In this review we’re going to help you in finding the best hiking boots for men. What are they, actually? There is no definite “best of the best” model because all of them are designed to fit specific needs, seasons, terrains, backpacks load, and so on. But we struggled to choose a range of several best models for different conditions out of lots of boots offered on the market, and here is our review.
The boots in review were tested in different conditions that are within range of conditions the particular footwear models are designed for. The main factors for choosing the model are stability, comfort, traction, durability, breathability, weight, water resistance, etc.
Choosing Your Best One
Proper footwear is one of the most essential equipment that you take with you for any outdoor activity. Comfortable boots that correspond to your feet size will make your hiking/backpacking day. You’re better to avoid wearing the pair that doesn’t fit you because your adventure will be spoiled then.
Here we offer you several levels of guidance. There is a comparison chart of several models that have shown best performance under a range of conditions. There is also a section with top 5 models of editors’ choice, narrowed down choice of top quality-price models. Moreover, below all those sections you can find buying guide that will briefly acquaint you with main features that you need to look into while choosing good hikers.
Top 3 Models, Editors’ Choice
1. Vasque St. Elias GTX
The St. Elias goes 1st place of the bunch for a reason. What are the specifications that make it a decent alternative to other hiking boots? To begin with, the cutting-edge parts. This model is fashioned and manufactured with the least possible weight in mind. Featherweight EVA softening pads in the midsole and synthetic components in the collar enhance classic full grain leather as well as Vibram elastic soles. This all comprises a boot with reduced weight that is unrivaled in wearing convenience.
Moreover, the backpacking capabilities part. This model is strong and supportive, sturdy, and waterproof. A large number of boots do sacrifice a lot more in these specifications in order to reduce weight. These attributes are the things that for many years characterized a decent boot.
- Vibram sole
- Shaft is 5.5″ from arch
- Heel is 1.75″
- Platform is 0.75″
- GORE-TEX waterproof construction.
2. Salomon Quest 4D II GTX
The Quest 4D II GTX from Salomon, is best at fast-packing, reflects the newest design advancements in hiking footwear. The manufacturer has made a middle-weight supportive boot that keeps to the convenience and functionality of their succeeding trail runners, at the same time offering the support and ankle safety that hiking and backpacking enthusiasts love to see in a boot.
Fast-packing is the lately popular trend in alpinist backpacking that is characterized by faster adventure timeframe. Fast packers are able to travel very fast for enormous distances due to extremely low weight of their equipment while all necessary the gears and supplies stay with them. At times they even can run when surface and landscape allows. Regular distance of traveling is 20 miles every day, and may be even more. It’s not a miracle to travel by 160 miles per week.
- Synthetic sole
- Shaft is 6.75″ from arch
- Nubuck Leather/Textile Upper
- GORE-TEX waterproof protection
- Salomon 4D Chassis for stability/protection
3. Keen Targhee II Mid
This model comes in two versions – shoe and boot formats. Keen Men’s Targhee II is a good hiking mate. The sturdy construction guarantees you the wearing convenience and support of quite a high level that only athletic footwear can give. At the same time the durability and safety& shielding features are just perfect, like in regular mid-weight boot.
This unique design takes care of you, ensuring 100% dry feet and makes your step steady-going with the help of a water resistant nubuck upper, 4-mm multi-directional lugs, and a 100% water resistant membrane. And for noteworthy support during whole voyage, the boot integrates an S3 heel design with a double-density EVA midsole and a EVA footbed.
- Rubber sole
- Water resistant and breathable membrane
- Dual-density EVA foam midsole
- Non-marking outsole
- Detachable EVA footbed
- Twist safety ESS shank
Hiking Boots Types
If you’re going to for hiking in summer, you will face hot weather. That is where you’ll require good breathability boots. The example of such may be Merrell Moab Ventilator Mid. They are also lightweight (2.38 lbs. only). The drawback here is that this model is not water resistant.
If you’re covering long distances daily (especially with heavy backpack) in wet weather, one of the best pairs for you will be Scarpa Kinesis Pro, with their 4.42 lbs. of weight. It’s stable, sturdy, and water resistant. As you can see, these two models differ a lot one from another. Since there are a lot of conditions people go out in, there is a wide spectrum the comprises word “hiking footwear”. In our review you see not only narrow-specified models but also models for wide range of usage conditions.
There are natural specifications that the models are easily compared in. They are ankle support, weight and foot support. This is the primary list of things you have to look at.
Such boots are designed to provide maximum comfort, from the very first minute of wearing. Their construction is usually the simplest possible. Due to such feature, they usually provide not very much ankle support. This type of boots are for you if you’re traveling light, ( without heavy packs), and don’t require much of water resistance, are not quite warm. The most important feature here is feet comfort and breathability.
This type comes with somewhat massive construction. It’s featured by higher ankle collars, higher-density midsoles/shanks, and thicker, sturdy uppers. Sometimes such models are mostly made of leather. Such footwear is more specific to the classic backpacking activities, such style gives enhanced ankle/foot support, allowing you to carry heavier packs and cross tough terrains.
If you are going to be outdoors for many days with all of your stuff, you’re going to need this kind of hiking footwear.
These are a lot heavier, far more sturdy, and totally water resistant. Featured by full grain leather uppers, coupled with thick TPU midsoles that are designed for better support and lack cozy cushioning. It’s just the rough boots for rough terrains and conditions.
Things To Look Into During Evaluation
This feature is the key when we talk about footwear, and the most important conditions where you need it – is when you walk miles be that on the road or off-trail. As a result of the latest tendency of manufacturing less heavy hiking boots, some of the offered models are very comfortable even without break-in period.
The Keen Targhee II Mid and Moab Ventilator feature ultimate comfort. The Lowa Renegade GTX Mid or Salomon Quest 4D II GTX are incredibly comfortable being just midweight boots, and in contrast to many other models in their middle-weight type, they don’t require breaking-in and are great out of the box.
Massive models have always required a break-in period, and that is being proved again in the Power Matic and Kinesis Pro. These are most heavy boots that we feature here, and both models need quite an extensive break-in period in order to conveniently fit you.
Ankle stability is the key advantage of boots in contrast to trail runners/hiking shoes. People that opt for boots instead of a low-cut hiking light-weight models do that mostly because of ankle support and twisting stability.
Hiking boots that feature middle or full height, minimize the risk of having accidents due to missteps and twisting movements. In the course of long journeys with to some extent heavy backpack, this support saves your ankles and feet from fast exhausting. When picking a boot for support, first remember that a well-fit pair is the key for supporting you ankle and foot. Check out a number of models, taking note of how comfortably your heel and forefoot feel in the footbed.
When you step on the path or a stone, you’d better to step with assurance. Each boot model has a special lug style and sole design, and various performance aspects. As a rule, rough heavy models offer better traction, while there are few light boots that do well in that field as well. For example, the Vasque St. Elias GTX is surely the champion when it comes to dry rock traction.
We all know how bad it is to have wet feet. With dry feet you can safely cover many miles avoiding formation of blisters, remaining warm during cold weather conditions. Waterproof feature is achieved through many technologies, and such materials are being applied in different parts of the boot, like – water resistant breathable lining membranes.
For example, Merrell’s Moab Ventilator is intended to be extremely breathable but almost totally lacks water resistance. The Timberland’s single piece leather upper modes with sealed seams, but there is no water resistant liner. The major part of models chosen for this review come with a GORE-TEX membrane, and a few use an exclusive water resistant breathable membrane. There is a noteworthy one, Lowa’s patented seamless GORE-TEX liner that is able to keep its integrity better than any model we seen.
Any footwear will wear out sooner or later. After plenty of use, parts will start perform poorly, water resistant membrane layers will begin leaking, and the sole is going to deteriorate. This kind of wear and tear is a normal thing if it comes in due time.
With current tendency of manufacturing lightweight shoes and boots, sacrificing of durability and sturdiness in materials and structure is unavoidable. Some hikers glorify their footwear acquired many years ago that have withstood and are still in good condition, while forgetting to point out that they weigh 4-5 pounds, and might have price tag of $600 in this day’s dollars.