Looking for hiking boot recommendations

Are beefy hiking boots worth the extra weight or are trail running shoes good enough? Which do you prefer?

  • I personally have a strong preference for hiking boots, at least on rugged terrain. Maybe not as necessary if you will be on smooth paths.
  • I have a pair of Ecco hiking boots with ankle support I really like.
  • I would travel anywhere with my Keene hiking boots and they are bulky with ankle coverage but they are also like wearing bedroom slippers . I own a lighter weight pair of Keenes for the not so serious terrain
  • For anything rated Challenging or Moderately Challenging, I personally want the extra ankle support. In many cases, you would probably be fine with good trail running shoes. Typically, the trip provider will tell you if ankle support is a necessity, and that would likely be only on "off trail" hikes. In any event, I would not, by any stretch of the imagination, call my hiking boots "beefy". They are light weight and comfortable.
  • I have 2 pair of Merrell hiking boots, one low and the other high ankle support. I tend to favor the low ones for weight and comfort. I don't think running shoes give enough support. Even on a flat gravel path, I think hiking boots give more support.
  • Walked the El Camino de Santiago in a pair of Lowa low cut boots and had no problems at all!
  • It depends on the type of hiking boots you're talking about. Many are quite light these days -- especially those designed for day hiking as opposed to aggressive backpacking when you might be carrying a heavy backpack. What kind of hiking do you plan to do? What about ascents and descents (I wouldn't dream of steep descents without something over the ankles). My favorite hiking books are made by Lowa and Salomon (and they both make a range of boots, from day hikers to backpackers). For the type of "hiking" done on Road Scholar I can't imagine you'd need anything more than an over the ankle day hiker. Note some companies, like Salomon, also make "trail shoes," which are basically the same construction as a boot, but not over the ankle. I often travel with both. Whatever you get, make sure you get something with a goretex lining, which makes it waterproof, unless of course you're getting multiple pairs, then you can get both (the non goretexed ones tend to be cooler).
  • Another thing to keep in mind, if you are new to hiking boots, in addition to the day hiker/ backpacking boot distinction, is that you may find a boot with an upper made of a leather/synthetic combination easier to break in than all leather. There are some made of nubuck type leathers and synthetics that you can wear practically from the first day. Some all leather boots may take a while to break in and in some unfortunate cases may never be broken in (it has happened to me), usually when it's too late to return them.

    Also make sure you have proper hiking socks and, if you are going to be doing a lot of hiking in conditions where your feet may sweat, consider a wicking liner sock, which will also help prevent blisters.
  • Ahnu Montara Waterproof Hiking Boots - Women's
    I wear these lightweight Ahnu hiking boots everywhere with black pants or jeans, the navy blue goes perfectly. I wear them on pavement and in the dirt, in the forest and tidepools at the beach, also at lighting conventions, construction sites, and in business meetings. They are waterproof. They have excellent arch supports - a deal-breaker for me. I will be buying my 4th pair in another two years.
  • I love my leather ARIAT. They can be repaired and have served me well. wide, very wide short feet
  • Following up on Allie's comment regarding socks, my favorite socks for hiking are WrightSock Coolmesh II socks. They're double-layered and work great for preventing blisters. You can buy them from REI, among other places.

    As for boots/shoes, I wear Merrell Moab low hiking shoes, they fit my feet perfectly -- my feet are a bit narrow.  I have the Moab Ventilators for summer, and the Moab Waterproofs for winter. The Moab Waterproofs run a bit small so I went up a half size with those. 

  • I love my Vasque hiking boots. One of the few that have a wide toe box for women, so no numb toes. No break in period. I had heel spur before surgery and Vasque hiking boots were the only comfortable ones. After surgery and recovery they were my go to boot.
  • WrightSock are awesome. Remember to wash inside out. I have also take to wearing Tommie Copper peds inside my non double layer hiking socks. OMG they really work. Price is high but no tired feet at end of day hiking.
  • The amount of support needed really varies by person. I saw locals on the Kalalau Trail wearing flip-flops. While I've usually worn Vasque in the past my daughter recommended Lowa Renegade GTX (mid) - which she wore on the John Muir Trail. I had to get a narrow width (first time ever). They've worked out very well.
  • I bot merrell gor-tex boots years ago and am still wearing them and couldn't be happier. They are water proof of course.