The Best Boots and Shoes for Day Hiking
Hit the Trail in the Most Comfortable and Supportive Footwear for Short Hikes and Less Technical Trails
Day hiking is a popular activity for RVers, offering an excellent way to spend time in nature while enjoying a vigorous walk on a beautiful trail. Not only is this good for our mental and physical health, but it is also a fantastic way to explore the natural wonders of the places we visit during our travels. And best of all, at the end of the day, we return to our comfortable motorhomes and travel trailers for some well-earned rest and relaxation.
As with any type of hiking (multi-day trekking, backpacking, etc.), the shoes you wear will determine how much you enjoy the experience. If your boots are uncomfortable or don’t provide enough support, it can make even a short hike a grueling experience. On the other hand, proper hiking footwear can protect your feet, reduce fatigue, and provide excellent traction, substantially improving your time on the trail.
Day hiking shoes tend to be lighter, more comfortable, and less expensive than boots designed for longer outdoor adventures. But as a compromise, they may not provide as much protection under foot or ankle support. Some options are fully waterproof, while others are designed to be more breathable in warmer conditions. Most are built to survive hundreds of miles on the trail before they need to be replaced.
Deciding which shoes make the most sense for you depends on where you want to use them and how comfortable they feel on your feet. If you frequently find yourself hiking in wet, muddy conditions, you’ll want boots that can keep your feet dry all day long. On the other hand, if you trek in dry climates, a lighter shoe that allows your feet to breathe is in order. And, of course, you always want footwear that doesn’t restrict your movement and feels great on your feet.
Keeping all of that in mind, these are our picks for the best boots and shoes for day hiking.
Salomon X Ultra 4 GTX
Comfortable and lightweight, these hiking shoes have the soul of a trail runner. The X Ultra 4 provides outstanding stability, good traction, and a streamlined, athletic design that makes them ideal for use on a variety of terrains. Salomon’s speed lacing system makes it easy to dial in the exact fit you want from these shoes while making them very easy to get on and off. The GTX version includes a Gore-Tex liner that provides excellent waterproofing at the expense of some breathability. A non-GTX model is available for those who don’t want or need a waterproof shoe.
The X Ultra 4 feels a lot like a trail running shoe, helping hikers to stay nimble and quick when venturing on dirt, mud, and rocks. But a sturdy sole provides excellent traction—even in wet conditions—and good protection for the bottom of the foot. And because this model is so light, your legs won’t feel quite so tired when you return to the campground at the end of the day. Price: $160 (non-GTX $140)
Merrell Moab 3
Lightweight and versatile, the Merrell Moab 3 is a great all-around hiking shoe. Its excellent blend of comfort, traction, and durability makes this a great option for day hikers looking for reliable footwear for a broad range of outdoor activities. The boot’s partial-mesh upper gives it solid breathability, although a waterproof option is also available. Merrell also offers the Moab 3 in a hightop version that provides good support for the ankle for those who need it.
One of the best aspects of the Moab 3 is its affordability. The base model sells for just $120, which is an excellent price for a shoe that offers this much performance in an attractive-looking package. Moving up to the waterproof or hightop editions adds to the price, of course, but even those versions represent good value in the hiking shoe space. Price: $120
Keen Targhee III Waterproof Mid
If your day hikes tend to take you onto more rugged and demanding trails, the Keen Targhee III is for you. While not as lightweight and nimble as some of the other shoes on this list, this boot offers outstanding support and protection. The Mid model has a more traditional hiking boot design that includes a thicker sole for enhanced traction and ankle support, which is appreciated on more technical terrain. Keen’s excellent waterproofing ensures your feet stay dry when fording streams or getting caught in an unexpected rain shower.
The Targhee has been a mainstay in the hiking footwear market for years, delivering dependable performance in various conditions. It is well suited for longer hikes, providing excellent support and protection for just about any adventure. And should you decide to transition to multi-day treks, it can easily straddle that line between day hikes and short backpacking excursions. Price: $165
Altra Lone Peak Hiker 2
The Altra Lone Peak Hiker 2 is a favorite with ultra-lightweight, long-distance backpackers who like to go fast on the trail. But the shoe also has a lot to offer day hikers, too. For instance, the boot has a unique foot-shaped design that compliments the foot’s natural movement, increasing stability and control as a result. It also takes a balanced approach to cushioning that is supportive, comfortable, and responsive.
The Lone Peak Hiker 2 is another hiking shoe with roots in the trail running space. That athletic-focused design makes them perfect for day hiking, offering outstanding comfort without sacrificing stability or support. While the fit of these boots isn’t for everyone, those who prefer the foot-shaped approach will find them so comfortable they won’t want to take them off even after the hike is over. Price: $160
Danner Trail 2650
Another super-versatile hiking shoe, the Danner Trail 2650, is built to take on nearly any type of terrain. Lightweight and breathable, these shoes are perfect for everything from short day hikes to walking the entire 2,650-mile length of the Pacific Crest Trail. A surprisingly aggressive outsole boost confidence on wet surfaces, while a cushy midsole and protective heel ensure a comfortable and protective fit on every outing.
Available in a wide range of colors and designs, the Trail 2650 looks more like an athletic shoe than a burly hiking boot. That allows it to transition from trails to an urban setting without missing a beat. And because these shoes are so comfortable, there is a good chance you’ll want to wear them even when you’re not trekking into the backcountry. They even make for a great active travel shoe, which isn’t something you can say about most other models on this list. Price: $170
Hoka Anacapa 2 GTX Low
Not everyone is a fan of Hoka’s overly-cushioned footwear, but those who do appreciate the soft ride these shoes provide really, really love them. The company is known for offering super-comfy models designed for the trail, with the Anacapa 2 serving as its premiere hiking model. Made from rugged nubuck leather and featuring a Gore-Tex liner, this shoe is both durable and waterproof. It even has an aggressive Vibram outsole that keeps a firm grip on dirt, mud, sand, rock, and even snow.
Thanks to Hola’s trademark cushioning, hiking in the Anacapa 2 feels a bit like walking on a cloud. The shoes provide unprecedented protection for your feet and take a lot of stress off the hips, knees, and ankles. The drawback is that you might not feel as connected to the ground, but your feet and legs will still feel well-rested after a long day on the trail.
There you have it, our top picks for the best trail shoes for day hiking. Any one of these models will keep your feet feeling good and protected on trails ranging from just a few miles in length to extended walks that last from sunrise to sundown.
As with all footwear, we recommend you try several models on to see which ones feel best on your feet. After all, comfort and fit are highly subjective. After that, all you need to do is hit the trail and enjoy your hike to the fullest.