best hiking shoes, backpacking shoes 2021

Best Hiking Shoes for 2022

After thousands of miles of pounding dirt in all sorts of hiking shoes and in all types of terrain, plus and in-depth data analysis we have selected the best hiking shoes of 2022 (and we have two exciting new shoes for 2022). Since each hiker is different, these shoes fall into a few different categories. Some have  zero drop, and “natural foot shape” that some hikers like for their encouragement of the natural human stride. We also have some beefier options for durability and longevity. Some of these shoes are more for graded trails like the Pacific Crest Trail, and some are built for off-trail miles like peak bagging or the Sierra High Route. Some shoes do great both on-trail & off-trail — and a number of these are our tip picks!

Staff Picks

Why Are Our Top Picks “Trail Running Shoes?”

Yes, “trail-runners” are your very best option for hiking and backpacking! Over the past years, we’ve seen a massive shift in footwear on the trail, with hikers and backpackers choosing lighter, more capable shoes. Though a “trail-runner,” like our Top Pick Hoka Challenger ATR 6, may not feel as stable at first, in reality they give your feet and ankles more control vs. a heavy shoe or boot, making it easier to navigate tricky terrain, and giving you more comfort on the trail.

No Boots?!

Yup, no boots. The “true hiking shoes” in our guide like our Top Pick Merrell Moab 2 Ventilator provide most of the expected benefits of a hiking boot without the downside of additional weight and a restrictive ankle. As such, we do not recommend hiking boots for most people during a three-season excursion — they are too stiff and heavy to be efficient on the trail, they do not have nearly as much traction as our best trail running shoes, and finally their supposed ankle support is fictional with some experts suggesting that you are less likely to sprain your ankle in a shoe than a boot.

Full Video | Hiking Shoes & Walking Shoes Guide

If a picture is worth a 1,000 words what is a comprehensive video on our hiking shoe picks worth? There’s stuff in here that we can’t begin to cover in words.

On-Trail Hiking Shoes

These hiking shoes are designed to crush miles with efficiency and comfort. For trips on predictable terrain where high mileage is the goal, these shoes all perform extremely well. That’s not to say that you can’t scramble through a boulder field or get through a muddy, technical section in any of these models; but they are best suited for gentler terrain. These shoes all remain comfortable all day, no matter how many hours you’re hiking.

On-Trail vs Technical Off-Trail?

On-Trail is relatively easy footing, for instance the Pacific Crest Trail or most signed trails in your local parks. With secure footing not much at risk the goal is for the shoe to be comfortable after a very long day. Technical Off-Trail like the Sierra High Route (vs. the PCT) is more challenging — you are going over talus, scree, wet and muddy rock, and steep terrain, mabe a bit of now and ice or class 3 or 4 scrambling. In this case, sure footing (grippy sole, and snugger fit) is paramount and comfort is secondary. That being said, a number of Technical Off-Trail shoes are also well suited to long trail days.

Generally an on-trail shoe will be wider and often more comfortable over long distances, and off-trail shoes for technical terrain will have a narrower fit for better stability on uneven terrain, and have a more aggressive outsole with a focus on grip for wet and slippery conditions.

Read Review of HOKA Challenger ATR 6

HOKA Challenger ATR 6 Review | Great All-Purpose Trail Shoe

Our pick for the best all-around/on-trail hiking shoe, and it does well off trail too!

Weight: 9.6 ounces (Men’s 9) | 8.8 ounces (Women’s 8)
Stack Height Heel/Toe: 30mm / 25mm (Men’s)
Heel-to-Toe Drop: 5mm
MSRP: $140

What We Like: Comfortable, versatile shoe with extreme durability
The Hoka One One Challengers are our picks for top hiking and backpacking shoes. The Challengers are a lightweight, versatile shoe that gives the wearer an incredible amount of stability and out of the box comfort. Their 5 mm drop is a happy medium, which suits both hikers used to zero or high drop shoes. Though they don’t feature the same wide toe box as the Altra Lone Peaks, the slightly snugger fit provides more stability and confidence in foot placement. Furthermore, this model comes in wide, if you truly need extra room.

Read more…

PROS Wider fit and less aggressive outsole is more comfortable for longer periods of time, and will likely be more than enough for the most commonly encountered terrain. These shoes dry fast, and the rubber grip on the forefoot and under the heel provides good traction on most terrain. These shoes are lighter weight than others with comparable cushion, and are incredibly breathable.

CONS The lack of rubber under the middle of the foot can be a detractor when the trail gets steep or slick, and the more moderate outsole wears out more quickly than other, more aggressive trail shoes.

BEST FOR: Athletes who don’t fit into extremely narrow shoes, but want a more snug fit. Hiking, backpacking, and trail running on a variety of trails, with big miles as the objective. Ultralight backpacking

Read our Full Review of the HOKA Challenger ATR 6

Read our Review of Altra Lone Peak 6

Altra Lone Peak 6 Review | Best All-Purpose Trail Shoe

Our pick for the best zero-drop, wide toe-box shoe. Excellent choice for long days on the trail.

Weight: 10.5 ounces (Men’s 9)
Stack Height Heel/Toe: 25mm/25mm
Heel-to-Toe Drop: 0mm
MSRP: $140

What We Like: Extremely comfortable, versatile, and durable shoe for any user

The Altra Lone Peak 6 is Altra’s newest iteration of their most classic and popular trail runners. Altra is praised by runners and hikers alike for their wide toe box and zero drop shoes. There isn’t much difference between this and the LP 5s, besides a few more lacing options. Meanwhile, the zero drop allows the wearer to navigate this terrain with ease, and not feeling “tippy.” The wide toe box gives your feet more room to spread out, and is excellent for people who have experienced swollen feet.

The cushion is soft enough for pounding on roads, yet responsive enough for scrambling or boulder hopping. The shoes are comfortable out of the box, with enough support to be ready for long days immediately. Though they aren’t the lightest shoes on the market, they are still light enough for most trail running purposes.

Altra is extremely popular amongst thru-hikers and ultralight backpackers because of their durability. Though some users have reported early signs of wear and tear, our staff finds that with a moderate to light pack weight, these last for 500+ miles. The traction holds up for hundreds of miles, and the comfort does not yield. However, for hikers and runners with more narrow feet, the wide width and loose fit in the forefoot of these shoes can create an unpleasant off-balance feeling in tricky terrain. This is why we still choose the Hoka Challenger ATR 6s as our all-around pick. While we love Altra shoes, we understand that they do not work for every foot and find that the Hokas are extremely versatile and comfortable for nearly any wearer. We recommend the Lone Peaks for athletes who want plenty of room for their feet to move, and like shoes that work in a variety of conditions.

Read more…

PROS:Extremely comfortable for long days on the trail, Last as long as any shoe on the market, Excellent traction that does not wear out quickly, Wide toe box is good for stability and swollen feet, Gaiter trap to easily connect trail gaiters for rock and dirt protection, Comes in a variety of different styles for different weather and those who prefer a mid-rise shoe

CONS: Does not work well for narrow feet, can create an off-balance feeling, Zero drop may create an uncomfortable transition period for some, Not great for side-hilling or extremely difficult terrain

BEST FOR:  High mileage backpacking trips. The all-day comfort of the Lone Peaks makes them perfect for backpacking trips where you’re crushing miles day after day. Also, the high energy return foam midsole could save you precious time. Also for athletes with varied interests who want a shoe that can “do it all,” Wider feet that are prone to swelling or blisters. Hikers and trail runners who are used to a low or zero-drop shoe

Brooks Cascadia 16 Trail-Running Shoes

Weight: 9.6 ounces (Men’s 9)
Stack Height Heel/Toe: 26mm / 18mm (Men’s)
Heel-to-Toe Drop: 8mm
MSRP: $130

What We Like: A popular classic that stays comfortable over extremely long distances
The Brooks Cascadia continues to improve on its last iteration. This latest model has improved durability and stability features, which makes it an even stronger pick as a versatile shoe for hiking, backpacking, or trail running. However, these upgrades add a bit of extra weight onto these shoes. The Cascadias are known for their extreme comfort over long distances, so if you have big days planned this year, these might be your pick.

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PROS: Extremely comfortable for long days on the trail, or long multi-day backpacking trips. Brooks shoes have a reliable and durable reputation. Medium width and cushion are well-suited to fit a variety of feet. Versatile shoe that will get the job done.

CONS: Upper shoe does not last as long as others on the market. Narrow fit in the forefront may be uncomfortable for wide feet, make sure to order the wider model (2E)

BEST FOR: Athletes who prefer a mid to high-drop shoe. A versatile pick that is light enough for a quick trail run, and durable enough for off-trail backpacking. A shoe with comfort as a priority. A classic pick that does it all, without specialized features like zero drop or extreme traction.

staff picks for best hiking shoes and walking shoes

Off-Trail Hiking Shoes

Not all miles are created equally. One mile of gently graded and dirt trail will feel wildly different than a mile of scrambling down slippery rocks. For those who prefer the latter, these shoes are built with extreme terrain encounters in mind. For an off-trail shoe, the most important factors are excellent grip and agility. You want a shoe that’s light enough to move quickly and securely through tricky terrain, while still gripping to mud, scree, wet rocks, or ice. These shoes all have unparalleled traction, and feature a variety of weights and sizing options.

Some Hiking Shoes Excel Both On-trail and Off-trail

Some of these shoes, like the Hoka SpeedGoats do well Both On-trail and Off-trail. That is they have a precise enough fit for off-trail while not being so constraining to be uncomfortable on long milage on-trail days.

Read Review of HOKA Speedgoat 5

HOKA Speedgoat 5 Review | Great Technical Trail Shoe

Our pick for the best technical/off-trail hiking shoe, and a darn good trail shoe too.

Weight: 10.3 ounces (Men’s 9)
Stack Height Heel/Toe: 33mm / 29mm (Men’s)
Heel-to-Toe Drop: 4mm
MSRP: $155

What We Like: Excellent traction and comfort.
HIGHLIGHT: Jeff Garmire chose the Speedgoats for his record on the Colorado Trail. He set the FKT (Fastest Known Time) in just 9 days and 8 hours. We predict the Speedgoats guiding more backpackers and runners to records. Furthermore, their benefits extend to any wearer, not just the elite.

Read more…

PROS: Technical fit is secure on steep, challenging trails, and the outsole and deep lugs provide even more security. The ultra-cushioned midsole helps prevent bruising and pain after long stretches of rocky trail, and the foam was updated this year to be more responsive, which means more efficiency with each foot strike.

CONS: This is a shoe for more aggressive hiking and trail running, and people looking for a more moderate shoe might find the outsole and taller stack to be overkill on moderate trails. The tighter fit can add up after a full day of wear, and some might find it constricting, especially compared to wider models.

BEST FOR: Trail running and hiking on any trail. Ultralight backpacking and putting up big miles

Read Review of Altra Mont Blanc

Altra Mont Blanc Trail-Running Shoe Review

NEW for 2022  Runner up off-trail shoe. Best for lovers of zero drop and a wide forefoot

Weight: 9.9 ounces (Men’s 9)
Stack Height Heel/Toe: 25mm/25mm
Heel-to-Toe Drop: 0mm
MSRP: $180

What We Like: These shoes are a true performance shoe, with the familiar Altra features that we’ve grown to love. The traction is excellent from slippery rocks to icy trails, and the extra cushion is extremely helpful when traveling in rocky terrain. These shoes are built for going fast and racing in unpredictable terrain. Do be aware that they require a bit of a break-in period; the fit gets better over the first 20 or so miles.

PROS: Top notch traction for any trail. Precise, snugger fit is better for technical trails. More cushion than other Altra models, comfort over long distances. Lighter than even the Hoka Speedgoats

CONS: High price tag. Heel cup is a bit sloppy

BEST FOR: Athletes who are concerned with speed and stability on a variety of different terrain types, while still keeping weight low. Trail runners or thru-hikers who are going after the FKT, or trying to beat their own personal records. Runners and backpackers who don’t want to sacrifice cushion for speed.

Topo Athletic MTN Racer 2 Trail-Running Shoes

NEW 2022 A medium drop, wide forefoot technical shoe that competes with the Altra Mont Blanc and Hoka SpeedGoat.

Weight: 10.0 ounces (Men’s 9)
Stack Height Heel/Toe: 30mm / 25mm
Heel-to-Toe Drop: 5mm
MSRP: $130

What We Like: Lightweight shoe with a decent amount of cushioning for all kinds of adventures

Not sure if you like Hoka or Altra better? This shoe combines popular features of both brands as an excellent third option for lightweight yet aggressive trail shoes. They have a similar fit to Altra shoes with the wider toe box, but with a small 5 mm heel-to-toe drop. For runners or hikers with any foot or Achilles issues, this extra support is a better option than Altra’s zero drop models. On the other hand, for those who are intrigued by Hoka’s excellent traction and comfort but don’t like the more narrow fit, these are an excellent option. The Vibram outsole has extremely aggressive lugs and can be used for nearly any type of terrain.

Read more…

PROS: Good Price for a technical shoe, Excellent traction, Vibram MegaGrip outsole. Midsole is a high-energy return model, designed for speed. Wider toe box gives more room for feet to splay and is less likely to cause blisters. Lightweight and breathable.

CONS: Wide fit may cause some sloppiness on extremely technical trails. Complaints of durability issues on the mesh uppers.

BEST FOR: Racing or moving as fast as possible on non to semi-technical trails. Long days on feet. Those who want a wider fitting shoe with still excellent traction in a lighter package.

Salomon SpeedCross 5

Weight: 11.2 ounces (Men’s 9)
Stack Height Heel/Toe: 30mm / 20mm (Men’s)
Heel-to-Toe Drop: 10mm
MSRP: $130

What We Like: Excellent shoe for athletes looking for a higher drop with plenty of traction
The Salomon SpeedCross 5 trail shoes are designed with excellent traction and stability in mind. Their 10 mm drop is well-suited for hikers and runners that are used to a traditional, higher drop shoe. This is one of the more minimal shoes in the Salomon lineup, so it is excellent for those who are looking to shave a few ounces or transition into lighter trail runners. Despite this, the shoe still features all the durability and traction that Salomon is known for.

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PROS: Excellent traction and durability for a variety of trails. Wider fit works with a variety of feet. A good shoe for transitioning between heavier hiking shoes into lighter trail runners. More cushion than many lighter shoes. The traction is sufficient for off-trail travel

CONS: Heavier than many similar shoes. High drop is less versatile

BEST FOR: Athletes who are looking to “tear up” the terrain; the high lugs provide lots of traction. Transitioning from true hiking shoes to a lighter shoe. Backpacking trips with off-trail travel or rock scrambling

La Sportiva Bushido II

Weight: 10.5 ounces (Men’s 9)
Stack Height Heel/Toe: 28mm / 22mm (Men’s)
Heel-to-Toe Drop: 6mm
MSRP: $130

What We Like: Great shoe for moving through tricky terrain with extra stability and comfort
La Sportiva is known for its unbeatable traction. The Bushido IIs are excellent shoes for mountain runners or hikers who travel through steep, off-trail terrain, and wet/slippery ground. The higher stack height provides extra cushion and support for traveling through uncharted territory. For runners and hikers with narrow feet, these are perfect. The moderate drop accommodates a variety of preferences.

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PROS: More stability and built-in comfort than the Norvan SLs. La Sportiva is known for its unrivaled traction. Off trail travel made easy and more stable. Moderate drop will comfortably fit those who prefer either a high or low drop.

CONS: Heavier than the Norvan SLs. Narrow fit only works with certain feet, recommended to try them on before buying. Not suited for long (20-30 mile) days on trail, comfort wanes over a long day.

BEST FOR: Navigating technically challenging terrain with extra stability. Mountain running or hikes with steep grades. Athletes with narrow feet who prefer the feeling of extra stability over an ultralight shoe.

La Sportiva Ultra Raptor II

Weight: 13 ounces (Men’s 9)
Stack Height Heel/Toe: 29mm / 22mm
Heel-to-Toe Drop: 7mm
MSRP: $140

What We Like: A precise, technical shoe that will last for off-trail travel. The La Sportiva Ultra Raptors are a great pick for off-trail shoes. The deeply lugged outsole and reinforced upper shoe create an extremely stable feeling while navigating in technical terrain. And again, La Sportiva’s traction is unrivaled. Hiking or backpacking through large boulder fields or scree slopes can decimate the feet, and these shoes are designed specifically

Read more…

PROS: Construction of shoe hugs the feet to give ultimate stability and protection. Excellent traction for confidence off-trail. Versatile drop that will suit many different feet.

CONS: Narrow fit will not work for everyone. Heavier than other similar models.

BEST FOR: Hikers, backpackers, and trail runners who move through varied terrain and want to feel supremely stable. Athletes who prefer stability over an ultralight shoe.

High Energy Return Hiking Shoes

They Could Save 1-2 Weeks on an Appalachian Trail Thru Hike

With new and improved shoe technology, energy return is now a key factor in selecting the best shoe. Yes, shoe weight, grip, fit, and width, etc. all matter in a hiking shoe, but energy return will be the biggest factor in how quickly and efficiently you will be able to move throughout your trip and should be a serious consideration when selecting a hiking shoe.

Related Content: See our New Hi-Tech Hiking Shoes Could Make You a Lot Faster. Could new running shoe tech Reduce an Appalachian Trail Thru hike by 1-2 weeks?

On CloudUltra

A true high-energy return hiking shoe, it has both a energy return plate, and high energy return foam.

Weight: 10.4 ounces (Men’s 9)
Stack Height Heel/Toe: unavailable
Heel-to-Toe Drop: 8mm
MSRP: $180

What We Like: On’s proprietary energy return tech — CloudTec outsole plate (Speedboard) returns energy like a springboard + Hellion Superfoam midsoles — make for very efficient trail shoe. But without sacrificing, trail feel, traction and comfort. New quick-release lace loosener for forefoot comfort at the end of a long day.

Read more…

PROS: All-day comfort no matter which terrain you take these shoes on. Proprietary technology combines speed and comfort, putting your feet on a “springboard.” Extremely versatile, can be used for long hikes/backpacking trips, or running quickly on tricky trail. Very lightweight for the amount of support in the shoe. “Just right fit,” not too narrow or wide, comfortable out of the box. Fully gusseted tongue stays in place and stops debris from entering the shoe. Shoe laces can be released / loosened without fully taking the shoes off to relieve swollen feet at the end of a day

CONS: More expensive than standard (non-energy return) shoes. Firm Helion Superfoam may feel too stiff for some

BEST FOR: Users who are looking for all-day comfort without sacrificing weight. Traveling on and off trail, these shoes will perform on a variety of surfaces. Moving quickly and confidently on a variety of surfaces

The North Face Flight Vectiv

Sadly, while this is the most sophisticated and efficient shoe in the guide, The North Face Flight Vectiv Shoes are high enough in price and so limited in distribution (pretty much from The North Face Only for all sizes) that we can only give it the most modest of nods.  That being said, the tech is legit and this is a fast, light, highly energy efficient and capable shoe. It’s the only shoe in this guide to have a carbon energy return plate like  Nike’s Air Zoom Alphafly Next% running shoes that Eliud Kipchoge wore to break the sub-2 marathon in Vienna in 2019.

Transition Shoes

We determined 12 oz to be the cutoff between a lightweight and true hiking shoe. The Salomon XA Pro is right on the cusp, so we established a separate category just for this model. This is an excellent pick for hikers and backpackers who are considering the benefits of switching to a lighter shoe, but are not quite sold yet.

Salomon XA Pro 3D V8

Weight: 12.8 ounces (Men’s 9)
Stack Height Heel/Toe: 28mm / 17mm (Men’s)
Heel-to-Toe Drop: 1mm
MSRP: $130

What We Like: Stable, comfortable shoes to transition from heavier to lighter footwear. Not quite ready to swap your traditional hiking shoes for their lighter counterparts? The Salomon XA Pro shoes have undergone many different models, and this iteration is designed for stability and all-day comfort. The rubber soles are excellent for off-trail and tricky terrain, while the design of the midsole provides extra stability. This makes the shoe feel stiffer than many similar shoes, but it is to keep your feet securely in place during long days on trail.

Read more…

PROS: Stability rivals any other traditional hiking shoe. Excellent traction, versatile shoe that can be taken on a variety of terrain. Extremely comfortable for long days on trail. All Salomon shoes come with a two-year warranty in case of unusual wear and tear.

CONS: Heavier than competitive shoes, cannot be used as a trail runner. High drop (11mm) will feel uncomfortable to athletes used to a low drop shoe. Stiff design may feel restrictive to some.

BEST FOR: Long days on trail, provide comfort for long hikes such as Mt. Whitney or Rim to Rim. Hikers and backpackers with wider feet. Hikers and backpackers moving through a variety of terrain and prioritize stability and security.

“True” Hiking Shoes

Many backpackers and day-hikers prioritize stability and security overweight. If you don’t mind carrying a few extra ounces on your feet in return for durability and stability, one of these shoes may suit you best. Furthermore, these models are all well suited to carry heavier loads on your back. Though the break-in period may require some extra patience, true hiking shoes are known to be comfortable and durable for well over 500 miles.

Merrell Moab 2 Ventilator

Best Budget Shoe and Best True Hiking Shoe | a sturdy and durable shoe that does a lot

Weight: 15.7 ounces (Men’s 9) |
Stack Height Heel/Toe: Unavailable
Heel-to-Toe Drop: 11mm
MSRP: $100

What We Like: A comfortable classic that provides stability and traction. The Merrell Moab is a timeless go-to true hiking shoe. Because of its out of the box comfort and high durability, it’s our #1 pick for this category. This shoe strikes a balance between featuring stiff support and durability, as true hiking shoes do, while still having a slimmer fit and less obtrusive feeling than many shoes in this category. The Vibram outsole provides excellent traction, and these shoes can comfortably be taken off trail.

Read more…

PROS: Vibram outsoles provide excellent traction. Unrivaled out of the box comfort, no break-in period required. Extremely reasonable price tag when comparing to other models. Ventilation upgrade from the original Moabs makes them more breathable. Can be taken on or off trail.

CONS: Shoe lacks stability in the heel area. The suede and leather materials on the upper outsole do not dry quickly. High drop (11mm) will not feel comfortable for users used to a low drop shoe. And of course, it’s heavier than a 10 to 11 ounce trail running shoe.

BEST FOR: Long days on the trail where comfort and stability are top priorities. An introductory shoe; these are a tried and true classic. A shoe that will last whether taken on or off trail.

Salomon X Ultra 3 Low Aero

Weight: 12.9 ounces (Men’s 9)
Stack Height Heel/Toe: Unavailable
Heel-to-Toe Drop: 11mm
MSRP: $120

What We Like: A lighter true hiking shoe that provides excellent traction and plenty of support. The Salomon X Ultra 3 Low Aero hiking shoes are designed to handle tricky terrain with extreme stability. Salomon is known for its excellent traction, and these shoes do not skimp in that department. They’re engineered for traveling up or down steep grades, over slippery rocks or loose scree. Furthermore, this model has extra support in the midsole to keep your feet stable while moving through precarious places.

Read more…

PROS: Excellent traction, designed for navigating steep grades and slippery surfaces (or both at the same time!). Weighs less than many other true hiking shoes. Breathable, while still offering plenty of support.

CONS: Less comfortable over longer distances than similar models. Cannot be taken on a trail run. Higher drop (11mm) will not work for athletes used to a low drop shoe.

BEST FOR: Stability in unpredictable terrain. Hikers and backpackers who want a lighter option in a true hiking shoe. Shorter days on trail, comfort does not last past ~20 miles.

Danner Trail 2650

Weight: 12.0 ounces (Men’s 9)
Stack Height Heel/Toe: Unavailable
Heel-to-Toe Drop: 8mm
MSRP: $150

Design: An innovative, lightweight and grippy hiking shoe from an industry classic. Danner is a classic name for sturdy, chunky hiking boots. However, the company decided to step into the low-top game and engineer a pair of lighter, low-rise shoes. The trail 2650 shoes are inspired by the Pacific Crest Trail, which runs 2650 miles through the Western United States. So, they’re designed to be light yet supportive enough to carry a hiker from Mexico to Canada. The versatile Vibram outsole is made to handle both wet and dry conditions, with extreme stability. These shoes are stable and supportive on and off the trail, with the grippy outsole and 5mm lugs.

Read more…

PROS: Vibram outsole provides excellent grip on a variety of surfaces. Shoes come in a variety of color, rise, and feature options. 8mm heel to toe drop will suits wearers used to high or low drop shoes. Lightest shoe option in this category. More comfortable over long distances than other traditional hiking shoes.

CONS: Suede upper outsole takes a very long time to dry out. Newer shoe, we do not have that much data on how it performs. More expensive than comparable models.

BEST FOR: Hikers and backpackers who want a cross between a true hiking shoe and a lighter trail runner. Trips where traction is important and the conditions are varied. Longer backpacking trips (like the PCT!), where all-day comfort is extremely important.

Basic Shoe Stats & Terminology

Let’s go over some of the basic shoe stats which may be foreign to some. These are heel-to-toe drop and stack height, both of which are measured in millimeters. Heel-to-toe drop, or drop, refers to the difference between the height of your heel and the height of your toe. Basically, a zero or low drop shoe encourages the use of more calf and Achilles engagement, taking pressure away from your knees. On the other hand, higher drop shoes encourage a rearfoot strike, which may alleviate any Achilles pain or strain. A shoe’s stack height refers to the number of millimeters it elevates your feet from the ground. Higher stack heights will provide more plush and comfort, while lower stack heights will help the user feel more secure and close to the ground. The other stats we’ve provided, such as comfort, off-trail use, traction, and more are all self-explanatory.

More Reading

How to Choose the Right Hiking Shoes | Everything You Need to Know
The Myth of Ankle Support, Wide vs Narrow Footbox, Zero Drop Shoes, High vs Low Stack…

Could NEW Faster Hiking Shoes take 1-2 weeks off an AT thru-hike?

New in this guide for are faster hiking shoes. That is, new high energy return shoe technology is now available in trail shoes that many hikers and ultralight backpackers can use. This is the same energy return technology used in the running shoes that Eliud Kipchoge wore to break the sub-2 marathon. If this tech yields the same benefits for hiking and backpacking it might reduce the average Appalachian Trail thru hike by 1-2 weeks? And don’t worry they are comfortable and feel like a “regular” trail running or walking shoe — they just hike faster!

More Reading

New Hi-Tech Hiking Shoes Could Make You a Lot Faster
Could new running shoe tech Reduce an Appalachian Trail Thru hike by 1-2 weeks?

The On CloudUltra (pictured) & North Face Flight Vectiv are our picks of the new hi-tech, high-efficiency shoes that might save the average hiker a week-and-half on an Appalachian Trail Thru hike.

best hiking shoe and walking shoe options

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Stepping into the right shoe drastically changes life on the trail, whether you struggle with blisters, foot pain, or general fatigue. Here at Adventure Alan we are huge fans of efficient and lightweight shoes that still provide adequate comfort and traction for longer trips. However, we hope with this range of options you find the fit that best suits your needs.


This post contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase after clicking on the these links, a portion of the sale helps support this site at no additional cost to you. I do not receive compensation from the companies whose products are listed. For product reviews: unless otherwise noted, products are purchased with my own funds. I am never under an obligation to write a review about any product. Finally, this post expresses my own independent opinion.