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Best Backpacking Boots: A Must-Have Gear for Every Trip

Best backpacking boots
Russell McCarty
Written by Russell McCarty

If you’re looking to head out into the wilderness for an extended period of time, you definitely need to make sure you have the proper equipment. As you might know, hiking boots are listed as one of the most important equipments you would need to take with you.

However, you have to make sure that they are high quality and that they are going to get you anywhere you want to go, but that’s not always easy to do. So, how can you find the best backpacking boots? You’ll need a little bit of help of course, and that’s where we come in.

Our top picks

ProductSizeWeightMaterialPrice
Scarpa Kinesis7.5 – 15, including half sizes4.2 poundsNubuck leatherCheck price on Amazon
Salomon CosmicDifferent size options3 poundsCanvasCheck price on Amazon
The North Face Ultra Fastpack8 -143 poundsGore-TexCheck price on Amazon
Asolo Fugitive7 – 14, including half sizes & wide1.8 poundsLeatherCheck price on Amazon
La Sportiva HyperEU sizes 39.5 – 47, including half sizes3.5 poundsLeather, Gore-TexCheck price on Amazon
Keen Targhee7 – 17, including some half sizes3 poundsLeather, TextileCheck price on Amazon
Salomon Quest7 – 14, including half sizes4 poundsLeather, Textile, SyntheticCheck price on Amazon
Vasque St. Elias7 – 14, including half sizes4.2 poundsNubuck leatherCheck price on Amazon

How To Buy Backpacking Boots

If you’re looking for boots, you need to know what they are made of and what they are going to do for you. They should to be high-quality in order to give you the comfort when walking long distances, especially if you will carry a heavy backpack with you.

For that reason, we’re going to talk about some of the most important aspects of backpacking boots and also what you need to know in order to make sure you’re choosing the right ones that will help you while performing any outdoors activities.

Upper Material

The first thing you have to look at is the material of the uppers for your chosen pair of boots. You want them to be high quality and capable of resisting the bad weather and a whole lot more. You should make sure that they are made with some type of leather or waterproof material that will keep your feet warm and dry.

Boots upper material

There are a variety of different materials, including full-grain or split grain leather, Nubuck leather and a waterproof membrane. If you’re not so sure about these materials you can also opt for a vegan friendly material instead.

Midsole Material

There are really only two different types of midsoles in a pair of hiking boots that you can choose from. These are going to improve the amount of cushion that you have, but some are going to be more comfortable than others.

You can get EVA or polyurethane and which you prefer will be up to you. EVA is usually a little lighter and a little more cushioned as well as being less expensive, but if you’re really looking for a lot of support you’ll want to consider the polyurethane instead as they can be much more durable for longer periods of walking.

Outsole Material

All hiking boots will use rubber on the outsoles, though that rubber may include different types of additives to make them more secure and durable. What you’re really looking for in this instance is the lug pattern and the heel brake.

Backpacking boots outsoles

You want plenty of traction, which means deep-set, thick lugs to provide you with plenty of grip. You also want them to be wide-set to get rid of mud and debris they might otherwise pick up. With a heel brake you want a good distinction between the front of the foot and the arch to aid in steeper descent.

Internal Support

There are really only two different types of internal support that you’ll find with backpacking boots. These boots can have shanks, which are between 3mm and 5mm with some stiffness in the midsole to give more load support. These may cover all or part of the midsole.

Boots internal support

On the other hand, plates can be included with shanks or not and will fit between the shank (or midsole if no shank) and the outsole. They help provide just a little bit more support against rocks and other rough things you may step on in the woods.

Crampon Capability

If you’re going to be hiking, backpacking or mountaineering in areas where there is a lot of rocky ground or steep climbing, you may have to use crampons. This is going to allow you to climb more carefully and successfully.

Crampon compatible

You won’t have to worry about slipping or falling while you’re on the mountains. You’ll be able to climb easily and you’ll be able to continue on with your adventure without having to worry about damage or danger on the way. If you try to climb without crampons you could end up in danger, after all.

Style

The specific style of the boots you choose is going to be entirely up to you. You want something that will fit you comfortably and allow you to easily maneuver through woods, trees, mountains and a whole lot more.

You have to make sure you can wear them comfortably and also that you can move in them and climb. You don’t want to get out in the middle of the trip and realize that you don’t like your boots.

The Backpacking Boots You Need To Check Out

Now that we have explained important aspects about backpacking boots, it is time to show you our selection.

Scarpa Kinesis Boots

Weight: 4.2 poundsScarpa Kinesis Boots

Specific features: Waterproof, Nubuck leather uppers, all-terrain soles, Gore-Tex lining, ankle height, cushioned collar

Best use: Longer treks, more mountainous or rocky regions

If you’re looking for a pair of boots that will help you travel through the woods or even the mountains with no trouble at all, then you’re definitely in the right place with the Scarpa Kinesis Boots.

They’re made with Nubuck leather uppers to keep them waterproof and sturdy no matter where you go and a Gore-Tex lining to make sure you’re comfortable at all times.

Not only that, but the cushioned collar makes them more comfortable around your ankle while still fitting tight and the micro-pulley hardware means that they’ll tighten up just the way you need, so there’s no slippage. Also, they have a wide set style that ensures mud and rocks will slide off easily.

However, people say that the boots are a little large, so they are not true to size. Additionally, they say that the upper shoe string hooks are pretty weak; and that they feel a little stiff.

PROS:

  • They are waterproof
  • They keep debris out
  • They have a cushioned collar that enhances comfort
 CONS:

  • They are not true to size
  • Their strings are weak
  • They feel quite rigid

Related: For climbers, we recommend the Scarpa Origin Climbing Shoe. They are made with a lush leather material; they have a flat profile that makes them very comfortable; and they have a hook-and-loop closure to keep the foot warm and well-positioned.

Check the price on Amazon

Salomon Cosmic Boots

Weight: 3 poundsSalomon Boots

Specific features: Women’s shoes, canvas upper, Gore-Tex lining, standard style

Best use: Casual trips, short trips

If you’re looking for a pair of boots that are going to help you the next time your family wants to take a hike, these Salomon Cosmic Boots may be just what you’re looking for.

They have a very casual style with a canvas exterior and Gore-Tex lining, which means that they are water resistant. These boots also have a small arch for more support while providing plenty of traction for hiking over rocky areas.

Though they’re not designed for more extensive hiking or heading out in less desirable weather, they can be used for daily wear as well as during mild trips. These boots come in several sizes and have an ergonomic fit to women’s foot shape and size. They come about to ankle height and lace firmly up the front to provide a tight fit easily.

Some buyers have said that the boots are too small. In fact, people had to go up one whole size to get the perfect fit. Also, they say that they do not keep the water and debris out; and that are quite heavy.

PROS:

  • They have a small arch that provides a great support and traction
  • They were design to fit women’s soot shape and size
  • They offer a tight fit around the ankle area
 CONS:

  • They are too small
  • They are not 100% waterproof
  • They are not too lightweight

Related: As an option to make these boots waterproof, you can get the Salomon Low Trail Gaiters. It is made of a durable and stretch fabric; it is very breathable and it has a easy on/off hook-and-loop closure.

Check the price on Amazon

The North Face Ultra Fastpack  Boots

Weight: 3 poundsThe North Face Boots

Specific features: 3 color options, Gore-Tex interior, 3 color options, lightweight uppers, mid-cut style

Best use: Shorter trips, less difficult trips

These The North Face Ultra Fastback Boots are designed for shorter trips where you’ll need some traction and support. They have a moderate amount of traction on the bottom and you will not feel discomfort or problems while wearing them.

These boots have a unique design that’s intended to help you walk properly and keep you aligned even when you’re traveling in less than desirable conditions or rough terrains. With superior comfort, they’re intended to make you enjoy your time in the outdoors without having to worry about slipping, or falling.

Nevertheless, buyers have said that these boots do not offer a lot of protection against extensive climbs in rocky areas because of their type of traction. Also, they say that they are not waterproof at all and that the rubber nubs are weak. In fact, some people had to glue them after 8 to 10 hikes to keep them usable.

PROS:

  • They are designed to give you support and to be comfortable
  • They keep your walking aligned
  • They offer a fair traction for walks
 CONS:

  • They do not have the type of traction for long hikes
  • They are not waterproof
  • The rubber nubs tend to tear off easily

Related: With The North Face Unisex Borealis you will no longer worry about having a resistant backpack for your trips. It is constructed with a suspension system that guarantees comfort during the entire day; it has a easy-access side pockets; and it has a 25-liter capacity.

Check the price on Amazon

Asolo Fugitive Boot

Weight: 1.8 poundsAsolo Fugitive Boots

Specific features: Leather upper, lug-style sole, waterproof exterior, 3 color options, ankle height

Best use: Shorter trips, moderate intensity trips

If you’re looking for some less expensive hiking boots that will get you through your next backpacking trip with ease, then the Asolo Fugitive Boots will do just that. They are made of leather upper that provides a waterproof and tight fit up to the ankle, while the laces on the front are secured to keep them firm while you’re walking.

These boots also have a lug-style sole with large and wide enough markings to keep you going over difficult areas and different types of terrain. The boots are breathable, flexible and lightweight, so they provide comfortably over an extended period of time, no matter if you use them in the city or in the backcountry.

People who have used these boots say that after a while – 12 to 15 hikes – the soles started to separate from the bottom, considerably reducing its traction. Also, they say that the laces are so weak that they break in no time; and that the stitching on the inside back of the heel is so wide that it causes discomfort.

PROS:

  • They are made of leather, which means they are waterproof
  • They are breathable, lightweight and flexible
  • They have a lug-style sole to make it easier for you to go through rough terrains
 CONS:

  • The soles are not as durable as the rest of the boot
  • The laces tend to break after mild use
  • The inside back of the hill causes discomfort

Related: The Asolo Men’s Agent GV Hiking Shoes are pretty useful when hiking since they are water resistant, their soles have a natural shape; and their interior is made of a Gore-Tex material, making them comfortable.

Check the price on Amazon

La Sportiva Hyper Boot

Weight: 3.5 poundsLa Sportiva Hyper Mid GTX Boot

Specific features: Leather upper, EVA midsole, sticky Idro-Grip x-traction outsole, Gore-Tex lining

Best use: Inexpensive, moderate length trips, moderately intense trips

The La Sportiva Hyper Boot is definitely uniquely designed, but in a very positive way. The laces up the front are designed to stay tight no matter what, and the shoe itself fits just around the ankle to give you a little more support while walking.

There’s a decent amount of tread on the bottom to provide you with plenty of traction through the Sticky Idro-Grip outsoles which are designed to help you get a grip on just about anything you come across out there on the trails. Also, these boots are waterproof and will keep warm and dry while you’re walking for longer periods of time in less than desirable weather.

One major downside that these boots have is that they are too tight and people with big foot might found them uncomfortable. Additionally, people say that the stripes of the heel are made of a poor material; and that the booths themselves do not last long.

PROS:

  • Their laces are meant to stay tight all the time
  • They give you a lot of traction
  • They are waterproof
 CONS:

  • They are too tight
  • The stripes in the heels are not strong enough
  • They will not last long

Related: We also recommend the La Sportiva Mercury Sweater Top since it is made of polyester, has a pull on closure and is long sleeve, which makes it really comfortable.

Check the price on Amazon

Keen Targhee Boot

Weight: 3 poundsKeen Boots

Specific features: 8 color options, ankle height, heel lock, multi-directional lugs, EVA midsole, leather and textile upper

Best use: Moderate intensity trips, moderate length trips

The Keen Targhee Boot is designed to keep you comfortable and warm no matter where you are going through. They have a leather and textile upper that fits all the way to the ankle, as well as a rubber sole that is designed to withstand rough terrain. Also, they are lightweight and comfortable.

The multi-directional lugs mean that they can get a good grip while also getting rid of dirt, rocks, mud and other debris that often gets stuck in the treads of your boots. The hydrophobic mesh interior lining keeps your feet dry while the outer membrane ensures that your feet still get plenty of air.

Since these boots are quite cheap, it is more than expected that they will not last long In fact, people said that after seven months, they started coming apart. They also say that the sole is not firmly attached to the rest of the shoe, that they do not keep the water out; and that they come smaller than they should.

PROS:

  • They are made of a leather and textile upper
  • They have rubber soles
  • They are really breathable
 CONS:

  • They are not durable at all
  • The soles tends to separate from the shoe in no time
  • They are not true to size

Related: The Keen Men’s Newport H2 Sandal is what we recommend when it comes to water shoes. It provides the classic airiness of a sandal with toe protection; it has a razor-sipped sole for traction; and it is made of a washable polyester.

Check the price on Amazon

Salomon Quest Boot

Weight: 4 poundsSalomon Guest Boots

Specific features: Leather, textile and synthetic upper, synthetic soles, rugged lacing hardware, Gore-Tex interior, over the ankle height

Best use: Moderate intensity trips, moderate length trips

The Salomon Quest Boot is designed to fit comfortably and snugly around your foot and ankle while you’re hiking. This provides a higher amount of stability and protection in case of a dangerous terrain. They also have a breathable material that makes them and comfortable

It uses high quality treads to make sure you won’t slip and fall on rocks, and also has a rubber toe cap to protect your feet further. The high fit of these boots ensures your ankles are protected as does the cushioning located in this upper area. The interior is filled with Gore-Tex to keep your feet warm and dry while you’re walking as well.

Nevertheless, the soles are not as durable as they should since users have said that they started separating from the heel after the fourth day hiking. Also, they say that it is not waterproof and that some people may find it too stiff.

PROS:

  • They guarantee high stability
  • They are made of a breathable material
  • They provide protection to your ankles with their high-fit design
 CONS:

  • The soles are not firmly attached to the rest of the boot
  • They are not 100% waterproof
  • They might be too rigid

Related: For those who does not own a good backpack yet, we recommend the Salomon Advanced Skin Backpack. Thanks to its design, you will barely notice you have it. It made of an elastic fabric, so it is breathable, it can be stretched and wrapped around you and it keep things as close as they can be.

Check the price on Amazon

Vasque St. Elias Boot

Weight: 4.2 poundsVasque st. elias

Specific features: Low price, 2 color options, moderate height, Gore-Tex interior, breathable material, Nubuck leather upper, EVA midsole

Best use: Moderate intensity trips, moderate length trips

These Vasque St. Elias Boots are designed to give you just the right amount of support while you’re traveling. They offer a good amount of balance and tread to keep you walking and moving along no matter where you choose to hike. The EVA in the footbeds improves your comfort over a longer term walking

They are made with Nubuck leather uppers, which provides a waterproof exterior, as well as Gore-Tex interior to ensure water stays away from your feet and moisture is never a problem. These boots lace up around the ankle and provide a more aesthetic fit that you will enjoy wearing over the long term

However, users say that these boots are a bit tight, which makes them really uncomfortable. Also, they say that they do not last long since their laces are weak and that they are not as waterproof as the company let you believe.

PROS:

  • They provide a good balance
  • They have EVA in their footbeds
  • They are laced up around the ankle to give you an aesthetic fit
 CONS:

  • They are quite tight
  • Their laces are weak
  • They are not 100% waterproof

Check the price on Amazon

Conclusion

There are a lot of boots that you can choose from. Some of them are better than others. Hopefully, after reading this article, you would be better at choosing the best according to the material they are made of, the support they offer to give you comfort, and so on.

So, start checking out the options and see what you can find. And while you’re at it, let us know, what are your favorite hiking boots? Why do you keep going back to them every time? What’s your favorite trip you took them in? How well are they still sticking in there for you? Share your thoughts on the comments!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Russell McCarty
Russell McCarty

Russell considers backpacking one of his great passions in life. He actually managed to transform his passion into a living becoming a professional adventurer. Russell loves long-distance backpacking and he enriched his portfolio with famous trails like the Alaska-Yukon Expedition or the Appalachian Trail. With thousands of miles under his feet, Russell is the expert to consult when it comes to how to prepare for a successful outdoor adventure.

  • Andrew Brown

    I had only four trips in my life. Every time I have worn ordinary running shoes. I like that these shoes are very comfortable and lightweight. However, all of my friends tell me that I have to buy backpacking shoes. I am the one in our company without backpacking shoes. Are they really necessary?

  • Russell McCarty

    If you are going for long stretches – camping and trekking, then a pair of backpacking boots is a necessity. They provide the comfort and traction for different terrain not present in ordinary running shoes. Yes, you need them Andrew!

    • huntgath

      I did the High Sierra Trail, roughly 80 miles or so, with the Merrell Moabs. My feet felt fine, no blisters, hike went over well. My pack was probably around 45 lbs. The sales people in REI believed this wasn’t a good choice, I recall the rep saying “you might as well hike in Chacos”. Obviously, I disregarded their arbitrary advice. I ended up using the Moab’s for at least another 50 – 70 miles of backpacking and untold amounts of hiking.

      My question to you Russell, at what point do you recommend going with a true backpacking boot? At a certain distance, backpack weight, conditions, etc? I recently donated my Moabs and am looking for a good medium weight backpacking boot, which are made in USA, or at least not made in China/Taiwan. In essence i’d like to support a smaller company which still manufactures in the nation in which their production began. Please let me know if you have any recommendations.

      Thanks,

      Hunter

  • Carol Stephens

    On every hike, I walk a lot of miles. That’s why I’m looking for hiking boots to buy. I really like the Vasque Men’s St. Elias Gore-Tex Backpacking Boot but I think that they are not winter boots. Do I need winter boots or can good boots with warm socks be enough? What do you think?

  • Russell McCarty

    If you plan to hike during winter then you need a special boots for that. Always buy footwear that is suitable for the activity, season and your own personal needs. Remember that your feet need the right kind of shoes to keep you safe while you walk, run or do sports activities.

  • Sean Nelson

    Hi Hunter! As you know most of our footwear is now being made overseas. Although I still have my Danner that’s USA made. Check it out.

  • Russell McCarty

    Hi Hunter! As you know most of our footwear is now being made overseas.
    Although I still have my Danner that’s USA made. Check it out.

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