So you want to hike through sticky mud, scramble over boulders, and kick a bear in the face? That last one is not real, but for everything else, protect your feet with these awesome men’s hiking shoes.
By Ian McIntyreUpdated July 21, 2017
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There are two main decisions to make when buying hiking boots: high-top or low-top, and waterproof or ventilated. High-top waterproof hiking boots are classics, offering improved ankle support and protection while keeping moisture out. The Eddie Bauer Lukla Pro Mid is built with a waterproof membrane and a raised cuff to keep your ankles from rolling.
If you’re not carrying heavy loads and have no worries about ankle instability, give these low-top hiking shoes a try. Lighter than their high-top cousins, these will keep you dry as long as the puddles you’re (maybe intentionally) sloshing through aren’t too deep. The La Sportiva ECO 2.0 GTX may be named like a sports car, but that's just the shoe telling you that it’s made with recycled material (ECO), it’s a low-top (2.0 instead of their 3.0 model), and is made with waterproof Gore-Tex (GTX).
When you need the ankle support, but the weather forecast calls for blazing heat you’ll want high-top ventilated boots. Waterproof boots have a tough time allowing enough ventilation for your foot sweat to escape, so these boots come without the waterproof lining so your feet can breathe. The Merrell Moab Ventilator Mid gives you the combination of airflow and support that your feet need.
Keep your toes cool and let the world see your ankles with these low-top ventilated hiking shoes. The Keen Koven has a blend of mesh and leather to give this hiking shoe structure while letting the air flow.
Approach shoes remove the thick durable rubber found on all hiking boots and replace it with the slightly-less-durable-but-way-more-sticky rubber used to make technical climbing shoes. And you don’t need to be climbing El Cap to appreciate a little extra traction on rock. The Scarpa Crux laces all the way down to the tops of your toes, letting you dial in the fit just right.
Dedicated trail running shoes will take you off the pavement to the beaten path, then off the beaten path to the wildest trails. Drawing on the best components of running shoes and hiking shoes, these sturdy runners are a merger of tough and fast. The Mizuno Wave Kazan offers 12mm of heel-toe drop giving you plenty of cushion for difficult rock trails.
When regular winter boots simply won't cut it, turn to mountaineering boots. They come packed with insulation to keep your feet frostbite-free and are totally waterproof. Cons? They’re heavy, expensive, super stiff, and not that stylish. But if you ever find yourself at the Ouray Ice Festival strapped into some crampons and swinging a pair of ice tools, you’ll definitely want mountaineering boots to keep your toes toasty. The Scarpa Phantom Guide has a built in gaiter that zips all the way up, keeping snow out and adding another layer of warmth.
For 99 percent of the population, mountaineering boots are going to be way too much. Dedicated winter boots are more comfortable and easier on the wallet while still containing insulation. The Eddie Bauer Mountain Ops Boot is a high-top waterproof boot that has a sleek all-black look, and will stand up to cold temps thanks to its ThermaFill insulation.
Let’s face it: most hiking shoes favor function over form, but you don't always have to compromise. Five Ten recently came out with the Access Approach Shoes, which are available in both mesh and leather versions. In my opinion, the Five Ten Access looks way better than anything else on the market.