The best men’s hiking boot
A good hiking boot is the single most important piece of gear when you're on the trail. A hiking boot should provide excellent traction, ankle support, and possibly protection from water. Men's hiking boots may be designed for backpacking, mountaineering, or just regular day hikes. Choosing the right boot means finding a pair that fits comfortably and is designed to protect your feet for hours at a time. Our top pick by KEEN is comfortable right out of the box, and holds up well in a variety of conditions. To learn more about the types of men's hiking boots available, continue reading our buying guide.
Considerations when choosing men's hiking boots
There is such a thing as a basic hiking boot, but there are other varieties designed specifically for certain types of terrain or conditions. Knowing the differences -- and your needs -- is important.
A hiking shoe is a notch above sneakers, with superior traction, support, and toe protection. While these boots won't hold up on backpacking trips, they are a great choice for shorter day hikes, and can be worn for general outdoor use. A hiking boot is slightly more rugged, with a taller shaft for ankle support and protection from water and debris. The cushioning and traction are better designed for long day hikes. A backpacking boot is similar to a hiking boot, but with sturdier toe protection and ankle support. A mountaineering boot has cleats for gaining traction on rocky or icy surfaces. Its stiffer design requires a longer break-in period. An approach shoe is somewhat like a climbing shoe with a flexible design made for climbing steeper slopes.
A comfortable fit is absolutely essential when you are spending hours hiking mountains and crossing creeks. Men's hiking boot sizes may differ slightly from regular shoe sizing, and you generally want to err slightly on the larger side so you can wear thick hiking socks with your boots. To see whether a boot is the right size for you, stand upright and push your foot forward so that your toes touch the toe box. There should be a small amount of space between your heel and the boot. And of course, the boot should feel comfortable and appropriately supportive.
Men's hiking boots may be made of natural or synthetic materials, or a combination of the two. The materials should be sturdy yet flexible, with a moderate amount of breathability. The best materials are also water repellent.
Leather is a durable option commonly found only in mountaineering and backpacking boots. Full-grain leather has a pleasant appearance but is more expensive, while split-grain leather is more affordable and slightly less durable. Synthetic materials are generally comfortable from the start and are less expensive than leather, but they are also more likely to wear out quickly.
Men's hiking boots prices
Men's hiking shoes and boots typically cost from $50 to $120 and require little break-in time. Backpacking and mountaineering boots can cost up to $300 and generally use more durable materials, which may require a longer break-in period.
Q. How important are laces in hiking boots?
A. More important than you might think. Hiking boots may feature traditional laces or quick-pull lacing systems to get you on the trail fast. Either way, the laces should be round in design and made of water-resistant materials.
Q. Why do boots need to be broken in? How long does this take?
A. Everyone's feet are shaped differently, so it simply isn't possible to design a boot that is comfortable for everyone. However, the materials of the insole, shaft, and upper will conform to your feet over time for a more comfortable and supportive fit. How long this takes depends on the materials used and how often you wear your boots, but it can take several weeks to a few months.
Men's hiking boots we recommend
Best of the best: KEEN Men's Targhee II Mid Waterproof
Our take: This popular hiking boot has been a fan favorite for years for its excellent construction and comfortable design.
What we like: The combination of a lightweight design and short break-in period make this a great boot for any hiker.
What we dislike: Finding the right size can be difficult.
Best bang for your buck: Columbia Men's Newton Ridge Plus
Our take: Though these boots are lower priced, they don't skimp on construction or durability.
What we like: These boots stand out for their impressive traction on just about any surface and waterproof design.
What we dislike: Sizing can be inconsistent.
Choice 3: Timberland Men's White Ledge Waterproof
Our take: With its tough exterior, this rugged boot works well for hiking or working alike.
What we like: The leather design holds up well in wet weather and is likely to last for years.
What we dislike: The weight may make it unsuitable for long stretches of hiking.
Peter McPherson is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money. BestReviews never accepts free products from manufacturers and purchases every product it reviews with its own funds.
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