The Best Hiking Shoes for Outdoor Adventures

If you’ve been around for awhile, you’ll know that hiking has become one of our family’s favorite activities. There are some fantastic trails in and around Indianapolis, and it’s been fun to be outside with our kids and experience the beauty of all four seasons.

After an extensive internet quest for a pair of hiking shoes for myself, here are six top-rated options for long hikes in all conditions. When looking for a pair of hiking shoes, there are a lot of options, features, and opinions about what is considered the best. Here are a few features to consider to narrow in on the right pair for your needs:

  • Boots vs. Sneakers / The height of a boot can be great for trails with elevation change, to help keep out gravel, and for ankle support (but they can cause blisters around the ankle). If those aren’t concerns, sneakers are becoming more popular and are better for trail runs.
  • Waterproofing / In the Midwest, we are often hiking in mud, standing water, creeks, and snow. So for me, waterproof-ing is a must. If you are heading to a place like Arizona though, this might not be an issue at all and you could even try these.
  • Lightweight / If this is a top priority, websites list the weight of the shoes – especially important with boots – so you can compare them easily before ordering.
  • Terrain / Our Indiana terrain is relatively flat, but Vibram soles help to give more traction to hiking shoes so that’s something I like to look for. If you are climbing mountain trails you’ll likely want a boot with more ankle support.

Since our weather changes drastically between the four seasons, I may end up ordering a boot and a sneaker. Regardless, I like that I could also use any of the shoes above for walks to school or soccer matches when the grass soaks through sneakers.

Let’s go through my top waterproof picks, starting from the top:

Merrell Altalight – Here is the pair I ordered, based on a friend’s glowing recommendation. The design of this light pair of sneakers will work well for the low elevation trails we have in Indiana. Since I’ve mostly been wearing sneakers on our hikes already, this is an easy transition with added traction for grip and a waterproof barrier. (Shown below, fit is TTS.)

Vasque Breeze – Unlike many hiking boot designs, I really like the modern neutral look. They look more like a high top sneaker with Vibram soles and a Gore-tex waterproof barrier. Reading the description shows there is a lot of padding and support for comfortable hiking.

Columbia Crestwood – At a great price point, Columbia comes in with a classic hiking boot. The combination of a warm brown and black is one I like, but I would switch out the purple laces for black. Another style, the Newton Ridge, is much loved and after trying this one on, I can say it’s very comfortable and well-cushioned too. These would be great for hikes in cool weather.

Merrell Zion – The sneaker style of this high top hiking boot looks comfortable, and reviewers agree! The color options are great as well – I’m partial to the grey or light brown.

Merrell Ontario 85 – A best-selling 1985 boot style that gets restocked in different color combinations each year. The throwback style goes with anything and often sells out.

New Balance Hierro – Trail running shoes, like these fun ones, can be a great option for tread if you aren’t concerned with ankle support or plan to hike in a warmer climate.

Danner Adrika (honorable mention) – Danner is a classic brand with a great reputation, and these are my runner up for a pair of hiking boots if you’re still looking for options. They are less like a sneaker and more like a legit boot. At the end of the season, most sizes are currently sold out though.


Shop my outfit: Quilted Jacket | Sweatshirt | Leggings & Crop Top | Waterproof Hiking Sneakers

I hope this post helps you decide on the right pair for your needs. If you are shopping for a family, my husband wears these trail running shoes and my kids have these sturdy hiking boots.

If you have a favorite pair or brand, tell me about them in the comments!

Lindsey is an Indiana-based blogger who writes about everyday style and simplicity. She loves pizza, yoga, novels, and a great pair of jeans.


  • Taylor

    Lindsey, I got the Katahdin Hiking Boot Leather Mesh Waterproof Women’s from LL Bean last winter and LOVE them. Between these and my Birkenstock’s, that’s all I need all year. (They aren’t as waterproof as rubber boots would be, of course.)