The most basic and important piece of hiking equipment is a pair of well-performing hiking boots as it protects your feet from injuries and provides you with support, stability and traction. In order to achieve the best performance on trails, you should choose your boots with great caution. Not all hiking boots are suitable for all trails. If you are mainly doing technically challenging trails you need boots that are equipped with relatively rigid soles which provide good stability and support on rocky terrain while people who favor hiking on dirt tracks, paths and muddy/grassy trails need lighter and more flexible boots that allow them to hike comfortably and fast.
In the following we selected and reviewed the best five lightweight hiking boots, suitable for hiking and trekking on established non-rocky trails with light loads (backpacks weighing less than 10 kg). We were especially looking for products that provide good stability, support and durability while being very light. However, if you are planning to mainly hike on rocky terrain or do long hiking trips (with a heavy backpack) we recommend that you check out our selection of the Best Mountaineering and Backpacking Boots instead. In that selection we included more robust boots with stiffer soles and more durable (leather) uppers. If you on the contrary are looking for even lighter (and lower) footwear, we would instead recommend you to have a look at our selection of the Best Trekking Shoes. To learn more about the different types of hiking footwear, check out our Hiking Footwear Guide.This selection was updated on the 23rd of November 2016.
1. Buying Lightweight Hiking Boots – What is important?
The weight of a boot is highly dependent on the materials it is made of. The sole, which consists of an outsole, midsole and insole respectively, normally accounts for more than 60 % of boot’s weight – with the midsole typically being the heaviest part of the sole. Therefore, lightweight hiking boots normally feature midsoles made of EVA (ethylene vinyl acetate) that are lighter than PU (polyurethane) midsoles (normally used for more robust outdoor footwear). In order to keep the overall weight down, manufacturers tend to avoid leather when it comes to lightweight footwear as it is heavier than advanced synthetic materials. Most boots in this selection feature EVA midsoles and synthetic uppers in order to be as light as possible without sacrificing functionality. They all weigh around 1000 grams (per pair).
As mentioned above, most boots in this review feature uppers made of synthetic materials. Synthetic uppers (usually made of nylon) have certain advantages in comparison to leather uppers, such as being lighter and much more breathable. However, leather uppers provide better durability, abrasion-resistance and support (leather is more rigid than synthetic materials). The material of the upper does not matter in terms of water-resistance as the waterproof properties are achieved by using a waterproof, yet breathable lining.
The lining is the fabric on the inside of a boot and is responsible for transporting the moisture from the foot to the outside. It also has to provide good breathability and abrasion- and pilling-resistance.
Waterproof boots use linings that have waterproof/breathable membranes (Gore-Tex or eVent). However it’s important to note that no hiking boot is completely waterproof; it should keep your feet dry in rainy weather and when hiking on wet terrain but don’t expect that it won’t leak if you step into a stream. Fabrics simply can’t be made completely waterproof and breathable at the same time – and breathability is of the utmost importance when it comes to hiking footwear. If you want to learn more about waterproof/breathable fabrics read our article Comparison of Shell Materials.
It’s also important to know that the lining can only keep your feet comfortably dry if you also use moisture-wicking and breathable socks. At Best Hiking we recommend Merino wool socks as they offer great performance in this aspect. In any case you should avoid cotton socks as they simply absorb too much moisture to be comfortable for activities such as hiking and mountaineering.
The insole (footbed) is the part of the sole that is in direct contact with your sock-clad foot and thus it has to provide similar qualities as the lining; breathability and moisture-wicking performance. Insoles are usually also treated with antimicrobial agents in order to reduce the growth of microorganisms and bacteria.
A midsole is one of the most important parts of a hiking boot as it provides stability, support and cushioning. Midsoles can be made of EVA (ethylene vinyl acetate) or PU (polyurethane).
EVA is a flexible foam that is widely used for midsoles in running shoes, trekking shoes and lightweight hiking boots. EVA is lighter and more flexible than polyurethane and thus footwear that uses EVA midsoles is best for technically undemanding trails (non-rocky terrain) where flexible and light midsole results in increased comfort and performance. However, EVA midsoles are less durable than polyurethane midsoles – they lose their properties faster, become flat and thus unable to provide cushioning.
Polyurethane midsoles are more rigid and durable than EVA midsoles. But on the other hand they are also heavier and more expensive. They are normally used in mountaineering and robust backpacking boots that require a certain level of rigidity. Rigidity is required so that the terrain (rocks, cliffs, stones etc.) under the boots is not felt too much.
The outsole is responsible for traction. Outsoles feature lugs of different patterns – the deeper and thicker the lugs, the better the traction they provide. Some manufacturers develop their own outsoles like for example Salomon (Contagrip) while others use outsoles from well-known manufacturers such as Vibram.
2. The Best Lightweight Hiking Boots for 2016 Review
- Lowa Innox Goretex Mid
- Salomon X Ultra Mid 2 GTX
- Zamberlan 230 SH Crosser Plus GTX RR
- Salewa MS Hike Roller Mid Gtx
- Merrell Moab Ventilator Mid
|Feature/Product||Lowa Innox Goretex Mid||Salomon X Ultra Mid 2 GTX||Zamberlan 230 SH Crosser Plus GTX RR||Salewa MS Hike Roller Mid GTX||Merrell Moab Ventilator Mid|
|Weight (pair)||920 g||920 g||1100 g||870 g||964 g|
|Upper Material||Syntehtic||Syntehtic||Cordura, Kevlar||Nubuck Leather||Nubuck Leather, Nylon|
|Outsole||Lowa NXT||Contagrip||Vibram Speed Hiking||Vibram RGS Speed Ascent||Vibram Multi-Sport|
1. Lowa Innox Goretex Mid
- Everyday use
The Lowa Innox Goretex Mid boot does not only look incredibly good but also offers a superb performance on various types of trails. This boot differs from the other boots listed in this review by having a midsole made of dual density polyurethane. Therefore, it offers great stability not only on dirt tracks but also on more demanding rocky trails. The upper is made of lightweight synthetic materials and is additionally reinforced with rubber in the crucial areas. These reinforcements increase the durability of the boot as well as support in the ankle area. The boot uses Gore-Tex lining in order to keep your feet dry in case of rain and when hiking on wet terrain. At the bottom of the boot you will find a flexible Lowa NXT outsole which features relatively shallow lugs that offer good traction nonetheless. All in all, the Lowa Innox Goretex Mid is an incredible lightweight boot which is perfect for those who want to keep their gear weight at a minimum while doing long hiking trips. Due to the dual density polyurethane midsole it can be also easily used for mountaineering. However, the synthetic upper should be kept away from abrasion as it doesn’t provide as good durability as for example leather.
2. Salomon X Ultra Mid 2 GTX
- Everyday use
The Salomon X Ultra Mid 2 GTX boot is another great choice for those who prefer lightweight hiking gear. Like the Lowa Innox Goretex Mid boot, the Salomon X Ultra Mid 2 GTX is equipped with an upper made of a breathable and quick-drying synthetic material and has rubber reinforcements for increased stability and durability. The tongue is connected to the upper in order to prevent dirt from entering the boot. The sophisticated Contagrip outsole at the bottom of the boot is made of elements with different densities; areas that are prone to wear out (like the heel and toe area) are composed of more durable (high-density) materials, while the less exposed areas are made of materials that have lower densities. This method keeps the weight of the boot down while not sacrificing durability. Furthermore the boot is equipped with an EVA midsole, an anatomically shaped footbed, Gore-Tex lining and protective rand. All in all the, Salomon X Ultra Mid 2 GTX is an excellent boot for lightweight hiking and trekking and we would recommend it to everybody who wants comfortable footwear for outdoor adventures.
3. Zamberlan 230 SH Crosser Plus GTX RR
- Everyday use
The Zamberlan 230 SH Crosser Plus GTX RR boot offers great durability while being very light. The durability of the boot is ensured by the Cordura upper. Cordura is not only known for its strength (e.g. tear- and abrasion-resistance) but also for being incredibly breathable and light. Therefore it is widely used in outdoor gear, workwear, military equipment etc. In addition to the Cordura upper, the Zamberlan 230 SH Crosser Plus GTX RR is also equipped with a Kevlar rand that wraps the synthetic upper and thus increases the abrasion-resistance. Under the upper is a Gore-Tex lining for increased weather protection. The boot features a dual density EVA midsole that uses TPU (thermoplastic polyurethane) stabilizers for increased durability and stability. The boot also has a Vibram Speed Hiking outsole which is equipped with widely spaced shallow lugs for minimal weight. Nevertheless, the outsole provides decent grip on dry as well as wet terrain. We would recommend the Zamberlan 230 SH Crosser Plus GTX RR to every hiker who wants a pair of durable and reliable boots for lightweight hiking.
4. Salewa MS Hike Roller Mid GTX
- Everyday use
The Salewa MS Hike Roller Mid GTX boot features a slightly lower cut than the other boots in this review, but also offers a more rugged design at a similar weight – the pair weighs merely 870 grams. In spite of the slightly lower cut, the Salewa boot still offers great ankle support as it is equipped with the 3F System that ensures ankle support with reinforcements made of a special rigid material. The 3F System also offers good flexibility (forward direction). The upper of the boot is made of nubuck leather and synthetic fabric and thus offers good protection against tearing and abrasion. In addition to that the boot features a Gore-Tex lining, climbing lacing and Cleansport NXT odor control technology. The Gore-Tex lining ensures that your feet stay dry in rainy weather while the Cleansport NXT technology minimizes the odor-causing bacteria. The so-called climbing lacing entails that the lacing extends further down towards the toe area than on other boots, thus allowing you to tighten the fit and get a more precise feel when scrambling. However, please note that as this boot is equipped with a relatively flexible sole, it is not intended for climbing, via ferrata trails etc. The Salewa MS Hike Roller Mid GTX is an excellent boot for those who want light but relatively robust footwear.
5. Merrell Moab Ventilator Mid
- Everyday use
The Merrell Moab Ventilator Mid boots are the least expensive boots in this review and thus suitable for those who prefer lightweight hiking gear but without spending too much money on it. The Merrell Moab Ventilator Mid boot features a nubuck leather upper with a mesh lining that provides great breathability and moisture-wicking properties. There is, however, one big downside to the upper; the mesh lining is not equipped with a waterproof membrane and therefore the boot doesn’t offer very good water-resistance. The upper is equipped with synthetic leather reinforcements in the toe and heel area for increased durability and protection. The boot uses a Vibram Multi-Sport outsole that has fairly shallow lugs. The provided traction is nonetheless sufficient for easy and moderate trails. The Merrell Moab Ventilator Mid is in general a great boot for the price and we would recommend it to those who want a budget lightweight boot for easy trails in predominantly dry weather.
3. The most attractive product in the review