CAMPING & HIKING

Best Waterproof Hiking Shoes: Making Terrain Not an Issue

waterproof hiking boots
Dennis Owens
Written by Dennis Owens

If you have ever been in a tough outdoor situation, you probably understand how important quality shoes are in such an environment. Would you agree with us that a pair of cheap sneakers will likely compromise your health and ability to deal with a hardcore, muggy, and rainy terrain? If you are looking to enjoy a great hike and make it home safe, then opting for the best waterproof hiking shoes is surely a must.

Having something dependable as footwear when trail running will not only ensure you have a smooth trip without any hiccups but will also provide you with comfort. The finest hiking shoes out there are designed in such a way that they make your foot feel fantastic while at the same time they prevent dirt, mud, and water from breaking through. Never have wet and hurting feet after a hike ever again.

In this piece, we are going to take an in-depth look at some of the best waterproof hiking shoes available. Our goal is to help choose a pair that will be both efficient and convenient for you. Read our guide in order to see which characteristics are most important and then proceed to the reviews which we have compiled for each separate model.

Product NameBest UseWeightMaterialPrice
The North Face Ultra 109 GTXModerate terrain14 ozFabric/syntheticCheck price on Amazon
Salomon X Ultra 2 GTXFell running, coastal walking14 ozLeather/textileCheck price on Amazon
Asolo Agent GVLight hiking14.1 ozSuede/polyesterCheck price on Amazon
Merrell Yokota TrailSurvival15 ozLeather/fabricCheck price on Amazon
Oboz Sawtooth Low BdryDry trails16 ozNubuck leatherCheck price on Amazon
Merrell Moab 2Heavy terrain30 ozSuede/meshCheck price on Amazon
Salewa Wildfire S GTX ClimbingTechnical hiking11 ozTextile/syntheticCheck price on Amazon

Things to Consider Before Buying

There’s no doubt you know what waterproof hiking shoes are all about. But it is our job to help you become familiar with some of the details when it comes to craftsmanship and functionality. This next section will highlight some of the vital features you will want to look for in each pair of hiking shoes before you open your wallet.

Price

We simply have to begin by talking about the price of hiking shoes as one of their characteristics. Buying a pair is a serious investment to those keen on spending a lot of time outdoors and more often than not the price is the deciding factor.

That being said, you need to always search for the best value for your money. The cheapest pair of hiking shoes will likely disappoint you or even let you down in an emergency. Look for a fine combination of a brand name, patented technology, and price. This is the ideal situation for every buyer.

Material

As seen in the chart above, the best hiking shoes can feature a number of materials. It is tough to say which ones are the best because it all comes down to preference. Of course, there is one more factor and that’s the purpose for which you buy a given pair of hiking shoes.

gore tex hiking shoes featured

Because most manufacturers aim at sturdiness and waterproofing, they tend to go with leather or suede. This raises the question about breathability. Textile and mesh fabric is often used in hiking shoes during recent years in order to maximize the ventilation that you get during a trail-run. Such footwear, on the other hand, might not be 100% waterproof.

Look for rubber parts on the outsole or around the heel area. Every extra material will give you further protection and comfort. You can easily tell good shoes from bad shoes thanks to what material they are made of. We will mention materials again when we get to the part in which we talk about some specific components.

Durability

While durability is also somewhat related to the materials of the shoe, it also depends on the craftsmanship of the designers and creators. There is absolutely no point in buying hiking shoes which will be dismantled after 2 months of regular use.

Unfortunately, the only way to be confident in the durability of a certain model is by trusting the brand and of course going through some reviews. The price is often an indicator but it should be pointed out that it might be misleading as well. At the end of the day, the shape in which you maintain your shoes will define their lifespan.

hiking boots wooden house

Until then keep in mind that even though we label them simply as “hiking shoes” most models have a purpose for which they have been designed. You need to be very well aware of the limits of your trail shoes. The material of the upper part of your shoe will pretty much tell you what sort of activity is best for your pair.

Some of them are excellent for hardcore conditions or tough outside work. Many models can take plenty of beating but that doesn’t necessarily make them better than others. That’s because the breathability might be impaired. On the other hand, breathable mesh fabrics are rarely water resistant so you will need to mainly do some dry trail running.

Outsole

The outsole is by far the most important part of your hiking shoes. It doesn’t tend to your comfort or the breathability of the shoe. It does, however, make sure that you have something strong and sturdy underneath your foot. Look for a rubber outsole and pay attention to how high up the shoe it reaches.

Huge lugs are nice to have but you don’t want them to be too big. If they are pronounced just enough, then you will be fine against mulch, gravel, rocks, and dirt. The outsole pretty much also defines the purpose of the shoe. The more grip you have, the tougher the environment you can attack.

break in hiking boots featured

See if it is only glued or sown to the upper body of your shoe. It really matters as glued outsoles tend to get unstuck and therefore cause problems. You never want such a thing to compromise the security and stability of your shoe. We are not eager to see your toes jut out through the front of your shoe.

Inside

The inside area is all about comfort and breathability. Watch for the lining and determine whether it is soft enough for your foot. The footbed is what really matters in there. The not so regular ones are typically made out of high-class foam and have a specific arch for your foot.

Some insoles also feature padding on the bottom in order to provide you with some extra shock absorption. If your foot feels well in there then you will be able to spend longer periods of time in the shoes. After all, that’s the goal of every manufacturer on the market.

Specific Components

The extra stuff is typically what completes the picture and pushes us into buying a certain pair of hiking shoes over another one. The tongue can often times provide some protection and breathability. In some pairs, the tongue also holds a bungee strap which controls the laces.

hiking shoe with bungee strap on tongue

Look for a toe cap and a heel pad. Both the front and the back side of your foot need to be protected and many pairs have rubber components in these areas. The way the lace system is set up is also a big factor as people have various preferences.

Some shoes do not feature laces which are tied together but are instead only fastened. The eyelets also matter to some as they define how easy it is to remove the laces and how tight the shoe can get.

There are many other components which are impossible to be listed here but they are typically some sort of patented technology. We are talking about midsoles, ankle webbing, waterproof technologies etc.

Design

We decided to leave design for last because let’s face it – it doesn’t matter that much when it comes to hiking shoes. Some users really want to like the shoe visually before they buy it but most people do not really care about looks when they go jumping off cliffs and fell running.

hiking shoes

It is important that you like the visual aspect of your shoe and often times it also corresponds to the purpose of the model. Some more sporty looking ones are great for athletic hiking while the bulkier, larger shoes are for hardcore conditions.

Realizing you do not need to look good when you want to escape a torrential rain in the middle of the night while trying to make some shelter in the forest is essential.

Best Products on Today’s Market

After this relatively in-depth look at the specific features of the best hiking shoes, we will now proceed to the actual reviews. Our experts have compiled a list of a few very popular brands and their models in order to bring you a variety of options. You will surely notice that some shoes will serve certain purposes that others won’t and vice-versa.

The North Face Men’s Ultra 109 GTX Hiking ShoeThe North Face Men's Ultra 109 GTX Hiking Shoe

Price: $120 – $200

Weight: 14 oz.

Size: 7 – 13 US size

Specific features: UltrATAC rubber outsole, Snake Plate, breathable GORE-TEX membrane, lightweight, polyethylene bottom part, mid-foot shank, EVA technology, cushioned design.

Best use: Moderate terrain, damp trails

Description: We will kick-start this guide with a very cool trail shoe right away. Both us and The North Face do not want to beat around the bush when it comes to The North Face Men’s Ultra 109 GTX Hiking Shoe.

If you are looking for an all-purpose hiking shoe without having to worry about weather and the type of environment, this is a great option.

First of all, the price isn’t too high for a versatile and dependable item such as this one. With it, you get a high-energized cushioned design around the midsole. This will provide you with much comfort regardless of the terrain. The EVA technology contributes to the Ultra 109 GTX’s lightweight.

The mid-foot shank which this great pair of shoes has will make you more stable. There’s not only comfort but also shock absorption. The bottom of the shoe features a polyethylene Snake Plate which will aid you against stone bruising. The UltrATAC rubber outsole is going to grant you protection as you conquer all sorts of wet or dry trails.

In case all this trademark technology listed so far isn’t enough for you, this pair also has a GORE-TEX membrane which is designated to help not only versus outside elements but also water. Along with that, the membrane in question allows your feet to “breathe” thus adding to the cool characteristics of this hiking shoe.

The last part worth mentioning is the polyurethane toe cap which simply completes the full picture. Your shoes will be basically indestructible on the front.

PROS:

  • Packed with patented technology
  • Lightweight
  • Shock resistant
  • Tough to damage

CONS:

  • A little bit on the more expensive side
  • Footbed isn’t the best

Related: Since your hiking shoes can help you deal with any weather during a hike, make sure the rest of your body is covered as well. Buy the Osprey UltraLight Raincover and trust its sturdiness. It comes with a hip belt and a harness attachment so that you can easily equip it. Furthermore, the raincoat can be packed in its own carrying case – basically turns into a bag.

Check the price on Amazon

Salomon Men’s X Ultra 2 GTX Hiking ShoeSalomon Men's X Ultra 2 GTX Hiking Shoe

Price: $83 – $340

Weight: 14 oz.

Size: 7 – 13 US size

Specific features: Bungee lacing system, padding on the back, rubber toe box, quick release eyelets, contour grip sole, removable footbed

Best use: Fell running, trail running, coastal walking

Description: Trust the Salomon Men’s X Ultra 2 GTX Hiking Shoe when you are about to undergo any relatively light course running. These shoes are all about flexibility and below you will find out exactly that. Thanks to their lightweight they are easy to carry in a backpack so take them for your coastal walk.

The GORE-TEX cover of your Salomon Ultra GTX will provide you with 100% waterproofing. Additionally, this makes the shoes breathable and also includes the GORE lifetime guarantee. Thanks to the contour grip sole, this pair will follow every curve of the bottom side of your foot for maximum comfort even on gravel terrain.

The lace system is where this pair really shines. You get quick eyelets for easy adjustments. Thanks to that design, the shoe really molds around the shape of your foot especially after you break it in. The bungee lacing system which rests hidden in the tongue section is simply amazing.

It will allow you to tighten or loosen your laces without the need to tie them. You simply pull the little plastic piece to the desired length, tuck it in the tongue of the shoe, and go fell running. The versatility of the shoes doesn’t stop here, however.

The inside contains a super soft lining and there is also a removable footbed. This way you can customize your shoes with any footbed you wish. The back and front are also reinforced. There is a solid rubber toe box up front and some additional padding on the back. The whole shoe is shock absorbing and has an EVA midsole.

PROS:

  • Quite flexible
  • Lightweight
  • Soft inside lining for comfort
  • Waterproof and shock resistant

CONS:

  • Not suitable for hardcore terrain
  • No ankle protection

Related: Aid your walking efforts on the mountain by obtaining the Black Diamond Alpine Carbon Trekking Poles. With them, you get some premium cork grip which also comes with the dual-density top. There is a 360-degree adjustable sewn strap. The shaft is made out of 100% carbon fiber and this really contributes to the light weight of the item. Even if the tips wear out, you can simply substitute them with brand new ones as they are interchangeable.

Check the price on Amazon

Asolo Men’s Agent GV Hiking ShoesAsolo Men's Agent GV Hiking Shoes

Price: $130 – $184

Weight: 14.1 oz.

Size: 7 – 12 US size

Specific features: Toe cap, traditional lacing, removable footbed, mono-density midsole, Vibram Natural outsole, back pull, polyester and mesh body

Best use: Light hiking, running

Description: This next hiking shoe on our list might look a little plain to the average user but there certainly are some nice aspects to be kept in mind. The Asolo Men’s Agent GV Hiking Shoes are excellent for some light hiking. Putting them to a test on a very hard terrain is not something that we recommend.

Even though this pair is said to be quite durable, they are still made out of suede and polyester mesh. While this does provide you with plenty of breathability and even water resistance, it sort of takes away from the durability aspect of the shoes. However, there is still a toe cap up front for extra protection.

Another thing that might not impress you is the traditional lacing system. Obviously, not a lot of imagination has been put into how the laces are oriented.

While it is rather simple to just tie them up and go, it is not functional at all. There is a back pull which can be used for the shoes to be tied and carried around when you don’t have them on your feet.

The structure of the inner lining is padded and the footbed is rather decent. The midsole of the Asolo Agent GV is a mono-density one and the outsole features the Vibram Natural technology.

It is said to be durable but is also very flexible for a smooth ride. In general, these light shoes are nice even if you want to run uphill, just make sure you don’t push them to the limits in a tough environment.

PROS:

  • Lightweight
  • Padded inside lining
  • Toe cap
  • Great outsole

CONS:

  • Not very versatile
  • Somewhat limited in their use
  • Durability does not impress
  • Absence of value for money

Related: A pair of sturdy hiking shoes goes very well with a reliable pair of pants. Buy the Outdoor Research Men’s Ferrosi Pants and enjoy your outing without worrying about the integrity of any of your belongings. It is really hard to damage such quality items. These pants are abrasion and wind-resistant as they are made of nylon. Additionally, they also have spandex for maximum convenience.

Check the price on Amazon

Merrell Men’s Yokota Trail Waterproof Hiking ShoesMerrell Men’s Yokota Trail Waterproof Hiking Shoes

Price: Approx. $80

Weight: 15 oz.

Size: 7 – 16 US size

Specific features: Leather and fabric body, lace up closure, removable food pad, rubber outsole, heel counter, breathable mesh lining

Best use: Tough trails, survival, outdoor working

Description: Tackle the toughest terrain after you have equipped your feet with this next outstanding model of trail shoes. The Merrell Men’s Yokota Trail Waterproof Hiking Shoes feature a very sporty design but with them, you get exceptional durability. This sturdy shoe is excellent for hardcore hikers looking to roam on tough ground.

The upper part of this shoe is made out of leather and fabric. This combination allows for a lot of sturdiness while still allowing you to possess a breathable shoe. Your heel and toes are also protected as there are a heel counter and a protective toe cap.

The lace system is also designed in such a way so that it can give you additional protection. You will notice that in the middle of the shoe there’s a lace-up closure. It will contribute greatly to a secure fit. The Merrell Yokota Shoes also feature a nice collar and tongue for more support around the ankle.

If we look inside the shoe, we will find out that there is a removable, cushioned food pad. It is surrounded by a breathable fabric mesh lining. Everything we mentioned above sits tightly on a rubber outsole with extra padding for traction.

In general, this shoe will be able to sustain a lot of beating and it presents you with some good bang for your buck if you spend a lot of time outdoors.

PROS:

  • Good value for money
  • Very durable
  • Lace up closure

CONS:

  • Nothing exclusive about the design
  • Not waterproof

Related: Insoles need to be perfect and getting the one that suits your feet best is crucial for a good hike. Buy the Superfeet GREEN Full Length Insole and enjoy its biomechanical shape which will follow the curves of your foot. For maximum support, you also get a deep heel cup along with a stabilizer cap. What’s more, this insole will help you deal with foot and arch pain.

Check the price on Amazon

Oboz Men’s Sawtooth Low Bdry Hiking ShoeOboz Men's Sawtooth Low Bdry Hiking Shoe

Price: $140 – $290

Weight: 16 oz.

Size: 8 – 14 US size

Specific features: Nubuck leather, abrasion resistance, shock resistance, midsole dual-density EVA, Oboz BFit in-sole, Oboz Sawtooth outsole

Best use: Dry trails, hiking, heavy outdoor work

Description: It is now time to take a peek at one of the more hardcore shoes on our list. Oboz Men’s Sawtooth Low Bdry Hiking Shoe really comprises everything you need from a tough, sturdy hiking shoe. No trail is going to be too difficult for you once you set foot in a pair of these babies.

The body of the shoe is rather interesting as it will provide you with excellent durability and breathability. The price that you pay, however, is that you do not get a waterproof pair of hiking shoes with the Oboz Sawtooth Low Bdry. As tough as they are, you still shouldn’t end up stepping in mucky areas.

The shoes are made out of nubuck leather and the body is also abrasion resistance. The ample breathability is a huge advantage. The heel counter is molded, it is very thick and you can rest assured that it will hold up pretty well. The midsole features dual-density EVA with a nylon shank. All of this is in the name of impact resistance.

Speaking of resistance we will now focus on two components of the shoe which are Oboz trademarked. The insole is an Oboz BFit Delux. Its shape gives you excellent rigidity in the heel and the arch of your foot.

This thing has some extra support and isn’t just a flimsy piece of foam. On the bottom of it, you will encounter EVA pads – yes, more shock resistance.

The outsole is also a piece of art as it also gives the name of the shoe – Oboz Sawtooth. It will outlast many other pairs of shoes with its tread pattern of beefy lugs.

They are also said to be self-cleaning because they shed mud and dirt off the whole outsole. These lugs actually go around the sides of the shoe which is an incredible bonus. The grip is simply astonishing.

PROS:

  • Extra breathability
  • Nubuck leather body
  • Molded heel counter
  • Oboz trademark components everywhere

CONS:

  • No toe cap
  • Not waterproof
  • Slightly heavier than usual

Related: Comfort and security are both provided by the Dr. Foot’s Shock Absorption PU Sports Insoles. Trust the brand and the functionality that comes with it. You will notice reduction in your fatigue when hiking and will be happy to find out that the level of shock absorption is impressive. The material is durable medical-grade polyurethane.

Check the price on Amazon

Merrell Men’s Moab 2 Waterproof Hiking ShoeMerrell Men's Moab 2 Waterproof Hiking Shoe

Price: $100 – $140

Weight: 30 oz.

Size: 7 – 15 US size

Specific features: Suede leather, mesh, waterproof, heel cap, 5 mm lugs, silicone rub, 3D contoured design of the footbed

Best use: Long hikes, trail running, heavy terrain walking

Description: Did you know that the abbreviation MOAB in the name of this next hiking shoe on our list stands for “mother of all boots”? We don’t know if that’s the case with the Merrell Men’s Moab 2 Waterproof Hiking Shoe but in the end, we might just let them get away with it.

In fact, this shoe features a number of high-quality features to make your hiking a very pleasant experience. The construction of this shoe is a solid one.

The suede leather and mesh used for the upper part render the shoe completely waterproof. If you are to use it in a mucky environment and will likely run over puddles, then this is surely the shoe to get.

The silicone rub on the sides will give you additional stability. While not visible on the outside, this useful component will aid the lateral movement of your foot.

Your heel is protected by a special cap allowing you to freely roam some heavy terrain. The shoe is even more resistant thanks to the bellows attached to a foam tongue which will keep out moisture and debris.

Inspecting the shoe on the inside will show us that the footbed has a 3D contoured design. There is also a pad in the heel for even more absorption and cushioning. In general, the Merrell Moab 2 Shoe is outstanding if you need to walk long distances for long periods of time regardless of the nature of the terrain.

The lugs on the outsole are impressive with their 5mm of depth. This hiking shoe has a downside, however, and it is related to its weight. A 30 oz. the shoe is simply a little bit too heavy to be considered a convenient one.

PROS:

  • Great value for money
  • Waterproof,
  • Silicone on the sides for stability
  • Grippy outsole

CONS:

  • Too heavy
  • Lower than average breathability

Related: Always be prepared for any situation during a hike by carrying an extra pair of shoelaces. Go for the DELELE 2 Pair Non-Slip Outdoor Hiking Shoelaces. You can choose from 4 different lengths. The material is 100% polyester. Use the extra shoelaces as rope in a survival situation as well.

Check the price on Amazon

Salewa Men’s Wildfire S GTX Climbing ShoeSalewa Men's Wildfire S GTX Climbing Shoe

Price: $130 – $215

Weight: 11 oz.

Size: 7 – 13 US size

Specific features: SALEWA patented footbed, EVO outsole, GORE-TEX cover, ballistic mesh, 3F system, webbing ankle straps, EVA midsole

Best use: Athletic activities, technical hiking

Description: Order the Salewa Men’s Wildfire S GTX Climbing Shoe in case you need a very light athletic shoe for regular trail hiking. For people looking to train on the nearby hill, this shoe is going to be a fantastic option. It has all sorts of patented technology and there is barely any area in which it lacks something.

The body is made out of sturdy ballistic mesh material. The breathability is off the charts. By looking at it, you will perhaps think that so much mesh will cause troubles in watery environments. False, theirs is an EXA shell cage and a GORE-TEX extended comfort lining making the Salewa Wildfire S GTX completely waterproof.

The lacing system is also something we cannot pass by. The shoelace all the way down to the toes. By cinching down the shoe you get a very nice snug fit and a blister-free trail run.

The precise fit is also aided by the patented SALEWA technology which also provides excellent heel stability. There’s a 3F system which features an anatomical fit for the natural asymmetry of the foot.

Going back to the outside wall of the shoe, we notice Y-shaped webbing straps that lock your foot to reduce extra and unnecessary movement within the shoe.

We also got an EVA midsole for maximum comfort. Now is the time to mention that the Salewa Wildfire S GTX is not designed to withstand heavy loads. It is perfect for everyday light use and training but not for heavy terrain.

The SALEWA footbed is nifty and it can be swapped out for a narrow or a medium type of footbed. The EVO outsole has a Megagrip compound and its structure is astonishing. You get circular lugs for flat trails but the smooth edges will help you when climbing.

PROS:

  • Full of trademark technology
  • EXA shell cage which gives the shoe structure
  • Laces all the way down
  • Straps to lock your ankle

CONS:

  • Cannot take a lot of beating
  • Not suitable for heavy, long hiking trips

Related: It’s not only the shoe that makes your feet feel comfortable during a trail-run. Get top quality socks by opting for the Smartwool Men’s Hike Ultra Light Mini Socks. They are composed of 69% merino wool and 29% nylon. The 2% elastane is just enough to give you that extra notch of comfort. Ventilation is supreme and the arch base is elasticized. They also feature a flat knit toe seam.

Check the price on Amazon

Wrapping Up

Don’t ever be caught flatfooted (yes, we used that word intentionally) when going hiking. We are confident that our guide above has at least helped sway you one way or the other when it comes to selecting the best hiking shoe.

vegan hiking boots featured

Re-read our reviews one more time in case you are still uncertain which pair of shoes will give you maximum comfort during your outdoor adventures. Remember to take everything into account and as always, we advise you to constantly look for the best value for money.

In case you think we have missed anything on our guide, feel free to comment and give us some feedback. Don’t hesitate to comment even if you think we have done a good job and have actually helped you choose hiking shoes. Happy hiking!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Dennis Owens

Dennis Owens

Dennis Owens is a graduate of National Camping School and REI Outdoor School. He knows everything about what gear to take with you, how to plan your trip to stay safe and what to do if you get lost in the mountains. We are lucky to have Dennis with us as he is a ‘walking encyclopedia’ when it comes to the wilderness.

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