Hiking Boots: Ratings of Sources
OutdoorGearLab.com really puts gear through the wringer, publishing extensive hands on reviews that are very in-depth and thorough. They also assign comparative ratings in several categories, including comfort, stability, traction and durability, and offer an easy-to-read ratings chart to help you compare several models at a glance. Separate lists are maintained for hiking shoes and women's versions of both boots and shoes.
Backpacker maintains an extensive library of hiking footwear reviews, and their exhaustive hands on testing is some of the most thorough in the industry. In this case, each image-only entry in the roundup is linked to a characteristically in-depth review, along with gear specs and an opportunity for readers to publish their own related reviews.
The outdoors arm of Gizmodo.com subjected a number of hiking boots to extensive testing through hiking and outdoor field work, in a variety of terrain types and weather conditions. They provide a brief but thorough review for each of their top picks in both men's and women's categories. Although no comparative ratings are assigned, each top pick receives a designation for what it's best at -- for example, the best boot for picky feet.
The editors of GearInstitute.com subject each boot in this roundup to hands-on testing and rank it in five categories, including comfort, stability/traction and off-trail handling. Each boot also receives an overall comparative rating out of 100 points possible, brief pros/cons, and a longer, more detailed review. They also maintain a similar roundup of hiking shoe reviews. Standout models receive a score of 90 or more.
Reviews of hiking boots and shoes posted to Outside Online -- the web presence for Outside magazine -- tend to be short, but they're almost always based on substantial hands-on testing. Individual reviews don't receive comparative ratings, but are frequently included in thematic round-ups -- for example, best all-terrain or winter hikers -- that help establish a rough order of ranking.
Stephen Regenold, editor in chief for GearJunkie.com, offers a favorable review of the hiking boot market in general, then lists his picks in several categories. Each boot listed receives a short review based on hands-on testing, with brief comments that highlight how each boot fits and how it performed in varying trail conditions.
REI.com is one of the best sources for user reviews of hiking boots and shoes, both in terms of variety and volume. Reviewers are often well-educated and enthusiastic about outdoors gear, so their comments tend to get right to the point. Standout models receive an average score of 4.5 stars or more after at least 10 user reviews.
Amazon.com offers hundreds of hiking boots and shoes to choose from. Although the shoppers that post reviews here don't always use the footwear for its intended purpose -- for example, hiking boots are often purchased for use as work boots -- they still provide a good cross-section of real-world data. Standout models receive an average score of 4.5 stars or better after several dozen reviews.