The 10 Most Comfortable Hiking Boots of 2023

Keep your toes wiggling freely in the Merrell Moab 3.

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Various hiking boots
Courtesy of Retailers as Credited

A good hike should create memories of scenic views and fresh air, not of hobbling uphill as your shoes rub your heels until they bleed. “Feet come in all shapes and sizes, and while finding a boot that contours to the particular shape of your foot is no easy task, it can help to make sure that you don’t end up with blisters or pains in your feet,” says Michael Genauer, product line manager at La Sportiva North America.

All of our hiking experts recommend boots with a lugged outsole, cushioned midsole, and waterproof membrane. They also emphasized trying on the hiking boots before hitting the trial, as every brand trends in a slightly different direction when it comes to width and style. Many boots even come in both standard and wide styles to accommodate more people, and we especially like it when brands use different lasts (the structure the shoe is shaped around) for men’s and women’s styles.

“Finding the perfect fit in a pair of hiking boots is rarely as simple as relaying your size,” says Genauer. “Overall length is actually a minor element of boot fitting … factors such as heel to ball length, volume, and width are critical in gaining a perfect fit. If the lacing system here does not hold your foot in place, the boot will not be stable on your foot while you walk. If the boot is too short, your toes will get smashed walking downhill. Too long and your heel will slide up and down and give you blisters.”

We scoured the market and interviewed experts to help you determine where to start in finding the best comfortable hiking boots. Our favorites are the tried-and-true Merrell Moab 3 Hiking Boots. Note that we focused specifically on boots, which means these styles all have a higher top with more ankle support, and women’s styles in particular. If you’re more into lower-top hiking shoes, that’s a whole separate category.

Best Overall

Merrell Moab 3 Mid Waterproof Hiking Boots

Merrell Women's Moab 3 Mid Waterproof Hiking Boot


Why We Love It: They’re affordable, versatile, easy to find, and available in standard and wide options and with a variety of finishes.

What to Consider: Waterproof and Gore-tex versions are also available.

Podiatrists regularly praise Merrell for its comfortable, supportive footwear, and the brand's classic Moab hiking boot definitely deserves the accolades. We’ve chosen them as the best comfortable hiking boots based on their solid reputation as one of the top-selling pairs in the world and regular appearances on expert best-of lists. As the latest iteration of the line, the Moab 3 has a more supportive insole and more cushioning in the midsole, along with a contoured footbed with reinforced heel cushioning. There’s an air cushion in the heel for shock absorption, also helped along by the “Super Rebound Compound.” 

Merrell utilizes recycled materials in their construction, which is a nice bonus, and the Vibram outsole is reliably grippy. If you want to go a bit further out from the classic hiker, there are also waterproof and Gore-tex versions available along with a hiking shoe, and it comes in men’s styles as well. And if you're wide-footed, you can get a specific wider model so you never have to worry about unpleasant side friction again.

Price at time of publish: $120

Sizes: 5–12 | Weight per pair: 2.04 pounds | Upper material: Pig suede leather and breathable mesh

Best Waterproof

Salomon X Ultra 4 Mid Gore-tex Women's

Salomon X Ultra 4 Mid Gore-tex


Why We Love It: Gender-specific lasts and grippy outsoles add to the benefits of the Gore-tex treatment.

What to Consider: Some buyers have noted concerns with durability.

Salomon uses different builds for their women’s and men’s versions of the X Ultra 4, letting everyone find a better and more comfortable fit for their feet, and the brand is a favorite of Jake Willets, loyalty switchback gearhead at Women’s sizes have a softer cuff, an anatomical design that cradles the foot, and a lower density chassis. The X Ultra 4 offers Salomon’s highest levels of foot protection and support, making them ideal for both mixed trails and technical use, and the Gore-tex treatment makes the upper water-repellent so you don’t need to worry about rain. And if you do get caught out in a storm, the deep lugs and Contagrip outsole will help keep you from slipping. Salomon’s Quest 4 Gore-tex boots are also extremely popular if you’re looking for something that’s slightly more advanced for challenging hikes.

Price at time of publish: $165

Sizes: 5–11 | Weight per pair: 1.63 pounds | Upper material: Polyurethane-coated leather

Best Lightweight

Altra Lone Peak Hiker Women's

Altra Lone Peak Hiker Women's


Why We Love It: These are super light and specially designed for the most anatomically suitable fit.

What to Consider: The zero-drop style isn’t everyone’s preference, especially if you need a lot of arch support.

Altra frequently cites the fact that their Lone Peak is the most popular shoe on the Pacific Crest Trail, and all those hikers are definitely onto something. We also appreciate that Altra uses different lasts for their men’s and women’s lines so everyone can find a better fit, and its design offers a wide toe-box and zero-drop heel that mimics the natural foot. The soft midsole and DuraTread outsole keep you both comfortable and confident in your tread. Step up to the All-Wthr Mid if you want to cover more variable conditions (though it’s not fully waterproof), or go lower with the sibling Lone Peak trail runner, one of the few pairs of hiking shoes approved by the American Podiatric Medical Association (APMA). 

Price at time of publish: $120

Sizes: 5.5–12 | Weight per pair: 1.24 pounds | Upper material: Midweight mesh with polyurethane overlay

Best Shock Absorption

Hoka Anacapa Mid GORE-TEX Hiking Boots

Hoka One One Anacapa Mid GORE-TEX Hiking Boots


Why We Love It: They’re bright, super supportive, waterproof, and even podiatrist-approved.

What to Consider: They tend to run narrow.

Another running shoe company sliding smoothly into the hiking space, Hoka puts its cushioning expertise into the Anacapa. The shoe’s most interesting feature is its extended heel, which gives you a smoother ride. The leather is certified by the Leather Working Group, and Hoka also uses recycled polyester in the collar, mesh, and laces. Stay squishy with a compression-molded foam midsole and dry with the help of the Gore-tex fabric. We also love that Hoka uses the same bright colors as it does on its runners on its hikers, whether that’s pops of red on blue, dual purples, or a bright red and orange combo in addition to the usual neutrals. (The men’s colors are a little more restrained, but still a wider variety than usual.) The line is also APMA-approved for that extra podiatrist stamp of validation.

Price at time of publish: $185

Sizes: 5–11 | Weight per pair: 1.75 pounds | Upper material: Waterproof nubuck leather

Most Stylish

Forsake Patch Women's Waterproof Hiking Boot

Forsake Patch Women's Waterproof Hiking Boot
Forsake Patch Women's Waterproof Hiking Boot.


Why We Love It: These versatile boots look smooth without sacrificing outdoor features.

What to Consider: They’re on the heavier side, and some users have complained about durability and a lack of arch support.

If you’re trying to pack light or just go from a hike straight into dinner, you may want something a little sleeker than the average boot. That’s where Forsake comes in, with “hiking sneaker boots” that are designed for just that. “If you don’t like the way your boots look, you’ll be less likely to wear them,” says Sam Barstow, co-founder of Forsake. “We focus on versatility in designing our boots so that users will want to wear them outside of just hiking and can own fewer pairs of boots.” There are seven neutral hues available, featuring a waterproof upper and ‘“Peak-to-Pavement” outsole designed to be equally stable on the trail or sidewalk. (I can also personally confirm their comfort level after wearing an older model of Forsake shoes on a hike that unexpectedly turned out to be 10 miles long on only their second time out of my apartment.)

Price at time of publish: $160

Sizes: 5–11 | Weight per pair: 3.88 pounds | Upper material: Waterproof/breathable membrane

Best Breathability

La Sportiva Nucleo High II GTX Hiking Boots

La Sportiva Nucleo High II GTX


Why We Love It: La Sportiva makes sure that waterproofing doesn’t mean sweating in these light, versatile boots.

What to Consider: Color options are a little limited, and some colors are a unisex build.

These extremely light hikers claim to offer “best in class” breathability on their waterproof hiking/backpacking build, which uses Gore-tex Surround to keep you dry and Nano-Cells technology to help aerate your feet from all angles, even underfoot. They’ve even been awarded as an REI favorite and are another brand that Willetts recommends. Compression-molded midsoles will help you stay cushioned and the Vibram Nano outsoles provide excellent traction. They’re also available in a wide size if you need some extra breathing room. 

“La Sportiva utilizes different rubber compounds in their boots, making each model ideal for particular situations,” says Genauer. “Certain boots from the Italian brand feature soft rubber compounds that provide amazing grip in technical terrain, while other options use slightly firmer compounds that strike a balance between grip and durability.” He recommends the Nucleo for people with wider feet or the Ultra Raptor II Mid GTX if you need a narrower fit (for men or women).

Price at time of publish: $229

Sizes: EU 37–43 (roughly US 6–11) | Weight per pair: 1.68 pounds | Upper material: Nubuck leather

Best Budget

Keen Targhee III Waterproof Mid Women's Hiking Boots

Keen Targhee III Waterproof Mid


Why We Love It: They’re light, stable, and loaded with features.

What to Consider: Color choices are limited.

Keen’s Targhee line, which is 17 years old, has become so popular that the company now also makes slip-ons, sandals, and other casual shoes in the same collection. But the Targhee III Waterproof Mid is the best comfortable hiking boot in the line. Keen’s proprietary waterproof membrane is designed to let vapor out while still staying sealed, and the anatomically designed footbed cradles your foot. They’re also fairly light and have nice bonus features like multidirectional lugs, an external stability shank, and natural odor control. There’s also a men’s style available.

Price at time of publish: $175

Sizes: 5–11 | Weight per pair: 1.81 pounds | Upper material: Leather and performance mesh

Best Slip Resistance

Asolo Falcon GV Hiking Boots Women's

Asolo Falcon GV Hiking Boots


Why We Love It: They have plenty of padding, a self-cleaning Megagrip outsole, and breathable waterproofing.

What to Consider: They’re not recommended for winter.

Asolo’s outsole package is designed with a two-density midsole, with a harder one on the outside for support and a second softer one for comfort and cushion. The upper is made of water-resistant suede, complemented by a Gore-tex lining to keep things waterproof and breathable. Conveniently, the Vibram Megagrip outsole is designed to be self-cleaning, which is great if you’re regularly tramping in dirtier conditions. If you want a slightly different style, there’s an almost-identical leather-only version that weighs just a tiny bit more but is otherwise almost entirely the same, and men’s styles in the nylon combination and solid leather to match.

Price at time of publish: $260

Sizes: 5 1/2–10 1/2| Weight per pair: 1.9 pounds | Upper material: Water-resistant suede

Best Leather

Lowa Women's Renegade GTX Mid Hiking Boots

Lowa Renegade GTX Mid


Why We Love It: Separate-gender lasts, stabilizers, waterproofing, and a slew of colors make them reliable trail companions.

What to Consider: They’re not as breathable as some other other styles due to the leather and waterproofing combination.

Designed for backpacking trips, the Renegade is one of our best comfortable hiking boots for its cushy polyurethane midsole and full-length stabilizer. It’s also fitted with a Gore-tex lining so you stay dry and a leather upper sitting atop a Vibram Evo outsole that offers plenty of traction, earning it an REI favorite designation. Lowa uses different lasts for men’s and women’s shoes, which we appreciate, and the Renegade comes in an impressive 17 colors (though there’s a lot of brown in there), some of which are also available in a wide or even a narrow fit so everyone can have a good foot day.

Price at time of publish: $245

Sizes: 5.5–11 | Weight per pair: 1.94 pounds | Upper material: Nubuck leather

Best for Wet Conditions

Vasque Women's Breeze Hiking Boots

Vasque Women's Breeze Hiking Boots


Why We Love It: It has waterproofing without sacrificing breathability or eco cred.

What to Consider: They’re a bit heavy and not available in very many colors.

Vasque actually uses a sneaker last to make their hiking boots, which means they’ll feel almost as comfortable as a pair of your favorite workout shoes. The brand has been refining the build of the Breeze over its long lifespan, most recently adding more sustainable materials to the mix; the VasqueDry waterproofing is derived from 25 percent recycled materials. The large lugs on the Trail Strider outsole will keep you from sliding around when things get slippery, and an EVA midsole and footbed help you stay padded. If you want something lighter or with even more recycled elements, hop over to the Breeze LT NTX or pick up a pair in men’s sizes as well.

Price at time of publish: $94

Sizes: 6–12 | Weight per pair: 2.09 pounds | Upper material: Waterproof nubuck and recycled polyester mesh

Tips For Buying Comfortable Hiking Boots

Consider your foot shape and gait

Do you have narrow or wide feet? Are you a heel striker or toe striker? Different brands work better for different styles, and you should make sure you have sufficient padding at your points of impact.

Don’t forget about sock volume

We’ve had multiple podiatrists tell us socks are just as important as shoes. “Good socks will help you avoid sores and hotspots, as well as work perfectly with your boots in providing a comfortable experience,” says Willetts. “I cannot emphasize enough how important good socks are in your hiking kit.” Hiking socks run thick, so make sure when you try boots on, you’re wearing the appropriate socks and keeping in mind that your feet will likely swell by the end of the day.

Match your features to your environment.

Where do you usually hike? If it’s somewhere rainy, you need waterproofing. Somewhere drier, you want to look more for breathability. No matter where you hike, Barstow recommends at least 4 millimeters of lug depth on the outsole, a cushioning midsole, and a mid or high-top if you’re carrying a backpack.

Frequently Asked Questions
  • How should hiking boots fit?

    No one boot fits all, but there are two key things that Willets recommends looking for when trying on boots. Start with checking for “a secure, snug fit all around your heels and ankles,” which he says is “crucial to prevent hotspots and blisters.” Then make sure you have enough space for your toes. “Having an inch of space for your toes to spread out and move without jamming into the front of the boot is crucial to maintain the comfort that we all need while adventuring,” he says.

    “Many hikers buy their shoes too small, which can result in a variety of problems including neuromas, lost toenails, blisters, and plantar fasciitis,” says Genauer. “Hikers should aim for somewhere between a thumbnail and half-thumbnail of space between their toe and the end of the shoe. The shoe should hug, but not squeeze the foot, allowing for a secure fit that provides support in technical terrain without causing discomfort. If your toes or sides of your feet feel squished, most likely the width is too narrow.”

  • How do you break in hiking boots?

    “Breaking in your boots before an adventure is a very easy step to take in ensuring comfort, but it is also the most neglected step,” says Willets. He recommends simply wearing your boots along with your trail socks and any insoles you plan to use around your house as you go about your daily routine. Barstow recommends starting small, with chores like walking the dog or mowing the lawn, and slowly wearing them for longer and longer periods. Eventually you can take them out on shorter hikes before you hit the longer trails.

  • How do you clean hiking boots?

    There are a few different methods you can use. None of them involve putting your shoes in the washing machine, so stop that idea right now. “Submerging footwear for an elongated period of time can warp the materials, which can compromise the fit, support, and cushion of the boot,” says Genauer.

    Barstow recommends cleaning with “a dab of light laundry detergent” and warm water, using a toothbrush on stains. Willetts suggests starting with dunking your boots in a stream or river at the trail or in a bucket at home, followed by removing the laces and using a soft brush and water.

    Make sure to remove the insoles so they can be cleaned and dried separately. If your boots are leather, make sure you reseal them after cleaning; Genauer also recommends a periodic conditioning of leather boots. But remember, “If you’re hiking often your boots will get dirty – we suggest wearing your muddied boots as a badge of honor,” says Genauer.

Why Trust T+L

Rena Behar has been covering travel gear and a wide variety of other products for outlets including T+L, Wirecutter,, TripSavvy, and more since 2014. She also interviewed Sam Barstow, co-founder of Forsake; Michael Genauer, product line manager at La Sportiva North America; and Jake Willets, loyalty switchback gearhead at, to curate the perfect list of comfortable hiking boots.

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Updated by
Madeline Diamond
Madeline Diamond, Associate Commerce Editor
Madeline Diamond is an associate ecommerce editor at Dotdash Meredith, where she primarily works on the Travel + Leisure brand. She writes about all things travel gear, including everything from the best suitcases to the most comfortable travel clothing.
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