Best hiking shoes: good brands of boots, shoes and socks to buy now

Whitney La Ruffa and Maggie Slepian hiked more miles than many. When it comes to choosing hiking boots, shoes and socks, they know it from experience. Here’s what they have to say about outfitting your feet for adventure.

Design by Grace Han for Thrillist

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When choosing the best hiking shoes (read: hiking boots and hiking shoes), you better bet you have options. Do you want a more stable boot with ankle support? Maybe you are looking for something durable yet lightweight that won’t break the bank. Everyone will have different and specific needs when choosing the right shoes, but the decision shouldn’t intimidate you.

To help you choose the right boots or shoes so you can get off the hook and out on the trail as quickly as possible, we’ve typed Whitney “Allgood” La Ruffa and Maggie Slepian, two passionate hikers who have covered hundreds of kilometers with their boots and shoes. Slepian is a hiker, writer and co-founder of and La Ruffa is an expert hiker and vice president of sales at Six moon designs.

Whether you are a novice hiker looking to gear up properly or a seasoned veteran curious about making a change, you can rest assured that our experts will help you choose the perfect shoe to outfit your feet for adventure.

Design by Grace Han for Thrillist

Hiking boots 101

Because boots can look so similar but cost so much, let’s start there. It might sound appealing to spend around $ 100 on a pair of boots, but it can end up hurting you later down the road. Slepian says, “Spend more money. If you buy cheaper boots or shoes, you will pay for them later, either because of foot problems or by buying a whole different pair of shoes. There are plenty of places in your hiking setup where you can save on splurging, but shoes aren’t the place.

La Ruffa echoes this sentiment: “Personally, I see the shoes as I see the tires on my car. Most hiking boots or shoes in the price range of $ 150 and above will likely last longer, have better traction, and more support. So spending that extra money up front will save you money in the long run. “

And just like a car, brands can play a big role in customer retention and satisfaction. “In the traditional sense of hiking boots, I think the best contenders for the best boots would be Salomon’s GT4, Asolo, Danner, La Sportiva, and if you want to go all out, Limmer. ”said La Ruffa.

Slepian admits that she is a “trail runner all the way! “, But suggested this about boot brands:” While hiking boots are often more durable, they are heavier and most people won’t need as much ankle support or stiffness. than novice hikers. “However, if you like boots, she says start with trusted brands like Passionate, Washbasin, and Oboz.

In conclusion, La Ruffa had this nugget of wisdom to offer: “If you want durable hiking shoes, then boots are the way to go. The boots are great for the person who gets out maybe a handful of times a year and can get 10 years off their shoes, but if you’re like me and hike a lot, take longer trips and get out frequently. , hiking shoes should be considered a disposable item. I try to walk 500-750 miles in a pair of shoes. “If you’re curious, her favorite right now is the Astral Fusion TR1 (a kind of hybrid / high-top boot).

Brands recommended by experts: Solomon, Asolo, Danner, La Sportiva, Passionate, Washbasin, Oboz, and Astral.

Hiking shoes 101

Hiking shoes and trail runners have been gaining ground (pun intended) in both praise and craftsmanship over the past decade. These shoes are lightweight, built to last, and designed to keep your feet cushioned, dry and comfortable for the duration of your hike. Slepian and La Ruffa are both big fans.

“I always go for hiking shoes or trail running shoes over boots. Trail shoes are lighter, more comfortable, easier to wear, and your feet are naturally more used to this amount of flex and pressure. ‘Everyday Sneaker Cushioning While hiking boots are often more durable, they are heavier and most people won’t need as much ankle support as novice hikers, ”Slepian continues, “Most of today’s trail running shoes are versatile enough for everything from light hikes to moderate, longer hikes. “

La Ruffa agrees: “I think a lightweight shoe compared to a more traditional heavy boot for the average person is the best option. Most hiking boots these days are born from the ultra market. For marathon and trail running, these shoes have a variety of stiffness and tread patterns, plus these shoes are more breathable, keeping your feet cool and reducing the risk of hot spots and blisters. ”

If this type of shoe is more your speed, Slepian recommends checking out these brands: HOKA, Altra, streams, and Merrell for trail runners. She tells us: “My favorite shoes are Pic Altra Solitaire. I’ve been wearing zero fall shoes for four years now, and my feet love them. Lone Peaks are very popular with long distance hikers and backpackers. They help a more natural strike of the foot, the wide toe box allows your toes to spread out and the medium cushion is more than adequate for most trails. “

As for La Ruffa, his crush is once again the Astral TR1, but he also likes La Sportiva and Solomon. If you are looking for a more economical option to try, Merrell also makes a sturdy pair of hiking boots for $ 100.

Brands recommended by experts: HOKA, Altra, streams, La Sportiva, and Solomon.

Design by Grace Han for Thrillist

Hiking socks 101

Do you know who the most famous shoe philosopher was? Socrates. He often said “Great things are brewing!” Now that it’s out of my system, let’s talk about hiking socks. The importance of choosing the right sock and the care of socks is so important that La Ruffa is even blogged about it. He tells us that “the sock choices these days are overwhelming, but since 2015 I’ve been wearing Point6 socks exclusively. They offer a lifetime warranty so if you have a hole they will replace them. They also have support and compression where it’s needed to help with blood flow, fatigue, and reduced slippage. “

Slepian gives his advice: “For socks, look for a mid-fit crew height to keep debris out of your shoes, and a reinforced toe and heel. That doesn’t just help the sock last longer, it does. helps prevent the sock from moving around in the shoe which helps prevent blisters A merino blend is your best bet here as the fibers are naturally odor resistant and absorbent which means if your sock gets wet , moisture will wick away from your feet and keep them dry. Again, blister prevention is the name of the game here. “

As for the brands they trust to keep their feet comfortable and blister-free? They are big fans of damn hard, Close to the feet, Throlo, and Swiftwick. Most importantly, Slepian says, “Look for a blend of merino or other absorbent fibers, a soft knit, and a lighter pattern on the top of the foot to prevent constriction.”

At the end of the day, you have a choice. And I hope our experts were able to shed light on an otherwise intimidating subject. La Ruffa’s philosophy is simple: “Like any outdoor activity, comfort is key, having a shoe that is snug and comfortable to wear all day will certainly encourage you to go out more, to walk longer distances and, in the process. overall, to have a better experience. ” And Slepian’s is quite different: “For first-time hikers, stick to what you know and wear a pair of shoes that are right for you when you’re standing for a while. If this is your first time hiking, weather it is likely that you won’t be hiking for a week at a time or making technical peaks off trail. Most people will be happier with a pair of flexible trail running shoes than with a pair of heavier boots. “

Brands recommended by experts: damn hard, Close to the feet, Throlo, Point6, and Swiftwick

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Alex Robinson is a writer and editor for Thrillist. On the trail, you’ll find him in Danner boots or Brooks shoes. Follow him on Instagram @alexanderrobinson.

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