Top 10 Best Lightweight Hiking Boots
Top 10 Best Lightweight Hiking Boots
We all know how important hiking boots are to your feet when traveling by foot over any kind of long distance, but how much does the weight of your boots affect your fatigue? In this article, we take a look at which are the best lightweight hiking boots for traveling light and fast on mixed terrain.
Many of the toughest hiking boots available today are designed to withstand an unimaginable amount of wear and tear during their lifetime. While this is a good thing, the sturdiest hiking boots can end up being quite heavy and from my experience, clunky. Yes, it is true that you need a lot of ankle and underfoot support when carrying a full backpack but when do heavy boots become a burden?
If you are hiking on mixed terrain with a backpack all day, every day, then a solid pair of hiking boots would be highly advisable if not essential (for advice on long-distance hiking boots, you should read this article). But if you are hiking on well-maintained paths and sub-alpine trails then a lighter more versatile hiking boot will provide more than enough stability.
Backpackers looking for the best lightweight hiking boots to travel with will often keep their boots in their rucksack and use flip-flops, sandals, or a second pair of shoes. Lightweight hiking shoes are much easier to carry than heavy-duty boots and generally pack down a bit smaller thanks to the thinner, more flexible materials.
Whatever your reason for wanting the best lightweight hiking boots, we are sure that you will find the perfect fit on this page. You can use the quick links below to skip down the page or keep scrolling for a quick feature list and buyers guide to lightweight hiking boots.
Understanding the benefits of lightweight hiking boots is probably what has brought you here today but if not then listen up. The weight of your hiking boots is directly related to the materials used to make them and also the thickness of materials. The thicker the leather and rubber on the sole, the heavier they will be. This is why most lightweight hiking boots will be much more flexible than your typical backpacking boots for example. Heavy boots should be saved for the times you really need the extra support like when carrying heavy backpacks or doing serious mountaineering.
Leather Vs. Synthetic
The leather hiking boots Vs. synthetic hiking boots debate has been raging for close to two decades now and although I will always remain in the leather boot camp for waterproofness, synthetic materials are very lightweight, breathable, and faster to dry. The benefits of leather hiking boots are that it can be maintained for a very long time, it is rugged, has better waterproofing, and molds to the shape of your feet over time.
As well as the weight of the fabric used for the top of your boots, the mid-sole and tread material can also make a big impact on the how heavy they are. Many of the big brands have started using a very lightweight mid-sole combined with a thin layer of tough rubber. This makes the sole very flexible like on a pair of trainers which can have the downside of letting your feet get bruised on rocky ground.
The tread or grip is very important for any hiking footwear but it is especially important to check that the grip is sufficient before buying hiking boots online. As mentioned above, lightweight walking boots have to compromise on some things in order to shave off a few ounces wherever possible. Often what happens is that the depth of the lugs is reduced significantly which means you will lose grip much faster over time.
The lacing system on lightweight hiking boots is not as crucial as some other features on this list but worth your consideration none the less. Most of them will be very similar but every now and then you come across something that works very well (or not at all). Some boots have plastic eyelets for your laces, I would stay away from these if possible.
The fit is possibly the most important thing to get right when looking for hiking boots as a bad fit will give you blisters and be excruciatingly painful over any kind of medium to long distance. To get it right you just have to try some different brands, read the reviews, and try them on. If you live near a city you can go down to your local outdoor gear shop to do this or if you are ordering online then be sure to check the return policy (Amazon’s return policy is one of the best and easiest). A good tip is to wear a thick pair of hiking socks when trying them on and make sure to test them on an inline/decline for potential rubbing spots.
There are four main types of footwear you can use to hike in; high-cut boots, mid-cut boots, trainers, or sandals. I personally always hike in high or mid-cut boots because I value the ankle support and waterproof qualities above breathability. Everyone is different and some people may prefer walking in sandals to superlight hiking boots so try a few different styles on and see which is most comfortable.
The best lightweight hiking boots are highly waterproof with things like Gore-Tex lining and durable water repellent treatments. Leather boots tend to be more waterproof than synthetic boots and can be easily treated to extend the longevity of its water resistance. No boot will ever be completely waterproof because there is a big hole at one end but choosing the most waterproof materials will certainly help keep your feet dry 99% of the time. It is worth noting that waterproof hiking boots will normally be heavier than non-waterproof hiking boots and take longer to dry out if they do get wet. Waterproofing isn’t everything!
While most people will value waterproofness over breathability, it is a key factor in having lightweight hiking boots that perform all year round. Unless you live somewhere like Alaska or the North Pole, you will rarely ever need a pair of insulated hiking boots. Even if you are hiking in snow above the tree line, an extra pair of wool socks (or two) should provide all the extra warmth you need. In summer, however, sweaty feet are almost unavoidable even in sandals and so looking for something breathable can make a big difference to your foot hygiene.
Top 10 Lightweight Hiking Boots
Now that we have looked at some of the key features which make the best lightweight hiking boots, let’s jump into our top 10 recommendations.
*While we do have recommendations for women’s lightweight hiking boots on every choice on this list, we also have a top 10 women’s hiking boot list here!
Salomon X Ultra Mid 2 GTX Boots Review
Weight: 33.6 oz / 952 g (US 9 pair)
Materials: Leather/Textile Uppers, Contragrip Rubber Soles, Gore-Tex Performance Comfort Lining
The Salomon X Ultra Mid 2 GTX Boots are the updated version of the long-standing favorite boot for lightweight hikers. It comes in a variety of models including the X-Ultra Mid Aero which doesn’t have a waterproof lining or the X-Ultra Winter CS which involves a luxury layer of insulation for walking in snow. The Gore-Tex Comfort lining has almost no friction points to rub against if you get a good fit and they are incredibly breathable for a lightweight waterproof boot. The sole has a medium flex which is perfect for moving fast while the lugs have great bite to them for keeping your grip, they also look great with shorts or pants.
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Zamberlan Yeren GTX RR Boots Review
Weight: 33.8 oz / 960 g (EU 42 pair)
Materials: Suede With Hydrobloc Treatment Uppers, Gore-Tex Extended Comfort Lining, Double Density EVA Wedge + TPU Stabilizer Midsole, Zamberlan Vibram Futura Soles
Women’s: Zamberlan Yeren GTX RR WNS
The Zamberlan Yeren GTX RR Boots are designed to be fast, light and grippy on all terrains. They are described as high-performance boots which means you can use and abuse them for all kinds of outdoor pursuits and not have to worry about them falling apart. The materials used are rugged but flexible which gives your feet plenty of support and the ability to move naturally. Apart from the extreme comfort these lightweight walking boots offer, the Vibram Futura soles are one of the most impressive features, offering traction on wet and slippery surfaces.
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Lowa Zephyr GTX Mid Boots Review
Weight: 38.2 oz / 1,084 g (pair)
Materials: Split Grain Leather and Cordura Upper, Gore-Tex Vision 3LY Lining, Injected PU Midsole and MONOWRAP Frame, LOWA Cross II Sole
Women’s: Women’s Lowa Zephyr GTX Mid TF Boots
The Lowa Zephyr GTX Mid‘s are a lightweight 3 season trekking boot which is reliable and comfy over long distances but also works well as an everyday boot. The Gore-Tex lining keeps your feet dry in the rain and allows them to breathe when it’s hot, making these a great lightweight backpacking boot. Made in Germany and shipped worldwide, these boots are designed to excel in the most extreme terrains but they still somehow manage to feel like trainers.
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ASOLO Soul GV Boots Review
Weight: 33.1 oz / 940 g (pair US 9)
Materials: Water-resistant Suede/High Tenacity Nylon Upper, Gore-Tex Extended Comfort Lining, Asolo/Vibram Megagrip Rubber Dual Density EVA Sole
Women’s: Women’s ASOLO Soul GV Boots
The ASOLO Soul GV Boots might not look like your average leather hiking boot but in reality, they feel more like your classic hiking boot than many of the other lightweight boots on this list. Using a water-resistant suede on the outside and a Gore-Tex Extended Comfort lining on the inside, these boots offer excellent protection from the elements without sacrificing comfort. The Vibram Megagrip soles have self-cleaning lugs which bite into the mud and loose gravel providing all the traction you need to make it up and down steep inclines.
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ECCO Ulterra Dhaka Mid Boots Review
Weight: 20.1 oz / 595 (pair US 11)
Materials: Yak Nubuck Leather With HYDROMAX Waterproof Treatment, Direct-injected PU Foam Mid Sole, RECEPTOR Technology Stability/Impact Support, Durable Rubber Sole
Women’s: Women’s ECCO Ulterra Dhaka Mid Boots
The ECCO Ulterra Dhaka Mid Boots are the most lightweight hiking boots to make this list, weighing just over 20 ounces for a size US 11. The upper is made of Nubuck Yak leather which is known to be more durable than cow leather and is complemented by a Hydromax waterproof treatment which is surprisingly effective. There is enough flex in these super light boots to make moving fast and staying nimble on rugged terrain feel like a walk in the park. The rubber soles are tough and grippy but may not last as long as some of the thicker Vibram soles recommended ion this page. Ideal for hikers, backpackers, or for everyday use – these are very much welcomed by people trying to minimise the weight of all their outdoor gear.
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Oboz Bridger Mid Waterproof Boots Review
Weight: 38 oz / 1,076 g (pair)
Materials: Waterproof Nubuck Leather Upper, Oboz B-DRY Waterproof/Breathable Membrane, Granite Peak Rubber Sole, Molded Rubber Toe Cap & Heel
The Oboz Bridger Mid Waterproof Boots are seriously impressive for both their weight and their price. Made from a tough nubuck leather and supported by their own B-Dry waterproof membrane you can be sure that your feet will stay dry and be able to breathe in hot weather. I really like how the lugs run along the sides of the boots as it gives you extra traction in mud and soft ground making them feel like four-wheel drive for your feet. The molded toe and heel cap resist abrasions very well and the boot as a whole is very comfy for everyday use. Also, they plant trees everytime a pair of their shoes are sold!
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KEEN Targhee II Mid Boots Review
Weight: 34.8 oz / 986 g (pair)
Materials: Nubuck Leather/Textile Upper, KEEN.DRY Waterproof Breathable Membrane, Dual Density EVA Midsole and Footbed, Non-marking Rubber Outsole
Women’s: Women’s KEEN Targhee II Mid
The KEEN Targhee II Mid Boots are quite possibly the most comfortable lightweight hiking boot available today and they are also incredibly durable and rugged. The lugs on the sole are nice and deep and continue along the edges to make sure they bite into any surface you walk on and provide maximum grip. The signature toe box from KEEN not only keeps your toes safe but also protects one of the most vulnerable parts of the boot from getting too battered from your adventures. I have traveled with these lightweight boots before and would highly recommend them to anyone looking for an all rounder that is as comfy as any running shoe. Although these boots have a nice wide fitting, it is advised that you get a half size up from your regular sizing.
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Berghaus Supalite II GTX Boots Review
Weight: 39.5 oz / 1,122 g (pair)
Materials: Pittards Full Grain Abrasion Resistant Leather Upper, Gore-Tex Performance Comfort Membrane with Full Leather Lining, Vibram Supalite Outsole, EVA Midsole, Memory Foam Collar/Tongue
The Berghaus Supalite II GTX Boots, as you may have noticed, look exactly the same as the Brasher Superlites you may have owned in the past. That is because they are the exact same design and materials but now sold by Berghaus. They feel very light on your feet and the leather is super high-quality and supple yet durable to provide all-day comfort. The tough exterior is lined with a Gore-Tex Performance Comfort lining for total waterproofing and excellent breathability. This could be one of the best lightweight boots for through-hiking defined hills, paths, valleys, and coastal trails.
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Salewa Ultra Flex Mid GTX Boots Review
Weight: 27.1 oz / 770 g (pair)
Materials: Reinforced Synthetic Uppers With Breathable Mesh, Gore-Tex Extended Comfort Lining, Michelin Ultra Train Outsole
The Salewa Ultra Flex Mid GTX Boots are designed for speed hiking and trail running on all terrain that is too rough for running shoes. They have apparently been built around the Michelin technical outsole which is made from a special type of rubber and has a unique set of lugs which will help you keep a grip when moving at speed. No more skidding down inclines or losing your footing as you run up hills. Weighing just 27 ounces per pair, these are among the most lightweight hiking boots that still offer excellent ankle support. The Salewa mid-cut boots are ideal for day hiking or lightweight backpacking where you need a shoe that can do everything without being too bulky.
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Merrell Moab Mid Ventilator Boots Review
Weight: 30 oz / 852 g (pair)
Materials: Leather/Mesh/TPU Upper, Vibram MegaGrip Outsole, M Select DRY Lining, M Select FIT.ECO Blended EVA Footbed,
Women’s: Women’s Merrell Moab Mid Ventilator
The Merrell Moab Mid Ventilator Boots are worn by thousands of people all around the world thanks to their extreme comfort and affordability. The Moab boots are available in a variety of different options including a winter and a breathable version. If you are looking for cheap lightweight hiking boots that don’t sacrifice on performance and excel in comfort then you should definitely give these a look on Amazon. It is worth noting that the fit can be a bit small so order the wide version or a half size up.
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