By Rena Behar
August 26, 2019
Each product we feature has been independently selected and reviewed by our editorial team. If you make a purchase using the links included, we may earn commission.
Courtesy of Retailer

Hiking shoes can be a particularly blurry gear category, overlapping with both trail runners and what are referred to as approach shoes. The latter is a mix of hiking boot and rock-climbing shoe, so named because climbers can wear them up the trail as they approach their climbing route. They have the same type of soles as climbing shoes, which gives them extra grip on rocky surfaces but less insulation against surface temperature extremes. Trail runners, meanwhile, generally have less focus on stability than hiking shoes do.

There are plenty of experts out there to guide you through the gritty details of the “how to choose hiking shoes” process, and no one method is going to work for everyone due to the sheer amount of variables involved. Where do you hike? When? How much are you carrying? Which way do your feet roll?

On top of that, there’s an almost endless array of quality hiking shoe options out there. Every brand uses a different shoe last, so they’ll all have their own individual quirks that will affect how they feel on your particular feet. Regardless of which shoe you prefer, you want one that will help speed you up rather than weigh you down. We looked for lightweight hiking shoes weighing less than 2 pounds for the pair, and based on our research and reports from testing sites, we believe these options are a great place to start.

One particularly useful thing to note: A “GTX” at the end of a shoe name means it includes a layer of Gore-Tex, so all of those options are waterproof.

Vasque Grand Traverse

Courtesy of Zappos

Vasque has been excelling in the hiking shoe game for decades, and the Grand Traverse holds up its pedigree with a comfortable build, grippy sole, and flexible, breathable upper. This particular model leans more toward approach-shoe style than some others, which makes its sole a little stiffer and means the shoe is a good choice if you’re going to be doing some rock scrambling or light climbing.

To buy:
Men: zappos.com, $120
Women: zappos.com, $120

The North Face Ultra 110 GTX

Courtesy of Zappos

This hiking shoe/trail runner took home Outdoor Gear Lab’s editor’s pick in hiking shoe category for its impressive versatility, feature set, and straight-from-the-box comfort. It’s technically just a hair over 2 pounds, weighing in at 2.07 according to OGL, but we couldn’t ignore the stellar reviews.

To buy:
Men: zappos.com, $120
Women: zappos.com, $120

La Sportiva Spire GTX

Courtesy of Zappos

OGL’s pick for lightweight hiking, the Spire GTX offer sneaker-level comfort with hiking-appropriate stability. They’ve got excellent traction and Gore-Tex waterproofing, and while they are just slightly on the heavier end as well (2.06 lbs), the superlative comfort stats kept them in the running.

To buy:
Men: zappos.com, $190
Women: zappos.com, $190

Salomon X Ultra 3 GTX

Courtesy of Zappos

Salomon shows up here with their X Ultra 3 GTX coming in solidly in the top picks of multiple rankings, as is the brand’s tendency. They just barely lost OGL’s top pick spot to The North Face (which has slightly more ankle support) and got the top spot at Switchback for their ability to easily and comfortably handle any trail conditions and light, trail-runner feel. Bonus: the quick-lace system means no untied laces dangling around, so no bending over while backpacked.

To buy:
Men: zappos.com, $150
Women: zappos.com, $150

Five Ten Five Tennie

Courtesy of Zappos

The vintage-style Tennie is a descendant of one of the first approach shoes, but can still handle a solid day hike without issue. It may not be ideal, however, for a long-distance, multi-day hiking trip.

To buy:
Men: zappos.com, $125
Women: zappos.com, $125

Lems Trailhead Hiking Shoe

Courtesy of Lems Shoes

These may not look like hiking shoes, but don’t let that design fool you. Backpacker magazine’s tester reported, “I felt like a city-slicker in my fashionable shoes, but I quit caring pretty quickly because they dominated the trail.” And having the ability to pack just one pair of shoes for multiple occasions has never made us mad.

To buy:
Men: lemsshoes.com, $130
Women: lemsshoes.com, $130

Merrell Moab 2 Vent

Courtesy of Zappos

The classic Merrell Moab is a great introductory hiking shoe, with a lower price point for those just getting into the trail lifestyle and a staff pick badge from the experts over at REI. They come complete with side ventilation and wide toe box, and if you’re worried about wet conditions, the sibling Moab 2 (without the Vent) is waterproof as well.

To buy:
Men: zappos.com, $100
Women: zappos.com, $100

Salewa Wildfire GTX

Courtesy of Zappos

Another approach-style shoe, the Wildfire has a smoother-soled toe for executing trickier climbing moves and snug, comfortable fit along with excellent versatility. Its ability to excel as a multipurpose traveling shoe made it a previous Gear Patrol editor’s choice winner.

To buy:
Men: zappos.com, $170
Women: zappos.com, $170

Tecnica Plasma

Courtesy of REI

Take comfortable fit to a new level with these shoes that get custom molded to fit your feet in the store after your purchase. Pair the foot-pampering inner setup with a stiff rubber outsole and you’ll see why they earned Gear Patrol’s editor’s choice.

To buy:
Men: rei.com, $150 (preorder for in-store pickup)
Women: rei.com, $150 (preorder for in-store pickup)

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