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.

Best Trekking Shoes - hikers on snow mountain trail

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: January 25, 2018
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

KEEN Targhee II Mid WP
  • KEEN Targhee II Mid WP
  • 4.8 out of 5
    Our rating
  • Fully Waterproof
  • Mid Height Ankle Support
  • Price: See Here
Merrell Moab Vent
  • Merrell Moab Vent
  • 4.8 out of 5
    Our rating
  • Wet and Dry Environments
  • Air Cushioned
  • Price: See Here
Northside Burke II
  • Northside Burke II
  • 4.3 out of 5
    Our rating
  • Quick Dry
  • Cushioned Footbed
  • 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.


15 Best Trekking Shoes


1. Merrell Moab Ventilator

Crafted using water resistant leather, this all terrain hiking shoe is made to last. The air cushioned midsole will give you solid shock absorption, making them easy on your feet for all day wear. The breathability of this shoe will help ensure that your feet don't overheat, and that moisture and bacteria doesn't build up over time. If you want shoes that can last, this may be a great choice for you.
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M Select Fresh
This shoe is designed with M Select Fresh which is a long lasting, antimicrobial agent that will help your shoes stay fresh and scent free for longer. While hiking or trekking around, your feet are bound to sweat, and the last thing you want to is create a nice, warm, and moist home for bacteria and other things to grow. This will help keep your shoes scent free and enjoyable for a long time.

Vibram Lugs
The last thing you need when hiking or trekking is the threat of falling and tripping while moving. Traction is vital, and these shoes are crafted with a specific lug pattern on the bottom which will help give you stability no matter the terrain. Effective in both wet and dry environments, you can feel safe and comfortable knowing that you have great traction and stability while still having a shoe that is flexible enough to move with you.

Cost and Value
These shoes can be picked up for under $100, making them a great pair of shoes for the price. With trekking shoes being more costly than most other types of shoes, these are a bargain and you should feel like you've absolutely got your money's worth. With high quality materials used, it's a bargain at it's current price.
  • Water Resistant Leather
  • High Quality Materials
  • Flexible Sole
  • Enhanced Lug Traction
  • Ventilated
  • Air Cushioned Midsole
  • Antimicrobial
  • Good For All Foot Shapes/Sizes
  • May Not Have A Lot of Arch Support
  • Sizing May Run Large
  • May Want to Add New Insole

2. Salomon Speedcross 3

With 16 vibrant and unique color options, this trail running shoe is sure to make you stand out on your trek. Not only is it a fashionable and fun looking shoe, but it is also designed well to ensure it is both functional and durable. Completely water resistant, you can hit the trails in any weather and the contragrip is made for both mud and snow.
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Descent Control
For those who do a lot of trail running, it is very important that you have as much traction when going down a hill as you do when going up. No one wants to slide or fall, possibly injuring themselves, so descent control is a great and important feature. The contragrip is specially designed to optimize control and grip tightly to any surface you are on.

Forget struggling with laces, or worrying about them coming undone, because these shoes are equipped with a quicklace system that will ensure your shoes fit perfectly while never coming loose. Simply pull on the polyester cord to tighten the shoe, and then lock them in place with the attached stopper. No longer are your laces a tripping hazard, and the durable cord is sturdier to ensure there is no breakage while you run.

Cost and Value
Hovering around the $100 mark, these shoes are an investment for people who are serious about trail running. The design is created for those who run on a variety of terrains in all weather conditions. For those that need a pair of shoes that can hold up to their various sports and activities, these are a worthy investment that will be worth the money in the long run.
  • Anti Debris Mesh
  • Water Resistant
  • Mud Guard
  • Sensifit
  • Quicklace System
  • Descent Control
  • Lightweight Construction
  • Tread May Wear Down Quickly
  • Toe Box Doesn't Hold Toes Completely
  • Sizing May Run Small

3. 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 odour 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 awhile.
  • Leather and Textile Materials
  • Gore-Tex Waterproof Membrane
  • Anti Fatigue Comfort
  • Breathability 
  • Flexible Forefoot
  • Long Lasting Durability
  • Comfortable Out of the Box
  • Tread Stands Up Over Time
  • Eyelets May Wear Away Laces
  • Sizing May Run Smaller
  • Sole May Have Some Separation Over Time

4. Adidas Outdoor AX2

4. 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, adiprene support, 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 odour 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
  • Grips On Wet Roads
  • Drawstring Laces
  • Sturdy Construction
  • Variety of Color Options
  • Low Cut Design
  • Lightweight Materials
  • Not Waterproof
  • Sizing May Run larger
  • Gore-Tex Covering Only

5. Columbia Newton Ridge Plus

5. 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 it's 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.
  • Omni Grip Tread
  • Waterproof
  • Ventilated and Breathable
  • PU Coated Leather
  • Water and Stain Resistant
  • EVA Foam Midsole
  • Good in all Climates
  • No Breaking In Required
  • Can be Stiff
  • Sizing Run Smaller
  • Weight May be Heavier
  • Difficult to Get on and Off

6. Keen Targhee II Mid WP

6. 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 full 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 multi directional 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.
  • Not as Heavy as Other Hiking Boots
  • Mid Height for Ankle Support
  • Protective Toe Cap
  • Rear Pull Loop
  • EVA Foam Footbed
  • Waterproof Leather
  • Hydrophobic Mesh Lining
  • Multi Directional Lugs
  • Contoured Heel Lock
  • Hold Up Over Time
  • Sizing Runs Smaller
  • Must Be Broken In Before Long Hikes
  • Higher Price Tag

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 air flow 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. Fully breathable you can enjoy your hike and know that at the end of it all your shoes wont 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
  • Mesh Side Underlays
  • Pull Loops on Heel and Tongue
  • EVA Foam Midsole
  • Removable Insole
  • Patented Toe Protection
  • EVA Footbed
  • Waterproof Leather
  • Sizing May Run Smaller
  • Can Feel Clunky
  • May Slide on Narrow Feet

8. Merrell Siren Sport 2

8. 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 shoes 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 in to 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.
  • Leather and Textile Materials
  • Bellows Tongue to Remove Debris
  • Omni Fit Lacing System
  • Breathable Mesh Lining
  • Odor Prevention
  • Ortholite Footbed
  • Sturdy Lug Pattern
  • Q Form Comfort
  • Mermaid Vibram Sole
  • Not Waterproof
  • Narrow in Size
  • Footbed May be Firm
  • May Squeak

9. Ahnu Sugarpine

9. Ahnu Sugarpine
Designed with the natural shape of the foot in mind, Anhu's hiking boots are engineered to help center and guide your foot so that you can prevent any type of tension or injury while wearing them. Built using a heavy duty nylon, these hiking boots are fully waterproof so that you can tackle any environment or weather conditions. The height, paired with the lacing style, offers great ankle support and keeps your foot secure throughout the day.
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Numentum Technology
Designed for a stable and balanced stride, these shoes have been specifically engineered in a way that encourages your foot to move in it's most natural way. There is no weighing down or constricting of the foot, so you can move with ease and reduce any chance of foot injury while hiking. These boots allow your foot to stay in a neutral position, reducing tension and pressure when you walk.

Vibram Outsole
If you do a lot of hiking then you're bound to get mud and dirt trapped between the lugs of your boots. Ahnu has taken that annoyance away by crafting self cleaning lugs that push away mud and dirt while you move. The lugs are part of the non marking vibram outsole, which has dual density and grips securely to any terrain.

Cost and Value
Keeping the quality and durability high, these boots have managed to offer a lower price tag than a lot of other hiking boot brands. While still costing a little over $100 for a pair, you won't have to break the bank to get yourself these boots. With all of the uniquely designed features, these boots are well worth the price and you should find that they last you quite some time.
  • Fully Waterproof
  • Vamp Style Lacing
  • Numentum Technology
  • Mid Cut for Ankle Support
  • Padded Tongue and Collar
  • Pull on Loop
  • Stability Heel Clip
  • Rubber Toe Protector
  • Self Cleaning Lugs
  • Dual Density EVA
  • Boot Can Feel Stiff
  • Sizing May Run Larger
  • More Narrow Width

10. Northside Burke II

10. Northside Burke II
We've looked at different shoes and boots on this list, but our final trekking shoe is actually a sandal. 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 cut outs, 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 in to 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 foots 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 every day activities or on some 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 it's low price tag.
  • Waterproof
  • Mesh Lining
  • Quick Dry
  • Multiple Cut Outs
  • Slip on
  • Drawstring Bungee Cord
  • Arch Support
  • Lightweight Material
  • Durable
  • Cushioned Footbed
  • Can be a bit Roomy
  • Heel May Sink Over Time
  • Soles Can be Stiff

11. Xiang Guan Outdoor Low

11. Xiang Guan Outdoor Low
Made from 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 complimented 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 uses breathable oxford hi-tech materials to keep the shoe with a dry, light-weight 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 cushion.

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 best

Cost and Value
Surprisingly, the XIANG GUAN 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 is certainly worth the cost.

Breathable Material

Protective Rubber Overlay on the Heel and Toe Box

Removable EVA insole

Sleep Black Oxford Design

Lightweight and Low-cut Design



Has a "Plastic"-like feel

12. Salomon X Ultra

12. Salomon X Ultra
The Salomon X Ultra are a low-cut trekking shoe that can double as your new trail running shoes. The extremely lightweight feel allows for the X Ultra to have all the safeties of a trekking shoe while also having the capabilities of a running shoe. The shoe includes sensi-fit technology, which optimizes precise fit and comfort with your foot. It also has Gore-Tex Weatherproofing to ensure your shoes stay dry in any condition.
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Sensifit is an inner-shoe design that cradles the foot in the mid-sole to provide a generous fit. The narrow shoe makes it so that your heel doesn't slip during trekking or running. This ensures the safety of the wearer and can prevent many unwanted injuries.

Advanced Chassis
The Chassis design is equipped to provide stability, control, and, overall, protection. Combined with the EVA midsole, the Chassis promotes less fatigue in the foot while trekking and emphasizes on stability. The ContaGrip outsole also provides optimized traction and can prevent injury on slippery slops.

Cost and Value
The Salomon X Ultra shoes aren't the cheapest of the low-cut trekking shoes, but the added features such as the Gore-Tex and the Sensifit, as well as the Chassis design makes this shoe worth its moderate price. Anyone looking for a trekking shoe with a bit of added extra should consider the Salomon X Ultra.


Descent Control

Sensifit Design

Ortholite EVA Insole

Gore-Tex Weather Resistant


Not ideal for moderate to rough terrain

Lacks durability 

13. Ahnu Montara

13. Ahnu Montara
This sleek-colored shoe is not only ravishing, but also is the ideal mid-cut trekking shoe that is compatible in almost all rugged terrain. Its mid-cut design features ankle support and eVent technology for breathable inners. As a mid-cut trekking shoe, it is also completely waterproof and has a cushioned insole with a padded tongue, ensuring that you won't feel any water or discomfort.
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One of the most prominent features of the Ahnu brand is its pioneering Numentous feature, which is a design made specifically to adhere to your foot's natural balance, centering your foot and guiding it to optimize efficiency and stability in your step, keeping you centered and balanced. This feature, also seen in the Sugarpine line, is new in the trekking shoe category but should certainly be implemented in future shoes, as it greatly emphasizes safe and stable hiking.

Waterproof oiled-Leater
This trekking shoe is not only stable, but also completely waterproof. If looking for a waterproof trekking shoe, the Ahnu Montara can save you from having to manually weather-proof your new purchase as it is also suited with waterproof and weather-resistant features.

Cost and Value
For a mid-cut trekking shoe, the Ahnu Montara will not run you dry, as it goes for a cheap to moderate price while also featuring ideal needs such as the stable design. As a mid-cut trekking shoe, the Ahnu Montara is impressive to say the least and should certainly be one of your top choices.

Rubber and durable outsole

Waterproof oiled-Leather

Designed to keep foot centered and stable

Padded color and tongue for comfort

Ankle support and stability


Wears smaller than size

14. Timberland Flume

14. 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 seem 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, 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 Waterproof

Imported Rubber Sole

Leather Uppers and Design

Removable EVA footbed

Compression-molded Midsole


Lacks any extra features

15. Columbia Redmond

15. 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 is 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, making it so to prevent slipping or falling which, in trekking terrains, is certainly dangerous.

Cost and Value
The Columbia Redmond are 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 are your go-to.

Lightweight and Breathable

Omni-tech Grip and Traction

Seam-sealed Waterproofing

Suede leather



Lacks durability

Known to be too tight in the 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 15 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 king 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 can 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 to buy a pair of trekking shoes with sufficient sole padding that won’t wear out. If you’ve been wearing the same shoe for awhile without changing the innersole, you can succumb to blisters or heel pain, two things that should never be an issue when trekking.


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 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.

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 no 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 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.

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.

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; one is having shoes that contain 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.

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 to 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 increasing 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.

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.


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’s the low-cut, middle-cut, and high-cut designs. The low-cut trekking look 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 are 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 practicably 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.


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. Optimal fit is always a roomy toe box with a tight heel.

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 heavy weight 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 shoes 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 everyday, this duration could range from three to six months.

Q: Why should I replace the insoles in my trekking shoe?
A: Replacing the insoles should be done regularly in order to prevent heel pain as the padding often wears out.

Q: How can I buy a trekking shoe that will fit me?
A: If you’re unsure, always purchase a trekking shoe 1 size up, as there are many methods to tighten and alter it afterwards. For example, you can buy hiking socks that will fill the gap between your foot and the shoe, while also enhancing comfort. It is never a good idea to wear trekking shoes that feel abnormally tight in the toes and cramped in the heel.