Gear Institute Expert Test Menu

Hiking Shoes

Light hiking shoes (low cut)

Icebug Juniper RB9X GTX

88

2016

Icebug Juniper RB9X GTX

The Icebug Juniper is an ultralight, mid-top hiker with bomber grip and a Northern European inspired design.

Lowa Innox Evo

85

2016

Lowa Innox Evo

The Lowa Innox Evo is a solid hiking shoe from a reputable brand that is best for those with strong ankles looking to move very quickly through dry conditions.

Merrell Capra Bolt

86

2016

Merrell Capra Bolt

The Merrell Capra Bolt is a surprisingly light, easy wearing, good looking, ankle-height light hiking shoe, inspired by trail running. 

Oboz Sundog

87

2016

Oboz Sundog

The Oboz Sundog is a classic light hiker with exacting fit, great tread, unique look, and a traditional lacing system. 

Ridgemont Monty Lo

83

2016

Ridgemont Monty Lo

The Ridgemont Monty Lo is a versatile walking shoe that is inspired by skate but functions like a true light hiker for everyday adventures.

Scarpa Zen Pro Low

90

2016

Scarpa Zen Pro Low

The Scarpa Zen Pro is one of the classic light hikers—extremely well constructed and built for heavy duty trekking with light loads.

Garmont Dragontail LT

91

2016

Garmont Dragontail LT

The Garmont Dragontail is a light approach shoe that does everything well except run.

Keen Targhee II WP Hiking Shoe

86

2016

Keen Targhee II WP Hiking Shoe

The Keen Targhee II is a low rise, leather and nylon mesh, waterproof hiking shoe, designed with a thick, dual density rubber sole and patented toe guards. Its durable construction provides excellent support, protection and traction over varied terrain. 

Vasque Talus Trek Low Ultradry Hiking Shoe

78

2016

Vasque Talus Trek Low Ultradry Hiking Shoe

The Vasque Talus Trek Low Ultradry is a low rise, leather and mesh, waterproof hiking shoe, designed with a thick, dual density rubber sole, athletic midsole and ventilated panels. Its Vibram outsole and deep lugs provide good quality traction across varied terrain.

Oboz Sawtooth Low BDry Hiking Shoe

85

2016

Oboz Sawtooth Low BDry Hiking Shoe

The Oboz Sawtooth Low BDry is a low rise, leather and textile, waterproof hiking shoe. It’s wide sole, deep lugs and molded heel provide excellent traction, stability and protection over varied terrain. 

The North Face Storm II Hiking Shoe

83

2016

The North Face Storm II Hiking Shoe

The North Face Storm II is a lightweight, low rise, leather and mesh, waterproof hiking shoe with a thick, protective Vibram sole and plush heel and tongue padding for extra comfort.

Columbia Grand Canyon Outdry Hiking Shoe

74

2016

Columbia Grand Canyon Outdry Hiking Shoe

The Columbia Grand Canyon Outdry is a lightweight, low rise, leather and mesh, waterproof hiking shoe, with a springy midsole, and shallow lugs. Best used on short hikes with dirt or gravel surfaces. 

Salewa Mountain Trainer L

94

2015

Salewa Mountain Trainer L

The Salewa Mountain Trainer is an Italian-made hiking shoe, like the La Sportiva, featuring quality construction, fit, and performance as the top priorities.

Arc’teryx Acrux FL

93

2015

Arc’teryx Acrux FL

Compared to the other light hikers in this test, the Arc’teryx Acrux performs exceptionally well for rugged hikes that involve a lot of scrambling and creek crossings.

Vasque Inhaler Low GTX

90

2015

Vasque Inhaler Low GTX

The Vasque Inhaler Low GTX earned its place as one of my favorites of the test group due to its fit and durability.

La Sportiva Synthesis Mid GTX

92

2015

La Sportiva Synthesis Mid GTX

The La Sportiva Synthesis Mid GTX offers a great blend of fit, performance, and fashionable styling. It’s only possible limitations are that it is not the cushiest or widest shoe of the bunch, depending on your load and personal preferences.

The North Face Ultra Fastpack Mid GTX

90

2015

The North Face Ultra Fastpack Mid GTX

The North Face Ultra Fastpack Mid GTX, despite having a mid-height upper, was one of the lightest shoes in the test, and one of the best performers.

ECCO Mens Biom Ultra Quest II

90

2015

ECCO Mens Biom Ultra Quest II

The Ecco Biom Ultra Quest II light hikers excel in the category, particularly for people looking for a lightweight, high performance shoe.

Chaco Trailscope Waterproof Shoe

84

2015

Chaco Trailscope Waterproof Shoe

The Chaco Trailscope Waterproof Shoe represents the brands foray into production of well-rounded, functional light hikers.

Vasque Venturist

75

2014

Vasque Venturist

By trying to be either a hiker that you can run in and/or a runner you can hike in the Vasque Venturist shoes seem to fall a little short of the top in either category.

GoLite XT80

78

2014

GoLite XT80

The GoLite XT80 is a highly flexible minimalist shoe that has a sticky sole and a low heel. The minimalist low-heel might not work for everyone but it’s reminiscent of “barefoot sport shoes,” albeit with better traction and protection.

Oboz Arete Low

88

2012

Oboz Arete Low

The Arete was our favorite hiking shoe in the test, thanks to its superior construction, outstanding protection, and excellent support and comfort.

Vasque Rift

84

2012

Vasque Rift

The Rift’s low profile, supportive construction and sticky rubber sole put it close to the approach shoe class, especially when slabs and Class 3 or 4 scrambles are involved. It is a fine day hiker as well, but it really shines on more complex terrain.

Patagonia Scree Shield

84

2012

Patagonia Scree Shield

Think of Patagonia’s Scree Shield as a trail runner with leather armor—a light and fast shoe ideal for those who crave comfort on mellower trails.

Columbia Peakfreak Low OutDry

77

2012

Columbia Peakfreak Low OutDry

If you want to move very fast and light over moderate terrain and you have medium or wider feet, Columbia’s Peakfreak would be worth considering.

Wolverine Pulsar ICS

76

2012

Wolverine Pulsar ICS

The Wolverine Pulsar is a fairly burly but comfortable hiking shoe suitable for rough conditions and moderate pack loads. The customization from the gel-disc heel insert is more effective in addressing mild pronation or supination than changing the overall firmness of the sole, and it adds weight and cost.

Vasque Mantra 2.0 GTX

75

2012

Vasque Mantra 2.0 GTX

The Mantra 2.0 is best for comfort-minded hikers in cool and wet climes, but only short forays in the rough stuff: the soft-flexing construction doesn’t provide enough support when the going gets tough.

Keen Ambler Mesh

77

2012

Keen Ambler Mesh

A breathable mesh low-cut hiker with an EVA foam midsole and no shank—made for short, dry weather adventures

Patagonia Drifter

94

2011

Patagonia Drifter

One shoe for 90 percent of your hikes