Top 10 Hiking Boots

From day hiking to backpacking, check out Campmor’s top ten hiking boots.

  1. TPS 535 by Asolo – The TPS 535 is offered in sizes for both women and men. It features full grain, smooth leather construction with an aggressive Vibram® outsole, thus providing solid traction. Though designed for backpacking, the 535 is not excessively stiff and breaks in nicely when worn on several day-hikes. Therefore, they will be ready to go for your next backpacking trip. Make sure to apply a waterproofing agent to the boots with a spray or applicator, since they have no Gore-Tex® waterproof liner.
    Asolo Hiking Boots – Men’s TPS 535
  2. Wilderness Original by Merrell – In a climate where practically every form of gear now designed, from backpacks to tents, from sleeping bags to boots, is ultra-light, the Wilderness is a blast from the past. A traditional backpacking boot with Norwegian welt stitching, it features full grain, smooth leather on the outside and leather lining on the inside. While heavy, the distinguishing trait is its ability to mold precisely to the shape of your foot. By doing so, believe it or not, over time you will feel like you are gliding along the trail. So, if heading to the Alps is in your future plans, the Merrell Wilderness is the perfect fit. Because the Wilderness does not have a waterproof Gore-Tex® liner, these boots will need to be treated periodically with a waterproofing product.
    Merrell Hiking Boots – Men’s Wilderness Original
  3. Sundowner by Vasque – No backpacking boot discussion would be complete without mentioning the all-time favorite by Vasque, the classic Sundowner. Long a staple of the Vasque boot line, the Sundowner was once the most popular footwear on the Appalachian Trail. All leather, with a Gore-Tex® waterproof lining, its dense midsole provides plenty of support. While shock absorption is minimal, hikers still rave how comfortable the Sundowner actually is. To accommodate most hikers’ feet, multiple widths, from medium to wide, are available.
    Vasque Hiking Boots - Women's Sundowner Classic
    Vasque Hiking Boots – Women’s Sundowner
  4. Clarion by Vasque – Like the Sundowner, the Clarion is also a staple of the Vasque line and is thankfully, one of those boots that simply won’t go away. It features a combination upper of nubuck leather with Cordura® nylon, thereby offering flexibility without compromising support. The Clarion can be easily categorized as a light backpacking boot, but does not require a lengthy break-in period. The  Gore-Tex® waterproof lining ensures reliable waterproofing, but it’s still a good idea to treat the surface materials of your boots, for waterproofing. It can run at least a half-size long, so choose your size wisely.
    Vasque Hiking Boots – Men’s Clarion
  5. The Renegade II Mid GTX – Not convinced about wearing heavy duty backpacking boots? Ok, if lightweight is what you’re after, then you must consider Lowa’s Renegade series. Lowa has proven that boots do not necessarily have to be stiff and unbendable in order to be supportive. Designed with a solid midsole that maximizes stability and torsional support, they also provide sufficient shock-absorption. The Renegade will feel great, right out of the box and is ideal for backpacking adventures or weekend jaunts.
    Lowa Renegade – Women’s Mid GTX Dayhiker
  6. The Vasque Breeze -The Breeze is a two-in-one boot of sorts, as it is probably the best example of a lightweight boot performing like a backpacking boot. The bottom half is structurally firm, with a rugged outsole, but the upper part is pliant enough, due to its lighter weight materials. It’s like getting the best of both worlds when it comes to hiking. They are offered in various widths and in a model with a Gore-Tex® waterproof insert.
    Vasque Hiking Boots – Women’s Breeze
  7. Moab Ventilator by Merrell – The Moab Ventilator by Merrell is the best place to start. It is offered in several versions, such as high and low tops, waterproof and non-waterproof. Like the Breeze, the Moab ventilates extremely well. Mesh panels throughout the shoe afford maximum breathability and yes, there’s plenty of cushion. Whether hiking, rock scrambling, or even for casual wear in the office, the Moab is perfect for all-around wear.
    Merrell Hiking Boots – Men’s Moab Ventilator
  8. Altitude IV for Men and Altitude Glide for Women by Hi-Tec – While leather boots may be perceived as too heavy and rugged, think again!  The Altitude is the right choice for those still looking for an old fashioned leather boot. Lightweight, with sufficient shock absorption and cushion-oh, how the feet love the sound of that-the Altitude just feels great. And, better yet, as is typical with most of Hi-Tec’s footwear, the price point is unmatched and can’t be beat.
    Hi Tec Hiking Boots – Men’s Altitude IV
    Hi Tec Hiking Boots – Women’s Glide
  9. Targhee by Keen – Want a sneaker-type shoe that performs like a hiking boot? Then the Keen Targhee is for you. Light, supple but yet stable, it is ideal for those seeking to spend the entire day hiking on a popular and challenging trail, i.e., the Devil’s Path in the Catskill Mountains. Keen’s proprietary outer sole offers reliable traction on both dry and slick terrain.
    Keen Hiking Boots – Men’s Targhee
  10. Flash III XCR by Garmont – Last but not least is the Garmont Flash III XCR. Unlike most boots in this category, the Flash features a denser midsole, which means more torsional support, but still has plenty of cushion and comfort. The XCR shell is more breathable than the traditional Gore-Tex®.  The Flash is also versatile as it will function perfectly for day or multi-day trips, or even walking and sightseeing around the city. For a comparable women’s model, consider Timberland’s White Ledge. While it has a softer midsole, the White Ledge can still take you in multiple directions with confidence.
    Garmont Hiking Boots – Men’s Flash III XCR

As with most consumer items, hiking boots need to be cared for and treated periodically to maintain the health of the leather and synthetic materials. Please view the link below for various care products:
Campmor footwear maintenance and accessory products

  • OriginalGabriel

    Seriously, the Ventilator?

    Sure, it’s great for ‘hikes” on flat, maintained trails (like those decomposed granite running trails around parks) but, any trail that’s not as flat as pavement will result in serious foot fatigue wearing them.

    • Tyemax2

      I agree….. They wear out quickly!

    • Neil Hawke IV

      I’ve brought two pairs of Moab Vents– one regular and one Gore-tex –on countless backpacking trips and many technical hikes around Michigan for years now, and they’re still doing fine. It’s always been a tossup between Moabs and my Vasque Mantras, but I really disagree with your assessment.

    • Arranman

      I disagree too. Comfortable shoe with adequate shock absorption on rocky trails on the AT where I’ve used them.

    • Japan Joe

      I agree with origionalgaabriel. Try putting 5 days worth of geer/food etc on your back and start the expidition with a treck with a day of golf ball and bigger size gravel…. can you say PAIN! With that said, however, the vast majority of mid/light weight boots don’t have a sufficient shank to protect your feet.

    • entergynso

      10 months in Afghanistan as a Sniper… up and down every freakin’ scree layered mountain you can dream of; all while carrying over 100 lbs of gear spread out over my kit (and I’m 220lbs without the gear). They held up great, and my feet never suffered… of course the hundreds of miles of road marching we did in training may have played a big part in that. The guys that wore Asolos, Keens, and Vasque boots wore theirs out in as little as 4 operations, and no more than 10. Another good boot to consider is the Salewa Hike Trainer… MARSOC is currently using them downrange and they are holding up really well.

  • judithcoe

    More mens boots then womens. I would like to hear comments fr those who have worn them.

  • Mike

    A single section hike on the Appalachian Trail in PA ate my brand new pair of Vasque Clarion II’s. Campmor was good about it and credited me toward an upgrade to the Lowa Renagade. IMHO, this is a MUCH better boot. Quite a bit more expansive, but they required very little break in, and the gusseted tongue was a great fit for my high instep. They’ve held up very, very well – even on a repeat of that section hike in Rocksylvania!

  • Ohio outdoors man

    Asolo Boots are the best have Had 2 pair looking for my 3rd break-in is fast. I have had the gore-tex and non gore-tex no complaints from either one.

  • Layne

    Wore my TPS 535 by Asolo every day for three years. Hiking, office, yard work virtually the only shoes I wore. After three years one of the soles started to separate. I contacted Asolo about possible repair, never dreamed they would replace them with a brand new pair at no charge. Great boots, great company

  • Gypsy97

    I’m still using my old Vasque Sundowners that I wore on the A.T. in 1997. They were made in Italy, but have since switched to mfr in China. I’ll never buy a pair of Chinese boots, so I take good care of my old Sundowners.

  • Tlizer16

    I have been using my trustee Targhees for quite a long time and I can honestly say that they have never disappointed me. Perfect arch support, ankle support, and lightweight enough to do anything you want. They’re probably my favorite piece of outdoor equipment I own.

  • Patrick

    I love them all! I don’t know which one to pick. :( Where do I buy these? I am practically drooling at the beauty of these beasts. So perfect!

  • dave

    sundowners are made in china now? just to save a few % on labor cost well how about 0% that’s what Vasque is getting from me.

  • Tom

    Re Asolo: Great fit and footbed design so a comfortable boot for the beginning.

    Quality of leather B to B-. Quality of the hardware for laces C -. Upper lace hooks are plastic and mine tend to break which almost ruins a good pair of boots. Why not use good quality brass for all lace hooks like my Limmer boots that are much older and look newer than the Asolo.

  • Shadrach77

    I’ve owned the Vasque Clarions, the Vasque Sundowners and the Asolo 535’s. The Asolo’s were the superior boot in comfort and durability. Vasque’s were too wide in the heel for a narrow-heeled person.

  • arm285

    The Merrell Moab is of poor quality. I purchased a pair of the Moab Gore-Tex boots and shortly thereafter the upper came detached. Merrell, thankfully, replaced them with the same boot. I have had the new boots for about 8 months and the same problem has happened. The sole is in good shape but the boots are unwearable and no longer waterproof. I was offered a 20% off coupon on my next purchase of Merrells, but refused it as I will no longer purchase any other Merrell products.

  • Summitseeker

    I used to be a HUGE fan of Merrels but after a nearly 20 mile Zealand-Bonds traverse in the White Mountains I realized that my boots were not providing the stability, torsion control, or breathability found in other boots.

    The Moabs, Ventillators, and previously available Outland Mids have very weak soles.

    My current #1 choice for my tricky shaped feet is either the Salomon Comet 3D Gtx or the Quest 4D Gtx. The are great for those who need a wide toe box but are cursed with more narrow heels. Special Operators have used the Quest 4Ds in afghanistan and most notable on a “certain compound raid” in Pakistan.

    Both these boots are light with strong soles, great torsion stability, grippy treads, and very secure lacing systems.

    These boots should definitely be on the top 10 list.

    • entergynso

      lol… No Easy Day was a good book, huh? Did you highlight the gear he said he carried and then go out and buy it all? I doubt you’re alone :)

      MARSOC is currently using the Salewa Hike Trainer GTX and they seem to be lasting better than the Asolo and Salomon boots they used to wear. The only other boot they actually use is actually the Moab Ventilator. People say bad stuff about them, but they served me excellently in Afghanistan.

  • Blue

    A sturdy hiking boot is essential for any day hiker or camper.
    Get a good fit and a cushioned hiking sock and you will be hooked!
    You’ll be able to walk all day! My current favorite is the merrell chameleon. It’s a mid-weight leather boot. Versatile and good for scrambling rocks or climbing.
    For mud and rocks I like Danners, the logger’s boot.
    Chacos are great for summer, and now have a hiking sole available for custom orders!

  • joel

    One name only…Danners

  • Noel

    The Vasque Sundowners are junk now. The first two pair I bought were great, lasting me over ten years each pair. But now they have shifted their manufacturing facilities and the last pair I bought have fallen apart in about 1.5 years. Read reviews online and you will find this same complaint from almost everyone. I am astonished at how bad these boots are now. Red Wing bought Vasque and it’s almost as if they want to have a reason to discontinue the boot. Do not buy these boots!

    • outfitter

      RE Noel: I’m astonished that anyone with even a little knowledge of modern hiking footwear would waste $200 on rectangular leather boxes for their feet, which is all a Sundowner is. Anatomically based boot design made such boots obsolete for serious trail use long ago. In fact, Sundowners have been little more than college fratwear or kicks for the wannalooklikeahiker crowd for about 15 years now.

  • Ric Shaffer

    I will happily stick with my Scarpa Kailash. They aren’t on this list but have been the best hiking boots I have owned. Compared to Merrell< Keen and Vasque they stand way out front. I have yet to own a pair of Asolo so I can't compare.

  • Peter

    Oh puhleeeeeaase, a very commercial top 10. Where are the Meindl, Hanwag, Limmer and John Calden boots. Sure they’re expensive, but the title says top ten, not ten most available.

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  • jrd417`

    I’m looking for a quality hiking boot in a narrow width. I would prefer to have one with a replaceable sole not one of the glued on type that are so common. Anyone have any ideas?

    • entergynso

      As far as the width requirement, the Salewa Hike Trainer GTX is an excellent boot, but it is impossible for us wide-footed freaks to wear comfortably. I can’t speak to you other requirement, but give the Salewa a try.

  • Matt

    I have a pair of Moab Ventilator they are very comfortable, but they are suppose to provide good ventilation but my feet bake in this boot. I wear them as casual wear in the office and I cannot hardly stand to wear them all day because of how hot my feet get. For everyone talking about actually using this boot for hiking I think you are missing the point when it comes to this boot, it is designed as a light weight hiker. Merrell designs a boot specifically made for heavy extended day hiking trips.

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  • Road_Rage

    I have seen several hikers that I would love to purchase, BUT… I am a bigger guy… 6’4″… size 15… I cant find salomon, asolo, danner… in my size… seems like merrell or keen are my selection and they don’t hold up…

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  • Backpacker

    You left out the LLBean Cresta Hikers. The best replacement for Vasque Super Hikers that are no longer in their line. I walked through 2 pair of them, 700+ miles each and now have ~500+ on the LLBeans and will replace with another pair. They are sturdy, provide excellent support and easy break in. Great for rough terrain day hikes and/or multi day (4+) with complete 3/4 season gear and food in pack.

  • Chase___

    Hey. What about Limmers?

  • Timothy Elsewon Johnson

    I’ve had multiple pairs of Vasque, Dolomite, Merrell, A Solo, etc hiking boots, IMO, A Solo makes the sturdiest boots. I had a pair of A Solo GPV’s I bought in the mid 90’s that, once they were scuffed beyond belief, became my work boots, yard boots and hiking boots, and they lasted a decade before I donated them to a free charity store, where I’m sure the next guy got plenty of use. I’ve never seen a boot hold up THAT long without major creases, stitched becoming unraveled, the leather deterioration, etc. The only boot I liked more was the Timberland World Hikers, however as far as durability, they weren’t close.

  • Jock

    What do you do when you wear your shoes out.??? Wear them back home. He he he. Garmont say no more.

  • GhengisFong

    So, What I NEED to know, is if Asolo makes a heavy boot with traditional vibram soles? They say vibram, but I want a boot that can be re-soled in any little town that I may find myself. I can’t seem to find a traditional backpacking boot made by Asolo…

    • Redd

      GhengisFong
      Cant speak about Asolo but I recently purchase a pair of Alico Summits that are as you describe-traditional heavy leather with vibram sole and can be re-soled.

      • GhengisFong

        Do you like them. What was the price range. I always loved Asolo, but that was 15 years ago…

        • Redd

          I like them a lot. Can be had for about $200- less if you shop I think they are a great value. I’d just do a quick web search and they’ll pop up. The only concern would be if you have narrow feet. I am typically and 11D and the 11 mediums are plenty wide.

          • GhengisFong

            No, I have pretty normal feet. I was planning on doing a big, long hike years ago, and my outdoor guru buddy suggested that I save up and buy the best boot, do to the nature of our planned hike. I got the Asolo Norwegian style boot, and I loved it. I have been out of the loop for about 15 years now, but I am getting back in shape, and I started looking for some good boots for a long hike next spring. To my disappointment, I could not find a traditional Norwegian style boot made by Asolo. Everything they make is new now. I need a boot that can be resoled anywhere along the way, so I guess that I am going to have to go with another company. I will look into the Alico. I am prepared to spend up to $400. I consider the boots the most important purchase. I am no outdoor guru myself, but I am prone to feet issues already, so no cost is too high to insure comfort, and to avoid being stranded for a week allowing my feet to heal! Thanks for the info, any other would be appreciated.

          • Redd

            I’m a fan of old school boots, which are getting harder to find it seems. Alico makes old school boots in addition to the Summit you might look at their Guide boot it’s extremely heavy duty. Another brand to look at is Limmer either their Standard or Light Weight (which aren’t relative to modern boots). And for real sticker shock Viberg Model 66, Happy shopping.

          • GhengisFong

            $700 for the Vibergs??? Crazy, I don’t know if I would ever be comfortable wearing them! They LOOK perfect, though. Thanks.

  • Sarah Adirondack

    The Keen Bryce Mid is where it’s at. I also did a 20 mile hike in Keen Marshall WP’s (womens) and those are very comfortable.

  • michael

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