image
.

You know you have the perfect hiking boot when your feet are the last thing on your mind. That's because the key to finding the right pair is comfort — if you're comfortable, you can focus on the people you're with (or without) and the beautiful scenery all around you. Of course, there are a bunch of other things to consider too, like weight, price, sizing, traction, breathability, and durability — and the GolfHr Institute has your back.

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

Our Lab's top pick is the . At 13.4 oz., this pair is lightweight enough not to weigh you down, but the rubber soles have deep treads for great traction along various terrains. Amazon shoppers love them too: One of the 1,000+ 5-star reviewers, MJ, wrote: "These boots held up against all different types of climates, weather, and water on my road trip and they still look great! We went to Arizona, Utah, Nevada; the Grand Canyon, Joshua Tree, Zion, Salt Lake." Another Amazon reviewer, Elizabeth R., said they didn't need a lot of breaking in and that she "wore them for five days straight in dust, on rock, in soil, in small creeks across the Grand Canyon, Bryce Canyon, and Zion. No blisters, no discomfort."

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

To inform their recommendations, the GolfHr Institute pulled from the most popular hiking boot manufacturers. Comfort was key in their review process: Boots got high marks for cushioning in the footbed, extra padding on the inside, and offering a range of sizes and half sizes. Our analysts looked for a mix of waterproof materials as well as boots with breathable mesh ventilation. They also valued rubber soles with deep treads for good traction, and looked for a range of support levels — from protruding treads for extra slippery conditions to lightweight shoes for faster movement on trails. The Institute also considered comments from online reviewers to increase the scope of feedback on comfort, fit, cushioning, water resistance, mud resistance, moisture management, ease of wear, and overall appearance.

So whether you're following in the footsteps of Cheryl Strayed along the Pacific Coast Trail or blazing new paths in a foreign city, you’ll find everything you need to know about Columbia's Newton Ridge Plus below, along with more top picks for happy trails.

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

The GolfHr Institute's Top 5 Hiking Boots:


Top Lab Pick:
Columbia Newton Ridge Plus Women's Hiking Boot

Columbia Women's Newton Ridge Plus Hiking Boot
Columbia amazon.com
$72.00

Go with this boot if you want extra ankle support, as the shaft measures a generous 5.25 inches from the arch. Online buyers rave that these are comfy without much breaking in, and this is in part thanks to a range of sizes from 5-12, including half sizes and medium- to wide-width. The inside features a cushioned midsole with EVA foam, and the Omnigrip rubber outsole provides excellent traction. Some reviewers complained about a toe box issue, meaning the step crease folded down, creating big toe discomfort — but that just means they were too big. See below for sizing tips and be sure to reference any brand's sizing chart before purchase. Weight: 13.4 oz.


Waterproof:
Ariat Women's Terrain H20 Hiking Boot

Ariat Women's Terrain H2O Hiking Boot
Ariat amazon.com
$114.95
$82.99 (28% off)

If a rainy forecast never stops you from getting your hike on, you want the Ariat terrain hiking boots. Their oiled, waterproof coating and rubber soles will keep your feet dry. You’ll also be comfy on your climb thanks to padding throughout the interior and a gel-cushioned footbed with a heel stabilizer. If you wear them down, all you gotta do is to extend the life of the shoe. Some reviewers say the full-grain leather cracks over time, but one could argue it just adds character. The boots come in sizes 5.5-11, and note that "B" means medium and "C" means wide. Choose from copper and distressed brown leather. Weight: 5 lbs.


Leather:
KEEN Women's Voyageur Mid Hiking Boot

KEEN Women's Voyageur Mid Hiking Boot
KEEN amazon.com
$124.95
$53.24 (57% off)

A Lab favorite for comfort and fit, the 100% leather Voyager features a built-in shank and protruding treads that are ideal for rough terrains. While they offer slightly less ankle support compared to the Columbia boots, with 4 inches from arch to the top of the shaft, testers liked that the wide front provides wiggle room for the toes. Wear these if you like to stay home in case of rain — the mesh ventilation will keep sweaty feet at bay but doesn't allow the boots to be 100% water resistant. They come in sizes 5-11 including half sizes, and you’ll choose between light and dark brown. Weight: 2 lbs.


Mobility:
The North Face Ultra Fastpack III Mid GTX®

Ultra Fastpack III Mid GTX® Hiking Shoe
The North Face zappos.com
$159.95

With a leather/mesh combo, these North Face boots feature a GORE-TEX® membrane for breathable, waterproof protection and its TPU-coated woven mesh will protect you from debris. This boot has the look of a hiking shoe, but this option has a shank for increased stability plus a rubber outsole for traction. Sizes range from 6-11, including half sizes. But take note that these shoes are the most expensive of our picks. Weight: 14 oz.


Versatile:
Merrell Women's Siren Edge Hiker

Merrell Women's Siren Edge Hiker
Merrell amazon.com
$74.95

A #1 bestseller on Amazon, these 20-ounce hiking shoes are designed to be more mobile than a boot. They feature breathable mesh, a Vibram rubber outsole (good for traction), and extra cushioning in the heel for comfort and shock absorption. Note that they lack a shank and therefore extra ankle protection (so be careful on jagged rocks and slippery terrains!), but the wide, folding tongue will still help keep out debris. Users rave about how comfortable these are, and the 13 color options are another bonus. One online reviewer, JavaMama, wrote: “I bought these shoes for a trip to Ireland and wore them for a week. They were equally good on uneven streets.” Weight: 1 lb. 4 oz.


5 Sizing Tips to Get the Right Fit

  1. Try shoes on after dinner. Since your feet usually swell throughout the day, your feet will be at their largest at night. This will help you check to make sure they aren’t too small.
  2. Wear thick socks. You also want to factor in the socks you’ll be wearing, and thicker pairs will help avoid blisters. You also want to go with versus cotton, which take more time to dry.
  3. Wiggle your toes. Your boots should feel snug all over but not tight. You should have enough room to wiggle your toes.
  4. Walk around. Go from room to room and up and down the stairs. Check to make sure your toes don’t hit the end of the boot on an incline, and that there’s no pinching in the forefoot or uncomfortable bumps or seams.
  5. Go outside. Walk in the grass and on the driveway. Checking off multiple terrains is the best way to prepare shoes for a hike. (And the more time you put in, the better.)

    Click here to learn more about the GolfHr Institute and our testing methods.