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Best Backpacking Boots to Choose: Traverse the Rugged Terrain with Utmost Comfort

Backpacking boots review
Mark Foster
Written by Mark Foster

We’d say that choosing the best backpacking boots is a matchmaking process. You don’t want to tie the knot with the ones that will cause you blisters and pain, right? If you are a backpacker whose dream is to have a perfect pair of backpacking boots that will sync with their tempo and be a perfect fit on every backpacking trip, then you’ve come to the right place!

Having a high-quality, breathable, lightweight and comfortable boots are a must! They make sure you make long hikes enjoyable and carefree. Even if you’re going on a short, not-so-rough hiking trails, walking without a good pair of boots will make your trips painful and uncomfortable, and this is something you don’t want for sure.

Image showing a man climbing the hill in Keen Targhee II Mid WP Hiking Boots

All boots (and brands!) have strengths and weaknesses, so not every type of backpacking boot will withstand all terms and weather conditions. But don’t worry, this is why we’re here as we’re going to show you the best backpacking boots on the market that are suitable for different terrains and after you finish with reading our article it’ll be easier for you to find that perfect match.

We’re bringing you a list of few features you have to have in mind before buying a perfect pair and reviews of some of the best backpacking boots on the market today. Take some time, compare them and choose the one that suit you most.

Our Top Picks

Product NameMaterialSpecific FeaturesPrice
Scarpa Kinesis Pro GTXNubuck leatherWaterproof, Gore-Tex, Vibram traction outsoleCheck price on Amazon
Asolo Power Matic 200 GVLeatherWaterproof, Gore-Tex performance, comfort footwearCheck price on Amazon
La Sportiva FC Eco 3.0 GTXNubuck leather and meshMade from 100% recycled nylon mesh/uretechCheck price on Amazon
Lowa Renegade GTXLeather and syntheticWater repellent, Vibram Evo outsoleCheck price on Amazon
Vasque St. EliasLeatherGore-Tex waterproof construction, dual density EVA footbedCheck price on Amazon
Salomon Quest 4D 2 GTXLeather/textile/syntheticGore-Tex waterproof protection, Salomon 4D Chassis, EVA Ortholite removable footbedCheck price on Amazon
Merrell MoabLeather/syntheticWater-resistant, air cushion midsole and Vibram Multi-Sport TC5+ rubber outsoleCheck price on Amazon
Keen Targhee II Mid WPLeatherBreathable waterproof membrane, torsion stability ESS shankCheck price on Amazon

Features to Consider Before Buying

Before buying the best backpacking boots, there are a number of main features you need to keep in mind. As you probably know, not every boot will suit everyone. This is why we’re starting with some of the most important features you should consider so you have a better insight in which one to choose.

Components

The components or material of your hiking boots, have a direct impact on the weight of your boot. Materials can also affect breathability, durability and water resistance. For example, a backpacking boot made from leather is waterproof, durable and has abrasion resistance.

Leather boots are also built for extended trips and is great for different kinds of terrain. The downside to leather backpacking boots is the weight since they are heavier compared to nylon/split-grain leather boots. Leather boots also require longer break-in time, so make sure not to wear them the first time on extended trips.

A man hiking in a pair of hiking boots

Split grain leather is usually combined with nylon for a boot that’s light and breathable. They are also usually more affordable compared to their leather counterparts. However, there are split leather and nylon mixed boots that are not as durable as leather ones.

Buyers also need to be careful to buy this type of boot since not all of them are waterproof. Make sure to check if they have waterproof liners and always consider the type of terrain or length of your backpacking trip before buying the boots.

Fit

The best hiking boots also have to fit your feet very well. You don’t want a boot that’s too tight because it’s going to chafe your heels and it might cut off blood circulation to your feet. You also don’t want loose boots because it won’t offer good support.

A woman hiker hiking in the grand canyon while she is wearing a pair of hiking boots

A good pair of backpacking boots should fit everywhere and shouldn’t feel tight anywhere, feel snug but offer enough room for you to wiggle your toes.

Size

The first thing to know before buying a pair of boots is to know your size. If you’re not sure, you should have your feet measured using a calibrated device. The shoe store where you’re planning to buy your boots should have such equipment.

You might be tempted to look for boots during the day, but the best day to buy shoes is at the end of the day when your feet are swollen. This will help you avoid buying boots that are too small. Before you go to the shoe store, you should also bring along or wear the socks you will be wearing when you go backpacking.

image showing a woman wearing a pair of scarpa hiking boots

This will also help you avoid buying ill-fitting boots. Make sure the socks are cotton instead of synthetic which are likely to cause blisters. People who wear orthopedics should also bring those along. Now that you’ve found boots you like, spend some time with them. Walk around the store to get a feel of them. Find an inclined surface and walk on it and try to see if it offers enough traction.

Manufacturer

Shopping online is common and convenient for many buyers. If you prefer this mode of shopping, stick with a brand you’ve worn before. Most boot manufacturers stick to the same materials and construction with most of their models so you should be safe from strange boots or materials.

Image showing a person wearing a pair of Mamut hihking boots

It would also be prudent to do some backpacking boot research before buying anything online. In case you’ve never worn backpacking boots before, don’t rush into deciding on buying from the most popular brand. Popularity doesn’t necessarily mean that they’ll suit perfectly.

Price

There are a wide variety of backpacking boots that come at different prices. The price ranges from $50 to $380, so you can choose the best backpacking boots based on your budget, needs and style.

A person wearing a pair of hiking boots and a moutain landscape in the background

If you’re planning to wear your backpacking boots in cold or damp weather, then getting a 100% waterproof hiking boots might be the best option for you. They will withstand more, but expect their price to be slightly higher. Just keep in mind that the price (same as the brand) doesn’t necessarily mean quality and that they’ll be a perfect fit for you.

Best Products on Today’s Market

As we all know, every foot is different, so top-notch manufacturers have components that make each boot unique to them. Let’s have a look at some of the best backpacking boots on the market.

The list below shows 8 boots suitable for hiking and backpacking on mid, low and rough terrains, their pros and cons. What we wanted to accomplish with these reviews it so give you a better insight into the best boots, detailed comparison and making your decision on which one to buy easier.

Scarpa Kinesis Pro GTX Trail Running Shoe Scarpa Kinesis Pro GTX Trail Running Shoe

Price: $240 – $340

Materials: Nubuck leather

Specific features: Waterproof Gore-Tex performance, comfort membrane with Vibram traction outsoles

Best use: Hiking, hunting and backpacking on different types of terrain

Description: Comfortable and heavy-duty, are just some of the adjectives we can mention about the Scarpa Kinesis Pro GTX Trail Running Shoe. The Kinesis has been dubbed as the “unbreakable all terrain vehicle for your feet”.

The boots are made from high quality construction and materials. The design of the boots is also very current but with a classic feel so the Kinesis Pro will still look stylish 10 years from now. Scarpa designed this boot with a Vibram sole for more comfort.

It also features micro-pulley hardware lacing, full rubber rand, and waterproof GORE-TEX lining. Clearly, Scarpa designed this boot for durability and different types of terrain. You can easily wear it backpacking or hunting, even during the winter.

The boot’s ActivFit technology uses an anatomical last so you don’t have to spend a long time to break-in the Kinesis. The only downside we see with the Scarpa boot is the price. At a minimum of $240, it can be out of range for budget backpackers.

PROS:

  • Waterproof GORE-TEX lining
  • Dual-density PU midsole
  • Durable
  • All-terrain sole
  • Comfortable
  • Stiff
  • Supportive

CONS:

  • Price

Related: If you decide on buying this Scarpa boots, then we advise buying one product most buyers also bought and that’s Nikwax Waterproofing Wax for Leather. This wax will provide a high performance waterproofing for smooth leather shoes.

Check the price on Amazon

Asolo Power Matic 200 GV Boot Asolo Power Matic 200 GV Boot

Price: $205 – $315

Materials: Leather

Specific features: Waterproof Gore-Tex performance, comfort footwear, Vibram Rubber Power Matic outsole, suitable for 3+ season use

Best use: Long hikes

Description: This boot from Asolo can only be described as a beast. While it can be an investment for many hikers, the Asolo Power Matic 200 GV Boot is great for walking, hiking and backpacking.

Made to carry heavy loads, Asolo designed this boot around the foot. The result is a flexible, durable and water resistant footwear. It also features a Vibram Rubber Power Matic Outsole for comfort.

The boot is well constructed and will keep you backpacking for many years. However, the Power Matic is a bit on the heavy side at 4.30 lbs and at approximately $205 minimum, a bit on the expensive side. The all-leather construction also makes the boot non-breathable which can be uncomfortable for long hikes.

Overall, the Power Matic is best suited for carrying heavy loads in muddy mountains and kicking some ice during light snow. These boots have great lateral stability, pointing your feet right down the rocky slope on a direct path or trail so you can move quickly with confidence on all difficult terrains.

PROS:

  • Waterproof GORE-TEX performance
  • Flexible
  • Durable
  • No break-in needed
  • Great lacing system

CONS:

  • Rubber toe cap missing
  • Too warm for hiking in warm/hot climates
  • Only one color

Related: Another great “candidate” for the waterproofing solutions. But, if you’re not into wax, you can check out the Nikwax Footwear Conditioner that does the same job as the wax.

Check the price on Amazon

La Sportiva FC Eco 3.0 GTX Hiking Boot La Sportiva FC ECO 3.0 GTX Hiking Boots

Price: Approx. $170

Materials: Nubuck leather and mesh

Specific features: Waterproof and lightweight, made from 100% recycled nylon mesh/ uretech; lining: Gore-Tex/Dri-Lex Bristol 40% recycled nylon

Best use: Walking, hiking and backpacking in moderate terrain

Description: The La Sportiva FC ECO 3.0 GTX Hiking Boots are a backpacker’s dream boots come true. It is a mixture of leather and mesh which makes it lightweight, durable and waterproof.

At approximately $170, this boot makes it to our list of best backpacking boots because it is on the more affordable side compared to Scarpa and Asolo. But that does not mean to say that it’s a pushover. This is the ideal boot for the first time backpacker because it requires no break-in.

Its Vibram River outsole features an Impact Break System Eco step to help novice backpacker control the pace downhill, especially if the terrain is full of loose rocks and gravel. The recycled mesh and perforated Nubuck, is also very comfortable and allows the boots to be breathable. This boot is designed for backpacking in moderate terrain. It is not made for hard terrain, extended backpacking or heavy loads.

PROS:

  • Waterproof GORE-TEX lining
  • Flexible
  • Durable
  • Lightweight
  • Breathable
  • Comfortable

CONS:

  • In some places the sole is really thin

Related: Although these boots will work best at moderate terrain, that doesn’t mean you need warm socks. This is where Men’s Hike Ultra-Light Crew Socks come in place. They’re warm, durable and have a mesh ventilation zone.

Check the price on Amazon

Lowa Renegade GTX Mid Hiking Boot Lowa GTX Mid Hiking Boot

Price: $140 – $310

Materials: Leather and synthetic

Specific features: Water repellent climate control footbed, Vibram Evo outsole

Best use: Day hikes and weekend short-haul trips

The Description: You can tackle any kind of terrain with the Lowa GTX Mid Hiking Boot. The Renegade is waterproof with a climate control footbed for improved breathability.

The bottom of the shoe feature perforations so air can go in and out of the boot for added comfort. This allows your feet to be comfortable and dry, not to mention that it reduces hot spots so your feet stay comfortable in hot/warm climates as well as wet and cold conditions.

The boot is best suited for day hikes and weekend short-haul trips. Made in Europe for more than 90 years now, Lowa has made boots for hikers, backpackers, mountaineers and climbers. The company prides itself in making boots that are of high quality.

While the boot is of high quality, there are reports of questionable durability. According to users, one of the first things to go is the water repellent features. Other users also report of the sole and shoe separating only after months of light use.

PROS:

  • Waterproof
  • Breathable
  • Comfortable
  • Quality

CONS:

  • It can happen that the shoe and sole separate after months of light use
  • Not that durable as advertised

Related: Most buyers who bought these boots opted for Superfeet Green Heritage Insoles. They are pretty affordable (approximately $30) and will help adapt your foot to the flat midsole of your footwear, not to mention that it’ll provide additional support and stabilize your foot.

Check the price on Amazon

Vasque St. Elias Backpacking Boot Vasque Men’s St. Elias Gore-Tex Backpacking Boot

Price: $130 – $200

Materials: Leather

Specific features: GORE-TEX waterproof construction with Performance Comfort Technology, Dual Density EVA footbed

Best use: Short hiking and backpacking trips

Description: The St. Elias is one of the lightest backpacking boots from Vasque. But don’t let its weight fool you because Vasque Men’s St. Elias Gore-Tex Backpacking Boot are tough enough to tackle the tough terrain of Alaska or the rugged Appalachian Trail.

The EVA footbed also makes it one of the best backpacking boots because it can absorb impact while providing all day cushioning and support.

For a leather boot, the break-in time for the St. Elias is surprisingly quick. The boots are also very comfortable right out of the box. The Vibram rubber outsoles also make the boots, stable and provide traction in rugged terrain. Starting at approximately $130, the St. Elias is very affordable.

Although the current trend, says that backpackers are looking for the faster, and much lighter hiking boots, Vasque St. Elias Gore-Tex Backpacking Boots definitely are the heaviest boots in our review. These boots are holding its own in all our performance features except weight.

PROS:

  • GORE-TEX waterproof construction
  • Quick break-in time
  • Comfortable
  • Stable
  • Affordable

CONS:

  • Permeable leather needs treatment
  • Heavy

Related: As we mentioned above (in the “pros” section), permeable leather needs treatment so most buyers also opt for Nikwax products. You can choose their Footwear Cleaning Gel for better protection.

Check the price on Amazon

Salomon Quest 4D 2 GTX Hiking Boot Salomon Quest 4D 2 GTX Hiking Boots

Price: $140 – $380

Materials: Leather/textile/synthetic

Specific features: GORE-TEX waterproof protection, Salomon 4D Chassis for stability/protection, Molded EVA Ortholite removable footbed

Best use: Hiking and backpacking in rocky and gravelly terrain

Description: The best backpacking boots have to provide stability, grip, comfort, laces that stay tied together and durability.

The good news is that the Salomon Quest 4D 2 GTX Hiking Boots have all of these features. Developed through research with backpackers and hikers in mind, the 4D provides comfort for every foot shape.

The boot has a high-cut profile for stability and increased ankle support and protection. For the 4D, Salomon uses lining that gives the users breathability and quick drying. Wear this boot on rocky and gravelly terrain because the gusseted tongue connects with the uppers to prevent debris from getting into your boots. Best of all, Salomon provides a warranty of 2 years on their products.

While the part of the design with the nylon mesh is outperformed for a standard full leather boot, the experience of your foot inside the boot will be a bit muggy if you go on desert hikes. Luckily, the nylon mesh wicks moisture and makes the interior of the boot quick to dry.

PROS:

  • GORE-TEX waterproof liner
  • Lightweight
  • Solid lugs
  • Breathable
  • Quick drying
  • 2-year warranty

CONS:

  • Permeable leather needs treatment
  • Heavy

Related: Most buyers also opted for Darn Tough Hiker Micro Crew Cushion Socks that are a go-to sock for all hikers and backpackers looking for performance, warmth, comfort and style.

Check the price on Amazon

Merrell Moab Ventilator Hiking Shoe Merrell Men's Moab Ventilator Hiking Shoe

Price: $50 – $150

Materials: Leather/synthetic

Specific features: Water-resistant leather and mesh upper featuring rubber toe bumper and heel counter, Air Cushion midsole and Vibram Multi-Sport TC5+ rubber outsole

Best use: Light backpacking, hiking and bike trails

Description: A ventilated backpacker is a happy backpacker. The Merrell Moab Ventilator Hiking Shoe is made for light backpacking, hiking and bike trails. The Dura-leather strapping protects the feet while the open window ventilation system helps cool it down.

Your toe is also well protected thanks to the proven Vibram Multi-Sport sole with a TC5+ rubber compound, which also helps contribute to better grip and durability.

The Vibram Lug patterns on the arch ensure that your feet flex better for added comfort while hiking. The rubber soles also provide better traction during wet conditions. This is the backpacking shoe for people looking for style and comfort.

The cheapest backpacking boots on our list, these boots designed for rugged mountain men are pretty much great. Its rubber soles, leather straps and breathability makes them a great choice if you’re an active workman or a serious hiker. The only thing that bother us is that they’re a bit too stiff and the sole could be a bit more flexible.

PROS:

  • Durable
  • Flexible
  • Comfortable
  • Price

CONS:

  • Quality
  • Long time to break them in

Related: If you want to make these boots even greater, then look at these Lock Laces Elastic Shoelaces. Designed as per no-tie lacing system, lock laces are the original, comfortable and make your foot fit perfectly. They’ll make you feel great as you’ll perform your best on your backpacking trips.

Check the price on Amazon

Keen Targhee II Mid WP Hiking Boots KEEN Women's Targhee II Mid WP Hiking Bootman

Price: $80 – $180

Materials: Leather

Specific features: Breathable waterproof membrane with protective toe cap, torsion stability ESS shank

Best use: Backpacking and hiking on any terrain

Description: The Keen Targhee II Mid WP Hiking Boots are like a 4-wheel drive for ladies feet. Keen designed these boots to let your feet breathe and stay dry. The aggressive outsoles can also tackle any terrain so these boots can take you on a lonely Sunday walk to tackling the muddiest hiking paths.

This earns a best backpacking boots badge because of its affordable price (starts at $80) and lightweight design (1.8 pounds per pair, women’s size 8). The 4 mm lugs also keep users upright in any terrain.

The Targhee II also features a waterproof and breathable lining so your feet stay dry and comfortable during your adventures. The stiff rubber soles also provide good stability and support. The boots are high cut, but the ¼ inch off the ankle height might be too little support for some backpackers.

The boots also require some break-in before you do some serious hiking or backpacking in them. These are a great option if you don’t want to spend more than $200 on hiking or backpacking boots.

PROS:

  • Waterproof
  • Stable
  • Affordable
  • Durable

CONS:

  • Might take some time before you break them in

Related: If your hiking and backpacking trips result in painful feet, then we suggest changing your socks. Most buyers opted for these Moderate Padded Hiking Socks as these are the best sock related choice you can make.

Check the price on Amazon

Wrap Up

We have reached the end of our article. By now, you surely realized that which hiking boots are the best, is a matter of personal opinion, of course. However, the boot you choose should be able to tackle tough terrain, water, long hikes and heavy weight.

Whatever you decide, you should always make sure that your hiking boots fit and can keep up with you on the trail. Take some time to decide as finding the right boots takes time. Tailoring footwear to the terrain is a smart thing to do.

A pair of leather hiking boots in the sand

Hopefully, our reviews and all the features you need to consider, helped you compare one boots from another. All features mentioned above should be carefully analyzed and well researched before buying a backpacking boots.

Have you already bought your perfect pair of hiking boots? What was the most important feature you looked before buying? We’d love to hear your experience or if you have any questions, feel free to leave a comment in the comment section below. Happy backpacking!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Mark Foster
Mark Foster

Mark Foster loves to push his limits when it comes to survival in the wilderness. He might go for a 30-days adventure without any food or equipment except for a survival kit and a knife. We should mention that his survival kit has 122 items in it, so he know what he is doing. Mark is working on his book to share with the world all his experience gained during those brave adventures.

  • Tyler Johnson

    I bought the Salomon Men’s Quest 4D 2 GTX Hiking Boots for a three day Appalachian backpacking trip. Carying 42lb of gear did not lead to any blisters, rashes or any other damage to my feet. The boots are very sturdy and provide a lot of support to the ankles by fixating around the shins. The sole of the boot is very sturdy, but does bend in every place needed. Walking over boulders, sharp rocks, roots and whatever you might encounter along the way is a breeze and is virtually unnoticeable.
    Overall I’m very satisfied with the purchase and can’t wait to use them on my next trip.

  • Walker John

    I ordered Vasque Men’s St. Elias Gore-Tex Backpacking Boots shortly before a climb of Kilimanjaro. The boots performed extremely well – the waterproofing worked through small streams, heavy rains and snow. I found them very comfortable and warm yet also well ventilated. I really appreciated the ease of putting them on in the “lobby” of my small tent where I had to stoop before exiting into the cold – the lacing system affords a pliant opening when loosened halfway. If I had to find something wrong, there were times when they seemed a bit stiff and heavy but that may be the price of solid materials and high functioning

  • Mark Foster

    I love the fact that these boots are waterproof! I had boots once that really let me down, my feet was soaked and my boots took some time to dry. Lesson learned: invest in sturdy boots that gives super support. After all, our feet are taking all the brunt and upholding our entire frame, isn’t it? By the way these boots have 2 years warranty – that says a lot about the manufacturers. Love these Salomon Men’s Quest hiking boots!

  • Mark Foster

    The leather material really do need some breaking in but I guess you know that by now. The material is excellent and lightweight. My friend uses this brand of backpacking boots and he’s very happy with it. It’s certainly resistant to water and even if it gets a little soiled, you can easily wipe it off and it’s done. Do you find the price affordable for you?

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