Under Armour Horizon RTTThe Horizon RTT gets points for its solid fit — as noted at the start of this guide, this observation is somewhat subjective — that’s both comfortably cushioned and quite stable. It feels more like a sneaker than a burly hiker but is well-suited to the task. Its high-traction rubber lug outsole also provides plenty of tread that works well in variable terrain (dirt, mud, rocks, leaves — anything). Aesthetically, the Horizon RTT is more athletic shoe than outdoor hiker, which will please those looking for a sportier vibe. The Horizon RTT places particular emphasis on lightness and flexibility; it weighs just 10.4 ounces per shoe.
Five Ten Five TennieThe re-release of the Five Tennie is evidence that the technical footwear brand is collecting some of the trickle-down from its parent company, Adidas. The hiking/approach shoe uses a tongueless, integrated knit upper to stay lightweight and breathable while preventing debris from getting inside when it’s worn without socks. It’s a middle-of-the-road approach shoe; not as stiff as many others but not as flexible as the lightest either. That makes it capable of hiking as well, particularly in rocky terrain where the sticky Stealth rubber provides excellent grip. Plus, the retro colors will win lots of points at the bar at the end of the day.
Merrell Chameleon 7 StretchThe Chameleon 7 Stretch uses a speed-lacing system and an elastic bungee-like cord that makes getting them on and cinched very quick. Once tightened though, the plastic adjustment tab is fairly difficult and non-intuitive to loosen again. That being said, these shoes can be put on and taken off without loosening the laces. It’s super comfortable straight out of the box. The cuff is soft and stretchy and provides a close-to-ankle fit that’ll keep larger-sized debris from getting down inside the shoe. This trait is a huge plus for a hiking shoe because, without a tall cuff, gravel and dirt can easily sneak in and make trouble for your soles.
Merrell Moab 2 Ventilator LowMerrell has really nailed comfort with this shoe. It fits well straight out of the box and its cushy soles and tongue feel nice. The combination of suede leather and mesh allows your foot to breathe fairly well but adds durability and protection. The Moab 2's have Vibram soles which offer decent traction, though we felt some of our trail runners outperformed the Moab 2 in this area. For a couple more ounces, Merrell also offers this shoe in a waterproof version. If you're not quite sold on hiking in trail runners and want the durability of a hiking shoe, we recommend checking out the Merrell Moab 2 Vent Low.
Danner Trail 2650The Trail 2650 feels light on the feet. It fits much like a trail running shoe, but the construction includes a TPU shank and a heel counter, so they’re sturdy and supportive enough hiking long miles on dirt and clambering over boulders. They also aren’t waterproof — a trait we like particularly for hiking shoes — and they’re comfortable enough to wear around town as an everyday shoe, too. The Trail 2650 is light. Danner says that 24 ounces a pair, the shoe is its lightest piece of hiking footwear yet. To get there, Danner built its upper with a combination of leather and mesh and used a Vibram outsole for traction.
Salewa Wildfire GTXThe Salewa’s Wildfire GTX is a light and flexible approach shoe. It draws on the designs of rock climbing shoes in many ways but still provides a supportive ride that’s more than capable of handling miles on trails. The shoe delivers grip with a Pomoca sole that eases off the lugs around the toe, creating an area that can handle technical and precarious climbing moves. The upper is a Gore-Tex-lined synthetic mesh enhanced with a cage-like exoskeleton for improved stability. Beyond the obvious qualities — lightness, good traction, comfort — the Wildfire GTX excels in fit. Like a climbing shoe, it wraps around the foot completely for a very snug feel.
Arc’teryx Konseal FLArc’teryx isn’t as well-known for its footwear as it is for its technical apparel, but the Konseal FL lives up to the brand’s high standards for quality. And like its clothing, the shoe packs lots of functionality into a clean and minimalist profile. Colors are coordinated and subtle, and the different materials present blend into one another almost invisibly; even the laces are fully integrated into the design, using loops of webbing instead of eyelets. The lacing system might be the best part about the Konseal FL. It extends all the way down to the toe so that the fit can be adjusted and fine-tuned as much as possible.
Lowa Locarno GTX LoThe Locarno is designed as a multi-sport shoe, so it’ll be best for those who use it that way. It has a durable nubuck leather upper and a supportive midsole with ample traction underneath. It’s also equipped with Gore-Tex, which will keep your feet dry through mud and puddles. It’s the type of shoe that won’t excel at any one thing but is great at accomplishing many. If you’re the type of person who only wants to own one pair of shoes or is looking for a solid travel shoe that can be used for many tasks, this is it.