Home » Hiking » Hiking Gear » Best Lightweight Hiking Boots

Best Lightweight Hiking Boots

Updated:
Best Hiking Boots Review

Download the
Lightweight Hiking Gear List

Add your name and email to download the Lightweight Hiking Gear List

Invalid email address
We promise not to spam you. You can unsubscribe at any time.

Sharing is caring!

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 Lightweight Hiking Boots for Backpacking 2022?

The Best Lightweight Hiking Boots for Backpacking 2022 are:


Vasque Breeze AT Mid

Pros:
> Grippy Vibram Rubber Sole
> Good waterproofing
> Good Ankle Support
> Comfortable and needs little break in time
Cons:
> 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 in anywhere.

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 good use before needing to be replaced.

Compare Prices:


Vasque Men’s Breeze LT

Pros:
> Grippy Vibram Rubber Soles
> Good waterproofing
> Gore-Tex Membrane Liner
> Good Moisture Wicking
> Lightweight
Cons:
> 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 Lightweight Hiking Boots on the market.

Compare Prices:


Merrell Men’s Moab 2

Pros:
> 100% Suede
> Superb Vibram Rubber Sole
> Good waterproofing and moisture release membrane
> Comfortable
> Excellent tread
Cons:
> 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 as type up this review. They are one of the most comfortable hiking boots and will last around 1000 miles of backpacking before they are worn out.

Compare Prices:


KEEN Targhee III

Pros:
> Waterproof Nubuck Leather
> Good Toe Protection
> Grippy Rubber Sole
> Well designed Aggressive tread
> Best hiking boot for wide feet
Cons:
> 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 which suits people with wider feet. Hikers with narrow feet will not like this boot, hikers with wide feet will love this boot above all others.

Compare Prices:


ALTRA Lone Peak Mid

Pros:
> Great Cooling
> Synthetic Material
> Eye-catching Design Aesthetic
> Comfortable Insole
> Strong laces/eyelets
> Lightest Boots in the review
Cons:
> 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 know 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 boots 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 which has a wide toe box and hikers with middle to wider feet will love this light boot.

These are one of the best lightweight hiking boots that feel more like trail runners than boots.

Compare Prices:


Salomon Men’s Quest 4

Pros:
> 100% Synthetic 
> Grippy Rubber sole
> Great Ankle Support
> Strong Eyelets/Laces
Cons:
> Few color options
> Heavy

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 an aggressive and tough mountain boot 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.

Compare Prices:


SCARPA Men’s Terra GTX

Pros:
> 100% Leather
> Strong Eyelets
> Gore-Tex Lining
> Vibram Outsole
> Aggressive Tread
Cons:
> 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.

Compare Prices:


SCARPA Men’s Kailash

Pros:
> 100% Leather
> Vibram Rubber Sole
> Strong Eyelets
> Strong Toe Protection
> Great Ankle Support
Cons:
> 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 heavyweight boots without actually being heavy weight. As a result they will require a little bit of a break in period to allow the boots to fit to the perfect foot shapes of your feet.

Compare Prices:


Salewa Mountain Trainer

Pros:
> Synthetic/Suede Uppers
> Gore-Tex Waterproofing and Liner
> Strong Ankle Support
> Very Aggressive Tread
Cons:
> 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.

Compare Prices:


Best of the Rest

The boots listed below are also great hiking boots but are yet to be reviewed and will be added to list above soon:

  • Salomon X Ultra 3 Mid GTX : The Salomon X Ultra 3 Mid GTX are a solid boot I have yet to take a good look at, review is pending.
  • Lowa Renegade GTX Mid : The Lowa Renegade GTX Mid are another good hiking boot yet to be reviewed.
  • Hoka One One 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.
  • La Sportiva Nucleo : The La Sportiva Nucleo is a lightweight mid hiking boot with a Gore Tex membrane and good grip.

Buyers Guide

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 add 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.


Wearing lightweight hiking boots
Hiking Boots for Thru Hiking on the Pacific Crest Trail

Materials

The 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 allow the sweat and moisture inside your boot to evaporate. Most of the waterproof boots in this review use a Gore Tex membrane or some thing 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 and 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

Footprints in the sand show  the hiking boots tread
Boot Tread marks on the sands of the West Coast Trail, Canada

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 shoe or trail runner.

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 are 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 an 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 that are not only tough and comfortable but works well on rocks and roots.


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.


Lightweight Waterproof Hiking Boots

Best Lightweight Waterproof hiking boots for muddy conditions
Lightweight Waterproof Boots are the best for muddy trails as I found out when hiking the West Coast Trail in Canada.

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 is 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 light hiking boots, 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 a more durable boot than any of the lighter boots available. The lack of flex protects the feet from fatigue and to make stiff boots much stronger and heavier.


Sizing and Comfort

Breathable Hiking boots for the desert in Grand Canyon
Testing non waterproof and breathable Boots in the Grand Canyon

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 retailer linked above have good return policies so look to purchase from them.

best hiking boots can wear out after 1000 miles of use
How Long do hiking boots last? For most people they should last around 1000 miles

Insoles

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 feet 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, 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 a 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.


Conclusion

The Best Light Hiking Boots for Backpacking 2022 are:


F.A.Q

What’s the difference between walking boots and hiking boots?

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.

How to break in hiking boots?

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.

Is it bad to run in hiking boots?

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.

How long should hiking boots last?

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 milage will decrease if used in harsh conditions such as rocky deserts or extremely muddy trails.


Another one of the Best Hiking Gear Reviews from BikeHikeSafari.


Best Lightweight Hiking Boots for Backpacking

Sharing is caring!

Photo of author
About the Author:
Brad is an Australian who has completed the hiking Triple Crown after he hiked the Pacific Crest Trail, Continental Divide Trail and Appalachian Trail. He has hiked on every continent (except Antarctica) and has cycled from Alaska to Ecuador. He is an expert on outdoor gear currently living in Chile.

Download the
Lightweight Hiking Gear List

Add your name and email to download the Lightweight Hiking Gear List

Invalid email address
We promise not to spam you. You can unsubscribe at any time.