In the traditional world of hiking boots, practicality is king, with solid ankle support and a nice bit of leather keeping your feet dry and ankles intact as you head for the hills. Things are changing fast, though, with the modern technology found in running shoes being co-opted into walking boots and trail shoes, helping to reduce weight while increasing comfort, speed, and performance.
As a result, there are now hundreds of pairs to choose from, including tried-and-tested traditional leather clodhoppers, ultralight trail running sneakers, and a whole host of hybrid designs, like approach shoes for scrambling and pillowy soft designs for epic through-hikes and all-year adventures.
For more of WIRED’s outdoor guides, check out our Hiking Gear 101 guide, Best Baselayers, Best Tents, and the Best Rain Jackets.
Special offer for Gear readers: Get a 1-year subscription to WIRED for $5 ($25 off). This includes unlimited access to WIRED.com and our print magazine (if you’d like). Subscriptions help fund the work we do every day.