It’s about that time again when the snow starts melting in the high country – that’s when you know that the backpacking season is around the corner. This will be the perfect time to do that week-long adventure, a day hike or even a marathon but you have to make sure you have the best backpacking boots for your trip no matter how short it will be.
For your adventure, you need to have sturdy footwear that will be comfortable and provide adequate support to your feet as you trek through mountain paths. A pair of simple hiking shoes can do the trick if you are going through easy hiking trails but if you like to go off the beaten path, you will need to have top-quality boots.
This is especially true through rough terrain and while carrying a heavy gear load at the same time. Here we will help you find the best backpacking boots that your money can buy. Pay keen attention to the information found here and use it to help you purchase the backpacking boots that are especially right for your needs.
How to Choose the Best Backpacking Boots
Look for Comfort
When you are on your backpacking trail for miles, you need to have a boot that is comfortable. Manufacturers have been working to making hiking boots lighter which enables them to be comfortable right out of the box. Gone are the days when you would need to break in your boots if you choose to purchase a lightweight pair.
Heavyweight boots, however, will have that break in factor and so won’t be comfortable from day one. Bear this in mind when choosing your next backpacking boot. Do you really need a heavy weight boot?
A lightweight boot will be comfortable right out the box and won’t weigh you down.
How does the Foot feel in the Foot Bed?
When purchasing backpacking boots you want to try on the boot to get a true feel of what the boot feels like. Lace it up and stand up in it to see if the toe box is roomy. Are you feeling any pressure points?
You have to test these now because when you are on that rocky trail and step on a pointed rock, you wince in pain and have to turn back and go home. Remember – your feet will have to be happy for miles and hours with these boots on them so you want the best.
How Does the Lacing System and Ankle Collar Feel and Work
How does the heel box feel on the back of your foot? When you lace it up and walk is your foot firmly planted or is there slippage? Does the ankle collar provide support that is also comfortable? This is very important if your trail has steep slopes.
At the same time, the lacing system could cause discomfort when going up steep slopes so you really need to try on your boots before you decide they are the ones for your trip.
The Boot Should be Breathable
Your boot needs to keep your foot dry and cool, allowing it to breathe for the entire hike. When there is heat, friction and moisture, blisters will form. You definitely don’t want blisters. You want a boot that is breathable and waterproof so moisture can be held at bay.
This ensures that your feet will survive your long trip and still come out in good condition so that your hike doesn’t need to take a toll on you for weeks after it ends.
Things to Consider
Height of the Ankle Support
This is the main difference between backpacking boots and trail runners or hiking shoes. A backpacking boot should provide you with torsional stability and ankle support. A boot with a full cut or even a mid height will provide a reduction in the chance of having twisted ankles and taking missteps.
This is imperative for trails that take days to end and when you are carrying a load as well. They also help prevent easy and fast fatigue of your feet and ankles.
Try on multiple boots to see how they feel on not just your foot but also your ankle.
Sole Shape and Lug Pattern
Your boot should have traction so that your foot will stay in place once you put it down. Traction is achieved through the lug pattern and the sole shape of the boot. Most boots out there will handle a gentle grade really well but if you are planning on going across steep slopes that contain granite slabs, you need traction and lots of it.
The manufacturer’s description often tells you what type of slope the boot is suitable for so you can determine whether it has enough traction for your hike or trails of choice.
We talked about comfort in a section above and noted that heavy weight shoes require break-in times. You may think a heavier shoe is more rugged and will fare better in the outdoors but the opposite is true.
You should consider a lighter boot as this will help you to conserve your energy, allowing you to hike further. The boot you need has a lot to do with where you are going. You need to choose a boot that is the lightest option that meets your needs for support and stability at the same time.
Dry feet won’t get blisters and staying warm will ward off a lot of complications. So it is of utter importance for you to choose a boot that is water resistant. Even if there is no waterway on your path, you never know what you will find out there on a hike so you have to be prepared for everything.
You will find boots that are very breathable but that have more than one ounce of water resistance capability. You can look at boots that have a Gore-Tex membrane which is a high standard for water resistance in backpacking boots and other outside gear.
The Timberland White Ledge Men’s Waterproof Boots are an ideal pick for weekend adventures and day hikes. They are made from waterproof full grain leather and feature sealed seams for total protection when worn through water or during a downpour.
They are comfortable with a breathable footbed and their multi-directional rubber legs allow you to climb, accelerate and brake with ease. With a padded tongue and collar your ankles will be protected and comfortable the entire time you are wearing these boots.
The Timberland White Ledge Men’s Waterproof Boots features waterproof leather for keeping your feet dry. They also keep your feet dry thanks to the breathable footbed that wicks moisture away from your feet. These boots are comfortable and durable, providing definite value for money.
- Waterproof Leather – the upper on the boot is made from full grain leather and it is seam-sealed to keep water out.
- Breathable footbed – the footbed has moisture-wicking properties thanks to its dual density, removable perforated EVA makeup. It allows air to circulate so that moisture can be wicked away to keep your feet dry and cool.
- S.F.P (Brake, Support, Flex and Propel) System – this system from Timberland provides you with superb traction on the most difficult slopes.
- Moveable eyelets – the eyelets on the Timberland White Ledge Men’s waterproof boot move slightly so that once your boots are strapped up you still have range of movement as you hike, run or walk. This ensures the boots won’t stay tight on your ankle and become uncomfortable as you go along your way.
- Comfortable – the Timberland White Ledge Men’s Waterproof Boots are made to be comfortable. They are made from top-quality materials and use top technology to ensure the wearer’s comfort.
- Protective – these boots are made to protect your feet whilst you are on a trail. They provide support and stability to your entire foot while in motion.
- Breathable – nobody wants to get blisters and in these boots you won’t. With moisture-wicking technology, these will help pull moisture away from your feet, ensuring you never get blisters.
- Ready to wear – these boots come ready to wear out of the box and don’t require weeks of breaking in. This means you can purchase them right before your next hike or weekend trip in the mountains and still get good use out of them.
These boots have a majority of 5 star reviews with just 3% of reviews being 1 star reviews. These reviews were from customers who said their boots separated from the soles in just a couple of months. These same reviewers attest to having other Timberland shoes that lasted for years so it is safe to say they got a faulty item.
The Bottom Line
The Timberland White Ledge Men’s Waterproof Boots come backed by a large amount of positive reviews from users of the item. They are waterproof, comfortable, durable and made with all the high-quality materials and technology you expect to get from Timberland products. This product definitely provides you with value for money.
The Merrell Men’s Moab Ventilator hiking shoe is your next summer essential. This is perfect for your trips onto both biking and hiking trails. With its dura leather strapping supports lattice overlay, it provides optimal breathability.
Toe and heel areas are reinforced with bumper protection for your comfort and safety. These boots are one of the lightest you will find on the market and are perfect for hot and dry trails. They are not waterproof but upon contact with water, it drains and dries a lot quicker than its competitors.
The Merrell Men’s Moab Ventilator Hiking shoe is made with a leather and synthetic upper. It features an imported Vibram out sole and features a compression-molded EVA foot frame. The boot has a toe bumper as well as a heel counter and is made with water-resistant leather with a mesh upper. They don’t need breaking in and come ready to wear out of the box.
- TC5+ Rubber compound – this is responsible for the superb grip and durability of the Merrell Men’s Moab Ventilator Hiking Shoes. This outsole along with the air cushion midsole help to provide the best in support and foot protection against the harsh and dangerous things that you may find to step on out on the trail.
- Lightweight design – these are some of the lightest hiking boots out there. It is a great choice if your primary focus is a lightweight shoe that won’t bog you down. This greatly enhances the comfort of the boot.
- Available in Regular and Wide Width sizes – this is great so people with wide feet can get to experience the comfort of the Men’s Moab Ventilator Hiking shoe as well. So often you can find shoes in regular sizes but not in a wide width, but not so for this particular shoe.
- Lightweight – the Merell Moab Ventilator hiking shoes for men are very lightweight and this is one of their greatest advantages.
- Compatible with almost all type of mountaineering activities – this boot is suitable for dry and hot trail hiking, wet and hot canoeing and for Appalachian trail thru-hiking.
- Affordable – if you need a shoe for light backpacking and can’t afford to break the bank to get one. Or if you know you only need this for one adventure on the trail, this is a good option. It comes nicely priced and is worth every penny.
- Very breathable – these shoes will get wet if you trek through water but are designed to dry quickly so your feet don’t stay wet, which means you won’t get blisters and you won’t get a cold among other things.
These shoes do have a thin sole and while it is comfortable, it may not be durable enough to protect your feet from pointy rocks and other sharp objects that could be on your trail.
The Bottom Line
The Merrell Moab Ventilator backpacking boot for men is a very affordable hot weather performance shoe. It is lightweight and good for those who don’t hike very often or for those who partake in ultra-light backpacking.
The KEEN Women’s Targhee Waterproof trail shoe is a comfortable shoe that is also affordably-priced. It provides a fit that resembles that of a hiking shoe and also provides excellent protection to the toes. These are one of the lightest women’s hiking shoes with a size 8 pair weighing less than 2lbs.
The sole of these boots feature 4 mm lugs that provide the utmost stability while moving along the trail. These trail shoes provide all-round value – they are nicely priced, are waterproof and breathable and are rugged and durable while not losing their feminine flair.
The KEEN Women’s Targhee II waterproof trail shoe has all the attributes of a hiking shoe and a hiking boot combined. It comes at a price point similar to that of a hiking shoe, as well as providing comfort and fit that a hiking shoe would. While on the other hand it has the look, the support, the water resistance and the thread of a hiking boot.
- Weight – the lightweight nature of this shoe makes it great for long days spent on the trail. This shoe will help you go that extra mile without taking a toll on your feet or the rest of your body. Your hike will remain enjoyable and comfortable while you are wearing these.
- Support – with stiff rubber soles, these shoes offer stability and support. The ankle shaft provides additional support when going up steep grades and when walking on slick surfaces. Apart from ankle support, these shoes also offer great all-round support as well. This is thanks to the design of the midsoles which are molded specifically to support a woman’s foot arch without restricting their every step.
- Traction – when it comes to traction, this shoe sports a 4 mm lug depth and a tread pattern that can only be described as aggressive. It works well on wet rock, steep slopes and even on granite. The boots were able to keep their traction while carrying a load and while trekking without one.
- Comfortable – this boot does take a couple days to break in but once it has the shoes are extremely comfortable.
- Water Resistant – these boots are able to remain waterproof through 4 plus inches of moving water. After trekking through water they remain comfortable for the rest of your hike without the inside getting wet.
- Suitable for multiple uses – this Keen Women’s Targhee II waterproof shoe is suitable for backpacking, day hiking and provide enough support for lugging a 20 to 30 pound weight.
These boots are perfect for cool morning walks but the breathability is not adept enough for walks in hot summer temperatures exceeding 90 degrees.
The Bottom Line
The Keen Targhee II is a great cross between a shoe and a boot. They provide excellent value for money, coming in just under $150. Being water resistant up to 4 inches of moving water and being strong and friendly on the pocket, they are definitely considered a good buy.
They are comfortable and lightweight while offering toe protection from rough terrain with a hiking sole to help protect your feet.
The Adidas AX2 Hiking shoe for men is a shoe that is suitable for dry trails, muddy trails and short hikes. It has great traction in both dry and wet conditions yet it is lightweight. This shoe is built like a trail running shoe, featuring a lot of cushioning in the heel while having a flexible forefoot for your comfort and stability.
The shoe has a stiff sole and the lacing is functional but the shoe does not feature a modern lacing system. It has a mostly mesh upper and a GORE-TEX membrane ensures that the breathability of the shoe is good.
The Adidas AX2 hiking shoes for men have a number of features that make them a top contender when it comes to backpacking boots. It is a mid-weight boot that provides support through a stiff midsole. Its outer sole provides good traction in both wet and dry conditions and is water resistance and versatile.
- Weight – on average these shoes weighed in at a little over 2 lbs., being a bit heavier than a number of its contenders on the market. The shoe offers some amount of stiffness and added support than its lighter contenders.
- Support and Traction – with a stiff midsole, this shoe offers good support. The outer sole offers good traction, especially in loose gravel and in mud. It does well to stick to wet rock and performs well on granite slabs and on average dry paths. It provides the best traction in wet and muddy conditions.
- Water resistance – in tests these shoes were found to be water resistant and when they get soaked they also demonstrated a fast drying ability.
- Best Uses – these are great shoes for the outdoors but they were the absolute best at keeping traction in wet and muddy conditions. This makes them ideal for wet trail runs, as well as for day hikes on not-so-sunny days.
- Fast Drying – if these shoes do get soaked through, don’t worry as they will dry super-fast, keeping your feet dry for longer on the trail.
- Aesthetically pleasing – the Adidas AX2 hiking shoe for men looks good. What else did you expect from an Adidas shoe? If you are concerned about functionality and aesthetic appeal, this is a good choice.
- Value for money – this is not one of the cheapest hiking shoes out there but it does go without saying that you get what you pay for. This shoe is priced to provide value for money.
Outside of day hiking and a trail run, these shoes do not offer the support needed for longer hikes and trails that are further off the beaten path.
The Bottom Line
The Adidas AX2 shoe for men is a good choice for your occasional day hike or for a muddy trail run. They do well in muddy and wet terrain for shorter distances and times but for longer hikes further off the trail, they may not be your best bet. But they look good and offer support necessary for a day hike or short run.
The Keen Men’s Targhee II Mid Waterproof hiking boot is a comfortable yet tough boot. They are a lightweight pair and are great for wet weather backpacking and hiking. They provide great value for money, offering a great, supportive fit and comfort that beats many in its league.
It provides great traction, is water resistant and is constructed for the long haul. Men who love the great outdoors and love to spend time there will love these boots for all the attributes they have and all that they provide.
One of the best features of this shoe is its fit. The Keen Men’s Targhee II Mid WP hiking boot is touted for having a great fit. They provide a comfortable fit thanks to the materials and technology that went into the design of the shoe. Though it is considered a lightweight boot, it is not the lightest you will find in the mid category; the weight, however, does not negatively impact the fit and comfort of the boot.
- Lacing System – the lacing system used in this shoe is simple yet very effective. The laces are held securely in place all day while you hike. The toe box is roomy so your toes have space to breathe and will never feel sore once your day is done.
- Support and Comfort – these shoes do not require breaking in but they feature a lot of leather so they may seem stiff if you aren’t used to wear these types of boots. Your feet should feel fine in a couple of days. The cuff is stiff enough to provide support but not so stiff that it causes discomfort by cutting into your ankles.
- Water resistant – these will help you to hike through morning dew and some snow but they are going to get wet if you step into a puddle or try to cross a creek. They are not extremely breathable either so once they get wet they will take a while to dry out.
- Traction – these have enough traction to take you through a little mud, snow and ice safely but are not for extreme conditions.
- Comfortable – these shoes from KEEN are hands-down comfortable. Once you get the right fit for your feet then you should be able to find these extremely comfortable.
- Tough – these are mid weight boots but they are truly tough. They can withstand a number of different terrains and are a good choice for moderate hiking.
- Easy to Lace up – with the lacing system that is included on these shoes you don’t have to spend too much time lacing them up and also don’t have to worry about the laces not being secure. These shoes lace up quickly and easily and stay secure for the entirety of your hike.
- Light – these are mid-weight boots but they are on the lighter side for this category. This is one of the reasons they are able to provide such comfort.
The manufacturer notes that these run a half size smaller so that is something to bear in mind when purchasing your boots.
The Bottom Line
The KEEN Men’s Targhee II Mid Hiking boot offers comfort, stability, durability, great traction and are very versatile. They come affordably-priced and are a great pair for those who are not beginners but at the same time are not avid or extreme backpackers or hikers.