lowa innox pro gtx boot

GEAR SHOP

Treat Your Feet Right with These Trail-Tested Hiking Shoes, Boots and Socks

When it comes to hiking, we do a lot more than just truck up and down Oregon’s PCT. We’re also roaming Portland’s urban trails, dayhiking on Mount Hood, and backpacking in the Wallowas, as well as venturing farther afield. As such, we use a lot of different footwear on trail, from light runners to burly trekkers, all paired with a selection of our favorite and most reliable socks. If you’ve worn through your trail footwear and looking for your next pair of skids, here’s a rundown of what we liked hiking in this year.

HARDWEAR

1. Astral TR1 Junction

Not so much a trekking or long-distance hiking shoe, Astral’s TR1 Junction is a crossover casual/trail/water shoe for walking urban trails, taking dayhikes with a light pack, and even floating down the river. Constructed of a hydrophobic canvas upper and high-friction rubber outsole, these were surprisingly light and comfortable strolling down the trails and hopping over a variety of terrain. We especially appreciated their moderately-wide toebox that kept our little piggies from getting smashed, and the TPU toe cap that suitably protected them when scrambling over scree and tripping over roots. However, our favorite aspect of the TR1 Junctions was their ultra-breathable mesh upper, which kept our feet cool and dry, especially on a few sweltering trail days—it was almost like having little air conditioners on our feet! We actually found these so comfortable, we wound up wearing these around town just as much as on the trails. $120   

STYLE: Men’s & Women’s   |   UPPER: Canvas   |   LINER: n/a   |   SOLE: G.15 Rubber   |   WEIGHT: 1.4 Lbs*

2. Salomon Odyssey Pro

Another trail shoe we put to the test this year was Salomon’s Odyssey Pro. A more technical and rugged shoe than the Astrals mentioned above, this lightweight model is constructed of a full mesh upper treated with synthetic overlays for support and stability. This provided exceptional breathability and ventilation for keeping our feet cool and comfortable—however in wet conditions they soaked through easily. The Odyssey Pros also feature a Contagrip outsole with moderate tread which maintained good traction on most dry trail surfaces. Under the hood, our feet were plenty comfortable with their wide toebox, Orthofit footbed and EVA/VIBE midsole. If we were runners, or packing under a heavy load, this would probably be more significant for reducing shock, but we used them mostly for low-impact day- and conditioning hikes. We found the sizing on these to be a little too roomy, so try before you buy, and consider downsizing a half-size for an optimal fit. $140

STYLE: Men’s & Women’s   |   UPPER: Mesh   |   LINER: Sensifit   |   SOLE: Contagrip   |   WEIGHT: 1.4 Lbs*

3. Salomon OUTline Mid GTX

Last year, we loved hiking in Salomon’s X Ultra 3 Mid GTX. These were our go-to boots for everything from trail survey hikes on Mount Hood to multi-section treks on the PCT (see review here). This year, we got Salomon’s OUTline Mid GTX boots out on the trails, and with minimal wear-in time, we enjoyed racking up the miles in these just as well. Constructed with a synthetic upper with breathable mesh panels, an Ortholite insole with EVA midsole, and a beefy outsole for tackling the terrain, these lightweight boots have kind of a funky style, and fit more like a runner or sneaker. The insole/midsole combo made these a very comfortable boot, and their mid-ankle height—with a nice amount of padding—provided plenty of support and stability, with just enough flexibility, so we could move easily over mixed terrain. In wet conditions, the OULlines really shined, as they repelled water and moisture easily, yet remained cool inside and kept our feet nice and dry. $150  

STYLE: Men’s & Women’s   |   UPPER: Synthetic   |   LINER: Gore-Tex   |   SOLE: Contagrip MD   |   WEIGHT: 1.9 Lbs*

4. Lowa Innox Pro GTX Mid

Last year, we hit the trails in Lowa’s Innox GTX boots. While they demonstrated superior waterproofness when crossing streams and slogging through mud, we found them to be a bit too clunky for our comfort. This year, we stepped into the Innox Pro GTX Mid and were much more impressed. Much lighter, with a streamlined design, comfortable out of the box, and still sporting excellent waterproofness, the Innox Pros were a delight to hike in. They feature a synthetic mesh upper, that provided excellent breathability for keeping our feet dry and comfortable, and a DynaPU midsole and Monowrap frame that granted exceptional support and stability while allowing us to stay agile over a variety of terrain. The NXT outsole was nice and grippy on everything from scree to wet duff and even snowy surfaces. While the majority of our trail time in the Innox Pros were on long dayhikes around Mount Hood, we wouldn’t hesitate to take these on a multi-day backpack or PCT section-hike. $235   

STYLE: Men’s & Women’s   |   UPPER: Synthetic   |   LINER: Gore-Tex   |   SOLE: Lowa NXT   |   WEIGHT: 2 Lbs*

5. KEEN Terradora Waterproof Mid

Nothing puts a spring in your step like a brand-new pair of hiking boots, and the out-of-the-box comfort and lightweight profile of KEEN’s Terradora Waterproof boots make that doubly true! After tromping around in way too many large, heavy hiking boots, we were blown away with how sleek and supportive these boots were. While many high-ankle hiking boots can cause uncomfortable rubbing, or a too-tight or too-loose fit, these boots didn’t have any of these issues, and required no painful break-in period. The dual-density PU footbed was supportive yet flexible, and had us reaching for these boots for dayhikes and shorter overnight hikes. Underneath the breathable synthetic and mesh upper, the KEEN.DRY waterproof membrane stood up well in wet weather without causing sweaty feet. If you’re looking for a super-stiff sole, the Terradora may not be the best choice, but if you’re looking for a trail shoe that’s supportive, light and durable, these are just the ticket! $140  

STYLE: Women’s   |   UPPER: Synthetic   |   LINER: KEEN.DRY   |   SOLE: Rubber   |   WEIGHT: 1.6 Lbs*

6. Scarpa ZG Trek GTX

You’re not going to be tapdancing over the scree slopes in Scarpa’s ZG Trek GTX, but if you favor a more traditional, sturdy trekking boot, these are worth giving a look. In the past we’ve not had a lot of success in Scarpa’s boots, as they’re usually on the narrow side, but these were so comfortable to slip our feet into, we couldn’t wait to get them out on the trails. Under the full leather upper, the ZG Treks cradled our feet nicely on their cushy ComfortFit footbed and 2D PU midsole, and our toes were plenty happy in the generously-sized toebox. Speaking of toes, the heavily-reinforced toe cap kept them very well protected from rocks, roots and other trail debris. The padded collar around the high ankle was also quite comfortable, which provided a little flexibility and a lot of support, which was nice under heavier pack loads. Designed in Italy, the ZG Treks use UK/EU sizing specs, so we recommend sizing up at least a half-size larger than your normal US size for the best fit and comfort. $230

STYLE: Men’s & Women’s   |   UPPER: Leather   |   LINER: Gore-Tex   |   SOLE: Vibram Salix   |   WEIGHT: 2.8 Lbs*

SOFTWEAR

7. Balega Running Socks

We are continually impressed with the latest improvements in hiking sock options, and Balega Running Socks are some of our favorites, with several styles and features. Constructed with their unique sweat-wicking Drynamix fabric, these socks provide extra cushioning in the heels and toes, with strategically-placed ventilating panels to keep feet dry and prevent blisters. No-show models even have a heel tab for preventing heel blisters and keeping debris out of the back of our runners. Our favorites are their Silver antibacterial running socks, which are great for hiking on warmer days, and their tried-and-true Blister-Resist crews for packing on the big miles. Seriously, these are the real deal. Best of all, they maintain their cushion while staying funk-free after several days on trail! $13–$18

STYLE: Men’s & Women’s no-show, low and crew  |   MATERIALS: mohair, polyester, nylon, elastane

8. Fits Hiking Socks

Designed and manufactured in the US, Fits Hiking Socks are crafted to stay in place with a full-contour design that provides a snug feel around the entire foot. This is achieved with a deep heel pocket for keeping them in place, and a contoured toecup that minimizes bunching. Constructed with a merino wool blend for superior breathability, moisture wicking and odor resistance, we hit the trail in a variety of Fits socks—from light, low runners to midweight crew hikers—and enjoyed fantastic foot comfort on everything from quick dayhikes to multi-day backpacks. We even found them suitable for keeping our tootsies warm and toasty on cold, late season outings. And it may be trivial, but we just love all the fun and funky colors and designs Fits socks come in—a nice departure from the norm. $16–$22   

STYLE: Men’s & Women’s no-show, low and crew  |   MATERIALS: merino wool, nylon, polyester, lycra

9. Injinji Liner + Hiker Socks

If you’re prone to toe blisters, and haven’t tried Injinji toe socks, you don’t know what you’re missing—and what you’re missing is fewer blisters! We simply can’t say enough good things about Injinji’s new Liner + Hiker Socks. This set pairs a Coolmax polyester-blend liner with a NuWool-blend midweight hiking sock for the ultimate in trail comfort. The ultralight liners have a soft, silky feel that hugs the feet and isolates each toe to prevent unwanted friction that we absolutely loved. That foot and toe protection is doubled in the soft and cushy wool-blend sock that breathes easily and wicks moisture away to keep feet dry and comfortable. And after several multi-day trips sans washing, both the liner and sock remained funk-free. $27

STYLE: Men’s & Women’s crew  |   MATERIALS: polyester, merino wool, acrylic, nylon, lycra

10. Montbell Trekking Socks

There is something great about pulling on a fresh pair of cushy hiking socks. Montbell’s Trekking Socks are thicker and heavier than standard hiking socks, and were nice for keeping our feet comfortable on both short- and long-distance trail outings. Made with a special blend of New Zealand Merino Wool 200, these trekkers provided ample cushioning and exceptional wicking properties, which was great for letting us stay focused on enjoying the scenery and not worried about the miles adding up on our feet. We found these to be especially nice on cooler trail days for adding a little extra warmth. And after long days, they didn’t smell bad, which is always a good thing. We’re eager to see how these continue to perform as they rack up the miles, but so far, so good. $21  

STYLE: Men’s & Women’s crew  |   MATERIALS: merino wool, polyester, nylon

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These reviews are based on the field results of PCT: Oregon’s gear testing team. Reviews are subjective, and individual results may vary based on a variety of factors, including, but not limited to, temperature, elevation, wind chill and humidity, as well as personal body function. *Total weight/pair, average size.
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