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14 Different Types of Hiking Boots

A family taking photo on a mountain top.

Interested in taking a hike? Make the most of that 6 am climb to Sunrise on Mount Rainier with the perfect pair of hiking boots for glacial hikes and other winter conditions. Take off in the right style of boots for a rainforest tromp without getting jungle rot. Get on board with all the types of hiking boots to satisfy every activity, terrain, and hiking condition you put yourself in.

1. How to Choose Fall Weather Leaf Peeping Hiking Boots

The best time to start shopping for hiking boots is in the fall. This is when the season for wearing boots for warmth and every day starts in a lot of states. Especially if you are in New England, where autumn is also the leaf peeping season. Choosing a pair of hiking boots for leaf peeping in New England–or most any state–is simple. Fall friendly hiking boots for leaf peeping typically cover the ankle to keep away fleas and ticks. 

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Eddie Bauer Lake Union Mid Women's Hiking Boots | Water Resistant Lightweight Mountain Hiking Boots for Women | Ladies All Weather Outdoor Ankle Height Hiker

A taller style of boot is useful to support the person’s feet and legs better, and to prevent twisted ankles on unexpected tree roots. Look for flexible soles that are slip-resistant, and go for more fashionable or trendy styles if you plan to wear these in public, since leaf peeping season brings out the most in hikers on tree-lined trails.

2. What are the Best Winter Season and Cold Weather Hiking Boots

The winter season is the second best time to go hiking, in the public’s opinion. It is most magical when you are hiking as snowflakes fly or after the first snowfall of the season…or the 50th. When it is winter, choose waterproof hiking boots made for warmth. Timberland and Merrell, as well as Salomon and REI, have some of the more affordable and popular styles of winter hiking boots.

UPSOLO Mens Winter Boots Snow Booties Warm Soft Rubber Sole Backpacking Trekking Shoes Outdoor Trekking Casual Walking Lightweight Sneakers(6118 Black 43)

I also recommend choosing slip-proof soles for winter boots used in hiking. Artificial fur lining is an eco-friendly alternative to actual animal fur, and it will help you look winter chic. Consider a waterproof exterior that is also breathable to resist odor and bacteria that can lead to athlete’s feet.

3. What Boots to Wear for Hiking as a Recreational Activity

If you are planning on going snowshoeing, sledding, or tubing in the snow, there is the question of what kind of hiking boots to wear. Ideally, I recommend shopping for higher-rise boots made for deeper snow. These boots rise above the ankle about 10 inches and prevent snow from ever reaching your socks or skin. This keeps the feet warm and dry when playing around or kicking in snow while snowshoeing or sliding down a snowy hill at a fast rate of speed. 

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Columbia Men's Bugaboot III XTM, Black/Columbia Grey, 11

A full-length lace-up on any brand of hiking boots for recreational activities is also recommended. You want to be able to control how tight you get the hiking boots for the proper fit when hiking. Also, this helps you get your feet into snow boots when wearing them–however many pairs of socks are needed. Make sure to look for a pair of boots that have breathable fabric in the liner and also antibacterial inserts to reduce foot odor after playing in them.

4. Which Winter Hiking Boots are Best for Icy Conditions

A person sitting on the top of a snowy mountain.

Snow boots for icy conditions are the next type of winter hiking boots. You want to have a pair of boots that are warm yet focus more on the sole for maneuvering on slippery surfaces. These hiking boots should have a rubberized tread that is designed to withstand cold temperatures. The last thing you want is for the sole to come unglued when getting right into a good cold weather icy hike. 

Issues with these hiking boots are the winterized element. The best boots for hiking in icy conditions are going to be thickly lined with warm fur or faux fur, and most likely a suede or leather exterior. That is going to be a hot boot to wear in the spring and summer, which means these are one-season boots.

5. How to Find Hiking Boots that are Stylish Yet Practically Glacial

Mountain Warehouse Extreme Snowflake Womens Long Snow Boots - IsoDry White Womens Shoe Size 7 US

Getting ready to go out and run through glacially sourced mud puddles? Grab a pair of the Snowflake Extreme boots made for women that are ideal for the conditions. These are boots featuring a stylish furry interior and lining along the tongue. Check out how this particular style has a two-tone look, to add to your own stylish outfit.

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Whether you are an Elsa or an Anna, these are the coolest Frozen-inspired boots that are perfect for those slippery conditions. Literally, if you are going to an ice skating rink or pond to fish, or if you are figuratively going to be an ice castle princess, these will prevent you from slipping and sliding. It all has to do with the rubber sole with a durable surface ideally suited for scooting around on slick surfaces when it’s cold outside.

6. Help! I’m Still Shopping for Springtime Mud Hiking Boots!

Salomon womens Cross Hike Mid Gtx W Hiking, Lead/Stormy Weather/Charlock, 7 US

Speaking of playing in mud puddles, if you are seeking outdoor hiking trails in the spring, prepare for plenty of these. Go all in with the best mud puddle worthy hiking boots for adults. These are more than just your Wellys or Wellies, depending on where you are from, and should be safe for your ankle bones.

These Salomon Cross Hike Mid GTX hiking boots are a prime example of what I am talking about. You can see the trendy urban style of these hiking boots. A mid rise fit, these protect the ankle area as the surface is water repellent thanks to a GORE-TEX exterior. 

7. Get Me a Pair of Hiking Boots for Glamping, Please

Teva Women's ReEmber Mid Lightweight Comfortable Outdoor Indoor Slip-On Shoe, Total Eclipse/Fudge, 9

If you are glamping, hiking is going to be as mild mannered as your camping experience. Don’t pretend you are going to hike with snakes and alligators when, in reality, you are going to be seen and to sit around. Maybe you will post some social media shots, or a thousand, of your short venture down the mouth of a famous hiking trail. But actual hiking, not so much. 

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This is where you want fashion more than functionality, and a pair of Teva Reember Mid Lightweight slip-on campground boots are the best fit. These boots are soft and quilted just like a blanket and cool enough to caption. They slip on and have a mid-rise like your favorite hard-soled winter hiking boots. But these are not going to go anywhere but to a camping site and maybe the river banks for fishing while glamping.

8. See What I Mean By Summer Sizzling Hot Hiking Boots

NORTIV 8 Men's Military Tactical Work Boots Side Zip Hiking Motorcycle Combat Boots Sand Size 9 M US Response

Going to Death Valley this summer? Make sure to pack a pair of melt-proof boots that you can hike in the desert with without drying out on the sands. 

You might not think that military tactical hiking boots would be the go-to shoe for summer. But you would be sorely remiss to kick these styles of boots to the curb when in the desert. If you are hiking in Joshua Tree or some outback lands of Texas, take a pair of boots with:

  • Breathable fabric
  • Abrasion resistance
  • Shock resistant sole
  • Ankle high protection 
  • YKK side zipper

With these features, you prevent yourself from getting bitten by a sidewinder or having a prickly cactus scratch your skin. You also stay cool and free of sweat buildup, which is necessary for resisting blisters.

9. Easy to Pack Hiking Boots for Traveling and Backpacking

Arc'teryx Aerios FL Shoe Women's | Supportive Fast and Light Hiking Shoe | Myth/Crystal Fern, 7

When I am traveling and backpacking, everything I own is on my body in some way. That means I need lightweight and dependable items, especially footwear. The best hiking boots for traveling and backpacking are the lightweight hiking shoes by Arc’teryx. This is a great example of a bendable and minimalist shoe that is not quite a hiking boot–but can easily be one.

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And these hiking shoes work wonderfully to get you moving along the trails. That’s the goal, after all! And you can roll them up and slip them into your bag without taking up a ton of room. Reducing the size of your backpack is always going to be your mission when backpacking.

Arc’teryx is a brand of hiking boots combined with shoes that can easily take you from the hiking trail to a restaurant without batting an eye. That’s great news if you are planning on traveling abroad to, like France, where fashion is nearly imposing.

10. High Heeled and Wedged Hiking Boots

Merrell Moab Wedge Walnut 8 M

If you are in high-heeled boots that will go all the way from the hiking trail to the dance floor, choose the Merrell Moab Wedge. These are shoes with a wedge heel rising 3 inches and made with 100 percent recycled products. Laces, webbing, and EVA foam plus a rubber outsole give these shoes a great feel. 

Plus, they look super cool if you want a stylish hiking boot that is actually somewhat functional. I wouldn’t hike the entirety of the Appalachian Mountains with it, but for a day hike in Southern California, you bet.

11. Activewear and Trail Runner Low Cut Hiking Boots

Salomon Men's SPEEDCROSS 5 Trail Running Shoes For Men, Magnet/Black/Phantom, 7.5

Want to play, jump, or do sports in hiking boots? If you are searching for more comfortable and flexible boots suitable for running, trail runners, as they are called, come in handy. Trail running shoes by Salomon are very popular among shoe shoppers. Nearly 7,000 ratings on Amazon, the Salomon Men’s Speedcross 5 Trail Running Shoes are available in three colors–black, phantom, grape leaf, and magnet gray.

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The benefit of trail runner shoes is that they look and fit much like actual running shoes. However, the material is much tougher and harder, like a shell in some designs. This prevents wearing out quickly or getting bitten by bugs or vermin while on woodsy trails. There is not the familiar mesh toe box you see on athletic running shoes. 

What to Look for in Trail Runners

A person walking on a rocky train.

Typically, trail runners are made from waterproof and slip-resistant materials. The purpose is to protect wearers from sliding on slime-covered rocks and getting wet socks when crossing shallow creeks. You know, all the most exciting things to do when running on a hiking trail!

Yet activewear hiking boots are lightweight enough to still be able to get up and go in. Consider a pair of trail runners with Vibram® Barefoot outsoles if you want the path of least resistance. I have three pairs of Barefoot soles on different shoes–indoor running shoes, kayaking water shoes, and Patagonia hiking shoes that I can use for trail running. 

The soles are more flexible and you can bend the shoe along with your foot more easily when moving. Plus, the Barefoot soles are lighter for carrying. And as you can see, several different shoe brands and manufacturers use these Barefoot Vibram® shoe outsoles. You are not restricted to a single company just for the sake of the soles.

12. Day Hiking Boots

When going out for a day hike specifically, there are features you want to look for in day hiking boots including:

  • Cooling and airy materials, such as mesh
  • Canvas or cloth rather than suede or pebbled leather
  • Taller ankle support to protect against animal bites or dangerous plants 
  • Bright, distinct, or trending patterns or details
  • Bungee cord laces to eliminate strings that come loose or untied
  • Flexible outsole that bends for portability and packing in a day pack
  • Supportive insole to handle the mileage
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Foxelli Women’s Hiking Boots – Suede Leather Waterproof Hiking Boots for Women, Breathable, Comfortable & Lightweight Hiking Shoes (8, Green, numeric_8)

13. Night Hiking Boots

Features to shop for when considering hiking boots for night trail hikes, such as when searching for frogs or camping:

  • Reflective material to increase visibility 
  • Bright colors also boost visibility
  • Leather to increase warmth as temperatures generally drop at night
  • Taller support, maybe reaching even to the knee, to ward off predator attacks from nocturnal species
  • Higher heels to improve navigation in the dark in mud or damp trails from dew

Timberland mens Earthkeepers® Rugged Original Leather 6" Boot Construction Shoe, Medium Brown, 10.5 US

14. Mountaineering Boots for Hiking Mountains 

A rusty hiking boots hanging on a wood.

Mountaineering boots for hiking alpine peaks, glaciers, and high altitudes. If you are interested in hiking in these extreme territories, you have to have more advanced footwear than a hiking shoe or winter hiking boot. Some of the areas to focus on for mountaineering boots that have standard-issue are:

  • Crampon and ski attachments for adding these important accessories to boot soles
  • Excellent soles to handle heavy loads
  • Gripping and non-slip outsoles
  • Warmth for subzero temperatures 
  • Flexibility to adapt to extreme climate changes

Some mountaineering boots are also lightweight to work for lower elevation climbing that is less extreme or technical. In addition, there are specific types of mountaineering boots to choose from when going on a hike in the Alps or similar terrain. 

B0 Mountaineering Boots for Hiking

The most basic level of mountaineering boot is the B0. This is not technically a mountaineering boot, since you cannot attach crampons or skis, and these cannot be used on snow or ice. Choose the B0 mountaineering boot for hiking hill trails or to prepare and train for a larger mountaineering adventure.

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B1 Mountaineering Boots for Hikers

According to The North Face, “More rigid than B0 boots are four-season B1 mountain boots. They’re still relatively light, but are sturdier, warmer, often well above the ankle and are compatible with C1 strap-on crampons…B1 boots are useful for general alpine terrain and less technical rock routes.”  

B2 Mountaineer Hiking Boots

A B2 mountaineering boot for hikers works for all four seasons, handles rigorous winter conditions like a champ, and offers mixed climbing support. You can also attach a C2 crampon with a heel-clip binding to the B2 type of mountaineering boot.

B3 Hiking Boots for Mountaineering

B3 mountaineering boots for hiking go to the next level for the ultimate challenges of mountaineering. These boots offer support for everything a mountaineering adventure will throw your way. Boot up C2 and C3 crampons, as well as skis. Use these hiking boots to propel yourself to the top of any technical climb. Lateral and medial axis support is covered in the B3 mountaineering boot.

FAQ Section 

What are the most important features of hiking boots?

Close up photo of a person walking on a rocky trail.

The top qualities to consider when buying hiking boots include stability and support, as well as cushioning with a side of stiffness. After all, you need support. This comes with the balance between being too soft for a pillowy feel, and having a hard exterior to protect against the elements. 

The hiking boots must be higher up on the ankle to prevent injuries on hiking trails. After all, the last thing you want to happen is to have an incident when hiking solo. This is often the case for many hikers seeking solitude.

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Why should I buy hiking boots?

If you enjoy taking walks on wooded trails, hiking boots can be your best investment. Wearing a pair of hiking boots allows you to have protective footwear on the open terrain. When outdoors, especially in desolate areas where you are hiking, choose hiking boots as your preferred choice of footwear. These are made to protect against falls, slips, and animal or insect attacks. 

You also ward off briars and poisonous plants that could otherwise rub against your skin without proper footwear. Hiking boots also signify that you are indeed a hiker. Purchasing your first pair of hiking boots is a rite of passage for someone who has decided to take up hiking as a hobby or sport.

When were hiking boots invented?

Hiking boots as we know them were invented in 1943, according to a US patent filed to manufacture modern day hiking boots. However, Charles Danner was creating a hiking boot in the early 1930s. The company Danner was established in Portland, Oregon in 1932 as a result. You can purchase a brand of Danner hiking boots and have a pair of footwear from one of the earliest, if not the earliest, companies making types of hiking boots.