As the hiking season begins to change and weather patterns make certain paths more or less accessible, we need to start thinking about the best lightweight hiking boots to carry with us on our travels.
If you have wide feet, like me, finding comfortable lightweight hiking footwear is challenging, especially when the hiking boot you’re looking for needs to have specific features.
Fortunately, I’ve put together a list of the nine best lightweight hiking boots to wear on backpacking trips.
Let’s read on to see what each of these lightweight boots does well and which of them is our top pick.
The Best Lightweight Hiking Boots of 2023
1) Salomon X Ultra 4 Mid GTX
The Salomon X Ultra 4 Mid is a mid-height lightweight hiking boot designed to navigate well-maintained trails and manage light pack loads.
From my hiking experience, this boot’s comfort level is similar to that of a trail running shoe, having flexible uppers and a contouring Ortholite footbed.
At 1 lb. 14.4 oz. and $175, this hiking boot has enough padding to adequately cushion the foot without losing its nimbleness, while ensuring you can hike for many miles with consistent support.
Overall, the Salomon X Ultra 4 Mid GTX is known for its products’ high build quality and based on our testing procedures, the best ultralight hiking boots on the market.
2) Merrell Moab 2 Mid Waterproof Boots
The Merrell Moab 2 Mid waterproof hiking boots are perfect for new and casual hikers who enjoy day hiking and simple trails.
Not only do they have the build of a traditional hiking boot, but the M-Select Dry membrane, Vibram sole, and performance suede leather upper make these some of the best hiking boots I’ve ever worn.
Improving on the previous model, the Merrell Moab 2 Mid Waterproof boasts added stability, comfort, and increased arch support. These 2lbs. 4oz. lightweight hiking boots cost $145, making them slightly heavier than some other Merrell boots, but very affordable.
They performed admirably during our testing protocols, and we included them in our list of the best waterproof hiking boots for 2023.
3) KEEN Targhee III Waterproof Mid
This lightweight hiking boot, at 2 lbs. 2.8 oz., has a durable nubuck leather upper, a wide toe box, and an EVA foam midsole.
We reviewed KEEN Targhee III Waterproof Mid and found these hiking boots are popular choices for moderate hiking. Straight out of the box, these are very comfortable boots that I can throw on almost everywhere.
For a value of $150, the comfort that Targhee III Waterproof Mid gives is similar to a trail runner, making it a solid choice for on-the-go hikes and trips where you need to move on a moment’s notice. However, clear-cut trails are where these boots perform best.
4) Oboz Sawtooth II Mid B-Dry Waterproof
The Oboz Sawtooth II Waterproof boot is a light-midweight hiking boot designed to handle difficult hikes.
Oboz is known for the toughness of its products, as I’ve experienced rocky trails and conquered many underfoot hazards with them. While these are stiff boots, which don’t do well with flexibility, they do excel in durability, stability, support, and weatherproofing.
Since they’re built like heavy duty boots, even though they weigh 2 lbs. 6 oz., I would only recommend these for more seasoned backpackers who are more likely to need the bulk.
5) Merrell Moab 3 Mid Waterproof
The Merrell Moab 3 Mid Waterproof boot weighs 16.36oz per shoe, and is designed to be a versatile and comfortable hiking boot for day hikers.
For $145, these provide a quality fit, supportive midsoles, and improved protection, which I’ve tested on many hikes. As a result, this boot feels a bit heavier and lacks some of the traction usually associated with a Vibram outsole.
However, the Merrell Moab 3 is still a popular choice for its price and overall performance. Merrell is known for producing beginner-friendly hiking shoes and boots.
6) Columbia Newton Ridge Plus Waterproof
The Columbia Newton Ridge ™ Plus II is a durable lightweight boot best suited for ultralight outdoor hobbies.
Weighing 15.9 oz, these boots’ uppers are made with a PU-coated leather, suede, and mesh. There’s a very short break-in period and the outsole has fair traction.
I’ve tried these boots out on many hikes, but they perform better in situations where they’re not frequently exposed to harsh elements.
The patented Omni-Tech waterproof liner and Techlite midsole are comfortable and hold up well in simple conditions, but these boots are more designed for low-impact activities.
7) Vasque Breeze AT-Mid GTX
The Vasque Breeze AT-Mid GTX hiking boots are made with an All-Terrain Compound midsole and TPU shank designed to manage technical terrain.
These 2 lbs. 11 oz. lightweight hiking boots are good for both on and off-trail hiking. During my time wearing them, the ankle support from the padded collar and the underfoot cushioning from the dual-density EVA footbed were the standout features.
At a price of $190, these come equipped with a Vasque-exclusive Vibram Contact Grip outsole and Gore-Tex liner. With their utility, the Vasque Breeze AT-Mid GTX hiking boots are comparable to some mountaineering boots.
8) Columbia Firecamp Boot
The Columbia Firecamp lightweight hiking boots, which are 14.8 oz., are boots made to tackle snow and cold weather.
The upper material is designed with a cordura textile, making the boot tear-proof and highly resistant to extreme conditions. The Columbia Firecamp also has an Omni-Tech waterproof liner with up to 200gs of insulation, sealing out water and keeping warm air inside.
I’ve had an opportunity to test these boots out in really cold conditions, and am surprised to say that even in negative temperatures, my feet were completely sealed off from the outside.
9) NORTIV 8 Ankle High
The NORTIV 8 Ankle Highs is a pair of 1 lb. lightweight hiking boots designed with features like cushioned insoles, adjustable lacing systems, and slip-resistant outsoles.
What makes this hiking boot so unique is that it’s not designed with popular brand name waterproof liners and outsoles. Everything is made in-house to cut costs, pricing these at $60 tops, and making them the best lightweight hiking boots for affordability on this list.
These have gotten me through many moderate hikes and treks, so their quality is noteworthy.
Lightweight Hiking Boots Buyer’s Guide
When deciding on the best lightweight hiking boots to wear, we measure the effectiveness of the boots against the eight elements below. The nine boots on this list were chosen over other hiking boots based on how well they performed in these categories.
Hiking boots can be classed as lightweight hiking boots, midweight hiking boots, or heavyweight hiking boots.
A lighter boot usually offers less in terms of support and protection, in exchange for increased comfort and flexibility, making it challenging to use on rough terrain or for carrying heavy loads.
However, there are some lightweight designs that manage to circumvent this problem, blending elements of the other two weight classes together.
Your boots should always be at the minimum weight for the trails you plan to travel, but without a decrease to your overall performance.
Hiking boots should always accommodate the volume of your feet and fit securely around your ankles. The toe box should accommodate wider feet and the ankle support should be adequate to prevent blisters and slippage.
If this is what you need, here are the results for the best wide-feet hiking boots in 2023 based on our testing procedures.
Laces are also an important factor when considering the fit of a hiking boot. A hiking boot with a poor lacing system will be prone to unraveling and could possibly cause your ankle to rub against the collar.
However, some boots have unique lacing systems, such as Salomon’s single-pull system, or even customizable laces to control the way the boot feels around your foot .
When looking for good hiking boots, your traction is dependent on how adhesive your sole is, its durability, and how well it can dig into tricky terrain.
I personally consider the tread to be one of the most important factors to look at when I buy & test hiking boots.
Currently, the two top competitors in the market for outsoles are Salomon’s Contagrip and Vibram .
Some hiking boots have outsoles with deeper lug depths than others and aggressive tread patterns.
In most cases though, outsoles are made to perform better in certain conditions.
When looking for the best lightweight hiking boot, you wouldn’t buy a boot with an outsole made for snow and ice and then use it in a dry desert.
A good pair of boots sometimes comes at an extra cost, depending on the quality of the material it’s made with.
For example, a boot with a Gore-Tex waterproof membrane and a Contagrip or Vibram outsole is likely to cost at least $150, due to the quality of those products.
However, you don’t need to break the bank for popular brand names. Many lesser-known brands produce all their materials in-house, giving buyers the option of high-quality builds at half the price.
We recommend choosing boots that fit your needs, since some features may not be worth the high prices.
Some of the best lightweight hiking boots are also waterproof boots that manage to maintain high breathability. Usually, a hiking boot is sold in waterproof and non-waterproof version.
Due to the waterproof membranes, boots with liners tend to overheat, prioritizing dry feet over possible weather exposure.
Non-waterproof options, however, have more space to allow airflow. Breathable boots are important for preventing sweating and other uncomfortable conditions, especially in the hot summers.
Fortunately, there are some brands that manage to find a balance between allowing airflow without letting water penetrate the membrane, and the best example is Keen.
Most comfortable hiking boots have noticeable features like good ankle support, a cushy midsole, and support for flat or high arches. Usually, hiking shoes tend to be the most favored for comfort, especially since they tend to not weigh as much as boots do.
However, many brands have implemented their own support and stability technologies, such as chassis systems, contouring footbeds, and extra cushioning, making some boots comparable to even trail running shoes.
A comfortable boot will pad your feet and make long distances easier to hike, so it depends on what type of traveling you want to do.
Hiking boot uppers should have a high-quality build when making a purchase. Ideally, it should be durable enough to be tear and scratch-resistant, and flexible enough to handle gripping on technical and uneven terrain.
Durable boots are made from synthetic materials, but some other brands use more recycled materials for sustainability.
In most cases though, a high-quality boot will be made with either suede, nubuck, or full-grain leather. A leather boot is usually the most expensive because it’s made to be long-lasting, but you can always opt for a cheaper and comparably tougher alternative.
The performance of a hiking boot includes all the ways its features work together to shape your overall hiking experience. Are these boots suitable for the hikes I go on?
How do they feel on certain paths? Do I need heavier boots or lighter boots? The only way you can judge the performance of a boot is by trying it out yourself.
To gauge performance, you need to measure how well a hiking boot does on your travels compared to other boots. If you can make it through an entire hike of your skill level with little-to-no complaints, then you’ve found a high-performance boot.
3 Benefits of Using Lightweight Hiking Boots
For rugged trails, a lightweight boot provides more protection than a hiking shoe. They have better ankle protection, insulation against harsh trail conditions, and excellent cushioning.
Hiking shoes are made for speed and nimbleness on well-tended paths, but the thickness of a lightweight boot is safer for your feet.
Light backpacking boots have more utility compared to something like trail runners. Unlike running shoes, a backpacking boot is more equipped to handle varying terrain.
Additionally, some boots are even designed to mimic the feeling of trail runners, taking on more of an all-in-one role.
A light trail boot is designed to have more support than something like a trail shoe. Trail boots are designed with extra heel support, forefoot cushioning, and side padding.
This allows you to carry heavy pack loads and travel longer distances without putting stress on your pressure points.
When to Use Lightweight Hiking Boots?
Terrain & Weather
If your hike takes you through a muddy trail, rocky terrain, or stream crossings, you need a boot that can handle those conditions. Outsoles with good traction, waterproof liners, and durable uppers are all things to consider when using lightweight boots.
Weather conditions are also important to keep in mind. You’d want to use an insulated boot in cold weather, ideally trapping heat to keep your feet warm. However, you’d probably want something less padded and less waterproof in hot weather.
While water-resistant liners can wick sweat, they can also be the cause of it if not enough heat is being released. Although, water-resistant boots are a good choice in light rain conditions.
Light boots should be used when your hike is longer than a few miles. However, distance isn’t the only factor that should be taken into account when deciding when to use a light boot.
Elevation, terrain, and hourly weather patterns should also be known, because those can make even a 5-mile hike seem longer if you’re unprepared.
Non-Waterproof vs. Waterproof Lightweight Hiking Boots
Non-waterproof lightweight hiking boots do not come designed with a water-resistant membrane .
Instead, they’re made with synthetic mesh layers, which are more ventilated and flexible than something like a Gore-Tex layer.
However, in exchange for increased ventilation, the lack of water-resistance not only allows fresh air inside, but also moisture. This also includes any sweat that otherwise would’ve been wicked away from the foot.
Non-water repellant boots are usually worn in conditions where moisture and heat won’t be an issue.
Alternatively, waterproof lightweight hiking boots are designed with water-resistant layers. Usually, these boots are made with various upper styles to compensate for the decreased ventilation.
They seal the feet off from all forms of water, while also absorbing sweat, but reducing airflow. Water-resistant boots are usually worn in conditions where you’ll anticipate a lot of wetness.
What Else Do We Consider When Choosing the Best Ultralight Hiking Boots?
A pair of boots may feel different for each person, so we always consider the opinions of others when putting together a list like this, even if we’ve personally tried the product ourselves.
We verify how consistent the reviews are between each buyer to accurately gauge how well or poorly a product has performed.
A product’s shipping should always be affordable and have reasonable delivery times. The longer your boots are in transit, the more likely it is that something could go wrong with your delivery.
You should also choose a shipping option with a reputable courier that has guarantees in case your boots are lost or damaged.
We like to consider warranty deals when choosing a boot from certain brands. Even if a product is made with the best material, it can still be prone to sudden quality issues, such as sole tearing and seam detachment.
Manufacturers that offer replacement boots up to a certain timeframe after your purchase are usually customer-friendly.
The appeal of a brand is the last factor we consider. The more popular a manufacturer is, the more credible they are. When a brand has a large customer base, they have a responsibility to produce well-made products, so they’re less likely to have quality issues.
Since popular brands also have the most business, it’s easier to see what people are saying about them, either good or bad.
Our Nr. #1 Pick
As the most current product in the X Ultra product line, the X Ultra 4 comes with ActiveSupport straps, an improved chassis system, and increased stability in off-path environments, performing even better than the Salomon X Ultra 3 Mid.
For a day trip, multi-day backpacking trip, and even some thru-hikes, the X Ultra 4 has shown consistent performance. The X Ultra 4 is favored by many hikers as a highly versatile boot, and praised by the community as perhaps Salomon’s best lightweight hiking boot.
Out of all the hiking boots on this list, the Salomon X Ultra 4 Mid boots are our top pick.
Hiking boots should be lightweight if you’re planning to hike simple, well-kept, or moderate paths. A light boot limits the amount of padding that could slow you down on easy paths.
The NORTIV 8 Ankle Highs are the lightest hiking boots on this list. Weighing 1 lb. per pair, some buyers have claimed the boots feel like they’re even less than that.
Heavier hiking boots are better depending on the type of path you’re hiking. If you need more protection or stability, then a heavier boot would be ideal for advanced paths.
A good weight for hiking boots varies depending on the type and intended use, but generally ranges between 2-3 pounds per pair, with lightweight boots weighing less than 2 pounds, midweight boots weighing between 2-3 pounds, and heavyweight boots weighing over 3 pounds.
Lightweight waterproof hiking boots are worth getting if you plan on hiking in unpredictable or wet weather. Rain, streams, and river crossings are common enough to make water-resistance necessary.
A light hiking boot weighs roughly 2 lbs. or less. Materials such as the upper, midsole, outsole, and presence of a water-resistant lining all have an influence on the weight.