16 Best Hiking Shoes In Australia For 2024

With the exponential growth in hiking’s popularity, the outdoor gear industry is booming. Amidst the vast array of choices, discovering the perfect hiking shoes for your feet and adventure style has never been more effortless.

However, the abundance of options can also lead to confusion. That’s where we step in. In this post, we present detailed and easily understandable explanations about the components of hiking shoes. We’ll explore various options and help you determine whether hiking shoes or hiking boots are better suited for your adventures.

Additionally, we’ve curated a list of the 16 best hiking shoes for 2024, categorised into the best trail runners, hiking shoes, and approach shoes. This way, you can effortlessly compare your options and make an informed decision.

Hiking along a rocky ridge on one of the best day hikes in West Tasmania, Eliza Bluff

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase of a product we recommend through one of our links, we may make a small commission at no extra cost to you! This helps to support our blog and enables us to continue providing you with helpful tips and exciting adventures, so thank you 🙂

How To Choose The Best Hiking Shoes For Your Adventures

Quick Buyers Guide For Choosing The Best Hiking Shoes

  • Decide where you plan to wear the hiking shoes before beginning your search
  • A durable shoe with an ESS shank will provide the best protection for multi-day treks with a heavy load
  • Leather is the most durable upper material, but also the heaviest and least breathable
  • Synthetic mesh offers the best breathability for a lightweight hiking shoe
  • Check that the outsole construction suits your intended terrain
  • Choosing a shoe with a TPU plate will increase protection underfoot and stability
  • Determine whether you need a low or high drop in your shoe (a high drop is good for combating calf fatigue and a low drop is better to achieve a natural gait)
  • Try shoes on in the afternoon when your foot is swollen
  • Wear your usual hiking socks and any orthotics or insoles you plan to use when trying on shoes

Define Your Hiking Style

Before we even begin to dig into the components of a hiking shoe, and like other important pieces of hiking equipment such as your hiking stove, rain jacket and sleeping mat, it’s essential to ask yourself these questions so you can understand the factors that are relevant to you and eliminate incompatible options from the get-go.

  • What climate do you usually hike in?
  • What is the most common terrain you find yourself in?
  • How long is your average adventure?
  • Do you carry a heavy pack?
  • Do you have any ankle or knee issues?

Having answers ready for these questions will help you determine the type of hiking shoes you need. Whether it’s a light and nimble option for day hikes or a sturdy and waterproof pair for overnight hikes into the rugged wilderness.

If you have any ankle or knee issues that require extra support, we strongly recommend considering hiking boots instead. There are plenty of lightweight mid-cut hiking boots on the market that will provide better stability and support around the ankle without weighing you down.

Osprey Aether 85L Plus Backpacking Pack on The Needles Hike Tasmania

Types Of Hiking Shoes

In the past, hikers were limited to either hiking shoes or boots, with runners being ill-suited for rugged terrain. However, the advent of trail running shoes revolutionised the hiking scene, attracting numerous day walkers with their comfort and lightweight design.

This is when the hiking shoe industry realised they needed to diversify their range, which has resulted in a plethora of choices for us from both categories – not to mention an additional style in the approach shoes for rocky terrain…

Trail Running Shoes

The North Face Vectiv Enduris 3 Trail Running Shoe

The ultra-lightweight and flexible design of trail running shoes allows you to stay nimble while covering loads of kilometres, making them a fantastic choice for long-distance day hikers and ultralight backpackers.

However, there is very minimal ankle support in a trail runner and often inadequate protection underfoot when you’re carrying a hiking backpack over rough terrain. The durability of trail runners is also lower compared to hiking shoes and they generally need replacing more often.

What Are Trail Runners Best For:

  • Experienced ultralight hikers
  • Long-distance day hikers with very minimal weight
  • Day hikes on established trails

Hiking Shoes

The North Face Vectiv Exploris 2 Hiking Shoes

Generally speaking, hiking shoes will be more supportive and durable compared to trail running shoes. This is predominantly due to a stiffer design and the use of tougher fabrics such as leather.

Hiking shoes are a great entry-level option, but they’re also a very popular choice for experienced day walkers and even some multi-day hikers who prefer a lightweight pair of hiking shoes over more robust hiking boots.

What Are Hiking Shoes Best For:

  • Day hikes on varying terrain
  • Entry-level hikers
  • Experienced multi-day hikers with a low base weight for gear

Approach Shoes

La Sportiva TX4 Approach Shoes for Hiking

Approach shoes are predominantly designed for climbers as a pair of grippy yet comfortable shoes for their walk into an ascent or easy scrambles. They’re not commonly used for hiking as they have limited use – namely, they’re terrible to wear in muddy terrain. But if you find yourself rock scrambling on most of your hikes, you won’t find a grippier pair of shoes than the approach shoes.

What Are Approach Shoes Best For:

  • Hikes that incorporate low-grade rock climbing or a lot of rock scrambling

Weight Of Hiking Shoes

Hiking the Tutoko Valley ROute in Milford Sound wear Salomon X 4 Ultra Hiking Shoes

The popularity of hiking shoes over hiking boots can be partly narrowed down to their lightweight design. With less fabric in comparison, you can often get similar support in a hiking shoe without the hefty weight.

The hiking shoes listed below all mostly weigh below 400 g per shoe (except for the Merrell Moab 3 GTX), landing them in the ultra-lightweight category for hiking boots. Trail running shoes will generally provide the lightest option, however, it’s important to remember that you’ll often sacrifice durability and longevity as a result.

Waterproof vs Non-Waterproof Hiking Shoes

Hiking in the mud wearing my waterproof hiking shoes

Whether you opt for a waterproof or non-waterproof hiking shoe will depend on your climate and your tendency for sweaty feet. While many hikers believe there is only one answer to this question (it’s another of those strong hiking debates), both options have positives and negatives.

  • Waterproof hiking shoes – Gore-Tex or a similar lining on hiking shoes provides the confidence to walk through low streams and dewy fields without getting wet feet. Additionally, they offer a touch of extra warmth by sacrificing some breathability. However, in warmer climates or for those prone to sweating, the reduced breathability can lead to sweaty feet.
  • Non-waterproof hiking shoes – Without a waterproof lining, your feet can breathe better, drying quickly when crossing streams or wet grass in warm climates. However, in cold conditions, your feet may remain wet for an extended period, leading to frozen toes and the formation of blisters.

The most common and reputable waterproofing technology found in hiking shoes is Gore-Tex. The only other waterproofing technology that you’ll find on this list is The North Face’s FUTURELIGHT which has proven to compete highly against Gore-Tex products.

Breathability Of Hiking Shoes

Hiking to the summit of Mt Taranaki in the blistering heat wearing my North Face Hiking Shoes

As we touched on above, waterproofing will reduce the breathability of a hiking shoe along with thicker fabrics such as leather and tough nylon. For the most breathable hiking shoe, opt for a design with thinner materials and plenty of mesh for superior airflow

However, there’s always a sacrifice. Generally, the most breathable shoe will sacrifice heavily in the durability department. This is where you can return to your original questions on your hiking style and decide whether superior breathability is necessary (ie. if you’re hiking on established trails in hot climates) or whether you can find a happy medium between breathability and durability.

Stiffness and Stability Of The Best Hiking Shoes

Scrambling up the rock Gardens on the Mount Roland Face Track

The stiffness and stability of a hiking shoe comes from the construction of the midsole and the material used for the upper – which we’ll dive into below. 

But basically, for the stiffest and most stable option, choose a leather hiking shoe with an ESS shank. However, this style of shoe will also be heavy and slightly less comfortable compared to a lightweight and synthetic hiking shoe. 

For the lightest, comfiest and most nimble hiking shoe, look for a combination of mesh and synthetic for the upper and an EVA midsole without a shank. But this won’t protect your feet from sharp objects and will wear fast.

For the best of both worlds, choose a hiking shoe with a combination of leather and synthetic (or just thickly woven synthetic), an EVA midsole and a rock plate.

Hiking Shoe Construction

Standing on a boulder in the Salomon X Ultra 4 Hiking Shoes

Hiking shoes are constructed with three main sections – the upper, the midsole and the outsole – and a range of components within those sections that enhance the performance of the hiking shoe.

Each section supports a different set of materials and functions. The upper is the material that covers your foot and connects with the outsole. The midsole is the cushioning right beneath your foot and also connects to the outsole. And the outsole is the rubber surface that connects with the ground.

Upper Materials and Functions

Upper material construction of a waterproof hiking shoe

The upper section of a hiking shoe is responsible for keeping your foot dry and comfortable from the inside out. The properties of the upper material combine durability, water resistance and breathability – in varying degrees depending on your needs. These are the most common materials used for hiking shoes, you’ll generally find a combination of the top three to balance out weight, durability and breathability.

  • Leather: Leather is the most durable option for the upper material. There are three types of leather that can be used for shoes – full-grain, nubuck or suede/split-grain. Full-grain leather is generally reserved for hiking boots as it’s heavier and less breathable. Nubuck is the in-between and often what they mean if there is no explanation. But suede is the most common type of leather used for hiking shoes.
  • Synthetic: Most commonly nylon, woven synthetic uppers provide superior breathability compared to leather and are often much lighter in weight. However, they are generally less durable or long-lasting in comparison to leather.
  • Mesh: Usually constructed of nylon, mesh is generally found in conjunction with woven nylon to increase breathability on the sections of the upper that are at the least risk of instant wear and tear.
  • Textile: Textile is a broader term that covers synthetic fabrics within it. Often when you see the upper described as textile rather than synthetic, it simply means another technique other than weaving has been used to create the material.

Midsole Materials and Functions

Hoka Anacapa Low GTX Hiking Shoes

Using EVA foam, the midsole of a hiking shoe is designed to absorb shock and provide extra cushioning for increased comfort. You’ll also find plates (or rock plates) in some hiking shoes for added durability and protection from rough surfaces.

  • EVA Foam: For increased comfort and a lighter overall hiking shoe, EVA foam is the way to go. However, if the shoe is solely constructed with EVA foam without any plate or shank, it will have less protection from sharp objects and wear faster.
  • Shank: A shank is a semi-rigid plastic insert that sits between the midsole and outsole of a hiking shoe. It’s responsible for providing stability, extra protection from the ground and increased stiffness for a heavy load. You’ll often find a half or three-quarter length shank in a hiking shoe – if there is one at all as it also adds a fair bit of weight and rigidity.
  • Rock Plates: Similar to a shank, a rock plate – or TPU plate – offers extra protection from sharp objects but is generally more flexible and lighter – some trail runners are even equipped with carbon rock plates.

Outsole Materials and Functions

Rubber Outsole of a Salomon X Ultra 4 Lightweight Hiking Shoe

A hiking shoe’s outsole is constructed with rubber which can vary in hardness depending on its intended application. For example, a trail running shoe that’s designed to be light and fast will generally have a softer outsole – but this will cause it to wear faster compared to the tougher outsole found on a burly hiking shoe.

But the most important component of the outsole is the lugs – the bumps on the bottom of the shoe that connect with the ground. Lugs can come in various shapes, sizes and textures to suit a range of terrains. Below is a quick rundown of which style of lugs will suit the most commonly found landscapes.

  • Rocks and gravel paths: Small and sticky lugs are the best style for superior grip on rocks and will also allow you to move with speed and agility on gravel paths.
  • Wet and muddy conditions: Widely spaced lugs provide good traction in wet and muddy conditions by avoiding a build-up of mud between them – which is common with closer spaced lugs.
  • Technical terrain: Deep and thick lugs are used primarily for hiking boots but can also be found on hiking shoes designed to improve grip on a range of uneven surfaces found on technical trails.
Lugs on the bottom of my Merrell Hiking Shoes

Vibram dominates the outsole market for hiking shoes and is well-trusted among adventurers. However, it’s important to note that Vibram soles are customised depending on what the brand wants so you will find variations in performance. It’s always best to check reviews and do a little extra digging before religiously choosing a shoe based on the Vibram sole.

Brands such as Salomon and Keen have their own outsole technology, which is called Contragrip and Keen.All-terrain respectively. Salomon is a well-respected company in the running and hiking world and has a long history of producing top-quality shoes. Keen is cheaper and a good entry-level option but less faith is put in their shoes for ongoing performance when the going gets tough.

Extra Components Of A Hiking Shoe

Lacing Systems

Doing up the laces on a pair of hiking shoes

Many underestimate a good lacing system but it is an essential component that affects the comfort and overall fit of the shoe. A poor lacing system can cause your heel to lift – resulting in hotspots and blisters – and force you to stop multiple times to re-tighten your laces.

When you first test a pair of hiking shoes, ensure you can obtain a snug fit over your entire foot and find some stairs to walk up and down to determine whether your heel will stay in place.

In addition to the original style of laces, you’ll also find a single-pull ‘Quicklace’ system on Salomon shoes which allows you to secure the laces in place with a buckle and wrap them into a pocket, keeping the laces out of the way and secure. These are great for avoiding loosening laces, however, it does require the same tightness across the entire foot – which may not work for some.

Walking on rocks in my Salomon X Ultra 4 Hiking Shoes

Insoles

The insole is a removable insert that slides in on top of the midsole for extra cushioning. However, to accommodate the masses, the insoles that come with a hiking shoe are often less comfortable and supportive than others you can purchase individually.

Unless you have a regular-shaped foot with a regular arch, you’ll most likely want to swap out the original insole for an aftermarket option that is designed specifically for your style of foot. Superfeet Insoles are our top recommendation for insoles as they have a wide range and are well-trusted.

Toe Protection

Toe protection on North Face Vectiv Fastpack Futurelight hiking shoes

Most hiking shoes and some trail running shoes will have a rubber toe cap at the front of the shoe to protect your toes when they inevitably come into contact with rocks and other hard objects.

We highly recommend choosing a shoe with a toe cap as it not only protects your precious toes but also increases the durability of the hiking shoe. Some trail running shoes will have a smaller version or none at all, which saves weight.

Approach shoes have the best toe protection with the addition of a rubber rand that wraps around the front of the shoe. This enhances your grip while also adding extra protection for rock scrambling.

Tongue

Most hiking shoes and trail running shoes will have a gusseted tongue, which means that it is connected to the upper section of the shoe by a stretchy piece of material. This prevents debris from falling into the shoe and increases water resistance on waterproof shoes.

It’s uncommon to find a hiking shoe that doesn’t have a gusseted tongue, however, some could be half-length to save weight – but this increases the chances of obtaining a foot full of debris.

The Drop

Hiking shoe sitting on a rock showing all design and construction features

In terms of shoes, the drop indicates the difference between the height of the heel and forefoot. But why does this concern you?

While it won’t make much difference to many hikers, the height of the drop can be of interest to those that are planning to spend long hours in their shoes or those who have injuries or chronic pain.

Generally speaking, a high drop (of roughly 10mm to 12 mm) is ideal for those that tend to plant their heel first when walking barefoot. The high drop can also help alleviate pressure on the lower leg, which could interest those with tight calves.

A low or zero drop (approximately 4mm to 0mm) is beneficial for those who strike their mid or forefoot first. The low drop can also help people with chronic knee issues by moving some of the impact forces down to the lower leg.

Sustainability

Crossing the Yadboro River at the base of The Castle Hike in the Budawang Ranges

Sustainability is a difficult subject when it comes to hiking shoes. It’s not as easy as choosing the synthetic pair that uses recycled materials as that pair might only last you a few months, forcing you to add to over-consumption.

If you only plan to hike on established trails every so often, then the recycled synthetic pair of hiking shoes would be the ultimate choice for sustainability. But if you plan to hike often through technical terrain, choosing a durable pair that will last a long time might be more sustainable.

In addition to using recycled materials, you can also look at a company as a whole and choose one that is working towards a greener future in all aspects of the business. Below is a list of labels to look for to determine the sustainability of a brand.

  • Bluesign Approved – This label indicates that the textiles used in a specific product are safe and made sustainably
  • B-Corp – This label is given to companies that meet high social and environmental standards and provide full transparency in their productions
  • Fair Trade – A company with this label has ensured their products are ethically sourced

Read this article next to learn more about how to find the best sustainable outdoor brands in Australia.

The Fit Of Your Hiking Shoe

Comfortable fit in a lightweight hiking shoe

While it isn’t as difficult to find the perfect fit in a hiking shoe as it is with boots, it’s still important to ensure you won’t come across any unsavoury pressure points or excess space after it’s too late.

These are some simple things you can do when you’re trying on a pair of hiking shoes to ensure you choose the perfect fit.

  • Try shoes on in the afternoon when your feet are generally a tad swollen
  • Wear the same thickness of socks you would use for hiking
  • Bring your orthotics or any insoles you plan to add to the shoe
  • Take a walk up and down stairs to guarantee the heel won’t slip
  • Wear them inside the house for a day, checking for pressure points, before making your final decision

Hot Tip: Unfortunately, shoe sizes are notorious for being all over the place and it’s even more noticeable in hiking shoes. Before you buy a pair of shoes, check the reviews to learn whether the brand generally runs small or large.

Hiking Shoes vs Hiking Boots

Scarpa Delta Hiking Boots on a cold morning hiking in Tasmanian's South West National Park

The ongoing debate between hiking shoes and hiking boots has now expanded to include trail running shoes. You’ll come across dedicated fans for each choice, but there isn’t a definitive correct answer. It ultimately boils down to what works best for you.

Let’s break it down, I’ll lay out the pros and cons of each style so you can make an informed decision without any bias.

  • Hiking Shoes – Compared to hiking boots, shoes generally offer more breathability and flexibility. However, due to being low-cut, they don’t offer much ankle support or protection from creek crossings, snow or rain.
  • Trail Running Shoes – These are the lightest option and are designed specifically to provide the best agility, flexibility and breathability, generally resulting in the most comfortable style of hiking shoe. But as a result, you’ll find less durability and stability for technical terrain and heavy packs.
  • Hiking BootsBoots will offer the most stability, protection and often the best durability as well. However, you’ll sacrifice flexibility and breathability as a result – unless you choose an ultralight boot, then you’ll have the same qualities of a trail runner or hiking shoe with the added support for your ankles.

16 Best Hiking Shoes In Australia For 2023

The Best Hiking Shoes Of 2024 Comparison Table

Hiking ShoePriceCategoryWeightUpper MaterialWaterproofShank/PlateSustainable
The North Face Exploris 2$280Hiking Shoes372gMesh & FUTURELIGHTYesYesNo
Salomon X Ultra 4 GTX$300Hiking Shoes330gAnti-debris mesh / SyntheticYesYes (ADV-C Chassis)Yes (PCF Free)
Hoka Speedgoat 5$270Trail Running240gDouble-layer jacquard meshNo (GTX option available)NoRecycled materials
Scarpa Ribelle Run$230 $175 Trail Running240gSock-Fit LW mesh, PU Film & RipstopNo (GTX option available)NoNo
Merrell Moab Speed$200Trail Running / Hiking Shoes290gRecycled MeshNo (GTX option available)Rock PlateRecycled Materials
La Sportiva TX GTX$290Hiking Shoes360gRecycled MeshYesCo-moulded Stabilizing insertRecycled materials, Bluesign Approved
Hoka Anacapa 2 Low GTX$330Hiking Shoes340gLWG Leather & recycled meshYesNoRecycled materials, LWG-approved leather
The North Face Fastpack$250Hiking Shoes310gPerformance MeshYesYes5% recycled rubber
Merrell Moab 3 GTX$280Hiking Shoes460gLWG leather & meshYesYesRecycled laces, webbing and mesh
The North Face Enduris 3$250Trail Runner257g3D Printed meshNo3D TPU plateNo
Mammut Ducan Low GTX$330Hiking Shoes360gDouble layer meshYesFlextron spring-steelPCF Free, Fair Wear
Salomon Outpulse GTX$240HIking Shoes300gRecycled SyntheticYesEnergy Blade TPU PlateRecycled Material & PCF-EC Free
Adidas Terrax AX4 GTX$200Hiking Shoes371gRecycled SyntheticYesNoRecycled material
Scarpa Morain Plus GTX$300Hiking Shoes370gNubuck LeatherYesESS ShankNo
Topo Ultraventure 3$250Trail Running / Hiking Shoes235gRecycled MeshNoNoRecycled materials
La Sportiva TX4$270Approach Shoes290gSuede leatherNo (GTX option available)NoNo

1. The North Face Vectiv Exploris 2 Futurelight Hiking Shoe

Best All-Round Waterproof Hiking Shoe

The North Face Vectiv Exploris 2 is as stylish as it is comfortable and supportive. The new and improved forked Vectiv 2.0 TPU plate of the Exploris 2 provides much-needed protection and stability for moving fast across technical trails. Plus, the Surface CNTRL rubber outsole performs just as well – or even better – than the popular Vibram across a wide variety of terrains.

While the rockered shape might take a little time to get used to, which can make you feel unbalanced in rough terrain, the assistance in forward propulsion will keep you feeling fresh throughout long hikes.

What they’re good for:

With superior comfort without sacrificing stability and protection, The North Face Vectiv Exploris 2 is your go-to for long days on technical trails – even in sloppy and muddy conditions thanks to the FUTURELIGHT membrane and excellent CNTRL outsole.

Price: $280
Category: Hiking Shoes
Upper Material: Mesh and waterproof membrane
Weight: 372 g
Waterproofing: FUTURELIGHT membrane
Plate/Shank: Yes
Width: D-width shape
Sustainability: None

The North Face Vectiv Exploris 2 Hiking Shoes

Features

  • TPU plate and forked forefoot and heel for increased lateral displacement and stability
  • The midsole is made with comfortable EVA foam
  • Vectiv 2.0 rockered midsole creates long-lasting forward propulsion
  • D-width shape accommodates a wider range of foot shapes from narrow to wide
  • Surface CNTRL rubber outsole with 4 mm lugs excels in a range of terrains and is designed for durability in high-wear areas
  • Low drop from heel to forefoot
  • Free 30-day return policy and 1-year warranty

Positives

  • Very comfortable
  • Rocker shape saves energy
  • Lightweight compared to the protection and stability provided
  • Great waterproof abilities

Negatives

  • Not sustainably made
  • Not as light as competing styles
  • The rocker shape can be uncomfortable and feel tippy for some
  • Small toe cap

2. Salomon X Ultra 4 GTX Hiking Shoe

Most Durable Hiking Shoe

The X Ultra range has dominated the hiking shoe market for some time now and the Salomon X Ultra 4 GTX is no different. With a strong focus on agility and comfort, you’ll feel as if you’re wearing your favourite pair of runners with the added benefit of increased support and traction.

What they’re good for:

The Salomon X Ultra 4 GTX hiking shoe will be your trusted companion for a range of technical terrains with a light backpack. Plus, the lightweight and breathable upper will keep you comfortable throughout summer – even when the afternoon storms roll in.

Check out our honest review on the Salomon X Ultra 4 GTX hiking shoes for more information on how they perform on the trails.

Price: $300 AUD
Category: Hiking Shoes
Upper Material: Anti-debris mesh / Synthetic
Weight: 330 g
Waterproofing: PFC-free Gore-Tex
Plate/Shank: Yes (ADV-C Chassis)
Width: Regular – Narrow (wide option for men)
Sustainability: PFC-Free

Salomon X Ultra 4 GTX Hiking Shoe

Features

  • ADV-C Chassis protects ankle articulation on the outer foot and increases stability while keeping the front of the shoe flexible
  • Mobile wings provide active support by keeping the foot in place and accompanying its movement
  • EnergyCell midsole is equipped with high-performance EVA foam for great shock absorption
  • Quicklace system allows for a snug fit without needing to constantly re-tie laces
  • 11mm drop between the heel and forefoot to reduce calf fatigue
  • Protective toe cap and mudguard around the base of the shoe
  • Contagrip MA outsole with chevron lugs provides exceptional multi-directional grip on a wide range of surfaces

Positives

  • Lightweight and nimble design
  • Excellent grip on a variety of surfaces
  • Superior snug fit around the ankle 

Negatives

  • An odd-shaped shoe that doesn’t suit everyone
  • Durability issues with the shoe showing wear after a short period of time
  • Less protection than others with a full rock plate or shank
  • Not sustainably made

3. Hoka Speedgoat 5 Hiking Shoe

Best Ultralight Hiking Shoe

If ultralightweight and comfort are your main priorities, then the Hoka Speedgoat 5 is the shoe for you. Built with superior cushioning for all-day comfort, these trail runners will keep you feeling nimble throughout a long day bounding along the trails.

While other options such as The North Face Enduris 3 offer more protection and support underfoot, the Speedgoat 5 takes first prize for ultimate comfort, cushioning and traction for fast-paced action on established trails.

What they’re good for:

The Hoka Speedgoat 5 is the ultimate choice for speed hikers that like to dabble in a little running while on the trail. The superior cushioning and comfort will keep you feeling fresh and agile all day long.

Price: $270 AUD
Category: Trail Running Shoes
Upper Material: Double-layer jacquard engineered mesh
Weight: 240 g
Waterproofing: None (Gore-Tex option available)
Plate/Shank: No
Width: Regular (wide option)
Sustainability: Recycled materials

Hoka Speedgoat 5 walking shoe

Features

  • Late stage meta rocker provides increased forward propulsion and a smooth stride
  • Light compression-moulded EVA midsole provides good shock absorption
  • A wider toe box allows for natural splay of the toes for increased balance and power
  • 4mm drop from heel to toe encourages a natural gait and midfoot strike
  • Rubber toe cap prevents rock strikes
  • Vibram Megagrip outsole with 5mm Traction Lugs for a biting grip on a range of surfaces
  • The Hoka Speedgoat 5 also comes in a Gore-Tex option for $320 AUD

Positives

  • Incredibly comfortable
  • Great cushioning
  • Sustainably made
  • Super lightweight

Negatives

  • Not as durable
  • Wear quickly (lowering overall sustainability)
  • Lower protection and support underfoot

4. Scarpa Ribelle Run Trail Runner

Best Trail Running Shoe For Technical Terrain

For those who prioritise lightweight and durability, look no further than The Scarpa Ribelle Run shoes. These impressive shoes are specifically designed to excel on rough trails and provide reliability during fast summit attempts. With these trail runners, you can have peace of mind knowing that they will always deliver performance you can rely on.

The Scarpa Ribelle’s are the only hiking shoes on the list that feature a sock fit, which prevents debris from entering the shoe. While I find this ingenious and rather comfortable, some may not take to this style of collar.

What they’re good for:

The Scarpa Ribelle Run is a high-performance trail runner perfect for those seeking out precision on rough and technical terrain. The durability and comfort also mean the Ribelle Run will double perfectly as a lightweight hiking shoe.

Price: $230 $175 AUD
Category: Trail Running Shoes
Upper Material: Sock-Fit LW mesh, PU Film & Ripstop
Weight: 240 g
Waterproofing: None (Gore-Tex option available)
Plate/Shank: No
Width: Regular
Sustainability: No

Scarpa Ribelle Run Trail Running Shoes

Features

  • Lightweight and super breathable mesh bootie to provide precise and even wrap around the foot with maximum flexibility
  • Fast lacing system designed to be easy and accurate
  • Dual Density EVA for a balance between cushioning and support
  • A slightly wider toe box allows for a natural fit and increased comfort
  • 4mm drop from heel to toe encourages a natural gait and midfoot strike
  • Rubber toe cap prevents rock strikes
  • PRESA® TRN-01 sole made with a high performance rubber outsole
  • 4mm lugs for increased grip on many different types of terrain

Positives

  • Incredibly comfortable
  • Highly durable for a trail runner
  • Super lightweight

Negatives

  • Some may find the bootie system uncomfortable
  • Speed lace can result in uneven tightening

5. Merrell Moab Speed Trail Runners

Best Hybrid Hiking Shoes

The Merrell Moab Speed is an exceptional hybrid shoe that seamlessly combines the agility and swiftness of a trail running shoe with the robust support and safeguarding features of a hiking shoe. What’s even more enticing is the sustainability factor – particularly in the ECO option. This variant incorporates solution-dyed yarns and utilizes recycled materials, showcasing an environmentally conscious approach.

As you’d expect, with such a lightweight and nimble shoe, you won’t find the same stability as you would in a burly hiking shoe – but for those who like to move fast and light, these will be a winner.

What they’re good for:

The Merrell Moab Speed hiking shoes are well suited for speed hikers and covering long distances on easy to moderate trails. However, the lightweight construction is only suited for carrying an ultralight load.

Price: $200 AUD
Category: Hiking Shoes/Trail Running Shoes
Upper Material: Recycled mesh
Weight: 290 g
Waterproofing: No (Gore-Tex option)
Plate/Shank: Rock Plate
Width: Regular
Sustainability: Recycled materials

Merrell Moab Speed

Features

  • Rock plate provides extra stability and protection underfoot
  • FloatPro foam midsole provides lightweight shock absorption
  • A protective toe cap and mud guard help to avoid rock strikes and muddy socks
  • 10 mm drop from heel to toe to reduce calf fatigue
  • Vibram Ecostep and 4mm Traction Lug outsole provide increased slip resistance and grip on a range of surfaces
  • The Moab Speed also comes in a Gore-Tex option for $240 AUD
  • 30-day returns (flat fee of $10 for postage)

Positives

  • Lightweight yet stable
  • Sustainably made
  • Stylish design

Negatives

  • Not as breathable as other non-GTX options with more mesh
  • Sizes run small
  • Not very good support for flat feet

6. La Sportiva TX Hike GTX Hiking Shoe

Best Hiking Shoes For Technical Trails and Backpacking Trips

Well-known in the climbing world, La Sportiva has a name for tough and durable products and it’s no different for the La Sportiva TX Hike GTX – their newest addition of hiking shoes.

Made with a durable recycled mesh and stiff and supportive midsole, the TX Hike gives you the confidence of a leather hiking shoe but in a more sustainable build. Plus, the wide footbed is perfect if you have larger feet or need to add orthotics.

What they’re good for:

The TX Hike is an eco-friendly shoe that is built for multi-day treks on rugged trails. If you’d rather have more freedom for your ankles on your backpacking adventures, these burly shoes will keep you supported yet nimble while carrying a medium load.

Price: $290 AUD
Category: Hiking Shoes
Upper Material: Recycled Mesh
Weight: 360 g
Waterproofing: Gore-Tex Extended Comfort
Plate/Shank: Co-moulded Stabilizing insert
Width: Wide
Sustainability: Recycled materials, Bluesign Approved Gore-Tex

La Sportiva TX GTX Hiking Shoes

Features

  • The co-moulded stabilising insole provides extra stability without the weight of a shank or rock plate
  • 15% recycled compression EVA foam in the midsole increases comfort
  • Wide fit to suit larger feet and flat feet
  • Durable rubber rand and toe cap for extra protection against rock strikes
  • 10 mm drop from heel to forefoot
  • Vibram Ecostep EVO outsole with 5mm lugs and Impact Brake System to absorb negative ground impact, increase traction and improve grip downhill
  • 14-day return policy on La Sportiva, or 60-day return policy from Mont

Positives

  • Highly durable and supportive
  • Sustainably made
  • Great for wide or flat feet

Negatives

  • Wide build won’t suit narrow feet
  • Not as comfortable due to stiffness
  • A little heavier than the competition

7. Hoka Anacapa 2 Low GTX

The Hoka Anacapa 2 Low GTX hiking shoe offers the perfect combination of comfort and durability with a lightweight LWG-certified leather upper and supremely cushioned midsole. What’s more, they’re dedicated to creating the best environmentally conscious shoes possible, including recycled polyester for the mesh, laces and collar.

The only downfall we can find with the Anacapa shoes is their traction, which lacks when you leave established trails.

What they’re good for:

For long days walking on established trails, your feet will love you for choosing the Hoka Anacapa 2 Low GTX hiking shoes. With ultimate comfort and support, these will be the ones you reach for time and time again – except for when the trail gets a little technical, then it’s best to leave these at home.

Price: $320 AUD
Category: Hiking Shoes
Upper Material: LWG Nubuck Leather and 100% recycled polyester mesh
Weight: 340g
Waterproofing: Gore-Tex with recycled textile
Plate/Shank: No
Width: Regular
Sustainability: Recycled materials, LWG-approved leather

Hoka Anacapa Low GTX Hiking Shoes

Features

  • Compression moulded foam provides a soft and supportive midsole
  • Extended heel limits impact on the body and creates a smoother heel-to-toe transition
  • Late stage meta-rocker drives you forward and reduces the height difference between heel and toe
  • 6mm drop from heel to forefoot
  • Vibram Megagrip outsole with 5mm lugs provides great traction on established trails
  • 6-month warranty

Positives

  • Superior comfort and support
  • Great for long distances on established trails
  • Sustainably made

Negatives

  • Not as grippy off trail or on rocks
  • Outsole will wear quickly on rough terrain
  • Out there design

8. The North Face Vectiv Fastpack Futurelight Hiking Shoe

Built for fast-paced adventures, The North Face Vectiv Fastpack Futurelight hiking shoes feel more like trail runners and will keep you feeling nimble all day with exceptional comfort and just the right amount of support for single-day hikes.

While they weigh a little more than your average trail runner, the additional support and protection mean you can carry a lightweight backpack and move across technical terrain with confidence.

Check out our honest review on The North Face Vectiv Fastpack Futurelight hiking shoes for more information on how they perform on the trails.

What they’re good for:

The North Face Vectiv Fastpack hiking shoes will be the favourite choice for long and fast-paced day hikes through moderate to technical terrain. Along with impressive support and comfort, the sensational grip and waterproof membrane allow you to move across a variety of surfaces in any weather.

Price: $250 AUD
Category: Hiking Shoes
Upper Material: Performance Mesh
Weight: 310 g
Waterproofing: FUTURELIGHT membrane
Plate/Shank: Yes
Width: Narrow
Sustainability: 5% recycled rubber

The North Face Vectiv Fastpack Futurelight Hiking Shoe

Features

  • Single-density 3D TPU plate increases multi-directional stability
  • Ortholite X55 (with 5% recycled rubber) offers superior support for your feet
  • The midsole is constructed with high rebound single-density EVA Foam
  • Moulded TPU toe cap and mudguard provide extra protection against rocks and mud
  • Vectiv technology and rocker midsole geometry maximise energy and create long-lasting forward propulsion
  • Surface CNTRL outsole with 4 mm lugs provides superior traction for a range of surfaces
  • Low drop from heel to toe
  • Free 30-day return policy and 1-year warranty

Positives

  • Super comfortable
  • Lightweight and supportive
  • Great traction across a range of surfaces

Negatives

  • Narrow fit
  • Not as durable or long-lasting as other hiking shoes listed
  • Rockered style isn’t for everyone

9. Merrell Moab 3 GTX

For an old-school sturdy style of hiking shoes, you can’t beat the Merrell Moab 3 GTX. These shoes have been a favourite among hikers for years and their comfortable and burly design provides excellent support for a wide range of applications.

However, they are the heaviest shoe on this list and the design is certainly not for everyone. But if you’re after a tried and tested pair of hiking shoes that will withstand a beating, you’ll love the Moabs.

What they’re good for:

The Moab 3 GTX is a fantastic choice for hikers searching for durable and sturdy shoes that will confidently take them on long day hikes or multi-day treks on established trails. The Moabs are also a great transitional shoe if you’re planning to move up to hiking boots.

Price: $280 AUD
Category: Hiking Shoes
Upper Material: LWG-approved pig suede leather and mesh
Weight: 460 g
Waterproofing: Gore-Tex membrane
Plate/Shank: Yes
Width: Regular (wide option for non-GTX)
Sustainability: Recycled laces, webbing and mesh

Merrell Moab 3 Hiking Shoe

Features

  • Moulded nylon arch shank for superior protection and stability underfoot
  • The midsole is constructed of EVA foam with Super Rebound Compound for increased shock absorption and to help reduce torque
  • Merrell’s Air Cushion in the heel also absorbs shock and increases stability
  • Rubber toe-cap protects from rock strikes
  • Low drop from heel to toe
  • Vibram TC5+ outsole, coupled with 5 mm lugs, provides great balance, grip, traction and durability
  • The Moab 3 also comes in a non-waterproof option for $200 AUD
  • 30-day returns (flat fee of $10 for postage)

Positives

  • Great durability and support
  • Comfortable for all day on the trail
  • Regular fit accommodates more hikers

Negatives

  • Bulky and heavy
  • Style won’t be everyone’s cup of tea
  • Not as grippy on rocky ascents

10. The North Face Vectiv Enduris 3

If you’re searching for an ultralight pair of trail runners that don’t compromise on support or comfort, look no further than The North Face Vectiv Enduris 3. These trail running shoes are a great all-rounder that will keep you feeling light yet protected with a supremely cushioned and stable build.

As you would imagine, a shoe that weighs only 257 g each isn’t ideal for carrying a load, but for those that find hiking shoes a little too cumbersome, you’ll love the Vectiv Enduris 3.

What they’re good for:

The North Face Vectiv Enduris 3 is the perfect companion for fast and technical adventures. The lightweight yet stable construction will keep you protected and energised throughout a range of terrains thanks to the 3D TPU plate, rockered Vectiv design and thick cushioning.

Price: $250 AUD
Category: Trail Running Shoes
Upper Material: 3D Printed mesh
Weight: 257 g
Waterproofing: None
Plate/Shank: 3D TPU plate
Width: Regular
Sustainability: None

The North Face Vectiv Enduris 3 Trail Running Shoe

Features

  • Vectiv 2.0 rockered dual-density midsole provides a forked heel and forefoot 3D TPU plate for exceptional lateral stability
  • 31mm/25mm stack height offers increased protection underfoot
  • The rocker style provides better forward propulsion
  • D-width last accommodates a wider range of feet
  • 6mm drop from heel to toe
  • Surface CTRL rubber outsoles with 3.5mm lugs offer great traction over a range of technical surfaces
  • The North Face Vectiv Enduris Futurelight is their waterproof option for $280 AUD
  • Free 30-day return policy and 1-year warranty

Positives

  • Great cushioning and comfort
  • Lightweight
  • Good protection for its weight and style

Negatives

  • Not a good option if you’re carrying a pack
  • Not sustainably made

11. Mammut Ducan Low GTX Hiking Shoes

The Mammut Ducan Low GTX is a hiking shoe that strikes the perfect balance between stability and responsiveness, instilling confidence on any terrain while keeping comfort at the forefront.

Its midsole incorporates EVA foam along with Mammut’s innovative Georganic 3D technology — a geometrically dynamic design that ensures a personalised fit, exceptional cushioning, optimal shock absorption, and impressive responsiveness, especially on uneven terrain.

While the Ducan is the most expensive option on this list, the innovative technology, exceptional grip and support could be worth it for dedicated hikers.

What they’re good for:

The superior support and energy-saving design of the Mammut Ducan Low GTX will keep you feeling fresh on all-day expeditions along rough and technical terrain. Plus, the high level of support will also allow confidence on multi-day hikes with an ultralight backpack.

Price: $330 AUD
Category: Hiking Shoes
Upper Material: Double layer engineered mesh
Weight: 360 g
Waterproofing: Gore-Tex extended comfort
Plate/Shank: Flextron spring-steel
Width: Narrow
Sustainability: PFC-free GTX, Fair Wear

Mammut Duncan Low GTX Hiking Shoe

Features

  • Mammut’s Flextron spring-steel soles spread impact evenly and provide underfoot protection
  • The midsole is constructed of EVA foam which sits beneath the spring-steel for added comfort
  • The asymmetrical lacing system provides extra support
  • Wrap around rubber toe cap provides great protection from rock strikes
  • Vibram Flextron outsole provides exceptional grip on rocky and technical terrain
  • 30-day return policy

Positives

  • Highly supportive for a range of technical surfaces
  • Great energy-return
  • Excellent comfort compared to support

Negatives

  • Fits small and narrow
  • Expensive
  • On the heavier side

12. Salomon Outpulse GTX Trail Runner

The Salomon Outpulse GTX combines comfort and style in a super lightweight package that will keep your feet happy and dry throughout a day of adventuring. At 300 g each, these are the lightest hiking shoes listed – beating The North Face Vectiv Fastpack by just 10 grams!

The Outpulse is better described as a hybrid between hiking shoes and trail runners. The construction is just a touch more supportive compared to trail running shoes, yet the streamlined design offers an airy feel that will keep you energised all day.

What they’re good for:

The Salomon Outpulse GTX hiking shoes are your go-to if you’re in need of a grippy and comfortable shoe to wear on established trails. However, it’s best to leave these at home if you’re embarking on technical trails as the softer sole and thin upper provide little protection on rugged terrain.

Price: $240 AUD
Category: Hiking Shoes
Upper Material: Recycled Synthetic
Weight: 300 g
Waterproofing: Gore-Tex 
Plate/Shank: Energy Blade TPU Plate
Width: Regular
Sustainability: Recycled material and PFC-ec free

Salomon Outpulse GTX Hiking Shoe

Features

  • Energy Blade lightweight TPU plate provides increased shock absorption
  • Fuze Surge rocker midsole is extra soft for a smooth stride
  • SensiFit upper construction provides a snug fit and cradles the foot from the midsole to the lacing system
  • Protective toe cap
  • 10mm drop from heel to toe
  • All Terrain Contagrip outsole offers exceptional grip on a wide variety of surfaces

Positives

  • Great for casual walks and established trails
  • Lightweight
  • Stylish and versatile for everyday use plus easy hikes

Negatives

  • Not ideal for technical terrain
  • The thin upper is less durable for heavy use

13. Adidas Terrex AX4 GTX

For the best budget hiking shoe that feels like anything but, you won’t find a better contender than the Adidas Terrex AX4 GTX. These hiking shoes have the lightweight feel of a trail runner, yet boast enough support and durability to confidently take you from damp woodlands to the rocky alpine.

Not to mention, their upper is made with 50% recycled material and the stylish design provides a great hybrid shoe for the trails and travelling.

What they’re good for:

The Adidas Terrex AX4 GTX is a great shoe for entry-level hikers or travellers needing one shoe that can do it all. The sensational grip and support found in these hiking shoes will allow you to confidently wear them across a wide variety of terrain without compromise.

Price: $200 AUD
Category: Hiking Shoes
Upper Material: Recycled Synthetic
Weight: 371 g
Waterproofing: Gore-Tex
Plate/Shank: No
Width: Regular
Sustainability: Recycled material

Adidas Terrax AX4 Hiking Shoe

Features

  • EVA midsole provides ample cushioning for long days
  • Abrasion-resistant upper adds durability
  • Medium to high drop from heel to toe
  • Continental rubber outsole provides exceptional traction in wet and dry conditions
  • Climbing lugs up front and breaking lugs at the back increase performance on steep terrain
  • 12-month warranty through Anaconda

Positives

  • Budget-friendly
  • Great traction and support for the price
  • Stylish design

Negatives

  • Subpar toe protection
  • Sizes run small
  • Durability is slightly lacking compared to higher-priced alternatives

14. Scarpa Moraine Plus GTX Hiking Shoes

The Scarpa Moraine Plus GTX is a traditional and trusted hiking shoe that provides the support and protection of a hiking boot without the added weight and height. This is thanks to the durable leather upper and the ESS anti-torsional shank which provides the utmost stability when paired with a medium-density EVA foam midsole.

But as a result of increased stability, protection and support, you’ll also receive a stiffer shoe with a touch less cushioning compared to one with a softer midsole – such as the Hoka Anacapa above.

What they’re good for:

The Scarpa Moraine Plus GTX will be your ideal choice for technical day hikes or overnight adventures with a medium load. The moderately rigid design will keep your foot stable and secure no matter the terrain faced.

Price: $300 AUD
Category: Hiking Shoes
Upper Material: Nubuck Leather
Weight: 370 g
Waterproofing: Gore-Tex Extended Comfort membrane
Plate/Shank: ESS Shank
Width: Regular
Sustainability: None

Scarpa Moraine Plus GTX Hiking Shoe

Features

  • ESS anti-torsional shank on the medial part of the shoe for increased stability and support without adding unnecessary weight
  • Medium-density EVA midsole provides exceptional shock absorption and stability
  • Low-density EVA heel insert for additional shock absorption
  • Medium drop from heel to toe
  • Large rubber toe rand wraps around the entire front of the shoe for increased protection against rock strikes
  • Vibram XS Trek rubber outsole and multi-directional lugs adapt to a wide range of surfaces
  • 2-year warranty

Positives

  • Highly durable
  • Lightweight compared to the level of protection
  • Great support and stability for technical trails

Negatives

  • Not sustainably made
  • Not as cushioned as others listed
  • A little heavier

15. Topo Ultraventure 3 Hiking Shoes

You may not have heard of Topo Athletic before, but this relatively young US brand is kicking goals in the trail running – and now hiking – industry. You’ll understand why when you try their newest hybrid, the Topo Ultraventure 3.

The Topo Ultraventure 3 offers the perfect balance between a lightweight and nimble trail runner and a comfortable and supportive hiking shoe. Weighing only 235 g per shoe, this is the lightest option listed – even beating the Speedgoat by 5 grams.

But with such a light design, you will sacrifice stability and protection underfoot. Plus, there is no waterproof option, making this shoe best suited for warm climates and 2 season use.

What they’re good for:

The Topo Ultraventure 3 is designed for speed across mild to moderate terrain and it excels at just that. The ultralight construction and airy upper make these the perfect summer trail shoe for those wishing to move fast and light.

Price: $250 AUD
Category: Hiking Shoes/Trail Running Shoes
Upper Material: Sustainably engineered mesh (uses recycled plastic)
Weight: 235 g
Waterproofing: No
Plate/Shank: No
Width: Regular (with wide toe box)
Sustainability: Recycled materials used on upper

Topo Ultraventure 3 hiking shoes

Features

  • The midsole is constructed with a proprietary new compound called Zipfoam that delivers increased cushioning and better rebound compared to EVA foam
  • Cushy stack height of 35mm/30mm
  • 5mm drop from heel to toe to encourage a natural gait and midfoot strike
  • Wide toe box for increased balance and comfort
  • Rubber toe cap prevents rock strikes
  • Vibram XS Trek EVO outsole offers lightweight durability and increased flexibility

Positives

  • Highly cushioned
  • Lightest option listed
  • Great breathability and comfort for long hot days

Negatives

  • Not enough protection for technical trails
  • Lower longevity compared to a hiking shoe

16. La Sportiva TX4 Approach Shoes

When your hikes always tend to lead you to rocky mountain peaks, the La Sportiva TX4 has your back. Classed as an approach shoe, the TX4s offer exceptional protection and grip on rocky terrain while also providing a comfortable and capable shoe on regular trails.

The La Sportiva TX4 is designed with a leather upper and a surprisingly lightweight and flexible construction considering the style of shoe.

What they’re good for:

The La Sportiva TX4 will be your favourite shoe for rocky ascents and long scrambles on loose scree. But with a flexible and lightweight design that doesn’t skimp on durability, you’ll also feel just as comfortable on regular trails.

That said, the TX4s will still feel slightly bulkier and stiff compared to a lightweight and highly flexible design – but if you need a shoe that does both jobs well, then you’ll love the TX4s.

Price: $270 AUD
Category: Approach Shoes
Upper Material: Suede leather
Weight: 290 g
Waterproofing: No (Gore-Tex option available)
Plate/Shank: No
Width: Regular
Sustainability: None 

La Sportiva TX4 Approach Shoes for Hiking

Features

  • Injected EVA foam midsole provides shock absorption and great stability and support
  • Full-wrap rubber rand and toe cap increase grip on rocks and protect the foot from rock strikes
  • STB Control system – the upper wraps around the midsole at the middle to increase stability on traverses
  • Trail Bite heel enhances the downhill grip to assist with steep descents
  • Vibram Megagrip outsole with Impact Brake System in the rear and climbing zone (rubber grip) at the toe
  • The La Sportiva TX4 also comes in a Gore-Tex option for $360 AUD
  • 14-day return policy on La Sportiva, or 60-day return policy from Mont

Positives

  • Great all-rounder for rocky ascents and regular trails
  • Highly durable
  • Great protection
  • Lightweight for its construction

Negatives

  • Expensive
  • Rigid feel isn’t for everyone
  • Not sustainably made

Final Thoughts

We hope this post has helped clear a few things up for you and gotten you closer to making a decision on which style of hiking shoe is the right fit for you. Just remember, no matter what you choose there will generally be a sacrifice needed so before you start searching through the endless amount of hiking shoes on offer, determine which factors mean the most to you.

But basically, if you’re opting for hiking shoes over hiking boots for multi-day treks with a medium to heavy load, we suggest choosing the sturdiest hiking shoe – such as the Scapra Moraine Plus or Merrell Moab 3. But if you’re simply in need of a shoe to take you anywhere in a day, then The North Face Vectiv Exploris 2 might be the perfect fit.

Do you have an all-time favourite hiking shoe that isn’t listed here? We’d love to hear about it and any reviews you may have on the options above. And as always, please feel free to drop a comment below if you have any questions regarding your search for the best hiking shoes.

Happy Hiking 🙂