OUTDOORS

Best Backpacking Boots: Expert Reviews to Help You Out

backpacking boots
Dennis Owens
Written by Dennis Owens

You will agree with us that great backpacking boots is the most important aspect to consider before setting out in the great outdoors. The shoes you wear on your trip can be either your biggest friend or your biggest foe – you’d definitely want to wear something comfortable.

However, coming across the best backpacking boots for yourself isn’t always as easy as it seems – the variety of shoes on the market can be overwhelming!

Good quality boots will keep your legs dry without compromising on the comfort of the fit whatsoever. But did you know that there are several features you should take into consideration before getting yourself a pair?

We’ve taken the time to go over some common features and explained to you why those matter. Apart from that, we’ve also reviewed some of the most popular choices out there in order to help you out – keep reading on to learn more!

Product NameWeightWeather ResistanceIdeal ForPrice
Timberland White Ledge Men’s Waterproof2 poundsWaterproofHiking, backpackingCheck price on Amazon
Salomon Men’s X Ultra Mid 2 GTX2 poundsWaterproof liningHiking, backpackingCheck price on Amazon
Vasque Men’s Breeze 2.0 Gore-Tex1.4 poundsWaterproofHikingCheck price on Amazon
Keen Men’s Targhee II Mid WP3 poundsWaterproofHikingCheck price on Amazon
Vasque Women’s St. Elias Gore-Tex2 poundsWaterproofHeavy-duty backpackingCheck price on Amazon
Arc’teryx Men’s Bora2 Mid2.6 poundsWater-resistantHeavy-duty backpackingCheck price on Amazon
Lowa Men’s Renegade GTX Mid3.4 poundsAll-weather hiking boot, waterproofHiking, backpacking both in summer and winterCheck price on Amazon
Salomon Men’s Quest 4D 2 GTX Boot1.4 poundsWaterproofHeavy-wear backpackingCheck price on Amazon

Features to Consider Before Buying

Here are some of the features you might want to take into consideration for your next pair of backpacking boots. However, keep in mind that different people have different needs in the end – you might realize different criteria matter for yourself!

Comfort

This criterion should probably be the first one to consider when you look for outdoor boots. If you’re going to crush miles on long trails, rocky terrains, and steep summits – you’ll want a comfortable footwear that will not make your feet tired, sore, or restless.

The outright trend from manufacturers these days are their lighter boots should provide a comfortable fit to various foot shapes and sizes. Though lightweight boots have somewhat become a mainstream appeal for major brands, there are still other types that should be taken into consideration as well.

comfortable backpacking boots

For example, the mid-weight and heavyweight boots made from comfortable materials. Trying the boot before you buy it would be ideal – that way, you’d know how comfortable a pair is and what works best for you!

Weight

On any given day, light footwear is highly preferred, since you would need to spend more energy to lift heavy boots. On the other side, mid-weight hiker boots feature an optimized design that focuses more on ankle protection, durability, and stability than lightweight boots.

Heavyweight boots, on the other hand, are more stable and durable than midweight and lightweight types. Your goal should be to select the best hiking boot that meets your feet need for support and stability.

Traction

As soon as you step on the trail and place your boots on the ground, you want your footwear to stay put and take a good grip.

good traction on backpacking boots

The traction of boots need to have unique sole shape, and lug pattern- that can withstand different terrains. You want your boots to be able to bite into hill slopes, mountainous rocks, or wooded forest; without losing your balance. You should have the ability to climb steep slabs as well descend them, without sliding or slipping.

Weather Resistance & Waterproofness

Backpackers want to have their feet as dry as possible since this helps them avoid blisters while keeping them warm in case the temperature drops cold. These days, most brands prioritize materials in their footwear to have waterproof breathable membranes.

A popular technology is a thing called Gore-Tex membrane which provides a water-resistant breathable liner. Also, look for a well-designed gusseted tongue on the hiking boots, since this tongue prevents small debris, stones, and rocks from entering the boots.

Durability

Like any other footwear, backpacking boots will eventually wear out after a certain period of use. Don’t expect all boots to last a million miles of trail, just as any shoe would not last forever. You should see a noticeable wear and tear in the boots after considerable use.

backpacking boots on grass

Most of the time, soft rubber soles provide greater friction on rocky slabs but usually wear more quickly. Heavy hard soles may not have better friction but generally last longer. Outdoor companies have since learned to design boots with the trade off that they maintain balance in friction, sole longevity, and overall durability of their boots.

Stability

If you plan to make backpacking and hiking a regular outdoor activity, you would want to look for ankle stability in the boots that you will buy. Know that high cut boots provide more support and protection to your ankles than low-cut shoes. If you like stability, protection, and support for your ankles, you want a high cut hiking boots in particular.

High cut helps the feet avoid missteps and twisting of your ankles on steep slopes and climbs to high mountain summits. Those are some of the more basic features we think might matter to most buyers. Let’s move on to the part with the actual reviews!

Best Products on Today’s Market

Here are some of the more popular boots choices available on the market!

Timberland White Ledge Men’s Waterproof BootTimberland White Ledge Men’s Waterproof Boot

Price: $70 – $130

Dimensions: 12 x 9 x 6 inches

Weight: 2 pounds

Specific features: Removable dual-density EVA footbed, textile, leather, multidirectional traction lugs, rubber sole, padded collar, 4.75 inches shaft from arch, gusseted tongue, oiled-leather finish, rear pull loop, lace-up vamp, waterproof leather, full-grain leather upper

Best use: Hiking, backpacking

The Timberland White Ledge Men’s Waterproof Boot is an ideal footwear for weekend hiking adventures, manufactured from full-grain waterproof leather. It comes with sealed seams that should give you full protection from dew, moisture, water crossings, and raindrops.

In addition, these boots include multi-directional rubber lugs, as well as a breathable footbed. This can allow you to accelerate, brake, and climb quite easily.

With padded tongue and collar, your ankles should be protected while not compromising on the comfort at the same time. The tongue also relieves the pressure you may feel when the boot is tied on tightly.

Since the leather is waterproof, the breathable footbed completely wicks away moisture, continuously keeping your feet dry throughout your hiking trip.  With the removable perforated dual density EVA footbed, it allows for a decent air flow, keeping your feet dry.

One of the best of features of Timberland is their boot technology system B.S.F.P.: Brake, Support, Flex, and Propel, which should give you superb ground traction. Bearing in mind the high-quality materials used for making the boots, they should prove to be pretty durable.

PROS:

  • Excellent quality
  • Should prove to be durable and long-lasting
  • Technology applied allows for easier and faster climb

CONS:

  • Some buyers might want something more suitable for warmer months
  • Some buyers could want something even more lightweight

Related: If you’re looking for ways to prolong the durability of your boots, give the Nikwax Leather Wax a try – it’s a next generation water repellent that should help you keep your feet dry! The application of it is extremely easy since it comes with a sponge – you’ll just need to rub it on your shoes. The product works immediately and can be used both on wet and dry leather.

Check the price on Amazon

Salomon Men’s X Ultra Mid 2 GTX BootsSalomon Men’s X Ultra Mid 2 GTX Boots

Price: $100 – $200

Dimensions: 14 x 13 x 5 inches

Weight: 2 pounds

Specific features: Contragrip traction outsole, leather fabric, sensifit system, rubber sole, Gore-Tex waterproof lining, shaft 5 inches from arch, secure precise fit, breathable mesh panels, protective rubber toe cap, gusseted tongue to shield debris, lace-up speed-hook hardware

Best use: Backpacking, hiking

Since it’s a multifunctional hiking boot, the Salomon Men’s X Ultra Mid 2 GTX Boots are redesigned to provide better stability and comfortable mid-height support no matter on the trail you’ll be wearing them.

It has the all-season, multi-climate control of Gore-Tex, with the advanced system in the chassis, though it still might do better in colder months only. Gore-Tex brings in the climate comfort management that not only protects your feet from wet conditions but also provides comfort, breathability, and flexibility.

Another nice feature is the EVA midsole, providing a more active comfort to lessen the fatigue. For additional protection and better control over the terrain, it also has the center TPU chassis, as well as the rubber outsole. The Contagrip provides a good mix of lug geometry and compound density, providing grip durability.

The boots are lightweight compared to other boots but have been optimized for nice traction on any type of surface. Overall, this pair should give you the comfort, protection, and stability you might be expecting from a pair of hiking boots.

PROS:

  • Pretty lightweight compared to other models
  • Comfort wear for both shorter and longer trips
  • Gore-Tex technology

CONS:

  • Grip could be improved
  • Might not be that great for warmer/summer months

Related: The People Socks Crew Socks might be one of those must-have products for enthusiast campers and hikers – made out of merino wool, they’ll keep your feet warm in winter and cool in summer! On top of that, they’re antimicrobial and should help you minimize any odor even on longer hikes. Socks come in set of four pairs and can be worn both by men and women.

Check the price on Amazon

Vasque Men’s Breeze 2.0 Gore-Tex BootVasque Men’s Breeze 2.0 Gore-Tex Boot

Price: $100 – $230

Dimensions: 13 x 10 x 5 inches

Weight: 1.4 pounds

Specific features: Synthetic sole, breathable hiking boot, molded rubber toe cap, dual Density EVA footbed, leather, abrasion-resistant, reflective piping, air mesh panels, heel 1.25″ inches, GORE-TEX Extended Comfort, Shaft 6 inches from arch, breathable waterproof protection, 0.75 inches platform, Vibram Contact XSTrek Compound outsole

Best use: Hiking, backpacking

The Vasque Men’s Breeze 2.0 Gore-Tex Boot should keep your feet dry and comfortable, so you can do hikes both on easier and on more difficult trails.

For those looking to get more support from their outdoor boots, this might be a good fit – designed especially for hiking and backpacking, the breathable protection and water resistant features of this pair could allow you to cover greater distances faster.

The pair features a GORE-TEX lining with the waterproof wick nylon mesh, which keeps your feet free from any water you might run into. Other special features include the upper leather combined with breathable nylon mesh panels that will keep you warm and cozy even during colder times.

The midsoles and the footbeds of the boots should give you enough cushioning and support, maximizing the fit. The dynamic Vibram Contact outsole shields from any debris entering the boot, while at the same time giving you better stability and grip.

Apart from being lighter, this edition is waterproof and attuned on extreme types of weather – it should keep you warm in winter and cool in summer. Overall, this pair should be a good buy, which means no tore down soles or other annoyances when you hike.

PROS:

  • Ideal for all types of weather
  • Very comfortable
  • Should allow you to hike longer distances

CONS:

  • They might start allowing leaks after prolonged use
  • Some users might prefer boots with more room for the fingers

Related: The Nikwax Duo Spray Pack might be an essential tool for taking proper care of your favorite pair of hiking boots after each trip! The pack comes with two spray bottles – one of them meant to help you clean your boots, while the other one waterproofs and maintains the texture of the leather, thus extending the durability of the shoe.

Check the price on Amazon

Keen Men’s Targhee II Mid WP BootKeen Men’s Targhee II Mid WP Boot

Price: $60 – $125

Dimensions: 12 x 8 x 4 inches

Weight: 3 pounds

Specific features: USA Made, 4mm multi-direction lugs, dual density compression, contoured heel lock, leather & textile, non-marking rubber sole, molded EVA midsole, waterproof breathable membrane, Hydrophobic mesh lining,

Best use: Hiking, backpacking

The Keen Men’s Targhee II Mid WP Boot is a waterproof hiking gear designed with breathable material – you should be able to minimize feet sweat! Made with aggressive outsoles, they should provide you with a decent enough grip to move without fuss on more challenging terrains.

The boots are made with rubber soles and covered with leather – considering the higher quality of the materials used, they should last you for a while. The pair features a mid-cut height to give you support to your ankles and minimize the chances of injury happening while conquering mountains and hilltops.

The Keen Dry waterproof technology makes sure water is kept out of the boots, as it helps you dodge rain drops, dew, and moisture – however, be careful when crossing water that goes above the opening of the shoe, as water is bound to get in and it might take some time for them to dry.

The lugged outsole bites easily into rocky terrains, a trait advanced backpackers might enjoy – you wouldn’t have to worry about having several different pairs for different terrains.

However, some of you might experience problems with the durability of the shoe – even though the manufacturer is doing some efforts to improve them, you might want to use your boots for shorter trips, such as weekend hikes.

PROS:

  • Excellent grip that should minimize the chances of falling
  • Great ankle support
  • Comfortable & light

CONS:

  • Not as durable as other models
  • Not suitable for longer trips

Related: The Icebreaker Hike+ Lite Mini Sock comes with several benefits, though the best one might be that the merino wool used to make the socks is non-itchy – and no one likes wearing uncomfortable socks, right? The socks are highly breathable though if it happens that you sweat, they should resist the odors naturally.

Check the price on Amazon

Vasque Women’s St. Elias Gore-Tex BootVasque Women’s St. Elias Gore-Tex Boot

Price: $135 – $200

Dimensions: 12 x 8 x 4 inches

Weight: 2 pounds

Specific features: Gore-Tex waterproof construction, rubber sole, platform 0.75 inches, heavy-duty backpacking performance, leather, 5 inches shaft from arch, weight-optimised Vibram outsole

Best use: Heavy-duty backpacking

It takes a while for women to find the right kind of backpacking gear, so finding a good pair such as the Vasque Women’s St. Elias Gore-Tex Boot is excellent news for women who enjoy heavy-duty backpacking trips and hikes!

Even though the shoes are lightweight, that doesn’t mean the manufacturer has failed – the rubber outsole is strong enough to keep you stable and keep you going on the trail. As far as the weather-resistance is concerned, this pair has the GORE-TEX waterproof technology, so you should be covered in times of heavy pour.

On top of that, the aesthetic appeal is kept, while not compromising on the functionality of the shoe. This pair is fairly light – coming at just 2 pounds, they should be a good fit no matter the size you wear. It has a good arch support, so buyers should expect both comfort and protection while doing steep hikes.

However, some users have noted that the laces have a tendency to get untied often on longer walks, which will probably be annoying to most buyers. However, as long as you tie them in knots, that shouldn’t happen, at least not very often. All in all, this pair should be a decent enough purchase both for amateur and advanced backpackers.

PROS:

  • Great for heavy-duty backpacking
  • The pair offers waterproof protection
  • Comfortable, with good ankle support

CONS:

  • Laces might get untied often
  • Not the best pair for light walks around the woods

Related: The AquaSeal Leather Waterproof Cream should take wonderful care of your leather boots while not harming the seams or liners underneath the leather! The cream does a great conditioning the leather of the boots though it still allows the leather to breathe. The cream is scent-free and comes in a four-ounce package that should last you for a while.

Check the price on Amazon

Arc’teryx Men’s Bora2 Mid Hiking BootArc'teryx Men's Bora2 Boot

Price: Approximately $330

Dimensions: 14 x 12 x 5 inches

Weight: 2.6 pounds

Specific features: EVA midsole seamless one-piece upper, Synthetic, Black Cajun color, removable liners, comfort and stability, durable, breathable construction, 2 layer stretch nylon, minimal seams liner height, mono-mesh Stretch GORE-TEX, stretch nylon mono-mesh, lightweight liner, quick-drying boots

Best use: Heavy-duty hiking, backpacking

The Arc’teryx Men’s Bora2 Mid Hiking Boot can be considered as a good mid-hiking boot, though there’s always room for improvement.

Hiking boots are expected to perform beyond the most rugged environments, whereby providing you with enough stability in long walks and rocky climbs – it can be said that you should be able to get all of that with this pair.

Some of the technical features of this backpacking footwear are the dual-layer removable stretch nylon with the mono-mesh GORE-TEX stretchable laminate liner, which provides advanced footwear technology, for any type of environment.

The stretch nylon does not absorb moisture and has a great breathability, so it is perfect for summer when you’d be sweating a lot – also, the boots should dry pretty fast.

However, even though this pair has the Gore-Tex technology, you’d probably want to keep them in the closet during colder months – some users have experienced troubles with the waterproof feature.

A nice little addition about this brand is that you can get an insulated liner – though do note that it’s sold separately. The separate liner should allow for a better fit and bigger comfort. The boot’s strategic shape enhances traction and stability though you might want to be careful on more difficult terrains.

PROS:

  • Decent buy for longer walks on flatter terrains
  • Excellent breathability

CONS:

  • Price is higher than average
  • Waterproof feature might not be ideal
  • Might not work best on rugged terrains

Related: The Hidden Peak Outdoor Socks come in several different styles – no matter which one you pick, you shouldn’t be disappointed! Being extremely tough and durable, they feature an additional arch support that increases your stability and overall comfort while on the trail. Moreover, each pair should be pretty breathable and can be worn in different weather conditions.

Check the price on Amazon

Lowa Men’s Renegade GTX Mid Hiking BootLowa Men’s Renegade GTX Mid Hiking Boot

Price: $190 – $270

Dimensions: 12 x 14 x 5 inches

Weight: 3.4 pounds

Specific features: Vibram sole, nubuck leather upper, shaft measures 5″ from arch, full-length nylon shank, climate control footbed, leather and synthetic, platform 1 inch, Vibram Evo outsole, PU Monowrap Frame midsole, heel measures 1.75 inches, waterproof Gore-Tex lining

Best use: All-weather hiking boots

This mid hiking boot features the climate control footbed and Vibram Evo outsole, which makes the Lowa Men’s Renegade GTX Mid Hiking Boot one of the popular outdoor footwear this year. It features the Nubuck upper leather, full-length nylon shank, and a decent midsole, something that advanced hikers should appreciate.

The boots are made both from synthetic and leather materials, which should make them pretty sturdy and durable. On top of that, the boots are professionally handcrafted, making this brand of boots one of the favorite footwear brands by a lot of experienced mountaineers and climbers.

The laces are derby-style and should improve the fit of the shoe. Once comfortable fitted on, boots should allow you to cover greater distances with no problem whatsoever.

This pair of hiking boots can deal with the most difficult terrains, even in extreme weather conditions. The leather is water resistant, though you might want to be careful if encountering heavier down pour. The boots are breathable and comfortable enough to be used even in warmer months.

PROS:

  • Excellent fit and comfort
  • Extremely breathable
  • Made from high-quality materials

CONS:

  • Price is higher than average
  • It could take you longer to tie the laces

Related: If you’re looking to clean water-repellent shoes, then the Nikwax Footwear Cleaner might be an appropriate pick – it cleans the boots while making sure the water-resistance feature is still kept! It works both for leather and fabric-leather shoes and might be an excellent aid in removing hardcore stains on your shoes.

Check the price on Amazon

Salomon Men’s Quest 4D 2 GTX BootSalomon Men’s Quest 4D 2 GTX Boot

Price: $130 – $295

Dimensions: 14 x 14 x 5 inches

Weight: 1.4 pounds

Specific features: Gore-tex waterproof protection, updated Salomon Contagrip Outsole, Molded EVA Ortholite, Leather Textile, rugged lacing hardware, arc shaft measures 6.75 inches, Synthetic sole, Salomon 4D Chassis, removable footbed, protective rubber toe cap, High hiker stability

Best use: Heavy wear backpacking

The Salomon Men’s Quest 4D 2 GTX Boot brings in the latest Quest 4D technology that helps the user get an outstanding grip, traction, and stability. It has the ergonomic tongue for enhanced comfort and improved boot laces that shouldn’t come undone during longer hikes.

The material is water-repellent, so you should be able to use them in times of rain though you might want to be careful if taking them in the snow – the boots are designed primarily for use during the warmer months.

A great feature that’s worth mentioning is the so-called 4D Chassis, which gives you multiple benefits at the same time: excellent dynamic cushioning, active comfort protection, stabilized foot control, and all-mountain traction.

The protective toe cap is made out of rubber and might do a good job minimizing injuries and allowing you to brake better.

The boot can tackle heavy duty beating straight from the box, then into mile long wilderness trails, and steep summit climbs while at the same time, being extremely lightweight – it’s a pretty decent choice for summer hikes and backpacking trips!

PROS:

  • Lightweight and comfortable
  • Great purchase for summer trips
  • Overall decent level of ankle support

CONS:

  • Don’t allow for all-weather use
  • Some buyers might find them more expensive

Related: The Solax Hiking Socks are made out of merino wool, making them almost perfect for hiking trips in different weather – the wool should cool you down in summer and warm you up in winter! Coming in several different styles, each pair is going to be antibacterial and odor-resistant, allowing you to keep your comfort at all times.

Check the price on Amazon

Conclusion

By now, you probably know a few things that you’ll want your next pair of hiking boots to have. After all, you do want to get the best possible comfort and fit out there!

We hope you’ve found our backpacking boots reviews helpful for your next outdoor trip. If you happen to have any questions or suggestions regarding backpacking gear you’ve found useful, feel free to share with us in the comment section below! We’d love to hear about your favorites.

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.

  • Andrew Miller

    Just got a pair of Targhee II low tops to replace my Merrell Chameleon Prime. The first impression they are very comfortable and allow my foot to “roll” from heel to toe easily this makes walking feel easier than with other shoes as there isn’t much resistance. They are waterproof, which means they aren’t as breathable as nonwaterproof shoes. Overall I love the quirky look of Keens and the quality seems to be there as well. Only time will tell how long they’ll last. The price is also a bit cheaper now, they were more than $150 a few weeks ago.

    • Dennis Owens

      I used to have a Merrell Chameleon Prime as well! The replacement pair are actually great, and my tip to you is to subscribe to online stores and watch out for flash sales because such sales can really save you a great deal of money, which you can use for other things like a new backpack.

  • Robin James

    I like the Salomon brand, used their shoes from my childhood when I went hiking with my dad. Salomon Men’s Quest 4D 2 GTX Hiking Boots are one of my favorite boots in the wardrobe. This model is made of different materials: leather, synthetic, and textile. The sole is also synthetic, but very qualitative. I never had my feet wet, even on a snow and storm weather. I also like the well-made seams all over the boot. The main thing for me is to feel comfortable in any weather, these shoes allow this.

    • Dennis Owens

      The 4D 2 GTX is one of the boots I classify as hybrid because all the materials used to develop this footgear works really well and does the job in providing you a comfortable and protective movement.

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