproofing technology guarantees you’ll stay dry.
There are tons of benefits to these mid-sized walking boots, and an affordable price point makes them perfect additions to any adventurer’s closet.
- Break-in fast
- Grippy outsole
- Tons of comfort features
- Low-quality Laces
- Can get warm fast
#10 – Most Fashionable Walking Boots – Joules Montrose Lace Up Hiking Boots
Our pick for most fashionable walking boots is Joules Montrose Lace Up Hiking Boots
- Weight: 2 lbs 14 oz
- Material: Leather
- Price: 140
Inspired by serious hiking boots, Joules Montrose has provided a fashion-focused walking boot that will turn heads, not ankles. These boots are not designed for full treks, more geared towards quick hikes or city scampers. If you aren’t expecting to do more than a few hours of walking, these lace-up boots provide the style to be suitable for every outfit.
Although they don’t have the lightweight or waterproof features necessary to be considered for hiking, Joules Montrose still included extra footbed padding and ankle support to keep things feeling plush during casual strolls.
The contrasting laces and heels make the boots stand out as the perfect fashion-forward choice. Designed to emulate the look of Doc Martens without the high price, there’s just enough flash on these shoes to give any walker the confidence they need to hold their head up high.
- Extra padding in the right places
- Stylish metal eyelets that last
- Easy to take on and off
- Not suitable for long hikes
- Not a long-lasting option
|Salomon Quest 4D 3 GTX||2 lbs 13.6 oz||Nubuck Leather, Gore-Tex Contagrip Rubber||$230|
|Merrell Moab Ventilator||1 lb 15 oz||Suede Leather and Mesh||$100|
|Tracker II FG Mens||11.6 oz||Leather||$269|
|La Sportiva Nucleo High II GTX||16.8 oz||Nubuck Leather, Gore-Tex surround||$199|
|KEEN Men’s Durand Mid Wide||1 lb 6 oz||Nubuck Leather||$195|
|Salomon Women’s X Ultra 3 Low||11 oz||Synthetic Textile||$150|
|KEEN Targhee II||17 oz||Waterproof breathable leather||$130|
|Tracker II FG Womens||15 oz||Leather||$240|
|Salomon Vaya Mid GTX Hiking Boots||12 oz||Textile||$160|
|Joules Montrose Lace Up Hiking Boots||2 lbs 14 oz||Leather||$140|
Choosing Walking Boots
Trust us, this is one choice you don’t want to take lightly. Any experienced hiker knows that comfort starts from the ground up. Minute discomfort may not matter on mile one, but any minor issue will begin to make itself known across a day of walking.
Not only will poor quality boots lead to blisters and twisted ankles, but they can also send shockwaves up the entire body, leading to hip issues, bad backs, and frustration across the board.
To avoid injuries, both physical and mental, you need to decide exactly what you’re going to do in your walking boots to choose the right boots for you. No one shoe is perfect for every scenario, but there are loads of different options that all excel somewhere.
The industry has broken down walking boots into a few different categories, each with strengths and weaknesses. Understanding these different types of shoes and their strong suits will allow you to choose the best boots for your personal adventure needs.
Most often low-cut boots, shoes categorized as hiking shoes are the lightest options of the three. This category is for adventurers who want a pair of shoes that work well in the city or the woods but don’t need the strength and durability necessary for more technical trips.
They weigh less and take up less space in your pack but shouldn’t be relied on for longer hikes or if you are supporting a full backpack. If you’re planning a multi-day adventure or may navigate through rocky jungle or wet terrain, you should shop for a different category, but any casual walk will be made lighter with the right pair of hiking shoes.
Shoes like the MOAB ventilators are great day hiking boots options, as they have excellent grip and some waterproof features while staying light.
These boots are the best choice for tackling serious terrain. Trekkers planning to summit mountains, navigate rocky conditions, or face intense challenges do so with a high-quality pair of backpacking boots beneath their feet.
The boots keep things comfortable even with a heavy backpack on your back and provide ankle and outsole support to keep you balanced in rough terrain day after day. Hikers planning on tackling the most extreme conditions will need a pair of backpacking boots to help push through.
The downside to these boots is that they generally weigh the most and can be a bit heavy for casual walks. If you’re planning a multi-day trip or a trek through intense weather, pair your adventure with backpacking boots like the Salomon Quest 4D GTX boots and stay comfortable along seriously tough single-track trails.
Day Hiking Boots
Walking boots in this category seek to take facets of backpacking boots and hiking shoes to create a middle-ground option. A good pair of day hiking boots will be fully waterproof and offer ankle support without topping out the scales.
Day hiking boots won’t quite provide the heavy-duty support needed if you’re carrying a heavy pack, but they will still offer plenty of traction and foot protection to keep you warm and dry through various climates. If you’re planning a weekend of lowland walking or are planning a day trip in more adverse conditions, a good pair of day hiking boots will be an excellent companion.
Shoes like the Tracker II boots exemplify the category. Waterproof with plenty of stability features, day hiking boots can do everything short of supporting a heavy load.
Now that we know what’s out there to choose the right walking boots, we’ll have to figure out what category of shoes will suit our needs the best.
Walking boots are an expensive investment, so most of us can’t afford to have a closet full of options. You’ll have to find one pair of walking boots that can support you through every journey that lies ahead.
These are some questions you should ask about yourself and your boots before you buy to understand what boot category is best for you and ensure your next walking boots are ready for adventures of all styles.
Where Will These Boots Take you?
The first step towards choosing the right walking boots for you is to visualize where you see yourself in your shoes. Mountain climbers and cascade hikers will need a more substantial boot, while those of us shopping walking boots for city escapes and quick trips into the woods might not want to lug around the extra pounds.
If you are shopping with a specific adventure in mind, be sure to think beyond your next weekend trip. A simple walking shoe may be all you need for your next day trip, but your next pair of walking boots should last you for years.
Shop for where you want these boots to take you a year down the line, not just next weekend.
What Materials Are Right for Me?
Newfangled technology has made this question all the more relevant. Modern walking boots are generally made out of leather or synthetic materials.
A few decades ago, hikers universally accepted that leather boots were the only option for serious adventures. While leather is still considered incredibly important in a walking boot, advances in synthetic materials have given current-day walkers more opportunities.
Synthetic materials are now lighter than leather, break in faster, and are more affordable than full leather boots.
With all these improvements, it may sound like synthetic is the way to go, but there are still some serious downsides to the choice. Synthetic materials will break down faster than leather, and extra stitching necessary in synthetic materials opens up more chances for cracks and crevices in your boots.
Suppose you fancy yourself a casual hiker who won’t be pushing your boots to their limits or wearing them every day. In that case, synthetic materials will save you a few bucks without sacrificing performance. If you need your boots to perform a tough job or last through many days of abuse, it’s worth investing the extra money in a leather boot.
Do I Need Waterproof Walking Boots?
Typically, I don’t like to give direct answers to boot preference questions, as choosing the right walking boot is a personal choice.
However, I solemnly swear that everyone will benefit from waterproof walking boots.
Without the benefits of waterproof technology, your walking boots are nothing more than glorified sneakers, and you run the risk of soaked socks every time you head out the door.
Mother nature is unpredictable. It’s what keeps people intrigued by the outdoors. Even the most casual hikes are subject to unexpected downpours, and it’s never recommended to head into the woods without a raincoat. But what’s the point of a raincoat if your shoes are getting soaked at the same time?
Yes. You need waterproof walking boots.
It is important to remember that not every ‘waterproof’ shoe can withstand all adverse weather conditions. If you expect to walk in the rain, or cross streams, look for boots with Gore-Tex technology throughout the shoes, not just in the outsoles.
The most extreme waterproof boots will fall into the backpacking boot category and sacrifice some breathability and temperature relief to seal the boots off from water entirely.
This is where you still have choices within the waterproofing subsection. If you aren’t planning on any multi-day journeys or mountain climbing adventures any time soon, shoes with basic waterproofing features will keep you relatively dry through surprise rains.
Trekkers who may face snow, rivers or long trips where wet socks would be a nightmare should double-check and ensure their walking boots of choice provide a complete membrane that allows the shoe to be fully submerged without water leaking to your feet.
Breaking Your Walking Boots In
Even though some shoes may promise to be ready to go as soon as they come out of the box, you should never head out on your trip before breaking your walking boots in. Ideally, you’ll have your shoes at least a whole month before your departure date, so you can spend plenty of time shaping your boot towards your foot.
Skipping this month of getting to know your boots and going on longer hikes without breaking your walking boots will guarantee a few blisters, no matter how high quality your boots are. This is especially true for high-class boots made out of leather, as the material needs time to soften up and take shape around your feet.
While your boots begin to take shape around your feet, breaking your walking boots in also gives you time to make sure that the shoes are the right fit. Too many hikers are faced with sore feet and discover misfitting boots after it’s too late. Follow these tips to get the job done right, and go the extra mile to ensure your boots can go extra miles.
Wear Them Casually
The first few times you slip on your walking boots should be for short periods, so you and the boot can get to know each other slowly. Although it may feel silly, put on the same socks, you plan to wear hiking and get suited up, even just to walk around the house a bit.
Once you feel comfortable in your new boots, start wearing them while doing chores or on quick trips to the grocery store. Take them on walks of varying distances, slowly increasing the mileage you put on them after every successful outing.
Before you go on a more extended trip, but after you’ve taken several quick walks in your boots, take them out into the woods for a short hike. Getting off concrete is where your shoes will break the fastest, so be careful not to overdo it on a long walk.
It’s Okay To Be Judgemental
While you can expect your boots to become a bit more comfortable once you get used to wearing your walking boots, that doesn’t mean you should overlook glaring flaws right out of the box.
There are some issues breaking in your boots can’t fix. If you feel a pinching sensation in your foot, have trouble with blood flow, or the shoes feel too loose, you might have more significant issues than unbroken soles. The break-in period is your last chance to return the shoes or diagnose any sole or overall fit problems.
It’s much better to notice these problems a few days after you’ve taken your shoes home rather than a few hours into a longer hike.
There’s No Secret Formula
Don’t expect anything other than time to break in your boots properly. Tons of snake oil salesmen and “experts” may offer up techniques that will break in your shoes in record times, but decades of hikers have discovered that nothing can truly speed up the process.
Caring For Your Walking Boots
High-quality walking boots aren’t cheap. Protect your investment – and your feet – by following a cleaning routine and regularly treating your walking boots to keep everything in top shape from the ground up.
A boot care routine may seem unnecessary at first glance. After all, aren’t these shoes designed to get dirty?
Sure, if you only want your boots to last a year or two, you can trample in the mud and throw them straight into the closet until you need them again. However, If you want your walking boots to last for years, cleaning your walking boots should be done every few months or after any particularly filthy adventures.
Every time you take your boots into the woods with you, particles of dirt cling onto your outer materials and slowly work their way into the membranes of your walking boots. If left unattended, your shoes may lose their waterproof capabilities or lack the support necessary to provide comfort.
Luckily, caring for your boots is not a complicated process, especially if your shoes are waterproof.
All you’ll need for the job is a cleaning product specifically built for your boots material and an old toothbrush. Once you’ve got your cleaning kit assembled, the process is as easy as 1-2-3:
- Remove laces and knock boots together to rid any large chunks of mud and dirt.
- Use your brush to shake off any other visible dirt chunks
- Apply your boot cleaner and a bit of warm water, and use your brush to scrub your boots thoroughly.
Voila! Let your boots dry for 24 hours, reapply your laces, and they should look and feel back into top shape.
If you want to get to the summit, you’ll need the support of the right walking boots. Heading out on your next trip with lackluster footwear is akin to going on a ski trip in blue jeans. You might be fine for a day or two, but mother nature will eventually soak through.
We’ve laid out everything there is to know about the best walking boots on the market, and now it’s up to you to find the best walking boots for your needs. Take your time making this decision, and remember that it’s absolutely normal to try on a variety of boots before finding the ones that fit just right.
Me and my Solomon Quests have summited the Cotopaxi, splashed through rivers with ease, and seen wonders across the world without discomfort. After experiencing what it means to have the wrong pair of shoes and what you can do with the right ones, I can’t stress enough the benefits of finding your soul-shoe.
Do your research, ask yourself the tough questions, and find the perfect pair to make your trips easier for years to come.
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