Think of your climbing sneakers as an funding in your future happiness. Choosing the proper pair can imply the distinction between success and failure on a thru-hike. And, extra usually, between a contented hike and a blistery sufferfest. On this put up, we’ll share our picks for the perfect climbing sneakers for thru-hiking and backpacking, in addition to recommendations on how to decide on your footwear.

READ NEXT — The Finest Path Runners for Through-Mountaineering

Finest Mountaineering Footwear for Through-Mountaineering: Fast Navigation

Merrell Moab 3 (Finest Funds Mountaineering Shoe)
Eager Targhee II (Finest Mountaineering Shoe for Extensive Toes)
Oboz Sawtooth (Finest Insole)
Salomon X Extremely 4 Low (Finest for Tough/Technical Terrain)
Hoka Anacapa (Most Comfy Mountaineering Shoe)
Danner Path 2650 (Finest Light-weight Mountaineering Shoe)

Finest Mountaineering Footwear FAQs

What’s the Distinction Between Mountaineering Footwear, Boots, and Path Runners?
Waterproof vs. Non-Waterproof
Mountaineering Footwear Terminology
After-Market Insoles
Blister Prevention

About This 12 months’s Picks

Please observe that this put up covers climbing sneakers — a sort of footwear partway between a path runner and a climbing boot (see beneath for extra info on several types of climbing footwear). In case you desire path runners for thru-hiking, now we have a separate put up about that. In case you desire full boots, each shoe on the checklist beneath additionally has a mid-boot model to supply extra ankle help.

Weights listed beneath are for a pair of medium-sized sneakers (sizes 8 or 9). For consistency’s sake, we featured the non-waterproof model of each climbing shoe within the checklist beneath (apart from the Eager Targhee). Waterproof variations are additionally linked within the descriptions.

The Finest Mountaineering Footwear for Through-Mountaineering

Merrell Moab 3 (Girls’s | Males’s) (Finest Funds Mountaineering Shoe)

best hiking shoes for thru-hiking

Finest climbing sneakers for thru-hiking: Merrell Moab.

MSRP: $120
26 oz ladies’s | 33 oz males’s
Higher Supplies:
Pigskin leather-based and mesh
Waterproof model: Girls’s | Males’s

Execs: Vibram soles; made with recycled supplies; reasonably priced
Heavy; not probably the most sturdy climbing sneakers


The Merrell Moab 3 was launched in spring of 2022. The most recent replace options partially recycled supplies (the mesh lining, laces, and webbing are all one hundred pc recycled. The Moab 3 has additionally been upgraded to a gripper model of its basic Vibram outsole and a extra cushioned midsole.

In our expertise, Moabs have a tendency to wear down after 600 or 700 miles, making them scarcely extra enduring than a path runner (although we’ve heard studies of them going a lot additional). Superior sturdiness is likely one of the major benefits climbing sneakers and boots have over ever-popular path runners, so this can be a bit disappointing.

In equity, the lowered sturdiness might have one thing to do with the massive quantity of mesh within the shoe’s higher — and the abundance of mesh is a professional in our books because it improves breathability.

And even with a probably shorter lifespan, the Moab remains to be very reasonably priced. The $120 checklist worth is dramatically decrease than each different climbing shoe on this checklist, in addition to all of our favourite path runners for thru-hiking).

Lastly, it’s value noting that this shoe was the preferred climbing shoe amongst AT thru-hikers final yr in our 2022 annual survey (excluding path runners).

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Eager Targhee (Girls’s | Males’s) (Finest for Extensive Toes)

Finest climbing sneakers for thru-hiking: Eager Targhee.

MSRP: $145
26 oz ladies’s | 32 oz males’s
Higher Supplies:
Nubuck leather-based
Non-waterproof model (discontinued): Girls’s | Males’s

Execs: Nubuck leather-based uppers; accommodates recycled supplies; sturdy and supportive
Cons: Comparatively costly; heavy; not very breathable; heel lining tends to wear down rapidly


Eager’s footwear runs large from the heel all through the toebox, and the Targhee isn’t any exception. This sturdy, supportive shoe contains a dual-density EVA foam midsole for max consolation and stability.

The Targhee’s higher is made with premium nubuck leather-based; it’s not the one shoe on this checklist to make use of that materials, however it’s the one one which achieves that basic leathery look akin to a standard climbing boot. Eager makes use of leather-based from a tannery rated by the Leather-based Working Group, a nonprofit that developed requirements for extra sustainable leather-based manufacturing. The darkish facet of a largely leather-based higher is that they aren’t probably the most breathable climbing sneakers on the planet.

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Oboz Sawtooth X Low (Girls’s | Males’s) (Finest Insole)

best hiking shoes for thru-hiking

Finest climbing sneakers for thru-hiking: Obox Sawtooth.

MSRP: $135
Weight: 27 oz ladies’s | 32 oz males’s
Higher supplies: Oiled nubuck leather-based and Cordura mesh
Waterproof model: Girls’s | Males’s

Execs: High quality insole; recycled supplies in laces and webbing
Cons: Longtime customers say sizing/match have modified lots with the most recent model; heavy


Most sneakers include flimsy, horrible inserts that present no help or safety, therefore many hikers swap them out for a $50 aftermarket improve to maintain their toes pleased. Which is a positive resolution, however it’s refreshing that Oboz really bothered to fabricate an insole that’s snug from the beginning. Not having to interchange the insert will prevent beaucoup bucks, plus it’s one much less factor headed straight for the landfill if you purchase new sneakers. Oboz even sells their O-Match insoles individually so non-Oboz wearers can get in on the enjoyable.

The Sawtooths are on the heavy facet for a climbing shoe, however that additional materials interprets into superior help and stability. They’ve been available on the market for 10 years now — therefore the X within the title — with no signal that they’re going away any time quickly. It’s value noting that some longtime Oboz customers have reported that the latest Sawtooth suits otherwise all through.

Though our annual AT thru-hiker survey is at all times closely skewed towards path runners, this shoe was one of many solely true climbing sneakers to rank in 2022.

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Salomon X Extremely 4 Low (Girls’s | Males’s) (Finest Technical Mountaineering Shoe)

best hiking shoes thru-hiking

Finest climbing sneakers for thru-hiking: Salomon X Extremely 4 Low.

MSRP: $140
Weight: 22 ounces ladies’s| 26 ounces males’s
Higher Supplies:
Waterproof Model:
Girls’s | Males’s

Execs: Light-weight; ADV-C chassis improves stability; woman-specific match
Cons: Quicklace just isn’t for everybody; made with virgin supplies; polarizing type


Whereas the Salomon X Extremely’s boxy NASA aesthetic isn’t our cup of tea, it displays the shoe’s extremely engineered, technical nature. Each side of this shoe was designed deliberately to optimize foot mobility and help. Even higher, the ladies’s model isn’t only a smaller model of the boys’s, it’s a woman-specific design that includes softer supplies in some areas and a much less dense chassis.

The rubber outsole may be very grippy, and the artificial higher supplies are sturdy and resist put on and tear on rugged trails. The shoe additionally options Salomon’s ADV-C chassis, a molded insert embedded within the outsole to enhance stability and suppleness, and Salomon SensiFit to cradle the foot. The advertising and marketing buzzwords are mind-boggling, however they translate to noticeable enhancements in operate.

Furthermore, the Salomon X Extremely is comparatively mild at 22 ounces for a ladies’s medium, saving you vitality with each step.

Like most Salomon sneakers, the X Extremely is a good selection for lazy lacers because of its tension-adjustable Quicklace system. (Quicklace can be an ideal function if you happen to hate making an attempt to tie your sneakers with numb fingers on freezing mornings.) On the flip facet, hikers who wish to use particular lacing methods will dislike that the lace pulls make this not possible.

In case you’re on the lookout for a climbing shoe for informal strolls on groomed trails, this isn’t your shoe. In case you’re heading out on rugged, rocky, uneven terrain, you possibly can’t do higher than the X Extremely 4.

Though our annual AT thru-hiker survey is at all times closely skewed towards path runners, this shoe joined the Moabs and Sawtooths as one of many solely true climbing sneakers to rank in 2022.

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Hoka Anacapa Breeze Low (Girls’s | Males’s) (Most Comfy Mountaineering Shoe)

MSRP: $155
Weight: 20.4 ounces ladies’s | 25 ounces males’s
Higher Supplies: partially-recycled polyester engineered knit
Waterproof Model: Girls’s | Males’s

Execs: Average cushioning; stylin’ colorways; accommodates recycled supplies; Vibram outsoles
Match a bit narrower than typical Hokas, notably within the toebox


Every little thing concerning the Anacapa, from the plush EVA foam midsole to the padded, gusseted tongue (designed to maintain particles out of the shoe), is crafted with consolation in thoughts. The insole is made with 50 p.c recycled soybean oil and is meant to be molded for consolation (although you would possibly nonetheless wish to think about upgrading to a extra strong aftermarket insole).

Many consider plush, maximal cushioning after they consider Hokas. Nevertheless, the Anacapa options balanced, average cushioning that developments nearer to agency. It strikes a wonderful steadiness between consolation and responsiveness.

The Anacapa is newly accessible in a non-waterproof, which is a welcome addition to this product line, which now we have cherished and featured earlier than regardless of the shortage of this lighter weight, extra breathable choice.

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Danner Path 2650 (Girls’s | Males’s) (Finest Light-weight Mountaineering Shoe)

Finest climbing sneakers for thru-hiking: Danner Path 2650.

MSRP: $170
Weight: 18 ounces ladies’s | 24 ounces males’s
Higher Supplies: Suede leather-based/textile
Waterproof Model:
Girls’s | Males’s

Execs:  Grippy Vibram sole; type factors; light-weight
Cons: Costly; not very breathable; slim toebox; made with virgin supplies


Most of us image Cheryl Strayed’s iconic brown leather-based boots with crimson laces from Wild after we consider Danner climbing sneakers. However though Danner’s Path 2650 shoe was named for the PCT, they don’t have a lot in frequent with the boot Strayed famously threw off a cliff in frustration partway by her LASH (though they do have the basic brown/crimson colorway).

Just like the Merrell Moab above, the Path 2650 is a good selection for hikers with slim toes. It’s additionally a remarkably light-weight choice: a pair of girls’s mediums weighs simply 18 ounces (or 24 for males’s), which places this shoe on par with many fashionable path runners weight-wise.

Along with the load financial savings and magnificence factors, we love the Path 2650’s selection of a grippy Vibram outsole. On a much less optimistic observe, the shoe doesn’t provide as a lot ankle help as among the beefier choices on this checklist. With lowered help, one wonders if breathable mesh path runners could be a better selection than these comparatively stuffy leather-based numbers. However wait, Danner has considered that too! The Path 2650 can be newly accessible in a model with mesh uppers (ladies’s | males’s). Can we are saying SoCal desert?

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Finest Mountaineering Footwear for Through-Mountaineering: FAQs

What’s the distinction between climbing sneakers, boots, and path runners?

Path runners are trainers particularly designed for rugged trails slightly than pavement. They seem like sneakers and are the lightest, most breathable, however least sturdy or supportive sort of climbing footwear. Path runners are the preferred footwear selection amongst thru-hikers; now we have a complete put up about the perfect path runners for thru-hiking.

Mountaineering boots are what most individuals image after they consider footwear for the paths. They’ve high-rise ankle help and are stiffer/extra sturdy total. They weigh much more than path runners and don’t breathe as properly, however a pair of trainers will final for much longer and supply higher help in your foot. A boot’s stiffer sole can be a greater instrument for kicking steps in hardened snow

Mountaineering sneakers are a compromise between path runners and boots. Many climbing sneakers are simply low-top variations of fashionable climbing boots, just like the Merrell Moab. Mountaineering sneakers might also use supplies that fall between boots and path runners when it comes to breathability and sturdiness. If you need slightly extra help and sturdiness than path runners provide however with out the crushing weight penalty of trainers, climbing sneakers are value a attempt.

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Waterproof vs. Non-Waterproof

Many retailers push waterproof climbing sneakers fairly exhausting, however we advocate the non-waterproof model usually. The difficulty with waterproof footwear is that it’s simply pretty much as good at trapping moisture inside as maintaining it out. When the within of your shoe inevitably will get moist, whether or not as a consequence of foot sweat or snow/rain discovering its approach in by the highest, it’s going to take for much longer for a water-proof shoe to dry out than a ventilated one. By the identical token, additionally they lure warmth.

We do advocate waterproof footwear for early-season hikes the place you anticipate to come across snow. Not solely will your sneakers preserve you hotter in the event that they’re waterproof, however they will assist to maintain snow from infiltrating, particularly if you happen to put on lengthy pants or gaiters excessive to maintain it from getting within the prime. You may also need high-top boots for four-season hikes for a similar purpose.

For consistency’s sake, we featured the non-waterproof model of each climbing shoe within the checklist above when accessible. Waterproof variations are additionally linked within the descriptions.

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Mountaineering Footwear Terminology

It’s helpful to grasp frequent shoe-related vocab when evaluating sneakers. Listed here are some phrases you’ll come throughout often.

Higher: The “major physique” of the shoe/the versatile materials above the midsole. Often fabricated from sturdy mesh or leather-based.

Insole: A detachable footbed insert positioned contained in the shoe that gives cushioning to your foot. Many hikers improve to aftermarket insoles like Superfeet that provide higher and extra focused help than the manufacturing unit model. Additionally referred to as a sockliner.

Midsole: The rubber bit between the insole and the outsole.

Outsole: The grippy rubber backside of your shoe the place all of the tread is positioned.

Rock plate: A nylon shank discovered within the midsole of some path runners to guard your sole from sharp rocks. Commonest in path runners.

Heel-to-toe drop: The peak differential between the shoe’s heel and toe, usually measured in millimeters. The heel is elevated larger than the toe in most sneakers in order that the toe factors barely down, however some minimalist sneakers have zero drop (no peak distinction between the heel and toe).

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After-Market Insoles

Many hikers swap out the flimsy insoles that come normal with most climbing footwear for a beefier, extra supportive after-market providing. Superfeet, accessible at REI and most different outfitters, are particularly fashionable. In case you go this route, swap out your Superfeet each time you substitute your sneakers to maximise the profit.

Sure, they’re a bit costly, however you received’t be capable of end your thru-hike if you happen to spoil your toes, so that is an space value investing slightly additional. In case you nonetheless battle with foot ache, it is likely to be value visiting a podiatrist and getting customized orthotics which can be molded to your distinctive foot form.

Blister Prevention

Discovering a shoe that matches your foot completely (and discovering the proper dimension of that shoe) might be a very powerful step you possibly can take towards blister prevention. Everybody’s foot is completely different, and there’s no one-size-fits-all method to this downside: you simply should determine it out by trial and error.

In case you’ll be thru-hiking, keep in mind additionally that your shoe dimension might improve over the course of your hike. As a result of you possibly can’t predict whether or not and to what extent your shoe dimension will change, we advocate beginning with a pair of sneakers that matches your toes now slightly than beginning a dimension too huge in anticipation of a change which will or might not occur. The beginning of a thru-hike is difficult sufficient with out including the issue of too-big sneakers.

Different strategies embrace:

  • Cowl potential hotspots with Leukotape as quickly as you’re feeling them.
  • Slather on some Vaseline to scale back friction.
  • Put on a skinny, protecting pair of liner socks underneath your main socks. Go for toe socks for max safety.
  • Use the heel lock lacing technique to maintain your toes from sliding round in your sneakers.

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Extra of the Finest Through-Mountaineering Gear of the 12 months

Why must you belief us?

As a result of we’re so extremely clever, after all! Enticing, too. (To not point out extraordinarily humble).

But when that isn’t sufficient to impress you, there’s additionally the truth that everybody who contributed to this text is an skilled thru-hiker with hundreds of on-trail miles underneath their belt. We’re gear nerds who love placing our gear to the check on trails lengthy and brief, and we’ve examined dozens of sneakers in pursuit of a smoother, extra snug hike.

Furthermore, we survey lots of of Appalachian Path thru-hikers yearly to find out about their behaviors, demographics, and — you guessed it — gear preferences. Meaning our picks for the perfect climbing sneakers for thru-hiking aren’t simply our opinions: they’re based mostly on years of suggestions from the thru-hiking group.

Try AT hikers’ favourite footwear from the 2018, 2019, 2021, and 2022 thru-hiker surveys.



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