Whether you are a recreational hiker or a hardcore mountaineer, you need good footwear. If you are mainly into “easy” trails (in terms of terrain, not necessarily distance) you will probably be better off wearing a pair of good trekking shoes (also referred to as hiking shoes) rather than regular hiking boots. Not only are trekking shoes lighter and more comfortable to wear than boots, but the flexible soles will also allow you to hike faster on technically easy trails. Trekking shoes are, however, not the best option for hiking on rocky terrain and for multiday hikes where you might carry a heavy backpack – exactly due to their flexible soles and lack of support in the ankle area.
Here we selected the best trekking shoes to make your buying decision a little easier. We only listed high-quality trekking shoes which are durable, lightweight and comfortable. If you think mid-cut hiking boots (which offer ankle support) fit your needs better, check out our review of the Best Hiking Boots instead. In case you often hike on rocky terrain and/or carry a heavy backpack, have a look at our selection the Best Backpacking Boots. There we reviewed rugged backpacking boots which will withstand abrasion from rocks and provide you with superb ankle support.This selection was updated on the 4th of January 2018.
1. Buying Trekking Shoes – What is important?
Trekking shoes are typically lighter than hiking and backpacking boots, but heavier than running shoes. However, the weight of shoes/boots depends on the materials. The midsole and upper have the biggest impact on the overall weight. Therefore, trekking shoes usually have lightweight synthetic uppers and EVA (ethylene vinyl acetate) midsoles. In this review of the best trekking shoes we only listed lightweight products.
Trekking shoes usually have synthetic uppers, but some do feature leather uppers. Shoes with synthetic uppers are lighter and provide better breathability than shoes with leather uppers. However, leather uppers provide better abrasion-resistance and support because leather is a very sturdy material. Leather comes in different forms such as full-grain leather, split-grain leather and nubuck leather. Full-grain leather is the heaviest and most durable. Split-grain leather and nubuck leather offer lower abrasion resistance but they are also lighter and more breathable.
In this review of the best trekking shoes we listed three pairs of trekking shoes that have synthetic uppers and two pairs of trekking shoes which have nubuck leather uppers.
The fabric on the inside of shoes/boots is called the lining. The lining should be breathable and moisture-wicking to transport moisture/sweat to the outside of the shoe. This is very important as moist feet get cold faster and often get blisters.
Waterproof trekking shoes use a waterproof lining (such as Gore-Tex and eVent) which reduces the breathability of shoes to some extent. However, with advanced technologies (such as Gore-Tex Surround), trekking shoes can nowadays be very breathable and water-resistant at the same time.
The insoles of trekking shoes should be moisture-wicking, breathable and durable. Many trekking shoes come with insoles that are treated with antimicrobial agents in order to reduce the growth of microorganisms and bacteria.
The midsole provides cushioning, support and stability. There are two types of midsoles; EVA midsoles (ethylene vinyl acetate) and PU (polyurethane) midsoles.
EVA midsoles are lighter and more flexible than PU midsoles. Therefore, trekking shoes typically have EVA midsoles. However, EVA midsoles are less durable than the PU midsoles – they get “flat” faster.
PU midsoles are very durable and rigid. They are typically used for backpacking and mountaineering boots.
In this review of the best trekking shoes we listed four pairs of trekking shoes with EVA midsoles and one pair with PU midsoles.
The outsoles provide traction. They have lugs of different patterns; the deeper and thicker the lugs, the better traction they provide. Some brands develop their own outsoles like for example Lowa while others use outsoles from well-known manufacturers such as Vibram.
2. The Best Trekking Shoes Review
The Best Trekking Shoes – List
- La Sportiva Synthesis Surround GTX
- Keen Targhee II
- Salomon X Ultra Low II GTX
- Lowa Renegade III GTX Lo
- Merrell Moab 2 Waterproof
|Feature/Product||La Sportiva Synthesis Surround GTX||Keen Targhee II||Salomon X Ultra Low II GTX||Lowa Renegade III GTX Lo||Merrell Moab 2 Waterproof|
|Weight (pair)||1 lb. 12 oz.||1 lb. 14 oz.||1 lb. 13 oz.||1 lb. 13 oz.||2 lbs. 1 oz.|
|790 g||873 g||810 g||825 g||940 g|
|Upper Material||Air-Mesh, PU Leather||Nubuck Leather||Nylon||Nubuck Leather||Nubuck Leather, Nylon|
|Lining||Gore-Tex Surround||Keen.Dry||Gore-Tex||Gore-Tex||M-Select Dry|
|Outsole||Vibram||Keen||Contagrip||LOWA Vialta III||Vibram|
1. La Sportiva Synthesis Surround GTX
- Everyday use
The La Sportiva Synthesis Surround GTX trekking shoes are perfect for hiking on easy trails. These trekking shoes feature uppers made of a breathable synthetic material (called Nano-Cells) which works together with the latest innovation from Gore-Tex; the Gore-Tex Surround technology. The synergy of these two technologies makes La Sportiva Synthesis Surround GTX trekking shoes exceptionally breathable, moisture-wicking and quick-drying. The Nano-Cells material ensures the durability of the shoes while the Gore-Tex lining provides breathability and protection against the weather. The Gore-Tex Surround technology was especially developed for footwear and distinguishes itself from other waterproof technologies by offering an “all-around breathability”; the special Gore-Tex insert is placed in the shoe and allows moisture to escape in all directions (even towards the sole). La Sportiva Synthesis Surround GTX trekking shoes also feature Vibram outsoles, STB Control System and climbing lacing. The STB Control System provides torsion resistance, comfort and a snug fit while the climbing lacing (meaning that it extends further down towards the toe area) allows for a tighter fit and more precise feel.
2. Keen Targhee II
- Everyday use
The Keen Targhee II trekking shoes are slightly heavier than the La Sportiva Synthesis Surround GTX shoes but on the other hand they are also made of more durable materials. These trekking shoes feature nubuck leather uppers which provide good protection against abrasion from rocks and vegetation as well as a waterproof lining; the Keen.Dry lining with waterproof/breathable membrane. The midsoles are made of EVA foam while the footbed is anatomically shaped to provide good arch support and fit. Additionally, the Targhee II trekking shoes feature Keen outsoles and ESS system for good torsion stability. The outsole has 4mm multi directional lugs for good traction. The Keen Targhee II trekking shoes are a great option for the price; while they don’t provide as good breathability as La Sportiva, they are definitely more rugged.
3. Salomon X Ultra II GTX
- Everyday use
The Salomon X Ultra II GTX trekking shoes feature uppers made of abrasion-resistant nylon with Gore-Tex lining. Therefore, they provide good breathability and water resistance. The tongue is connected to the upper so that it prevents dirt from entering the shoe. The toe area is protected with a rigid rubber-like material that efficiently keeps your toes safe while hiking on rougher terrain. The Salomon X Ultra II GTX trekking shoes also offer good stability and cushioning because they have the 3D Advanced Chassis – which consists of multiple carefully designed elements that come between your foot and the outsole. The Contagrip outsole is made of high-density and low-density elements, so areas more prone to wear and tear (like the heel and toe area) are made of durable high-density materials, while the less exposed areas are made of low-density materials to reduce the overall weight. In addition to that, the Salomon shoes also feature QuickLace technology; a minimalistic lace system which can be tightened by a single pull. The Salomon X Ultra II GTX trekking shoes are best for those who want a pair of great-performing trekking shoes for a reasonable price.
4. Lowa Renegade III GTX Lo
- Everyday use
The Lowa Renegade III GTX Lo trekking shoes are very robust and durable. They feature uppers made of nubuck leather with Gore-Tex lining and thus they offer great protection – not only against weather, but also against abrasion and tearing. In addition to the high-quality upper, the Lowa Renegade shoe features a Climate Control footbed, Lowa Vialta III outsole and DuraPU midsole with Monowrap frame. The Climate Control footbed wicks moisture away from the foot and provides good breathability. Nevertheless, keep in mind that trekking shoes with synthetic uppers (mesh fabric) by default offer better breathability than leather uppers – for example the Salomon X Ultra II GTX above. The Lowa Vialta III outsole provides great traction on different terrain types while the DuraPU midsole gives efficient cushioning and stability. All in all, the Lowa Renegade II GTX Lo are amazing trekking shoes as they are super lightweight despite using heavier polyurethane midsoles and durable nubuck leather uppers.
5. Merrell Moab 2 Waterproof
- Everyday use
The Merrell Moab 2 Waterproof trekking shoes are best for easy and flat trails. These trekking shoes feature synthetic uppers, reinforced with leather overlays for better durability. The lining underneath the upper is equipped with M-Select Dry PU coating which prevents water from entering the shoe. The M-Select Dry doesn’t provide as good breathability and moisture-management as for example Gore-Tex, but on the other hand the Merrell Moab Waterproof 2 trekking shoes are also the least expensive trekking shoes in this review. They are equipped with Vibram soles which perform well on flat trails but lack traction on steeper slopes because they have relatively shallow lugs. The Merrell Moab Waterproof trekking shoes are a great option for those who want to stick to relatively flat trails or have a tight budget.