keen targhee boot

The Best Men’s Hiking Boots of 2020

If you’re looking for the best men’s hiking boots, look no further. We’ve tested dozens of hiking boots for men from the best hiking boot brands over hundreds of miles to determine which hiking boots are right for you.

Hiking boots are an incredibly personal tool. They must fit perfectly, perform well in varied terrain, and keep your feet protected, dry, and healthy. It’s a tough task deserving deep research. We’ve spent a lot of time doing that research for you.

This article lays out the best hiking boots for men after dozens of short- and long-distance hikes. We’ve also tested these boots on and off trail — bushwhacking through the Rocky Mountains, deserts, and prairies. Jump to our top picks below:

Before we dive into the specific boots, a note on fit: Hiking boots need to fit your unique feet well to function correctly. Be sure to try your new hiking boots well in advance of a major hike. Finally, note that not every boot works for every person or situation.

Looking for lighter shoes for hiking? Check out our article on the best hiking shoes here.

We did our best to break down our favorites for specific activities. But if you can’t find a great hiking boot for your needs in this list, check out our guide on how to choose hiking boots below and head to your local shop. Happy trails!

The Best Hiking Boots for Men in 2020

Best All-Around Hiking Boot: Salomon X Ultra 3 Mid GTX

Salomon X Ultra 3 Mid GTX Review

The Salomon X Ultra 3 Mid GTX is a very comfortable, fairly light, waterproof boot. It fits many hikers’ feet well right out of the box. Our testing, both on and off the trail, left us looking forward to more miles in these boots.

Thanks to its burly Contagrip outsole, it has provided good traction. We used it on trails and even steep, muddy roads while turkey hunting where trucks had gotten stuck. They kept the tester on his feet.

The GORE-TEX liner provides good waterproofness and reasonable breathability for cold through temperately warm weather. And at just under a pound per boot (1 pound 15.6 ounces per pair), these are quite light for a supportive, midheight hiker.

Don’t trust us? Check out the 425 reviews resulting in a 4.25-star rating at REI. Read our full review here.

Check price at REI

Runner-Up All-Around Hiker: KEEN Targhee III Waterproof Mid

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The Targhee III is the most current version of a KEEN mainstay that has been in its lineup for a very long time. And it’s been around for a good reason: It’s a great hiking boot for a lot of people.

It’s reasonably light, at a little over 2 pounds per pair. It’s waterproof, using KEEN’s proprietary KEEN.DRY membrane. And it’s very comfortable right out of the box. Our first test was on a hike of about 12 miles round trip over rocky, sometimes muddy trail. And it performed perfectly with no blisters, happy feet, and great traction.

The Targhee III is a direct competitor to the Salomon X Ultra 3 Mid GTX. It has a similar level of support, weight, and even appearance. But it seems to fit those with a wider foot a little better. They’re both excellent boots that will hold up for years of hiking. The Targhee III is particularly impressive in its lightweight performance at a very reasonable price for a good boot.

Check price at REI

Best for Rough Terrain: La Sportiva Trango Tech GTX Boot

La-Sportiva-Trang-Tec-GTX-Boot-mountaineering

Developed in collaboration with legendary climber Steve House, The La Sportiva Trango Tech GTX is a very advanced hiking boot. And, in all honesty, it’s also a pretty capable mountaineering boot. But we’ve put it to the test on multiday hikes spanning dozens of miles in extremely tough alpine terrain and found it to be a stellar performer, both on and off the trail.

While the Trango Tech GTX has features suitable for mountaineering like a “climbing zone” with a sticky rubber edge on the front of the sole and “to-the-toe” lacing, it’s light enough at 21.8 ounces for long miles on the trail.

This boot has a GORE-TEX liner to ensure waterproofness. Having slogged through running streams and mud for miles, we can attest that it lives up to its waterproof claim. It uses rugged, durable fabrics for the upper that maintains good breathability even in fairly warm weather. Our tests saw temps up to the 80s Fahrenheit, and while our feet did get warm, they were never unbearably hot — impressive for such a burly boot.

Other things we love about the boot: the gusset-free tongue, the 3D Flex system for precise support on rough terrain, and the low-profile but grippy outsole/midsole. Overall, this is a great boot if your trails take you to high, remote places beyond the end of the trail. Read our full review here.

Check price at REI

Best-Fitting Hiking Boot: Tecnica Forge

Tecnica-Outdoor_Forge-S_close-up_hiking_TON5594

The Tecnica Forge is the only hiking boot on the market that you can thermo-mold to your individual foot. That means it is customized to your unique foot shape by a professional boot-fitter. In short, it fits incredibly well out of the box, but it gets even better after a fitter heats it and vacuums it to your foot.

There’s no surprise that this technology comes from Tecnica, a leading ski boot manufacturer. But does it work well in a hiking boot? Oh yeah!

We’ve tested the Forge more than most of the boots on this list over 2 years. From hiking a 35-mile loop through the Grand Tetons to elk hunting in the White River National Forest, this boot has taken serious abuse and is still going strong. It’s comfortable and supportive while providing excellent grip on terrain from dry mountain rocks to muddy trails.

The Forge weighs in at 21 ounces for a men’s size 9. That makes it light enough for big days while still being supportive enough to haul heavy packs. We tested the leather model (it also comes in synthetic) and found it very durable.

The GORE-TEX liner does a great job of keeping feet dry through soggy grass or puddles, but it can get a little warm in hot weather. And the deeply lugged Vibram “adaptive” outsole flexes well even though it gives significant support and foot protection.

For those looking for a custom-fit boot (those with hard-to-fit feet are especially well-served), this is an excellent model to try out. While you can buy it online, this one is best purchased in a shop where pros can make customizations. Read our full review here.

Learn more here

Hiking Boots: Best of the Rest

SCARPA Maverick Mid GTX

Scarpa Maverick GTX

Lighter and more breathable than its cousin, the Zodiac Plus GTX, SCARPA’s new Maverick GTX offers up a more agile, athletic hiking boot. Synthetic leather and polyester combine with a GORE-TEX layer to provide waterproofing. It’s amply breathable, though not remarkably so; on hot hikes, you’ll still have some lightly damp socks.

But SCARPA swung for immediate flexibility and comfort, and it definitely reduced the break-in period of its traditionally rugged-but-reluctant hikers. This was not the most stable boot we tested, though it kept feet acceptably secure. And while the lug pattern isn’t the most aggressive SCARPA offers, it has a fast profile with enough bite to keep pushing.

Plus, at $169, it’s a value compared to SCARPA’s other offerings.

Check price at Amazon

Merrell Moab 2 Ventilator Mid

Merrell Moab 2 Ventilator Mid hiking boot

Probably the most comfortable boot we tested straight outta the box, the Merrell Moab 2 Mid Ventilator (in a swanky Outdoor Voices collab color scheme) focuses more on all-day wearability than outright defense against the elements. There’s no waterproof membrane — but a suede-leather upper will repel some moisture.

But Merrell built the Moab 2 Ventilator — as the name suggests — to keep the boot airy and light. At 17 ounces per boot, it’s among the lightest boots we tested. And while the tread is not aggressive enough to scramble down every trail carefree, it handles plenty of varied terrain with aplomb. Moreover, it’s as comfortable walking along sidewalks in mountain towns as it is hiking any of the rocky paths out of it.

Check Price at Outdoor Voices (special colorway)Check price at REI

Vasque Breeze AT Mid GTX

Vasque Breeze AT GTX hiking boot

For stability and ultimate protection against jagged rocks, sharp sticks, and deceptively deep puddles, the Vasque Breeze AT Mid GTX is one heck of a go-to. We’ll be honest, after several weeks of testing, we’re still breaking them into that sweet spot, but these boots are great for more gnarly hikes.

These are not lightweight boots, mind you. At 1 pound 5.5 ounces per boot — with the protective PU shank — you really feel the boot as you step. But Vasque mitigates overheating with mesh hits dotting the Nubuck leather upper. Still, with the GORE-TEX liner adding a layer of waterproofing, these boots do retain heat more than others we tested.

But if protection is first on your list when shopping for hiking boots, these merit consideration.

Check price at REI

Crispi Nevada GTX Hunting Boot

crispi nevada gtx

If you’ve never hunted, you may wonder why we included a hunting boot in our top boots for hiking. Well, it’s because hunting puts boots through the wringer like few other endeavors. And if your hikes take you off trail, through rough terrain, or through brush, well, you’ll appreciate the durability and support of these boots.

Many hunters swear by Crispi boots, and the Nevada GTX is the brand’s cornerstone uninsulated boot. The full-grain leather boot has a GORE-TEX liner and burly Vibram outsole. It has a moderately stiff sole, which will provide significant support for those carrying heavy packs.

Consumers love the boots for out-of-the-box comfort, durability, and traction. We reviewed the insulated version of the Nevada in 2018, and we loved them, particularly for their ability to stand up to remarkable levels of abuse. But for most hikers, the insulation will be too warm for summer use.

The Crispi Nevada GTX is an excellent, rugged boot. And for those who also cover big miles during mild-weather hunting, it’s a great single product that will span seasons. All that said, the Crispi Nevada GTX comes at a hefty price of $399, so these are a major investment.

Check price at CampSaver

How to Choose Hiking Boots

Choosing hiking footwear is an ever-complicated and personal endeavor. Boots built for durability and stability tend to be less forgiving than most footwear, and they require a more precise fit. Here are a few things that can help you find the best boot for your foot. And if you need more detailed info, check out our 20 tips on buying the perfect boot.

Know Your Size & Boot Fit

Remember those weird metal slide things that you’d step into for sizing? They’re still a helpful tool. Feet can change and grow as we get older, and getting precise measurements at your local REI or sporting goods store can help you choose the right pair. You might wear a 9 in one brand and a 10 in another, or need a narrow or wide size. Be open to trying something outside of your size range.

If you plan on doing long days in your new boots, some foot swelling is probably in your future. Try on boots at the end of the day, as feet tend to be bigger then. (Weird, I know.) If a boot feels snug all around, a half size up is probably your better bet. And if they’re tight in the toebox on Day 1, you don’t want to experience Day 2.

Avoid Hot Spots & Get Your System Down Early

Don’t try on boots with socks you wouldn’t wear while hiking in them. If you’re looking for a boot to get you through winter, try them on with winter-weight socks. And if you’re looking for summer support, put on your lightweight hiking socks. The biggest thing here is to try and avoid hot spots that can lead to blisters. You’ll want to nail down your system before heading into the woods.

Is the fit a bit off still? Another thing that can help correct fit is finding an insole that you like. Superfeet is a favorite, and the brand has a plethora of insoles to choose from for various scenarios. Additionally, you can try multiple lacing systems to get the fit of your boot just so.

Where Are You Going?

Are you heading to move fast in steep, rocky, desert terrain? Think breathability, traction, and ankle support. Going on a late fall hunt with a heavy pack in the Northwest? Think waterproof, stability, and warmth. Not sure what types of terrains you’re getting into? An all-around boot with water resistance might be your best bet.

Above all, wherever you’re going, break in your boots before you go. Wear them around the house, to the store, and on some local short trails before hitting the big hills. Break-in time can vary from boot to boot. Read reviews. Know what your break-in goal is for your pair of hiking boots. Your feet will thank you in the long term.

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Sean McCoy
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Editor-in-Chief Sean McCoy is a life-long outdoorsman who grew up hunting and fishing central Wisconsin forests and lakes. He joined GearJunkie after a 10-year stint as a newspaperman in the Caribbean, where he learned sailing and wooden-boat repair. Based in GearJunkie's Denver office, McCoy is an avid trail runner, camper, hunter, angler, mountain biker, skier, and beer tester.

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