Top 5 Best Hiking Boots for Thru-Hiking: Reliable Footwear for Long-Distance Trails

Last updated on February 11th, 2024

Are you ready to embark on an epic thru-hiking adventure? One essential item you can’t overlook is a pair of reliable hiking boots. The right boots can make all the difference in your comfort, safety, and overall enjoyment on the trail.

In this blog post, we will explore the top 5 best hiking boots for thru-hiking, discuss the kind of boots Navy SEALs wear, and address the question of whether you can trail run in hiking boots.

Top 5 Best Hiking Boots for Thru-Hiking

1. Timberland Men’s Anti-Fatigue Hiking Boots:

Timberland Men's Anti-Fatigue Hiking Boots
Timberland Men’s Anti-Fatigue Hiking Boots

The Timberland Men’s Anti-Fatigue Hiking Boots boots are made for men who love hiking and outdoor adventures. They’re designed to keep your feet comfortable and supported, so you can focus on enjoying the great outdoors.

With a sturdy construction and durable materials, these boots are built to last. The waterproof design means you don’t have to worry about soggy socks when you encounter puddles or rain on the trail.

The anti-fatigue technology in the midsole helps reduce foot fatigue, so you can keep exploring all day long without feeling tired. Plus, the rugged outsole provides excellent traction on various terrains, giving you stability and confidence with every step.


Lightweight, durable midsole; Waterproof construction; Adjustable fit; Versatile style


Limited color options

2. Merrell Men’s Moab 3 Mid Waterproof Hiking Boot:

Merrell Men's Moab 3 Mid Waterproof Hiking Boot
Merrell Men’s Moab 3 Mid Waterproof Hiking Boot

Experience the ultimate in waterproof performance and comfort with the Merrell Men’s Moab 3 Mid Waterproof Hiking Boot. These boots are designed to take on any trail, keeping your feet dry and comfortable even in challenging weather conditions.

Featuring a waterproof membrane, these boots seal out water while allowing moisture to escape, ensuring your feet stay dry and comfortable throughout your hike.

The pigskin leather and mesh upper provide a perfect combination of durability and breathability. They are equipped with 100% recycled laces and webbing, making them environmentally friendly as well.

The Merrell Men’s Moab 3 Mid Waterproof Hiking Boot offers excellent protection and support. With a bellows tongue to keep out debris and a protective toe cap, your feet are safeguarded against any obstacles you may encounter on the trail. The molded nylon arch shank and Merrell Air Cushion in the heel provide stability and shock absorption, minimizing the impact on your joints.

These boots feature a lightweight EVA foam midsole that not only offers stability but also enhances overall comfort. The Vibram TC5+ rubber sole provides exceptional traction, ensuring a firm grip on both muddy and rocky surfaces. Plus, the non-marking rubber outsole leaves no trace or imprints when walking indoors.

The Merrell Men’s Moab 3 Mid Waterproof Hiking Boot combines functionality with style. Its low-profile upper, padded tongue, and collar provide comfort and mobility, while the iconic KEEN Original Fit gives generous space for your toes to spread out. Whether you’re hiking in wet or dry conditions, these boots will keep you going strong from start to finish.


Waterproof, Comfortable, Excellent support


Slightly heavy

3. FREE SOLDIER Men’s Waterproof Hiking Boots:

FREE SOLDIER Men’s Tactical Boots
FREE SOLDIER Men’s Tactical Boots

Take on any tactical or outdoor challenge with the FREE SOLDIER Men’s Waterproof Hiking Boots. These boots are designed to provide maximum protection, durability, and comfort, making them an ideal choice for demanding hikes and rugged terrains.

The upper of these boots is made of plaid fabric, which offers excellent durability and resistance against punctures. The body part is constructed with TPU material, known for its wear-resistant properties. This combination ensures that your feet are protected from various elements and obstacles encountered on the trail.

With an EVA midsole, these boots are lightweight and flexible, providing exceptional cushioning for both work and hiking purposes. The all-terrain outsole features a geometrical pattern design, offering great grip and traction on diverse surfaces. No matter the terrain, you can rely on these non-slip boots to keep you stable and secure.

Waterproofing is a top priority for outdoor enthusiasts, and the FREE SOLDIER Men’s Waterproof Hiking Boots deliver.

The outer surface is coated with a waterproof layer that effectively repels water, keeping your feet dry and comfortable even in wet conditions. The waterproof lycra cloth lining further enhances breathability and moisture-wicking properties, ensuring a comfortable hiking experience.

These boots are not only functional but also fashionable. With a tactical design that blends urban casual fashion, they can easily transition from outdoor activities to daily wear. The removable insole and breathable lining help release sweat and promote quick drying, ensuring that your feet stay fresh and odor-free.

The FREE SOLDIER Men’s Waterproof Hiking Boots are versatile and built to withstand the challenges of any season. Whether you’re hiking, working, or engaging in tactical activities, these boots offer the durability, comfort, and protection required to conquer any terrain.


Protective, Lightweight, Fashionable design


Limited size options

4. Foxelli Men’s Hiking Boots:

Foxelli Men’s Hiking Boots
Foxelli Men’s Hiking Boots

Prepare yourself for the ultimate outdoor adventure with the Foxelli Men’s Hiking Boots. These boots are specifically designed to provide both waterproof and breathable performance, ensuring your feet stay dry and comfortable in any weather conditions.

The combination of suede leather and breathable mesh in the construction of these boots makes them perfect for outdoor outings. The KingTex waterproof membrane seals out moisture, keeping your feet nice and dry even in the harshest weather. The breathable mesh collar and gusseted tongue allow for better air circulation, preventing your feet from overheating during long hikes.

Comfort is a top priority with the Foxelli Men’s Hiking Boots. The well-padded collar and tongue provide superior cushioning around the ankle area, reducing fatigue and preventing discomfort.

The soft foam innersoles are removable and offer relief and protection to your feet at all times. The shock-absorbent midsoles minimize the impact on your joints, allowing you to hike for extended periods without discomfort.

Durability and support are key features of these boots. The high-quality rubber soles are fully slip-proof and offer advanced traction for better stability on challenging terrains.

Rand guards provide extra protection to the areas of the boots that need it the most, ensuring long-lasting wear. Good arch and ankle support enhance posture and balance, reducing the risk of injuries.

The Foxelli Men’s Hiking Boots not only excel in performance but also boast a premium design. With their stylish and trendy look, they are suitable for both outdoor activities and urban leisure. Additionally, two additional pairs of colorful non-slip shoelaces are included, allowing you to customize your boots according to your style.


Waterproof, Breathable, Lightweight


Limited color options

5. KEEN Men’s Targhee 2 Low Height Waterproof Hiking Shoes:


Elevate your hiking experience with the KEEN Men’s Targhee 2 Low-Height Waterproof Hiking Shoes. These shoes combine rugged performance with a sleek and low-profile design, offering the perfect balance of style and functionality.

The waterproof nubuck leather upper, combined with the KEEN.DRY waterproof membrane, ensures that your feet remain dry in wet conditions. The membrane allows vapor to escape while keeping water out, keeping your feet comfortable and protected throughout your hike. The leather is also treated with a PFC-free water repellent, enhancing the waterproofing capabilities of these shoes.

The KEEN Men’s Targhee 2 Hiking Shoes feature an advanced rubber outsole with multi-directional lugs. This design provides excellent traction on various surfaces, allowing you to confidently navigate rocky terrains, muddy trails, and slippery slopes. The torsion stability ESS shank offers additional support and stability, reducing foot fatigue and minimizing the risk of twisted ankles.

Comfort is a priority with these hiking shoes. The dual-density compression-molded EVA midsole provides excellent cushioning and shock absorption, ensuring all-day comfort on the trail. The removable metatomical dual-density EVA footbed offers arch support and cradles the natural contours of your feet, providing a personalized fit.

In addition to their exceptional performance, the KEEN Men’s Targhee 2 Hiking Shoes are designed with style in mind. The low-profile silhouette and classic color options make them suitable for both outdoor adventures and everyday wear. The shoes also feature KEEN’s patented toe protection, which guards against bumps and abrasions, ensuring the longevity of your footwear.


Waterproof, Excellent traction, Comfortable fit


Slightly narrow fit for some individuals

What Kind of Boots Do Navy SEALs Wear?

Navy SEALs are known for their demanding missions in various terrains, including land, sea, and air. The boots they wear must be durable, supportive, and capable of withstanding intense conditions. While there isn’t a specific brand or model that Navy SEALs are required to wear, there are certain features and characteristics that make a boot suitable for their needs.

1. Durability:

Navy SEALs require boots that can withstand the rigors of their missions. These boots are built to last and are often made from high-quality materials such as full-grain leather or synthetic fabrics. Reinforced toe and heel construction provide added durability and protection.

2. Traction:

Navy SEALs operate in diverse environments, from slippery surfaces to rugged terrain. Their boots are designed with advanced traction systems, including specialized rubber outsoles with multi-directional lugs or aggressive tread patterns. This ensures a secure grip and reduces the risk of slips and falls.

3. Ankle Support:

Ankle injuries can be a significant concern during physically demanding operations. Therefore, the boots worn by Navy SEALs offer excellent ankle support. This support comes in the form of higher ankle collars, sturdy lacing systems, and sometimes additional ankle reinforcement. It helps prevent sprains and provides stability during dynamic movements.

4. Waterproofing:

Navy SEALs often encounter wet conditions, whether it’s during maritime operations or trekking through wetlands. Waterproofing features such as sealed seams and specialized membranes are essential to keep their feet dry and protected from moisture.

5. Comfort:

Comfort is crucial for Navy SEALs, who spend long hours on their feet during missions. Cushioned midsoles, ergonomic insoles, and padded collars and tongues are some of the features that enhance comfort. These boots are designed to minimize fatigue and provide support for extended periods of wear.

It’s important to note that Navy SEALs have their individual preferences and requirements when it comes to boots. While there are certain characteristics that align with their needs, personal comfort and fit also play a significant role in their selection process.

Can You Trail Run in Hiking Boots?

Trail running is a popular outdoor activity that combines the thrill of running with the challenges of off-road terrain. While hiking boots are primarily designed for hiking and backpacking, some people wonder if they can be used for trail running as well. Let’s explore whether trail running in hiking boots is a viable option.

Hiking boots are typically heavier and offer more ankle support compared to trail running shoes. They prioritize stability and durability to handle rugged trails and heavy loads. However, these features may not be ideal for the specific demands of trail running.

1. Weight:

Hiking boots tend to be heavier due to their sturdy construction and added support features. This extra weight can hinder your speed and agility while trail running, as lighter footwear allows for quicker and more efficient strides.

2. Flexibility:

Trail running requires footwear that offers flexibility and a natural range of motion. Hiking boots, with their stiff construction and rigid soles, may restrict movement and limit the foot’s ability to flex and adapt to the terrain. This can affect your running efficiency and increase the risk of discomfort or injury.

3. Cushioning and Responsiveness:

Trail running shoes are designed with ample cushioning and responsive midsoles to provide shock absorption and energy return. These features help reduce the impact on joints and provide a more comfortable and efficient running experience. Hiking boots, on the other hand, may have thicker and less responsive midsoles, which can affect your running performance and comfort.

4. Traction:

Both hiking boots and trail running shoes are designed to provide good traction on various surfaces. However, trail running shoes often have specialized outsoles with aggressive lug patterns that are optimized for running on uneven and slippery terrain.

Hiking boots may have less aggressive traction, which can affect your grip and stability while running on challenging trails.

While some individuals may find hiking boots suitable for light trail running or hiking on less technical terrain, it’s generally recommended to invest in a pair of dedicated trail running shoes if you’re serious about this activity.

Trail running shoes are specifically designed to meet the unique demands of trail running, offering lightweight construction, flexibility, cushioning, and optimal traction.

In conclusion, while hiking boots are excellent for hiking and backpacking, they may not be the best choice for trail running. To fully enjoy the experience and reduce the risk of discomfort or injury, it’s recommended to invest in a pair of trail running shoes that are specifically designed for the demands of this activity.

Read more about our article: Best hiking boots for trekking


In conclusion, finding the best hiking boots for thru-hiking is essential for a successful and comfortable outdoor adventure. We’ve explored the top 5 hiking boots that are highly recommended for thru-hiking enthusiasts. Whether you’re a seasoned hiker or a beginner, these boots offer the necessary features and durability to tackle long-distance trails with confidence.

From the Columbia Women’s Newton Ridge Plus Hiking Boots, with their advanced technology and all-terrain traction, to the Merrell Men’s Moab 3 Mid Waterproof Hiking Boot, known for its waterproof membrane and excellent support, each boot brings unique advantages to the table.

The FREE SOLDIER Men’s Waterproof Hiking Boots provide protective and durable features suitable for tactical use, while the Foxelli Men’s Hiking Boots combine durability, comfort, and a stylish design. Lastly, the KEEN Men’s Targhee 2 Low Height Waterproof Hiking Shoes impress with their waterproofing, traction, and exceptional support.

When choosing the best hiking boots for thru-hiking, consider your specific needs, such as waterproofing, traction, comfort, and durability. Additionally, it’s essential to ensure a proper fit and break-in period to prevent discomfort and blisters on the trail.

Remember, the right pair of hiking boots can make a significant difference in your thru-hiking experience, offering the necessary protection, support, and comfort to keep you going mile after mile.

So lace up your boots, hit the trails, and embark on your next thru-hiking adventure with confidence!

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