The momentum in hiking footwear is moving away from bulky boots toward lightweight shoes and even trail runners that are faster and more comfortable. You do lose some ankle support when carrying a heavy pack or traversing rocky trails, but the weight savings and feathery feel are worth it for many. Below are our favorite hiking shoes of 2018, from ultralight options for fast and light trips to more supportive models for carrying a full pack. For more background information, see our comparison table and buying advice below the picks. If you prefer an over-the-ankle style, check out our article on the best hiking boots.
Salomon X Ultra 3 GTX ($150)
Type: Hiking shoe
Weight: 1 lb. 10.8 oz.
Waterproof: Yes (non-GTX available)
What we like: Great mix of lightness, durability, and on-trail performance.
What we don’t: Fit runs a little narrow.
The updated Salomon X Ultra 3 is our top lightweight hiking shoe of 2018, combining a feathery feel with impressive on-trail performance. As with the previous model, which also topped this list, the third edition puts it all together: the shoe is competitively light at 1 pound 10 ounces (for a men’s size 9), the new tread design grips even better in just about all conditions, and the stable chassis and cushioned interior are great for long trail days. All told, we highly recommend the X Ultra for day hikes, quick summits, and even lightweight backpacking.
Salomon drew heavily from their trail running expertise with the X Ultra 3’s design. The single-pull laces are fast to use and provide a secure fit, and the shoe is far more nimble than traditional hikers like the Merrell Moab 2 or Keen Targhee III below. But you don’t sacrifice protection like with a trail runner—Salomon includes a substantial toe cap and enough cushioning underfoot for hauling a pack. The only challenge may be fit—we’ve found the X Ultra 3 does run a little narrow overall—but otherwise we think it’s the best all-around hiking shoe on the market.