Best Footwear for Summer Hiking (in 2023)

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You need to buy hiking footwear but you don’t know much about what to expect from different types of summer hiking boots and shoes available on the market? Or you’re wondering which model to choose?

Don’t worry, you got to the right place. Here we highlighted our top hiking boots and shoes for the summer of 2023. In this post, we reviewed boots for all budgets and styles of travel. You will also find a footwear comparison table that we assembled to help you get a quick review of the most important characteristics, pros, and cons of each pair of shoes on our list.

Summertime is a special time for so many hikers and backpackers, especially in 2023. Everyone hits the trail in the pursuit of making memories that are worth remembering and sharing with friends and colleagues. Following the recent summertime line of our blog, we continue with one of the most important components of every serious hiker’s gear – hiking footwear for summer. In our comprehensive guide on the most important physical and non-physical characteristics of hiking boots, we highlighted the critical factors to consider when selecting footwear for hiking. These factors include optimal fit, long-lasting construction, breathability, reliable waterproofing, stability, shock absorption, good traction, lightweight design, and more.

The main debate over the last few decades has been between lightweight and heavyweight footwear. But is it so for summer hiking? The rest of this text is aimed at helping you decide what kind of footwear to choose for your summer hikes.

Quick answer: BEST HIKING SANDALS FOR 2023

1. Chaco Z/Cloud                                                                 View on Amazon              View on REI

2. KEEN Newport H2                                                        View on Amazon              View on REI

3. Xero Shoes Z-Trail EV                                                   View on Amazon              View on REI



1. Merrell Vapor Glove 6                                                  View on Amazon              View on REI

2. Vibram V-Alpha                                                                View on Amazon              View on Moosejaw

3. Xero Shoes Prio                                                                View on Amazon              View on REI



1. Salomon Speedcross 6                                                  View on Amazon              View on REI

2. La Sportiva Ultra Raptor II                                         View on Amazon              View on REI

3. Altra Lone Peak 7                                                            View on Amazon              View on REI



1. Salomon X Ultra 4 GTX                                                View on Amazon              View on REI

2. La Sportiva Spire GTX                                                  View on Amazon              View on Backcountry

3. Merrell Moab 3                                                                View on Amazon              View on REI



1. Salomon X Ultra 4 Mid GTX                                     View on Amazon              View on REI

2. Merrell Moab 3 Mid                                                      View on Amazon              View on REI

3. KEEN Targhee Vent Mid                                             View on Amazon              View on REI



1. Salomon Quest 4 GTX                                                  View on Amazon              View on REI

2. La Sportiva Nucleo High II GTX                              View on Amazon              View on REI

3. Salewa Mountain Trainer Lite Mid GTX            View on Amazon              View on Backcountry


Table 1: Best summer hiking footwear – comparison table

Chaco Z/Cloud Hiking Sandal
Chaco Z/Cloud

#1 Best hiking sandals

Category -> Hiking sandal
Price -> $$
Weight -> 850 g (1 lb 14 oz)

-> Elegant style and design; excellent color palette
-> Comfortable out-of-the-box, provide ample arch support
-> Wide and soft straps
-> Rugged and work well on wet and steep surfaces

-> Not the lightest design
-> Whole sizes only

KEEN Newport H2 Hiking Sandal
KEEN Newport H2


Category -> Hiking sandal
Price -> $$
Weight -> 822 g (1 lb 13 oz)

-> Excellent quality, workmanship, and style
-> Perfect for all-weather conditions, environments, and activities
-> Fit perfectly out of the box and provide good arch support
-> Toe protection

-> Weaker areas: back and back-side of the shoe
-> The toe box can sometimes trap debris
-> Sizes might not be consistent

Xero Shoes Z-Trail EV Hiking Sandal
Xero Shoes Z-Trail EV


Category -> Hiking sandal
Price -> $$
Weight -> 307 g (10.8 oz)

-> Lightweight sandals that provide a barefoot-like sensation during wear
-> Well-ventilated, extremely comfortable
-> Crafted from recycled polyester material
-> Good grip and traction on dry and rocky terrain

->Not everyone favors the sensation of a barefoot-like experience
-> The insoles may become slippery on wet surfaces
-> Do not provide adequate cushioning for rugged terrain

Merrell Vapor Glove 6 Trail Running Shoe
Merrell Vapor Glove 6

#1 Best minimalist and barefoot shoes

Category -> Barefoot shoe
Price -> $$
Weight -> 360 g (12.7 oz)

-> Fairly soft, flexible, and very comfortable
-> Good-sized toe box
-> Grippy in a multitude of terrains
-> Versatile

-> Stiffer and more rigid than the older version
-> Weakest point is around the toes

Vibram FiveFingers V-Alpha
Vibram FiveFingers V-Alpha


Category -> Barefoot shoe
Price -> $$
Weight -> 272 g (9.6 oz)

-> Fit like a glove and are very comfortable
-> Great look and design
-> Excellent grip and traction
-> Thick and durable sole

-> Run small
-> Not the most variegated color palette

Xero Shoes Prio Shoes
Xero Shoes Prio Shoes


Category -> Minimalist shoe
Price -> $$
Weight -> 493 g (1 lb 1.4 oz)

-> Can be used for an array of activities
-> Wide, roomy toe box
-> Fit and feel good
-> Feel natural on the feet

-> Not a very durable design
-> Not very aesthetical look

Salomon Speedcross 6 Trail Runner
Salomon Speedcross 6

#1 Best trail-running shoes

Category -> Trail runner
Price -> $$
Weight -> 596 g (1 lb 5 oz)

-> Premium quality and lightweight comfort
-> Grips the ground like a boot
-> Speed lacing system promotes fast and secure lacing
-> Versatile

-> Run narrow
-> If necessary, the Quicklace lacing system can be replaced only with the same system

La Sportiva Ultra Raptor II Trail Runner
La Sportiva Ultra Raptor II


Category -> Trail runner
Price -> $$
Weight -> 710 g (1 lb 9 oz)

-> Built for long-distance runs on off-road terrain
-> Ultra sticky rubber outsole
-> Quick-drying and breathable upper
-> Comfortable right out of the box

-> Run small
-> Not very hard-wearing outsole
-> Narrow toe box (but Wide Fit is available)

Altra Lone Peak 7 Trail Runner
Altra Lone Peak 7


Category -> Trail runner
Price -> $$
Weight -> 628 g (1 lb 6.2 oz)

-> Super lightweight and breathable
-> Dry quickly even in humid environments and conditions
-> Amazing grip - great for technical or single track trails
-> Excellent fit

-> Not the most durable shoes
-> Strange color combinations
-> Feels slightly inferior to the previous design

Salomon X Ultra 4 GTX Hiking Shoe
Salomon X Ultra 4 GTX

#1 Best hiking shoes

Category -> Hiking shoe
Price -> $$
Weight -> 780 g (1 lb 11.5 oz)

-> Lightweight and breathable comfort on and off the trail
-> Tough and grippy rubber outsole
-> Durable lacing system
-> Gore-Tex liner for protection from water and rain

-> Not the best look/design for a hiking shoe
-> Run fairly narrow and fit snug
-> Can't expect them to last for years

La Sportiva Spire GTX Hiking Shoe
La Sportiva Spire GTX


Category -> Hiking shoe
Price -> $$
Weight -> 880 g (1 lb 15)

-> High-quality shoes - rugged and versatile
-> Amazing grip on various surfaces in all weather
-> Great design; comfort
-> Quite breathable for waterproof hiking shoe

-> Expensive
-> It might be difficult to replace the laces if needed

Merrell Moab 3 Hiking Shoe
Merrell Moab 3


Category -> Hiking shoe
Price -> $
Weight -> 658 g (1 lb 7.2 oz)

-> Solid durable shoes
-> Extremely comfortable; can be used on the trail or as casual shoes
-> Highly breathable
-> Less expensive than other popular brands and models

-> Not rugged enough for technical trails
-> Too little cushioning
-> Become increasingly uncomfortable with time

Salomon X ultra 4 Mid GTX Hiking Boot
Salomon X Ultra 4 Mid GTX

#1 Best hiking boots

Category -> Hiking boot
Price -> $$
Weight -> 850 g (1 lb 14 oz)

-> Packed up with useful features
-> Hold up well on a combination of surfaces in various conditions; no break-in time
-> Lightweight in comparison to other major models
-> Great breathability for waterproof boots

-> Run narrow/tight
-> Not very suitable for hot weather
-> The lace hooks on the top can get caught on your pants

Merrell Moab 3 Mid Hiking Boot
Merrell Moab 3 Mid


Category -> Hiking boot
Price -> $$
Weight -> 925 g (2 lbs 0.6 oz)

-> Great price/value ratio
-> Well-made; versatile
-> Superb ventilation and excellent breathability
-> Stable and durable

-> Not waterproof
-> A bit on the heavy side, burlier
-> Not the best insoles

KEEN Targhee Vent Mid Hiking Boot
KEEN Targhee Vent Mid


Category -> Hiking boot
Price -> $$
Weight -> 942 g (2 lbs 1.2 oz)

-> Comfortable throughout the summer
-> Ample toe box
-> Really comfortable
-> Solid traction

-> A bit slippery on wet surfaces
-> Durability issues
-> The predominantly nubuck leather upper restricts breathability

Salomon Quest 4 GTX Backpacking Boot
Salomon Quest 4 GTX

#1 Best backpacking boots

Category -> Backpacking boot
Price -> $$$
Weight -> 1310 g (2 lbs 14.2 oz)

-> Excellent design, high-quality materials, and craftsmanship
-> Amazingly comfortable with a short break-in period
-> Versatile and functional
-> Can count on them in rainy conditions

-> A bit pricey
-> Durability issues

La Sportiva Nucleo High II GTX Backpacking Boot
La Sportiva Nucleo High II GTX


Category -> Backpacking boot/hiking boot
Price -> $$
Weight -> 952 g (2 lbs 1.6 oz)

-> Lightweight backpacking boots
-> Functional boots built for hiking and backpacking
-> Optimal traction on technical terrain in many different conditions
-> Comfort out of the box

-> Once wet inside, they take a while to dry out
-> Not the best waterproof protection
-> Run narrow

Salewa Mountain Trainer Lite Mid GTX Backpacking Boot
Salewa Mountain Trainer Lite Mid GTX


Category -> Backpacking boot
Price -> $$
Weight -> 1130 g (2 lbs 7.9 oz)

-> Great look and feel
-> Lightweight and flexible; work well on a variety of surfaces
-> Gore-Tex lining for optimal protection in moderate and warmer conditions
-> Breathe well for waterproof boots

-> The insole design isn't the best on the market
-> Durability issues: mainly in the front part; laces



Sandals provide a similar experience to going barefoot, and numerous studies suggest that being barefoot is actually beneficial for foot health compared to wearing shoes. However, when it comes to walking longer distances, proper fitting, supportive hiking sandals become essential. They should offer adequate cushioning against challenging surfaces, such as hard, rough, and hot terrains while ensuring sufficient grip for a safe and comfortable hiking experience.

Good sandals possess key characteristics that are vital for summer hiking. These include thick and shock-absorbing soles that feature a contoured platform, providing ample support to the foot. Additionally, deep treads are crucial for optimal grip on various terrains. A reliable strapping system is essential to secure the heel and forefoot firmly, while rimmed edges serve to safeguard the feet against potential collisions with rocks and stones. Straps made of synthetic leather or nylon webbing absorb little moisture and dry quickly. This makes them a good choice for wet-weather use. These straps are typically secured using hook-and-loop fabric or clip buckles. In general, hiking sandals’ weight is comparable to the weight of hiking shoes.

  • Pros
    Hiking sandals are best suited to warm or dry conditions. Some experienced hikers use sports sandals even on rugged, steep, and stony trails in the heat. The unparalleled breathability of sandals helps keep your feet dry and cool, enhancing overall comfort and minimizing the risk of blisters. Moreover, their design allows you to comfortably cross rivers and streams without the need to remove your shoes, and they dry swiftly compared to other types of hiking footwear. It’s also quite easy to maintain sandals in good shape as they require minimal special care.
  • Cons
    Hiking sandals perform well on trails and most rocky terrains, but they may not be the best choice when it comes to traversing prickly vegetation. For example, in deserts you need to take great care to avoid cactuses, also while in forests, thorn bushes can be a problem. Walking through grassy fields can also be less comfortable when wearing sandals.

Best hiking sandals (our recommendations for summer 2023)

Chaco Z / Cloud SandalsCategory: Hiking sandal

Weight: 850 g (1 lb 14 oz)

Notable features:

  • Luvseat dual-density polyurethane midsole Chaco Cloud cushioning ensures enduring comfort
  • Polyester jacquard webbing upper equipped with a sturdy plastic buckle for a customized fit
  • ChacoGrip rubber outsole specifically designed for wet terrain, offers exceptional traction due to its 3.5mm lug depth


  • Well-crafted sandals boast both an elegant style and design, featuring an exceptional color palette to suit various tastes.
  • These sandals are not only well-made but also provide exceptional comfort right out of the box. They offer ample arch support, ensuring a comfortable and supportive fit for your feet.
  • Featuring wide and soft straps, these sandals prioritize comfort and easy adjustability. In fact, they are noticeably softer compared to the straps found on other popular models like the KEEN Newport.
  • The rugged vegan-friendly construction of these sandals is well-suited for navigating wet and steep surfaces with confidence.


  • While these hiking sandals offer durability and functionality, it’s worth noting that their design is not the lightest, which may result in a slightly bulky feel.
  • Unfortunately, these sandals are available in whole sizes only limiting the options for those who require half sizes.

Best for: Long hikes

Women’s Version: Available -> Amazon | REI | Backcountry

Find the latest price:

Amazon | REI | Backcountry


KEEN Newport H2 SandalCategory: Hiking sandal

Weight: 822 g (1 lb 13 oz)

Notable features:

  • Razor-siped sole with multi-directional lug pattern for improved traction on difficult terrain in wet and dry conditions
  • Machine-washable polyester webbing upper and a Metatomical EVA footbed infused with Eco anti-odor treatment
  • Secure fit lace capture system


  • These sandals combine excellent craftsmanship, high-quality materials, and stylish design while being easy to clean.
  • Versatile – these are not only perfect for summer hiking trips but they are also ideal for various outdoor activities such as cycling, kayaking, and fishing. Additionally, they can serve as year-round footwear, suitable for use as trail shoes, water shoes, or even as comfortable daily footwear around town.
  • Straight out of the box, these sandals offer a perfect fit and exceptional comfort, while also providing excellent arch support.
  • With a focus on toe protection, these sandals are particularly valuable for those who like to go off the beaten path.


  • In some cases, the stitching in the back heel area frays just after a month or two, indicating a potential weakness in the back and backside of the construction.
  • The toe box provides good protection but can sometimes trap debris such as rocks, sand, and other particles.
  • Sizes might not be consistent (tend to run smaller than expected); carefully review the manufacturer’s instructions regarding sizing to ensure an accurate fit.

Best for: Wet environments and conditions

Women’s Version: Available -> Amazon | REI | Moosejaw

Find the latest price:

Amazon | REI | Moosejaw


Xero Shoes Z-Trail EV SandalCategory: Hiking sandal

Weight: 307 g (10.8 oz)

Notable features:

  • Soft, upper webbing, crafted from recycled water bottles, offers a comfortable fit without any abrasive edges
  • 3-layer 10 mm FeelLite soles with dual-chevron tread pattern for enhanced traction and grip
  • Multi-point adjustment for a customizable fit


  • Weighing in at just over 300 g, these lightweight sandals provide a barefoot-like sensation during wear.
  • Exceptionally well-ventilated, providing unmatched comfort right out of the box. Can hold up well in different weather conditions.
  • Crafted from recycled polyester material, the durable straps of these sandals offer versatility in adjusting to accommodate various foot shapes.
  • The rubber outsoles provide reliable grip and traction on dry and rocky terrain.


  • Not everyone favors the sensation of walking barefoot or a barefoot-like experience.
  • The insoles may become slippery on wet surfaces.
  • Well-suited for light trails, but they may not provide adequate cushioning for rugged terrain.

Best for: Lightweight travel

Women’s Version: Available -> Amazon | REI | Moosejaw

Find the latest price:

Amazon | REI | Moosejaw


Minimalist and barefoot shoes

If you want to feel what it’s like to hike, run or train barefoot (without actually being barefoot), you need barefoot shoes. Wearing barefoot shoes comes really close to a true barefoot experience. This kind of shoe usually comes with a thin, flexible, and grippy sole, neutral heel, and a spacious toe box. This combination makes barefoot shoes suitable for many surfaces. However, it restricts their use primarily to not-so-rugged terrain. Of course, there are also some models that are quite a good option for hiking or running on rugged terrain.

Something between sneakers and barefoot shoes, minimalist shoes are also quite an interesting option for those who prefer to run and travel fast and light. The main features and characteristics of this type of shoe include low weight, a midsole that provides minimal cushioning only, and a thin and flexible outsole offering marginal to no arch support at all. It’s safe to say that minimalist and barefoot shoes don’t have a great throng of fans. However, they are quite popular among minimalist runners, hikers, and weightlifters.

  • Pros
    Barefoot and minimalist shoes are compact, packable, and quick-drying footwear. They are also lighter than other types of hiking footwear reducing foot fatigue. The regular use of minimalist and barefoot shoes gradually strengthens the muscles of the feet and legs and encourages the adoption of a more natural gait. This might decrease the incidence of certain foot injuries. Additionally, many models of minimalist and barefoot shoes are versatile – suitable for a variety of indoor (gym) and outdoor sports (running) and activities (hiking).
  • Cons
    The biggest disadvantage is probably the time and effort you need to invest until your feet adapt to such kinds of shoes. Moreover, since barefoot shoes don’t offer enough protection to the feet, you will be able to feel almost everything beneath your feet including rocks, and sharp objects. Many people find that barefoot and minimalist shoes aren’t very aesthetically appealing so you need to give up some style and elegance for lightness and comfort. Minimalist and (mainly) barefoot shoes also often lack enough breathability for hot weather hiking and running. It’s also possible that they start to smell after several months of regular use.

Best minimalist and barefoot shoes (our recommendations for summer 2023)

Merrell Vapor Glove 6 ShoeCategory: Barefoot shoe

Weight: 360 g (12.7 oz)

Notable features:

  • Vibram ECOSTEP Recycle outsole (with 30% recycled rubber) for improved grip and traction on wet and dry surfaces
  • 100% Recycled breathable synthetic/mesh upper provides excellent ventilation in hot weather
  • Cleansport NXT odor-resistant treatment


  • A pleasant combination of softness, flexibility, and exceptional comfort.
  • The generous toe box of these shoes provides ample space, allowing for comfortable toe movement.
  • Offer excellent grip on a wide range of terrains, including technical trails, rocky surfaces, and more, ensuring stability and traction in various outdoor environments.
  • Exhibit remarkable versatility, making them suitable for a range of activities such as off-road (trail) running, gym workouts, weightlifting, all-purpose training, or even casual wear.


  • Stiffer and more rigid than the older version.
  • One potential weakness of these barefoot shoes is the possibility of seam splitting occurring around the toe area.

Best for: Trail running

Women’s Version: Available -> Amazon | REI | Moosejaw

Find the latest price:

Amazon | REI | Moosejaw


Vibram FiveFingers V-Alpha ShoeCategory: Barefoot shoe

Weight: 272 g (9.6 oz)

Notable features:

  • Durable and flexible Vibram Megagrip (3.7 mm) rubber outsole for excellent grip on any terrain in both wet and dry conditions (including slippery surfaces)
  • 2 mm foam insole for extra comfort
  • 50/50 blended wool and synthetic upper material has two main functions – increased breathability and odor-resistance


  • Provide a glove-like fit, ensuring happy feet with their excellent fit and comfortable feel, even with everyday use.
  • Offer outstanding grip and exceptional traction on a variety of surfaces and terrains, including rocks, sand, and clay, providing a secure sensation akin to having Velcro on your feet.
  • The stylish look and well-crafted design add to the overall appeal of these barefoot shoes.
  • With their thick and durable soles, these provide enhanced protection against rocks, making them suitable for all types of terrain.


  • Tend to run smaller than expected. To ensure an accurate fit, carefully review the sizing chart and choose accordingly before making a purchase.
  • The color palette available for these barefoot shoes is somewhat limited, offering fewer options for those seeking a wide range of colors.

Best for: Versatility

Women’s Version: Available -> Amazon

Find the latest price:

Amazon | Moosejaw


Xero Shoes Prio ShoeCategory: Minimalist shoe

Weight: 493 g (1 lb 1.4 oz)

Notable features:

  • 5.5mm FeelTrue rubber outsole provides enough protection yet allows to get the necessary ground feedback
  • Huarache sandal-inspired reflective heel and instep straps for better visibility during night hikes
  • Made with 100% vegan-friendly materials


  • Incredibly versatile, these can be utilized for a wide range of activities, whether it’s casual strolls in town, hiking, running, or even weightlifting.
  • Feature a wide and spacious toe box, offering ample room for toes to move comfortably.
  • Provide a secure fit and a comfortable feel, as they snugly grip around the back of your foot and heel, enhancing the overall fit.
  • Offer out-of-the-box comfort, providing a natural and comfortable sensation when worn on the feet.


  • Not a very durable design – expect them to wear out in several months or so.
  • These shoes may not be the most aesthetically pleasing in appearance.

Best for: Easy trails and casual wear

Women’s Version: Available -> Amazon | REI | Moosejaw

Find the latest price:

Amazon | REI | Moosejaw


Trail-running shoes

Ideal for hiking, trekking, and trail running, trail-running shoes are a fantastic choice. They offer exceptional comfort and are significantly lighter compared to hiking shoes, hiking boots, or backpacking boots, which helps minimize foot fatigue. Shoes designed for trail running make ideal lightweight backpacking footwear. Construction usually features mesh uppers for breathability, shock-absorbing midsoles, and strong heels. For better foot protection, you might want to consider trail-running shoes with reinforced toe cap.

  • Pros
    They’re a good choice for summer trails, dry or wet. Running shoes are usually designated as suitable for easy to moderate trails with light loads. However, empirical data shows that you can use them on trails with heavy loads too without experiencing any considerable problems. Lightweight running shoes offer a perfect balance of breathability, durability, and quick-drying properties, making them ideal for hot summer days and challenging trails. Their breathable design keeps your feet dry and cool, while their sturdy construction ensures they can withstand rugged terrain. Additionally, these shoes have the advantage of drying faster than most other types of hiking footwear, with the exception of hiking sandals, when they get wet.
  • Cons
    While trail-running shoes are a popular choice for summer hiking (unless you decide to go to the Himalayas or somewhere else where the terrain is rough, snowy, and slippery), it’s important to be aware of their limitations. For example, you need to spend some time preparing your body before hiking some long trails, including strengthening your ankles. Doing this will give you better endurance and will make you less prone to ankle injuries. Choosing the right socks can also help. Ankle socks are also among the most preferable companions to trail runners.

Best trail-running shoes (our recommendations for summer 2023)

#1 Salomon Speedcross 6

Salomon Speedcross 6 Trail Running ShoeCategory: Trail runner

Weight: 596 g (1 lb 5 oz)

Notable features:

  • Contagrip Mud sole with updated geometry (multi-directional grip) is suitable for all surface conditions including muddy and soft terrains
  • The completely welded SensiFit upper is stitch-free for a precise and secure fit, and is engineered to move naturally with the foot
  • Quicklace is a minimalistic and strong one-pull lacing system


  • These shoes deliver premium quality and lightweight comfort, surpassing even the weight of the Speedcross 5 for an enhanced wearing experience.
  • Offer exceptional grip, traction, and stability on various surfaces, gripping the ground like boots. They excel in technical trails, muddy conditions, and rugged terrain, providing reliable performance. For more detailed information, check out our review of the Speedcross 6.
  • The lacing can look a bit flimsy to those who aren’t used to wearing shoes with the Quicklace lacing system but this speed lacing system promotes fast and secure lacing.
  • This versatile and aggressive trail shoe is well-suited for a range of activities, including running, hiking, and various outdoor sports.


  • The Contagrip Mud sole excels on various surfaces but isn’t ideal for wet rocks, where it can be quite slippery.
  • It is important to note that these shoes tend to run narrow in width.
  • In the event of any issues with the lacing system, replacing the ties with another set of ties may not be possible. Instead, it is necessary to purchase the same Quicklace lacing system for a suitable replacement.

Best for: Technical trails

Women’s Version: Available -> Amazon | REI | Backcountry

Find the latest price:

Amazon | REI | Backcountry


La Sportiva Ultra Raptor II Trail Running ShoeCategory: Trail runner

Weight: 710 g (1 lb 9 oz)

Notable features:

  • Sticky FriXion White rubber outsole with Impact Brake System (IBS) and shockproof toe cap reduce impact and provide great traction on tough terrain
  • Breathable air mesh upper with microfiber reinforcement band with anti-abrasion coating
  • EVA foam with shock-absorbing injection protects feet from stone bruises


  • Provide instant comfort right out of the box, requiring minimal break-in time.
  • Designed for long-distance runs, including endurance races, on off-road terrain, these shoes are an excellent choice for hiking and backpacking as well. They offer stability, even for individuals carrying heavy backpacks.
  • Ultra sticky rubber outsole grips well on a great variety of terrain including mountainous terrain – wet grass, mud, sand, rocks, gravel, etc.
  • Featuring a lightweight and quick-drying nylon air mesh and synthetic leather upper, these shoes keep feet dry and well-ventilated. They are designed to efficiently drain water, allowing for faster drying.


  • Run small so you need to check the size chart to make sure that you get the right size for your feet.
  • The outsole is aggressive but not very hard-wearing as the lugs tend to wear quickly.
  • These shoes have a narrow toe box, which may lead to toe jamming. The good news is that the model now offers a Wide Fit option.

Best for: Mountain hiking and running

Women’s Version: Available -> Amazon | REI | Backcountry

Find the latest price:

Amazon | REI | Backcountry


Altra Lone Peak 7 Trail Running ShoesCategory: Trail runner

Weight: 628 g (1 lb 6.2 oz)

Notable features:

  • Quick-dry air mesh breathes well
  • Altra EGO foam midsole cushions and protects against rocks without hampering foot flexibility
  • MaxTrac rubber outsole with TrailClaw multidirectional lug pattern


  • These trail runners are exceptionally lightweight and feature excellent breathability, ensuring cool and dry feet during your activities.
  • Reliable when it comes to quick drying, even in humid environments and challenging conditions.
  • Offer an excellent fit and are remarkably comfortable right out of the box, ensuring a pleasant and blister-free experience. They are responsive, providing good cushioning and support, which your feet will greatly appreciate.
  • The amazing grip makes them suitable for technical or single-track trails; excellent for lightweight backpacking.


  • Not the most durable pair of shoes.
  • The color combinations are unconventional and may not appeal to everyone’s taste.
  • Compared to the previous design, the Altra Lone Peak 6, the overall feel of these shoes is slightly inferior.

Best for: Fast day hiking and trail running

Women’s Version: Available -> Amazon | REI | Backcountry

Find the latest price:

Amazon | REI | Backcountry


Forest hikers

Photo by Brodie Vissers

Hiking shoes

Hiking shoes distinguish themselves from trail runners through the stiffness of their midsoles. While slightly heavier, this added rigidity offers a more stable foundation when navigating rugged trails, minimizing the risk of foot bruising from sharp rocks. These shoes strike a balance, being lighter than hiking boots and backpacking boots but weightier than running shoes, sandals, and barefoot shoes. They are well-suited for hiking and backpacking with a moderate load or traversing challenging terrains.

  • Pros
    Trekking shoes offer notable advantages in terms of comfort and weight. As most hiking shoes prioritize breathability over waterproofing, they provide adequate ventilation and airflow, making them a sensible option for summer hiking on rugged terrain. Even some waterproof models offer sufficient ventilation for warm weather conditions. In addition, trekking shoes offer superior foot protection compared to sandals, particularly on trails with prickly vegetation.
  • Cons
    Trekking shoes are versatile and suitable for various terrains, except for steep, hard snow, and icy surfaces. While waterproof hiking shoes provide protection against wet weather, they may lack adequate ventilation in hot conditions. This can result in sweaty feet during summer hikes. It’s important to consider the trade-off between waterproofing and breathability when choosing hiking shoes for hot environments.

Best summer hiking shoes (our recommendations for 2023)

#1 Salomon X Ultra 4 GTX

Salomon X Ultra 4 GTX Hiking Shoe(The non-waterproof version of these shoes is Salomon X Ultra 4)
: Hiking shoe

Weight: 780 g (1 lb 11.5 oz)

Notable features:

  • Anti-debris mesh and integrated shoe tongue prevent/preclude debris from entering the shoe
  • Stitch-free upper employing the SensiFit technology
  • Durable and grippy All Terrain Contagrip TD outsole with deep, aggressive lug pattern makes sure that you get maximum traction whenever you need it


  • Offer a combination of lightweight and breathable comfort, with a flexible yet sturdy construction. They are equally suitable for trail and everyday wear, providing versatile footwear options.
  • The rubber outsole is tough and grips confidently on all terrain including wet rock, grass, leaves, and dirt.
  • The durable Quicklace lacing system ensures a fast and secure fit. There’s also a convenient lace pocket for easy storage of the lacing system.
  • With its Gore-Tex liner, these hiking shoes provide reliable protection for your feet against rain and water. This feature allows you to comfortably hike in challenging weather conditions without compromising your dryness and comfort.


  • Not the most visually appealing or stylish design.
  • The shoes run fairly narrow and fit snugly, which could make them uncomfortable to wear for the long term.
  • While the X Ultra 4 GTX shoes are sturdy, it’s important to note that they are not designed to last indefinitely. With regular use, you can typically expect several months to a year of durability from these shoes (depending on the level of use).

Best for: Adventure travel

Women’s Version: Available -> Amazon | REI | Backcountry

Find the latest price:

Amazon | REI | Backcountry


#2 La Sportiva Spire GTX

La Sportiva Spire GTX Hiking ShoeCategory: Hiking shoe

Weight: 880 g (1 lb 15)

Notable features:

  • Vibram XS Trek with Impact Brake System (IBS) sole provides traction and grip
  • STB control system seamlessly incorporates Gore-Tex Surround ventilation outlets, ensuring a comfortable, snug-fitting, and stable boot
  • Durable and abrasion-resistant mesh upper provides excellent protection, while the Nano Cell 2.0 structure enhances breathability to the maximum


  • Amazing grip on various surfaces in all weather conditions makes them ideal for backcountry adventures. Provide exceptional stability on rough terrain, including steep ascents and descents.
  • Great design combining style and coolness, while also delivering exceptional comfort right from the start without the need for a break-in period.
  • These high-quality shoes are both rugged and versatile, making them suitable for a wide range of activities such as hiking, backpacking, walking, and even everyday wear.
  • Despite being a waterproof hiking shoe, it offers impressive breathability and excellent ventilation, ensuring your feet stay comfortable and well-ventilated during your outdoor adventures.


  • The main drawback of these shoes is their relatively high price point, as they fall on the more expensive side of the spectrum.
  • The thin laces are specific and if they happen to wear out or break (which can occur after a couple of months in some cases), it might be difficult to replace them.

Best for: Mixed terrain

Women’s Version: Available -> Amazon | Moosejaw | Backcountry

Find the latest price:

Amazon | Moosejaw | Backcountry


#3 Merrell Moab 3

Merrell Moab 3 Hiking ShoeCategory: Hiking shoe

Weight: 658 g (1 lb 7.2 oz)

Notable features:

  • Performance suede leather and mesh upper complemented by a breathable mesh lining
  • Removable Kinetic Fit Advanced contoured footbed/insole with heel support
  • Sturdy Vibram TC5+ sole with a 5mm lug depth


  • The successor of the Moab 2 design (these are crafted with partially recycled materials), the Moab 3 has a solid and durable construction. These shoes are well-crafted and versatile, making them suitable for both trail adventures and casual wear.
  • Extremely comfortable shoes whose break-in period typically requires no more than a couple of days. They provide reliable grip, traction, and support on light to moderate trails, ensuring a pleasant hiking experience.
  • With excellent breathability, these hiking shoes ensure your feet stay dry, cool, and comfortable throughout your adventures.
  • At around $100 per pair, they are less expensive than other popular brands and models.


  • Good everyday shoe but not rugged enough for technical trails.
  • The minimal cushioning may not provide sufficient protection, causing those with sensitive feet to feel the impact of rocks and roots.
  • Become progressively less comfortable over longer distances or extended periods of hiking.

Best for: Day hikes and established trails

Women’s Version: Available -> Amazon | REI | Backcountry

Find the latest price:

Amazon | REI | Backcountry


Hiking boots

Boots with high, stiffened cuffs provide better ankle support (boots with soft cuffs don’t), especially when carrying a heavy backpack or hiking on rough terrain. However, it’s important to note that stiff ankle support can restrict foot movement, and some hikers may need to loosen the laces to allow for more natural ankle flexion. For traversing steep and rugged terrain, it’s essential to have strong, flexible ankles, shock-absorbing midsoles, and lightweight, flexible footwear. Additionally, choosing the right hiking socks that complement your boots is crucial. For more detailed information, see our post about socks and everything you need to know about them.

  • Pros
    Hiking boots are an excellent choice for tackling steep terrain, as they provide enhanced control and stability during challenging hikes. They offer the necessary ankle support and structure to navigate uneven surfaces, making them particularly useful for summer hikes at altitudes where steep and rugged terrain is common. The rugged outsoles of hiking boots are designed to provide reliable traction on various surfaces. The deep lugs and specialized tread patterns help to grip the ground firmly, reducing the risk of slipping and increasing overall stability. By offering a secure foothold and improved balance, hiking boots allow hikers to confidently navigate challenging terrains and enjoy their summer adventures to the fullest.
  • Cons
    Too heavy and usually waterproof, hiking boots can’t be a good choice for summer hiking unless you go to a place with challenging terrain and/or steep hardpacked snow. Their weight and insulation can become burdensome, especially when traversing even terrains in hot weather conditions.

Best summer hiking boots (our recommendations for 2023)

#1 Salomon X Ultra 4 Mid GTX

Salomon X Ultra 4 Mid GTX Hiking Boot

Category: Hiking boot

Weight: 850 g (1 lb 14 oz)

Notable features:

  • Advanced Chassis connects to the sole for optimized motion control, energy management, stability, and comfort
  • All Terrain Contagrip outsole blends a deep, aggressive lug pattern and a durable compound to deliver exceptional traction on mixed terrain
  • Molded to match the contours of your foot, the OrthoLite insole provides superior cushioning and heel support


  • Versatile all-around boots packed with useful features, these offer excellent traction on slippery surfaces. They are designed to be suitable for year-round use, whether for outdoor activities or as everyday footwear.
  • These boots provide exceptional comfort and perform well on a variety of surfaces and conditions. For more detailed information, you can refer to our in-depth review of their predecessor. The X Ultra 4 Mid GTX offers a lighter weight and slightly roomier toe box, making them reliable for technical, wet, and muddy hikes. Additionally, they require no break-in time for immediate comfort.
  • Lighter than their predecessor and also boast a lightweight design compared to other major models. They offer excellent flexibility for enhanced comfort and agility.
  • Great breathability for waterproof boots.


  • These boots have a narrow/tight fit, so it’s important to consult the size chart to ensure you get the right fit for your feet. On the positive side, these are also available in Wide Fit, which tends to accommodate feet with typical width more comfortably, based on our experience with Salomon’s hiking shoes and boots.
  • Due to the GORE-TEX membrane, these boots are more suitable for cooler climates, such as summer mountain environments, rather than hot weather conditions.
  • While not a major issue, it is worth noting that the lace hooks on the top of the boots may have the possibility of catching on pants, microspikes, or other objects, which can be annoying.

Best for: Lightweight backpacking in all-trail conditions

Women’s Version: Available -> Amazon | REI | Backcountry

Find the latest price:

Amazon | REI | Backcountry


#2 Merrell Moab 3 Mid

Merrell Moab 3 Mid Hiking BootCategory: Hiking boot

Weight: 925 g (2 lbs 0.6 oz)

Notable features:

  • Pigskin suede leather and mesh upper with rubber toe bumper
  • Kinetic Fit ADVANCED contoured footbed for added support
  • Air cushion in the heel effectively absorbs shock and enhances stability, while the molded nylon arch shank further contributes to overall stability


  • With an excellent price-to-value ratio, the Merrell Moab 3 Mid boots provide a perfect fit and all-day comfort straight out of the box, making them a worthwhile investment at around $120.
  • Well-crafted boots versatile enough to accompany you on backpacking trips, work activities, and casual walks around town.
  • Superb ventilation and excellent breathability thanks to the mesh lining = less sweating -> great for summer hiking and backpacking.
  • Offer stability and durability, providing excellent ankle support while offering a good level of arch support without being excessive.


  • Not waterproof (great for dry summer days and not so great for wet days).
  • Lean towards the heavier side.
  • Advice: replace the standard insoles with better ones and get even more comfort.

Best for: Budget backpacking in dry conditions

Women’s Version: Available -> Amazon | REI | SPWH

Find the latest price:

Amazon | REI | SPWH


#3 KEEN Targhee Vent Mid

KEEN Targhee Vent Mid Hiking BootCategory: Hiking boot

Weight: 942 g (2 lbs 1.2 oz)

Notable features:

  • Mesh panels for added breathability
  • Injected TPU heel-capture system promotes stability
  • Removable metatomical EVA footbed for cushioning


  • Designed for warm climates and summer adventures, the Targhee Vent Mid boots tend to be comfortable throughout the summer.
  • With its generous toe box, these hiking boots offer ample space for your toes, minimizing the risk of jamming or discomfort, particularly during challenging descents.
  • Provide exceptional comfort from the moment you put them on, making them suitable for all-day wear in various conditions without the need for a break-in period.
  • Solid traction makes you feel very stable on most surfaces.


  • A bit slippery on wet surfaces.
  • Unfortunately, these boots have some durability issues such as loose stitching, tread breakage after a few months of use, and separation of different parts.
  • Don’t breathe that well because of the predominantly nubuck leather uppers.

Best for: Budget and easy-to-moderate backpacking trips

Women’s Version: Available -> Amazon | REI | Moosejaw

Find the latest price:

Amazon | REI | Moosejaw


Hiking up African mountains

Photo by Dan Gold

Backpacking boots

While traditionalists may appreciate the thick and sturdy construction of heavy-duty backpacking boots, they may not be the optimal choice for most backpacking adventures. These boots are characterized by their high-cut design, providing enhanced balance and ankle support, making them suitable for carrying heavier loads.

When trekking through rugged terrain or areas with minimal trails, especially in cold weather conditions, heavy-duty backpacking boots offer superior stability, support, and motion control. The robust construction and rigid materials of these boots provide the necessary protection and resilience required for demanding environments. Carrying a heavy backpack over uneven and challenging terrain can put strain on your feet and ankles. The added weight can cause fatigue and increase the risk of injuries if proper support is not provided. Heavy-duty backpacking boots excel in distributing the load and minimizing strain on your feet, enhancing your overall comfort and reducing the likelihood of discomfort or injury during extended hikes.

  • Pros
    Backpacking boots are designed to provide optimal protection and support for mixed terrain, snow, and ice climbing. With their durable construction and high-cut design, they offer stability and ankle support, reducing the risk of injuries. These boots excel in prolonged crampon use during alpine snow ascents in the summer, providing reliable traction and safety. However, their weight and stiffness may limit flexibility, making them best suited for those who prioritize durability and protection in demanding outdoor environments.
  • Cons
    Wearing heavy backpacking boots in the summer can be uncomfortable and tiring, and they often require a significant break-in period. These boots also tend to have limited breathability, making them less suitable for hot weather hiking. Unless hiking at higher altitudes or encountering challenging terrain, it is generally not recommended to wear substantial footwear like backpacking boots during summer hikes.

Best backpacking boots (our recommendations for summer 2023)

#1 Salomon Quest 4 GTX

Salomon Quest 4 GTX Backpacking BootCategory: Backpacking boot

Weight: 1310 g (2 lbs 14.2 oz)

Notable features:

  • 4D Advanced Chassis harnesses two different midsole components for enhanced foot control and for a smoother ride
  • All Terrain Contagrip for maximum traction on mixed terrain and extended durability
  • Water-repellent upper with protective rubber toe cap and SensiFit technology that provides a secure, snug, and virtually customized fit all around the foot


  • The design of these boots is excellent, with high-quality materials and exceptional craftsmanship.
  • Provide an amazing level of comfort, as they are specifically designed to fit like a glove and require a very short break-in period.
  • Versatile and functional, with a sticky outsole featuring a new lug design that ensures fantastic grip and traction. Additionally, the 4D Advanced Chassis technology provides enhanced support and stability.
  • Highly reliable in rainy conditions, thanks to their excellent waterproof and breathable properties (NOTE that you can’t rely on any waterproof boots in prolonged wet weather).


  • A bit pricey but if you need premium quality and have some extra money, these boots are worth it.
  • Durability issues: the rubber toe cap has a tendency to separate and tear easily from the shoe, possibly due to inadequate gluing.

Best for: Stability, traction, and protection in all conditions

Women’s Version: Available -> Amazon | REI | SPWH

Find the latest price:

Amazon | REI | SPWH


La Sportiva Nucleo High II GTX Backpacking BootCategory: Backpacking boot/hiking boot

Weight: 952 g (2 lbs 1.6 oz)

Notable features:

  • 3D Flex ankle construction provides protection, freedom of movement, and precision
  • Vibram Nano XS-Trek sole with Impact Brake System (IBS) and differentiated lugs
  • Durable nubuck leather upper with Nano Cell inserts deliver protection and breathability respectively


  • Lightweight and efficient for backpacking, these boots weigh just a little over 2 pounds per pair.
  • Designed for hiking and backpacking, the Nucleo High II GTX offers a blend of the technical fit found in mountaineering boots and the grip and low-profile performance typically associated with approach shoes.
  • Featuring a durable and grippy Vibram outsole with IBS (Integrated Braking System), these backpacking boots offer excellent traction on technical terrain in various conditions.
  • Right out of the box, these boots offer an exceptional level of comfort. They are designed to mold and conform to your feet, providing a glove-like feel that ensures a snug and supportive fit so that you can hit the trails or embark on your backpacking adventures without the need for a lengthy break-in period.


  • A common problem with waterproof boots – once wet inside, they take a while to dry out.
  • The waterproof protection of these boots may not be the most outstanding feature. In wet or rainy conditions, there is a possibility of water seeping through the material or entering through the seams.
  • Run narrow.

Best for: Lightweight and off-trail backpacking

Women’s Version: Available -> Amazon | REI | Backcountry

Find the latest price:

Amazon | REI | Backcountry


Salewa Mountain Trainer Lite Mid GTX Backpacking BootCategory: Backpacking boot

Weight: 1130 g (2 lbs 7.9 oz)

Notable features:

  • Pomoca S Path outsole designed with deep lugs and grooves is well-suited for traversing a wide range of mountain terrains
  • 3F system that connects the instep, sole, and heel to ensure a comfortable, supportive, and flexible fit
  • Climbing Lacing that extends all the way to the toes for a precise fit


  • The boots not only have a great aesthetic appeal but also provide a remarkable level of comfort (require a short break-in period). Their sleek design combines style with functionality, ensuring you look good while enjoying optimal performance.
  • Designed with a focus on agility and versatility, these backpacking boots strike the perfect balance between being lightweight and flexible while still providing excellent ankle support. The Salewa Mountain Trainer Lite Mid GTX boots are ideal for tackling various terrains in the mountains and beyond.
  • With Gore-Tex lining, these boots offer optimal protection in moderate and warmer conditions. Designed for 3-season use, they excel at keeping your feet dry and comfortable during your outdoor adventures.
  • Strike a balance between waterproofing and breathability. Despite their Gore-Tex lining, they are designed to effectively expel heat and moisture, keeping your feet cool and dry during demanding hikes or warm weather conditions.


  • The insole design does not correspond to the otherwise high quality of this model.
  • Durability issues primarily in the front section of the boots. The laces are another potential weak point.

Best for: Mountain and off-trail hiking and scrambling

Women’s Version: Available -> Amazon | Backcountry

Find the latest price:

Amazon | Backcountry


Summer hiking boot buying advice


Each boot or shoe in our guide belongs to one (more often) or more (less often) of the following categories:

  • Hiking sandals
  • Minimalist and barefoot shoes
  • Trail-running shoes
  • Hiking shoes
  • Hiking boots
  • Backpacking boots

We usually prefer designs that belong to one category only. You can call us traditionalists in that respect. In most cases, the models that belong to more than one category are somewhere between hiking and backpacking boots (La Sportiva Nucleo High II GTX) or between hiking shoes and boots. Such ‘hybrids’ possess features and characteristics of more than one category of summer footwear for hiking. Manufacturers sometimes make successful hybrid products. However, more often than not they fail to convince the consumers about the necessity of such products.



Manufacturers utilize various materials for summer hiking shoe uppers. Among them are different types of leather (cowhide, nubuck, and suede varieties), various fabric-leather combinations, synthetic leather, and nylon (mainly mesh). Each one of them has its own advantages and disadvantages specifically for summer backpacking. Here’s a short summary:

  • Leather – durable, abrasion and puncture-resistant, flexible, comfortable, and fairly breathable (though it might not be enough for hot weather). The downside of leather is that it absorbs moisture quickly and needs more time to dry out than most man-made fabrics. Understandably, all-leather boots are not a very popular choice for summer. We recommend leather mostly for off-trail backpacking as well as mountain regions where changing temperatures are the norm. Having said that, even some hiking sandals come with leather upper.
  • Fabric-leather – many trail-runner, shoe, and boot models for summer backpacking rely on a range of fabric-leather combinations. Nylon mesh usually dominates such uppers because of many of its properties (see below). Leather adds comfort and durability. Fabric-leather footwear is comfortable and will keep your feet cool in warm weather. Actually, most models of hiking boots and shoes in our guide have fabric-leather uppers (six out of nine, to be exact). Keep in mind that fabric-leather upper isn’t the best choice for really hot temperatures.
  • Synthetic leather – nonabsorbent and quick-dry material that isn’t very breathable. A handful of serious designs rely on this fabric as well as some cheaper models. Often, it’s used together with nylon. Generally, not recommended for summer and hot weather hiking unless nylon predominates in such a combination. Of course, there are exceptions such as the second-placed best trail runners here – La Sportiva Ultra Raptor II – a classic model designed to perform well on off-road terrain – has a mesh-synthetic leather upper.
  • Nylon, nylon mesh, polyester, and other textiles – nylon comes in varying degrees of strength and hardness. Nylon mesh or just mesh is a very popular material for trail runners (Salomon Speedcross 6 and Altra Lone Peak 7) and hiking shoe uppers because of its high breathability, short drying time, and relatively low weight. Coarse mesh (300-420 denier) gives more strength to the footwear, which is a plus for off-trail adventures. However, the coarser mesh isn’t as breathable as fine mesh (70-100 denier), which makes it less suitable for hot weather. Durable high-tensile webbing is a must-have for great hiking sandals. That’s why the use of polyester webbing is popular for sandal uppers. All three hiking sandals designs listed here have a polyester webbing upper.


The main function of a shoe midsole is to provide cushioning and stability. Virtually all designs have either EVA (ethyl-vinyl acetate) foam or PU (polyurethane) midsole. Each one of them has its typical characteristics and features that make it suitable for hiking footwear. EVA foam is known for its lightweight nature, affordability, and excellent shock absorption. On the other hand, PU offers enhanced durability but is heavier, more expensive, and less efficient in absorbing shocks compared to EVA. Consequently, PU is commonly utilized in sturdy boots, shoes, and sandals intended for heavy loads and rugged terrains, while EVA foam finds its primary application in lighter footwear such as trail runners and shoes.


Rubber and rubber compound outsoles dominate the market of (not only summer) hiking boots because of their durability and versatility. Rubber’s excellent no-slip properties as well as its resistance to puncture and cutting have made it a preferred material for shoe outsoles. While the material and density of the outsole are crucial factors in ensuring traction on the trail, they are not the sole determinants. Lug patterns and depths play a significant role in the performance of the outsole on different types of terrain. As a result, the geometric structure of the outsole differs between technical shoes like the Salomon X Ultra and more entry-level options like the Merrell Moab. This variation in geometry is specifically designed to optimize traction and grip, providing a superior no-slip experience across a range of surfaces.

Regarding brands and technologies, Vibram is the most popular outsole manufacturer. This Italian company produces very good outsoles such as the Megagrip, designed to provide excellent grip and traction. However, Vibram also makes outsoles in line with the specific footwear and/or brand. You can find Vibram on the bottom of many mid to high-end summer hiking boots and shoes (La Sportiva Spire GTX, Merrell Moab 3, etc.). Additionally, Vibram makes barefoot shoes such as the #2 on our list – Vibram FiveFingers V-AlphaContinental is another big player that makes great outsoles for outdoor footwear. They work closely with Adidas models like Terrex Agravic BOA (not on our list). On the other hand, many big shoe manufacturers use their own outsole technologies. Among them, are Contagrip (Salomon’s own outsole brand) and MaxTrac (Altra uses it on a number of shoes like the Lone Peak 7).


The significance of insoles for maintaining cool and dry feet is often overlooked compared to the attention given to uppers and linings. However, choosing boots with high-quality insoles is essential for ensuring a dry and comfortable experience during your trip. Insoles not only enhance the fit of the boots but also greatly improve wearer comfort. By investing in well-designed insoles, you can significantly enhance the overall fit, comfort, and moisture management of your footwear, resulting in a more enjoyable and satisfying outdoor adventure.

Manufacturers are aware of the importance of insoles, and some of them include high-quality options with their shoes. For example, Salomon utilizes removable OrthoLite footbeds in their footwear. However, not all brands prioritize premium insoles, which can affect the overall experience. If you find that the original shoe insole lacks reliability, it is recommended to seek professional inserts. Superfeet and Powerstep are among the best on the market.

Fastening system

The lacing or fastening system is a frequently underestimated feature that holds significant importance when selecting summer hiking boots. It greatly influences the fit, comfort, and performance of the footwear.

There are basically three types of lacing systems:

  • Traditional fastening systems remain prevalent in the outdoor shoe market, as they offer a simple and cost-effective solution. These systems typically incorporate elements such as D-rings, hooks, eyelets, webbing, and round or flat laces.
  • Quick-release lacing systems are designed for convenient and efficient use. They consist of elements like cord, cord clip, and cord lock, enabling one-pull tightening and easy removal. Salomon is renowned for its Quicklace system, featured in lighter models like the Speedcross 6 and X Ultra 4 GTX.
  • Hi-tech fastening systems are designed with advanced features to provide fast and precise adjustments, ensuring a comfortable and secure fit in any conditions. The BOA Fit System stands out as one of the top representatives of this type of lacing system. Known for its versatility, the BOA system can be found in various footwear options, including trail runners like the La Sportiva Cyklon, shoes, and even heavy-duty boots.


Shoe weight holds significance not only for ultralighters but also for most serious hikers and backpackers. The weight of summer boots can vary significantly due to various factors. It’s important to note that there is typically a tradeoff between weight and the level of support and stability provided by the boots. Lighter models generally offer less support and stability, while heavier designs provide more support and lateral stability, albeit with a heavier feel (each gram on the shoe feels like 5-6 additional grams on the back). The weight of the shoe can significantly impact its overall performance. Here are the typical weight ranges for different categories of footwear suitable for summer hiking:

  • Sandals usually weigh less than 600 to 800+ grams per pair, with some exceptions like the Xero Shoes Z-Trail EV sandals, which weigh only 307 grams.
  • Barefoot and minimalist shoes generally weigh between 300 and 500+ grams per pair.
  • Trail runners and hiking shoes vary in weight. Lighter trail runners like the Altra Lone Peak 7 typically weigh around 600 grams per pair, while heavier models can exceed 900 grams or more.
  • Hiking and backpacking boots are the heaviest among the different categories. Their weight can range from around 850 grams for lighter models like the Salomon X Ultra 4 Mid GTX to over 1300 grams for heavier and sturdier boots like the Salomon Quest 4 GTX.


Extremely important for summer and hot weather hiking is the breathability/air permeability of the footwear. Adequately ventilated shoes that can provide sufficient ventilation and air circulation will reduce the temperature and humidity inside. And dry shoes often mean that your feet stay cool, comfortable, and healthy. Don’t underestimate moisture. It might seem innocuous but it can easily translate into blisters, rashes, and infections when inside your shoe (i.e. in constant contact with your feet) for a prolonged time.

The breathability of footwear is influenced by various factors. The choice of upper materials plays a role, with synthetic materials offering better permeability and faster moisture transmission. The tightness of the knit or weave also affects breathability, as tight meshes hinder air circulation. The shoe’s anatomy, such as the presence of perforations, can improve breathability. It’s worth noting that waterproof features, while beneficial for keeping moisture out, can reduce overall breathability.

Water resistance

Waterproof boots and shoes have become commonplace for year-round hiking and backpacking. While waterproof hiking boots dominate the market today, waterproofness is not essential for most cases, especially in summer. Even the most advanced waterproof breathable membranes (GORE-TEX) reduce breathability increasing the chance of wetting from the inside. Thus we recommend non-waterproof boots (Merrel Moab are an excellent choice for dry and hot conditions) unless hiking in bad weather or mountain regions where the weather conditions change really fast. Of course, waterproofness gives protection from the environment. GORE-TEX shoes are designed to provide protection from the elements and if your trip presupposes walking in humid climates, waterproof shoes could be a good option.

Support, stability & traction

When it comes to the support, stability, and traction of boots, the midsole, insole, and outsole are key components to consider. Resistance to slippage a.k.a. traction depends on the slip resistance characteristics of shoes and materials under certain conditions. Navigating wet, muddy, and challenging terrain can pose significant challenges to footwear. Since the outsole is the part of the shoe that makes direct contact with the ground, it should provide enough grip and traction to avoid slipping, stumbling or falling. Outsole design, materials, and tread patterns should harmonize with the intended use of the footwear. Crossing boulder fields is very different from hiking in the desert, tackling mountainous terrain or bushwhacking. That’s why it’s so important to choose footwear with the correct soiling.

As mentioned earlier in the sections discussing the midsole and insole, these components are essential for offering cushioning, support, and stability. Thus, a well-rounded footwear solution includes a midsole that effectively absorbs shocks, an insert that enhances comfort, and an outsole with reliable slip resistance and an appropriate tread pattern. This combination ensures optimal performance and versatility across various conditions. For really tough terrain and when maximum support is needed, a solid option is the Salomon Quest 4 GTX with 4D Advanced Chassis as this technology gives better foot control for increased support and stability. A lighter and more breathable option for hot weather is the Salomon X Ultra 4 with an aggressive lug pattern for a confident grip on difficult terrain.


The durability of backpacking shoes is closely tied to their ability to resist abrasion and wear. Several factors influence this characteristic, including the materials and technologies employed, the intensity and duration of use, the terrain and weather conditions encountered, and proper storage practices. Leather, renowned for its resilience, has become a popular choice for hiking footwear due to its ability to withstand rough treatment. On the other hand, synthetic materials, while lighter, generally have a shorter lifespan compared to leather options.

Everyone wants to have functional and durable boots or shoes that can withstand a decade or more of heavy use. Unfortunately, finding such boots these days is highly unlikely. However, most of the models featured in this review as well as similar options within the same price range should last at least a couple of seasons of moderate use. Lighter models (Altra Lone Peak 7) usually have a useful lifespan of 400-650 km (approximately 250-400 miles), while more solid boots (Salomon Quest 4 GTX) can hold up well to long-term abuse for 800-1000 km (500-620 miles) or even more.


Hard and rough surfaces could be detrimental to your feet. Hence you need footwear capable of providing a good level of protection. Different types of footwear give different levels of protection for the feet against harsh conditions. Obviously, solid boots should be much more reliable than barefoot or minimalist shoes or sandals. And they usually are more reliable in such conditions.

Hiking footwear is designed with various features to ensure protection on the trails. These include reinforced toe and heel areas, commonly made from abrasion-resistant rubber, to enhance durability and shield against impacts. Integrated or gusseted tongues, with or without padding, serve to prevent unwanted objects from entering the shoes, such as pebbles, debris, or water. The choice of materials also plays a significant role in protection, with thick soles and deep treads providing adequate defense against rocks and sharp objects.


Summer shoe prices vary a lot. As with other outdoor products, the main factors for this include:

  • Type of footwear: boots generally have a higher price point compared to shoes, while hiking shoes tend to cost more than trail runners, and trail-running shoes are usually pricier than sandals and minimalist shoes.
  • Brand popularity: well-known brands like Salomon, La Sportiva, Salewa, KEEN, and Altra are often associated with high-quality hiking boots, which may result in a higher price due to the brand reputation.
  • Materials used: the use of advanced, hi-tech materials typically incurs higher costs compared to cheaper materials, affecting the overall price of the footwear.
  • Technical features: footwear with additional technical features, such as advanced lacing systems or innovative components, often comes at a higher price point reflecting the added functionality and performance.
  • Durability and construction quality: better designed and more durable footwear that lasts more usually costs top dollar.
  • Waterproof breathable membrane: boots equipped with a waterproof breathable membrane, such as GORE-TEX, generally carry a higher price tag compared to non-waterproof alternatives, reflecting the added cost of the waterproofing technology.


To enhance your summer hiking experience, it’s important to choose the appropriate footwear. You have various options available based on factors like terrain, distance, weather, and personal preferences. These include sandals, barefoot shoes, minimalist or trail-running shoes, hiking shoes, hiking boots, and backpacking boots.

When tackling rough and snowy terrain, hiking boots and backpacking boots are highly recommended. In hot weather conditions, the popular choices are sandals and trail-running shoes, although breathable hiking shoes are also suitable. It’s important to avoid waterproof footwear in warm and dry weather to prevent discomfort. However, for unpredictable weather conditions, opt for waterproof boots and shoes that provide adequate breathability. Whatever your favorite, choose smartly.

What’s your favorite choice for summer hiking? Do you prefer boots or shoes and why? Drop us a line in the comments section below.


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Best Hiking Socks

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Foot and Ankle Injuries


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