7 Best Hiking Shoes for Beginners – [2023’s Guide]

By Sophie Williams
Updated: October 8, 2023
Best hiking shoes for beginners

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As a new hiker, the enthusiasm can quickly wane if your hiking shoes don’t meet the mark. To fully enjoy your time in nature, it’s crucial to choose the right hiking shoes that match your outdoor activities and foot structure.

This guide will walk you through the process of selecting the best hiking shoes for beginners, along with providing top-notch recommendations.

Top 7 Hiking Shoes for Beginners – A Comparison Table

ProductNameFeaturesPrice
Merrell Men's Moab 3

Merrell Men’s Moab 3

  • Comfy to wear
  • Durable
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Merrell Women's Moab 3

Merrell Women’s Moab 3

  • Comfortable
  • Long-lasting
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Columbia Women's Newton Ridge Plus

Columbia Women’s Newton Ridge Plus

  • Minimal break-in period
  • Excellent traction
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Salomon Women's X Ultra

Salomon Women’s X Ultra

  • Lightweight
  • Magnificent support
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ALTRA Men's Lone Peak Hiker

ALTRA Men’s Lone Peak Hiker

  • Great breathability
  • Fantastic traction
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Oboz Firebrand II B-Dry Hiking Shoe

Oboz Firebrand II B-Dry Hiking Shoe

  • Rugged construction
  • Great traction
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Timberland Men's White Ledge

Timberland Men’s White Ledge

  • No side seams 
  • Budget-friendly
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The Best Hiking Shoes for Beginners: Buying Guide

To find the best hiking shoes for beginners, you must take into account essential factors that guarantee comfort, support, and optimal performance on the trails.

Here’s a comprehensive step-by-step guide to assist you in making the perfect choice:

1. Consider Your Hiking Needs 

When choosing hiking shoes, considering your hiking needs is essential for comfort, support, and performance on the trails. Matching shoes to your terrain and activities prevents discomfort and injuries, prolongs shoe durability, and enhances overall hiking experiences. 

For beginner hikers, getting the right hiking shoes is crucial to prevent initial injuries that can be discouraging.

Extra support is vital for rough terrains, while lighter options work well for well-maintained trails. Shoes that fit your foot type provide better arch support and reduce fatigue.

Taking these factors into account ensures a safe and comfortable journey, allowing you to navigate different types of terrain and fully enjoy your outdoor adventures.

2. Know Your Foot Shape

As a new hiker, you need to know about your foot shop and shop accordingly. Understanding whether you have flat feet, high arches, or neutral arches helps you find shoes that provide the right support and comfort.

This knowledge reduces the risk of discomfort and injuries, allowing for a more enjoyable hiking experience. 

Properly supported feet lead to better performance, stability, and traction on various terrains. Moreover, choosing shoes tailored to your foot type increases the shoes’ durability, saving you from frequent replacements.

Ultimately, knowing your foot type ensures a personalized and pleasant hiking journey with reduced chances of foot-related problems.

3. Intended Type of Terrain

The type of terrain you intend to explore is another important consideration. Terrain-specific shoes offer proper traction, support, and protection, reducing the risk of slips, falls, and injuries on different surfaces.

They provide better shock absorption and cushioning for comfort during the hike and are designed to withstand the specific demands of the environment. 

Waterproof options keep feet dry in wet conditions. Matching shoes to the terrain enhances overall performance, ensuring a safer and more enjoyable hiking experience.

Properly selected shoes maintain alignment, reducing strain on feet, ankles, and legs, minimizing discomfort and the chances of injuries on the trails.

For hikers in wet environments, shoes with materials Gore-Tex can be practical, but in warm and dry locations, prioritize pairs without such waterproof membranes, particularly when your feet sweat. You would want mesh uppers for rapid drying and improved breathability instead.

4. Try Them On

Each foot is unique, and trying shoes ensures they suit your feet, preventing discomfort and blisters. It helps test support, stability, arch support, and identify pressure points. Trying the correct size avoids the hassle of returns or exchanges. 

Evaluating flexibility and breathability ensures comfort during hikes while testing traction enhances stability on various surfaces.

Overall, trying on hiking shoes allows for informed decisions tailored to individual needs, optimizing hiking experiences and reducing the risk of foot-related issues.

Best Hiking Shoes for Beginners: Our Top 7 Picks 

Among the multitude of hiking footwear choices, handpicking the best 15 required considerable effort. These shoes were chosen for their perfect blend of comfort, durability, and outstanding traction, without compromising on weight.

We tried to find the perfect balance so that you enjoy your first hike to the fullest. 

1. Best Overall for Men: Merrell Men’s Moab 3 Hiking Shoe

Merrell Men's Moab 3

The most recent installment to Moab’s line of hiking shoes, Moab “3,” emerged in late spring 2022, boasting substantial enhancements. These include an overhauled insole, an increased emphasis on sustainability by incorporating more recycled materials, and minor but meaningful improvements to cushioning and traction.

Features and Benefits

  • Kinetic Fit Advanced Footbed: Experience next-level comfort with the Kinetic Fit Advanced removable contoured insole, designed to mold perfectly to the unique shape of your foot.
  • EVA Foam Midsole: Enjoy the perfect blend of stability and comfort with the lightweight EVA foam midsole, carefully designed to provide unparalleled support without adding unnecessary weight.
  • Vibram TC5+ Outsole: The Vibram TC5+ Outsole is a game-changer, empowering the sole to have a significantly more aggressive bite on dirt and mud, ensuring exceptional traction and grip on challenging terrains.

Pros

  • Comfy to wear
  • Durable
  • Fits all foot shapes nicely

Cons

  • Not lightweight

2. Best Overall for Women: Merrell Women’s Moab 3 Hiking Shoe

Merrell Women's Moab 3

The Moab 3 impresses with its outstanding shock absorption and traction. The Vibram outsole offers stability and flexibility for technical maneuvers, ensuring reliable grip on various terrains.

The shoe’s thick walls, high backs, and bellowed tongue keep pesky rocks, dirt, and brush out, maintaining a debris-free interior.

Features and Benefits

  • Waterproof Membrane: The shoe’s waterproof membrane makes sure your feet stay dry and comfortable in wet conditions. 
  • Kinetic Fit Advanced Footbed: Walk with confidence and ease, thanks to Merrell’s trademark Kinetic Fit Advanced footbed that adapts to the specific shape of your foot, offering unparalleled comfort and support for a more enjoyable walking experience.
  • Vibram TC5+ Outsole: When it comes to traction and performance, the Vibram TC5+ outsole reigns supreme as the best-in-class option, guaranteeing unparalleled grip and stability across all terrains and weather conditions.

Pros

  • Comfortable
  • Long-lasting
  • Great option for hikers with wider feet 

Cons

  • Some hikers might find the shoes heavy 

3. Best Waterproof: Columbia Women’s Newton Ridge Plus

columbia womens newton ridge plus

Don’t be deceived by the rugged appearance of these Columbia hiking shoes; they are surprisingly comfortable. The added advantage of a quick break-in period makes them a joy to wear as soon as you unbox them!

Features and Benefits

  • Leather and Suede Upper: Crafted with a blend of premium full-grain leather and supple suede, these hiking shoes are designed to withstand the harsh elements of nature.
  • Omni-Tech Membrane: The Omni-Tech waterproof breathable seam-sealed membrane bootie construction offers a groundbreaking solution to wet weather challenges.
  • Teclite Midsole: The Techlite lightweight midsole is your gateway to boundless comfort, offering unparalleled cushioning, enduring support, and heightened energy return, making each step a pleasure.

Pros

  • Minimal break-in period
  • Excellent traction
  • Waterproof

Cons

  • People with wide feet might struggle to get a good fit

4. Best Lightweight: Salomon Women’s X Ultra Pioneer Mid Climasalomon

Salomon Women's X

Meet the Salomon Women’s X Ultra Pioneer Mid Climasalomon Waterproof Hiking Boots Trail Running Shoe – a remarkable fusion of support, traction, and durability, all combined in one of the lightest boots available.

The use of a synthetic blend results in remarkable durability while keeping the weight under 2 lbs, proving that lightweight boots can still handle tough terrain.

Features and Benefits

  • ClimaSalomon Waterproof: A dynamic and lightweight full waterproof bootie, ensuring you stay protected and comfortable in any weather scenario.
  • Advanced Chassis: Seamlessly integrated between the outsole and midsole, this lightweight chassis is the driving force behind enhanced motion control, energy management, and protection, ultimately delivering an efficient, stable, and incredibly responsive ride.
  • Regular Laces: Delight in the simplicity of regular laces, offering a traditional lacing system with eyelets, ensuring your shoes stay snug and comfortable throughout your adventures.

Pros

  • Lightweight
  • Magnificent support
  • Top-level traction 

Cons

  • Some users have found the ankle cuff uncomfortable

5. Most Comfortable: ALTRA Men’s Lone Peak Hiker Trail Running Shoe

ALTRA Women's Lone Peak 6

The Lone Peak Hikers proudly present themselves as a hardy, adaptable, and remarkably cushioned iteration of Altra’s well-received Lone Peak trail running shoes. Despite not being a mainstream hiking shoe brand, Altra outshines its competitors to break into the best hiking shoe debate.

Features and Benefits 

  • Altra EGO Midsoles: The Altra EGOmidsoles are skillfully engineered to deliver a soft and responsive touch, no matter if you’re on the trail or exploring off-road. 
  • Altra FootShape: Altra’s iconic FootShape toe boxes are expertly designed to enable your toes to naturally relax and spread out while ensuring your big toe maintains a straight position.
  • Balanced Cushioning: Aligned to perfection, the Balanced Cushioning™ platforms ensure uniform distances between the heels and forefeet and the ground, resulting in landings that are gentle on your body.

Pros

  • Great breathability 
  • Fantastic traction
  • Ample toe space

Cons

  • Not suitable for wide feet

6. Most Durable: Oboz Firebrand II B-Dry Hiking Shoe

Oboz Firebrand II B-Dry

Nothing can be more frustrating than experiencing a blown-out sole during a long hike. To avoid such mishaps, it’s crucial to invest in hiking boots crafted from robust materials, such as the Oboz Firebrand II B-Dry.

Features and Benefits

  • O FIT Insole: OBOZ’s signature O FIT  insole defines the brand. Individually molded to precisely fit the distinct shape and build of each shoe, this purpose-built technology delivers an incomparable level of fit, feel, and performance.
  • Durable Design: Tailor-made for trail adventures, the shoe combines a leather and abrasion-resistant mesh upper, ensuring enduring durability and protection. With a molded rubber toe cap in place, your toes are safeguarded from rocks, roots, and trail debris, elevating the shoe’s overall durability.
  • B-DRY Waterproof/Breathable: With OBOZ’s exclusive B-DRY waterproofing system, we’ve mastered the art of allowing sweat to escape while effectively shielding against moisture.

Pros

  • Rugged construction 
  • Great traction 
  • Suitable for rocky terrain  

Cons

  • Not lightweight

7. Best Budget: Timberland Men’s White Ledge

Timberland Men's White Ledge

Brought to you by the reputable creator of cozy work boots, the Timberland White Ledge Mid represents a straightforward, all-leather hiking boot. Remarkably lightweight for a full leather boot, it serves as a budget-friendly footwear option for beginner hikers. 

Features and Benefits

  • Waterproof Leather: Constructed with premium waterproof leather uppers, these shoes are designed with full seam sealing and fully gusseted tongues, guaranteeing dryness and comfort for your feet.
  • Rustproof Speed Lace Hardware: With rustproof, speed lace hardware, including hooks at the top, the shoes offer a reliable and secure lacing solution.
  • Compression Molded EVA Footbeds: Featuring compression-molded EVA footbeds and midsoles, the shoes offer top-notch cushioning.

Pros

  • 100% leather upper
  • No side seams 
  • Budget friendly 

Cons

  • The sole doesn’t last long 

What are the best hiking shoes for beginners?

When choosing the best hiking shoes for beginners, it’s important to take into account factors such as comfort, fit, durability, traction, waterproofing, and breathability. Finding shoes that match individual foot shapes and hiking preferences is essential for a successful hiking experience.

What is the best footwear to use when hiking?

The best footwear for hiking varies based on factors like terrain, weather, and personal preferences. Hiking shoes offer comfort and traction for well-maintained trails, while hiking boots provide ankle support and durability for rugged terrain. Trail runners are lightweight and suitable for less technical paths.

What are the best Merrell hiking shoes for beginners?

Merrell’s Moab 3 hiking shoes for men and women are the best hiking shoes for beginners from the manufacturer. This hiking shoe boasts excellent comfort and is crafted using high-quality materials, providing reliable midsole support.

Are running shoes good enough for hiking?

Running shoes are not designed to offer the necessary support and traction for rough off-road terrain. So, we would not say that they are good enough for hiking.

Is it OK to wear hiking shoes for walking?

While hiking shoes can be casually worn for walking, using them on hard surfaces like pavement may lead to faster wear and tear.

How do I keep my feet from hurting while hiking?

To prevent foot pain while hiking, wear well-fitting and supportive hiking shoes or boots, break them in before long hikes, wear moisture-wicking socks, and lace shoes properly, and maintain proper foot hygiene. Take breaks, stretch, and choose appropriate footwear for different terrains to enhance comfort during hiking.

Final Words

For those new to hiking, selecting the right pair of hiking shoes is crucial for a fulfilling outdoor journey. Our carefully curated list of the best hiking shoes for beginners is tailored to meet the needs of a newbie hiker.

Whether you’re taking on difficult paths or going out for leisurely hikes, these hiking shoes can be your perfect companions.

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Sophie Williams

Sophie Williams

Sophie Williams is popularly known as a dynamic and creative footwear specialist, and she sharpened her skills and developed a strong foundation at College for Creative Studies, especially in design principles, boot and shoe materials, and boot construction techniques.

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