We think of hiking boots as a spectrum from best to worst and we use a 1-10 rating system to show you the best hiking boots out there. See our hiking boot reviews or our list of the best hiking boots.
We also rank each feature (excellent, good, fair, poor) to help you find the hiking boot with the qualities you most desire.
Hiking Boot Rating – This number is a summary of all 12 features that we look at and helps you see how these hiking boots compare to each other.
Weight – A good hiking boot should be lightweight and the lighter it is, the higher the number. Be careful though because cheaper quality materials are usually lighter.
Sole – A good sole is durable, gives you good grip and cushions the heel against the impact of walking and running. Cheap soles will have points that break off and they tend to become brittle or inflexible over time.
Upper – Leather is still the best upper material because it is water repellant, flexible and supportive. Not all leather is the same and the best hiking boots will be made with a treated top-grain leather.
Lining – This is usually the second part to wear out on a cheap hiking boot. The lining is the softest material and helps to draw moisture away from the foot. It also protects the foot from seams in the shoe that could cause rubbing and blisters.
Connection – This is usually the first part to wear out on a cheap hiking boot. The sole is connected to the upper with strong glue or stitching. This is usually the first part to start leaking on a waterproof boot. Cheap glue can start to break down and separate the connection after a few miles.
Insert – The best hiking boots will provide a removable insert that helps to cushion the heel or provide additional arch support. If the boot gets wet, removing the insert will help it dry faster and prevent mold.
Toe Protection – Your toes are the most vulnerable appendage while hiking and a good boot will give you some added protection. Most boots add a rubber toe cap to protect the leather from scuff damage and great boots will also add a plastic or metal cap underneath the leather.
Lacing – The lacing system is the only moving part on a hiking boot and the most prone to wear and tear. Great hiking boots will reinforce the lacing holes with plastic or metal and provide a fairly indestructible shoelace.
Waterproof – All new boots are water repellant (you’ll be dry for a while if it’s raining) and many are waterproof which means you can submerge them. Treated leather is usually waterproof, but most hiking boots use a Gore-Tex to make them waterproof.
Breathability – You don’t want sweaty feet. Hiking boots will make you sweat a little and great hiking boots are able to get that moisture away from your foot and out of the boot.
Ankle Support – If the trail is rocky, steep, wet or if you are carrying a heavy pack, you’ll want to protect your ankles from accidentally rolling. Great hiking boots will lace up above your ankle and limit its ability to bend to the side.
Value – If the quality of the hiking boot is below what it costs then it will receive an average or poor value rating. The value number demonstrates whether you are getting what you pay for.
See the hiking boot reviews