Best Backpacking Boots for All Season Technical Hiking

Do you love traveling even when your budget is limited? Backpacking allows you to explore hiking spots with all your belongings in your rucksack. But, regardless of how long you will be backpacking, one thing is certain; you need the best backpacking boots to keep your feet and body protected through unknown terrain.

A backpacking boot is the same as a hiking boot, but it needs to be more lightweight and flexible so you can comfortably hike while carrying a lot of weight on your back. The weight of the boot is dictated by your backpacking plans; how long you intend to walk in it, the terrain, the weather, and other preferences.

This article is for you if you are not sure which pair of hiking boots to buy. We have compiled a list of the five best backpacking boots for men and women and included a few tips to consider when buying the boots.

1. Merrell Moab 2 Backpacking and Hiking Boots

For Men:

Merrell Men's Moab 2 Vent Mid Hiking Boot, Walnut, 10.5 M US
  • Removable Insole. Breathable mesh lining
  • 5mm lug depth ; Molded nylon arch shank ; Bellows, closed-cell foam tongue...
  • Merrell M Select FIT.ECO+ blended EVA contoured footbed with added zonal...

For Women:

Merrell Women's Moab 2 Mid Waterproof Hiking Boot, Granite, 8 M US
  • Removable insole, Merrell air cushion in the heel absorbs shock and adds...
  • Performance suede leather and mesh upper. Protective rubber toe cap. Molded...
  • 5mm lug depth
  • M Select DRY seals out water and lets moisture escape so you stay dry when...

If you want a lightweight hiking shoe, this Merrel Moab 2 boot is your best buy. These best backpacking boots come with rubber soles that utilize the Vibram Contact grip and EVA foam midsoles for durability and flexibility. In addition, they feature a wide, solid base for the heel to improve lateral stability.

You will find it more suited for backpacking on softer trails; it comes with a shorter height for the upper that could leave it flexing too much on downhill walks, thus requiring more support. In addition, the boots come with a moderate lug pattern that won’t grip that well on muddy and slippery terrain.

If you intend to cross some creeks, this boot comes with a special in-house waterproof upper material sufficient to keep your feet dry. However, if you are not sure of the terrain and you suspect deeper wet surfaces, you could opt for a model that comes with Gor-Tex liners.

For their in-house waterproofing properties, Merrel uses a durable water repellent coating. In any case, this coating or the Gor-Tex liners will have these hiking boots running hot when backpacking in the summer. However, they can be your best backpacking boots for winter and spring.

The backpacking boots come in a lace-up design, including a metal eyelet at the top to lock in your preferred fit. In addition, the shoes offer adequate protection to your toes and ankles, and they run true to size.

Pros

  • Great value for money
  • Excellent for use straight out of the box
  • Decent lace system, toe protection, and durable uppers made with suede and mesh material
  • Comes with a rubber outsole and an EVA midsole
  • True to size
  • Available in different colors for men and women

Cons

  • Shorter height may affect stability and support
  • Not the best outsole for technical terrain
  • Still heavier than most trail runner shes
  • Poor breathability in hot climates

2. Keen Targhee III Mid Backpacking Boot

For Men:

KEEN Men's Targhee III Mid Height Waterproof Hiking Boot, Bungee Cord/Black, 12 D (Medium) US
  • WATERPROOF: The KEEN dry waterproof, breathable membrane keeps your feet...
  • TRACTION: KEEN ALL-TERRAIN rubber outsole provides high-traction grip in...
  • SUPPORT: The Torsion stability External Support Shank (ESS) provides...
  • FIT & COMFORT: Low-profile upper for comfort and secure fit with padded...
  • CARE TIPS: We've carefully selected leather uppers designed to last;...

For Women:

KEEN Women's Targhee 3 Mid Waterproof Hiking Boot, Weiss/Boysenberry, 11 M (Medium) US
  • WATERPROOF: KEEN.DRY waterproof, breathable membrane that will keep your...
  • TRACTION: KEEN ALL –TERRAIN rubber outsole provides high-traction grip in...
  • FIT & DESIGN: Built on a women-specific foot form; Crafted with a dual...
  • SUPPORT & COMFORT: External stability shank offers lightweight support for...
  • CARE TIPS: Gently brush with a soft bristle brush or hand towel to remove...

These Keen hiking boots are also ideal for soft trails. They are ready for use out of the box, and unlike most of the options on this list, come with a combination of leather and rubber upper to keep moisture locked out. In addition, these uppers are ideal for durability but also not ideal for hot summers as they lack ample breathability.

With no break-in time required, you can trust this boot to keep you comfortable, and they also come with removable footbeds that are padded for maximum support and comfort. Keen is known to make the best boots for hikers and backpackers with wide feet, and the Targhee III mid pair also caters to that. In addition, as an upgrade to the older Targhee II, this boot is also a bit more accommodating for narrow feet.

This Targhee III is arguably the most lightweight hiking boot on this list at less than three pounds so they don’t drag your feet down as you walk. Additionally, the company uses in-house rubber for traction, so this Keen hiking boot offers excellent grip on most trails.

The outsoles come with multidirectional lug patterns that grip well on most surfaces and don’t get clogged up with mud and debris. On the downside, these backpacking boots will not ground you on sloppy or rugged terrain due to their limited ankle support.

While these backpacking boots may not offer the best ankle support and stability, they do not compromise comfort; they are a great light backpacking option with ample padding for the ankles and insides. In addition, the boots offer enough toe protection and come at a higher mid-height.

Pros

  • No break-in time is required before you can go hiking
  • Durable construction
  • Relatively affordable
  • Available in different colors
  • Sports EVA midsoles for shock absorption
  • Waterproof

Cons

  • Not ideal for narrow feet
  • Not suitable for rocky terrain
  • Not very breathable

3. Salomon Quest GORE-TEX Backpacking Boots

For Men:

Salomon Men's Quest 4 GTX Hiking, Magnet/Black/Quarry, 12.5
  • Waterproof Backpacking Boots: Designed for long expeditions and tough...
  • Any Path Your Way: Light and cushioned with tail running shoe adapted...
  • Adventure Awaits: Whether you love a local day hike or hitting the trails...
  • Time To Play: Whether you are into trail running, hiking, backpacking, or...
  • Since 1947 Salomon has created innovative outdoor sports gear; From running...

For Women:

Salomon Women's Quest 4 GTX W Hiking, Sirocco/Mocha Mousse/Almond Cream, 5.5
  • Waterproof Backpacking Boots: Designed for long expeditions and tough...
  • Any Path Your Way: Light and cushioned with tail running shoe adapted...
  • Adventure Awaits: Whether you love a local day hike or hitting the trails...
  • Time To Play: Whether you are into trail running, hiking, backpacking, or...
  • Since 1947 Salomon has created innovative outdoor sports gear; From running...

The Salomon Quest GTX hiking boots are best for when you need to go serious miles with a heavy rucksack on your back. These true-to-size boots are available in different colors for both men and women. They are waterproof backpacking boots with Gore-Tex liners to keep feet dry through wet and muddy terrain.

These best hiking boots come with ample padding for the ankles, tongue, and insoles. The boots are also designed with sturdy eyelets that make fastening easy and secure. All in all, you will be able to get your perfect glove-like fit wearing these boots.

One of the best features you look for when buying the best backpacking boots is how supportive and comfortable the underfoot is. With this Salomon Quest for boots, the underfoot comes with plenty of protection and shock absorption properties so that you can take on technical terrains carrying heavy backpacks without injuries or discomfort.

These hiking boots also come with the perfect outsoles for hiking during any season; wet winters, spring, and summer. They come with an aggressive tread that makes it easy to navigate through mud, moving rocks, and wet, slippery foot trails. In addition, the sole comes with a braking heel for better stability.

Being ankle-high hiking boots, they also come with additional chassis support featuring two wings that connect to the lacing system so you can pass your sturdy laces through them for a better, lightweight fit and feel.

The boots do have a few downsides, though; they can be a bit heavy for most backpackers, and you also will notice the extra firmness on the forefoot, meaning you will have to compromise a little flexibility for better traction and ankle support. In addition, coming with a water-resistant upper plus the Gore-Tex liners affects breathability, thus not your best hiking and backpacking boots during hot summers.

Pros

  • Plenty of ankle support
  • Waterproof leather uppers for durability
  • Comes with the best traction for backpacking through any season
  • Comes with rubber soles
  • Excellent lacing system for the best fit
  • True-to-size hiking boots fr men and women
  • Available in different colors

Cons

  • Overkill for hikers carrying heavy backpacks for many hours
  • Not the best flexibility at the forefoot
  • Not very breathable

4. Vasque Breeze AT Mid GTX Hiking Boots

For Men:

Vasque Men's Breeze at Mid Hiking Boot, Dusty Olive/Jet Black, 13
  • Versatile and durable
  • Vasque exclusive Vibram Contact Grip
  • Arc Tempo last

For Women:

Vasque Men's Breeze at Mid GTX Hiking Boot, Magnet, 10
  • 2mm waterproof nubuck leather uppers and GORE-TEX waterproof/breathable...
  • Vasque-exclusive Vibram Contact Grip with Megagrip compound outsoles...
  • ATC (All-Terrain Compound) midsoles with EVA cushioning pods enhance...
  • Thermoplastic polyurethane shanks lend stability and support

These are some of your best hiking shoes if you are looking to haul dozens of pounds on your back for longer miles. The Vasque Breeze AT hiking boots are water-resistant, coming with a Gore-Tex liner that blocks water from entering. In addition, the boots come with a tongue that’s sewn on the upper up to above the ankles, so it is best to avoid deep water puddles while hiking.

Like many water-resistant hiking boots that utilize the Gore-Tex liners, these boots run into serious breathability issues, thus not your best for summer backpacking trips. Other than breathability, the pair is a decent hiking boot that takes inspiration from most mountaineering boots. They come with a rubber toe box to protect your toes from injury in case you hit a rock while on the move.

Also, the shoe utilizes rubber and nubuck leather to protect your feet from debris, plus additional soft padding for the ankle collar, tongue, and insoles to increase comfort while you tackle technical terrain. For stability, the lace-up hiking boots come with TPU shanks for extra sturdiness, especially when climbing up, and the ankle collar is firm to offer lateral support.

These boots offer the best traction when you walk on rocky or wet paths carrying a heavy backpack. Made of rubber, the soles also utilize a Vibram contact grip to guarantee stability as you hike. However, the outsole is not your best solution for climbing down softer terrain with fine rock particles as it sports wider lug patterns that don’t bite as well.

While these hiking boots are valued for your money with waterproof properties, ample cushioning and stability properties, an EVA foam midsole, and even a Vibram contact grip for the outsole, you will encounter some challenges when lacing up. The metal grips don’t seem to match the size of the laces, and in addition, they also don’t feel very sturdy.

Pros

  • Comes at a reasonable price
  • Premium features like waterproofing, cushioning, Vibram grip, and nubuck leather uppers
  • Lace-up design for protection against external elements
  • True-to-size
  • Comes with a wide toe box to eliminate friction for better backpacking trips
  • Available in different colors for men and women
  • Rubber soles for durability and flexibility

Cons

  • A bit heavy for most day backpackers
  • Seemingly weak eyelets that don’t match the size of your laces
  • Waterproof materials also tend to block airflow
  • Wide lugs will not properly grip on dry, slippery terrain
  • Requires break-in time

5. Scarpa Zodiac Plus GTX Hiking Boot

For Men:

SCARPA Men's Zodiac Plus GTX Waterproof Boots for Backpacking and Hiking
  • For Mountain Travel | A blend between a hiking boot and a technical...
  • GORE-TEX Performance Comfort | Enjoy waterproof protection in changing...
  • Abrasion Resistant | The rubber rand around the perimeter of the boot...
  • Sock-Fit DV System | SCARPA added water-resistant, breathable Shoeller...
  • Vibram Mont Outsole | Designed to perform at low temperatures, this firm,...

For Women:

SCARPA Women's Zodiac Plus GTX Waterproof Boots for Backpacking and Hiking - Shark/Maldive - 7.5
  • For Mountain Travel | A blend between a hiking boot and a technical...
  • GORE-TEX Performance Comfort | Enjoy waterproof protection in changing...
  • Abrasion Resistant | The rubber rand around the perimeter of the boot...
  • Sock-Fit DV System | SCARPA added water-resistant, breathable Shoeller...
  • Vibram Mont Outsole | Designed to perform at low temperatures, this firm,...

These are the best hiking boots when you intend to cover more mileage while carrying a heavy backpack. It is a pair of midweight hiking footwear designed for rough terrain when you do not want to wear your mountaineering boots.

The pair of boots are designed for comfort and require zero break-in period straight out of the box. They weigh only two pounds and come with suede uppers that easily adapt to your foot shape. In addition, the boots come in a lace-up design featuring standard metal eyelets and three metal hooks at the top to lock in your preferred fit.

It comes in a height that extends a little above the ankles for a sock-like fit, and with a shorter sole, the boot is ideal for the most technical terrain. The underfoot features an EVA and PU midsole for cushioning and shock absorption, and also durability. In addition, the boots come with a rubber rand for the toe box, which guarantees extra protection as you maneuver around rocks and protruding roots.

They are waterproof boots combining suede leather and a Gore-Tex liner to keep water at bay. Surprisingly, while constructed to repel water at the first drop, the shoe upper remains breathable compared to other boots and even trail runners. However, you can still end up with damp feet after long hours under the sun.

For traction, these Scarpa Zodiac Plus GTX boots come with the Vibram Drumlin soles, which grip onto the surface as you scramble around uncertain routes. In addition, they come with widely spaced lugs that don’t store mud, thus making this your ideal boot for hiking all seasons.

Pros

  • Durable construction and design for comfort and stability
  • Comes with adequate waterproof properties
  • Relatively breathable
  • Requires very minimal break-in time
  • Comes with a true-to-size fit
  • Best for technical hikes

Cons

  • Too heavy for maintained trails
  • Not easy to clean and could wear out faster

How to Buy Your Best Backpacking Boots

The following are the most important factors to consider while buying your backpacking boots and shoes.

  1. Consider the weight of the boots. Backpacking boots are categorized as lightweight, midweight, or heavyweight boots. Considering you will need to carry a heavy pack for your trip, it is best to look for the best lightweight boots, so you don’t get your feet sore from walking.
  2. Materials. Backpacking boots can be made from full-grain leather, nubuck leather, synthetic materials, suede, and more. When buying, make sure your boots also come with a waterproof membrane to keep your feet dry as you hike.
  3. Support and protection. When buying your best boots, observe the boot’s construction. The best options come with EVA or PU midsoles for durability and shock absorption, padded inserts for extra comfort, and plate inserts below the shank to prevent your feet from sharp rocks and roots.
  4. Traction and stability. Look for boots with rubber outsoles and aggressive lug patterns to better grip slippery and uncertain technical terrain. For stability, look for a height above the ankles with a sturdy lace-up system to guarantee a comfortable fit.

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