Hiking and backpacking are such great things to do. You can reconnect with nature, watch animals doing their daily activities, view amazing natural vistas, and get a good workout all at the same time. Of course, doing any of those things (and particularly the last one) won’t be easy if you’re not properly attired with decent hiking boots and backpacking shoes. As a matter of fact, I would go so far as to say that these things are pretty much necessary if you want to get out there on your next adventure. They’re necessary for several reasons, actually, which we’ll discuss in the next section.
Why You Need Men’s Hiking Boots and Backpacking Shoes
- They make hiking and backpacking (as well as camping) more comfortable, and ensure that you won’t hurt your feet or your legs as much
- They’re good shoes to go travelling with, and you can also work with them, depending on what you do
- They’re well-suited to different weather patterns, climates, and environments
- They won’t get dirty or muddy, unlike other kinds of footwear
- It’s not a big problem if they get wet since it’s relatively easy for them to dry off
Things To Consider When Buying Men’s Hiking and Backpacking Shoes
If you’d like to buy footwear for backpacking and hiking, then you’ll have to watch out for several things. First and foremost is durability. There’s no point in dropping money—potentially even a lot of money—on footwear that won’t be able to last in cold, wet, and otherwise harsh weather (and, not to mention, years of usage). Moreover, you’ll want to ensure that your perfect pair of boots or shoes falls within a price range (and that the quality you’ll get is consistent with the price you’ll pay). Last, don’t forget to take what you’ll be using them for into account.
- How well do they fit? Just because a given pair of boots or shoes is in your size doesn’t mean they’re an ideal fit for you. (Do you like my pun?) The width of your size is something to watch out for, in this area; some shoes might be too wide for your feet, or alternately a pair of boots might be too narrow. Moreover, aside from the size that’s listed, you should also make sure that the footwear is large enough to accommodate you comfortably, so that your toes have room to move and your foot has room to breathe, but not so large that your feet are flopping around inside them.
- What kind of environments are they suited for? Shoes or boots that are meant for colder environments might not necessarily be efficient in hot environments—they might be too heavy or clunky, or they might leave deep tracks in grass or sand. And for obvious reasons, those that are meant for hot weather might not be thick or solid enough for places where it’s colder. Of course, you can simply get a pair which is ideal for the type of area where you live, given that, much of the time, hiking entails going somewhere else in your area. But that’s not ideal for everyone, and particularly not backpackers. If you fall into the latter category, choose shoes and boots that are solid enough to last in all kinds of environments, as well as through years of usage.
- Will you be able to use them a lot? It could be that you get the best shoes, but then don’t get the chance to use them—maybe because you don’t live in an area that’s suited to them, or maybe because you simply don’t go hiking or backpacking often enough.
- What type do you prefer? Backpacking boots tend to be heavier and more solid; they offer you more support than their counterparts. Furthermore, in general, backpacking boots tend to wrap around the ankle to increase that support. In contrast, day hiking boots feature mid- or high-cut designs, and are more flexible. They’re meant to be used during day-long trips (hence the name), and, as such, are better adapted to hikers carrying lighter loads for shorter distances.
- Are they waterproof? If an upper is waterproof, then it is made with a breathable membrane that will keep your feet nice and dry, even in rainy conditions. However, this is contrasted with a subsequent reduction in the breathability your foot gets—or, that is to say, that a waterproof shoe might not necessarily be worth it for you, if you prize having breathable footwear.
Top 4 Best Men’s Hiking and Backpacking Boots
There are so many options when it comes to selecting boots and shoes. We have tried and tested a large number of boots and here are four boots that we highly recommend for hiking and backpacking.
1. Timberland White Ledge Men’s Waterproof Boot
- Features real leather and textiles, and sole is made out of rubber
- Oiled leather finish allows for extra durability
- Padded collar allows for extra strength and solidity
- The dual-density footbed, which is made of EVA, can easily be removed to give your foot space to breathe
These boots are waterproof, thanks to their leather upper. This upper is seam-sealed, and the leather is more specifically full-grain leather. In addition, leather (padded leather, to be specific) is feature in the collar and the tongue. As a result, you can easily hike anywhere and at any time of the year, even if it’s rained heavily outside. Your feet will stay nice and toasty warm. These waterproof capabilities are further complemented by the fact that the footbed, which is made out of dual-density EVA (and which is removable), contains perforations. This allows air not only to circulate, but also to eliminate moisture inside your shoes.
These boots are very comfortable. In part this is because they have great traction which, in turn, is due to the fact that they feature an efficient B.S.F.P. (Brake, Support, Flex, and Propel) system. Another reason they’re so comfortable is that they have primary flex (located behind the ball of your foot) and secondary flex grooves (which are located in the area of the toes). These grooves contribute to comfortable walking and hiking, since they correspond to the natural stepping movements of your feet. The tongue is gusseted, which keeps the pressure off of your laces (and the debris out of your boots).
Ideal for climbing and hiking
This pair is ideal for climbing, hiking, and related forms of movement. As we’ve said, they’re quite comfortable, what with the B.S.F.P. system, and attuned to your natural stepping motions. But moreover, they have a rubber outsole. Not only is it highly durable, but it also has lugs that make it easier for you to climb—as well as brake and accelerate.
2. KEEN Men’s Targhee II Mid WP Hiking Boot
- The heel lock is contoured
- Features leather and textiles
- Directional lugs of 4 am
- The EVA midsole is dual-density and compression-molded
The mesh lining of these boots is hydrophobic (it keeps away water). Moreover, the membrane—which is quite breathable—is waterproof as well. The leather upper is also waterproof. Because of these features, you can wear these boots in swamps and other muddy areas without worrying about getting them damaged.
Excellent traction, grip and stability
It also has directional lugs of 4mm. These are embedded into the strong rubber outsole, and are strong enough to make solid dents in the terrain, with the result that they offer you a lot of control over your traction.
The upper is made of nubuck leather. The ESS shank will help you keep your torsion stable, so that your feet will be secure in place as you walk, hike and climb. Support is further increased because of the ankle, which is at mid-cut height; this will help you walk steadily, even when you’re moving through mountains and canyons. However, despite all these solid and strength features, the shoes themselves remain lightweight, which makes them easy to carry around. The functional design of the boots—which feature only a minimal amount of plastic, which tends to be a weaker material—ensures that the shoes remain durable even after long periods of use. Every part of these boots are durable, right down to the laces.
3. Merrell Men’s Moab Mid Waterproof Hiking Boot
- Features leather and textile construction
- Breathable design that features well-made mesh and ghillie lacing
- The OrthoLite footbed is easy on your feet
- Does not smell or create odors, thanks to the M Select FRESH system
Stable and solid
Several features contribute to making these boots nice and solid. For one thing, the heels, which are air-cushioned, function well in terms of shock absorption, and they also add solidity to your movements. Users have reported using Moab boots by Merrell for several years without compromising their quality or their durability. These shoes are versatile as well, so you can easily wear them into different environments and areas.
Shoes will remain clean and dry
As we’ve said, the M Select FRESH prevents these boots from developing an odor. Similarly, the M Select DRY ensures that water is sealed out of the boots, so that your feet can stay nice and dry, even when it’s been raining outside. Furthermore, debris is kept out, thanks to the bellow design of the tongue. The breathable design contributes in this regard; your feet will have enough room to breathe and get properly ventilated.
A lot of bang for your buck
The price you pay for this model (which varies, depending on your shoe size) is affordable. Because of this, you’ll feel like you’re getting a great deal. You might pay more for another pair of boots, but then, there’s no guarantee that the quality will be as high as with this pair.
4. Vasque Men’s Breeze 2.0 Gore-Tex Waterproof Hiking Boot
- Genuine leather
- Very breathable, thanks to their mesh panels, which are resistant to abrasion
- The toe cap is made out of molded rubber
- The footbed is made out of molded dual-density EVA
- Medium width
Keeps your feet dry
These boots will keep your feet nice and dry, even when it’s considerably wet outside. They are 100% waterproof, a feature which is complemented by the fact that their design is very breathable. This water-resistance is the result of the Gore-Tex lining, combined with the mesh made out of wicking nylon.
You will be able to walk steady with these boots, thanks to the thermoplastic urethane plates, which support your feet even in the toughest of terrains. This high stability is also the result of the contact outsole, which sheds debris and which thus allows your feet to grip the ground more easily while you’re hiking and climbing. The outsole is a Vasque exclusive, made by Vibram, that is made out of the XSTrek Compound.
A comfortable fit
The upper, which is made out of nubuck leather and which is 2 mm thick, features nylon mesh panels. These add breathability and solidity to your movements, so that you can get around easily. You can walk for hours on end with these boots; you won’t feel your feet starting to get cramped, and you won’t have to feel like you’re stuffing your feet inside them every time you put them on.
If you plan on grabbing some new footwear for the next time you go hiking, camping or backpacking, then consider the following models: the Timberland White Ledge Men’s Waterproof Boot, the KEEN Men’s Targhee II Mid WP Hiking Boot, the Merrell Men’s Moab Mid Waterproof Hiking Boot, and the Vasque Men’s Breeze 2.0 Gore-Tex Waterproof Hiking Boot. One thing we can say for sure is, those strategies succeed: these pieces of footwear are some of the best you’ll find. So, if you want to go out and return to nature, consider picking up one of these models. It will be a great decision for you—both in the short run, in the weeks and months to come, and in the long run, in all the years to come.