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Hiking Boots: Expert and User Reviews

By: Lisa Maloney on April 11, 2017

In this report

Women's Hiking Boots Best Hiking Shoes Our Sources

Hiking Boots: Ratings of Sources

Ross Robinson, March 22, 2017

OutdoorGearLab.com really puts gear through the wringer, publishing thorough, in-depth reviews based on extensive hands-on testing. 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. Elsewhere on the site, they also maintain separate lists for the best hiking shoes and women's versions of both boots and shoes.

Billy Brown, March 17, 2017

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 entry in the roundup gets a single-sentence summary review, with a link to a more in-depth review that covers key characteristics like traction, breathability, foot protection and durability. All told, Backpacker's crew of 22 testers hikes more than 4,700 miles for this test alone.

Bruce Steever, Sept. 24, 2015

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.

Editors of GearInstitute.com, As of April 2017

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 were reviewed in 2016 or more recently and receive a score of 87 or better. Elsewhere on the site, they also provide similar reviews of hiking shoes.

Contributors to Outside Online, As of April 2017

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.

Contributors to REI.com, As of April 2017

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.

Contributors to Amazon.com, As of April 2017

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 4.3 stars or better after several dozen reviews.

Switchback Travel Staff, Dec. 1, 2016

An unidentified crew of testers with SwitchbackTravel.com subject a number of hiking boots to hands-on testing. This round-up identifies the best picks for lightweight, midweight and heavyweight boots, with a few runners-up included in the mix, and links to more in-depth reviews for each model. The analysis is insightful, and accompanied by a comparison chart, buyer's guide, and astute observations on the trend toward lightweight footwear. Elsewhere on the site, they publish a similar roundup of the best lightweight hiking shoes for 2017.

Amelia Mayer, March 16, 2017

The author offers her top picks for hiking boots that fit a woman's feet, based on her experience in the mountains. She also includes recommendations from other avid female hikers and highlights boots that are suitable for specific foot types, e.g., narrow feet, flat feet, and the like. Each recommendation is the result of extensive hands-on use.

Drew Zieff, May 10, 2016

The author and a crew of testers subject a range of hiking boots to two weeks of hands-on testing designed to evaluate traction, waterproofing and comfort. Each top pick receives a short summary followed by an in-depth review of its performance, and the whole thing is prefaced by a useful buying guide that discusses tips for finding the right boot for you.

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