Buying guide: hiking shoes

One of the most important bits of kit to get right, your shoes can make or break a day in the hills. Here’s what to consider when you make your choice.

Buying guide: hiking shoes

by Trail magazine |

Sponsored promotion with

scarpa logo

Once upon a time if you wanted to go walking in the hills you wore boots. End of story. These days that's no longer the case...

In some conditions - dry weather, easier terrain, or hard rock underfoot - a good pair of hiking or scrambling shoes will suffice perfectly. And being lower cut and lighter, they are likely to be more comfortable and less tiring on the feet.

Like burlier boots, there are different types of shoe, varying in terms of stiffness, lightness and materials. Let us help you decide which is best suited to you with the handy guide.

Think about end use

Do you want a technical scrambling shoe that is precise, stiff and grippy for small foot holds, or is all-day comfort more important? There is a shoe for every type of activity!

Prioritise protection

For rough ground or scrambling routes, a rubber toe or heel cap (or ‘rand’) will be extremely valuable for protection and durability.

Woman in hiking shoes on mountain

Choose your material carefully

Suede and mesh materials will often be light, flexible and breathable; whereas leather tends to be more durable and protective. The choice is yours!

Do you need them to be waterproof?

Many trail shoes come with waterproof linings, although water can come over the top of a shoe more easily than a boot. Shoes without a lining are generally more breathable.

Get some grip

As a general rule the more aggressive and deeper the tread (or ‘lugs’), the better the resulting grip will be. And while grippy rubber soles can have superb traction, they may be less durable for heavy use.

Always check the weight

Just because a trail shoe looks lighter than a walking boot, that doesn’t mean it will be. Always do your research – and try them on before you buy.

Top hiking shoes:

Scarpa Rush Trail GTX men's

Scarpa Rush Trail GTX men's

Buy now

The Rush Trail GTX is a walking shoe made in the name of comfort, designed to reduce foot fatigue, providing agility and protection.

Scarpa Rush Trail GTX women's

Scarpa Rush Trail GTX women's

Buy now

The Rush Trail GTX is a walking shoe made in the name of comfort, designed to reduce foot fatigue, providing agility and protection.

Scarpa Rush GTX men's

Scarpa Rush GTX men's

Buy now

The Rush GTX has been designed to handle a variety of fast and light trail objectives, from high mileage days on rugged trails to day hikes to fast-packing.

Scarpa Rush GTX women's

Scarpa Rush GTX women's

Buy now

The Rush GTX has been designed to handle a variety of fast and light trail objectives, from high mileage days on rugged trails to day hikes to fast-packing.

Scarpa Mojito Trail GTX women's

Scarpa Mojito Trail GTX women's

Buy now

The Mojito Trail GTX is a low cut-waterproof shoe perfect for country walks and urban exploration.

Scarpa Mojito Trail GTX men's

Scarpa Mojito Trail GTX men's

Buy now

The Mojito Trail GTX is a low cut-waterproof shoe perfect for country walks and urban exploration.

Scarpa Mescalito women's

Scarpa Mescalito women's

Buy now

The Mescalito a technical shoe designed for long approaches and more technical scrambling.

Scarpa Mescalito men's

Scarpa Mescalito men's

Buy now

The Mescalito a technical shoe designed for long approaches and more technical scrambling.

Care and cleaning

Read our in-depth footwear care guide to find out how to best take care of your hiking shoes.

Don't forget to subscribe to the Live For The Outdoors newsletter to get expert advice and outdoor inspiration delivered to you inbox!

For the latest reviews - including extra photos and kit that won't appear online - pick up a copy of the current issue of Trail magazine!

Just so you know, whilst we may receive a commission or other compensation from the links on this website, we never allow this to influence product selections - read why you should trust us