It's nearly impossible to recommend a be-all-end-all hiking boot recommendation, and that's because the most important factors in determining a good one are, in the end, individual: What kind of adventure are you embarking on—day hikes, multi-day backpacking adventures or serious week-long backcountry trips? And (here's the tricky one), what kind of weather do you expect?
There are many factors to keep in mind when electing the right stuff to don between your toes and the trail beneath, which could be rainy, snowy, muddy or, in an ideal world, bone-dry. The three basic concerns are fit, material and support.
For the fit, you want something snug around the heel, but with enough wiggle room in the toe so as not to be constricting. If the toe box is too roomy, though, your toes may slide forward on downhill terrain, causing painful blisters.
Material tends to range from heavier waterproof boots to incredibly lightweight, breathable options.
Support grades include low-ankle, mid-support and high-support. Low-ankle boots allow for greater mobility, but expose the foot to debris and ankle-rolling injuries. Mid-support offers a little more ankle protection and durability. High-support is more constricting, but is typically a good fit for any rugged, long-term backcountry adventures with unpredictable weather.
So, here are our top five picks for Fall hiking boots:
Merrell Moab Mid-Ventilator
Pros: They’re light, breathable, have an air-cushioned heel, offer great ankle support, solid rubber-soled traction, and are great for dry adventures of any duration.
Cons: They don’t retain warmth very well in cold weather, and are not waterproof.
The Keen Targhee II
Pros: Comfortable, very durable, light, well-constructed toe box, handles backpacking, hiking, and canyoneering.
Cons: Not great for warm weather, not waterproof.
Asolo Power Matic 200 GV
Pros: Extremely durable, waterproof, comfortable, snug fitting all around, fit for any rugged challenge (including rescue work).
Cons: Heavy, price-prohibitive, not fit for warm weather hiking.
Vasque Sundowner GTX
Pros: Mid-weight stands up to backpacking or casual day hikes, waterproof yet breathable, padded tongue, stylish leather exterior good for muggy city weather.
Cons: A bit heavy, the medium density rubber midsole may not provide enough cushion for everyone.
Hi-Tec Altitude IV (men’s) & Altitude Glide (women’s)
Pros: Economical, all-leather stylish exterior, steel shank for extra support, light, sockliner (memory foam, removable in men’s style), weather-resistant nubuck leather.
Cons: Not totally waterproof, some may find the steel shank uncomfortable or rigid.