Stepping into the world of hiking can be as thrilling as it is daunting, especially when it comes to choosing the right gear to get you started on the right foot. Among the essentials, finding the best hiking shoes can make a significant difference in your outdoor adventures, providing the support, comfort, and protection you need as a beginner.

Whether you’re planning to conquer gentle hills or tackle rugged trails, the right pair of shoes will not only keep your feet comfortable but also enhance your stability and grip, ensuring you can focus on the beauty of nature around you rather than worrying about where you step. In this article, we’ve rounded up the top hiking shoes perfect for those just starting out, offering a blend of durability, comfort, and value.

Join us as we explore options that will help you stride confidently into your new hobby, turning every hike into a memorable journey. But before we share our top picks, let’s cover some of the basic criteria you should consider when buying a new pair of hiking shoes.

Hiking Shoes for Beginners: Buyer’s Guide

Embarking on trekking adventures as a beginner hiker is an exhilarating experience, but it’s also one that demands the right gear. At the top of that gear list? A sturdy pair of hiking shoes. Here’s a friendly guide to help you choose the best hiking shoes that’ll keep your feet happy, whether you’re tackling a gentle slope or a rugged path.

  1. Know Your Terrain: First off, consider where you plan to hike. For gentle, well-maintained trails, a lightweight shoe with good traction might be all you need. However, for more rugged, uneven terrain, look for shoes offering more support and durability. The right choice will ensure you’re prepared for whatever the trail throws your way.
  2. The Fit is It: A good fit is crucial. Hiking shoes should feel snug around your heel and midfoot, with enough room to wiggle your toes. Remember, feet tend to swell during long walks, so consider trying on shoes in the afternoon when your feet are slightly larger, and wear the socks you plan to hike in.
  3. Material Matters: The material of your hiking shoes will affect their breathability, weight, and water resistance. Leather shoes offer durability and water resistance, perfect for wet, rugged conditions. Synthetic materials, on the other hand, are lighter and more breathable, ideal for dry, warm environments. The toe box should be sturdy yet flexible.
  4. Check the Sole: A good sole is the soul of your hiking experience. Look for shoes with deep, aggressive lug patterns for grip on muddy or loose terrain, and a rubber compound that balances durability with stickiness for traction. A reinforced toe cap can also protect against rocks and roots. Hiking poles combined with solid soles make a great grip combo!
  5. Waterproof or Not? Waterproofing can be a double-edged sword. Waterproof shoes are great for wet conditions, keeping your feet dry and comfortable. However, they can also reduce breathability, leading to sweaty feet in hot weather. Consider your usual hiking conditions before deciding on waterproofing.
  6. Flexibility and Support: Balance is key. Shoes that are too flexible may not offer enough support for uneven terrain, while overly stiff shoes can lead to discomfort on longer treks. Aim for a middle ground – shoes that offer enough flex for comfortable walking but enough support to protect against rough terrain. The insoles should be just as flexible as the outer shoe.
  7. Durability vs. Weight: Heavier shoes usually offer more durability and protection, which is great for rough, technical trails. However, they can also be tiring on longer hikes. Lighter shoes might wear out faster but are often more comfortable for easy to moderate trails. Consider how often and where you hike to find the right balance. Remember, you will likely be carrying a backpack, so factor that into the sturdiness of your shoe.
  8. Price Point: Finally, consider your budget. While it’s tempting to go for cheaper options, investing in a quality pair of hiking shoes can save money in the long run by avoiding the need for frequent replacements. Don’t skimp on quality, but also don’t feel compelled to buy the most expensive pair if a mid-range shoe meets all your needs.

Remember, the best hiking shoes for you are the ones that fit well, suit your hiking environment, and make your hikes more enjoyable. Take your time trying on different options, read reviews, and maybe chat with fellow hikers for recommendations. Happy trails!

Top-Rated Hiking Shoes for Beginners

Don’t waste your time and money on the wrong pair of hiking shoes! Let our expert researchers take the guesswork out of it for you. We’ve done the leg work, analyzed dozens of products, and scanned hundreds of customer reviews to bring you only the best hiking shoe options so that any beginner can hit the trail with confidence and style!

1. Adidas Mens 2 Gore-Tex Hiking Shoes

Adidas Mens 2 Gore-Tex Hiking Shoes
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For those in pursuit of hiking footwear that doesn't compromise on style or functionality, the adidas Mens Free Hiker 2 Gore-Tex Hiking Shoes stand out as a top choice. Tailored to meet the demands of the modern adventurer, these shoes are a beacon of comfort and performance, especially for beginners. They're crafted with a BOOST midsole that delivers exceptional cushioning and energy return, ensuring your feet remain comfortable over any terrain. Additionally, the inclusion of an external heel clip and an EVA stabilization frame enhances support and stability, helping to ward off injuries during your hikes.

But the innovation doesn't stop with support and comfort. The adidas Mens Free Hiker 2 is equipped with Gore-Tex technology, making them both waterproof and breathable. This feature allows hikers to confidently tackle trails in varying weather conditions without worrying about wet feet or overheating. Furthermore, the shoes boast a rubber sole designed for superior traction, providing a secure grip on diverse surfaces and ensuring that slippery paths won't deter your outdoor explorations.

Features & Specifications

  • Gore-Tex waterproof and breathable technology
  • BOOST midsole for superior cushioning and energy return
  • External heel clip for added support
  • EVA stabilization frame for stability on challenging terrains
  • Rubber sole for excellent traction
  • Machine washable
  • Regular fit for all individuals

Not only do these shoes excel in technical features, but they also offer convenience after your adventures. They are machine washable, making the post-hike cleanup a breeze. Designed with a regular fit, they cater to a broad range of individuals, ensuring that anyone can enjoy the great outdoors in comfort and style. The adidas Mens Free Hiker 2 Gore-Tex Hiking Shoes truly marry functionality with ease of use, making them a fantastic choice for anyone looking to start their hiking journey.

Embarking on an outdoor adventure requires the right gear, and the adidas Mens Free Hiker 2 Gore-Tex Hiking Shoes promise to enhance your hiking experience. With their blend of comfort, support, weather resistance, and easy maintenance, they offer everything a beginner could need in a hiking shoe. Don't just take our word for it; lace up a pair and feel the difference on your next trek. These shoes are more than just footwear; they're a companion for your outdoor journeys, ready to tackle trails with you.

2. Columbia Women's Newton Ridge Hiking Boot

Columbia Women's Newton Ridge Hiking Boot
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The Columbia Women's Newton Ridge Hiking Boot is revolutionizing the hiking experience for beginners, combining advanced technology with a durable design to effortlessly tackle any terrain. Its seam-sealed construction and TECHLITE lightweight midsole not only ensure superior comfort and cushioning but also make every step of your journey more enjoyable.

The added bonus of an ankle-high shaft height provides exceptional support and protection, making these boots a reliable companion for any adventure. Waterproof and built to last, these classic Columbia boots promise to keep your feet dry and comfortable through years of exploration.

Features & Specifications

  • Omni-GRIP non-marking traction rubber outsole
  • Waterproof combination of supportive leather and suede construction
  • Reinforced toe and heel barriers
  • Extended outsole toe overwrap for added protection
  • TECHLITE lightweight midsole for superior cushioning
  • Ankle-high shaft height for support and protection
  • Seam-sealed construction to keep feet dry
  • Available in a variety of colors and sizes for women

Designed with the beginner hiker in mind, the Columbia Women's Newton Ridge Hiking Boot excels in every category, from waterproofing and superior traction to durable construction suitable for all types of terrain. The boots offer not just functionality but also comfort, thanks to the plush cushioning and ankle support that makes long hikes a breeze. Their stylish design and a wide range of color options mean you won't have to compromise on looks while you conquer the trails.

Columbia's commitment to sustainability and ethical manufacturing practices adds an extra layer of satisfaction to your purchase, knowing you're making a responsible choice. Affordably priced, these boots represent great value, blending quality, performance, and style. Whether you're gearing up for a short day trip or embarking on a week-long trek, the Columbia Women's Newton Ridge Hiking Boots stand ready as a reliable and fashionable choice, proving that stepping into the great outdoors has never been more appealing.

3. Merrell Men's Moab 3 Hiking Shoe

Merrell Men's Moab 3 Hiking Shoe
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The Merrell Men's Moab 3 Hiking Shoe emerges as an exemplary choice for beginners, blending exceptional comfort with robust support. Crafted from pigskin leather and mesh, these shoes strike the perfect balance between durability and breathability.

Features like the bellows tongue, which prevents debris from entering, and the protective toe cap, designed to shield your feet on rugged paths, elevate the hiking experience. Yet, it's their commitment to the planet that truly sets them apart; with 100% recycled laces, webbing, and mesh lining, these shoes are as kind to the environment as they are to your feet.

Features & Specifications

  • Made from pigskin leather and mesh for durability and breathability
  • Bellows tongue to keep out debris
  • Protective toe cap for added protection on rough terrain
  • 100% recycled laces, webbing, and mesh lining for sustainability
  • Kinetic Fit ADVANCED removable contoured insole with reinforced heel cushioning for medium ankle support
  • Molded nylon arch shank for stability
  • Merrell Air Cushion in the heel for shock absorption
  • Lightweight EVA foam midsole for stability and comfort
  • Vibram TC5+ rubber sole for excellent traction on all types of terrain

Diving deeper into their design, the Merrell Men's Moab 3 doesn't just stop at being eco-friendly. They're engineered for endurance and support, making them ideal for extended treks across challenging terrains. The Kinetic Fit ADVANCED removable contoured insole, coupled with reinforced heel cushioning, offers medium support, while the molded nylon arch shank and Merrell Air Cushion in the heel work together to provide a stable and shock-absorbed stride. The lightweight EVA foam midsole further enhances stability and comfort, ensuring every step is as enjoyable as the last.

With the Vibram TC5+ rubber sole underfoot, these shoes guarantee excellent traction, giving you the confidence to explore diverse landscapes. The Merrell Men's Moab 3 Hiking Shoe not only meets the essential criteria for a supportive and comfortable hiking experience but also stands out for its dedication to sustainability. Whether you're navigating rocky inclines or embarking on longer trails, these shoes are equipped to offer both unparalleled performance and a minimal environmental footprint.

4. Salomon Men's X Ultra Pioneer Hiking Shoes

 Salomon Men's X Ultra Pioneer Hiking Shoes
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If you're on the hunt for a shoe that matches your adventurous spirit, the Salomon Men's X Ultra Pioneer Hiking Shoes might just be your perfect match. Tailored for comfort and support across any terrain, these shoes are a fantastic pick for both hiking novices and seasoned trail veterans. Thanks to the ClimaSalomon waterproof technology, you won't have to worry about wet conditions dampening your spirits or your feet. The lightweight and flexible build is ideal for those long treks, ensuring you stay comfortable mile after mile, while the advanced chassis technology delivers the stability and protection you need for an efficient and enjoyable hike.

Features & Specifications

  • ClimaSalomon Waterproof technology for complete weather protection
  • Advanced Chassis for stability and energy management
  • Machine washable for easy maintenance
  • Traditional lacing system with eyelets for a secure fit
  • Lightweight and flexible construction perfect for any terrain
  • Available in sizes for men, women, and kids
  • Wide range of colors and designs to choose from
  • Made by Salomon, a trusted brand with over 70 years of experience in outdoor sports gear.

The Salomon Men's X Ultra Pioneer Hiking Shoes excel in delivering top-notch performance and durability, making them a stellar choice for anyone just starting their hiking journey. Featuring ClimaSalomon waterproof technology, your feet will stay dry regardless of the weather, while the shoe's advanced chassis ensures stability and protection as you navigate the trails. The convenience of machine washability and a traditional lacing system that guarantees a snug fit for any foot shape, add to the appeal, ensuring these shoes are as practical as they are comfortable.

What truly distinguishes these shoes, however, is the variety of sizes and designs available, catering to the unique style and needs of every adventurer out there. Whether you're trail running, backpacking, or just exploring the great outdoors, the Salomon Men's X Ultra Pioneer Hiking Shoes are ready to support every step of your journey. Don't let anything stand in the way of your next adventure. Equip yourself with a pair of Salomon Men's X Ultra Pioneer Hiking Shoes and unleash your potential on the trails.

5.Women's Crestwood Waterproof Hiking Shoe

Women's Crestwood Waterproof Hiking Shoe
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The Women's Crestwood Waterproof Hiking Shoe is transforming the way women explore the great outdoors, rain or shine. Thanks to our cutting-edge Omni-Tech technology, these shoes strike the perfect balance between waterproof protection and breathable comfort, ensuring they're well-suited for any terrain and weather condition. So, whether your next hiking adventure leads you through lush forests or rocky peaks, these shoes promise to keep your feet dry and snug every step of the way.

Crafted from 100% leather and textile, the Crestwood isn't just a powerhouse of durability; it's also a statement of style that's built to last through countless adventures. And when they start to show the signs of a well-lived life, cleaning is a breeze – just pop them in the washing machine. The robust rubber sole beneath offers exceptional traction on all types of surfaces, empowering you to confidently venture onto even the most challenging trails.

Features & Specifications

  • Made with 100% leather and textile
  • Omni-Tech technology for waterproof protection
  • Lace-up design featuring a mix of leather, mesh, and webbing
  • TechLite midsole for all-day comfort and superior cushioning
  • Omni-Grip non-marking outsole for unbeatable traction on any terrain
  • Effortlessly machine washable for easy care

What truly elevates the Women's Crestwood Waterproof Hiking Shoe above the rest is its blend of versatility and comfort, paired with an approachable price point. These shoes are the ideal companion for both beginners eager to explore new trails and seasoned hikers looking for a reliable, comfortable fit. They're not just a piece of gear; they're your ticket to embracing the call of the wild with confidence and style. So, why not lace up a pair of Crestwood Waterproof Hiking Shoes and see where they can take you? Whether you're navigating your first trail or your fiftieth, these shoes are ready to make every journey unforgettable.

6. Skechers Men's Oxford Hiking Shoe

Skechers Men's Oxford Hiking Shoe
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Skechers might be the name that springs to mind for comfy and stylish walking shoes, but it's time to widen the horizon because their hiking shoe game is just as strong. Enter the Skechers Outline-SOLEGO Trail Oxford hiking shoes – a dream come true for beginners who don't want to compromise on comfort or durability. These gems combine the ease of walking shoes with the ruggedness required for the trails, ensuring you get the best of both worlds.

Crafted with a rubber sole, these imported shoes offer exceptional traction across a variety of terrains, ensuring you stay steady on your feet no matter where the path leads. Their low-top design enhances flexibility and movement, perfect for those who prefer a more agile approach to hiking. Plus, the 1-inch platform height provides just the right amount of elevation to keep your feet comfortable during those long treks.

Features & Specifications

  • Relaxed Fit for a spacious, comfortable feel
  • Waterproof to keep your feet dry under wet conditions
  • Lace-up closure for a snug fit
  • Padded tongue and collar for extra comfort
  • Reinforced toe and heel for increased durability
  • Air Cooled Memory Foam insole for superior cushioning
  • Lightweight and flexible, making movement a breeze
  • Available in a range of colors and sizes to suit your style

But what really sets the Skechers Outline-SOLEGO apart is the Air Cooled Memory Foam insole. This feature guarantees supreme cushioning and support, ensuring your feet remain blissfully comfortable, even on the most challenging trails. Coupled with a reinforced toe and heel, these shoes are built to withstand the rigors of rough terrain. And style hasn't been overlooked – these trail runners are as fashionable as they are functional, effortlessly transitioning from the great outdoors to daily wear. So, if you're venturing into hiking or simply looking for a versatile shoe that ticks all the boxes, the Skechers Outline-SOLEGO Trail Oxford is your go-to choice. Let your adventures begin with confidence and style!

7. Northside Women's Monroe Low Hiking Shoe

Northside Women's Monroe Low Hiking Shoe
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If you're just stepping into the world of hiking and looking for a pair that promises both comfort and resilience, the Northside Women's Monroe Low Hiking Shoe is calling your name! Tailored for beginners, these shoes boast a rugged suede and nylon upper that shields your feet from rocks, debris, and trail hazards. They don't just stop at protection; with an abrasion-resistant toe guard and heel stabilizer, these shoes are built to last through every adventurous trek you embark on.

The comfort factor is equally impressive. Thanks to a moisture-wicking lining, your feet will stay dry and cozy, no matter the distance. The gusseted tongue is a clever addition, keeping pesky debris out, so you can focus on the beauty of the outdoors without any interruptions. And when it comes to maintenance, these shoes keep it simple – they're machine washable, ensuring hassle-free care after your muddy excursions.

Features & Specifications

  • Rugged suede and nylon upper with abrasion-resistant toe guard
  • Moisture-wicking lining for dry and comfortable feet
  • Gusseted tongue design to prevent debris from entering
  • Machine washable for effortless cleaning
  • High-quality synthetic rubber outsole for superior grip and traction
  • Stylish suede outer material
  • Removable/washable EVA insole for customizable cushioning
  • Padded collar and tongue for all-day wearability
  • Quick lace-up closure for a snug fit
  • Heel pull strap for easy on and off
  • Durable multi-directional TPR outsole for top-notch traction and shock absorption

What makes these hiking shoes unique is the thoughtful features tailored to hikers' needs. The removable and washable EVA insole, padded collar, and tongue, along with a quick lace-up closure, ensure your feet enjoy all-day comfort and a fit that feels just right. The shoe's multi-directional TPR outsole provides unmatched grip and shock absorption, making every step secure and enjoyable, whether you're navigating dry or wet terrains.

So, if you're eager to explore the great outdoors with confidence and style, the Northside Women's Monroe Low Hiking Shoe is your perfect companion. Designed for those at the start of their hiking journey, these shoes offer a blend of protection, comfort, and ease that will make your adventures truly unforgettable. Ready to take your hiking to new heights? Lace up a pair of these gems and let the trails transform you.

Frequently Asked Questions:

How do I know if my hiking shoes fit correctly?

Your hiking shoes should feel snug around the heel and midfoot, with enough room to wiggle your toes. Make sure there's a thumb's width of space between your longest toe and the end of the shoe to accommodate foot swelling during hikes.

Are waterproof hiking shoes necessary?

It depends on your hiking environment. Waterproof shoes are great for wet conditions but can be less breathable. If you hike in dry conditions, a breathable, non-waterproof shoe might be more comfortable.

Can I use running shoes for hiking?

While running shoes offer comfort and breathability, they might not provide the necessary traction, support, and protection for rough terrain. It’s better to choose shoes specifically designed for hiking.

How important is the weight of the hiking shoe?

The weight of your shoe can impact your hiking experience. Lighter shoes are less tiring over long distances, but heavier shoes often offer more durability and protection. Consider the type of hiking you'll be doing to find the right balance.

How often should I replace my hiking shoes?

The lifespan of your hiking shoes depends on their construction, the terrain you hike on, and how often you use them. As a general rule, consider replacing them when you notice significant wear on the sole, or if the upper starts to break down.

What's the difference between a hiking shoe and a hiking boot?

Hiking shoes are generally low-cut with flexible midsoles, ideal for day hikes or light loads. Hiking boots offer more ankle support and durability, suited for rough terrain or carrying heavier loads. The higher the support on the ankles, the more force you can exert on them.

Do I need different hiking shoes for different seasons?

Yes, you might need different shoes for summer and winter hiking. Summer shoes focus on breathability, while winter shoes offer insulation and are compatible with traction devices for snow and ice.

How do I care for my hiking shoes?

Clean your shoes after each hike with water and a brush. Dry them naturally away from direct heat. Treat leather shoes with a conditioner to keep them supple, and re-waterproof your shoes as needed.

Wrapping it Up!

As we wrap up our exploration of the best hiking shoes for beginners, it's clear that stepping into the great outdoors requires more than just enthusiasm; it requires the right gear. From the rugged durability of the Northside Women's Monroe Low Hiking Shoe to the versatile comfort of the Skechers Outline-SOLEGO Trail Oxford, and the waterproof reliability of the Salomon Men's X Ultra Pioneer, there's a perfect pair out there for every budding adventurer.

Choosing the right hiking shoes is a critical first step in your journey. It's not just about the style or the brand; it's about finding a shoe that offers the support, comfort, and protection you need to confidently tackle any trail. Features like moisture-wicking linings, gusseted tongues to keep out debris, and durable, traction-rich outsoles are key elements to look for. And let's not forget the importance of a good fit – ensuring all-day comfort and preventing blisters and other foot woes.

But beyond the specs and features, what truly matters is how these shoes enable you to connect with nature, challenge yourself, and enjoy the myriad benefits of hiking. Whether you're traversing rugged peaks, wandering through forested trails, or just enjoying a scenic path near home, the right hiking shoes can make all the difference. They not only protect your feet but also enhance your performance and enjoyment of the hike.

So, to all the beginners out there eager to embark on their hiking journey, consider your choice of footwear as the foundation of all your future adventures. The right pair of hiking shoes will not only keep your feet happy but also inspire you to push further, climb higher, and explore deeper. Happy trails!

Happy hiking!

Tom Fortune

Tom is an outdoor enthusiast and writer based in the French Alps. Most days, you can find Tom shredding the slopes on a snowboard or splitboard, exploring the mountains on a hike, or hitting the trails on a mountain bike.

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