You don't need much gear to start hiking. But there is one thing you absolutely need: a good pair of shoes. If you're planning on going light and fast and carrying little, a pair of lightweight trail runners will keep you nimble. If you crave stability or plan on toting a bigger load, go for a pair of mid-cuts. Whichever way you decide to go, there's a great pair of shoes or boots for you below.
From lightweight hikers to burlier boots, these will protect and support you on the trail.
LOWA Baldo GTX
Alaska has some of the planet’s gnarliest terrain, so when our testers there laud a shoe for its toughness and support, we take notice. The Baldo’s PU midsole adds heft but is more durable than EVA, allowing one tester to carry a 50-pound load across loose scree and boulders on Hatcher Pass. Read the Full Review / Buy LOWA Men's Baldo GTX Now
Go light-and-fast with these minimalist models.
Meet our favorite shoes and boots that didn't make the magazine.
Arc’teryx Norvan SL
These ultralight lowtops punch above their weight. They handled gnarly terrain in New York’s Adirondacks with gusto, keeping our tester stable on muddy trails to rock slabs to unstable sand. But the low cut and EVA midsole isn’t ideal for multiday pack loads, and our tester found that after 150 miles she noticed rockiness under her feet with increasing regularity. Still, there were no other signs of unusual wear and tear. Buy Arc’teryx Men's Norvan SL Now / Buy Arc’teryx Women's Norvan SL Now
$150; 13.4 oz.; m’s 7-13, w’s 5-10