Skip to Content

What are the 3 Types of Hiking Boots?

A woman wearing brown hiking boots.

When you are getting everything ready to start hiking or even just daily walks, you will need to get your essential equipment just right. Part of this equipment is getting the best possible hiking boots that won’t hurt your feet and won’t cause you to get fatigued too fast.

There are three types of hiking boots, trail boots, trail hikers, mountain walking, and hiking boots that can be worn when hiking. Each type of hiking boot allows you to go on different terrain and help you keep your footing when walking across different types of paths.

Understanding why each of these types of boots is used and how they are made to ensure you can always walk safely is essential. We recommend understanding each type of boot you can wear and having them ready whenever you are going on a short hiking trip or a long camp trip.

Related to: 10 Totally Non-Essential Items Hikers Bring11 Different Types of Trails

What Are The Three Types Of Hiking Boots?

Knowing what the three types of hiking boots are and how to recognize them when shopping for new boots is not the same thing. Many people buy the wrong boots three times before they get the ones they need for their hikes.

It is essential to know that going for a walk through the local wooded area and going for a hike that will last several days requires completely different shoes. It is essential to know why these boots are different, and recognizing their general appearance will help you have the right boot.

See also  3 Different Types of Hats for Hiking

Trail Boots For Hiking

A man tying his shoe ace.

Trail boots are the most miniature heavy boots you can find and are meant to support your ankles while going for a quick walk off the beaten path. Usually made out of synthetic materials with a thinner sole, these boots are bright colored and easy to find in most shoe stores from many manufacturers.

The trail boot is meant to only work for a few hours of you hiking through a park with mostly flat ground and average terrain. These boots come in all shapes and sizes and are usually not water-resistant, instead opting for quick drying, allowing you to use them in any weather.

Trail Hikers For Hiking

These are the boots you will find in most hiking stores and will be made entirely from synthetic materials or leather. These boots have thicker soles and are not as brightly colored, meant to be worn when you are going hiking for the entire day or a few days on end.

These are the boots that most hikers wear as they are not going up and down mountains often and will need something to protect them from the worst of the terrain. These boots are heavier when made from natural materials but will often be fully water-resistant, allowing for walks through muddier terrain.

Mountain Walking And Hiking Boots

A leather type mountain boots.

These are the thickest and heaviest boots you will find on the market, usually made out of leather or synthetic material similar to leather. Brown or black, these boots have higher ankle support than any other pair of hiking boots and will be able to keep you safe when walking up a mountain.

See also  24 Different Types of Beach Chairs

These boots are specifically aimed to keep your feet safe when you are walking on mountains that can go from soft sandy paths to loose rock paths that can be sharp. Further, they aim to keep your feet as dry and warm as possible to ensure that you are capable of quickly walking wherever you may want to.

How Are Hiking Boots Different?

Now that we know what each type of boot looks like, we need to start looking at all their properties and what makes them unique when used. Each boot has a set of strengths that have made them loved by specific communities of the hiking world, each with their reasons for liking boots.

The types of boots you use will determine how long you can walk, where you are walking, and what kind of care needs to be provided to the shoe. Many of the lighter shoes are meant to only be used when you take shorter walks that take no longer than a day.

The Properties Of Trail Boots

A black trail boots on a white background.

Trail boots are any type of shoe that is lightweight, bright, and that can only be used for a few hours before becoming completely uncomfortable. We always recommend that you consider this when choosing your hiking boots, as you may need to walk for longer than you have ever walked.

Trail boots have several properties to them that few other boots have, with the one that many are attracted to being their lightweight design. You need to consider five basic properties when choosing whether or not to buy these boots for all of your hiking needs.

  • Dry Climates: Trail boots are meant for dry environments and won’t keep your feet dry when walking through creeks and other water problems. Instead, your feet will get incredibly wet, and the shoe may only become dry after a while when walking.
  • Basic-Fit: Trail boots have the most basic fit and will be similar to most other shoes you are wearing in your day-to-day life. Many people use trail boots interchangeably with regular running shoes as they share many similarities.
  • Extremely Lightweight: Because trail boots are meant to be used for shorter periods, they have a lot less heft. This means that the boots are extremely lightweight and will help you easily walk across most terrain for day trips.
  • Solid Sole: Manufacturers of these boots know that people are likely to run and jump with them, so the soles are considered solid. This means that they are not layered, made to take sudden impacts, but can easily twist or pierce by rocks and thorns.
  • Synthetic Materials: Because trail boots are aimed to be as lightweight as possible, they are almost entirely made out of synthetic materials. Using plastics wherever possible ensures that their costs are kept low while their durability is kept as high as possible.
See also  7 Amazing Glamping Campgrounds in Ohio

The Properties Of Trail Hikers

Trail hiking boots are the first proper hiking boots, and many people prefer to use these for all their hiking needs as they are more likely to sit comfortably. These boots have several properties that trail boots do not have, helping them work for days on end without being damaged or falling apart.

Trail hikers are often used by backpackers who will walk across most of a country, whether it is a tropical country or a desert country.

What is important to remember is that these boots are easily capable of helping you walk for hours on end, with five properties that will ensure you are comfortable.

  • Better Grip: Trail hiking boots have rubber grips that are a lot thicker, disconnecting the sole from the rest of the shoe. This helps you keep your grip even when walking in the rain or in slippery conditions that would usually cause issues as you are walking.
  • Lightweight: Made out of both synthetic and natural materials, these boots are lightweight enough that you can sling them over your shoulder. However, it should be noted that they will be heavier than your running shoes and requires some walking to fit properly.
  • Watertight: Trail hikers are usually completely waterproof to prevent any water from getting into the boot when hiking. You are making them perfect for creeks and rainy days but requiring you to dry them out when they have been completely submerged.
  • Ankle Protection: The boots will sit slightly higher on your ankle than regular shoes would, giving you support when walking on inclines and other odd angles. This ankle support is one of the main reasons we recommend using them when hiking, ensuring your ankles are always safe.
  • Thick Sole: Trail hikers have thicker soles, preventing the terrain you are walking on from hurting your feet when it gets sharp. Further, the thick sole prevents thorns and other sharp objects from easily puncturing the shoe and getting to your skin.
See also  Is It Okay to Wear Sneakers on Hikes?

The Properties Of Mountain Hiking Boots

A leather mountain boots on top of the rocks.

Many people consider these proper hiking boots and will have significant support to allow your ankles and feet to climb almost anything. These are often the most expensive boots as well and will cost the most, causing you to choose something else, avoiding the purchase if possible.

The boots that are most often used when climbing a mountain, the mountaineering hiking boots are specifically made to last you as long as possible.

The five properties that have meant these boots are loved by all who wear them are essential to consider when spending money.

  • Ankle Support: A boot rises to just above your ankles and is made to be tightened around your ankle to ensure the boot is tightly fitted. This provides your ankle with enough support to ensure that you can climb a mountain without hurting yourself.
  • Leather Materials: Most often, these use leather and leather-like materials to ensure that the boot is not caught on things along the way. Further, the leather helps to keep heat in and moisture out, with few synthetic materials capable of doing the same.
  • Tighter Fit: A hiking boot will be one of the more tight-fitting boots that you can wear as they are meant to help extend how your foot moves across surfaces. They are often so tight that if you have not worn them in before hiking, they might hurt your feet.
  • Rugged Material: These boots are meant to be used for weeks at a time, which means that manufacturers make them out of the highest quality materials possible. A good set of hiking and mountaineering boots may last you your lifetime.
  • Completely Waterproof: Because they are meant to be worn from the bottom of a mountain to the top of a mountain, these boots are completely waterproof. If they get wet on the inside, it may take several hours in the sun to get them dry enough to wear again.
See also  5 Affordable Airports in the U.S. for Outdoor Adventures

What Types Of Boots Are For Hiking?

However, we know that when you are walking through shops, you will have to face knowing what a hiking boot is without it being appropriately named. We recommend that you learn how to recognize a hiking boot and get the proper hiking boots for your hiking needs.

There are six aspects of hiking boots that you need to be aware of to help you get the best possible boot.

Most people who go hiking regularly will know which boots and shoes are meant for hiking and which ones are only meant to be used for hiking through some rough terrain.

Strong Sole

A black thick sole in a white bakground.

All hiking boots will have much thicker soles than almost any other shoe or boot on the rack, allowing you to easily walk across most surfaces.

The sole will be the heaviest part of the boot and usually have several layers of material to ensure that the boot does not fail you when needed.

A trail boot will have thicker soles made out of one solid piece, while trail hikers and mountaineering boots will have transparent layers. Allowing you to quickly and comfortably know which of the many shoes and boots you are looking at are meant for hiking.

Good Grip

Hiking boots have several rubber protrusions at the bottom of the boot to ensure you can grip onto surfaces, whether they are wet or not.

Many boots have treats that alternate and are more profound than a regular shoe; the threat won’t be simply a few millimeters, allowing grime to be quickly pushed out of the way.

See also  6 Fantastic Glamping Campgrounds in Pennsylvania

We recommend that you look at the grip while looking at the sole, as the grip will often determine just how much you can use the boot. The weaker the boot’s grip is, the more likely it is meant to be used in dry areas where sand is more likely to be a problem than rocks.

Ankle Support

A close shot of boot's shoe lace.

A good hiking boot of any type will provide significant ankle support, with even the most basic hiking boots having more significant ankle support than regular shoes. This ensures that you won’t easily twist your ankle while walking on uncomfortable terrain or at odd angles.

It is important to remember this when choosing your hiking boot, as many people will suffer from ankles that are hurt.

The less support your ankles have, the more likely you are to hurt other parts of your body, with improper walking techniques often causing hip problems as well.

Tight Fit

Many walking or casual shoes will not fit tightly even when tightening the laces properly; hiking boots are almost the opposite. These boots will fit tightly around your feet even before you tighten the laces on the boot.

This is why you will have to choose the boot you buy properly as many find that boots that should fit them are much too tight. If the boot is too tight, it can cause chafing and other damage that will prevent you from adequately enjoying your hike, walking in pain as you continue the

Durable Material

All hiking boots are made from synthetic or natural materials that are as durable as possible to ensure the boots last longer. Many people have found that hiking boots make good shoes for day-to-day work precisely because they do not get damaged easily.

See also  What is the Difference Between Hiking and Trekking?

Instead, the hiking boots will be more likely to last even if you are stepping in water, on rocks, and over thorns each day.

The boot’s material needs to be durable, and you will be easily capable of walking through and over most things without having to stress about damaging your boots.


A man wearing camoflage ang waterproof boots.

Most hiking boots will be waterproof to some extent, precisely because you may be walking through wet grasslands or small creeks. Most boots labeled as waterproof have explicitly been created because they can be used for hiking trails around the world.

A good hiking boot will be waterproof and dry relatively fast to ensure your feet are not getting damaged by the moisture. We always recommend that you consider this when buying hiking boots, ensuring that you do not have to stress about your feet getting too wet.

What Is The Most Comfortable Hiking Boot?

The most comfortable hiking boot will depend on what types of shoes you wear and where you are hiking to. Trail boots are the most immediately comfortable boots while hiking boots and mountaineering hiking boots are usually the most comfortable if worn long.

Many people choose their hiking boots depending on how long they are going to walk and what conditions they will be hiking in. If you are hiking for the whole day, then you will need to have a shoe that stays at the same level of comfort for the entire time.

Many people underestimate just how comfortable a boot can be when it has been worn correctly, meaning they buy shoes that are only comfortable when worn for the first time.

See also  5 Best Outdoor Areas For Photographers

We always recommend that you buy a proper boot that can be worn in as these stay comfortable for significantly longer.

What Is The Lightest Hiking Boot?

The lightest hiking boot is trail boots, as they are specifically meant to be worn for only a few hours and to work as your running or walking shoes as well. This is why they are made almost entirely out of synthetic materials to ensure that they weigh almost nothing at all when you are wearing them.

These boots usually have thinner layers of materials and use crafting techniques that incorporate bubbles rather than just a solid sponge. We recommend having a pair at the ready if you will be walking or hiking in the morning, but you will be doing something else in the afternoon.

It is important to remember that these boots are usually more stylish-focused, allowing you to wear them with most outfits. It gives you the chance to wear them when going to the mall or going to other events that require you to look formal but still walk long distances.

What Is A Pack Hiker Boot?

These are the largest boots you will find on the market and are used for mountaineering; they provide complete and total ankle support. These boots are the heaviest and most waterproof boots you can find on the market and are meant to be used when backpacking.

We recommend getting these boots when you will be walking for several days on a hiking trail, whether you have a backpack or not. The amount of support they provide means that you can quickly and comfortably walk with a full backpack on your back without getting hurt.

See also  8 of the Best Glamping Campgrounds in Florida

If you are still starting to hike and if you are slightly or significantly overweight, we recommend using these boots as well.

The added ankle support will prevent you from twisting your ankles and help you to quickly and comfortably walk without getting hurt just by your weight, preventing you from continuing exercise.


Generally, there are only three types of hiking boots; however, each type of boot has significantly differing sub-categories that need to be considered. The boots you need to buy will often become more apparent as you continue to go hiking and train yourself to walk to the wilder trails.


Hiking boot – Wikipedia

Hiking Boots vs. Hiking Shoes | Orvis

The Best Hiking Boots for 2022 | Reviews by Wirecutter (

How to Choose the Right Type of Hiking Boots [Guide + Infographic] (


How to choose hiking boots or shoes | MEC

Your access to this site has been limited by the site owner (

How to choose hiking boots and shoes (