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Keep Your Feet Happy on Trail With the Best Lightweight Hiking Boots of the Year

Nov 10, 2023Nov 10, 2023

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Staying comfy on a hike or backpacking trip is vital, regardless of the season. Cutting weight on your trek means less fatigue, slim chances of next-day soreness, and saving space where it matters most. When it comes to footwear, supportive, agile, lightweight hiking boots quicken the pace and protect you from dreadful mid-hike woes like blisters and sweaty feet.

The best lightweight hiking boots cradle your feet comfortably, and they can also help you cross streams and creeks with some waterproofing. We tested some of the most popular boots on the market by brands like Vasque, Merrell, and Lowa to determine the best lightweight hiking boots for men and women, to help lessen your load and hasten your next hike.

Pack light and stay ready for your next adventure. Check out our picks for the best backpacking backpacks, ultralight camping chairs, and ultralight sleeping bags.

Hiking boots come in mid and high styles, protecting your feet from the elements just above or a few inches higher than the ankle bone. Low-cut hiking footwear provides the least protection from moist and grimy conditions and is generally meant for trail running, so avoid using them for technical or debris-laden hikes.

Lightweight hiking boots are between one and three pounds, with higher weights skewing toward heavier materials and extra padding. Most boots on this list are under two pounds, making them great for quick scrambles, fast-paced thru-hiking trips, and avoiding fatigue on challenging hikes.

A waterproof membrane is vital for most outdoor situations, so we recommend them here. There is a caveat, however: Waterproofing often makes hiking boots less breathable. If you want more breathability in your hiking boots, consider ditching the tech and consider waterproof socks and water resistance.

Many shoe brands use their own waterproofing technology to cut costs, but Gore-Tex, often abbreviated as GTX, is the gold standard in waterproof textiles. Gore-Tex is the most popular, reliable, and expensive waterproofing membrane. Proprietary waterproofing methods often get a bad rap regarding longevity, so reach for Gore-Tex if you’d like your boot's uppers to withstand water for years to come. Otherwise, those hiking in mild, dry conditions can use off-brand waterproofing. Still, Gore-Tex has an expiration before it fails. Gear Assistant says the branded tech can last up to 1,000 miles per shoe.

The most lightweight materials for hiking boots are synthetics like nylon and polyester. These are cost-effective, fast-drying materials common in hiking boots because they wick away sweat and save on weight.

Leather is a slightly heavier fabric than synthetics and often requires break-in before use. In most cases, PU-coated leather is an excellent material for hiking, but it's heavy. The leather lightweight hiking boots we recommend are partially leather for durability, but synthetics inside and on the tongue save on weight.

We found the best lightweight hiking boots by consulting critical guides from publications like BikeHikeSafari, Switchback Travel, Runner's World, Gear Junkie, and Wirecutter. We noted frequently recommended models from brands like Salomon and Hoka, then sifted through countless user reviews and ratings of every top performer. Our picks consist of lightweight hiking boots that weigh less than three pounds per pair with consideration for various budgets, terrains, and user preferences.

The Salomon X Ultra 4 Mid GTX is our best overall pick because of its excellent balance of weight, performance, protection, support, and waterproofing. Exceptionally lightweight at just 15.87 ounces per shoe, the X Ultra 4 Mid impresses critics at BikeHikeSafari, who say they feel more akin to sneakers than boots, and our colleagues at Runner's World, who tout the boot as the best for long hikes due to its grippy, flexible sole that provides all-day comfort.

The X Ultra 4 Mid Gore-Tex boots are great for technical hikes and varied terrains, offering stable support and robust protection from the elements. The grippy outsoles help gain traction on wet, slippery surfaces, while the unique sock liner molds to the shape of your feet as you break in the boots. It also has a protective toecap—vital for hiking on rocky terrain.

Many users say that this is the best pair of hiking boots they’ve ever owned and that the boots are surprisingly strong for being so lightweight. However, some user and critic reviews say the boots run slightly narrow.

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Men's X Ultra 4 Mid GTX Lightweight Hiking Boots for Men


Merrell's Moab 2 Mid lightweight waterproof hiking boots are the cheapest you can get without sacrificing safety, comfort, and support. They have plenty of cushioning to absorb shock on the trail, a comfy fit, and a grippy outsole that helps get traction on wet and dry surfaces. The material combines mesh and pig suede leather for better breathability.

Though Merrell's latest flagship model is the Moab 3 (which is only slightly lighter than its predecessor), the Moab 2 Mids are still perfectly suited for beginners and hikers on a budget. Since they aren't the newest model, they’re much cheaper, especially if you peek at different colorways on Amazon.

Critics say they’re well-cushioned comfort is unmatched at this price. Users say these are the perfect all-season boot, though some say they don't last long under heavy use.

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Men's Moab 2 Mid Waterproof


The most cost-effective shoes that use that highly sought-after Gore-Tex waterproofing come from Merrell. Its Moab Speed Mid hiking boots are the lightest, most affordable boot that uses the tech.

These boots cut the fat off of Merrell's typical Moab boot with thinner materials that give it a sneaker-like build. The mid version of the Moab Speed has a higher collar for superb ankle support, and we found these highly cushioned boots incredibly comfortable. They provide enough support to prevent rolling ankles and a nimble stride on the trail.

Users love the Moab Speed Mid Gore-Tex boots for their styling, too, which looks as good in the city as it does on the hillside. Several users say they’re great for walking and reliable on all terrain. I haven't worn these long enough to see wear and tear, but many users say the outsole peels after heavy usage.

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Men's Moab Speed Mid Gore-Tex Lightweight Hiking Boots


Hoka is known for footwear with maximum cushioning, and its hiking boots are no exception. Despite an exaggerated outsole and silhouette, the Kaha 2 GTX boots are surprisingly light at just over two pounds per pair.

Though heavier than other entries on this list, the Kaha 2s provide the most plush support compared to any other lightweight hiking boots on the market, softening impact on the trail and further cradling your feet. That pillowy comfort also makes these incredibly easy to wear out of the box, requiring zero break-in.

Critics and users alike say the Kaha 2 GTXs are ultra-supportive, and their two-inch-thick foam midsoles provide plenty of protection against rocks and gravel. One user review says the wide toe box provides ample room for thick hiking socks, which is a plus for winter treks. These are best for those who prioritize comfort over weight and nimble performance.

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Kaha 2 GTX Lightweight Hiking Boots for Women and Men


Similar to Salomon's X Ultra 4 Mid GTX, the Lowa Innox GTX Mids are built like trail shoes with solid ankle support. Comfy out of the box and highly flexible, the Innox GTX Mids have thick midsoles for gravel protection, a cushy ankle collar, and a Gore-Tex lining to ward off moisture.

Critics say the lightweight build is ideal for speedy backpacking trips and nimble movement. It also has grippy outsoles that perform well in the snow as much as mud.These lightweight boots are wrapped in a PU frame, providing extra support without any added bulk. Users say these boots are excellent for long hikes and we found them comfortable out of the box.

Some hikers only recommend these boots for flat paths and trails without debris, as they lack toe and heel caps that lend additional protection against jagged edges.

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Lowa Innox Pro GTX Mid Men's Lightweight Hiking Boots


Vasque's Breeze boots feature a nubuck leather and mesh upper, making them a highly breathable pair of lightweight hiking boots. The style may lean classic in appearance, but they still have modern elements that help them perform on the trail: a comfy EVA midsole and footbed, proprietary Vasque waterproofing, ample synthetic padding made with recycled materials, and several mesh panels for extra breathability.

A Gear Junkie reviewer says the Breezes are excellent in snowy, wet conditions, and they didn't experience pinching or hot spots after a week-long trip through snow, gorges, and marshlands. We found these comfortable despite the short laces that can be annoying to tie.

User reviews also say the Breezes sport a comfortable, supportive fit, and that these boots are lightweight and surprisingly breathable. However, several reviews speak to conflicting results with the waterproofing upper.

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Breeze Lightweight Hiking Boots


The Quest 4 Gore-Tex boots from Salomon are heavy-duty shoes that can survive the most challenging, rugged terrain. Frequently recommended for treacherous hikes and multiday backpacking trips, the Quest 4s have a great fit and padded interiors for supreme comfort. The outsoles provide excellent traction on slippery surfaces while protecting your underfoot from rough, rocky trails.

The bulky silhouette makes these heavier lightweight hiking boots at 2 pounds, 14.4 ounces per pair, but that compromise grants better performance and more stable footing.

User reviews say the Quest 4 is great for cold conditions and trekking over mud and snow, but these run hot in warmer temperatures.

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Quest 4 GTX Lightweight Hiking Boots for Women and Men


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