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10 Best Hiking Boots and Trail Shoes of 2018

10 Best Hiking Boots and Trail Shoes of 2018

Hiking Boots and trail shoes are becoming much lighter weight. There’s no doubt about it. We surveyed hundred of backpackers to find out what their favorite hiking boots and trail shoes are it’s clear that the era of heavy leather hiking boots is on the wane. Perhaps ever more amazing is that the top 10 hiking boots and trail shoes we identified are used by nearly half of our survey respondents, demonstrating a high degree of consensus among backpackers. If you’re looking for the best hiking and backpacking boots or trails shoes, you should definitely start with the 10 backpacker recommended hiking boots shoes listed below!

1. Merrell Moab 2 Vent Mids

Moab 2 Mid Ventilator
Merrell’s Moab 2 Vent Mids ($110) are by far the most popular hiking boot or trail shoe used by backpackers today, outnumbering the nearest competitor by 2:1. Noted for their affordability and availability in wide sizes, the Moab 2 Vent Mid is a long-lasting, lightweight hiking boot that provides excellent ankle support with wrap-around mesh that’s highly breathable and fast drying. The Vibram lugs provide excellent traction and protection for hiking across a wide variety of terrain from the damp forests of Appalachia to the high desert. Available in mens and women’s versions, and waterproof and non-waterproof versions for better breathability. The Merrell Moab 2 Vent Mid is also available as a low trail shoe, the Moab 2 Vent Low ($100).  

2. Altra Lone Peak 3.5

Altra Lone Peak 3.5

The Altra Lone Peak 3.5 ($120), a relative newcomer to the hiking and backpacking world, is the top trail runner used by backpackers. Noted for their roomy toe box and splayed forefoot, the moderately cushioned Lone Peak has mesh uppers for enhanced breathability. This zero drop shoe has a toothy lugged sole that provides excellent traction, with an integrated stone guard that offers enhanced forefoot protection. Available in men’s and women’s versions, including the new Lone Peak Mid 3.5 ($130) which provides more ankle support.

3. Keen Targhee II Mids

Keen Targhee III mid
The Keen Targhee III Mid ($135) is an agile but well-protected waterproof hiking boot also available in wide sizes.  The aggressive outsole has large lugs to bite into the terrain, providing excellent traction control. An integrated shank provides torsional stability, while the mid cut height increases ankle support. The Targhee II is available in men’s and women’s sizes, and a low, ventilated version, the non-waterproof Keen Targhee III Vent Low ($125) is also available.

4. La Sportiva Ultra Raptors

La Sportiva Ultra Raptor
The La Sportiva Ultra Raptor ($130) is a all-terrain mountain running shoe with a sticky rubber outsole geared towards all-day protection. Noted for their excellent traction, even on wet rock, they have a sturdy toe bumper and molded nylon shank that provides forefoot protection in rugged terrain. Mesh uppers are highly breathable and dry quickly when wet. Durability is good with reinforced plastic ribs that prevent the mesh from shredding. The Ultra Raptors have an athletic fit, narrow enough in the heel and mid-foot to provide a stable running or hiking platform. They are available in men’s and women’s models. I stockpile these shoes, I like them so much. 

5. Brooks Cascadia 12

Brooks Cascadia 12
The Brooks Cascadia 12 Trail Running Shoe ($130) is a well protected and durable shoe for fast hiking and running over technical terrain. A wrap-around mud guards keeps debris out of your shoes while mesh uppers vent moisture build-up. A ballistic rock shield helps protect your forefoot from sharp terrain, while deep directional lugs provide extra traction on up hills and downhills. Pivot points built into the sole provide stability and help you maintain foreward momentum. Available for both men and women, the Cascadia 12 has a roomy forefoot to keep your toes comfortable.

6. Salomon XA Pro 3D

Salomon XA Pro 3D
The Salomon XA Pro 3D Trail Runner ($130) is Salomon’s lightest advanced-chassis shock-absorbing shoe, available in wide sizes. Built for moving quickly, the 3D has lightweight, breathable sandwich mesh that keeps your feet cool and drains well. A beefy toe cap and forefoot rand provide extra protection, while minimalist kevlar speed-laces provide a secure and customized fit. Traction is fantastic overall with a nice heel brake for descents. Available for men and women. A waterproof Gore-tex lined version ($160) is also available.  

7. La Sportiva Wildcats

La Sportiva Wildcat
The La Sportiva Wildcat ($110) is a neutral trail running shoe with highly breathable nylon mesh uppers that keep your feel cool and dry quickly when they get wet. Sticky rubber outsoles deliver excellent traction while TPU stabilizers in the heel and midsole offer additional stability. A large toe box and ample heel cushioning make the Wildcat a sweet ride for hiking and backpacking in a wide variety of terrain. Men’s and women’s models are available.

8. Vasque Breeze 3.0 GTX

Vasque Breeze Mid GTX
The Vasque Breeze Mid GTX ($180) is a Gore-Tex-lined waterproof hiking boot noted for its comfort out-of-the box. Nubuck leather uppers maintain abrasion-resistance on the trail, reinforced with a rubberized toe cap for protection from rock strikes. Ventilation panels circulate air inside the boot, preventing overheating in hot weather, while the waterproof liner seals out rain and shallow stream crossings. Wide and narrow widths are available for an excellent fit. Available in both men’s and women’s models, the Vasque Breeze Low GTX ($150) is also available as a low trail shoe.

9. Salomon Quest 4D II GTX

Salomon Quest 4d
The Salomon Quest 4D II GTX ($230) is a lightweight, but supportive hiking boot that incorporates trail running technology into its design. The beefy toe-cap provides protection for your toes while a TPU midsole helps control flex, reduce ankle strain, and shield feet in rough terrain. High ankle support and locking laces provide good stability while eliminating heel lift and potential blisters. The gusseted tongue protects against rain and water during stream crossings while grippy rubber outsoles provide excellent traction over wet and dry surfaces. The Quest 4D 3 GTX is available in men’s and women’s models.

10. Lowa Renegade GTX Mid

Lowa Renegade GTX
The Lowa Renegade GTX ($230) is a waterproof hiking boot with a leather upper that securely holds the foot in place, reducing strain on the toes during downhill sections. Available in wide widths, the Renegade’s midsole technology reduces overall boot weight, while providing extra cushioning and lateral stability. A rugged Vibram outsole and thick, nonslip rubber lugs make these boots ideal for hiking and light backpacking. This shoe also has gender-specific, men’s and women’s lasts, for optimal fit and comfort. 

Check out SectionHiker.com’s other 10 Best Gear Guides!

Disclosure: SectionHiker.com receives affiliate compensation from retailers that sell the products we recommend or link to if you make a purchase through them. When reviewing products, we test each thoroughly and give high marks to only the very best. Our reputation for honesty is important to us, which is why we only review products that we've tested hands-on. Our mission is to help people, which is why we encourage readers to comment, ask questions, and share their experiences on our posts. We are independently owned and the opinions expressed here are our own.

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  1. Shout out for the Vasque Breeze and the amazing shoe guy at REI Framingham, he really knows bootfitting.
    I get a bit of metatarsalgia, ball of foot pain and was having trouble finding a shoe. I tried the Keens and did about 200 miles in the Salomon’s before I found the Vasques and comfort.

  2. The best shoe is the one that fits of course. I must say though that the Altra Lone Peak has the worst traction of any shoe I’ve tried in the last 5 years. That includes Saucony and Ultra Raptors. If the ultra Raptors were shaped like the lone Peaks that would be an awesome shoe. I also found the Lone Peak to be rather cheap and I don’t mean inexpensive. The construction of the ultra Raptors are so much better.

    • I agree the worst traction of any hiking shoe and they would not refund my money or return my emails…. lone peak 3.5 not good on rocky trails

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