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The force in climbing footwear is pushing ceaselessly from massive boots toward lightweight shoes and even trail sprinters that are quicker and increasingly agreeable. You do lose some lower leg bolster when conveying a substantial pack or navigating rough trails, yet the weight investment funds and fluffy feel are justified, despite all the trouble for some. The following are our preferred climbing shoes of 2019, from ultralight choices for quick and light outings to progressively steady models for conveying a full pack. For more foundation data, see our examination table and purchasing counsel beneath the picks. On the off chance that you lean toward an over-the-lower leg style, look at our article on the best climbing boots.

Best Overall Lightweight Hiking Shoe
1. Salomon X Ultra 3 GTX ($150)
Weight: 1 lb. 10.8 oz.
Waterproof: Yes (non-GTX available)
What we like: Great mix of lightness, durability, and on-trail performance.
What we don’t: Gore-Tex model runs warm.

The Salomon X Ultra 3 is our top lightweight climbing shoe for 2019, joining a fluffy vibe with amazing on-trail execution. Similarly as with the past model, the third release assembles everything: the shoe is aggressively light at 1 pound 10 ounces (for a men's size 9), the track configuration offers amazing hold in pretty much all conditions, and the steady suspension and padded inside are incredible for long trail days. Everything considered, we exceptionally suggest the X Ultra for day climbs, snappy summits, and even lightweight hiking.

Salomon drew vigorously from their trail running aptitude with the X Ultra 3's plan. The single-destroy bands are quick to utilize and give a safe fit, and the shoe is unmistakably more agile than customary climbers like the Merrell Moab 2 or Keen Targhee III beneath. Be that as it may, you don't forfeit assurance like with a trail sprinter—Salomon incorporates a significant toe top and enough padding underneath for pulling a pack. We found the fit runs slender in the toe box, yet fortunately the low-top GTX form is presently offered in wide sizes. Attach the non-waterproof "Air" model, and the X Ultra 3 stands apart as the best all-around climbing shoe line available.

Best Budget Hiking Shoe
2. Merrell Moab 2 Vent ($100)
Merrell Moab 2 low hiking shoesType: Hiking shoe
Weight: 1 lb. 15 oz.
Waterproof: No (waterproof available)
What we like: Very comfortable and a great price.
What we don’t: Not a shoe for technical terrain.

These may not be your long distance or ultra-rugged hiking shoes, but there is a lot to like about Merrell’s flagship Moab 2. What has made this shoe so popular over the years? A lightweight but planted feel, a comfortable fit, and an attractive price point. Merrell updated the Moab a couple of years ago including a more durable upper and greater cushioning in the heel of the footbed, but the formula largely remains the same. For day hikers sticking to established trails, the Moab 2 is a great value.

In terms of downsides, on rocky and muddy trails we found that traction and stability fall short of a performance shoe like the Salomon X Ultra above. And despite a competitive 1-pound 15-ounce weight for a pair, the shoe feels a little slow and cumbersome compared with some lighter models. But these are small complaints about an otherwise fantastic shoe, and we highly recommend the Moab 2 for day hikes and lightweight backpacking. Keep in mind that we included the non-waterproof “Vent” here, but Merrell also makes a waterproof version that costs $120 and weighs slightly more at 2 pounds 1 ounce per pair... Read in-depth review
See the Men's Merrell Moab 2  See the Women's Merrell Moab 2

Best Ultralight Trail Shoe
3. Altra Lone Peak 4.0 ($120)
Altra Lone Peak 4.0 trail-running shoeType: Trail-running shoe
Weight: 1 lb. 4.4 oz.
Waterproof: No (water resistant available)
What we like: Very light with plush cushioning.
What we don’t: Wide fit isn’t great for difficult terrain.

Running-centric brand Altra has become a go-to option for minimalist hikers, with a strong line-up of heavily cushioned yet lightweight zero-drop shoes. Their flagship trail runner is the Lone Peak, which also has many loyalists in the thru-hiking community for its combination of weight and comfort. Last summer Altra released the “4,” and the main changes include a longer-lasting outsole, a more durable mesh upper material, and upgraded drainage ports around the toes for creek crossings. We’ve found that the Lone Peak is decently tough, provides solid traction, and the thick cushioning isolates you from harsh impacts underfoot.

There are a few important things to keep in mind when choosing a trail-running shoe like the Altra Lone Peak for hiking. First, you get less protection at the toe and along the sides of the foot than the shoes above. Second, the shoe flexes more than a traditional hiker and won’t be as comfortable on steep climbs and over rocky terrain. Third, this shoe has a wide fit, and particularly in the toe box. If you have narrow feet, we recommend looking elsewhere on this list, including Saucony’s Peregrine ISO below.
See the Men's Altra Lone Peak 4.0  See the Women's Altra Lone Peak 4.0

Best of the Rest
4. The North Face Ultra 110 GTX ($120)
The North Face Ultra 110 GTX hiking shoesType: Hiking/trail-running shoe
Weight: 1 lb. 15 oz.
Waterproof: Yes
What we like: Great stability and traction for rough trails.
What we don’t: A little heavy for a performance model.

The North Face may list the Ultra 110 GTX as a trail-running shoe, but we think it checks all the boxes for a quality lightweight hiker: it has a stable platform, good foot protection, and durable construction. We were big fans of the old Ultra 109 GTX, and the 110 addresses our primary complaint: tread life. Whereas the 109 wore down in less than one season of use, the updated rubber is much more aggressive and is holding up far better on the rocky and rough trails of the Cascade Range.

One of the Ultra 110’s closest competitors is the Salomon X Ultra 3 above. The North Face shoe is a little stiffer and more stable in technical terrain, grips just as well as the Salomon, and undercuts it in price by $30. On the other hand, the Ultra 110 weighs 2 ounces more per shoe and feels a little clunky by comparison. In the end, we give the slight edge to the nimbler X Ultra 3, but The North Face has a real winner in the Ultra 110 GTX... Read in-depth review
See the Men's North Face Ultra 110  See the Women's North Face Ultra 110

5. Adidas Outdoor Terrex Swift R2 GTX ($135)
Adidas Terrex Swift R2 GTX hiking shoesType: Hiking shoe
Weight: 1 lb. 8.6 oz.
Waterproof: Yes (non-GTX available)
What we like: Light and tough.
What we don’t: A bit stiff.

Adidas has expanded its hiking footwear line substantially in recent years, and the updated Terrex Swift R2 GTX is very capable on the trail. The sleek design and single-pull lacing system are reminiscent of a Salomon shoe, but at 1 pound 8.6 ounces, the R2 is even lighter and tougher than the X Ultra 3 GTX above. The sole feels like a hiking boot, toe and protection around the side of the foot are impressive, and the Gore-Tex lining provides waterproofing without feeling swampy. That’s a winning formula for Adidas and has made the Terrex line quite popular.

Why is the Adidas Terrex Swift R2 ranked here? We found the shoe to be on the stiff side—it loosened up a bit after a couple of days of backpacking in the Utah Canyon Country, but remains noticeable. In addition, although the Lace Bungee system is functional and we haven’t had any issues with it, it’s definitely not as smooth or easy-to-use as Salomon’s tried-and-true Quicklace. In terms of support and stability, the R2 is cut fairly low, but Adidas does make the shoe in a Mid GTX version (1 pound 13.2 ounces for the pair)... Read in-depth review
See the Men's Adidas Terrex Swift R2  See the Women's Adidas Terrex Swift R2

6. La Sportiva TX4 ($140)
La Sportiva TX4 hiking shoeType: Approach shoe
Weight: 1 lb. 10 oz.
Waterproof: No
What we like: Approach shoe grip with hiking shoe comfort and weight.
What we don’t: Leather model limits breathability.

The La Sportiva TX4 certainly isn’t a traditional pick, but boy do we love this shoe. It’s built as an approach shoe, which means that it’s grippy and tough for long hikes to climbing objectives or traveling over steep, rocky terrain. The Vibram outsole, full rubber rand, and smooth area of sticky rubber under the toe make it a great option for scrambling, smearing, and edging on rock. But what we have been impressed with most is its versatility: the TX4 does equally well moving fast on the trail with its light and moderately flexible construction. We even like it for everyday use due to the high levels of comfort and attractive design.

As with most approach shoes, the La Sportiva TX4 does have limitations. The dotty tread grips exceptionally well on wet and dry rock and even impressed us with traction on snow, but it will fall short of a true hiking shoe in dirt and mud. Further, some hikers—mostly those of the fast-and-light variety—might find that the stiffer sole feels clunky and inflexible. But overall, don’t be dissuaded by the approach shoe label: the TX4 is a worthy companion for long days on the trail. And keep in mind that La Sportiva does make this shoe in a number of versions, including the mesh TX3 (more breathability) up to the burly TX5 (a full-on hiking boot)... Read in-depth review
See the Men's La Sportiva TX4  See the Women's La Sportiva TX4

7. Keen Targhee III WP ($140)
Keen Targhee III Low hiking shoesType: Hiking shoe
Weight: 1 lb. 14.8 oz.
Waterproof: Yes (non-WP available)
What we like: A nice update that modernizes the classic Targhee design.
What we don’t: Pricier than the Merrell Moab 2 without enough to show for it.

Not to be outdone by Merrell’s update to their signature Moab shoes, Keen released a new Targhee late last year. The changes weren't groundbreaking but do a nice job at modernizing the classic design. Most importantly, the super wide foot bed of the previous model has been trimmed down slightly to give the shoe a slightly less sloppy feel over rocky terrain. The Targhee III still won’t be confused with an aggressive model like the Salomon X Ultra 3 above, but its tough leather construction, reasonable weight, and well-cushioned interior make it a great casual hiker.

Among day hiking options, the Keen Targhee III and Merrell Moab 2 above are two of the most popular on the market. Both are very comfortable right out of the box and offer plenty of support and traction for non-technical trails and can even do the trick on shorter backpacking trips. The Targhee’s Nubuck leather upper is a little more durable than the mesh used on the Moab, but the Keen isn’t as good of a value at $140. That price difference and wide fit are what push it slightly down our list, but you really can’t go wrong with either model... Read in-depth review
See the Men's Keen Targhee III  See the Women's Keen Targhee III

8. Saucony Peregrine ISO ($120)
Saucony Peregrine ISO shoeType: Trail-running shoe
Weight: 1 lb. 5 oz.
Waterproof: No
What we like: Lightweight with fantastic traction.
What we don’t: Flexy and not very durable.

Saucony’s Peregrine has stood atop our trail-running shoe round-up for a number of years, but it’s also proven to be a very capable hiker. Arguably the Peregrine’s best feature is its aggressive tread design. The substantial 6mm lugs have fantastic bite, and combined with a nicely cushioned midsole, provide plenty of shock absorption for high-mileage days. As with most trail-running shoes, it’s more flexible than a true hiking model and isn’t as comfortable or stable when carrying a heavy load. But if you don’t need much in the way of ankle support, the Peregrine is well suited for day hikes and fast and light backpacking.

For running, we prefer the Peregrine ISO over the Lone Peak 4.0 above. But the Altra’s slew of hiking-friendly features—including a gaiter attachment, rock plate, and drain ports—make it the superior all-around hiker. Further, the Lone Peak 4.0’s new mesh upper is more durable for extended trail use. That being said, the Peregrine gets the edge in traction, and its tighter fit in the toe box makes it the better choice for those with narrow feet.
See the Men's Saucony Peregrine ISO  See the Women's Saucony Peregrine ISO

9. Arc’teryx Aerios FL GTX ($170)
Arc'teryx Aerios FL GTX hiking shoeType: Hiking/trail-running shoe
Weight: 1 lb. 8.4 oz.
Waterproof: Yes
What we like: Light, tough, and extremely well-built.
What we don’t: Pricey and a bit stiffer than some more heavily cushioned models.

Arc’teryx has been experimenting with footwear for years, from the Bora2 hiking boots to the Norvan trail runners. But until 2019, the legendary Canadian brand had yet to release a true hiking shoe. Enter the new Aerios FL, which is superlight at just over 1.5 pounds for the pair, waterproof with a Gore-Tex membrane, and tough with a burly toe cap and a large swath of TPU around the bottom portion of the shoe. All told, the Aerios likely is lighter than your day hiker, more protective than your trail runner, and more comfortable than your approach shoe. For these reasons, it’s our favorite pair of Arc’teryx hiking footwear to date.

In terms of performance, we recently took the Aerios FL on the multi-day Escalante Route through the Grand Canyon, which included off-trail scrambling with a loaded pack. The shoe felt a bit stiff at first—particularly under the heel—but it broke in nicely and ended up being comfortable during long days on the trail. It also was light on ankle support in a couple of spots, but still did a great job covering ground over a variety of tough terrain. Overall, we came away impressed: the Aerios is an excellent lightweight shoe for day hiking and likely will be a favorite among the minimalist backpacking crowd. For more ankle support, Arc’teryx also makes an Aerios Mid (1 lb. 10 oz. and $185)... Read in-depth review
See the Men's Arc'teryx Aerios FL  See the Women's Arc'teryx Aerios FL

10. Oboz Sawtooth II Low BDry ($140)
Oboz Sawtooth II hiking shoeType: Hiking shoe
Weight: 2 lb. 2.8 oz.
Waterproof: Yes (non-WP available)
What we like: Sturdy, grippy, and quite comfortable.
What we don’t: A little slow and ungainly in this crowd.

Based in Bozeman, Montana, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that Oboz footwear is noted for its stability and traction. Their Sawtooth II Low—updated for 2019 and also offered in a mid-height boot—clearly is built for the rough trails you’ll find in the Rockies. It’s not the lightest shoe around and isn’t recommended for the fast hiking crowd, but we’ve found it to be a nice solution for folks looking to upgrade in stiffness and support from their Merrell Moabs.

Part of this sturdiness can be attributed to their proprietary heel counter, which holds its shape well and keeps you steady even over uneven terrain. That extra support, however, does give it a clunky and slow personality. We also found that the waterproof BDry version runs very warm—we were overheating even while backpacking in moderate temperatures. Thankfully, Oboz does offer the Sawtooth II in a non-waterproof model (for $30 less). Overall, the Sawtooth may not be sprightly, but it’s well-built, has a solid base, and feels secure on your feet... Read in-depth review
See the Men's Oboz Sawtooth II  See the Women's Oboz Sawtooth II

11. Salomon Odyssey Triple Crown ($140)
Salomon Odyssey Triple Crown hiking shoeType: Hiking/trail-running shoe
Weight: 1 lb. 8.2 oz.
Waterproof: No
What we like: Great mix of trail running and hiking shoe characteristics.
What we don’t: Limited stability on rough terrain.

Released in early 2019 as a replacement for the Odyssey Pro, Salomon’s Odyssey Triple Crown aims to harness the benefits of a trail runner—lightness, cushioning, and comfort—in a capable hiking shoe package. And from our experience, they did a pretty good job overall. The shoe feels extremely light, and the bouncy midsole has the energy and comfort that we love in a design like the Lone Peak above. Further, the Triple Crown has a wide toe box and its upper material does a great job balancing protection and ventilation.

The trail runner-inspired construction of the Odyssey does, however, come with some downsides. While backpacking over challenging terrain in the Grand Canyon, the shoe lacked support and felt squirrely when navigating off-camber sections of trail. As such, the Salomon is a great match for an experienced backpacker or thru-hiker, but its limited stability won’t be very confidence-inspiring for those hauling a heavy load or just getting into the sport. And folks that like a waterproof shoe will need to look elsewhere as the Odyssey Triple Crown is only available in a non-waterproof model. The upside of ditching the membrane is that the mesh upper dries very quickly after getting soaked... Read in-depth review
See the Men's Salomon Odyssey  See the Women's Salomon Odyssey

12. Merrell MQM Flex ($110)
Merrell MQM Flex hiking shoes (2018)Type: Hiking shoe
Weight: 1 lb. 7.7 oz.
Waterproof: No (GTX available)
What we like: A nice option for fast-moving day hikers.
What we don’t: Less of a backpacking-ready design than the X Ultra 3 above.

Merrell’s original Moab FST line failed to resonate with lightweight hikers, but we expect a better outcome for the Flex MQM. This shoe resembles a slightly built-up trail runner with a thin mesh upper, nimble feel, and 1-pound 3-ounce listed weight (our men’s size 9s were a bit heavier at 1 pound 7.7 ounces). But as we found on an ultralight backpacking trip in Utah’s Canyon Country, the MQM is at home on the trail with good toe and heel protection, a roomy toe box, and a secure fit.

We think the MQM Flex is a great choice for ambitious day hikes or possibly short ultralight backpacking trips, but it isn’t as well rounded as the Salomon X Ultra 3 above. To start, even with a sub-30-pound load, we did have some foot soreness from the rocky trails and the shoe wasn’t as stable on uneven ground. Further, the tread is pretty shallow and we already are seeing signs of wear, so it likely won’t last as long as many of the options above. But there’s a lot to like with the MQM Flex, which combines the accommodating fit of the popular Moab 2 in a fast-moving package... Read in-depth review
See the Men's Merrell MQM Flex  See the Women's Merrell MQM Flex

13. Brooks Cascadia 14 ($130)
Brooks Cascadia 14 trail runnersType: Trail-running shoe
Weight: 1 lb. 5.4 oz.
Waterproof: No (GTX available)
What we like: Latest version drops weight and boosts traction.
What we don’t: Unproven durability with the new streamlined design.

Already in its 14th generation, the Brooks Cascadia has developed a loyal following among trail runners and backpackers alike. Some versions have been better received than others (the 10th generation, for example, had its share of detractors), but the plush and cushioned underfoot feel and long-lasting traction make the Brooks a compelling hiking shoe. The design was updated in mid-2019, and notable changes include a streamlined upper, redesigned outsole that grips better in wet conditions, and a significant 2-ounce drop in weight per pair.

It's worth noting that rather than phasing out the old Cascadia 13, Brooks has opted to continue selling it alongside the latest “14.” Priced at $100, the prior version saves you $30 and shares a number of features including a rock plate, good stability (for a trail runner) even when wearing a pack, and a roomy toe box. But the new shoe has a springier, lighter feel, and the aforementioned upgrade to a tackier tread makes it more capable over rocky and difficult terrain. In the end, we think the Cascadia 14 is worth the added cost for serious day hikers, backpackers, and thru-hikers.
See the Men's Brooks Cascadia 14  See the Women's Brooks Cascadia 14

14. Vasque Breeze 3.0 Low GTX ($150)
Vasque Breeze 3.0 GTX hiking shoeType: Hiking shoe
Weight: 2 lb. 3 oz.
Waterproof: Yes (non-GTX available)
What we like: Tough build, comfortable underfoot.
What we don’t: Lacing system could use an upgrade.

With a stable platform and lightweight upper, the Vasque Breeze 3.0 is a thoroughly modern hiking shoe. The substantial Vibram rubber and wide base is a big contributor, providing reliable traction and plenty of support for carrying a loaded down pack. In many ways, it feels like a beefed-up version of the Merrell Moab 2 above. And as we've come to expect from Vasque, the Breeze's construction, fit, and comfort are all excellent.

Mesh panels have been creatively distributed throughout the Breeze 3.0's upper for moderate breathability, despite the Gore-Tex construction. It's still not cool in the summer, but they've clearly made an effort for it to be tolerable. Vasque also retained a lot of protection for the toes and heel—plenty sufficient for established trails and even mild off-trail use. Our biggest complaint is that the lacing system isn’t up to the same caliber as the rest of the shoe and doesn't secure very well over the top of the foot, nor are the eyelets as strong as many of its competitors. Fix that, and this otherwise solid shoe will move up the list.
See the Men's Vasque Breeze 3.0  See the Women's Vasque Breeze 3.0

15. Tecnica Plasma S ($180)
Tecnica Plasma S GTX hiking shoesType: Hiking shoe
Weight: 1 lb. 14.3 oz.
Waterproof: Yes (non-GTX available)
What we like: Super comfortable, grippy, and well built. 
What we don’t: Very pricey and heat molding only is available in certain locations.

We don’t always jump on new technology just for the sake of it being new, but Italy-based Tecnica really is onto something here. Their new Plasma line of hiking shoes is heat molded, meaning that just like your favorite ski boots, a 15-minute process in the store warms the liner and footbed to shape them around your foot. The results are extremely impressive: the Plasma S is one of the most comfortable pairs of hiking footwear we’ve ever worn, plus they are tough, grippy, and provide good support. Shortly after the purchase, we flew to Peru for 10 straight days of hiking and they performed nearly flawlessly (we brought heavier boots for a high-altitude trek but decided to stick with the Tecnicas instead).

This unique shoe isn’t without limitations, however. At $180, the Tecnica Plasma S is the priciest hiker on this list (only Arc’teryx’s leather Acrux SL costs more, and that’s technically an approach shoe). And perhaps more importantly, the heat-molding process currently only is available at six REI stores: Seattle, San Francisco, Tustin, Denver, Bloomington, and Washington DC. If you live close, we’d highly recommend giving this shoe a try. And Tecnica does make the Plasma S in a non-Gore-Tex version for a more reasonable $150, which also saves you about an ounce in weight.
See the Men's Tecnica Plasma S  See the Women's Tecnica Plasma S

16. Vasque Grand Traverse ($120)
Vasque Grand Traverse trail shoeType: Approach/hiking shoe
Weight: 1 lb. 10 oz.
Waterproof: No
What we like: Versatile for hiking and scrambling.
What we don’t: Not as durable as a typical approach shoe.

Similar to the La Sportiva TX4 above, Vasque’s Grand Traverse blurs the lines between an approach and hiking shoe. And the Vasque is even more tuned than the La Sportiva for trail use: it’s reasonably light, grips exceptionally well on rock, and is quite comfortable. Moreover, the Grand Traverse is reasonably flexible and breathes well with heavy use of mesh along the shoe’s upper.

Among our grouping of lightweight hikers, the Grand Traverse does have a few notable downsides. While traction is brilliant on rock, it falls short if the trail is wet and muddy. Also, the thin upper material is not all that durable, although it does stack up well compared with the trail runners on our list. And in general, approach shoes tend to be stiffer than hiking shoes or trail runners, which can impact comfort on longer hauls. But if you like to mix scrambling or low grade climbing into your hiking adventures, give the Vasque Grand Traverse a serious look... Read in-depth review
See the Men's Vasque Grand Traverse  See the Women's Vasque Grand Traverse

17. La Sportiva Wildcat ($110)
La Sportiva Wildcat hiking shoeType: Trail-running shoe
Weight: 1 lb. 9 oz.
Waterproof: No
What we like: Lightweight but stable; long-distance comfort.
What we don’t: A step down in durability and toe protection from a true hiking shoe.

Years ago, we took a chance on the La Sportiva Wildcat’s as our daily trail runners. Quickly, we transitioned them to their better usage—fast-moving summer day hikes—thanks to the excellent shock absorption and breathability. We're not alone, as the Wildcat has garnered a lot of praise over the past few years, helping propel trail-running shoes fully into the hiking footwear market. The outsole design, optimized for trail running over varied and rough terrain, is equally at home on the rocky and rooty hiking trails in the Cascades. Notably, we’ve also seen the shoes on a number of PCT thru-hikers.

One warning in turning to a true trail-runner style for hiking: the minimalist toe cap does not offer nearly as much protection as a traditional hiking shoe. Further, the thin mesh upper is more prone to tearing than an option like the Lone Peak above. But despite a few sore toes and a couple pairs that didn't last as long as we hoped, the Wildcats remain a favorite for trail runs and day hikes throughout the summer months... Read in-depth review
See the Men's La Sportiva Wildcat  See the Women's La Sportiva Wildcat

18. The North Face Hedgehog Fastpack GTX ($120)
The North Face Hedgehog Fastpack GTX hiking shoeType: Hiking shoe
Weight: 1 lb. 14 oz.
Waterproof: Yes (non-GTX available)
What we like: Reasonably light, stable feel.
What we don’t: Not as comfortable or capable as the Ultra 110 above.

Fastpacking is at the core of the lightweight footwear movement: it’s all about covering as much ground as possible while carrying the least possible weight. The North Face isn’t shy about targeting this group, with their Hedgehog Fastpack shoes. Is the Hedgehog best for fastpacking? We’d say no. But the shoe is nicely made and actually has a wider appeal to the general hiking crowd with a light feel, good support, and Gore-Tex waterproofing. The mix of leather and tightly woven mesh is quite durable as well.

If your focus is an ultralight or long-distance trip, we still prefer the performance and better cushioning of our top-rated Salomon X Ultra 3 over the Hedgehog. Further, The North Face's own Ultra 110 is more comfortable and offers greater stability with a heavy load. But the Hedgehogs are well made, offer good traction in mud with their Vibram rubber, and are plenty tough for days on the trail... Read in-depth review
See the Men's North Face Hedgehog  See the Women's North Face Hedgehog

19. Arc’teryx Acrux SL Leather GTX ($200)
Arc'teryx Acrux SL Leather GTX hiking shoesType: Approach/hiking shoe
Weight: 1 lb. 7.2 oz.
Waterproof: Yes (non-GTX available)
What we like: Tough, light, and well made.
What we don’t: Overbuilt for day hikes; traction favors rocks over muddy trails.

Throwing out the book on how shoes are built, Arc’teryx's growing footwear line has generated a lot of buzz for its outside-the-box design. Rather than being constructed as a single item, the shoes have two parts: a soft liner and tough outer shell. The liner is essentially a waterproof sock and delivers unparalleled levels of fit and glove-like comfort. Technically the Acrux SL are approach shoes, but they earn a spot on this list as great day hikers with superior traction over the rocky stuff.

The leather upper is the Acrux’s first line of defense against moisture, but most waterproofing duties fall to the liner. The combination of very limited seams and a Gore-Tex membrane means they’re top performers in terms of water protection and ventilation. The downside is cost: at $200, Arc’teryx’s approach shoe is among the priciest on the market. Further, the Vibram tread underperforms on wet leaves and mud. But the Acrux sits atop our list in terms of sock-like comfort and innovation for a waterproof hiking/scrambling shoe... Read in-depth review
See the Men's Arc'teryx Acrux SL  See the Women's Arc'teryx Acrux SL

Hiking Shoe Buying Advice
Lightweight Hiking Footwear Types
Stability and Support
Lacing Systems
Hiking Shoe "Upper" Materials
Midsoles and Cushioning
Outsoles and Traction
Toe Protection
Hiking Shoes vs. Hiking Boots​

Lightweight Hiking Footwear Types​
Hiking Shoes
For the vast majority of day hikers, and even a good number of backpackers and thru hikers, a hiking shoe that falls just below the ankle is the perfect match. Shoes like our top-rated Salomon X Ultra 3 are stiffer and more substantial than a trail runner for carrying a light load over mixed terrain, but not feet draggingly heavy like a full-on boot. Furthermore, hiking shoes often have a tougher construction than trail runners, with increased use of leather and durable nylons as opposed to mesh. Protection from obstacles like rocks and roots come courtesy of rubber toe caps and medium-stiff midsoles. Hiking shoes also are great options for folks needing a substantial shoe for daily wear, just be aware that the outsoles will wear faster on pavement.
The North Face Ultra 110 GTX (hiking)
Hiking in the North Cascades with The North Face Ultra 110 hiking shoes

Trail-Running Shoes
If moving fast trumps all else, choose a trail runner. These shoes are gaining popularity for being the ultimate lightweight option, even becoming a common sight on the PCT and AT. In fact, one trail runner, the Brooks Cascadia, became so popular on the PCT at one point that fellow thru hikers would look for the signature tread pattern to verify which path to follow.

But these types of shoes are really not intended as backpacking footwear, and even Brooks made an effort to clarify the Cascadia was not designed for thru-hiking. Trail runners are flexible and super comfortable, but don’t provide much ankle support when you’re carrying a heavy load, and have minimal toe and underfoot protection. For fast day hikes or for experienced minimalist trekkers, however, a trail runner remains an excellent option. We've included a couple great hybrid trail running and hiking options in this article, but you can check out our favorite trail-running shoes for a complete breakdown.
Hiking Shoes (Saucony Peregrine 8)
Testing the Saucony Peregrine on a backpacking trip in New Zealand

Approach Shoes
The third option has a relatively narrow focus: climbers or hikers that need a grippy shoe to tackle steep rocky terrain. Many rock climbers will use an approach shoe on the hike in (hence, the “approach” name), and swap out to a true climbing shoe when the going gets vertical. Approach shoes are easy to spot: they have a large rubber toe rand and a sticky, low profile rubber compound underfoot for maximum grip on rock. The shoes can be plenty comfortable on day hikes, especially a crossover style like the La Sportiva TX4, but aren’t what we typically recommend as a daily driver. The treads aren’t as secure on muddy hiking trails and they’re not as comfortable underfoot for long trail days. If, however, your day hikes include a lot of scrambling or low grade rock climbing, an approach shoe is an excellent choice.
Hiking Shoes (TX4 traction)
The La Sportiva TX4 has excellent traction on rock

Arguably, the most important change in modern hiking shoe technology is the movement to lightweight designs. Tough but thin fabrics and a shift from over-the-ankle boots to low-top shoes have made putting on major miles a lot easier. It’s no surprise most thru-hikers now choose a hiking shoe over a traditional leather boot. Many of the shoes on our list weigh 2 pounds or less for a pair—by comparison, a backpacking boot like the Asolo TPS 520 tips the scales at nearly 4 pounds. And on your feet, the weight is even more apparent. True, the drop in ounces sometimes impacts long-term durability, but there are still a number of compelling hiking boots for traditionalists and those needing the extra support. For most, a lightweight shoe is a much better partner for day hikes, peak bagging and minimalist overnighters. And as long as the rest of your gear is equally light, there are very few sacrifices.
Lightweight hiking shoes (Merrell MQM)
Lightweight shoes like the Merrell MQM Flex make it easier to cover ground quickly

Stability and Support
As a reflection of the push for lighter gear in all facets, hiking shoes are moving away from the traditional stiff construction of a hiking boot in favor of flexibility and a nimble feel. All hiking footwear (excluding some minimalist trail runners) does retain a degree of stiffness thanks to built-in shanks or internal supports. These features are part of what separate a hiking shoe (and approach shoe) from a super flexy cross trainer or road-running shoe.

For day hikes on flatter or less technical terrain, we can’t recommend a lightweight and semi-flexible hiking shoe enough. Shoes like the Keen Targhee III or even the La Sportiva Wildcats are standouts for these uses. As your trips get longer and your pack gets heavier, a more substantial shoe still wins out for us. Look to the Salomon X Ultra 3, Arc'teryx Aerios FL, or The North Face Ultra 110 for great all-around options that are equally adept at conquering summit peaks and multi-day backpacking.
Hiking Shoes (Aerios Grand Canyon)
Backpacking in the semi-stiff Arc'teryx Aerios FL shoes

Once you narrow your hiking footwear search, you may be considering the GTX question: do I need waterproofing or not? In theory, waterproofing is a nice security blanket if you’ll be hiking in the mountains. The extra protection that comes with a waterproof and breathable membrane inserted into the shoe is great for creek crossings, surprise rainfall or if you hit snow on an early season trek. But the extra layer adds weight, impacts breathability pretty significantly (discussed below), and the designs aren’t always perfect. We’ve found Gore-Tex models to work consistently well, and many in-house designs perform similarly keeping water out (breathability is a different story), including the Merrell and Keen shoes on this list.
Lightweight hiking shoes (mud)
Putting waterproofing to the test on Vancouver Island, BC

Whether or not you need waterproofing often comes down to a personal choice. Are you a summer-only hiker or live in a warm and dry area? We’d recommend a non-waterproof shoe in most cases, and some of the best ventilating shoes are the Vasque Grand Traverse and Merrell Moab 2 Vent. But if you get into the alpine regions or would benefit from the added protection and modest insulation waterproofing provides, we’d lean the other way. The great news is that most shoes on our list are offered in both varieties. Expect to pay about $20 to $30 more for the addition of waterproofing.

The truth about waterproof liners, even expensive Gore-Tex booties, is that they don’t breathe well—just as a waterproof jacket won’t be as breathable as a comparable non-waterproof version. Simply put, waterproof and breathable membranes restrict a shoe’s ability to pull moisture away from your sweaty feet as efficiently as a non-waterproof upper. Not all non-waterproof shoes should be treated equally, however. Footwear that features thinner fabrics and a lot of mesh will increase moisture transfer and airflow, which will keep feet less sweaty in hot weather as well as dry out soggy socks far more quickly.
Hiking Shoes (Triple Crown upper)
Mesh upper materials greatly improve comfort in hot conditions

Gore-Tex Surround, which is designed to bring 360 degrees of breathability by venting out the insole of the shoe, is an intriguing, if expensive, concept. It’s been well received in a few models, including the La Sportiva Spire, but performance will always fall short of a shoe made mostly of mesh. No matter your final decision, we encourage you to at least give non-waterproof footwear a thought before selecting your next pair of hiking shoes.

Lacing Systems
Easily overlooked, laces, as well as the lacing system of hooks and eyelets, play an essential role in fit and comfort. If a shoe has a poor lacing system that is prone to loosening, you’ll find yourself having to readjust constantly on the trail. If the system itself doesn’t secure your heel very well, the up and down walking motion will create hot spots and blisters. If the culprit is just the laces themselves, it’s an easy fix: there are a number of good quality replacement laces available. But if the system design doesn’t hold your foot very well, we recommend looking elsewhere.
Laces Comparison
Laces on approach shoes extend to the toes for easy fit customization

Some models, including the Salomon X Ultra 3 and Adidas Terrex Swift R2, have a single-pull lacing system. The design is totally convenient and we’ve had no more issues with durability than a traditional lace. One thing to keep in mind, however, is that you aren’t able to adjust the fit between eyelets, so the fit will be equally tight across the entire foot. Those with finicky feet that need to fine tune their laces to be comfortable may be best served avoiding quick lace designs.
Lightweight Hiking Shoes (laces)
Salomon's speed laces aren't for everyone, but they're fast and cinch evenly

Hiking Shoe "Upper" Materials
Hiking shoe upper material is not the most exciting topic, but checking the construction can give helpful insights into its performance. The type of material used will correlate directly with a shoe's durability, water-resistance, and ability to breathe. Most often, hiking and trail shoes are made with a mix of nylon, mesh, and leather to balance cost and longevity. Tecnica is one brand that breaks from the norm completely with an innovative heat-moldable upper that mimics a ski boot in providing a customizable snug fit. Below, we spell out the pros and cons for the most common materials used for hiking footwear.

Manufactured Nylon and Mesh

Woven manufactured (frequently nylon) just as open engineered work boards are generally used to help breathability. These materials are not also known for their solidness, however they work superbly of cutting weight. Special cases incorporate the Salomon X Ultra 3, which is made of firmly woven manufactured upper that has practically identical degrees of solidness to some Nubuck cowhides.

Climbing Shoes (La Sportiva Wildcat upper)

The open, breathable work upper on the La Sportiva Wildcat

Nubuck Leather

Made of full grain cowhide, yet given a brushed completion that has a softened cowhide like feel, Nubuck calfskin is a typical sight on heavier obligation climbing shoes. The milder touch cowhide is lighter and more adaptable than customary, lustrous full-calfskin choices, and is more solid than generally nylons. It falls short in breathability, be that as it may. Thus, it's entirely expected to discover a blend of cowhide and nylon work for scraped area opposition and breathability, including the Merrell Moab and Oboz Sawtooth.

Padded soles and Cushioning

Diving somewhat more profound into the shoe's development, we'll take a gander at padded sole development next. Its significance lies in padding your feet, functioning as a safeguard from effects, and giving an extra layer of insurance from sharp shakes. Contingent upon the structure, padded soles change from exceptionally slight (moderate trail sprinter) to firm and generous (brawny climbing shoe). Most incorporate EVA, TPU, or a blend of both in their development.


Froth EVA padded soles are a typical site on running and climbing footwear. The comfortable delicate material removes a portion of the sting from your impact point or midfoot impacts and is likewise very lightweight. While about all shoes on this rundown utilize some kind of EVA, the exclusive variants can shift from too delicate to somewhat solid. For logging genuine miles on harder landscape, we favor a firm and steady padded sole instead of an excess of padding. Those excessively delicate padded soles additionally tend to breakdown extra time, much like a street running shoe. As a rule, you pay more for an improved padded sole plan and a higher caliber EVA compound.


Thermoplastic polyurethane, (leniently) abbreviated to TPU, is a tough plastic usually found in execution situated light explorers. Shoes that utilization TPU underneath are regularly less comfortable than those with just EVA yet will last more and better handle a heavier burden. Moreover, they'll keep their shape longer and won't be inclined to compacting like EVA. Since both padded sole sorts have legitimate applications and TPU is increasingly costly, it's regular for a maker to utilize a TPU edge or shank for strength and durability and include EVA underneath to build comfort.

Outsoles and Traction

One of the primary motivations to overhaul from a shaky cross coach to a genuine climbing shoe is for improved footing. Such that increasingly easygoing footwear can never match, climbing and trail-running footwear is a wide margin better when the going gets rough, elusive, and soak. What's more, much similarly that Gore-Tex overwhelms the market for mid to very good quality waterproofing, Vibram occupies a comparative space for outsoles. Their name is synonymous with strong grasp and footing in an assortment of territory. Not all Vibram models ought to be treated as equivalents, in any case, as the elastic producer tailors their plans for the particular footwear and brand. Some have a lot bigger carries underneath for genuine hold in mud, and others organize clingy elastic for scrambling over rocks. There are likewise more passage level choices that simply well on simpler trails, similar to the drags you'll discover on the base of the Merrell Moab 2 boots and shoes.

Salomon is one brand that doesn't redistribute their footing needs. Rather, they utilize their in-house ContraGrip brand for the majority of their climbing and trail-running models. We've discovered the degree of value and execution is in-accordance with the Vibram contributions no matter how you look at it, from anything from their quick and-light X Ultra 3 climbing shoes to the brawny Salomon Quest 4D 3 hiking boots.

Toe Protection

Climbing trails, even very much looked after ones, are brimming with rocks, roots and other potential dangers, so we quite often suggest a climbing shoe with some kind of toe top. Coming up short on any assurance on the facade of your shoes can prompt an outing demolishing sway when you unavoidably turn upward from the trail to appreciate the view. Climbing shoes regularly have a full elastic toe top, however trail sprinters some of the time have a cut down form or none by any stretch of the imagination—one of the trade offs in deciding on a moderate shoe. Approach shoes, then again, have extraordinary toe security with their wraparound elastic rand at the front of the shoe.


Much the same as with running shoes, the stock insoles that accompany almost every climbing shoe by and large are modest. For a few, this probably won't have any kind of effect, however for other people, it's what isolates comfort from hopelessness. Fortunately, evacuating your insoles is excessively simple, and supplanting them with a secondary selling model that is explicit to your foot size and shape can cure most shoe diseases. New insoles can give pretty much volume to round out the shoe, improve the fit under the curve, and increment or abatement the pad and effect stun. We prescribe looking at Superfeet insoles for their wide determination of choices and confided in notoriety in every day shoes, ski boots, and climbing footwear.

Climbing Shoes versus Climbing Boots

Maybe the greatest purpose of separation between climbing shoes and boots is tallness: shoes have a low-top fit, while boots by and large sit over the lower leg. Climbing shoes exceed expectations on smooth trails where moved lower legs are to a lesser degree a probability, in the event that you keep your pack weight down, and for those need to move quick with less on their feet. Custom reveals to us that climbing boots are the better decision for overwhelming packs and harsh trails, and as a rule that remains constant today. The tall tallness, alongside bands that hold the shoe cozily around your lower leg, offer an increasingly secure fit, more prominent strength, and more insurance. Given the decision, we frequently select a climbing shoe for their light feel, however both are practical choices for day climbing, hiking, and non-high pinnacle sacking.

In 2019 and past, we see the lines between climbing shoe and boot classes proceeding to obscure. Regardless they will be isolated by stature—albeit some cutting edge boots just spread piece of the lower leg—yet less and less boots look like the heavyweight cowhide clunkers of old. One model is the over-the-lower leg adaptation of our top of the line Salomon X Ultra 3. It's precisely the same shoe with a similar characterizing attributes—padded feel, forceful position, and steady fit—yet the "Mid" sits somewhat higher on the lower leg, gauges a couple more ounces, gives somewhat more insurance, and maybe a humble increment in rollover avoidance. Since most people stick to characterized trails, the push for this kind of light and quick footwear will keep on overwhelming to assume control over the market.


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Hoka One One Sky Toa
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