Best Of

12 Good Boots: Find Your Perfect Hiking Footwear For Spring 2014

A stalwart among outdoors gear, the humble hiking boot has receded in popularity over recent years as backpackers and day-hikers have drifted to lighter footwear and trail-running shoes. But the foot-protecting design of a good boot remains relevant (if not sometimes requisite) to anyone looking to put down miles on a trail and over rough terrain.

The boot genre, one of the most saturated in the outdoors industry, has dozens of players. I took a comprehensive look at the category this spring to update my shoe-loving self as well as snoop for changes in the space.

12 boot models lined up, ready to test

In the end, dramatic innovations were few. But good quality and fine out-of-box fit, I’m happy to say, is now standard with the major brands. Here’s my breakdown of a dozen new and stand-out models, from full-on stompers to hybrid high-top footwear I’d call “fast and light.” —Stephen Regenold