Updated March 2013
Whether you're taking a day hike on well-groomed trails or trekking into the vast unknown, a good pair of hiking boots provides necessary support for your adventure. ConsumerSearch.com analyzes expert reports and user reviews to recommend the top hiking boots.
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Moab Merrell Ventilator
Moab Merrell Ventilator

Lightweight Hiking Boots/Shoes

If day hikes and short backpacking trips are the highlight of your summer plans, reviewers say the Merrell Moab Ventilator is the best lightweight hiking shoe. Its mesh and leather body is highly breathable, but not waterproof. The Ventilator is extremely comfortable and supportive for a shoe, providing great traction on all surfaces.
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Asolo Stynger GTX
Asolo Stynger GTX

Women's Hiking Boots

The Asolo Stynger GTX's last is designed to fit a woman's relatively long arch and narrow heel; high points include a roomy forefoot and lacing system that locks your foot into the boot. These waterproof boots get top marks for comfort, traction and support. They're also surprisingly breathable, break in easily and weigh just over 1 pound each.
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Asolo TPS 520 GV
Asolo TPS 520 GV

Heavy-Duty Hiking, Backpacking Boots

The Asolo TPS 520 GV's no lightweight, but reviewers say it's very comfortable after a short break-in period. Its stiff yet walkable sole provides excellent support without feeling clunky underfoot, and you can reasonably expect about a decade -- or at least 1,000 miles -- of use from these durable leather boots.
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Salomon Quest 4D GTX
Salomon Quest 4D GTX

Best Waterproof Hiking Boots

The Salomon Quest 4D GTX's built-in Gore-Tex liner keeps mud and water out with no maintenance treatments needed. Just as important, its excellent traction keeps you safe and stable in wet or muddy terrain. This boot combines an aggressive, trail-runner feel with good support, stable performance and an adjustable-tension lacing system.
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See a side-by-side comparison of key features, product specs, and prices.

Hiking Boots Runners Up:

Keen Voyageur Mid *MSRP $120

5 picks including: Amazon.com, Good Housekeeping…

Keen Targhee II Mid *MSRP $130

4 picks including: Amazon.com, Backcountry.com…

Asolo Power Matic 200 GV *MSRP $300

4 picks including: Backcountry.com, Backpacker Magazine…

Vasque Breeze 2.0 GTX *MSRP $160

4 picks including: Backcountry.com, REI.com…

Patagonia Drifter A/C *MSRP $130

3 picks including: Backcountry.com, Backpacker Magazine…

Hi-Tec Altitude IV Waterproof *MSRP $105

2 picks including: Amazon.com, Trailspace.com…

Merrell Siren Sport 2 *MSRP $90

2 picks including: Amazon.com, REI.com…

Lowa Renegade II GTX Mid *MSRP $220

2 picks including: Amazon.com, Camping Life Magazine…

There's a boot out there to fit any foot

No matter where you're hiking, your footwear sets the tone for the outing. Although you can -- and people do -- hike in anything from sandals to mountaineering boots, mid-cut hiking boots or shoes seem to hit the sweet spot between flexibility and support, weight and protection.

Lightweight hiking boots will be stiffer and more supportive of your feet than walking or running shoes -- and better support your ankles in particular -- making them the best choice for hiking, especially with a heavy pack.

Hiking shoes are typically used for day hikes, although some hikers wear them for backpacking. The lightest models in this category weigh about 2 pounds per pair.

Heavy-duty hiking or backpacking boots are highly durable. A good pair can easily last you for a decade or more than 1,000 miles on the trail. Made for serious backpackers, they weigh as much as 4 pounds per pair. Most have some degree of waterproofing, but backpackers who frequently hike in wet climates or damp terrain may want to consider dedicated waterproof hiking boots.

Prices for hiking boots and shoes will vary depending on their purpose. Hiking shoes and lightweight boots average $100 to $200. They aren't as durable as heavy-duty hiking boots and will need to be replaced more often, every one to five years depending on how they're built and how much you hike. Leather backpacking boots are more expensive, typically costing about $300, but may last for many years.

Some people avoid purpose-built hiking footwear in favor of trail-running shoes, which usually offer great traction and flexibility but not much support. Some hikers take it even further, preferring minimalist or "barefoot" trail shoes like Vibram's FiveFingers. For more information about barefoot-style shoes, see our report on minimalist running shoes.

That said, most experts recommend hiking boots and shoes that are supportive enough to protect your feet against rocks and tree roots in the trails, and that offer the type of all-terrain stability you won't find in everyday shoes or minimalist models.

ConsumerSearch.com analyzes dozens of expert reviews and hundreds of owner posts to evaluate the comfort, fit, performance and durability of hiking boots and shoes for men and women. The result is our picks for the best hiking boots for wherever your adventures take you.

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