The best men’s hiking shoes and boots for 2021 – CNET

The days of strapping on a pair of creaky leather hiking boots that weighed as much as a cathedral are long gone. Today’s walking boots and shoes use modern fabric technology, scientifically researched soles and endless fine-tuning to make them fast, comfortable and stable whether you’re simply walking between cafes on a city break or tackling tough mountain trails. But with new materials and differing designs comes a vast amount of choice, and with innumerable brands each promising to offer the best experience, it can be extremely difficult to figure out which boots are best for you. 

Thankfully, we’ve done some of the hard work and put together our picks of the best adventure footwear, whether it’s boots or shoes, and whether it’s for days out around town, or for heading into the wilderness. Everything in this list of the best men’s hiking boots has been hand-selected and tested by us to ensure that they perform as well as they’re supposed to — if they didn’t impress, they didn’t make the list. 

Note that this list focuses on men’s hiking shoe models. We’ll soon be posting a women’s hiking shoe version of this list that includes most of the same shoes included here, plus a couple of women’s-only hiking shoe options. Note that all the men’s hiking boot options shown here were tested in the men’s models except where noted.

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True to the company name, these boots innovate through their use of graphene — the atom-thick “miracle material” that’s stronger than steel and lighter than carbon fiber. Here, it’s been infused in the hiking boot sole which Inov-8 reckons makes it more durable and grippier. In my testing I certainly found the boots to be extremely capable on mixed walks, handling muddy trails, loose rocky terrain or wet asphalt with ease. 

They’re exceptionally lightweight hiking shoes too, making them as comfortable to wear as sneakers, right out of the box with no break-in required. You can walk all day in this hiking footwear without feeling weighed down, so they’re definitely a hiking boot to consider if you plan on tackling long trails. While they have a waterproof Gore-Tex lining, they don’t have the same ruggedness required for more mountainous terrain, so if that’s on the agenda then consider their more burly hiking boot siblings below.

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Like the Roclite 345s above, these boots are infused with graphene for added durability, are lined with Gore-Tex for waterproofing and are comfortable right out of the box. However, the Pro G 400s have a thicker, stiffer sole, more support around the ankle and a ceramic coating on the upper material that makes them much more suited to tougher terrain. 

These waterproof hiking shoes are still surprisingly lightweight though, and I had no problem in wearing them on all-day hikes on forest trails and muddy hill tracks. The deep lugs on the sole help them dig into loose terrain to keep you stable on rugged terrain, and I certainly felt confident that my feet weren’t going to slip out from under me. 

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The Allbirds Mizzle shoes are among the softest things I’ve had the pleasure of putting on my feet. It’s thanks to their merino wool construction, which has the added benefit of making this lightweight boot an eco-friendly choice. The soft, spongy sole means these aren’t shoes for tackling mountains, or even woodland trails, but they’re a delightful walking boot for urban exploration, hopping between cafes and museums. 

This hiking boot option is water-resistant, so an impromptu rain shower won’t slow you down, while the incredible light weight of the shoes mean you’ll be forgiven for thinking you’ve accidentally gone out in your slippers. 

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With a traditional all-leather design and burly rubber sole, Danner’s Mountain Pass boots are built for serious hiking — and built to last. This hiking boot option will require some “walking-in” before you’ll want to take them on long hikes, but once they’ve settled to your feet you’ll find them comfortable, secure and extremely stable on difficult terrain. 

The Arctic Night versions also feature a thermal lining for added warmth in cold conditions, as well as a Vibram Arctic Grip sole for excellent traction on icy ground. They’re Gore-Tex lined for waterproofing, too and are hand-built in Portland, Oregon. 

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On Shoes is a relative newcomer to the footwear scene and is more known for its running shoes. The Cloudrock boots are its first foray into hiking boots, but this waterproof boot is a stellar first effort. The unique design of the soles, with their slight front-to-back curve and deep lugs make them extremely grippy on loose ground and gives the feeling that they’re propelling you forward as you walk, making them great for fast-paced hikes.

Their mid-height gives plenty of ankle support too, and their light weight and out-of-the-box comfort means they’re superb for all-day wearing. They’re Gore-Tex lined too, making them waterproof enough for me to stand still, ankle-deep in a flowing stream for half a minute while taking a photo without any water penetrating to my feet.

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Like the Cloudrock boots, the Cloudventure shoes feature the unique curving sole with deep lugs, making the shoes as supportive, stable and comfortable as their boot siblings. They have a more modern, style-led design than many other walking shoes on the market, which makes them ideal for those of you who want an all-day trail shoe that you won’t feel the need to change out of this hiking shoe when you get to the pub at the end of your hike — as long as they’re not too caked in mud.

They’re fully waterproof, thanks to the Gore-Tex lining, and their low weight means they’re just as well-suited for trail running as they are to fast-paced hikes.

Note: Women’s version tested for this model.

More for people hitting the trails

The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have about a medical condition or health objectives.