Waterproof boots online shopping today: Built like a trail running shoe but with added ankle support and protection, the Salomon X Ultra 4 Mid is our favorite all-around hiking boot for 2023. Updated last spring with a sleeker upper and revised chassis, the latest version of the boot offers an impressive combination of comfort and low weight—all while retaining solid toe protection, stability, and well-rounded traction. You also get Salomon build quality, which we’ve found tends to stand up to more abuse on the trail than other boots in this weight and price range. For fast-moving day hikers, lightweight backpackers, and even thru-hikers, we heartily recommend the X Ultra 4 Mid. Naturally, there are a few compromises that come with the Salomon X Ultra’s lightweight construction. The most significant is the lack of underfoot protection, which is thinner than the burly Salomon Quest 4 and max-cushioned Hoka Anacapa below. In addition, the X Ultra is fairly flexible and doesn’t sit as high on the ankle as the Quest, so it isn’t as supportive over technical terrain or when carrying a heavy pack. However, it beats out other ultralight options like the Altra Lone Peak in durability, protection, and support. And a final bonus: The X Ultra is one of the few lightweight designs that is made in wide sizes. See extra information on hiking shoes.
The Salomon Quest 4 Gore-Tex remains our top choice for many reasons. This boot is ideal for long adventures on the most technical and demanding trails. It is top-notch, offering an excellent blend of stability and comfort, fit for tromping through all kinds of conditions. The beefy lugs bite down on all surfaces, offering traction on slippery steep trails and rocky river crossings. If you’re in the market for a well-rounded boot that’ll offer comfort and stability while shouldering a heavy pack, this top contender is the way to go. While the Quest 4 is stable and protective, it is heavy for a hiker. It also does not breathe or release heat as readily as we’d wish. While it can function as a casual daily hiker, it’s truly built for taking on technical surfaces and tricky conditions. If you’re seeking the best when it comes to a traditional hiking boot, this is our favorite option.
If your favorite maximalist trail-running shoe had ankle support, it’d probably look a lot like the HOKA Anacapa Mid GTX. And that formula should be just about perfect for hikers looking to go far and fast. As one of the lightest midcut boots in our roundup, the fleet-footed Anacapas use the marshmallow stack height that HOKA is known for, with a gloriously thick EVA cushion under the heel and a 6 millimeter heel-to-toe drop. Taking a cue from the brand’s running shoes, HOKA put in a meta-rocker (a sole slightly curved upward like a smile) to help propel forward motion. “They just encourage you to go,” says our California crew. End result: a smooth and speedy gait with lots of cushioning for joint support.
La Sportiva’s Nucleo High II GTX is a quintessential modern boot: light and nimble but with enough support for day hiking and most backpacking trips. Its most notable features are the Gore-Tex Surround liner and Nano-Cell technology. In short, Gore-Tex Surround breathes not only out of the top of the foot like a traditional waterproof design, but also through the bottom of the footbed and out the sides. La Sportiva’s Nano-Cell tech is the web-like mesh you see along the sides of the foot. While they give the boot a distinctive look, these cutouts only seem to have a modest impact on breathability.
Testers also lauded the Nucleo High II GTX for having best-in-test traction. Credit a sticky Vibram® outsole that’s peppered with cleatlike lugs and extends off the back of the shoe for easier braking. It kept us upright on descents through gravel, loose scree and dust, and one tester even called the outsole “so grabby” that he was able to jog down the notoriously mucky paths in the Seven Lakes Basin in Washington state’s Olympic National Park. The Nucleo High II GTX has a soft EVA foam midsole much like a running shoe, but it’s bolstered with TPU inserts. Those harder plastic components give the midsole a bit more life over the long haul than a typical running shoe and up-level the support; our testers were able to shoulder 50-pound loads without issue. The boot’s feature set is rounded out with GORE-TEX SURROUND®, a tried-and-true waterproof tech that lets sweat vapor escape through the sides and bottom of the boot when a spacer in the midsole is compressed. (It leaves you with dryer feet and, hopefully, fewer blisters.)
Boots in this lightweight category are, not surprisingly, light and flexible but tough enough for a longer day hike or short overnight backpacking trip. Options range from the more traditional KEEN Targhee III to the light and fast Salomon X Ultra 4 Mid. Waterproof liners are the norm, but they’re typically the less expensive type (read: non Gore-Tex). Materials used in the construction trend toward a heavy use of mesh and nylon with leather mixed in. This keeps cost and weight down, but doesn’t make them as durable as some pricier full-leather options. You also won’t see as stiff of a structure, as the boot’s shank and support won’t be very substantial. As long as you’re not carrying a heavy pack, that shouldn’t be a deterrent. See additional info on trekkit.in.
The Hoka Kaha 2 GTX – All Gender offers superior comfort for all humans, with over two inches of foam stacked into its midsole. It is one of the thickest models we have tested, easily providing a smooth landing surface every time. It is surprisingly stable (for its stack height), with rigid ankle support to prevent unsuspected turns or twists. The 5mm lugs and sticky rubber holds well on tricky surfaces. It also offers a surprising amount of water protection, and the reinforced leather upper resists scuffs and scratches. Hands down, this boot offers the best cushioning on the market and should be considered if comfort is your top priority. While the thick cushioning underfoot is heavenly, there is an adjustment period to get used to wearing them. When hiking over rocky terrain, we had to train ourselves to lift our feet just a little higher to avoid unsuspected trips. Additionally, while the upper offers superior waterproofing, it isn’t very breathable. If ample cushioning and excellent underfoot protection are your priority, this is our recommendation for all humans.