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Updated June 2022
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and all opinions about the products are our own. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
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Buying guide for Best men’s hiking shoes

Hiking is an excellent way to get in some exercise and take in the beautiful natural scenery that surrounds you. If you hike regularly, having proper footwear like a high-quality pair of men’s hiking shoes is vital. 

Hiking shoes are lightweight enough to help you move quickly over your favorite trails while providing the traction necessary to keep you from tripping or falling. They can also keep your feet dry if you’re hiking in wet conditions. While hiking boots are popular for more rugged trails and longer hikes, a lighter, flexible pair of men’s hiking shoes are often more comfortable for shorter hikes and more established trails.

Learning why hiking shoes are a must-have, the various styles you can choose from, the key components to look for, how to determine the right fit, and other features that make the shoes more comfortable can help you identify the best men’s hiking shoes for your next adventure. 

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Hiking shoes with only a few seams are less likely to cause friction while hiking, making it less likely you’ll experience blisters and irritation. 

How to buy the best men’s hiking shoes

Are men’s hiking shoes necessary?

You might be tempted to go hiking in your favorite pair of sneakers or tennis shoes, but wearing the wrong footwear on the trails can be dangerous. 

Men’s hiking shoes offer support for your ankles and feet to keep you stable when going up and down hills so you’re not as likely to fall. The cushioning they provide can help you feel more comfortable when going on long hikes.

A proper pair of men’s hiking shoes offer better traction when you’re on uneven terrain. The outsoles of the shoes feature a pattern or tread that grips the surface you’re walking on to prevent slipping. Sneakers and tennis shoes feature a lighter tread, meaning they don’t provide effective traction on trails and other rugged, uneven surfaces. 

If you’re hiking in an area with streams, mud, or frequent rain, hiking shoes offer superior water resistance and dry more quickly than regular shoes, so you can keep your feet dry and prevent your socks from getting wet and causing blisters. 

Men’s hiking shoe types and styles

Men’s hiking shoes are available in several styles, depending on the type of hiking you’re doing and the weather you’ll be hiking in.

  • Trail runners: These athletic shoes aren’t designed specifically for hiking, but their lightweight design makes them ideal for moving quickly along trails. They’re usually more breathable than other hiking shoes, so they work well in warmer weather. Trail runners offer excellent traction and are versatile enough for other activities like running. 
  • Approach shoes: These shoes are designed for climbers who want to move more quickly, but they offer highly effective traction, making them an excellent option for hiking. In particular, approach shoes work well for rocky trails.
  • Traditional/low/lightweight hikers: These shoes are what most people think of when they hear the term “hiking shoes.” They’re somewhat of a hybrid between an athletic shoe and a hiking boot, offering greater flexibility in the ankle than a boot but more support and stability than the average running shoe. They also feature a lightweight design that makes them extremely comfortable. Hikers work best for day-long hikes or weekend hiking trips.

Hiking shoe components

When looking for hiking shoes, it helps to understand the shoe’s components. Men’s hiking shoes consist of:

Upper: This part of a hiking shoe covers the top of the foot, protecting it from rocks and other debris. It also determines how breathable and waterproof the shoes are. 

Tongue: The tongue in a hiking shoe keeps rocks and debris from getting inside, so it helps to choose a pair with a gusseted tongue. 

Midsole: The midsole provides cushioning for your feet, helping you feel more comfortable on longer hikes. Shoes with a thicker midsole offer more support and shock absorption for your feet. 

Outer sole/outsole: The outsole is the bottom that comes into contact with the ground. It provides stability and traction as you’re moving along the trails. Shoes with a stiff outer sole are usually more comfortable because they move more easily over debris like rocks and branches. 

Fit

No matter how well-made men’s hiking shoes are, they won’t offer the comfort and stability you want if they don't fit correctly. Of course, your hiking shoes should fit snugly, but they shouldn’t be so tight that they feel uncomfortable. 

It’s crucial to try your shoes on with the socks you plan to wear while hiking to be sure they fit properly. If you’re wearing the right size, you should be able to move your toes easily within the shoes, but your heel shouldn’t shift around too much as you step forward.

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Did You Know?
If you’re hiking on a relatively flat trail, the treads on your hiking shoes don’t matter as much. For rocky, uneven terrain, make sure to choose shoes with deeper treads to provide a better grip.
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What features should men’s hiking shoes have?

Materials

Men’s hiking shoes can be made with several materials, which affect how durable, comfortable, and supportive the shoes are. 

The most common materials for hiking shoes include: 

Leather: Hiking shoes made with leather are usually the most durable but also the most expensive. The leather gradually conforms to the shape of your foot as you wear the shoes, making them extremely comfortable. Leather hiking shoes aren’t the most breathable style, and not all leather shoes are waterproof. 

Synthetic: Hiking shoes that feature synthetic materials like polyester, nylon, or faux leather are very lightweight and dry quickly. These shoes aren’t usually the most durable option, however, meaning you’ll need to replace them more often. 

Mesh: Hiking shoes that feature mesh are the most breathable option, making them ideal for warm-weather hiking. They dry very quickly. However, mesh hiking shoes aren’t very durable. 

Combination: Some hiking shoes have a combination of materials, providing the best features of each material. For example, you might find a pair of hiking shoes with a mesh upper for breathability but with synthetic or leather around it to improve the shoe’s durability. 

Waterproof

Some men’s hiking shoes are treated with a water-resistant or waterproof coating that helps keep moisture out of your shoes. If you regularly hike in wet conditions, you’ll want a waterproof pair that can keep your feet dry. Keep in mind that waterproof hiking shoes aren’t as breathable as other options, so they may be uncomfortable in hot weather. 

If you only occasionally hike in wet conditions and just want to keep your feet dry in light rain, water-resistant hiking shoes can work well. They’re typically more lightweight and breathable as well. 

Breathability

If you regularly hike in hot weather, choose a breathable pair of men’s hiking shoes. The material allows air to pass easily through the shoes so your feet never get too hot or sweaty. Mesh hiking shoes are some of the most breathable options, making them suitable for warm-weather hikes.

The one drawback to breathable hiking shoes is that they usually aren’t as water-resistant as other varieties, which can be an issue if you often hike on wet or muddy trails. 

If you’re new to hiking, choose a pair of hiking shoes with better ankle support. They can help you develop the muscles in your legs that might not be used to the demands of hiking. 

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How do you accessorize men’s hiking shoes?

Hiking socks

For the most comfortable hiking, pair your men’s hiking shoes with a high-quality pair of hiking socks. You can find heavier socks that keep your feet warm in cold weather and moisture-wicking options that help keep your feet dry in warm weather. 

Hiking poles

While hiking shoes provide plenty of support and stability, hiking poles can make staying balanced on rocky trails even easier. You can find foldable or collapsible poles that are extremely easy to carry with you.

Hiking backpacks

If you’re going on a longer hike, a hiking backpack makes it easy to carry your essentials while leaving your hands free. You can find packs in various sizes — choose the right capacity based on the length of your hike.

How much do men’s hiking shoes cost?

Inexpensive

The most affordable men’s hiking shoes cost between $15 and $60 and are usually lightweight, breathable shoes that work well for short hikes. Most are made of mesh, but you can find some synthetic shoes in this price range. These hiking shoes often aren’t waterproof or water-resistant, so they aren’t the best option for wet conditions. 

Mid-range

Mid-range men’s hiking shoes run $65 to $125. They’re more sturdily constructed and are made with synthetic materials like polyester or a combination of mesh and synthetic materials. They usually offer some water resistance, but they aren’t fully waterproof. 

Expensive

The most expensive men’s hiking shoes feature sturdy, durable construction and offer excellent traction and support that works well for longer hikes. They’re likely made of leather or a combination of leather and synthetic or mesh materials. These shoes offer outstanding water resistance, and some are even fully waterproof, costing $130 to $250. 

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Did You Know?
Hiking shoes with leather uppers can last for a long time. If the shoes’ other components break down, you can usually take them to a shoe repair store and have them resoled. 
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Tips

  • Break in leather hiking shoes. Leather is stiff when you first buy your shoes — it helps to wear them around the house or while running errands to break them in before taking them on your first hike. 
  • Clean your shoes after each hike. If you want your shoes to last a long time, it’s important to clean them regularly to prevent grit and debris from breaking down the materials. 
  • Rinse muddy hiking shoes as soon as possible. Mud is much more difficult to remove once it dries on your shoes. If you step in puddles on a hike, dip your shoes in a stream or splash them with water from your water bottle as soon as possible. 
  • Air out your hiking shoes after your hike. Odors can build up inside your shoes after a single hike due to sweat and bacteria. Leave them out in a dry, well-ventilated place post-hike to remove moisture that leads to smells.
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If you feel your heel slip or lift as you’re hiking, your hiking shoes are too loose. Wearing footwear that’s too large can cause blisters and increase your risk of injury on the trails.

FAQ

Q. Are hiking shoes better than hiking boots?

A. It depends on the type of hiking you do. If you go on day-long or weekend hikes on well-defined trails that aren’t too uneven or rocky, hiking shoes are an excellent option. However, hiking boots may be a better choice if you go on longer hiking trips over rocky terrain. They also offer more support when you’re carrying a heavy pack so you’re more comfortable on your hike. 

Q. How long do hiking shoes last?

A. Your hiking shoes’ lifespan varies based on how often and far you hike. The majority of shoes usually last for 500 to 1,000 miles. You can tell your shoes need replacing if you notice worn laces, cracks in the midsole, or worn-down treads on the sole. 

Q. What kind of socks should I wear with men’s hiking shoes? 

A. It’s best to stay away from cotton socks when hiking. They’re not moisture-wicking, so they can get sweaty and take a long time to dry, leading to blisters. Instead, opt for socks made of wool or synthetic materials that wick away moisture to keep your feet dry and comfortable. 

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