The best lightweight hiking boots in 2022 can make all the difference between comfortable backpacking trips and a miserable slog through the backcountry.
The simple truth is that not all hiking boots are created equal, and many are poorly made, with low-quality soles, poor grip, poor waterproofing, and downright uncomfortable designs.
In this review, I’m going to narrow down the hundreds of hiking boots on the market to just the best. As someone who has hiked 1000s of miles in hiking boots and used to manage a hiking retail store that used to fit hiking boots to customers, I know what boots are good and which ones are great.
Let’s take a look at the best lightweight boots for backpacking on the market in 2022.
Best Light Hiking Boots for Backpacking 2022?
The Best Lightweight Hiking Boots for Backpacking 2022 are:
> Grippy Vibram Rubber Sole
> Good waterproofing
> Good Ankle Support
> Comfortable and needs a little breaking-in
> Few color options
Vasque is a well-known brand that makes tough backpacking and hiking boots, and the Breeze AT is no exception.
The Vasque Breeze AT features an excellent and aggressive Vibram rubber sole and a very strong tread, these boots are grippy in even the most slippery environments. The ankle support is good and the laces are relatively strong, securing the boot.
The eyelets seem a little flimsy compared to some other types, but they are well-positioned and give the boot a snug fit.
The downside is that there aren’t many color options for this boot, however, the available style is relatively neutral so it fits anyone.
The Vasque Breeze AT Mid boot is best suited to a hiker with average to wide feet. People with narrower feet should take a look at something else.
I have used the hiking shoe versions of Vasque when thru-hiking both the Continental Divide Trail and the Appalachian Trail. So I can advise that they are one of the best lightweight waterproof hiking boots that will get at least 1000 miles of good use before needing to be replaced.
> Grippy Vibram Rubber Soles
> Good waterproofing
> Gore-Tex Membrane Liner
> Good Moisture Wicking
> Few color options
Another offering from Vasque. The Vasque Breeze LT is a slightly different style from the AT and has a much more modern and futuristic look and lighter weight.
It also has it where it counts, however, with excellent Vibram soles, a slightly less dramatic but no less reassuring tread, and a moisture-wicking interior.
It also has waterproofing meaning that this boot will work in warm and cold environments, making it a highly versatile option for those who never know where they’re going to hike next.
The Vasque Breeze LT Mid boot is best suited to a hiker with average to wide feet. People with narrow feet should take a look at the Salomon or Scarpa range.
There are a few more color options however these are still a little sparse. One of the Best Light Hiking Boots on the market.
Best Budget Hiking Boot
> 100% Suede
> Superb Vibram Rubber Sole
> Good waterproofing and moisture release membrane
> Excellent tread
> Not much
Merrell is a brand that doesn’t really require an introduction, but for anyone who doesn’t know they are one of the most respected boot brands in the world thanks to a longstanding focus on quality and toughness.
The Merrell Moab 2, or Mother Of All Boots 2 (as they like to call them), is a rework of the original featuring a 100% suede upper, a Vibram sole, and an excellent insole that is comfortable and easily removable.
The tread of the Merrell Moab 2 is well designed to give an assured multidirectional grip in all conditions.
This mid boot also comes in a wide range of styles to suit anyone who wants to benefit from Merrell’s excellent design. They are comfortable and require little or no break in time.
The non-waterproof Merrell Moab Ventilator is one of the best hiking boots for the desert. They also have a waterproof boot which is more popular and a good-budget hiking boot.
The Merrell Moab Mid boot is best suited to a hiker with average to wider feet. People with narrow feet should take a look at Scarpa or Salomon.
I wore these boots while hiking the Pacific Crest Trail and they are the boots I currently wear today, in fact, I’m wearing them as write this review. They are one of the most comfortable hiking boots and will last around 1000 miles of backpacking before they are worn out.
Best Hiking Boot for Wide Feet
> Waterproof Nubuck Leather
> Good Toe Protection
> Grippy Rubber Sole
> Aggressive tread
> Best hiking boot for wide feet
> Not very breathable
The KEEN Targhee III is a great wet weather waterproof boot that is best suited to hikers with wider feet. Featuring a very nice Nubuck leather upper that is waterproof and are very sturdy hiking boot uppers. Add to that a grippy rubber sole and substantial toe protection.
The tread also gives away this boot’s intention, with thick large treads perfect for handling the wettest, sloppiest conditions you dare to cross.
The one drawback of this design is that it won’t be as breathable as some synthetic and suede boots, however, it makes up for this by having some of the best waterproofing of any boot on this list.
The KEEN Targhee III are the best hiking boots for wide feet and a great pair of midweight hiking boots. They have a large toe box that suits people with wider feet. Hikers with narrow feet will not like this boot, but hikers with wide feet will love this boot above all others.
Best Ultralight Hiking Boots
> Great Cooling
> Synthetic Material
> Eye-catching Design Aesthetic
> Comfortable Insole
> Strong laces/eyelets
> Lightest Boots in the review
> Not as sturdy as full leather boots
On the other end of the spectrum is the incredibly comfortable ALTRA Lone Peak Mid, which is eye-catching and far more modern looking. This company is better known for their trail runners and if you like their style of trail running shoe then this will work for you.
The ALTRA Lone Peak Mid hiking boot’s best feature is the lightweight feel of this boot. It is one of the lightest hiking boots on the market right now.
The synthetic materials make it breathable and fast-drying, while still having respectable water resistance. The insoles are comfortable and the eyelets are sturdy which is surprising on a lighter boot.
The only drawback is of course this boot won’t be quite as sturdy as a leather boot, though it will be much easier to break in and very comfortable right out of the box.
The ALTRA Lone Peak Mid is one of the best ultralight boots for backpacking. They have a wide toe box and hikers with middle to wider feet will love this light boot.
These are one of the best ultralight hiking boots that feel more like trail runners than boots.
Best Hiking Boots for Ankle Support
> 100% Synthetic
> Grippy Rubber sole
> Great Ankle Support
> Strong Eyelets/Laces
> Few color options
Salomon is another well-known brand, especially among those who love anything to do with mountains.
They produce equipment for extreme sports and environments including skiing, which means they know exactly what it takes to make a boot for extreme conditions.
The Quest 4 also shows that not all synthetic boots need to be lightweight. These are aggressive and tough mountain boots with excellent ankle support, a very strong tread, and very secure eyelets for a superbly secure package.
The Salomon Quest boot is best suited to hikers with narrow to middle-width feet. Hikers with wide feet should look at Merrell, Vasque, or Keen.
These Salomon Boots are one of the best waterproof hiking boots for narrow feet and carrying a heavy pack.
Best Hiking Boots for Mud
> 100% Leather
> Strong Eyelets
> Gore-Tex Lining
> Vibram Outsole
> Aggressive Tread
> Better for middle to narrow width feet
> Not Much
SCARPA is another very popular and longstanding boot brand known for quality and toughness and has been in business for 70 years, becoming one of Italy’s most popular and prestigious brands.
The Terra GTX hiking boot is a true mark of the craftsmanship this brand is known for, with a study 100% full grain leather upper, strong eyelets combined with a Gore-Tex waterproof membrane, and Vibram rubber sole.
This is a traditional hiking boot, and every aspect of the design is well thought out and designed making it a true leader in toughness and protection for midweight hiking boots.
The Scarpa Terra boot suits narrow to middle width feet. Hikers with wide feet should look elsewhere.
These are the best hiking boots for muddy conditions. I have used these hiking boots on muddy trails in Canada, New Zealand, and Tasmania, Australia.
> 100% Leather
> Vibram Rubber Sole
> Strong Eyelets
> Strong Toe Protection
> Great Ankle Support
> Few Color Options
If you want the benefits of SCARPA’s experience and quality but prefer something more modern looking, then the Kailash has you covered.
It has most of the same amazing features as the Terra, but in a slightly different configuration and with more sturdy ankle support and better protection of the toes.
The Scarpa Kailash boot suits normal-width feet. Those with narrow or wide feet can give this a try too. This is one of those boots that fit all people except the extremely wide or narrow feet.
They are a little heavier than the Terra’s, but this isn’t surprising given their heavy-duty construction. They are heavy-duty boots without actually being heavyweight. As a result, they will require a little bit of a break-in period to allow the boots to fit the perfect foot shapes of your feet.
> Synthetic/Suede Uppers
> Gore-Tex Waterproofing and Liner
> Strong Ankle Support
> Very Aggressive Tread
> Eyelets could be stronger
Salewa is a very well-regarded mountaineering brand, and the Mountain Trainer doesn’t hide this pedigree.
The profile of the boot immediately screams mountaineering, with an aggressive tread and great support for the ankle and arches of the feet.
They are surprisingly lightweight thanks to the suede/synthetic construction and feature a Gore-Tex membrane and waterproofing for use in any environment.
This is a solid Mid WP boot that is best suited for hiking and backpacking with a heavy rucksack.
Best of the Rest
The boots listed below are also great hiking boots but are yet to be reviewed and will be added to the list above soon:
- Salomon X Ultra 3 Mid GTX : The Salomon X Ultra 4 Mid-GTX is a solid boot I have yet to take a good look at, review is coming in August 2022.
- Lowa Renegade GTX Mid : The Lowa Renegade GTX Mid is another good hiking boot yet to be reviewed.
- Hoka Speedgoat Mid GTX : The Hoka One One Speedgoat Mid GTX is a great lightweight hiking boot that will be added to the list above very soon. These are a mid version of their trail runner shoes.
- Hoka Kaha 2 : Review pending soon
- La Sportiva Nucleo II : The La Sportiva Nucleo II is a lightweight mid-hiking boot with a Gore-Tex membrane and good grip.
- Hoka II Anacapa Mid GTX : The Hoka II Anacapa Mid GTX is being tested and will be added to the list soon.
In this buyer’s guide, I’m going to look at some of the key features of the best hiking boots. It is more than just adding a pair of hiking socks and off you go.
This will help you to find a hiking boot that is suitable for your needs, as even among the best hiking boots there are certain features to look out for that can be easily overlooked.
Upper material refers to all the material that is above the sole of the hiking boots. They are usually made from either leather or synthetic material.
The upper materials used in your particular boot will make an enormous difference in how it performs. It will affect the waterproofing capabilities of the boot, its weight, how hard it is to break in as well as how breathable it is.
Make sure you choose a material that suits your intended use as well as the climate you intend to use them in.
Leather Hiking Boots
Some boots will have 100% leather uppers, which is great for waterproof boots, is very long-lasting, and very sturdy, however, it can make the boots uncomfortable at first and harder to break in.
Eventually, full leather boots will become quite comfortable, however, particularly when used over a long period of time, and are arguably the best waterproof footwear material.
Synthetic Hiking Boots
Synthetic hiking boots tend to lean more towards breathability than waterproofing. Modern hydrophobic coatings and the use of a Gore-Tex liner and Teflon make these a very waterproof boot that still allows the sweat and moisture inside your boot to evaporate. Most of the waterproof boots in this review use a Gore-Tex membrane or something similar.
The synthetic hiking boot is often a little easier to break in. The break-in period often won’t be quite as tough and durable as leather hiking boots.
Finally, there are suede uppers, which is a very nice material that feels very comfortable and looks great. While it isn’t as tough as leather it is pretty strong and makes a nice middle ground between the synthetic and leather choice.
Tread and Traction
Tread is another very important aspect of a backpacking boot and it’s arguably one of the main things to set a hiking boot apart from smaller walking shoes or trail runners.
It will also affect how grippy the soles are and how comfortable the boots are, meaning this is definitely something that you need to pay attention to when looking for a new pair of boots.
The tread on most hiking boots is typically quite aggressive and grippy, as it’s designed to provide excellent traction in extremely difficult terrain including wet rocks, mud, rocky terrain, and rugged terrain. All the hiking boots in this review have good will be good in uneven terrain.
The drawback is that very aggressive tread can be a little uncomfortable on easier terrain or be overkill on simpler paths. But for hiking and backpacking trips they are perfect.
The wear of the tread will typically be more noticeable on boots with a more extreme pattern, however, it is usually bulkier and should last a relatively long time.
There are many different patterns used and these differ widely between brands and even different boots within the same brand.
Some treads are designed for wet, slippery environments, while others are designed for dry terrain, so again this is a case of knowing your environment and making an appropriate choice to ensure you get the best performance possible out of your boots.
Most soles nowadays will be rubber or from a proprietary brand known as Vibram. Vibram soles are not only tough and comfortable but work well on rocks and roots.
How long will a pair of hiking boots last? That comes down to several factors such as where you spend your time hiking. If you are off trail on rough terrain with lots of mud, dirt, and stones they will not last as long as hiking on perfectly formed trails. For the most part, 1000 miles / 1600 km is a fair distance that most should last.
Many years ago it was possible to buy super solid hiking boots and resole them when the sole wore out. Now that almost all manufacturers are using EVA foam midsoles that have become very difficult and only the best shoe repairers can repair and replace them.
Most of the hiking boots in this review will wear very well and the soles and upper material should wear out at about the same pace. Also, keep the proof of purchase as many companies have a very good warranty against anything other than fair wear and tear.
In my previous life, I used to manage an outdoor store and I would assess warranties for many of the brands that I have reviewed in this article. As a result, I consider all the boots in this review as being durable enough for hiking, backpacking, and trekking.
Lacing Hiking Boots
Lacing is another often overlooked element of good boot design. A good lacing system is what keeps your boots secure and safe while walking, and this is particularly important on rough terrain with high ankle boots.
The whole point of a high ankle design is to help support the ankle with the demands of rough terrain, and good lacing should help the backpacking boot to provide this support. The hiking boot uppers not only give ankle support but the leather or synthetic material is also hardwearing. For those that don’t need ankle support, a pair of hiking shoes might be all you need.
A poor lacing system can make this support precarious and unreliable which can be uncomfortable at best, and dangerous at worst.
Another important part of this is where the eyelets are positioned and how sturdy they are. Good eyelets are key to making the lacing comfortable and reliable, providing a strong anchor for the lace without compromising it.
Eyelets should ideally run up the ankle to keep the boot secure and help it to secure your ankle.
Waterproof Hiking Boots
The best lightweight waterproof Hiking boots don’t always need to be waterproof to be worth their salt, however, most of them are.
Non-waterproof ventilated hiking boots can be useful for the right environment such as hot deserts. But most people seem to prefer waterproof hiking boots to deal with extreme weather including sudden storms and wet weather.
While even the best waterproof boots can be overcome by weather and conditions which are bad enough, good waterproofing should help keep your feet dry and comfortable most of the time. Dry feet are important for helping prevent blisters and frostbite in very extreme conditions.
Some boots rely on the waterproof qualities of leather, a reliable choice favored by many boots. While other boots prefer to use synthetic materials such as Gore-Tex or waterproof membranes inside of a synthetic outer. GTX hiking boots are popular for muddy trails and wet weather hiking.
Some say that leather is the most reliable waterproof material for the best light hiking boot, but there are many synthetic options that have comparable waterproof performance and the added bonus of breathability for faster drying out quickly.
Overall, a light boot will not last as long as heavier boots but they will be easier to wear and need less break-in time. Stiffer boots are usually more durable boots than any of the lighter boots available. The lack of flex protects the feet from fatigue and makes stiff boots much stronger and heavier.
When considering a hiking boot, one of the first things to consider is, do you want a waterproof boot or a breathable boot. Because waterproof and breathable in the same sentence doesn’t work when it comes to hiking boots. Sure, the use of gore-tex or some other membrane can assist with waterproofing and breathability but not as much as having a non-waterproof breathable hiking boot.
I find that non-waterproof breathable boots work best in deserts, dry climates or on treks where your feet will be constantly wet like in the tropics or similar. Breathable boots also have the advantage of drying quicker if you do get them wet.
Breathable boots do not perform well in extreme cold or snow. If going into cold weather consider a winter hiking boot that is insulated and resistant to snow and moisture.
Sizing and Comfort
Finding a hiking boot that fits can be one of the most frustrating parts of this process. Not all brands have exactly the same amount of space inside the boot, due to differences in the shape of the boot and the type of insoles used.
You want your boots to fit well because if they’re too big they will be incredibly uncomfortable and cause blisters, even when wearing multiple pairs of socks (this can actually make blistering even worse!).
Meanwhile, boots that are too small will cause pain on your toes and friction which will cause a host of other problems.
While boots almost always need breaking in a little bit to be comfortable, a short test walk will tell you whether the boot will break in nicely or if there is a fundamental problem with the fit.
Don’t be afraid to get a refund or try a few different boots to ensure you get a pair that will suit your feet. But check the return policy of the place you purchase. All the retailers linked above have good return policies so look to purchase from them.
The best lightweight boot weighs less than 2 pounds for the pair of boots. Unless you are going into seriously tough areas or have bad knees or ankles then for most people that will be all you will need.
All the boots that weigh more than 2 pounds per pair of boots would be considered heavyweight hiking boots.
Most of the insoles that come as standard on hiking boots are generally very good. But many people need something better, this is where an aftermarket set of hiking insoles can work well.
Many after-market hiking insoles are suited to whatever shape you need. If you have flat feet and need some support, there are hiking insoles for you. If you have high arches and need support, an after-market pair of hiking insoles will be of benefit to you. Although I find many good hiking boots have good insoles as standard you may want to upgrade.
If you have serious foot issues you may need custom-made orthotics. I had several pairs over the year and they worked for me, but now I don’t need them anymore. When trying on a new pair of boots be sure to insert your orthotics or insoles as they will affect the feel and fit of the boots.
Hiking Boots vs Hiking Shoes vs Trail Runners
There are a couple of obvious differences between hiking boots, hiking shoes, and trail running shoes.
If you have bad ankles or knees or are hiking in snow or deep mud then supportive boots are best. Even a lightweight boot will offer support for weak muscles and joints. If you are unsure, seek professional advice. Despite not having bad ankles or knees I spend a lot of time in boots. When off-trail hiking they are a better option for many people who need better foot protection.
For hikers and backpackers with good knees and ankles hiking boots and trail runners can be good options. For day hikes and backpacking without carrying a heavy pack, they are great. They offer excellent traction and the lighter weight will cause less fatigue.
Each has pros and cons and I use all the styles depending on what sort of hiking I’m doing.
Good boots don’t come cheap these days. In many ways, you get what you pay for but all the boots in this review represent good value for money. For under $150 you can pick up a good budget hiking boot, and sometimes when it is the end of the season or they are changing models you can pay less. Some of the more solid boots will cost over $300. For that amount of money, you usually get a more solid boot.
The Best Light Hiking Boots for Backpacking 2022 are:
It can be hard to spot the difference between these two types of hiking footwear. The key difference is that walking boots are usually considerably lighter, with less extreme tread and a less sturdy build than heavier walking boots.
This is because walking boots are not expected to cope with the extreme rigors of hiking while hiking boots are built to cope with these more demanding environments.
Giveaways are how aggressive the tread is and the weight of the boots. For a lot of people a hiking shoe are a better option than a hiking boot.
Breaking in hiking boots is a really important part of making sure your new boots are as comfortable as possible for actual hiking.
Breaking them in will make the insoles much more comfortable, and also help prevent blisters where your toes and ankle move inside the boot.
There are a few good ways to break in boots.
One popular method is to wear your boots around the house for a while, which sounds very strange but it will help you to break them in and start to force the boot to shape around your foot without putting too much pressure on it.
Heavy duty boots that are not broken in can lead to blisters.
It’s definitely possible to run in lightweight hiking boots, but they’re not designed for continual running over long distances.
This is partly due to the fact that they are much heavier than trainers, making running harder and less coordinated, but they also don’t provide the type of support and sole that runners need to protect their joints from damage during running. It is better to buy a trail running shoes.
A pair of good-quality hiking boots should last at least 1000 miles / 1600km. This will depend on the type of conditions they are used in. The mileage will decrease if used in harsh conditions such as rocky deserts or extremely muddy trails.