Whether you are looking for some heavy duty hiking boots, lightweight hiking shoes, or even lighter weight trail runners, you will find tons of options. You may wonder how you possibly choose the best pair with so many choices out there for hiking footwear. I’m going to make this easy for you and list out the top 3 choices on Amazon for men’s hiking shoes, and then for women’s.
When I think about when hiking boots should be used, I think rough terrain, cold weather maybe, or extreme conditions. Hiking shoes however are more of a hybrid between hiking boots and tennis shoes. They’re shoes that you can wear everyday, but also wear on a hike.
Let’s look at 3 options for men, and 3 options for women when it comes to the best lightweight hiking shoes.
5 of the best lightweight hiking shoes for men and women
Merrell Men’s Moab 2
KEEN Women’s Voyageur
1. Merrell Men’s Moab 2 Vent Hiking Shoe
The men’s Moab 2 is one of the most popular hiking shoes available on Amazon, if not the most popular. This shoe is made by Merrell who specializes in hiking shoes and has perfected their craft. It’s lightweight, rugged, breathable, and aesthetically pleasing. Made of 100% suede, breathable mesh, and with a thick vibram sole you know are getting a very high quality shoe that will last for years to come. They currently have 4.5 out of 5 stars on Amazon with almost 1000 reviews.
It seems that most of the little bit of criticism this shoe gets is related to some of the changes that Merrell made when the Moab 2 came out. Some folks seemed to not like the new laces, the new tongue design, and the new fit in relation to the original Moab. These handful of people could have possible ordered the wrong size for their feet, or possibly not broken the shoes in properly. So be sure to order the wide fit if you have a wider foot or the regular, medium fit if not. You do not want too tight of a fit which can be painful, just like you do not want too much room in the shoe which can also be very uncomfortable.
This version of the Moab 2 is just water resistant, if you want fully waterproof shoe then there is a Moab 2 waterproof hiking shoe as well. The waterproof Moab and the vent Moab are very similar. The waterproof Moab 2 is definitely a bit heavier and may not fall into the lightweight hiking shoe category with the waterproof membrane that it has. It is still much lighter than a hiking boot and a great hiking shoe you may want to consider.
Overall the Moab 2 is a very solid choice for a hiking shoe. There is a reason they are so popular and that reason is because Merrell makes great shoes and has been for years, so you can buy with confidence.
2. Vasque Men’s Mantra 2.0 Hiking Shoe
The majority of reviewers are suggesting to order a half size larger so these may run just a bit small. If you do decide on these for your lightweight hiking shoes, do yourself a favor and order a half size up from what you normally wear.
While the shoes are nubuck leather, the mesh allows for plenty of breathing so you don’t have to worry about your feet getting hot while out hiking. They are very comfortable on your feet and also have the vibram soles like the Merrell which provides great traction even on wet surfaces.
Watch out for the wide fit size, according to many reviewers the wide fit isn’t really that wide. So if you have a wider foot keep that in mind and maybe consider the Moab 2 above. Another great hiking shoe that you really can’t go wrong with, as always the sizing and fit is going to be what you need to watch out for here.
3. Salomon Men’s X Ultra Prime Hiking Shoes
Coming in at just 360 grams, the X Ultra Prime are much lighter weight than both the Merrell and the Vasque. These hiking shoes have an all mesh upper and almost fall more into the trail runner category. They are very versatile and while possibly a little on the stiff side for road running, they would work great for some off-road running. While very comfortable, the soles are not vibram and as thick as the other two options above. Just remember that tradeoffs might need to be made for the lighter weight.
I’m sure you may have guessed that with the mesh upper these shoes are neither waterproof or water repellent. They are however very breathable and ultra light on your feet, again that’s just the trade off you make.
Regarding size, some owners of the X Ultra Prime say that if you wear a size 9 then buy a size. It seems though that yet again the majority are suggesting to go ahead and buy a half size up from what you normally wear.
If I were in the market for the lightest hiking shoe I could find then I might consider the Salomon, but as I mentioned it’s really a trail runner labeled as a hiking shoe. If you want a good trail runner then you should check out this list I compiled of some of the best trail runners on Amazon. Otherwise if you just want the all around best lightweight hiking shoes, I would strongly consider the Vasque or the Merrell.
1. Merrell Women’s Moab 2 Vent Hiking Shoe
Not only is the Moab 2 by Merrell an extremely popular hiking shoe for men, but also for women. You get the same style and features as you do for the men’s version just in women’s sizes. If you are interested in the waterproof version, here is a link to the women’s Moab 2 waterproof hiking shoe. Like the mens, these may run on the small side as well.
2. KEEN Women’s Voyageur Hiking Shoe
The Voyageur from KEEN is a very popular option, there is also a men’s Voyageur, made of 100% leather. They are not waterproof but are water resistant, even though the product descriptions states “waterproof leather”. If you are looking for a true waterproof proof option made by Keen check out the Targhee below.
It seems to be a common trend, but you should buy these a half size bigger as well. I’m not sure if it’s just a hiking shoe thing or coincidence. My Timberland boots are the same size as my Nike running shoes and my Adidas and all 3 fit great. To err on the side of caution, go ahead and assume they run a bit small.
At 4.5 out of 5 stars and over 1100 reviews, the feedback is pretty positive. Some negative reviews complain of the quality of the shoes not being quite what they used to. There were just a few of these reports and maybe KEEN has this sorted out by now.
Overall KEEN is a very good brand and they make high quality shoes. I love the look and style of not to mention the features and functionality are just what any hiker would want. They seem to be just a little bit more popular for women, which is why I am listing 2 different Keens as my top picks.
3. KEEN Women’s Targhee II Hiking Shoe
Here is a second solid choice from KEEN, and this one is waterproof. The leather itself is waterproof and there is also a waterproof membrane for additional protection against moisture. The Targhee also offers specially engineered heel support that helps soften impact. As you can see from the picture, and the picture of the previous KEEN, there is additional toe protection. This extra toe protection is patented and used only by KEEN.
Same sizing as the others, order a half size up. Having said that, some are reporting sizing issues that are more complicated than just ordering a half size up. For instance, you might order a size 8 and it be too small then when you return them and order the 8.5. Then the 8.5 is too big and requires thick socks for a snug fit. Obviously everyone has unique feet. Your experience may be totally different and the first pair you order fits great. Regardless, I thought I’d mention it.
Others said they can get a little hot on your feet in the summer time, but you have the added protection of the waterproof layer and that is going to take away some of the breathability.
KEEN makes great lightweight hiking shoes and these are no exception. Even with the waterproof membrane these are still about an ounce lighter than the Voyageur. A great choice from KEEN and very popular on Amazon.
A few things to consider when choosing a hiking shoe
Is the weight of your hiking shoe important to you? If it is you need to keep this in mind when choosing your shoe. Many factors can increase the weight. An extra thick sole with deep tread or a waterproof membrane can bring the weight up a bit. A few ounces will hardly be noticeable considering how much weight your feet are used to carrying. You should keep the weight in mind, but don’t let it be the deciding factor for your purchase.
If this is important to you then look out for the difference between water resistant and waterproof. Water resistant is just that, resistant. The water resistant only shoes don’t fully protect your feet from moisture. Truly waterproof provides much more protection from moisture. It will also usually have an extra membrane in between the outer layer of the shoe and your foot.
It’s very likely that the shoe you choose will not run the same as the shoes you are currently wearing. Going by this list alone, almost all of the shoes seem to run small and reviewers recommend you to purchase a half size up from what you would usually buy. Additionally lookout for the W or the M on your size. W stands for wide so this is for you have a wider foot, otherwise go with the M.
4. Your intended use
If you plan on doing some pretty serious hiking and getting into some rough terrain, make sure you choose accordingly. Your shoe should have a nice thick sole and deep tread with good traction. This is where the ultralight trail runner type hiking shoe like the Salomon above may not be the best choice. If hiking is more of an afterthought then going for a lighter weight shoe like this could work for you just fine.
Use the above factors to help make the decision that’s going to be right for you. I’ve given you some very solid hiking shoes that have great reviews on Amazon, so buy with confidence. Remember that thousands of others have bought these hiking shoes before you and are satisfied with them. Worst case is you have to return them and are out a little bit of time. You will have learned something about what you do not like in lightweight hiking shoes. Good luck!