Lightweight hiking shoes for men have evolved since their inception. Gone are the days of heavier leather shoes; in their place, we have ultralight synthetic hiking shoes made for various terrain. You may ask yourself why you need hiking shoes; as technology improves, we find most hikers will have far more enjoyment in lightweight and comfortable trail running shoes.
These aren’t your average tennis shoes, but high-quality hiking shoes can cover ground in rugged terrain. While normal walking or running shoes are for support on flat pavement, they lack the extra shock absorption, lacing mechanisms, tread, toe protection, and overall durability of even the lowest quality hiking shoe. There is honestly just no comparison.
Footwear is arguably an essential safety gear you bring on the trail, as adequate hiking shoes prevent injury. One ankle twist, one slip of the foot, and your leisurely hike turn into a wilderness survival story.
Best Hiking Shoes For Men
Arc’teryx Norvan LD3
MSRP: $165 | Weight: 1.1 lbs
Vibram® Litebase Sole, InFuse® Midsole, Vibram® Megagrip Outsoles, 4mm Lug Pattern, Ariaprene® Foam Tongue, Internal Foot Wrap, 3D Molded Footbed Liner
- Ultra Lightweight
- Very Comfortable
- Aggressive Heel To Toe
- Great Outsole Grip
- Protection Over Foot
The Arc’teryx Norvan LD3 is the third iteration of the model, and they have delivered a new classic trail running shoe. It’s an exceptionally light trail runner that offers plenty of cushion in the midsole and a pleasurable ride. Style is excellent in these shoes, and they’re one of the sharpest looking trail runners we’ve had the pleasure of testing.
Underfoot is a stiff Vibram mega grip outsole that grips terrain reliably and provides good protection underfoot. The sole isn’t too stiff, though; it has the right amount of flex and a fast transition. It’s an excellent shoe that feels comparable to the long-beloved Hoka One One Speedgoat 4. Fit is nice with a wide toe box great for men and a secure lockdown that keeps the foot in place.
Like most trail runners, if you’re carrying a heavy backpack or rough terrain, a more rugged traditional hiking shoe is better. These shoes have the highest price tag for a men’s hiking shoe that will likely wear out sooner than more conventional shoes. It’s our trail running shoe of choice and what we’ll be wearing this summer.
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Men’s Merrell Moab 2
MSRP: $135 | Weight: 1lb 15 oz
Suede Leather, Mesh Upper, Rubber Toe Caps, Closed Tongues, EVA Footbeds, Air Cushion Heels, Nylon Arch, Vibram Outsole, Deep Lugs
- Super Comfortable
- Decent Traction
- Reliable Fit
- Wide Fit
- High Heel To Toe Drop
- Not Great For Difficult Terrain
The Merrell Moab 2 has been a faithful hiking shoe for a decade. Merrell has taken the approach of “don’t fix what isn’t broke.” It’s a semi-affordable shoe that delivers performance, comfort, and durability. Most notable is the stability and comfort they offer!
They’re more skewed to casual use and well-worn trails as they lack performance. It is due to the bulky design, soft toe cap, and muted outsole, which isn’t great for experienced hikers who tackle big mile days. However, the wide fit, high heel-to-toe drop, and cushion make them very comfortable. The fit is so reliable you’ll likely never experience a break-in period or blister with these shoes, at least in my experience.
There is a lot to love about these traditional men’s hiking shoes. You can opt for the non-waterproof shoe to save some money as they retail for $110. Any man after a conventional hiking shoe will love these reliable shoes.
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Salomon X Ultra 3 LOW
MSRP: $150 | Weight: 1lb 9.9 oz
Gore-Tex Boot Liner, Sculpted Anatomically To Hold Foot, Advanced Chasis, Shock Liners And EVA Heels Cups Provide Support, Mud Guards, Integrated Toe Caps, Dual Rubber Sole For Aggressive Grip
- Great Traction Salomon Lug Pattern
- Stiff Underfoot
- Runs Narrow
- Warm With Gore-Tex
We love these shoes as they are a nice blend between aggressive trail performance and hiking. Salomon X Ultra 3s have a lot of similarities with running shoes as they’re light and nimble but stiff and wide enough to make for a stable shoe. Often voted one of the top hiking shoes on the market, they are perfect for a rocky trail.
From their waterproof but breathable design down to their grippy and rugged bottom soles, these shoes will support you through every trail hike on your trip. The Ultra 3 stands out in the lineup because their Advanced Chassis surrounded the foot in foam that will have your feet forgetting you’re walking in the wilderness! This technology also allows for a more stable heel membrane to keep you upright.
I have a few complaints as they’re a little more aggressive than most hikers need and the price. Salomon footbeds tend to run narrow; we do not recommend these hiking shoes if you have wide feet. Salomon has a newer X Ultra 4, but there have been reports of design flaws, so we recommend the classic X Ultra 3.
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Hoka One One Speedgoat 4
MSRP: $145 | Weight: 1lb 2.4 oz
Mesh Uppers, Lightweight Cushioned Mid-Soles, Roomy Toe Box, Gusseted Tongues For Breathability, Winged Lacing, Vibram Megagrip Outsole
- Very Comfortable
- Roomy Toe Box
- Height Can Make Unstable
Hoka One One Speedgoat 4 is one of our favorite trail running shoes. They are heavily cushioned lightweight trail running shoes with reliable traction. The shoes focus on running, offering minimal upper protection to save weight.
Hoka One One specializes in neutral running shoes. They offer strong arch support and a stable platform to assist people who pronate or have flat feet. The large platform is supported by a thick midsole, making for a comfy ride. The rockered outsole offers excellent traction and feels very nimble underfoot.
We like Speedgoat as they’re the most versatile active shoe for everyday life. They are appropriate in the gym, running on the road, or the trail. If you’d like a lot of bang for your buck, this is a great option. These shoes feel great for the athletic crowd or fast hikers who want to stick to the trail.
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La Sportiva Spire
MSRP: $190 | Weight: 1lb 10.2 oz
Low Profile, Mesh Construction, Vibram Soles Grip Rock, Compression Molded Midsoles, GORE-TEX Membrane, TPU Toe, and Heel Cap, Lace Closure System
- Traction On Rock
- Rubber Toe Cap
If you’re after a shoe that’s up for the trail, then the La Sportiva Spire GTX is a great option. It’s a tremendously versatile shoe as it’s stiff, durable, and offers decent protection. We like this shoe as it’s suitable for scrambles off-trail and long days with a backpack. The ankle collar falls between the shoe and mid-boot, offering more ankle stability than the standard hiking shoe.
The midsole offers a lot of cushion in a stiff package, providing reliable protection and comfort, which is helpful on long trail days or rough terrain off-trail. An outsole that offers reliable grip on various surfaces and a large rubber toe cap are useful in steep terrain.
The negative is these capable shoes come with a high price tag, $190, for a heavy shoe. They aren’t the most versatile and don’t work for most hikers. However, if you love bagging peaks or multi-day hikes, these shoes are exceptional.
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Altra Lone Peak 6
MSRP: $140 | Weight: 1lb 1.4 oz
Mesh Upper, Integrated Tongue, MaxTrac™ Rubber Outsoles, Energy-Return Compound System, ZeroDrop Platform For Low Impact Landings, Wide Footbed, Rock Plate
- Super Comfortable
- Super Lightweight
- Excellent Traction
- Rock Plate
- Wide Toe Box
- Less Durable
- Less Technical
The Altra Lone Peak 6 is a phenomenal men’s trail running shoe. Its highly versatile, super lightweight, and offers excellent shock absorption. That weight does come at some sacrifice to the durability and technical prowess. However, the Lone Peaks are so comfortable and lightweight they’ve become a favorite among minimalists and ultralight thru-hikers.
A wide toe box reduces the chance of blisters for long-distance hikers. That does sacrifice its performance in rougher terrain, but most trail running shoes suffer in this terrain. When everything has a purpose and mçust serve that purpose well, the Altra Lone Peaks are an excellent match. Lone Peaks are similar to the Speedgoat 4, except less cushioned and bringing your foot closer to the ground for more stability.
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Oboz Sawtooth II Low Hiking Shoes
MSRP: $115 | Weight: 1lb 8.8 oz
Waterproof Nubuck Leather, Moisture-Wicking Nylon Mesh Liner, O FIT Insoles, Dual Density EVA Midsoles, Nylon Shanks, Protective Toe Overlay, Asymmetric Collars For Better Ankle Support, Toothy Side Lugs
- Excellent Traction
- Robust Design
- Solid Feature Set
Oboz has made waves in the outdoor footwear sector by making “footwear for every adventure,” as their motto states, and the social and environmental activism that permeates the company. You’ll love their incredibly tacky tread, excellent toe protection, lightweight nature, maximum waterproofing, and intense breathability as a hiker.
As a nature enthusiast, you’ll also feel genuine in your purchase, knowing that every pair sold plants a tree. And this isn’t just for PR! The humanitarian efforts run deep with Oboz! Every shoe not sold is donated to Project Sole; their headquarters are entirely wind-powered, and they only contract their materials from suppliers that meet their environmental and social standards.
If you want great hiking shoes and feel sustainability is a core value, definitely go with the Oboz Sawtooth low hiking shoes.
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Saucony Peregrine 12
MSRP: $130 | Weight: 1 lb. 2.4 oz.
Reinforced Outsole, Foam Midsoles, Everun Topsoles, Deep Lugs, PWRTRAC Rubber Outsole
- Protection Underfoot
- Comfortable Ride
- Excellent Traction
- Reliable Fit
- More Running Shoe
Saucony Peregrine sneakers have long reigned supreme as one of the best trail running shoes money can buy. Now, they have leaped over the line with the Peregrine 12. These rough and tumble hiking shoes will have you bounding over boulders, scrambling over rocks, and trudging through streams with the same ease as if you were on a paved track.
What makes these hiking shoes so superior? The answer is in their ISOFIT technology and moldable comfort. This revamped upper ensures these hiking shoes adapt to every flex and bend your foot through. The ISOFIT also gives these shoes unbelievable breathability, making stinky soggy feet a thing of the past!
The updated lacing system keeps your foot in place even in the harshest terrain without restricting your range of motion. The improved ankle collar eliminates chafing and potential blisters. Not to mention, they look good.
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Adidas Outdoor Terrex Swift R3 GTX
MSRP: $130 | Weight: 1 lb. 8 oz.
Ripstop Mesh Upper, TPU Toe Cap, EVA Midsole, Traxion Rubber Sole
- Tough Upper
- Not Breathable
- Durability Concern With Outsole
It was only a matter of time before Adidas decided to break into the fast-growing hiking shoe market. They didn’t hold anything back when constructing their Terrex Swift R2.
These phenomenal hiking shoes are stable, supportive, durable, and stylish. Their synthetic upper gives them immense breathability, and their Continental Rubber outsole cannot be questioned (even though it isn’t Vibram).
Check Prices On Terrex Swift R3 Hiking Shoes
Salomon OUTline GTX
MSRP: $130 | Weight: 1lb 5 oz
Suede Leather, Mesh Upper, Rubber Toe Caps, GORE-TEX Liners, Midfoot Shanks, Protective Toe Caps, Gusseted Tongues, Ortholite Footbeds, Deep Lugs
- Super Comfortable
- Great Blend Of Shoe And Hiking Components
- Not Great For Difficult Terrain
- Low Top Ankle Support
- Lacks Support
Like many hiking shoes on this list, the Salomon OUTline women’s hiking shoes give you the lightweight, breathable uppers of a trail runner and the rugged outsole of traditional hiking boots.
It is probably the only hiking shoe in the Salomon lineup that has more of a running shoe feel without sacrificing its well-known heavy-duty hiking durability. The ankle cut is low, the Quicklace system is less bulky, the flexibility is excellent, and their Contagrip outsole will keep you upright and sturdy in mud, rocks, and streams.
They require a bit of a break-in period to form your foot, but your feet will be more than pleased once they have.
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Hiking Shoe vs. Hiking Boot
The debate still rages on whether to choose hiking boots or hiking shoes. However, the science is stacking up on the side of shoes, and hiking boots can’t keep up. The first reason for this is weight. We are hearing that “1lb on your feet equals five on your back,” and those who have tested this theory agree.
With less weight on your feet, you are less prone to exhaustion, your speed increases, and your ankles stay strong throughout your trip. Due to basic construction, hiking boots cannot reduce their weight enough to be equal to the bulkiest of hiking shoes.
The other fiery question lies in ankle support. Because hiking boots go over the ankle, they are assumed to have superior ankle support than hiking shoes and are therefore better at preventing twists and breaks. We won’t say that this is entirely false, but here is a scenario.
Think of the flexibility in a shoe as you stand on a rock. The slight flexibility of the sole allows your foot to move with the obstacle, keeping your ankle stable and on track with your feet. Now think of a hiking boot on that same obstacle. The rigidity keeps your foot in place, and if your body goes one way and the boot goes the other, well, bad things happen.
While some people need the extra padding and weight distribution to prevent their ankles from weakening, most of the time, a hiking shoe does just as good a job – and sometimes more efficient – of keeping your ankles protected.
Types of Hiking Shoes
You’ll see all kinds of labels when you search for the best hiking shoes. Sometimes, it can be hard to keep all the variety straight. So, here are some of the common types of hiking shoes you’re likely to come across and what they mean for you and your feet.
You will often see shoes labeled with a “mid” after the brand name. It simply refers to the height of the ankle support. A mid hiking shoe will come to the middle of your ankle.
Like mid, low hiking shoes refer to those that sit low on your ankle. These have a similar cut to your average hiking shoe and are generally the most popular because they’re the lightest in weight.
These are becoming huge for fast-paced hikers and minimalists. Trail runners cut the weight even further without giving up the supportive midsole and outsole traction of a hiking shoe or boot. However, these are much more flexible, making them less suitable for highly rocky terrain.
Approach shoes are a hybrid between a hiking boot and a climbing shoe. Their incredibly tacky outsole gives them phenomenal traction on loose gravel or any rocky surface. However, most approach shoes lack the same insole as a standard hiking shoe, which means they are less suited for long-distance backpacking.
Features To Seek In Hiking Shoes
What is a hiking shoe if not its stand-out features? Some are a matter of preference, while others should be considered a deal-breaker. Here are some of the best features to look for when choosing your next hiking shoe.
All the highest quality hiking shoes feature Vibram rubber outsoles for a good reason. This material is known worldwide for its exceptional grip and durability on every terrain.
The lugs on the bottom of your shoe are similar to the tread on your tire. They are what provide you with traction, propel you forward, and wick away water and mud. You should not overlook adequately spaced, and deep-cut lugs are an essential feature for a reliable grip.
While some flexibility in a hiking shoe is excellent, too much will put your ankles at risk. You want to look for a hiking shoe somewhere between a medium and a demanding level of flexibility.
Gore-Tex, sometimes labeled as GTX at the end of a brand name, is a waterproofing technology that changed the game for hiking shoes back in the 1970s. With all that history, it’s still the number one waterproofing feature you can find on a pair of hiking boots. Unless you’re hiking in arid climates, Gore-Tex is a must-have feature.
All insoles are somewhat padded, but you’ll need to consider the amount of cushion you need overall. Always make sure to try on your shoes before you purchase, and ensure that the padding offered is suitable for your needs. However, you can add insoles later if things change.
There are a lot of obstacles in your way while out on the trail. Branches, roots, twigs, and rocks lie in wait to stub your toe and trip up your stride. That’s why the best hiking boots come with toe protection that gives the front of the shoe a barrier from these would-be hazards.