Outdoor gear is having a moment — take climber Alex Honnold’s rise to household recognition and Kanye West’s raiding of a secondhand gear store in Idaho as all the proof you need. It’s neither strange nor taboo to rock hiking shoes in Manhattan, and fashion brands are readily taking design cues from outfitters. Heck, GQ‘s 2019 sneaker of the year is a burly trail running shoe. The assimilation and appropriation are harmless fun and have brought along one notable development: running shoe companies are getting serious about making hiking boots.
It makes sense. Big companies like Nike and Adidas have the mountains of development dollars that come with the broad appeal of sneakers and soccer jerseys. They also have the space-age shoe tech that powers runners to world-record speeds; why wouldn’t they harness that for a little trail walking? Not every running brand is hip to the hiking game, but check out the best boots from the ones that are.
Adidas Terrex Free Hiker
Those familiar with Adidas’s Terrex line of hiking footwear know that the company isn’t messing around with boots. While that collection, which has long been lauded by even hardcore thru-hikers, has always stood somewhat apart, the Free Hiker takes many of its cues from the brand’s best-selling running shoes. A GP100 pick as one of the best outdoor products of 2019, the Free Hiker features a street-appropriate aesthetic, uses a knit upper and comes with cushy Boost foam in its sole.
Hoka One One Kaha
In the running world, there is perhaps no brand better known for maximalism than Hoka One One. A thick foam sole is a mainstay on most of its shoes, and the company carries that approach over to its collection of hiking boots too. The Kaha packs tons of cushioning, which helps protect your feet from rocks and roots. Hoka also gave the sole a slight rockered bottom — another common feature on its running shoes — that helps roll you from one step to the next.
It figures Altra would get into the hiking game given how trail runners have taken to its shoes over the years. The Tushar, the company’s “first true hiking boot,” incorporates the same features that helped the company amass a devout following. Accordingly, it boasts a wide, foot-shaped toe box and a zero-drop sole that places the heel and forefoot on the same level. The Tushar gets the addition of extra-grippy lugs and compatibility with gaiters.
On Running Cloudrock Waterproof
On has been around for a decade but has recently taken the running world by storm with its Swiss-engineered take on the sport. Its shoes are sleek, often with muted tones, but best characterized by the globular CloudTec nodes that make up their tread. CloudTec is present in the Cloudrock, with a tad more grip, which makes walking in Ons as pleasant as running in them.
Topo Athletic Trailventure
The Trailventure may not look like it strides far from Topo Athletic’s trail running footwear, and in a way, it doesn’t. It still aims to be light with a relatively low cuff, and while it does include a rock plate, the company kept things flexible by positioning under the heel where it’s needed most. The boot also includes a rubber toe cap, a Vibram outsole and drainage ports that kick water out as you move.
Under Armour Infil Hike Gore-Tex
The Infil Hike’s name bespeaks its combined sources of inspiration: combat and hiking boots. It’s a mash-up that’s far more Mad Max than anything you’d expect from the sports brand. It packs plenty of tech to support that foundation, too, including an abrasion-resistant upper, Vibram MegaGrip outsole and Gore-Tex waterproofing.
Nike ACG Air Terra Antarktik
ACG stands for All Conditions Gear, and that acronym should prime your understanding of Nike’s outdoor collection. The Antarktik might be the most technical piece of hiking footwear to come from the sub-brand, with a ripstop upper that’s lined with Gore-Tex and sealed by the combined work of a unique lacing system and Velcro cuff.
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