The quest for a good pair of lightweight hiking shoes begins with first understanding that these shoes aren’t as sturdy as traditional hiking boots, yet comfortable enough to provide you with a good hiking experience. It used to be that boots were the go-to footwear of anyone who went hiking, which seems to have changed with the advent of modern synthetic materials that are similar in strength and flexibility yet much more comfortable to wear.
For this reason, people seem to prefer lightweight shoes to standard hiking boots if they’re only interested in a casual hiking experience. That said, let us find out what are the ten best lightweight hiking shoes the market has to offer at this point in time.
Best Lightweight Hiking Shoes – Reviews
10Scarpa Zen Pro
While this shoe is among the priciest on our list, the brand is nonetheless renowned for its exceptional comfort. The shoes comprise an extremely soft liner which wicks moisture away efficiently, not to mention naturally odor-resistant materials which keep them from stinking after long periods of use. What’s more, these shoes comprise with rubber soles and toecaps boasting deep lugs to ensure that your feet remain protected even on uneven rocky terrains. And while their suede-made upper slightly compromises on its overall durability (compared to leather), the Zen Pro is a highly sturdy and robust hiking shoe that is ideal for scrambling on challenging terrain.
9Adidas Outdoor Ax 2 Gore-Tex Hiking Shoe
Despite falling in the category of the more pricey shoes on the list, the Ax 2 Gore-Tex Hiking Shoe is among the most comfortable hiking shoes out there. First, it features a speed lace provision which depending on your use can be either beneficial or disadvantageous. While it is easy and quick (which is convenient when your hands are either wet or cold), when clogged with dust or sand, this system can be difficult to use then. What’s more, these shoes possess a Gore-Tex lining for breathability and waterproof aspects. Overall, they are a valuable investment for light and fast hikers in particular.
8Primer Low La Sportiva GTX
While The La Sportiva GTX is among the more expensive brands, it nonetheless packed with numerous features among them a Gore-Tex waterproof layer, Vibram top of the line soles, and a gusseted tongue (no gap between the shoe and its tongue for water to seep in through). Furthermore, despite these shoes being only available in European size, they, however, boast a moisture-wicking interior layer which allows them to keep your feet dry and fresh.
7Salewa Wildfire S GTX (Men)
The Salewa Wildfire GTX is the ideal definition of a perfect fit. First, its footpad provides a secure bottom fit soon after it has adjusted to you on your initial outings. What’s more, it features a unique lacing system that allows you to tailor the fit-subsequently creating an ideal fit which is essential for the prevention of blisters during long hikes. Lastly, although the lacing system is slightly more complicated compared to standard shoelaces(may take time to get accustomed to it), the S GTX comes with a mesh-made upper portion which renders it among the most breathable hiking options keeping your feet fresh and free of bad odor.
6Hedgehog Fastpack GTX (The North Face)
The Hedgehog GTX is the perfect option for wet situations. This shoe features rust-free hardware and rivers plus a Gore-Tex layering that makes it waterproof. Additionally, this particular shoe boasts a narrower fit compared to most shoes as listed and allow exceptional stability. Finally, it has an exclusive sole-Vibram-brand which offers it a remarkable gripping ability and adherence on any terrain.
5Ultra 109 GTX (The North Face)
If you’re a hiker in search of quality hiking shoes, then the North Face will surely provide the relief you’ve been looking for. Not only are they incredibly lightweight, but these shoes also offer corrective support for mild pronation-where the foot inwardly rolls during a step. The 109 GTX is designed to suit hikers having high arches. They have mesh sides that make it somewhat breathable and a Gore-Tex layer that renders them waterproof. Finally, it also has a narrower toe box.
4Salomon X Ultra 2 GTX
The Salomon X is among the best options for hiking especially during winters. Its synthetic and leather mixed upper comprise a polyurethane coating that boosts its water resistance and durability. Although they are not the best when it comes to breathability, their Gore-Tex lining allows them to keeps your toes dry. Finally, these shoes come with a convenient speed lacing system where the shoelaces are tightened using a slide rather than knotting which makes it easier to get off or on them.
3Vasque GTX Mantra 2.0 (Men)
For anyone with low arches, the Vasque 2.0 GTX Mantra is an exceptionally comfortable option. Its upper portion is leather-made while the soles are of rubber material-features that make this shoe model quite durable. Despite much of the shoe’s upper being leather-made, it features an exclusive mesh lining just underneath which allows free flow of air down to the feet not to mention a Gore-Tex lining which further boosts breathability and waterproof features.
2Keen Targhee II
Targhee II similar to all other Keen shoes is suited for wide feet. They feature a removable footbed that allows their use with orthopedic insoles, a cut that is slightly higher than with typical hiking shoes (for improved ankle support) and a wide toe box that accommodates thick socks. Moreover, these shoes also boast thicker upper leather layers not to mention a thick heel loop to ease the process of getting them off and on.
1Merrell Moab Ventilator
The Merell Ventilator is the ideal pair of hiking shoes to maintain your feet cool, comfortable and dry. These shoes feature an upper mesh and a water-resistant working which work to keep your feet breathable and dry. What’s more, they offer excellent traction even where the surfaces are slippery such as in dewy grass. Nonetheless, although these shoes are somewhat lacking in arch-support, they are amazingly affordable and lightweight.
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What To Look For In A Pair Of Lightweight Hiking Shoes
Before committing to a specific pair of hiking shoes, you must first understand the nature of these shoes and what qualities the good ones possess. Along with a light weight, quality hiking shoes must also be tough enough to withstand regular scratches and slight tears caused by the environment, not to mention how flexible they have to be for pretty much the same reason. At the same time, they have to offer a high standard of breathability and durability without causing you any discomfort whatsoever. As a matter of fact, here are the characteristics that best describe a reliable pair of hiking shoes:
Light Weight – Like we said, a good pair of hiking shoes has to be as light as possible, yet sturdy enough to protect your feet from sharp rocks and pointy vegetation. A pair of lightweight hiking shoes should always be preferable to a traditional pair of hiking boots, not only for the practicality they offer but also for allowing you to employ them for more than one type of activity. In fact, the versatile nature of lightweight hiking shoes should enable you to also wear them when you’re out camping, fishing, or even taking casual walks in any rural environment.
Good Grip – You want a pair of hiking shoes to provide a good grip and adherence, regardless of the terrain or in spite of. It is common for unprepared hikers to sometimes find themselves helpless in the middle of nowhere as soon as the weather takes a turn for the worse. It would be practically impossible for you to enjoy your time outdoors whenever if it starts raining and you don’t have the right shoes for that particular environment. While concrete doesn’t go through too many changes when wet, the murky, marshy ground present in any remote location people usually hike through is bound to raise some difficulties if you’re planning to go for a walk.
Tough Material – It is also important for hiking boots to be made of sturdy materials. For the most part, these shoes have leather or fully synthetic uppers of the highest quality, a construction that makes them tough enough to withstand potential scratches and tears caused by sharp rocks and vegetation. We should point out, however, that tough hiking shoes are usually slightly heavier and they don’t provide the same airflow as lighter shoes. In this respect, it is important to consider whether you’re the type to hike in predominantly warm temperatures or if you plan on hiking in cold places.
Waterproof Construction – A good pair of hiking shoes must be waterproof to some extent, at least to the point where it stops your feet from getting wet during a light shower rain. It is also common for some of these shoes to have a Gore-Tex liner for the job, although there are also shoes that are completely waterproof. These shoes are usually a lot more expensive than regular synthetic shoes and also a lot heavier. Given their construction, these thick hiking shoes are also suitable for winter hiking.
Good Support – One thing to consider when buying a pair of lightweight hiking shoes is how much support they offer and how much stability you can expect. With low-cut hiking shoes, you get a reasonable amount of stability and support, albeit at the expense of a good ankle protection. It is also common for low-cut shoes to be somewhat less mobile than tall hiking shoes, a feature many people learn to live with given how breathable and comfortable these low-cut hiking shoes can be.
Decent Fit – You should keep in mind when shopping for hiking shoes that not all of them can fit the way casual footwear does. This is because hiking shoes are primarily built for mobility and flexibility, which involves a lot of elastic materials and equally flexible uppers. For this reason, you might want to try on a few pairs before settling on a specific model if you can, or at least pay attention to the reviews and see what people are saying.
Construction – With hiking shoes, you normally get to choose between wide toe box and heel shoes, a fairly common style of hiking shoes. There is also an alternative that involves a removable insole to make room for orthopedic insoles. These shoes are usually a lot wider, meaning that they might not provide the stability some of you would expect, yet great if you plan on wearing multiple pairs of socks or if you have special needs in that department. Also try to bear in mind that your feet tend to swell after walking for a couple of hours, which is why you want to buy a pair of shoes that will stretch over time.
Price to match – Last but not least, keep in mind that when it comes to hiking shoes, the price usually reflects the quality you can expect. There are no lesser models as far as we know, or at least none that have made it to western markets over these past few years. For the most part, with hiking shoes, you mostly get what you pay for. This is particularly true with big brands that take pride in the quality of their shoes.