The best hiking shoes reviewed (2022)

Whether you want a cushioned, trainer-style hiker for long, loping hill days or a more technical approach shoe for tackling tougher terrain, we’ve tested and reviewed the right hiking shoe for you.

Danner Trail 2650 hiking shoes being worn

by Matt Jones & Ellie Clewlow |

The question of hiking shoes vs boots has become one of the great gear debates of modern times. Obviously, the major advantage of going for shoes over boots is their lighter weight. This makes even more sense in the prime hiking seasons, from late spring through to early autumn. After all, as soon as the warmer months arrive, many experienced hillwalkers ditch their heavier trousers, jackets and other layers in favour of lighter alternatives. So why wouldn’t you do the same with your footwear?

Another often-quoted bit of walkers’ wisdom – ‘One pound on your feet equals five pounds on your back’ – adds further weight to this argument. Supposedly, this rule of thumb was first developed by Sir Edmund Hillary and the other climbers training for the 1953 Everest expedition. It’s a sage bit of advice that has been repeated by some of the greatest exponents of ‘fast and light’ backpacking.

Of course, this isn’t to say that trail shoes will work for everyone. Ultimately, a lot depends on where and when you go walking. Because let’s face it, some of Britain’s bogs stay boggy year-round, and in that sort of terrain a Gore-Tex lined leather boot is always going to make a lot more sense than an unlined hiking shoe. Unless you really like wet feet, that is. And similarly, if you prefer the ankle support, the added protection and the long-term durability of a high-quality pair of boots, there’s no real reason to change.

The best hiking shoes

On the other hand, if you’re attracted to the idea of being a bit swifter and more agile in the hills, bellow are our current top tried and tested trail shoes for summer. We’ve selected those that struck the best balance between comfort, support, cushioning, weight and grip – while also presenting something for everyone. So, there are stiffer, more technical approach shoes for hillwalkers who love rocky scrambles, plus a few lightweight, trainer-inspired hikers that promise instant out-of-the-box comfort – perfect for fast-paced hill-bagging.

Danner Trail 2650 Campo GTX

Verdict: Top notch, striking the ideal balance between stability, low weight and comfort. It’s just a shame the price keeps going up.

Danner Trail 2650 Campo GTX on test
©Live For The Outdoors

Pros: Zero break in time, lightweight, good cushioning-support balance

Cons: Expensive

Named after the 2650-mile Pacific Crest Trail, this versatile trail shoe from US brand Danner is proving to be a favourite with all of Trail’s gear testers and even won ‘Best hiking shoe’ in Trail Magazine’s 2022 Gear of The Year awards.

Ellie tried the latest Gore-Tex equipped women’s version and was similarly impressed. She particularly appreciated their low weight and excellent out-of-the-box comfort, which makes these well suited to long, leg-sapping hill days.

They also provide a good balance between underfoot cushioning, protection and support, thanks to a spongy EVA foam rubber midsole, which is stiffened with a plastic ‘Trailguard’ shank. This does a good job of absorbing shocks while also fending off impacts from sharp stones and the like.

The well-proven Vibram Megagrip outsole provides reliable all-round traction too. A sock-like upper wraps the foot snugly, with an integrated, stretchy tongue that helps to stop grit and other debris from finding its way in (though the flipside is that they’re not the easiest to get on and off).

And admittedly, this closer fit, in conjunction with the Gore-Tex lining, does make the GTX version of the Campo warmer than its non-waterproof counterpart. Then again, a waterproof trail shoe can be worn across a wider range of conditions, which makes more sense in climates like the UK.

However, every time we review these shoes, they get more expensive. The standard Trail 2650 Campo is £160 (at time of writing). This version adds a Gore-Tex liner and another £30 to the RRP. And that’s not cheap.

Weight 554g (women’s 7.5) | Upper Leather and textile mesh with synthetic overlays | Membrane Gore-Tex | Outsole Vibram Megagrip | Men’s sizes US 7-14, medium & wide fit | Women’s sizes US 5-11, medium fit

Salomon Outpulse GTX

Verdict: Superlight trail shoes that are ideal for fast-paced hiking and hillwalking, with plush cushioning and soft padding that makes for exceptional comfort.

Salomon Outpulse GTX on test
©Live For The Outdoors

Pros: Snug trainer-like fit, soft padding around cuff and tongue, good breathability

Cons: Knitted fabric may not prove durable

New for 2022, the Outpulse is pitched at ‘fast and light’ hikers who like to move unencumbered in the mountains.

Incorporating features borrowed from Salomon’s trail running footwear, they feature an ‘Energy Blade’ TPU plate in the midsole, which provides springiness and support for flexibility and protection underfoot. A pronounced rocker and ample cushioning from super-soft Fuze Surge foam (made from 30% natural rubber) adds extra responsiveness.

However, despite their low profile and lightweight build, these shoes do not feel minimalist. Luxuriously soft padding around the cuff and tongue makes for exceptional out-of-the-box comfort. There are pronounced cutaways around the ankle bone for full freedom of movement, with a built-up heel section for good Achilles support and protection.

Ellie really liked the trainer-like fit. We’d describe them as a low volume shoe, with a neat toe box – though the knit fabric does crease easily, which made us wonder about long-term durability.

That aside, there was little to fault. The Gore-Tex liner did its job without feeling too hot or sweaty, the eyelet lacing gave a snug and secure fit, and the All Terrain Contagrip sole – a compound normally known for hard-wearing durability rather than outstanding traction – outperformed expectations. It’s also worth noting that these shoes come in an unusually wide range of sizes for both men and women.

If we’re being fussy

Though you get reasonably robust synthetic overlays at the toe and heel, the knitted fabric upper is very lightweight and looks susceptible to wear, especially at the vamp.

Weight 602g (women’s 5.5) | Upper Textile knit with synthetic overlays | Membrane Gore-Tex | Outsole Contagrip | Men’s sizes 6.5-13.5 | Women’s sizes 3.5-10

La Sportiva TX5 Low GTX

Verdict: Capable and versatile hybrid ‘approach-hikers’ that offer excellent durability, protection and underfoot stability. Can feel a bit warm though.

La Sportiva TX5 Low GTX on test
©Live For The Outdoors

Pros: Durability, good on technical terrain, great at absorbing shocks and bumps

Cons: Not as breathable as the others here

Despite looking like a technical approach shoe, with a low-profile toe box, extended lacing and a wraparound rand, we’d describe the TX5 as a sort of hybrid ‘approach-hiker’. Built for mixed terrain, they’re ideal for those classic big days out that might involve double-figure mileage and long, undulating ridgelines, as well as the odd scramble.

They are much more forgiving underfoot than most approach shoes, without that board-like feel, thanks to a shock absorbing EVA midsole. However, this midsole still has stiffened inserts for added stability on steeper terrain.

The shoe is built on a close-fitting last for a neat, nimble and precise feel, while a wraparound heel system keeps everything locked in tight. Leather uppers and that chunky rand provide excellent protection and durability, with a Gore-Tex lining and tongue gusset for reliable waterproofing.

Underfoot, a Vibram Megagrip outsole with a pronounced heel brake and multiple angled lugs suits the TX5’s hiking-biased design. It gives decent all-round traction on a range of surfaces, both uphill and down, though it perhaps doesn’t have the same level of tacky contact grip on slabby rock as the most technical approach shoes. But these are versatile and comfortable, while still proving tough and sturdy on test.

If we’re being fussy

The close-fitting, Gore-Tex lined leather uppers means these shoes can feel fairly warm. They got a bit hot and sweaty on test over the course of a sweltering bank holiday weekend in Snowdonia.

Weight 1114g (men’s 47) | Upper Nubuck leather with rubber rand and toecap | Membrane Gore-Tex Extended Comfort | Outsole Vibram Megagrip | Men’s sizes EU 37-47.5 | Women’s sizes EU 36-42

Scarpa Rush Trail GTX

Verdict: Sturdy and well-built trail shoes that strike a great balance between cushioning and stability, though they’re fractionally heavy and seem to have an unusual fit.

Scarpa Rush Trail GTX on test
©Live For The Outdoors

Pros: Durable, great padding and support, good grip on wet and dry terrain

Cons: Strange fit, relatively heavy

Based on the same platform as Scarpa’s Rush Trek boot, the low-cut Rush Trail is no flimsy trainer-style hiker. It has the same durable suede uppers and structured sole unit as the boot, and there’s also some clever on-board tech aimed at alleviating foot fatigue.

Foremost among these is a dual density midsole, which is firmer at the forefoot for added stability, and spongier in the heel for maximum shock absorption. You also get a supple cuff with memory foam ankle padding, providing cushioned support for the Achilles and talus.

The fit is slightly unusual, with a slim/narrow heel but conversely lots of width and volume in the forefoot. Traction comes from Scarpa’s PRESA outsole, which employs an in-house rubber compound and unique lug pattern.

It also has the ‘Interactive Kinetic System’ – five concave impact zones (four in the forefoot, one mid heel) that compress as they touch the ground. This offers improved grip as well as impact absorption, since it puts more rubber in contact with the terrain.

On test, overall grip was impressive in both the wet and the dry. So, if the fit works for you, these would be very dependable all-rounders.

If we’re being fussy

The unusual fit won’t suit everyone. And though they’re lighter than most 3-season boots, these are still fairly heavy for trail shoes.

Weight 1202g (men’s 12) | Upper Suede leather and textile with rubber heel counter and toecap | Membrane Gore-Tex bluesign-approved | Outsole PRESA Supergum | Men’s sizes EU 40-48 | Women’s sizes EU 36-42

Inov-8 Rocfly G 350

Verdict: A lightweight, breathable and forgiving trainer-style hiker with superb cushioning. Not the best for wet or boggy terrain, but a great choice for dry days.

Inov-8 Rocfly G 350 on test
©Live For The Outdoors

Pros: Very light, highly cushioned midsole, highly breathable, lots of grip on hard ground

Cons: Fabric upper may not prove very durable, midsole unsuitable for technical terrain

Inov-8’s trail shoes have always been renowned for low weight and reliable traction but aren’t known for an accommodating fit or plush cushioning. However, the Rocfly G 350 is a different beast altogether.

These trainer-style hikers fuse a superlight knitted upper with a seriously chunky, cushioned midsole. They offer great out-of-the-box comfort, with a generously padded tongue, contoured low-cut cuff and a roomy forefoot that gives lots of space for the toes to splay.

Underfoot, there’s plenty of bounce from the brand’s G-Fly foam, which really comes into its own on hard ground – we fairly sprang up Snowdon’s rocky Watkin Path on test.

On warm days, the synthetic uppers feel cool and breathable. A laminated toe bumper offers some resistance to gravel, as does a gusseted tongue.

Traction is particularly good on harder, rockier paths and trails, thanks to an effective combination of outsole lugs and channels. Unusually, the sole has a deep groove between the heel and midfoot that allows the two sections to flex independently, which also makes for a nimble and agile feel when hopping from rock to rock.

And despite their lightweight build, both the foam midsole and rubber outsole compound incorporate uber-tough graphene for superior durability.

If we’re being fussy

The broad fit will be too roomy for some. The midsole lacks stiffness on more technical terrain. Like many fabric trail shoes, the toe box seems susceptible to wear. They’re not waterproof either.

Weight 840g (men’s 12) | Upper Knitted upper with TPU overlays | Membrane None | Outsole G-Grip | Men’s sizes 6-14 | Women’s sizes 3-8.5

Adidas Terrex Skychaser GTX 2.0

Verdict: Protective, supportive and sturdy, with decent cushioning, yet lacking in terms of all-day comfort and traction underfoot.

Adidas Terrex Skychaser GTX 2.0 on test
©Live For The Outdoors

Pros: Good support and durability, wider-spaced lugs perform well in mud

Cons: Others here have better grip and comfort

Though they have stylish fashion trainer looks and the same Boost midsole technology as Adidas’s premium running shoes, these trail shoes are most definitely built for the mountains.

They offer plenty of stability and protection underfoot thanks to a stiffened plate, which is sandwiched between a layer of bouncy EVA foam and a firm rubber outsole. As well as fending off debris when crossing broken or uneven ground, it also makes these shoes more adept on steeper terrain. They even have a small climbing zone at the toe for edging on rock.

You also get a rigid heel cup and toe bumper, plus a Gore-Tex lining for waterproofing. All in all, it makes for a sturdy feeling shoe, which inevitably also adds a little weight.

Ellie didn’t find they offered great out-of-the-box comfort, perhaps due to that aforementioned stiffness, taking a few days to break in. She also had to lace them fairly tightly to overcome a little initial heel slip.

And talking of slips, the Continental rubber outsole is a fairly hard compound, which promises good durability, but didn’t grip as well as softer rivals on the slickest rocks.

On the other hand, the widely spaced, angled lugs did well in the sticky stuff, shedding mud effectively without clogging.

If we’re being fussy

On test, these weren’t stellar performers in terms of overall comfort or grip. They’re not as light as they look either – in fact, they were the heaviest of all the women’s trail shoes Ellie tested.

Weight 690g (women’s 5.5) | Upper Textile mesh with synthetic overlays | Membrane Gore-Tex | Outsole Continental | Men’s sizes 5.5-13.5 | Women’s sizes 3.5-9.5

Hiking shoe care and maintenance

Hiking footwear get a hard life and it's a wonder some of them last as long as they do. In order to keep your hiking shoes (or boots) performing as well as they can for as long as they can, proper cleaning and care is key. Fortunately, it's very easy. Head to our hiking footwear care guide to find out how.

How to care for your hiking footwear

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