Last summer, my partner and I embarked on a 100-plus-mile hike through Europe that taught me a lot about lengthy backpacking trips. I learned, among other things, that long-term comfort is inversely related to the weight of your pack, and breathable long-sleeve layers are far more pleasant than layers of sunscreen. I also realized that, while a camping tent and stove are important, there’s an argument to be made that no piece of gear is more important than your footwear. And yet, finding proper footwear isn’t easy, especially if you’ve got finicky feet. For that reason, we’ve taken the liberty of rounding up the best hiking boots for men after poring over the many options and independent reviews.
Unless you’re making your Naked and Afraid debut, you’ll need a pair of hiking boots to handle varied terrain. Styles, features and materials differ from one model to the next, but the rationale remains the same: The best hiking boots for men provide the protection, support, traction and comfort that a regular shoe can’t. From rugged, alpine-ready hiking boots to ultralight designs and even budget-friendly options, we’ve got boots to suit your needs, no matter how you choose to hike. In our experience, good boots make for happier miles and safer adventures, which results in more hiking, bigger smiles and a whole lot less time on the side of the trail tending to hotspots and blisters.
Read on to discover our picks for the best hiking boots for men. Choose from a wide range of styles and budgets, and get expert tips in the buyer’s guide below.
What To Consider When Buying Hiking Boots For Men
When buying the best hiking boots for men, it’s important to consider several key factors that can impact your comfort, support and long-term performance on the trail. Here are some key topics to consider:
A proper fit is perhaps the most important factor to consider when shopping for hiking boots. Look for boots that provide enough room for your toes to move and flex without slipping in the heel or feeling too tight. Whenever possible, visit a retailer to try on boots in-person before buying them online.
Cushioning And Support
The amount of cushioning and support you need will depend on the type of hiking you plan to do. Boots with more cushioning are better for longer hikes and rough terrain, while those with less cushioning are better for shorter hikes and smoother terrain. Look for boots with enough cushioning to absorb shock and reduce fatigue, as well as good arch support and ankle support to prevent unwanted injuries.
If you plan to hike in wet conditions, look for boots with good waterproofing. This can include materials like Gore-Tex or other waterproof membranes that keep water out while allowing moisture to escape as your feet begin to sweat. Also, consider the type of insulation you need for colder conditions, as some boots come with added insulation for warmth.
The outsole of a hiking boot should provide enough traction to prevent slips and falls on uneven or slippery terrain. Look for boots with deep, aggressive tread patterns and good grip, especially if you intend to hike traverse rocky or steep terrain.
Hiking boots are an investment, so keep an eye out for high-quality materials and construction techniques that will last. Leather is a durable and breathable material that can withstand the rigors of hiking, but it isn’t quite as breathable, while synthetic materials are durable, lightweight and breathable.
The weight of a hiking boot can impact your comfort and performance on the trail. Lighter boots are better for shorter hikes and smoother terrain, while heavier boots provide more support and stability for longer hikes and rough terrain. That said, you might consider a lighter hiking boot, or even a trail runner, if you intend to hike hundreds of miles over less technical terrain.
Hiking boots with good breathability can help keep your feet cool and dry, thus preventing blisters and other foot problems. Look for boots with mesh or breathable materials that allow air to circulate.
Is It Better To Have Hiking Boots Or Hiking Shoes?
Whether to choose hiking boots or hiking shoes largely depends on personal preference and the type of hiking you plan to do. Both options have their own distinct advantages and disadvantages.
Hiking boots, on one hand, are typically heavier and provide more support and protection. They’re designed for rough terrain or heavy loads, and they come with better waterproofing and insulation, making them a good choice for cold or wet conditions.
Hiking shoes, on the other hand, are generally lighter and more flexible, which makes for better mobility and agility on the trail. They’re well-suited for smoother and less technical trails, and they tend to be less bulky and more comfortable for extended periods of time. This makes the hiking shoe a great choice for everything from thru-hikes that prioritize weight to day hikes that prioritize comfort.
Do Hiking Boots Make A Difference?
Yes, hiking boots make a significant difference, especially when compared to your everyday trainers. That’s because, unlike trainers, hiking boots provide extended support, protection and comfort on the trail. The main advantages of hiking boots include: refined stability and support for your feet and ankles; reinforced protection from rocks, roots and other debris; better traction on uneven or slippery terrain; and more cushioning in the sole and the upper to provide shock absorption and reduce fatigue.