When hiking through environments that are wet or have streams and rivers, it’s best to have the appropriate footgear to keep your feet safe and your hike as manageable as possible.
Waterproof outdoor boots are good to have because there’s always a likely chance that you’ll stumble across muddy patches or puddles. I personally prefer buying waterproof hiking boots because the added layer of protection is better to have than not having it at all.
That said, my team and I have tested 10 of the best waterproof hiking boots and shoes. So, let’s review how each of these products held up during testing and which of them is our top pick.
Our Top Recommended Waterproof Hiking Shoes and Boots
1. Salomon Quest 4 Gore-Tex Hiking Boots
The Salomon Quest 4 Gore-Tex hiking boots are some of the best waterproof hiking boots within the hiking community.
As a step up from the Salomon Quest 4D 3 model, the Quest 4 GTX hiking boots are designed with stability and protection features made to handle light and rough terrain.
Additionally, the leather uppers are durable, but still flexible enough to provide light comfort comparable to some trail runners.
Combined with a sticky Contagrip TD rubber outsole, which has deep lugs and an aggressive tread pattern, these are some of the best hiking boots in the light-midweight tier.
After putting these to the test, my team and I found that these boots performed well in various terrains.
We’ve had a chance to try these hiking boots throughout the entire hiking season, and whether it’s been a wet rock, snow, or dry dirt, the outsole has remained reliable, and the EVA midsole is still well-cushioned.
While they are versatile boots for most activities, we wouldn’t recommend them if you exclusively hike beginner trails.
- Leather uppers and textile lining make the Quest 4 GTX feel like a trail shoe
- Improved chassis system supports heels to prevent foot fatigue & ankle rolling
- Contagrip TD rubber outsole is reliable for all-terrain activities
- Can manage heavy backpacking loads without stressing the heels & arches
- Durable enough to protect the feet from trail debris & other hazards
Overbearing for non-technical trails
2. Lowa Renegade GTX Mid Hiking Boots
The Lowa Renegade GTX Mid is a lightweight pair of waterproof hiking boots that are made to resemble a traditional hiking boot.
Their design is burly enough to insulate your feet from the trail, and the nubuck leather is highly resistant to abrasions. The mid-cut collar is very soft and padded, so the ankles have significant support.
In addition to having ATC insoles and a DuraPu monowrap frame, these boots also have a Vibram EVO rubber outsole, giving them similar all-terrain traction to the Quest 4 GTX. At 2 lbs. 7 oz., the Lowa Renegade GTX has a good balance between bulkiness and lightness.
While trying out these boots, I really enjoyed the nimble feeling they gave me.
Despite being designed in a way that prioritizes protection and support over flexibility and comfort, the Lowa Renegade is another boot that can be used all throughout the hiking season for various activities.
While I wish they were a bit cheaper than other products of the same quality, the premium materials they’re manufactured with may justify the price.
- Perfectly suitable to wear for longer hikes without feeling discomfort
- Uses a traditional lacing system to allow customizable setups
- Offered in all sizes, including narrow, medium, and wide fits
- Has good ventilation without being limited by Gore-Tex liner
Price tag is a little steep when compared to hiking boots of the same quality
3. Merrell Moab 3 Mid Waterproof Hiking Boot
The Merrell Moab 3 Mid Waterproof is a lightweight waterproof hiking boot that focuses on versatility. As a hiking boot made to perform well for both beginner and advanced hikers, the Moab 3 has good support, comfort, and protection.
Surprisingly, the pigskin leather is tough, and even though the mesh linings are made with 100% recycled materials, they’re not prone to tearing. The in-house waterproof version is just as effective as a Gore-Tex, and the outsole is responsive enough even on rough terrain.
We believe Merrell Moab 3 are some of the most comfortable hiking boots, as it emphasizes comfort over style, as proven by the contouring Kinetic Fit Advanced insoles and Merrell Air Cushions.
Based on our experiences, these boots excel on well-maintained and moderately intensive trails. Unfortunately, even though the Moab 3 is sufficiently padded, technical trails do appear to exceed its cushioning, making these boots awkward to wear on longer hikes.
- Leather and mesh uppers pair well with the waterproof layers for ventilation
- Budget-friendly and has utility at beginner and casual skill levels
- Wide toe box is sturdy and well-built, while also sporting decent underfoot protection
- Lack of break-in period gives these boots straight-out-the-box comfort
Support isn’t strong enough to manage long hikes or heavier backpacking loads
4. Keen Targhee III Mid Waterproof Hiking Boot
The KEEN Targhee III Mid Waterproof hiking boots, similar to the Moab 3, are great lightweight waterproof hiking boots for beginners and intermediate hikers. However, they’re an even better option due to how well they perform on most day hikes.
The Keen Targhee III has an oiled nubuck leather upper, making it more durable compared to some other footgear, and is even stitched with a proprietary KEEN.Dry waterproof layer.
With its decreased heel elevation to mimic a trail running shoe, dual-density EVA midsole, and ESS shanks, the Targhee III is a solid performer due to its increased stability and athletic feel.
After conducting some experiments, my team and I enjoyed that the seam-heavy design made the boots more flexible around our feet.
The toe box also gives enough breathing room to the toes and forefoot without leaving too much volume, making them some of the best hiking boots for wide feet.
While we wanted to like the 4mm omnidirectional outsoles, they didn’t have the consistency we usually see from some other boots off-trail. However, the Targhee III still gives great value for the skill level it’s meant to perform.
- Leather uppers and performance mesh maintain durability without sacrificing flexibility
- Combines the protectiveness of a classic hiking boot and the snappiness of a trail shoe
- KEEN.Dry membrane promotes adequate air flow while sealing out all moisture
- Ideal for day hikes and short-mid length backpacking trips
Rubber outsoles aren’t as reliable on certain terrain despite the lug depth and tread design
5. Columbia Newton Ridge Plus II Waterproof
The Columbia Newton Ridge Plus II Waterproof hiking boots are a stylish option for someone that’s into ultralight outdoor activities, such as camping and on-trail hiking.
The uppers are made with waterproof PU-coated leather and suede that incorporates metal hooks into the lacing setup.
These boots feature a unique Omni-Grip non-marking outsole, which has above-average responsiveness in light hiking conditions. Finally, the Techlite midsole and nylon shank provide comfort and stability for longer outdoor adventures.
My experience with these boots has been pretty decent. The Columbia Newton Ridge Plus II are great lightweight hiking boots that perform well for low-impact activities when not exposed to harsh elements.
While they can be used on casual hikes, seeing as how they have the traction and comfort for it, I wouldn’t recommend taking these on a serious trail.
In fact, I would recommend these more so for colder conditions, since the Omni-Heat reflective lining and fleece insulate the foot.
This means that in hotter conditions your boots would uncomfortably absorb heat instead of releasing it.
- Good quality footwear for hobbyists seeking an entry point into hiking
- Techlight midsole is very comfortable and firm enough to cradle the arches
- Comes in a wide option, but has good roominess along the sides and forefoot
- Has the stylishness & color options of a sneaker, but the agility of an athletic shoe
- Not bulky enough to handle some advanced or even moderate hiking trails
- Omni-Heat lining and fleece makes this a poor choice in spring and summer climates
6. Vasque Breeze LT Low GTX Waterproof Breathable Hiking Shoe
The Vasque Breeze LT Low GTX hiking shoes are a reliable option on the trail for comfort and performance. The uppers are designed with a microfiber mesh, which is scratch-resistant, flexible, and well-ventilated.
The ventilation allows for the Gore-Tex layer to be worn without trapping too much heat, making this a good hiking shoe for various climates.
The Vibram Megagrip outsole not only has excellent all-around traction, but its weight savings allows the Vasque Breeze to maintain a weight of 1 lb. 6 oz.
What I really enjoyed about these shoes is that the dual-density compression-molded EVA midsole is very cushy.
Even though they’re not boots, I can wear these for hours and experience no drop-off from the TPU heel counter or high-rebounding footbed.
However, as a low-cut hiking shoe, there is much ankle support and ankle protection to be desired, even though the collar has soft padding.
- Can be worn for hours in warmer weather without heating up, allowing for longer hikes
- Footbed is very soft and has superior shock absorption to reduce foot fatigue
- Vibram Megagrip outsole makes these shoes reliable and grippy on varied terrain
These shoes have a narrower fit, requiring individuals with wider feet to size up
7. SCARPA Zodiac Plus
The SCARPA Zodiac Plus is a hiking boot designed for more intense hikes. In fact, with its durable and rugged construction, the SCARPA Zodiac Plus has performance similar to a mountaineering boot.
The suede leather is strong enough to withstand jagged rocks, snagging, and even cold temperatures. Combined with the Gore-Tex layer, these boots are also breathable enough to be used in some warmer climates.
Like previous products on this list, the Vibram Drumlim soles have good traction, but even more so on dry rocks.
During testing, the SCARPA Zodiac Plus probably had some of the highest performance among the boots on this list.
The triple-density EVA midsole has excellent traction and evenly distributes weight across the feet to prevent stress from building up in one area.
I enjoyed taking these boots off-trail due to their midweight feel and rubber rands, which increased their overall utility. The lace-to-toe design and ergonomic padding also allow for a precise fit.
- Has a heavy-duty build designed to travel through snow and mountainous trails
- Solid protection with comfort and support features for high-mileage hikes
- Has a very short break-in period despite its firm and somewhat stiff build
One of the most expensive hiking boots on this list
8. Merrell Ontario Mid Waterproof Hiking Boots
The Merrell Ontario Mid waterproof hiking boots are full-grain leather footwear perfect for everyday outings. The insoles are made with a removable Kinetic Fit BASE, which are adaptable to match the shape and natural movements of the feet.
Full-grain leather is the most premium form of leather that a boot can be made with, so in addition to being sturdy and highly resistant to damage, they’re also made to have a lifespan of several years even with consistent use.
The Merrell Ontario Mid is a responsive boot, and its lightweight design makes it easy to get around in.
Whether you’re climbing over rocks, moving through stream crossings, or just walking on lowlands, Ontario is very protective and efficient.
As my team and I have experience with most other Merrell products, these boots are a good choice for beginner hikers. However, despite their tough build, the comfort doesn’t extend to advanced trails.
- Full-grain leather makes the Ontario a durable boot with utility up to several years
- Vibram sole has a 3mm lug depth and aggressive tread that grips in wet and dry environments
- M-Select Dry membrane allows cool airflow without sacrificing water-resistance
Limited to moderate outdoor hikes since the comfort caps in certain conditions
9. Oboz Bridger Mid B-Dry Hiking Boot
The Oboz Bridger Mid B-Dry hiking boots are thick and heavier footwear with a specialty for rocky trails.
Due to their bulky design, the Bridger Mid B-Dry boots are made with a lot of cushioning, which gives them that weighty sensation.
The nubuck leather uppers and outsole are also long lasting, making them perfect for trails where your feet would need more protection. The Oboz Bridger can stand up to snowy, wet, and muddy conditions without losing any consistency in its overall performance.
My team and I have had the opportunity to try these boots out on all sorts of hiking trails, and we can say that they’re more ideal for experienced hikers.
The Oboz’s heavy design makes it overkill for mild hikes, and you won’t get much utility from it unless your feet are constantly threatened by the elements. Aside from that, these are some of the best waterproof boots on the market.
- Carbon rubber sole has a deep bite, adequately spaced lugs, and sure footing on tricky surfaces
- The cupped heel of the O-FIT insole has excellent cushioning and arch support
- Molded heel counters stabilize the ankle while sporting sturdy rubber toe caps
- Stiff uppers increase the break-in time
- Thick design is unnecessary for casual and light hiking trips
10. Timberland White Ledge Mid Waterproof Hiking Boot
The Timberland White Ledge Mid Waterproof hiking boot is constructed with full-grain leather made to withstand demanding conditions. These leather hiking boots display their maximum utility in construction, camp, and general trade settings.
This boot is an inexpensive option, despite being made with some premium materials, and even has some versatility in light hiking environments.
Upon trying out the Timberland White Ledge Mid, this boot is definitely ideal for camping, which is how I spent most of my time trying them out.
They’re made with an in-house outsole that manages to be just as useful as some more popular brands on the market. As far as casual wear goes, these boots are good for everyday use, excluding consistent trail use.
The reason for this is that the Timberland White isn’t made with a waterproof layer sewn into the boot. Instead, the moisture protection falls solely on the waterproof leather, which absorbs water after prolonged exposure.
- The most inexpensive option on this list for a boot that can be worn in all casual settings
- Premium full-grain leather uppers give this boot a long lifespan and protective benefits
- Lack of waterproof liner makes these boots one of the most breathable options
- Waterproof leather can be overwhelmed by constant exposure to rain and streams
- Not suited for anything beyond mild outdoor tasks
Waterproof Hiking Shoe Alternatives
Some waterproof hiking shoe alternatives would be something like the Chaco Z/Cloud sandals or the Salomon Tech Amphib 4 water shoes.
Hiking sandals are ideal for warm environments. They’re meant to perform well in sand, stream crossings, and beach settings due to their ventilation and rapid shedding of moisture.
Alternatively, water shoes are almost exclusively made for traveling through water and releasing it immediately, usually through mesh uppers.
The Chaco Z/Cloud hiking sandals are some of the best lightweight footgear made for camping, watersports, and simple hiking.
These top hiking sandals are very comfortable and have many features that favor support, such as the LUVSEAT PU midsole and high arches. Their ChacoGrip outsole is really adhesive, and I enjoy wearing them almost anywhere in casual settings.
- Soft cushioning and supportive underfoot allow for longer wear time
- Practical for most casual outdoor activities and some hiking trips
May have an awkward adjustment period for people without high arches
The Salomon Tech Amphib 4 water shoes are another lightweight footgear, but specifically made for amphibious activities.
Based on our testing procedures, the Tech Amphib 4 are the best water shoes for hiking that can handle being flooded with water because it’s immediately expelled from all around the shoe by the synthetic mesh uppers.
I really like that the collapsible heel turns this shoe into something resembling a slider for easy foot insertion and removal.
- Collapsible heel quickly changes this footwear from a shoe to a slipper-like design
- Water quickly drains from both sides of the feet and along the forefoot mesh
Some users have reported that the synthetic mesh uppers are prone to premature tearing
Waterproof Hiking Boots Buyer’s Guide
When considering the best waterproof hiking boots, my team and I measured the utility of each product based on six factors: waterproofing, outsole, cushioning, weight, material, and traction.
The ten products on this list were chosen over others based on how well they performed in these categories.
1. Waterproofing Mechanism
Waterproofing technologies include materials such as Gore-Tex, M-Select, KEEN.Dry, or other proprietary membranes.
These liners filter out moisture to keep the feet dry, but also filter in air to cool the feet.
Ideally, you want to find a boot that balances out water resistance and breathability to ensure the comfort of your feet.
Outsoles are usually made of rubber and manufactured by popular brands such as Vibram. A high-quality outsole will be durable, have an aggressive tread, and omnidirectional grip.
These combined factors give the outsole the ability to bite into loose dirt, snow, and mud without causing you to slip or fall.
Most hiking and backpacking boots are made with heel pads and PU or EVA midsoles to provide shock absorption and support to the underfoot.
These materials evenly distribute the pressure around the feet to ease your pressure points, allowing you to hike for longer periods without discomfort.
The cushioning also makes it possible to increase your backpacking load.
Hiking boots can be lightweight, midweight, or heavyweight. The balance between comfort & flexibility versus protection & support changes the heavier a boot becomes.
Usually, a midweight boot manages to blend elements from both, giving it the most utility and versatility. However, it all comes down to intended use and preference. Your footwear should be at the minimum weight required for your intended traveling.
Premium quality hiking boots can be made with leather or synthetic materials.
Full-grain leather, which is one of the most durable types of uppers, is heavier but has top notch protection against hazards to the feet.
Materials like nylon and polyester are meant to be flexible and softer, trading protection for comfort.
In this case, you should buy hiking boots based on how much insulation from the trail you need.
An outsole with good traction will have an aggressive lug pattern and a deep depth for muddy and wet trails, or shallow lugs for rocky trails.
The traction of a hiking boot determines how much stability and surefootedness you’ll have on certain surfaces.
Pros & Cons of Using Waterproof Hiking Boots
- Keeps the feet dry and warm even in cold and wet conditions
- Waterproof liner provides another layer of protection to the feet
- Good to have when unforeseen weather conditions occur
- Insulation can cause the boot to run hot in warmer weather
- Additional waterproof protection can increase the price of a hiking boot
- Waterproof layers can increase the weight of hiking footwear
What’s the Difference Between Water-Resistant, Water-Repellent, and Waterproof Boots?
Water-resistant boots are designed with a water-repellent coating to shed moisture before it reaches the inside of the boot. Hiking footwear made this way can usually only withstand light rain conditions, they’re not made to repel consistent or heavy flows of water.
Water-repellent hiking boots, while similar to water-resistant boots, are made with a coating designed to shed water. However, the coating on a water-repellent boot is more durable and longer lasting.
As such, it provides a higher degree of protection and can withstand moderate rain conditions, or even exposure to some creeks.
Waterproof hiking boots provide the most water protection, out of the other two options. In this case, boots are usually made with a Gore-Tex membrane or other in-house design.
These materials completely prevent water from entering inside the boot, and even absorb sweat to be expelled. Waterproof boots can withstand heavy rain conditions, snow, and stream crossings.
Our Nr. #1 Pick
Based on our performance review, we decided that the Salomon Quest 4 Gore-Tex scored as the best waterproof hiking boots.
They effectively balance out their comfort, flexibility, stability, and protection, while finding a middle ground for hikers who don’t want a lightweight or heavyweight boot.
In addition to having top-notch waterproofing, the Contagrip TD outsole makes this boot adhesive on all-terrain. The Quest 4 GTX ends up being a solid boot that gives you a lot of mileage and versatility without needing several pairs of footgear for different environments.
Other hiking boots guides:
Is Gore-Tex the Best Waterproof?
Gore-Tex is probably the best waterproof option. Out of all other waterproof fabrics on the market, Gore-Tex products have shown consistent performance and reliability in wet and cold conditions.
Is Gore-Tex Waterproof Forever?
Gore-Tex is not waterproof forever. However, Gore-Tex layers typically have a minimum lifespan of 5+ years. The lifespan of a Gore-Tex membrane is dependent on the activities you engage in and how often your footwear is used.
Can Waterproof Hiking Boots Be Submerged in Water?
Waterproof hiking boots can be submerged in water. However, keep in mind the flood height of your ankle collar. If water seeps over the collar, the inside of the boot will get wet.
How Can You Tell if Hiking Boots Are Waterproof?
You can tell if hiking boots are waterproof by checking if the label has Gore-Tex/GTX, M-Select Dry, KEEN.Dry, or another notable brand name in the description. Alternatively, the product label can highlight waterproofing as a feature without brand names.
Will My Boots Stay Waterproof Forever?
Your boots will not stay waterproof forever. While most waterproof layers do have a long lifespan, they will eventually lose their ability to seal out moisture.
Last update on 2023-11-29 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API