Best Trekking Shoes Reviewed & Rated for Performance

If you’re an avid outdoors person or love to hike through the wilderness, then you know that having a durable and sturdy pair of shoes or boots is vital. No matter the terrain, you want to not only be comfortable but also have the traction and stability to move with ease. There a variety of different shoes and boots on the market, so how do you go about finding the one that is right for you? A big part of that decision comes down to what activity you’re engaged in, how often you will be wearing them, and the overall look you want.

What makes trekking shoes unique and different from running shoes or just regular boots is that they are designed with a specific purpose in mind. They tend to be heavier, to keep you stable and grounded, while also remaining flexible so you can traverse a variety of terrains. Many brands will be waterproof as well, making sure your feet stay warm and dry in whatever climate you’re in.

Last Updated:
By Daniel Core:

In our latest update, we've added five new items and updated our list to be current for the new 2018 year. We've also provided research and added a "Criteria" and "Frequently Asked Questions" section to help you in your search for the best Trekking Shoe. We're excited to have our list be optimized to provide an equal variety of different Trekking Shoes.

Featured Recommendations

Timberland Chocorua Gtx Mid
  • Timberland Chocorua Gtx Mid
  • 5 out of 5
    Our rating
  • Fully Waterproof
  • Long-Lasting Tread
  • Price: See Here
Keen Targhee II
  • Keen Targhee II
  • 4.8 out of 5
    Our rating
  • Water Resistant
  • Stable Support
  • Price: See Here
Adidas Outdoor AX2
  • Adidas Outdoor AX2
  • 4.6 out of 5
    Our rating
  • Wet And Dry Environments
  • Lug Sole For Traction
  • Price: See Here

Durability is one of the most important factors, as trekking shoes will get far more damage than regular shoes with each use. Every rock you step on, every log you scrape on, every hill you climb; these will all wear away at the shoe so you want something that has a long-lasting sole and high-quality materials.


10 Best Trekking Shoes


1. Timberland Chocorua Gtx Mid

Crafted using leather and textile materials, these Timberland hiking boots are both lightweight and not at all bulky.
These are boots that are truly designed for long distance hikes in all sorts of terrains and weather conditions and are a great option if you are backpacking through amazing locations across the globe. Comfortable out of the box, you can wear these for long periods of time without feeling fatigue or soreness in your feet.
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Anti Fatigue Technology
If you are a long distance hiker or enjoy backpacking in remote areas, you want to make sure that your boots don't tire you out before you're ready to stop for the day. Using their unique, patented technology these boots are designed to cradle your foot and offers up enough flexibility that they move with you throughout the day.

Crafted using gore-tex, these boots are fully waterproof while still remaining breathable. Keep your feet dry in any weather, and enjoy your adventure without having soggy socks. The breathability will help reduce any bacteria from growing keeping these boots odor-free longer.

Cost and Value
Timberland is a very well known brand, so it goes without saying that the cost will be a bit higher for these boots. The benefit is that you know you are buying from a reputable company, so the quality and durability is more assured. For the comfort and anti-fatigue factors alone, these boots are worth their higher price tag, and their durable nature means you won't have to purchase new boots again for a while.

Long-Lasting Tread

Anti-Fatigue Comfort

Gore-Tex Waterproof Membrane

Flexible Forefoot

Leather And Textile Construction


Runs Small

Eyelets May Wear Out

Sole Separation Over Time

2. Keen Targhee II Mid WP

Offering up four-wheel-drive performance for your feet, these hiking boots are designed to take you to any destination you have in mind. Rugged and durable, this is how a hiking boot should be, giving you the security and stability to take on any challenge. With a mid-cut height to the boot, you will not only have foot stability, but your ankle will be stabilized as well so you can get to hard to reach places injury free.
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Waterproof Membrane
Everyone loves to hike in different climates and across different terrains, so don't let the rain or water prevent you from exploring. With a thin waterproof membrane, your feet will stay fully dry so you can take on rainy climates and river laced lands. The membrane is also fully breathable, so moisture can escape out keeping your shoes free from bacteria build up and unpleasant odors.

Multi Directional Lugs
Making sure your shoes have a strong grip while hiking is vital, and these shoes have taken that to heart by designing 4mm multidirectional lugs to help you grip on to any surface. Slippery rocks and vertical heights won't be a problem as these shoes will aggressively attach and keep you from slipping and falling.

Cost and Value
These boots are one of the most expensive items on our list, but that price tag is higher for a reason. Instead of having to buy multiple pairs of boots over time, invest in one pair of these and have them last through multiple adventures. The construction is sturdy and the materials are durable, giving you a great boot for the price.


Stable Ankle Support

Protective Toe Cap

Contoured Heel Lock

Waterproof Outer

Hydrophobic Mesh Lining


Runs Small

Long Break-In Period

3. Adidas Outdoor AX2

With over 27 different color choices, you can be sure to find a pair of these shoes that best fits your personality. Not only do they look great on, but these will take you where you need to go, with their lightweight and low cut design. Enhanced grip, a special adiPrene insert, and comfortable cushioning all combine to make this shoe great for your outdoor activities.
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Air Mesh
With the entire top of the shoe crafted using air mesh, you can be confident that your foot will have maximum ventilation and breathability. Keep your feet cool while you run or trek while preventing any odor from building up over time.

adiPrene Insert
For those who love to run, you know how important both comfort and shock absorption is for your feet and body. The insert on these shoes is specifically designed for maximum shock absorption, taking the pressure off both your feet and knees while moving. The insole also provides extra cushioning for comfort, so you don't have to worry about blisters or fatigue while you're active.

Cost and Value
With a very mid-range price, these shoes won't break the bank while still delivering high-quality results. Adidas is known worldwide and has a positive reputation that can give you confidence in your purchase. Compared with the other shoes on this list, the price is still very average and even considered low priced when compared with other shoes from the same brand.

Lug Sole For Traction

Air Mesh Ventilation

adiPrene Insert

Grippy In Wet Conditions

Shock Absorption

Stable Fit


Not Waterproof

Gore-Tex Only On Exterior

4. Columbia Newton Ridge Plus

4. Columbia Newton Ridge Plus
This fully waterproof hiking boot is crafted from full grain leather, offering up a durable shoe for all your outdoor needs. With D-Ring and Clamshell lacing, you don't need to stress about tension eroding away your laces, and you can tighten them to what fits best for you. Water and stain resistant, these hiking books will look good and stay maintained no matter how hard you push them.
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Foam Midsole
Compression molded so that it stands up to the weight and pressure of you, this EVA foam midsole delivers a comfortable place to rest your foot while ensuring that it can still absorb any shock and pressure. The compression keeps the midsole durable and sturdy without hindering the comfort level.

Omni Grip Tread
One of the most important features of a hiking boot is its tread, and this shoe has an Omni grip tread that will keep you steady on any terrain. Even the most rugged of terrains won't be a match for these boots, so you can climb and explore wherever you desire most.

Cost and Value
Compared to other trekking boots, these boots are more affordable but they do not lack support. These boots still provide your favorite trekking shoe features that other and more expensive brands offer without breaking the bank. For all the protective features these boots provide to keep them long lasting, your feet and wallet will thank you.

Omni Grip Tread


Stain Resistant

All Climate Design

No Break-In Required



Stiff Construction

5. Merrell Siren Sport 2

5. Merrell Siren Sport 2
Another top brand in the trekking shoe industry, Merrell is making their second appearance on this list with another model of their hiking shoes. This lightweight and nimble shoe is great for both hiking as well as trail running and is both breathable and water resistant. With a sticky sole, you can feel the shoe traction grip on to any surface providing you with support and stability.
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Q Form Comfort
Using a unique design, the Q Form Comfort is designed with comfort in mind. When you walk, the heel will absorb any shock and give you more stability as it is nicely cushioned. There are extra support areas built into the midsole, keeping your foot centered and giving you an extra push when you step. With some added cushioning in the toe area, your weight should be evenly distributed providing you with all-around comfort and support.

Lug Pattern
The lugs on the bottom of this shoe are placed in the front and back while leaving an empty space in the center. The added benefit here is that you will have more overall flexibility and it will shape easier to the natural form of your foot. The areas with lugs are equipped with solid traction, keeping you steady on whatever terrain you like.

Cost and Value
With these shoes staying well below the $100 mark, they are one of the more budget-friendly options on our list. As with any lower priced shoe, they may not last as long as some of the other options on the market, but they are easily worth the price as they perform well as a hiking shoe.

Mermaid Vibram Sole

Q Form Comfort

Ortholite Footbed

Odor Prevention

Breathable Mesh Lining

Omni-Fit Lacing

Bellows Tongue Minimizes Debris


Sizes Run Narrow

Not Waterproof

6. Northside Burke II

6. Northside Burke II
When you think of trekking shoes, chances are the last thing on your mind are sandals. Depending on where you hike, you may not want to heaviness or warmth of an entire boot or shoe, so there may be a desire to just slip on a rugged and secure sandal and enjoy the sun. With strong traction and secure materials, this sandal is crafted to endure adventure while still keeping your feet cool and breezy.
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Mesh Lining
While the sandal itself features numerous cutouts, there is also a mesh lining to help with breathability and ventilation. The design of the sandal makes it dry quickly, so if you love climbing cliffs and diving into the waters below, you can do so with ease. The sandal itself takes little time to dry out, so you can get it wet and continue hiking without the lasting presence of a soggy foot.

Arch Support
Meant to be comfortable, these sandals have built-in arch support so that your foot's natural shape is upheld and supported. This is combined with the cushioned footbed so that you have maximum comfort wherever these sandals take you. Easy to slip on, and with a bungee cord drawstring, these will support you during both everyday activities and extreme adventures.

Cost and Value
Very inexpensive, these sandals should cost you less than $30 a pair, making them an absolute must if you combine water activities with hiking or trekking. Well made and extremely comfortable, the value on these is worth so much more than its low price tag.

Waterproof And Quick Drying

Slip-On Design

Arch Support

Lightweight Cushioning

Mesh Lining For Breathability


Very Wide Fit

Sole Is Stiff

7. Keen Voyageur

7. Keen Voyageur
Another model by KEEN, this is their hiking shoe option which is lower cut than their boot. The quality and features on the shoe are similar to the hiking boot, but the hiking shoe is more lightweight and is ideal for people who like to rock climb while exploring. With the same aggressive tread that KEEN is known for and the durability of high-quality materials, these hiking shoes are a great choice for those who want to get out and explore.
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Mesh Sides
With a mesh side underlay these hiking shoes allow for airflow to keep your feet from overheating. When you're active the last thing you need is a shoe filled with sweat, so mesh sides are a must for reducing odor and keeping your feet comfortable all day long. The fully breathable design means you can enjoy your hike and know that at the end of it all your shoe won't have a smell or bacterial growth.

EVA Foam
TO ensure that your feet are comfortable, these shoes are crafted with both and EVA foam midsole as well as a dual density EVA footbed. This helps your foot to stay cushioned, while also providing shock absorption to keep your feet and knees healthy. The insole is removable, so you can always swap it out for custom insoles if you prefer.

Cost and Value
As KEEN is a higher end brand, their price tags reflect that so these are more expensive than some of the other items mentioned on our list. Since this is the hiking shoe, however, the cost is lower than if you were to opt for a boot, so you can save some money by choosing this model over others.

Multi-Directional Lugs

Heel And Tongue Pull Loops

Removable Insole

Waterproof Leather

EVA Foam Insole

Mesh Side Underlays


Sizing Runs Small

Heavy, Can Feel Clunky

Not Ideal for Narrow Feet

8. Timberland Flume

8. Timberland Flume
A natural, leather-looking design makes the Timberland Flume match its exotic name. The Flume is your regular mid-cut trekking shoe that provides all the necessities in premium footwear that is crafted with a blend of versatility and passion. This bold, sleek design also provides an EVA midsole and leather uppers for durability. If you're looking for a reliable, foundational shoe brand that has been trusted for over 40 years, the Timberland Flume will not let you down.
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Waterproof and Fast-dry
The seam-sealed construction is designed to keep this mid-cut boot dry during harsher trekking conditions. Its dry and breathable innersole also keeps trekkers protected from water reaching the insides of the shoe.

Comforting Footbed
Not only is this lightweight shoe waterproof and durable, but its footbed is also made with a lightweight cushion that absorbs shock. The compression-molded EVA midsole is able to carry a good amount of weight, making backpacking up harsh trails effortless.

Cost and Value
The price range on the Timberland Flume's can vary, but, even so, the Flume's are still on the cheaper end of the spectrum. Their leather design also makes a generous fashion statement. Overall, the shoes are a lot cheaper than their value and should be picked up by anyone looking for a fundamental trekking shoe that is reliable and durable.

Seam-Sealed Waterproofing

Imported Rubber Sole

Leather Uppers And Design

Removable EVA Footbed

Compression-Molded Midsole


Lacks Any Extra Features

9. Columbia Redmond

9.  Columbia Redmond
One prominent eye-catching feature of the low-cut Columbia Redmond is its claim of being waterproof. This is an imperative buying point in the shoe considering that low-cut trekking shoes are often only water-resistant, and very few are reliably waterproof. The Columbia Redmond, however, created a completely waterproof low-cut trekking shoe that can be vital in harsher trekking conditions, while also keeping that lightweight and easy feel.
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Omni-tech Waterproof Design
The seam-sealed membrane and breathable construction of the Redmond shoe are also equipped to be waterproof. What is truly inspiring in these shoes is that even though they are waterproof, the heel of the shoe still feels breathable and not suffocating. The lightweight and breathable feel can only be found on low-cut shoes, so having one that is waterproof can go a long way in your daily trekking.

Omni-Grip Traction
The Columbia Redmond also includes its prominent Omni-Grip Traction feature, which is a design that ensures the maximum grip on a surface, allowing it to prevent slipping or falling which, in trekking terrains, is certainly dangerous.

Cost and Value
The Columbia Redmond is going to cost a bit more for a regular, low-cut trekking shoe but the added waterproof feature covers that entirely, as you won't need to pay extra for waterproofing. If you live and trek in wetter conditions, but still want a lightweight low-cut trekking shoe, the Columbia Redmond will be your go-to.

Lightweight And Breathable

Omni-Tech Grip For Traction

Seam-Sealed Waterproofing

Padded Footbed


Toe Box Can Be Tight

Lacks Durability

10. Xiang Guan Outdoor Low

10.  Xiang Guan Outdoor Low
Made from a water-resistant and breathable material, the Xiang Guan Outdoor Low-cut Trekking shoe is an ideal choice for all of your trekking needs. The sleek black design is complemented by water-resistant technology and a removable EVA sole. It's your go-to safety shoe for trekking while also being able to provide comfort and cushion.
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Breathable Material
The Xiang Guan Outdoor Low-Cut Trekking Shoe uses breathable oxford hi-tech materials to keep the shoe dry, with a lightweight feel that is also fashionable. The breathable sole is ideal for any outdoor activity because of the shoe's low-cut design, making it viable for cycling or fishing, as well as for trekking. It is engineered specifically to provide greater flex and cushioning.

Protective Rubber Overlay
This lightweight shoe is also designed with a protective overlay on the toe cap and heel; this feature prevents toe cramps or heel bruises while hiking, ensuring the hiker's safety while also being durable. This feature is also ideal for those who may be suffering from toe or heel pain, but still want the most out of their shoes.

Cost and Value
Surprisingly, the Xiang Guan Outdoor trekking shoe is on the cheaper end of our list. It provides all your basic trekking shoe features while also being water-resistant and providing a breathable and protective rubber. The value for the Xiang Guan Outdoor Trekking Shoe is certainly worth the cost.

Water Resistant

Breathable Material

Protective Rubber Overlay On Heel And Toe

Removable EVA Insole

Lightweight Design


Narrow Toe Box

Whatever type of trekking you enjoy, there are numerous shoes on the market that will fit your needs. With a variety of shapes, sizes, features, and looks this list gives you a summary of the top 10 options that are on the market right now.

Boots, shoes, or sandals all can help take you on the most epic of adventures, so find the style that will give you both maximum comfort and stability to ensure that you walk away injury free and ready for the next challenge. Always make sure that the traction is secure and that you have the required support in order to prevent any slipping or falling. If you love checking out different terrains and enjoy exploring no matter the weather, be sure to find an option that will hold up in the rain and water as there is nothing worse than soggy feet!


Criteria Used to Evaluate the Best Trekking Shoes

Durability and Stiffness

It certainly goes without saying that you don’t want your shoes to be worn out after a few hikes and treks; that’s why durability plays such a monumental role in quality trekking shoes because you don’t want them to wear out ever—period.

The most important component of any trekking or hiking shoe is its sole—or, specifically, “outsole”; a good, durable outsole can mean the difference between a lifetime shoe and a regrettable purchase, which is why knowing the aspects of a shoe’s outsole should always be thought of when buying. In trekking shoes, the outsole should be the absolute last thing that wears down in the shoe.

The technology of the outsole follows a few general rules; first off, a softer rubber outsole provides better traction underneath the foot, making trekking easier by putting less pressure on the foot and allowing for better grip, but a softer rubber outsole also wears out far faster and shorten the lifespan of the shoe. A harder outsole, on the other hand, can last a lot longer, but won’t provide the maximum grip, making trekking in slippery conditions such as rain much more dangerous.

The shoe’s softness or hardness of the outsole is actually measured by something called the “durometer hardness rating”, a scale that identifies the strength of the rubber using a testing procedure. The scale ranges from 0A to 100A, meaning that the lower the number, the softer outsole, while a shoe ranging close to the 100A rating would have the harder outsole. You’re probably thinking, “Great! Now I can choose the best stiffness of my trekking shoe easily!”—unfortunately, the bad news is that manufacturers almost never list their durometer hardness rating so it’s up to you to decide for yourself how soft or hard an outsole is. You can do this the next time you shop by pressing a fingernail down into the outsole of a shoe; if it marks easily, the shoe is probably the softer kind ranging from 0A to 25A, and if it barely leaves a mark, the shoe is probably around the 75A to 100A range.

What good is this information? Knowing the stiffness of your shoe’s outsole is important when deciding what type of shoe you’re trying to purchase. You should always adhere to what type of activities you’ll be doing and the type of durability you’re looking for. If you’re climbing a lot of steep, rocky mountains, it’s generally better to stick with an outsole that’s softer, providing more grip, but may wear out faster. If you aren’t the type to trek anywhere too steep but would like a shoe that has a long-lasting durability, a shoe with a harder outsole should be your choice.

Another important concept of durability is the density of the soles—specifically the innersole—after a few thousand steps or so, as the shape and softness of the innersole can soon become tender, making your shoes more and more uncomfortable after each trek. The solution to this problem is to replace your innersoles regularly—there are many sources online where you can purchase innersoles in bulk—or buy a pair of trekking shoes with sufficient sole padding that won’t wear out. If you’ve been wearing the same shoe for a while without changing the innersole, you can succumb to blisters or heel pain, two things that should never be an issue when trekking.

Durability and Stiffness:

  • Durability determines how long-lasting your trekking boots will be.
  • The most important part of the shoe’s durability is its outsole.
  • Most trekking shoe outsoles are constructed with rubber.
  • The outsoles durability is can be judged by its stiffness.
  • A softer outsole gives more traction and grip but wears out quickly.
  • A harder outsole lasts much longer but lacks in traction and grip.
  • Your trekking activity will determine what kind of durable outsole you require.
  • Insoles are important as well, and will likely need to be replaced once or twice a year.


Now that you’ve got the first criteria down, the second major portion we want to ensure is fit. Like any other shoe, a good fit should be one of your main priorities, but ensuring your shoe fits isn’t always as easy. Especially when ordering online, where you aren’t able to try on a new pair of trekkers, knowing that your shoe fits perfectly can be almost impossible. Luckily you don’t always need to choose the perfect fit in order to have a good trekking shoe.

In trekking shoes specifically, sometimes you shouldn’t worry about fit but instead about prevention of pressure in the feet. Since trek shoes are generally heavier and more constricting, the worst thing you can do is to buy a pair of trekking shoes that are too small or have a clamped toe box that can cause discomfort or even long-lasting injury. It’s never a bad idea to buy up a size when purchasing trekking shoes, as there are many resources that can help ensure that perfect fit.

One of those resources is socks. Buying a larger size and wearing hiking or trekking socks is always the smartest thing to do to make sure your trekking shoes fit properly. Choosing socks with a wider thickness can fill in that size gap and make trekking comfortable and effortless. There are also specific types of socks—cushioned hiking socks—that use modern technology to be precise in their fit in accordance with your trekking shoe. These can also add warmth to the shoe and help bolster water-resistance.

Your trekking shoes should feel snug, but never tight—there shouldn’t be any points of pain or pressure when walking. When wearing, your toes shouldn’t be touching the front of the shoe; a good test is to kick a wall or any hard object, you shouldn’t feel any pain in your toe and your toe shouldn’t hit the shoe. If your toe does hit the shoe, it’ll happen when you go downhill, making your trekking experience that much more painful. Your heel, however, should feel snug in order to prevent slipping. If your heel is moving up and down the shoe loosely while you’re walking, it could mean that the shoe is too loose, and you may run the risk of irritation on your ankles when trekking.

A marketed footbed can also be used to ensure that your heel is fitted correctly. The footbed can add much-needed volume and arch, allowing your heel to stay snug, even when trekking over uneven ground. If you’re someone who suffers from foot pain, but would also enjoy trekking, there are special orthopedic footbeds that adhere to the shape of your foot, making it easy for your trekking shoe to fit naturally and comfortably.

Also make sure that a proper, durable lace comes with your trekking shoe. Always make sure to first unlace and try on the shoe, assuring a proper fit, before using one of the three knots: the surgeon’s knot, the window knot, or the toe-relief knot. The surgeon’s knot is ideal for when your heel is loose and you find yourself slipping, while the window knot is if you feel pressure points on the top of your foot, and, lastly, the toe-relief knot helps create a stopgap to relieve pressure on the toe box.

Overall, the most one of the most important criteria when looking for trekking shoes are the comfort and fit, and knowing how to look for shoes that specifically shape your feet can always make for a better experience out in the wilderness. To restate, the heel of the shoe should always lock firmly, while the toe should have ample room to prevent it from hitting your shoe, while other factors such as traction and lacing can also be important.


  • Trekking shoes are usually tighter, heavier, and add more pressure.
  • It’s best to order a size up in trekking shoes.
  • When you size up, it’s best to wear trekking/hiking socks to fill in the extra space.
  • Toes should be protected and not feel the front of the shoe.
  • The heel should be securely and snuggly fit.
  • The footbed can give much-needed volume and arch support
  • Try the fit of your trekking boots without the lace, it can give a proper fit.
  • Most importantly, always focus on the fit of the toes and heel.

Weather Protection

Like durability, weather protection should also be a keen point to keep in mind when looking for a pair of trekking shoes. Many ordinary shoes wear down quickly under the harsh conditions of rain, snow, dirt, or other factors in uneven, long hikes; trekking shoes, however, were made to resist these harsh conditions with specific technology aimed toward weather protection.

It’s never a good thing to have water inside your shoe, especially while trekking, as soaked feet in wet climate can lead to calluses and toe fungi, while also exposing you to illnesses in colder conditions. It’s can also be very uncomfortable overall, and make your trek quickly go from good to bad.

Not all trekking shoes are waterproof, and that’s completely fine; if you’re trekking in regular, dry conditions, your standard non-waterproof trekking shoes will do the job, but if you’re venturing into wetlands, rainy, or snowy paths, waterproof footwear is absolutely vital.

There are three main types of waterproofing in trekking shoes; waterproof leather, waterproof constructions, and waterproof linings.

Waterproof leather, which is a waterproof coating of leather that protects water from reaching inside the shoe. These types may be more expensive, as leather isn’t always a feature in trekking shoes, but can be useful in colder and wetter conditions, as leather is naturally resistant to water.

The second type is having a shoe with waterproof construction; this means that the shoe was inherently designed to be tight in stitching and may contain taping to prevent water from entering the shoe. These shoes are usually labeled with a “weather protection” or “waterproof” offer when marketed. There are also shoes that offer only “water protection” but not “waterproof”, meaning that they can protect against water, but soaking the shoe for long periods of time in wetness can cause leaks to the interior. Many trekking shoes claim to be “water protected” or “water resistant”, but keep in mind that these shoes can still allow water into the interior.

The third type of weather protection is waterproof lining, which is a fabric in trekking shoes that can be built in to prevent moisture from passing through the material; waterproof lining can be your best option in a weather protected trekking shoe, as they can completely keep moisture out of the shoe, while also offering to increase the durability.

Other weather protection materials include socks that offer water protection. These socks include a polyester fabric that prevents the socks from staying wet, allowing them to dry quickly, while also keeping heat insulated for colder temperatures. Gore-Tex is often a common choice for weather protection in socks.

It can go without saying that walking with wet shoes is dreadful, and trekking with wet shoes is just that much worse; that is why an efficient waterproof or water resistant shoe is vitally important for trekking in harsh types of weather, including snow and rain. Although it depends on where and how often you trek, you should always have a pair of weather-protected trekking shoes just in case.

Weather Protection:

  • Most trekking shoes are constructed for all weather and terrain.
  • Water resistant is not the same thing as waterproof.
  • Some trekking shoes are not waterproof.
  • Three kinds of waterproofing: waterproof leather, waterproof construction, waterproof lining.
  • Waterproof leather is leather with waterproof coating and is good for cold and wet climates.
  • Waterproof construction has tight stitching to prevent water from leaking in. Some have taping as well.
  • Waterproof lining is a built-in fabric and helps to prevent moisture from entering while keeping durability.
  • There are waterproof trekking/hiking socks available.
  • Not all waterproof trekking shoes are created equal and can still allow water to seep in over time.


Just like how there are different types of running shoes or boots, there are various different types of trekking shoes and knowing their difference is critical when buying. Before you choose just any shoe, you must know which type of shoe will most adhere to the type of activity you’ll be doing.

First, let’s talk about different “cuts” in trekking shoes. There are the low-cut, middle-cut, and high-cut designs. The low-cut trekking looks very similar to running shoes; they are lightweight and can often be worn casually but aren’t meant for long treks with large amounts of weight, as it can lead common ankle injuries. The cut in low-cut shoes generally doesn’t reach over your ankles. The medium-cut shoes provide ankle protection from cuts, while also often feature metal lacing hooks at the ankle, allowing for tighter and more accurate fit. Mid-cut shoes provide far better protection but lack the ankle flexibility provided in low-cut shoes. Mid-cut shoes are ideal for regular trekking on uneven terrain. The cut for mid-cut shoes reaches slightly over the ankles.

Now, the last type of design is high-cut shoes. These shoes have very high cuts that provide excellent protection to your ankles and feet and are generally found shoes designed for mountain climbing or heavy off-trail trekking. The high-cut shoes are much heavier and the construction of the shoes are meant to give maximum support while also providing excellent protection. Most waterproof or weather resistant trekking shoes are high-cut because they are much thicker and sturdier.

Just like the types of shoe cuts, there are also different categories of trekking shoes; these categories are generally sorted into light trekking, backpacking, and mountaineering shoes.

Light trekking shoes are low-cut trail shoes that survive adequately on moderate terrain and are usually a good choice for trekking on moderate well-maintained trails. These shoes aren’t meant for extremely rugged terrain and often don’t offer the same amount of protection as other types of trekking shoes.

Backpacking trekking shoes are trekking shoes with a medium to high cut, providing increased durability and comfort, while also offering to sustain heavier weight—like that of a trekking backpack. These types of trekking shoes are also often called “off-trail” shoes and are noticeably heavier than light trekking shoes, allowing them to sustain in harsher terrain and conditions, remaining comfortable even under heavy weight.

The last type of specific trekking shoes are mountaineering shoes; these shoes are often used only to climb large mountains and provide a very high cut, making them uncomfortable for long treks on an even trail. Mountaineering trekking shoes are also designed to protect against the harshest of temperatures and weather, making them ideal as one of the most durable and enduring trekking shoes out there. These thick, protecting shoes offer tremendous ankle protection and are insulated from moisture and cold. Most mountaineering shoes are also compatible with crampons, which are traction attachments made for ice climbing.

In conclusion, all of these types of trekking shoes are designed for different types of trekking, and knowing the cuts and label of each shoe can tremendously help you when buying. To rephrase, light trekking shoes are low-cut, lightweight shoes made for even terrain and moderate weather. Off-trail and backpacking shoes are medium-cut and are for harsher trekking terrain and conditions, while also able to support a tremendous amount of weight. Mountaineering shoes are trekking shoes made specifically for extremely steep, mountainous terrain, and generally provide ample ankle and weather protection, but are far too much for regular trekking.


  • Different kinds of trekking shoes for different kinds of trekking activities are available.
  • Trekking shoes have three cuts: Low-cut, mid-cut, and high-cut.
  • Low-cut is best for casual, lightweight trekking and provide little to no ankle protection.
  • Mid-cut gives better ankle protection and support and is best for regular, uneven terrain trekking.
  • High-cut offers the best ankle protection and is heavier, thicker and sturdier. Perfect for heavy trekking.
  • Trekking shoes fall into one of the three categories: Light trekking, backpacking and mountain trekking.
  • Light trekking is best for moderated and maintained terrains, trails. Lacks in most trekking protection.
  • Backpacking trekking is best for harsher terrain and off-trail. Gives increased durability and protection.
  • Mountaineering trekking is best for hardcore trekking like mountain climbing. Maximum protection.

Frequently Asked Questions


Q: How much room should the toe box have?
A: The toe box should have just enough room so that when you kick a wall or solid object, your toe doesn’t touch the front of the shoe. If your toe hits the shoe, you’re likely to experience the same displeasure when walking downhill. The optimal fit is always a roomy toe box with a tight heel. If you’re concerned it’s best to order a size up, as there are ways to tighten and alter them, such as hiking socks. We discuss fit in greater detail below.

Q: What type of cut should I look for in a trekking shoe?
A: The type of cut depends on the type of trekking you are looking to do; low-cut shoes are ideal for light, on-trail trekking over even to moderate terrain, while medium-cut shoes are for off-trail and heavyweight trekking, generally when you have a backpack or other additional weight and are trekking through uneven terrain; high-cut shoes are exclusively for mountaineering or ice-climbing and provide the most protection and durability.

Q: What stiffness should the outsole of my trekking shoe be?
A: Again, this depends on the type of trekking you’ll be doing. A hard outsole provides a longer durability but lacks grip and that could be problematic for steeper terrain, while a soft outsole has far superior grip and traction, but will wear out much faster. If you’re doing light trekking on even terrain, we recommend a harder outsole. If you’re trekking on steep, uneven terrain, we recommend a softer outsole.

Q: What type of weather-protection should my trekking shoe have?
A: Your trekking shoe should generally have moderate protection from climates such as rain and cold, but—depending on the price—sometimes it isn’t necessary to go and buy a fully water-proof trekking shoe if you don’t experience wet and damp conditions that often. It is recommended, however, that your trekking shoes at least be water-resistant, meaning they’ll keep out moisture but not if they are soaked for an extended period of time. If you are an avid trekker, and trek in the snow regularly, it is ideal to have your trekking shoe weather protected and to also invest in socks that provide protection.

Q: How often should I replace the insoles in my trekking shoe?
A: On average, a high-quality trekking shoe will last six to nine months before you need to replace the innersoles. For avid trekkers that use them every day, this duration could range from three to six months. Either way, you’ll know when you replace them because the padding will begin to wear out and be less comfortable.

Q: Why should I replace the insoles in my trekking shoe?
A: The padding on the insoles will wear down over time and cause pain. Because of this, it’s recommended to replace them regularly to keep your shoes as comfortable as the day you bought them.

Q: How can I buy a trekking shoe that will fit me?
A: Along with durability, proper fit is one of the most important aspects of trekking shoes. If you’re unsure, always purchase a trekking shoe 1 size up, as there are many methods to tighten and alter it afterward. For example, you can buy hiking socks that will fill the gap between your foot and the shoe, while also enhancing comfort and even improving weather resistance. It is never a good idea to wear trekking shoes that feel abnormally tight in the toes and cramped in the heel, as this will cause discomfort and even injuries with extended use. It’s best to try on the shoes without lacing them up first, as it gives you an accurate idea of the overall fit and feel. When properly fitted, the heel on your trekking shoes will feel snug and secure, while the toe box will have a little room in it and your toes should not touch the end of the shoe. As stated above, you can test the toe box by kicking a wall or hard object.


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