The 8 Best Hiking Boots of 2021

Tread lightly with these eco-friendly boots

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When it comes to choosing a pair of hiking boots, there are endless options for suppliers and styles. But finding a pair of eco-friendly hiking boots narrows the playing field, as many purveyors use concerning chemicals like PFCs to make boots waterproof, unethically sourced leather, or plastics that can take hundreds of years to break down in landfills.

On your hiking boot hunt, aim to purchase products from companies that are improving their supply chain. Look for boots containing recyclable materials, and if leather is in the picture, make sure it’s sourced ethically. There is no perfectly sustainable hiking boot, but we’ve rounded up hiking boots from companies with eco-friendly products and green initiatives.

Ahead, the best hiking boots to get you out on the trails:

The Rundown
These vented, waterproof boots provide ankle support while keeping your feet dry in puddles and snow.
Lighter than the traditional hiking boots, La Sportiva’s vegan Spire shoe is great for backpacking.
These boots are reasonably priced and vegan, and good in the cold.
These vegan, mid-cut hiking boots keep your feet dry with Gore-tex technology, and a closed-mesh construction.
These boots are equipped with toe caps rubber toe caps and outsoles, which are able to grip wet, dry, and frozen surfaces.
Sustainability reigns supreme with these 100 percent vegan boots from Alice + Whittles.
Available in fun, kid-friendly colors, these waterproof boots keep little feet dry and happy.
These boots by Forsake easily transition from hiking to happy hour.

Best Overall: Merrell Moab 2 Mid Waterproof Hiking Boots

Merrell Moab 2

These vented, waterproof boots provide ankle support while keeping your feet dry in puddles and snow. The Moab boot has cushioned soles that absorbs impact on the trail, while the protective toe cap and bellowed tongue design keep pebbles, twigs and sand out. However, this boot’s upper is constructed from leather, so it’s not vegan. They offer both wide and normal widths, a range of colors, and sizes for both women and men (view men’s sizes on Merrell).  

Merrell is a member of the Sustainable Apparel Coalition. The company has integrated a number of sustainability practices into its supply chain, including injection molding to reduce waste, water conservation, and a focus on durability — because longer lasting boots means buying fewer pairs overall. 

Best Hiking Shoe: La Sportiva Spire GTX Hiking Shoes

La Sportiva Spire GTX Hiking Shoes

Lighter than the traditional, bulky, high-top hiking boot, La Sportiva’s vegan Spire shoe is great for backpacking and on- and off-trail hikes. The Gore-tex Surround and Nano Cell technology provide proper ventilation and waterproof protection, meaning you don’t have to worry about long-term wetness if you hike through a bit of water or snow, or heat buildup in high-temperature areas.

The Vibram XS Trek and Impact Brake System provide traction, support, and grip and a strong heel brake. We like this pair for its comfort and durability across numerous terrains.

The sustainability of these shoes is certified by Bluesign, and the company has invested in solar energy. La Sportiva is also a member of the European Outdoor Conservation Association, which funds preservation efforts. 

Best Budget: XPETI Women's Thermator Mid High-Top Waterproof Hiking Outdoor Boot

XPETI Women's Thermator Mid High-Top Waterproof Hiking Outdoor Boot

These boots are reasonably priced and vegan, but they don't have as many sustainability credentials as some of the other boots on this list. However, they’re great for winter treks, as the high-ankle build keeps snow out and warmth in. The Thinsulate thermal insulation is an added bonus, as it helps keep warmth in up to -13 degrees F conditions, and a Hydroshield waterproof lining keeps feet dry through mud and snow.

The toe-cap protection helps with trail grip, and the outsole is able to grab rocks for optimal traction. There are several color options in men's and women's sizes (view men's sizing on Amazon). This hiking boot tends to run smaller than the average shoe, so order a size up than you normally would buy.

Best Waterproof: Salomon Cross Hike Mid GTX Hiking Boots

Salomon Cross Hike Mid GTX Hiking Boots

Inspired by Salomon’s trail-running shoes, these vegan, mid-cut hiking boots keep your feet dry with Gore-tex technology, and a closed-mesh construction brings added breathability. Anti-debris mesh and rubber stone guards add protection on the trail, and the mid-cut design helps support and cushion ankles.

Contagrip rubber outsoles with multidirectional chevron lugs provide extra grip in muddy and slick terrain, and the heel-brake system adds stability for downhill climbs. This boot also has a lacing system that allows for one-pull tightening for easy on and off. If the vibrant red color doesn’t appeal to you, there are too more neutral color options to choose from.

Salomon is a Bluesign partner, uses sustainable cardboard in its packaging, and is working towards designing all of its new products for the circular economy by 2025.

Best for Snow: Merrell Thermo Chill Mid Waterproof Boots

Merrell Thermo Chill Mid Waterproof Boots - Men's

Winter weather ain’t got nothin’ on these Thermo Chill hiking boots from Merrell. Low-bulk insulation keeps you warm yet comfortable, and waterproof uppers allow you to hike without worrying about cold, wet socks. Aside from hikes, these boots perform well during snowshoeing and are equipped with rubber toe caps and outsoles, which are able to grip wet, dry, and frozen surfaces. Women's sizes are also available (view on Merrell).

Full disclosure: these boots do contain leather, but Merrell’s sustainable practices mean the leather comes from a tannery rated gold by the Leather Working Group. The boots also have removable, contoured insoles that offer flexible support, and a bellows tongue to help keep snow and debris out of your boots. 

Best Vegan: Alice + Whittles The Weekend Boot

Alice + Whittles The Weekend Boot

Sustainability reigns supreme with these boots from Alice + Whittles. They’re 100 percent vegan and contain no virgin (new) plastics. We love their versatile design, as they’re made to be worn on the trail and jaunts through town.

A temperature-controlled lining is made with 100 percent synthetic wool, and the water-resistant upper is made from repurposed marine plastic collected by fishermen. The sole is made from natural and sustainable rubber (45 percent of which is recycled), and a high-performance vegan glue binds the upper and sole together. Currently, 90 percent of materials used by the company are sustainable and traceable, with a goal of reaching 100 percent.

Best for Kids: Merrell Kid's Moab FST Mid A/C Waterproof Boot

Merrell Moab FST Mid Waterproof Hiking Boots - Kids'

When it comes to hiking with kids, the two most important factors for hiking boots are comfort and a waterproof construction. (Trust us, you don’t want to have to leave the trail because your child’s hiking boots are soaked.) These lightweight hiking boots from Merrell not only come in fun, kid-friendly colors, but the waterproof build keeps little feet dry and happy.

The boots are also breathable, and grippy rubber outsoles provide traction on uneven terrain. They have great durability in warm and cold climates, good comfort on miles-long adventures, and great grip. Like the adult version of this boot that we recommend, they do contain leather and aren't vegan.

Best Style: Forsake Thatcher

Forsake Thatcher

If posting Instagram photos is one of your trail goals, or if you’re looking for something to easily transition from hiking to happy hour, you might want a boot that looks a little less sporty. Forsake hiking boots fit the ticket and come in stylish high-top and low-top options. All are waterproof and breathable, and numerous styles and colors mean you can choose the perfect pair to match your vibe.

Some styles have vegan options, and as of 2020, the company reached net-zero emissions for the business. Other eco-friendly perks include transportation from factories in Asia by boat rather than air freight to emissions down, and plastic-free packaging and shipping materials.

Final Verdict

Our top pick for both adults and kids is the Merrell Moab book (view on Merrell), although it's not vegan.

If you're looking for a vegan boot, Alice + Whittles (view at Alice + Whittles) also cranks out a top-notch hiking boot that is stylish yet super eco-friendly. We also love La Sportiva’s Spires (view at REI) for their versatility across multiple types of terrain.

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Author Amanda Ogle is a veteran reporter who writes about sustainability and believes it is important that we all strive to be as environmentally friendly as we can. She loves hiking, and strives to educate adventurers on sustainable gear and the importance of knowing what’s on their feet.