While it’s common to see travelers wearing sneakers to the airport and around town, if you’re planning on hiking a peak or exploring the backroads, sneakers just won’t hold up.
Hiking boots boots are much better for those quests, yet they tend to be bulky (thanks to proper ankle support) and take up a lot of space in your suitcase.
Thankfully, a wave of newer hiking boots are suited to exploring but won’t make you look lost when you sit down at the bar. These 10 trail-ready alternatives to standard sneakers will keep your style fresh and your feet comfortable throughout all of your adventures.
When Danner released the Trail 2650, it was the brand's lightest hiker yet. That may not be saying much given the brand's reputation for burly, life-lasting trail footwear, but wearing the shoe proves the claim. It fits like a trail running shoe — Danner based it on them — and maintains enough support for rough surfaces without becoming overkill. That makes it an ideal choice for, well, anywhere.
On's recent prowess in the running sphere clearly influenced the design of its hiking boot, the Cloudrock. Built for speed hiking, the boot is lightweight and plenty flexible despite its ankle support. The CloudTec nodes that make up the grip of its running shoes are present here too, this time with a bit of extra grip.
Best Budget Hiker
Teva is better known for its sandals than close-toed footwear, but the two share a propensity for versatility. The company built the Gateway Low with short hikes in mind, the kind that might start at a cul de sac or local park. Its water-resistant, breathable, antimicrobial for fighting stink and looks good enough to wear to the bar.
While on the pricier end of this list, the Adidas Outdoor Terrex Free Hiking boots were among the most hyped hiking shoes upon release. Adidas prides itself on creating high-performance hiking boots, shoes and trail runners that are lightweight yet dependable, and these are no different. The Free Hiker borrows Ultraboost foam as well as a Primeknit upper from Adidas’s beloved running shoes making these hiking boots bouncy and breathable.
The continued embrace of outdoorsy styles in venues far from wilderness has been a boon to Merrell, which might be as well recognized for its uniquely crunchy looks as it is for comfort. The Chameleon, a popular model in its lineup, hits both notes. It uses a speed-lacing system and a tongueless design for quick on and off. That won't be much of a concern, though, because this particular hiking shoe is so comfy you'll rarely want to remove it.
Black Diamond's first line of trail footwear includes the Session, a crossover shoe that's as meant for town as it is for trails. "You'll be hard-pressed to find a more comfortable dual-duty technical climber and street shoe," said our reviewer, citing a stretchy cuff with a collapsible heel. Despite that, the Session is sturdy enough for more accessible trails, so consider this a solid choice for travel that might include a spur of the moment hike.
Among Arc'teryx's line of technical approach footwear, the Konseal LT is the lightest. It weighs in at just 9.5 ounces but maintains the support and grip that devotees of the climbing-focused brand might expect. Its upper is reinforced mesh, and its outsole is Vibram Megagrip rubber. The shoe also includes a collapsible heel, and Arc'teryx built it to be comfy enough to wear without socks.
Vasque dug into its archive to find a hiking boot that meets today's appetite for retro outdoor styles and unearthed the Clarion. The boot debuted first in 1988 and was the peak of trail performance at the time. Updates to the new version, including Gore-Tex, bring the boot up to standard but preserve a style that's now everyday-appropriate.
Oboz hiking boots have long been a favorite among hardcore trail users, but the Bozeman-based company is making a new play for the feet of those who spend more of their time below treeline. The Bozeman collection blends the support and comfort the brand's footwear is known for with a more modern, almost skate shoe-reminiscent aesthetic.
In founding Fronteer, Jon Tang sought to create a line of outdoor-inspired shoes that aren't merely suitable for city life; they're made for it. The Geotrekker is a prime example — its zigzag stitching, rubber toe cap and heavy-lugged outsole are hallmarks of approach shoes, but this particular model is optimized (and styled) for urban use.