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.
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