Hiking boots are critical to your comfort and performance on the trail, but this no longer means a stiff and burly model that will weigh you down.
The trend is toward lighter materials that still offer decent support and waterproof.
Boots are the most popular by far.
Our picks for the best hiking boots of 2019 are broken down into three categories:
- Lightweight boots for day hiking and backpacking
- Midweight options that work well for most backpacking trips and
- Heavyweights for rough terrain or hauling a large load.
1. Salomon Quest 4D 3 GTX
To start us off at number 1, we have the Salomon Quest 4D 3 GTX’s.
Salomon’s updated Quest 4D 3 GTX is the whole package, combining fantastic comfort, traction and support for serious day hiking and backpacking.
Salomon Men’s Quest 4d 3 GTX Backpacking BootsSale!$229.95
Building on the popular Quest 4D 2, the new boot adds an aggressive outsole that grips well in just about all conditions and a redesigned, more flexible platform for improved comfort.
What stays consistent is the top-notch performance fit, aggressive stance and durable construction that has made the Quest our favorite all-around hiking boot for years.
The new Quest 4D 3 GTX is not, however, any lighter than the previous model and sits solidly in our mid-weight category.
It was ideal for our trek on the demanding Huemul Circuit in Patagonia, which involved steep climbs and descents and off-trail hiking while carrying a full pack.
But the boot is a bit stiff and overkill for people that don’t need the extra protection or want to move fast and light on well-maintained trails.
2. Merrell Moab 2 Mid’s.
At number 2 we have the Merrell Moab 2 Mid’s.
For day hikers and lightweight backpackers who stick mostly to maintained trails, our top value pick is the Merrell Moab 2.
What makes this boot so popular is its lightweight and comfortable feel at such a reasonable price.
Merrell Men’s Moab 2 Mid Waterproof Hiking BootSale!
For reasonable affordable price, you get good cushioning underfoot, trusty Vibram outsoles, and a waterproof membrane.
The Moab was updated to the “2” for last year, but they didn’t fuss much with the proven design.
Notable changes include a new insole with a higher arch, improved cushioning under the heel, and a more waterproof and durable suede upper.
What are the downsides of the Moab 2 Mid WP?
The boot is lacking in support compared to some of the pricier models on this list for carrying a heavy load or scrambling on rocky or rough trails.
Second, it isn’t quite as durable or long-lasting.
The Moab is a well-built hiking boot overall, but the lack of premium materials means that it may eventually need to be replaced a little sooner than we would prefer.
But at a significant less than the Salomon Quest 4D 3 above, the Moab offers the right mix of comfort and performance for most day hikes and weekend adventures.
3. Lowa Renegade GTX Mid’s.
At number 3 we have the Lowa Renegade GTX Mid’s.
The Lowa Renegade has the look and feel of a traditional hiking boot at an impressively low weight.
Unlike the nimble and more modern Quest above, the leather Renegade offers better isolation from the ground and feels more planted and sturdy.
Lowa Men’s Renegade GTX Mid Hiking Boot$188.61 – $246.86
It does give up a little of the fun factor and performance fit of the Quest, but the trade-off is worth it for those carrying a heavy pack or wanting more underfoot protection from rocky trails.
Lowa kept the weight down in part by moving some of the stabilizing duties to a very effective external polyurethane frame.
This makes the Renegade perform like a true backpacking boot while weighing less than 2.5 pounds.
Further, its leather upper is relatively thin, which saves ounces and reduces break-in time.
The sacrifice of all this lightening is a lack of long-term durability—high-mileage users have reported needing a new pair nearly every year.
But they keep coming back for the comfortable feel and the right balance of weight and support.
4. Salomon X Ultra 3 Mid GTX’s.
In at number 4 we have the Salomon X Ultra 3 Mid GTX’s.
Built like a trail-running shoe but with added ankle support and protection, the Salomon X Ultra 3 Mid is our favorite ultralight boot.
Updated last year, Salmon didn’t mess with the formula: the boots are flexible and feathery light—even 2 ounces lighter per pair than the previous model—but retain decent toe protection, a stable chassis, and a new lug design that grips exceptionally well.
For fast-moving day hikers, lightweight backpackers, and thru-hikers, we heartily recommend the X Ultra 3 Mid.
Naturally, there are a few compromises that come with the X Ultra’s lightweight construction.
The most significant is the lack of underfoot protection, which is thinner than the Quest 4D above.
Salomon Men’s X Ultra 3 Mid GTX Hiking BootSale!
In addition, the X Ultra also doesn’t sit as high on the ankle as the Quest and isn’t as supportive over technical terrain or when carrying a heavy pack.
However, it beats out other ultralight options like the Altra and Adidas below in long-distance comfort, durability, and traction.
5. Scarpa Zodiac Plus GTX’s
For our number 5 spot we have the Scarpa Zodiac Plus GTX’s.
For a recent trek over the harsh terrain of Peru’s Cordillera Huayhuash, we turned to Scarpa’s Zodiac Plus.
This boot mixes approach shoe-like traction on rock and boulders with the toughness and stability of a lightweight mountaineering boot, which is quite a combination.
Scarpa Men’s Zodiac Plus Gtx Hiking BootSale!$201.70 – $201.99
Over a brutal 10 days of on and off-trail hiking while shouldering a heavy pack, the Zodiac impressed: the semi-stiff build, high quality construction, and solid protection provided a lot of confidence on steep climbs and sketchy descents.
Among tough and serious hiking boots, the Zodiac Plus and Salewa Mountain Trainer below are two of the best.
The Zodiac is more comfortable out of the box, weighs 9 ounces less for the pair, and is a bit more flexible for covering ground quickly, but the Mountain Trainer’s stiffer build and 360-degree rubber rand offers even better protection in the alpine.
6. Vasque Talus Trek Mid UltraDry’s
At number 6 we have Vasque Talus Trek Mid UltraDry’s.
Vasque’s Talus Trek is a new addition to their hiking boot line-up, designed to tackle wet and rocky trails.
Right off the bat, we were very impressed with the build quality and feel of these boots.
The leather upper is strong and handled muddy hiking and snow travel with ease.
The Vasque also has excellent foot protection for the price with a rigid toe cap and heel piece.
All in all, the boot doesn’t have the same performance feel of the Salomon Quest 4D 3, but is a solid partner on the trail and a great value at $150.
Vasque Men’s Talus Trek Ultradry Hiking BootSale!$112.80 – $158.99
In price and performance, the Talus Trek UltraDy is a nice mix of the Merrell Moab 2 above and the popular Keen Durand.
The leather upper is a step up in durability from the mesh-heavy Moab, but the Talus is a significant 5 ounces lighter in weight than the Durand while providing comparable ankle support.
We did find that the toe box was quite a bit tighter than the competition, so those with wide feet may want to steer clear of the Vasque.
But if you need a precise and snug fit, the Talus Trek is a capable boot at an attractive price.
7. Asolo Falcon GV’s.
In at number 7 we have the Asolo Falcon GV’s.
When we think of Asolo, the classic Fugitive GTX below comes to mind, which weighs over 3 pounds and has looked the exact same for nearly a decade.
The sleeker and more modern Falcon GV, however, represents where we think hiking footwear is headed: a little less weight and support than a traditional hiking boot, but with serious technical chops.
Asolo Men’s Falcon GV Hiking Boot$234.95 – $235.00
We took the Falcon on and off trail over the course of the rugged Huemul Circuit in Patagonia and came away impressed.
It’s well built, extremely comfortable right out of the box, and can handle just about anything you can throw at it.
The biggest downside in choosing the Asolo Falcon GV is stability, which we would rate as moderate.
If you’re used to a high-cut boot with tons of support, the Falcon isn’t it.
But when laced up tight, we wore it backpacking with a relatively heavy load over all types of terrain from scree fields and glaciers to steep rocky passes with few issues.
8. Keen Targhee III Mid’s
And for our last pick at number 8 we have the Keen Targhee III Mid’s.
With an affordable price tag and great out-of-the-box comfort, the Keen Targhee line is an extremely popular boot for day hiking and easy to moderate backpacking trips.
The new Targhee III, released in fall of 2017, is $10 more than the older model but hones in comfort nicely.
Despite the reasonable price, the boot is surprisingly tough with a good-sized toe cap and leather upper, and it sits just high enough on the ankle to offer decent rollover protection.
Keep in mind that the Targhee III still is a clear step down in stability and ankle support from a boot like the Lowa Renegade above, but it offers sufficient stability and grip for most subalpine adventures.
The Targhee’s main competitor is the Merrell Moab 2 above, and both models have undergone a remake in the past year.
Keen Men’s Targhee 3 Mid Leather Hiking Boot$134.62 – $145.00
The new Targhee is more durable overall with its leather construction, but the Moab matches it in trail comfort, keeps you cooler with its mesh design, and costs a bit less.
So that sum up our best hiking and backpacking boots of 2019.
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