Best Backpacking Boots Reviewed & Rated for Performance

When you want a vacation that is cheap, exciting, and one of a kind then backpacking is a wonderful option. Exploring the world with nothing but what you’re carrying means you can go places and see sites that are off the beaten path. Skip all the overdone tourist sites, and instead explore the depths of the country you have chosen to seen. Walk through quaint streets, stay in unique accommodations, trek through jungles, climb mountains, and swim in waterfalls; anything is possible when you choose to backpack through a country.

Last Updated: January 13, 2018
By Tenby Lloyd:

Adding on an additional five backpacking boots, this list has been updated to reflect new styles, options and choices that are now available on the market. The previous 10 items were also reviewed to ensure they still met the standards and requirements to be featured, as we want to ensure this list is always current. Following the list of best backpacking boots, a criteria was added to help showcase some of the important features needed in a good pair of backpacking boots. There is now also a FAQ section that answers some of the most frequent questions regarding this type of footwear.

The one thing you need to be sure of though is that you have selected a pair of boots that will carry you the distance. Nothing will put a damper on your trip quicker than blisters, wet feet, aches and pain, and other problems which can arise from having the wrong pair of boots. Since backpacking means your feet will be your main mode of transportation, it is vital that you don’t skimp out on boots, and instead find a pair that will be comfortable and stand up to the long hours of use.

Featured Recommendations

Salomon Quest 4D 2 GTX
  • Salomon Quest 4D 2 GTX
  • 4.7 out of 5
    Our rating
  • 4D Chassis
  • Contagrip
  • Price: See Here
 
Timberland Flume
  • Timberland Flume
  • 4.4 out of 5
    Our rating
  • Waterproof
  • Fully Gusseted Tongue
  • Price: See Here
 
Ahnu Sugarpine
  • Ahnu Sugarpine
  • 4.5 out of 5
    Our rating
  • Numentum Technology
  • Waterproof
  • Price: See Here

Depending on the place you are visiting, you may require certain things from your backpacking boots. If you’re in a place that has a lot of rain, or if you will be hiking through damp forests, then you are going to want to make sure that your boots are waterproof. If you’ve opted for a warm, dry location then waterproof boots is going to be far less important than having a pair which are breathable and lightweight. Those who want to hike mountains will prefer boots with intense traction, while others who are just exploring cities will want a boot that is well cushioned.

No matter where your destination takes you, there is a pair of boots that will meet your specific needs. This list brings together some of the top brands and boots that are on the market, giving you a great overview of what you should be looking for when picking a pair of backpacking boots.

 

15 Best Backpacking Boots

 

1. Salomon Quest 4D 2 GTX

To start our list we have a pair of boots that are going to be great for almost any place you are visiting. These mid-high boots bring together some of the most important features, and together create a boot that is versatile, lightweight, durable, and waterproof. For wet or dry conditions, these boots will serve you well, and you should find that your feet stay cool, dry, and comfortable all day long. With a gore-tex outer layer you can be confident that any surprise rain or moisture won't catch you off guard, and no amount of wetness will be able to penetrate these boots. These are sturdy and stable, giving you the ultimate boot for adventuring.
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4D Chassis
Salomon's chassis construction is the ultimate in foot protection and comfort. This stable design brings together four components, two of which are part of the midsole, which offer up dynamic cushioning, 4D stability, and all mountain traction. What this means for you is that you are getting a boot that is designed for rugged terrains as you have superior traction as well as additional layers of support.

Contagrip
Another technology developed by Salomon, their contagrip was made with performance in mind. Regardless of the terrain or weather conditions, the outsole on this boot will offer flawless results that keep you stable and secure. Blending together features of density, compound materials, and geometry, the outsoles will grip tightly so that you can climb, hike, and move with ease.

Cost and Value
These boots are far from cheap, but there is good reason for it. The money you invest in to these boots will ensure that you have a durable and versatile boot which will give you flawless performance for years to come. These are a complete investment, but when it comes to something that you will be using for hours at a time, day in and day out, there is no reason not spend the money to make sure that your feet are well taken care of.
Pros
  • Nubuck Leather
  • Mud Guard
  • Protective Toe and Heel Cap
  • Heel Strap
  • Lace Blocker
  • Heel Foam
  • Gusseted Tongue
  • 4D Chassis
  • Contagrip
  • Gore-Tex Waterproof
  • Lightweight and Supportive
Cons
  • Very Expensive
  • More Narrow Width
  • Upper Area is Stiff

2. Timberland Flume

As a well known and reputable brand, Timberland has been making boots for many decades with a lot of success. These made it in to the number two spot for a couple reasons, and these are a fantastic choice for anyone who is embarking on a backpacking trip. A mid, waterproof boot, the Timberland Flume are a durable hiking boot crafted from fully waterproof leather. With a seam sealed construction, you can feel confident in knowing that your feet will stay dry regardless of the weather or the moist terrain you are moving through. The tongue is fully gusseted so that debris stays out, and you won't have the annoyance of dirt or rocks poking at your feet. Great ankle support and an EVA footbed and midsole, means you will be comfortable all day long and should have no foot fatigue at the end of the day.
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Silver Rated Tannery
For those who take in to consideration environmental concerns when making a purchase, these boots will have the added bonus of being crafted from leather that was sourced from a silver rated tannery. This means that an independent environmental audit was done on the tannery, and they were rated based on energy use, waste production, and water treatment. The tannery then scored a silver medal, ensuring that they are meeting and/or exceeding environmental standards.

Seam Sealed
This method of making boots waterproof has the advantage of keeping them lightweight. The leather material is attached to rubber and then heat is used to seal it against the bottom of the boot. This makes sure that no water can get inside the boot, and the lack of additional stitching or other membranes means the weight of the boot is kept low. This technique also helps keep the boot breathable, so your foot shouldn't get hot and sweaty while you're wearing it.

Cost and Value
These are relatively inexpensive boots, and are over 50% less expensive than the number one option on this list. The price, combined with the superior construction of these boots, means you are getting a great deal. With such a reputable brand behind these, you can be confident that even with a lowered price these are still great boots that will hold up over the duration of your journey.
Pros
  • Mid Height
  • Seam Sealed
  • Waterproof
  • Full Grain Leather
  • Fully Gusseted Tongue
  • EVA Midsole and Footbed
  • Lightweight Cushioning
  • Great Shock Absorption
  • Solid Rubber Outsole
  • Multidirectional Lugs
  • Silver Rated Tannery
Cons
  • Ankle is a Bit Narrow
  • Soles May Wear Quickly
  • Sizing Runs Larger

3. Chippewa Rugged Lace-Up

This lace up style boot from Chippewa is massive, which some people may find a bit too heavy or clunky for backpacking through cities or other more leisurely activities. For those backpackers who want to push themselves and explore more rugged terrains, however, these boots will be an absolute blessing. Since 1901 Chippewa has been making boots that are designed for tough, hard working people. Originally crafted with loggers in mind, these boots will stand up to the toughest of terrains, and give you intense traction and stability in any condition. With a 6 inch lace up front, these boots can be tightened to your exact preference, and you can be sure that they will stay securely bound to your feet as you hike and climb your way to the top of any mountain.
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Vibram Stockbridge Outsole
The outsole on this shoe is made from a synthetic compound that offers up a lot of great benefits. Similar to rubber, it is incredibly slip resistant, and will also last a long time without wearing down. What makes it different from rubber, however, is that it is about half the weight which is important for a boot like this which is already massive in size. This has allowed for a huge outsole that has traction in any condition, without adding on a ton of extra weight to your boot. Even the most rugged terrains should have little affect on the outsole, ensuring that it doesn't wear down while you're travelling.

Handcrafted in the USA
This company is proudly American, and they have ensured that their boots are made right in the USA with materials that are premium and durable. Everything about this boot is thoughtfully made and put together, giving you a product that is the result of hard work and superior craftsmanship. Chippewa takes a lot of pride in their boots, and you will feel that every time you put a pair of these on. The bottom of the laces are embellished with an American flag pin, which lets you represent the USA while you travel abroad.

Cost and Value
These boots aren't the cheapest on our list, and realistically they are a bit expensive for some budgets. With that said, value wise it's unlikely that you will find another pair of boots that will hold up as well as these do. This is a pair that will last you for years, if not a lifetime, depending on how many mileage you put on them.
Pros
  • Leather Material
  • Handcrafted in the USA
  • American Flag Pin
  • Contrast Midsole
  • Removable Cushioned Insole
  • Vibram Outsole
  • Maximum Traction in Any Weather and Terrain
  • Slip Resistant in Cold Weather
  • Premium Raw Materials
Cons
  • Very Large Boot
  • Must be Broken In
  • Scuffs Easily

4. Vasque St. Elias GTX

4. Vasque St. Elias GTX
These are some heavy duty backpacking boots which have been lightened to due to their Vibram outsole. Like we saw in some of the other boots on this list, Vibram outsoles ensure a superior and steady traction while being half the weight of rubber soles. That means that this boot won't weigh you down while you walk for hours at a time, and shouldn't cause foot fatigue at the end of the day. With a gore-tex outer, these boots are fully waterproof so you can get out and explore in any weather. An advanced midsole makes these extra comfortable, and there is a dual density footbed to make that comfort even more noticeable.
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Out of The Box Comfort
One of the difficult things with rugged, durable boots is that they often require a breaking in period before they feel comfortable and relaxed on your feet. With these boots you should notice little to no breaking in required, and out of the box they should be comfortable. You may still want to give them a wear around the house before your trip, just to make sure, but most people find that they are good to go right away.

Insulated and Waterproof
Another boot on our list that will serve you well in rainy or moist conditions, these boots are 100% waterproof so that you can avoid damp, soggy feet. They are also well insulated, so if you are travelling in cold months, or just cold climates, your feet should feel warm while you trek. The gore tex layer also means that you can wear these while crossing through streams and they still will not allow any water to get inside.

Cost and Value
As you may have noticed, good backpacking boots aren't exactly cheap as they are made to be much more durable and long-lasting than other types of boots. These boots are no exception, and they are pricey but they do cost less than some of the others on our list. Value wise you are getting a boot that will hold up well in any condition and will ensure comfort all day long. These are very much worth the money, and with their full guarantee you can trust that you are getting a boot you will love.
Pros
  • Minimal Breaking In 
  • Conformable Outsole
  • Lightweight for Backpacking
  • Gore Tex Comfort Technology
  • Fully Waterproof
  • Molded Rubber Toe Cap
  • Dual Density EVA Footbed
  • Well Insulated
  • Excellent Ankle Support
  • Impressive Traction
Cons
  • Width is a Bit Narrow
  • Not Very Breathable
  • Length May Feel Short

5. Lowa Renegade GTX

5. Lowa Renegade GTX
All Terrain and Fully waterproof, these are a backpackers dream boot. Made from nubuck leather, these boots will securely lace up to your feet and give you excellent stability and traction whether you are going uphill or down. A lightweight Vibram outsole ensures excellent and long lasting traction, while the non slip lug pattern supports you on any type of terrain. To ensure these boots aren't too heavy, they have used a monowrap frame which reduces overall weight making them comfortable for long bouts of walking. The tongue and collar are both padded, so you shouldn't have any problems with excessive rubbing or friction which can be uncomfortable and problematic over time.
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Climate Control Footbed
One downside to a lot of boots is that they are so rugged that they aren't very breathable. These boots by Lowa are made to reduce the chance of sweaty feet and there are perforations in the boot that allow air flow. The footbed is moisture wicking, so there should be no build up of sweat or odor, and your feet should feel cool, dry and blister free. Fatigue and friction are both minimized, making these great for long distance backpackers.

Waterproof Gore Tex
Not only are these boots all terrain but they are also all climate as well. Being both breathable and waterproof, you should find that your feet are comfortable in warmer countries as well as colder ones. The gore tex lining makes sure that no moisture gets in to your boot, and it is smooth enough to prevent any hot spots or pain from friction. You can confidently hike in the sun or rain with these boots, and know that they will stand up well in both conditions.

Cost and Value
Similar to most of the boots on this list, you are looking at over the $200 mark to get a pair for yourself. With that said, this is pretty standard when it comes to all terrain boots and you will find that at lower price points you just aren't getting as much value. Since these work in both hot and cold climates, you will get a lot more use out of these boots than some of the others we have looked at, making them well worth the price tag.
Pros
  • Vibram Outsole
  • All Terrain
  • All Climates
  • Speed Lacing Hardware
  • Padded Tongue and Collar
  • Climate Control Footbed
  • Monowrap Frame
  • Full Length Nylon Shank
  • Moisture Wicking
  • Perforated for Breathability
  • Gore Tex Waterproof Lining
Cons
  • Sizing Runs Small
  • Narrow Width
  • Insole is Thin

6. Under Armour Valsetz RTS

6. Under Armour Valsetz RTS
Now we've looked at a lot of boots so far that are designed for the more rugged and adventurous type, but this boot by Under Armour takes us in a bit of a different direction. More lightweight than what we've been seeing so far, this boot will be great for those who are going long distances but aren't intending to climb mountains or take on unexplored terrains. Planning on backpacking around Europe? Want to see the country, stay in hostels, and meet new people along the way? This boot will keep you cushioned support while still remaining light enough that you don't feel weighed down by it.
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UA ClutchFit
This is one of Under Armour's coolest technologies, and it's based on the science of how your body moves. Made up of individual, hourglass shaped cells, this web will flex when stretched giving you a bit more flexibility for your ankle and foots natural movements to occur. On this boot the ClutchFit web is wrapped around the ankle, so you will get maximum levels of support and comfort, as well as having a boot that will move with you so that you don't hurt your ankle at any point. For long distance walking, heavy and rigid boots can become tiresome on your feet and ankles, but these will erase that issue making them a great choice for backpackers.

Micro G Foam
Since it was mentioned that these boots are best suited for long distance walkers, one technology we have to bring up is the full length Micro G foam. This platform at the bottom of your shoe is going to give you a much more comfortable and cushioned gait, as it is very responsive. Lighter and around 30% thinner than standard foams, this Micro G layer brings the total weight of this boot down so that you don't end up with tired, sore feet every day. The thickness of the cushioning also gives you a soft landing and the bounciness of the foam then gives you a much more explosive takeoff.

Cost and Value
These are one of the cheapest pairs of boots on our list, and that's for a couple of reasons. The main thing you will find with these is that they are not going to hold up if you're putting rugged terrain miles on them. These boots are best suited for long-distance city backpackers who want to explore without going off the beaten path. If that's the kind of trip you're planning, these boots are going to be a great choice for you, and value wise you are going to find that they give you just what you're looking for.
Pros
  • Durable Rubber Sole
  • UA ClutchFit Technology
  • Powerful Ankle Support
  • Synthetic Leather and Textile
  • Abrasion Resistant Film
  • Full Length Micro G Foam
  • Cushioned Landings
  • Explosive Take Offs
  • Lightweight TPU Shank
  • Molded Ortholite Sockliner
Cons
  • Will Wear Down Fast in Rough Conditions
  • Not Waterproof
  • No Arch Support

7. Ahnu Sugarpine

7. Ahnu Sugarpine
If you were hoping that there would be a boot on this list that had some fun and colorful options, then I have great news for you. The Sugarpine Hiking Boot by Ahnu is fun and fresh, with a unique look that will turn heads. A lot of boots focus solely on functionality and forget that style should play a role as well. These boots, however, aren't just on the list because of appearance, and they are a great and functional walking boot that is great for backpackers. For those who are really going to be putting some mileage in to their boots, these are going to stand up well over time and provide your foot with comfort and support that will be much appreciated. Waterproof and lightweight, these are an excellent choice for anyone.
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Numentum Technology
Numentum technology is one of the best features of these boots, and what it means is that they are designed based on the biomechanics of how a foot should naturally move. With every step you take, these boot will ensure that your foot is properly aligned and it will help center you so that you are getting a more balanced, efficient stride. This technology holds up well on a variety of terrains, so you can take these boots through the streets as well as off the beaten path.

Breathable and Waterproof
Having boots that are waterproof is always a blessing because you never know when the weather might change and you could end up soaked in the rain. Trekking around with wet, soggy feet is beyond unpleasant, so these boots are sure to keep you happy in even the wettest of conditions. Not only are they fully waterproof, but the membrane is also extremely breathable allowing for air flow so that you don't get hot and sweaty feet. The nylon lining will wick away any moisture, so you can be confident taking these boots off and not worrying about any odor.

Cost and Value
One of the absolute cheapest options on our list, this boot is an absolute steal at it's price. You are going to find that these are perfect for backpacking, and are versatile enough that you can adventure around without worry. Given that they can hold up against most terrains and weather conditions, you are getting an all around fantastic boot for an total bargain. This is a hard boot to pass up for anyone.
Pros
  • Fun Attractive Color Options
  • Leather and Textile
  • Fully Waterproof
  • Ankle Support
  • Padded Gusseted Tongue
  • Stability Heel Clip
  • Rubber Toe Protector
  • Numentum Technology
  • Non Marking Vibram Outsole
  • Self Cleaning Lugs
  • Very Lightweight
  • Comfortable Out of Box
Cons
  • Narrow in Width
  • Sizing Runs Smaller
  • May Rub Against Ankles

8. DailyShoes Military

8. DailyShoes Military
Super comfortable and extra cute, these military style lace up boots are sure to make any travel outfit look great. While these aren't recommended for rough or rugged terrains, these will serve you well if you're backpacking through city streets and exploring rustic neighbourhoods and areas. They are very lightweight, and are made from synthetic materials, while still including a sturdy rubber sole to keep your feet comfortable as you walk down the streets. These are also best suited for warmer and drier climates, as they will not hold up well in rain or other wet conditions.
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Built In Storage Pocket
One of the best, and most unique features of this boot is the built in storage pocket included on the side. With a secure zipper, this is an amazingly handy thing to have for backpackers as any extra storage space can be a lifesaver. Hide your money and other small valuables inside the pocket, and have no fear of losing it along your way. The zipper is very durable, and will not wear out after constant use, so you don't need to worry about it accidentally sliding down.

Comfort Assured
Since you are going to be putting some serious walking mileage on to these boots, it is important that they offer up ultimate comfort. The padded insole cushions will give you a pillow like feel for your foot to rest on, and will help prevent any foot fatigue as well as any aches or pains. With a fully lace up front, you have full control over the tightness of the fit and you can secure them to match your personal preference; this gives you more controlled ankle support as well.

Cost and Value
These boots are very cheap, but in a way you do get what you pay for. Unlike the other boots on our list, these are not going to last you for very long, especially if you are using them for backpacking. Even with casual use these tend to wear down quickly, so you will likely only get one trip out of them. With that said, if you are only seeking a pair of boots for your upcoming trip and don't need them to last longer than that, then these are an absolute steal.
Pros
  • Synthetic Materials
  • Zippered Storage Pocket
  • Very Cute Style
  • Tough Zipper
  • Padded Insole Cushions
  • Lace Up Front
  • Variety of Color Options
  • Inexpensive
  • Decorative Buckling
Cons
  • Not Waterproof
  • Wear Out Quickly
  • Sizing Runs Larger

9. Timberland Euro

9. Timberland Euro
The second pair of Timberlands on the list, the Euro hiking boot is a fantastic choice for both the low key and more rugged backpacker. Lightweight and durable, these boots will hold up no matter how far you walk, and your secure ankle will ensure that you are comfortable and stable the whole time. Made from premium grade leather, these boots are waterproof and rugged, while also looking amazing on. They have an attractive profile, and they are versatile in the sense that you can use them for backpacking as well as just nights out on the town. With a comfortable midsole, and an interior spacious enough to house any custom insoles, these are sure to make your feet feel and look amazing on your travels.
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EVA Midsole
The midsole on this boot is thick and well cushioned, giving you a luxurious feel when you walk. If you're backpacking for long periods of time, you want to make sure that your boots is supportive and comfortable, as having blisters or foot fatigue will put a damper on your trip quickly. The cushiony feeling of the midsole is great for all day comfort and it provides a good amount of shock absorption as well. Light and soft, these are midsoles that you are going to want to have in every pair of shoes you wear.

Trail Grip Outsole
Planning on travelling across different types of terrains? These boots have a fantastic outsole that offers great traction and grip. No matter what kind of surface you are walking across, you will be impressed by how well these shoes grip and give you full stability and security. For those who love to hike, this boot will be a great choice as you can use it for backpacking, hiking, and general every day wear.

Cost and Value
With such a versatile and well performing shoe you would expect the price tag to be fairly hefty, but surprisingly these are on the lower end of the price list. Completely worth every penny, these boots should easily fall within most backpackers price ranges and that makes them well worth checking out. With the ability to be worn for a variety of occasions, for the low price you may want to pick up a couple pairs!
Pros
  • Full Grain Leather Exterior
  • Superior Comfort
  • Rugged Cordura Fabric
  • Cushioned EVA Midsole
  • Lightweight Cushioning
  • Great Shock Absoprtion
  • Steel Shank for Arch Support
  • Trail Grip Outsole
  • Toe Guard
  • Waterproof
Cons
  • Instep is Very Roomy
  • Narrow in Width
  • Can Be Quite Stiff

10. 5.11 ATAC 8 Inch

10. 5.11 ATAC 8 Inch
For those who take their boots very seriously, this is a boot that is sure to exceed your expectations. Originally engineered for army, law enforcement, and other tactile units, this boot is the ultimate in military style. With an 8 inch lace up front, these are a higher boot that offers incredible security and stability. Longer backpacking trips, and those that include deserts or other very rugged terrains will benefit greatly from this boot. These are very high performance boots that will last you a very long time, and are sure to give you everything you need to have a great backpacking experience. Even with all the military style features, these boots remain comfortable and breathable.
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Shock Mitigation System
Designed by 5.11, this shock mitigation system will serve you well while you are climbing and hiking across rugged terrains. It is comprised of 6 separate components that come to together to create a supportive and dynamic system for any high impact activity. Approved by police and firefighters alike, these are boots that can withstand any kind of activity and offer a superior performance that you will be more than impressed by. It is lightweight and has fantastic compression and rebound, giving you more speed, comfort, and stability.

Odor Control Lining
These boots have a moisture wicking interior so that your feet stay dry and cool regardless of the weather or terrain. As stated previously, these are exceptional for areas that are desert like, and even in the intense heat your feet should remain comfortable. The lining inside the boot also control odor by preventing the growth of any bacteria. This will allow you to wear them all day long and not worry about them smelling when you take them off.

Cost and Value
These are some intense boots, that are made for professionals, so you would expect the price on these to be almost outrageous. Instead, these boots are about as middle of the road as you can get on this list, and they are unbelievably well priced for what you are getting. With such a durable and high performing boot, these are must haves for people who love to take on difficult terrains. You will have superior traction as well as comfort and coolness that will make you fall in love with these boots over and over again.
Pros
  • Engineered for Police, Military, and Firefighters
  • High Performance
  • Comfortable and Sturdy
  • Enhanced Speed and Traction
  • Open Cell Foam Cushion
  • Ortholite Insole
  • Hypertext Lasting Board
  • Oil and Slip Resistant Outsole
  • Heel and Toe Reinforcements
  • Covert Tactile Pocket
  • Shock Mitigation System
Cons
  • Scuff Easily
  • Takes a Long Time to Break In
  • Zipper Can Get Caught

11. KEEN Durand Mid

11. KEEN Durand Mid
One important factor when looking at shoes for your backpacking trip is making sure they are going to last your journey. Unlike regular footwear, backpacking shoes need to be able to stand up to long hours of use, day after day, for weeks or even months at a time. This is a lot of mileage being put on a shoe, so opting for something like the Keen Durand Mid is going to give you the peace of mind you need. Extremely durable, this is a ankle high boot that is designed to last, and the quality materials will ensure that your boot doesn't fall apart during your trek. The waterproof leather upper will keep your foot dry and protected, regardless of the weather or conditions that you choose to backpack through. Great shock absorption and a contoured heel lock means your foot will stay comfortable day after day.
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Waterproof and Breathable
Designed in Portland, a place known for it's rain, this shoe has been made with rainy weather in mind. Fully waterproof, you will be able to trek through damp forests, rain soaked towns, and mountain streams without your foot getting soggy and wet. This shoe is amazing at keeping moisture out, but it's also great for ensuring that moisture doesn't build up inside as well. Their patented Keen.Dry membrane allows moisture to escape the shoe, giving you a breathable and dry interior. Your feet should feel sweat and heat free, even after long days of walking with your heavy backpack.

Removable Footbed
Besides just being durable, you're going to want a boot that is extremely comfortable on your foot as this is what is going to carry you to every place you visit. Even short durations in an uncomfortable shoe can be very unpleasant, so when you're on your feet for an entire day you want to make sure your foot has the support and cushioning it needs. This boot boasts a metatomical footbed that will properly contour to your foot's shape. Your arch will get the proper amount of support, while the rest of your foot will find cushioning in the areas that need it most.

Cost and Value
These boots are by no means cheap, and you're looking at over $200 to score a pair for yourself. While you can sometimes find them on sale, you're still going to be paying a fair amount for them. So are they worth the price tag? Absolutely. KEEN is a great brand that specializes in this type of footwear, so you know you're getting a boot that is durable, long lasting, and well made. Even at full price you will get your moneys worth with a pair of these, and as these are your means of transportation it's worth spending the extra dollars to ensure you have quality boots.
Pros

Breathable Membrane

Fully Waterproof

Won't Break Down Quickly

Full Leather and Mesh Upper

Heel Lock and Cushion

Metatomical Footbed

Stability Shank

Keeps Feet Warm

Wide in Width

Cons

Sizing Runs Small

May be a bit Heavy

Can Cause Blistering on Heels

12. Salomon X Ultra Mid 2

12. Salomon X Ultra Mid 2
If you look through backpacking forums and review sites, this is one boot that you will see come up again and again. The Salomon X Ultra Mid 2 is one of the ideal backpacking boots for a lot of different reasons, and it's one that anyone planning a trip should check out before they leave. Low profile, light, waterproof, and comfortable, there is little else you could want in a boot that is going to go on a journey with you. As anyone who spends long hours on their feet knows all too well, having heavy footwear makes a significant different and at the end of the day the lighter the boot the less sore and tired your feet will be.
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Hybrid Footwear
Choosing between a hiking boot and a trail running shoe can be a difficult choice, especially for backpackers who need a little of both when it comes to footwear. Luckily the Salomon X Ultra Mid 2 takes the best of both worlds, bringing together the lightness and agility of a running shoe with the support and durability of a hiking boot. Designed for people who like to be on the move, this shoe will easily carry you across all types of terrain, while still offering up a secure lug pattern for traction and a stiff upper for ankle support.

Gore Tex Protection
Time and time again we are seeing boots that have Gore Tex featured on this list, and there is good reason for that. Gore Text allows for a boot to stay waterproof while also remaining breathable and well ventilated. Keeping rain out while also allowing for moisture to escape means you will have dry, cool feet all day long. Other materials on the market offer similar properties, but Gore Tex is one of the best available and it's beloved status is due to the fact that it is genuinely effective.

Cost and Value
When this boot first hit the market it was over the $200 mark, making it a fairly hefty investment for the average person. Even though it is completely worth the original price tag, most of you will be happy to hear that the price has decreased over the last little while due to Salomon releasing other models of boots. The drop in price has no effect on the quality of the boot or how durable it is, it just simply reflects the fact that it isn't the absolute newest model of boot that has been released from this company.
Pros

Gore Tex Waterproof Layer

Breathable and Well Ventilated

Good Ankle Support

Heel is Padded and Protected

Great Stability and Traction

Lightweight in Comparison to Other Boots

Durable, Low Profile Lugs

Ortholite Footbed

Does Not Cause Blistering

Cons

Laces Come Loose Easily

Sizing Runs Smaller

Width is More Narrow

13. La Sportiva Core High GTX

13. La Sportiva Core High GTX
The first thing that really stands out with these boots is their appearance, and for those who want footwear that looks cool and unique then you may want to stop and give this part a good read through. Designed with speed and agility in mind, this boot will take you wherever you want to go with ease, and the lightness will allow you to climb and trek for days without foot fatigue or pain. Like many boots, these also feature a Gore Tex layer, making sure your feet stay dry regardless of the conditions you are exploring in. Comfortable even straight out of the box, this is a boot that almost every backpacker will find to be the perfect fit for their trip.
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STB Control System
One of La Sportiva's footwear technologies is their STB Control System which is highly featured in their Core High GTX boot. What this system entails is a upper design that is made so that it wraps around the midsole and gives you a tighter and more secure fit. Not only does this system affect the feel of the boot on your foot, but it also gives you higher torsion resistance, which in simplified terms means that the boot, and your foot, are less likely to twist and shift with movement. This means you will have greater stability and traction on wet and uneven surfaces.

Impact Brake System
Another feature that is just from La Sportiva is their Impact Brake System, which does exactly what it sounds like. As this boot is designed for backpackers who move, and move fast, this boot will give you additional support and protection when you're going uphill or scaling rocks and mountains. On the heel of the boot you will notice that the lugs are more slanted, and this is to help give you better braking ability for when you need to stop quickly. It also offers up a decrease of around 20% when it comes to impact forces.

Cost and Value
For a boot that is so lightweight, and offers up so many unique technologies, it should come at no surprise that this one also sits around the $200 mark. While you can find it on sale occasionally, more or less you will be paying a good amount of money to own this boot. Like mentioned previously though, backpackers really need to consider their footwear as part of the overall travel costs, just as a regular traveller thinks of plane and train tickets. When you put it in perspective, the price of these boots is relatively low for something that is going to keep you safe and comfortable for your trip.
Pros

Attractive Appearance and Design

Full Gore Tex Wrapped Outer

EVA Midsole for Comfort

Impact Brake System

Nano Cell Upper 

TPU Inserts for Added Stability

Breathable Mesh

STB Control System

Very Lightweight

Cons

Sizing Runs Smaller

Lacks Arch and Ankle Support

May Not Be Ideal For Thick, Off Trail Hiking

14. Adidas Terrex Swift R Mid

14. Adidas Terrex Swift R Mid
If you have been reading through this list and hoping for a more inexpensive option, then the Adidas Terrex Swift R Mid is probably a great place to stop and take a look. At the lower end of the price scale, this boot has many of the same features seen in previous items while also adding in some Adidas only technology. Incredibly lightweight, this boot is one of the lightest we featured, making it great for those who plan on doing A LOT of walking. Even at the low price these are offered at, they work well for those who plan on climbing mountains or going very off trail, as well as those who plan on walking through cities and taking in more tame scenery. The only downside that's noticeable at this price point is that the fabric upper may not last as long as other boot materials, but most still find that it's durable enough for a long term trip.
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Adidas Technology
With Adiprene technology in the heel of this shoe, you should find that get a very comfortable and supportive feel when walking or hiking. Able to properly absorb shock and impact, your heel will be free of the pain and discomfort that generally comes from long distance hiking on rougher terrains. Not only does this boot feature Adiprene, but it also includes a Traxion outsole which is well known for being great at gripping to wet surfaces. Given that this boot is waterproof, you can head out in the rain without slipping or ending up with soggy feet.

Mesh Upper
One of the ways this boot has been able to remain so lightweight, only 15.2oz, is by swapping a more dense material usually seen on boots for a mesh upper. While the durability is compromised slightly, and may wear down faster than other uppers, the trade off is a very breathable and well ventilated boot. Great for people who are unsure of the weather conditions, or want a boot that can perform in the heat as well, this is a solid option that will keep your feet airy and ventilated while you move.

Cost and Value
Like previously stated, this boot is amazing value for the money and it is one of the cheaper options on this list. Although it may not last as long as some of the more expensive options, it is in no ways easily wrecked and it will last you for your entire trip. For extremely cold environments you may find these don't give you enough warmth and protection, but for average cold and warm weather these will be perfect. Superior traction and added comfort and support makes this a great boot for almost any backpacker; especially those on a tighter budget.
Pros

Breathable Mesh Upper

Only 15.2oz in Weight

Bungee Lacing System

Waterproof Gore Tex Lining

Adiprene in the Heel for Cushioning

Traxion Outsole Gives Great Traction and Grip

Abrasion Resistant

Molded Sockliner

Light EVA Midsole

Cons

Sizing Runs Smaller

Can Be Tight on the Ankle

Laces are Rough

15. Altra Lone Peak 3 Mid Neo

15. Altra Lone Peak 3 Mid Neo
Technically more of a trail running shoe and boot, this option from Altra is going to be great for those who want to move quickly without fear of slipping or injury. With an intense lug pattern on the outsole, these boots are going to keep your feet securely planted on the trail as you make your way to your final destination. Lightweight, breathable, and waterproof, these are an all around great choice to take on your next backpacking trip. Designed to handle any weather condition, this is great if you're heading to a place where the weather can be unpredictable, or if you want a boot that you can take on multiple trips to varied locations.
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Comfortable Fit
Comfort is key, and this boot is one of the most comfortable that we have looked at so far. Wearers comment time and time again about how great this boot feels on, even for long distances and periods of time, and that comes down to the way the interior has been designed. While most hiking boots and trail running shoes are made to give a snug fit, this one features a very roomy toe box, allowing for you to splay easily. It also encourages the natural gait and fall of your foot, great for overpronators and supinators alike.

Grip and Traction
The most stand out feature of this boot is the outsole, as it provides genuinely superior traction and grip. Originally made with trail runners in mind, this will keep your foot securely planted whether you're going up or down the side of a mountain. While city backpackers may not see the benefit right away, having a shoe with such great grip is going to ensure your foot and ankle don't fall prey to any injury, ending your trip in discomfort and pain.

Cost and Value
Sticking with the price theme that has dominated this list, the Altra Lone Peak 3 Mid Neo sits around the $200 mark. Well worth the investment, this shoe holds up great over time and is a versatile option that should last you on a multitude of trips. Extremely comfortable and supportive, your feet will genuinely thank you for taking the time and money to purchase a pair of these boots, and your trip will be more enjoyable with boots like these on your feet.
Pros

Polartec NeoShell Lining Keeps the Boot Waterproof

Superior Grip and Traction

Toe Box is Very Roomy

Enhances Natural Gait

TrailClaw Outsole

Extremely Comfortable

Works in Wet or Dry Conditions

Great for Trail Running as Well

Cons

Collar May Feel Too Padded

Fabric Not as Breathable as Others

Sizing Runs Smaller

 

With so many great boots currently available on the market, it can be hard to pick and choose exactly what it is you need. Remember to always take in to consideration the type or climate and terrain that you will be backpacking through, as this will be a major factor in determining the best boot for you. It is also great to check for whether a boot is waterproof or not, as even if you don’t plan on going in any water, unexpected rainfall can put a real damper on your day if your feet end up soggy and wet.

Covert pockets are a neat feature, and if you are someone who likes to keep a bit of money hidden away then this is a feature you may want to look more in to. A few boots on this list offer up this handy feature, so make sure you don’t overlook those brands and options.

All in all you want a boot that will last, as you are going to be putting some serious milage on them. Because of this factor, be prepared to be paying a bit more for your boots and don’t cheap out by just going for the least expensive boots you can find. Generally you are going to get what you pay for, and the last thing you want is to be hundreds of miles away from home with a pair of boots that are broken and useless. Invest the money in to your boots and you will be certain to have an absolutely amazing time backpacking across the globe.

 

Criteria for Selecting the Best Backpacking Boots

In order to create this list a lot of time was put in to reading about the experiences other people have had while backpacking. By visiting travel forums, reading reviews, and focusing on backpacking blogs there were some trends that seemed to come up over and over again in regards to what was needed for the trip.

Over and over people were asking about the best shoes or boots that should wear for their trip, and experienced backpackers poured in with tips, tricks, and great suggestions. Filtering through all of the options was overwhelming, which is why there was great care taken to ensure this list was highly reflective of not only what manufacturers claimed, but also what people’s authentic experiences with each shoe were and are.

While reading through all of the suggestions people had, some key features and elements were brought up in order to pass down some good advice to new travellers. Below we will get more in to detail about what it is a good backpacking boot needs, why those aspects are so important, and what your different options are in each category.

 

Overall Weight

The number one key feature that backpackers commented on was the amount each boot weighed overall. Everyone knows that a boot is going to be heavier than a running shoe or a sandal, but does the weight between different boots make that much of a difference?

Well the answer is, absolutely yes. A couple ounces here and a couple ounces there really will make a significant difference over time and your feet are going to thank you if you purchase a pair of lightweight boots. Many boot manufacturers will claim their boots to be lightweight, but it’s important that you take the time to check what the actual weight is. While a 15oz boot is completely in the lightweight category, a 33oz boot may also be listed as such, and that’s a significant difference between the two.

Backpackers come in all different forms, and not every adventurer is going to be planning for the same type of trip; backpacking through London is going to be extraordinarily different than backpacking through the Himalayas. Weight will play an important role depending on where you are going, so it is important to break this down by trip.

  • For backpackers who are doing city centered trips in warm/hot locations:
    This is the group who are going to want the lightest weight boot. If you are walking for hours in a city that’s hot, the number one thing that is going to kill your feet first is the sweat and heat. Once moisture starts building up and your feet overheat, you are going to need to stop, take those boots off, and rest for awhile. This may give you a chance to relax and take in your scenery, but you aren’t going to want to do this every 20 minutes. Generally the lighter the boot, the lighter the upper, and this is going to be your ideal choice every time. City streets require far less durability and ruggedness from your footwear, so you can really focus on light and airy.
  • For backpackers who are doing city centered trips in cold/rainy locations:
    If you fall in to this category you have a bit of freedom to play with weight. As long as your boot is going to give you enough warmth, protection, and dryness you can still go for a more lightweight option. Any kind of insulation will add weight, but unless you’re in freezing conditions you should be find with a warm pair of socks and some light insulation. A full mesh upper may not be your best bet, but you can still opt for one of the lighter pairs on the market. City backpacking is more about duration over durability, and you want your feet to be free from the aches, pains, and fatigue that heavier boots often cause.
  • For backpackers who are doing rough terrain in warm/hot conditions:
    The simple rule of thumb is that the more rugged your trek, the more rugged the boot needs to be. Hiking mountain trails, exploring off the beaten path, and tackling dense and uneven terrain means you need a boot that can take a beating and still keep going. Rugged boots weigh more, that’s just a fact, often because they are made with leather or other more durable uppers. An important distinction though is if you are heading to a warm/hot location, you can forego any insulation, shaving a bit of weight off. Here you want a boot that’s going to protect your foot, but also allow heat and moisture to escape. Synthetic and Gore Tex uppers are great choices.
  • For backpackers who are doing rough terrain in cold/rainy conditions:
    Anyone who is tackling this kind of trip is probably going to be one of the most prepared backpackers. You know that you’re going to encounter harsh conditions, you’ll be damp and cold, and you will need to walk for long hours in tough terrains. Out of all backpackers you are going to be the one who wants the heaviest boot, something that can walk through mud, over fallen trees, and up the side of a mountain with ease. Insulation is going to be an important factor, as is a boot that is genuinely waterproof. Leather uppers, while heavier, are going to be the most common one seen in a boot for this style of backpacking. The heavier boot may cause your feet to become sore and tired, but it will also protect your feet and ankles from sprains, injuries, slipping, and falling.

 

Waterproof

Waterproof-Best Backpacking BootsAs we discussed when looking at weight, different backpackers are going to have vastly different requirements when it comes to what they need in footwear depending on the location as well as the weather they will encounter. If you’re somewhere hot and dry, this section won’t be as relevant, but for anyone who thinks that may encounter rain, streams, puddles, or rivers, or damp forest floors then you will certainly want to continue to read on.

Every boot on our list was looked at for their waterproof or water resistant qualities. The majority featured claim to be waterproof, but like with all things in life, some are better than others at fulfilling that promise. Light rain isn’t going to require a fully waterproof boot, and you can easily get away with a boot that is water resistant or has a hydrophobic mesh or lining.

For anything more than light rain, a fully waterproof boot is going to be your best bet, as there is nothing worse that having wet, soggy feet all day long. Blisters, bacteria, fungus, and other unpleasant things can occur in moist, damp, dark environments; so keeping your feet completely dry is a very important aspect of backpacking.

Gore Tex wrapped boots are a very common choice, and this has a lot to do with it’s ability to be fully waterproof while also allowing heat and moisture to still escape through it’s lining. Heat and sweat building up inside your boot is no more enjoyable than rain soaking in, so having an upper than can do both is the sweet spot that you want to aim for.

Another thing to consider that often gets overlooked is how quickly a boot will dry after it gets wet. If you are submerging your boot in rivers and streams while you trek, eventually that boot will get wet and the dry time is going to be vitally important. Giving a check to see if a boot is quick drying may save you some hassle on your trip, and is a small thing to keep in mind that could end up making a big difference down the road.

 

Traction and Grip

This is one of those factors that will be important regardless of the weather and location, so it’s important for every backpacker to take in to consideration. While the amount may be different for each person, traction and grip is required to keep your feet moving safely over whatever terrain you’re on. From city streets to uncharted mountain trails, the last thing you want is to be slipping and sliding while carrying heavy backpacks on your shoulders.

For people who want more traction and grip, you should look for boots that have lugs on the outsoles, as these will do a better job of catching on to more uneven terrain and slippery slopes. Wider set lugs are going to give you the most grip on uneven surfaces, whereas close knit lugs tend to do better on wet and slippery surfaces.

For slick streets and well paved roads, a good tread pattern is going to be your ideal, and this means that the tread should be multidirectional and grippy enough that it makes a difference. Reviews are always going to give you a good idea of how good the grip and traction is, so utilize those resources when you can. Some outsoles have what is referred to as sticky grip on the bottom, and while some people find this extremely useful, others say it isn’t as effective. The best thing to opt for is a sturdy rubber sole with a good tread pattern that has the positive reviews to match.

Slipping, sliding, and falling can lead to serious injury, especially for those who are in more remote locations. The last thing you want is to slip down the side of a ravine or down in to a bush where you have little cell reception or support. One of the best things you can do in regards to footwear in order to help keep you safe is to opt for a pair of boots that is genuinely going to give you support. Being so back heavy, due to what you are carrying, traction and grip is a major factor in selecting the right pair of backpacking boots.

 

FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions

 

Q.: Should Backpacking Boots Only Be Hiking Boots?
A.: While many backpacking boots do fall in to the hiking boot category, not every backpacker is going to need the stability and support offered from a hiking boot. Lightweight boots, casual boots, trail running shoes, hiking shoes, regular running shoes, and even sandals have all been used to backpackers over the years. The category of footwear isn’t nearly as important as the footwear itself, and as long as it has the aspects that will meet your needs then it will be a good backpacking shoe for you.

Q.: Are Backpacking Boots Steel Toed?
A.: 
The majority of backpacking boots do not feature a steel toe component, as this tends to be unnecessary and only serves to add extra weight to the boot itself. Instead, many will feature a rubber toe cap which is great protection on trails as well as streets, while still remaining light enough to not weigh your feet down over time.

Q.: Do You Need Backpacking Boots?
A.: 
While some people may opt for a different type of footwear, backpacking boots are the ideal choice overall. They may not be as stylish or as fashionable as some other options, but the main focus is on performance, durability, and support. When you are spending such long hours on your feet, you need footwear that will be able to keep up with you. Soles that don’t wear down quickly, ankle support to prevent injury, traction and grip, and waterproof properties are all going to come in to play as you travel. Ensuring you have proper footwear will mean less hassle and stress for you, and you will be more comfortable and happy as you take on this adventure.

Q.: How to Choose Backpacking Boots?
A.: 
Using lists like the one featured above are great places to start, as this gives you a wide range of items that are available that have been reviewed, tested, and loved by fellow backpackers. Before you begin to read about boots, however, you want to always start by really focusing in on where you are going and what your environment will be like. Knowing these types of conditions beforehand can make your search for boots far easier, as then you can zero in on reviews that match the specifications you in particular need.

Sources

  1. Best Shoes For Backpacking?, Best Shoes For Backpacking?, Forum,
  2. Backpacker, Gear: Choosing the Right Pair of Hiking Boots, Web Article,
  3. Ryan Huetter and Ross Robinson, How to Choose the Best Hiking Boots, Web Article,

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