Discover the Top 10 Best Thru Hiking Shoes for Your Next Adventure

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best thru hiking shoes

Looking for the best thru-hiking shoes for your next adventure? Look no further!

In this comprehensive guide, we will break down the top options on the market, including the popular Altra Lone Peak, the cushioned HOKA ONE ONE Speedgoat, the durable Merrell Moab, the rock plate option Topo Athletic Terraventure, and the full-featured Brooks Cascadia.

We will also provide reviews and recommendations for the best zero drop, low drop, and rocker bottom shoes of 2024.

Stay tuned to learn everything you need to know before purchasing your next pair of thru-hiking shoes!

Key Takeaways:

  • Comfort and fit are crucial when choosing thru-hiking shoes, considering factors like length, width, and pronation.
  • For a lightweight and natural feel, Altra Lone Peak 7 is the best zero-drop option.
  • HOKA ONE ONE Speedgoat offers durability and cushioning with a rocker bottom design, making it a top pick for thru-hikers.
  • Best Thru-Hiking Shoes

    Regarding the best thru-hiking shoes, hikers and trail runners often search for top-quality options that cater to their specific needs and terrain challenges.

    The Popular Option: Altra Lone Peak

    Altra Lone Peak, known for its popularity among trail runners, offers a unique blend of minimalist design and maximalist comfort for long-distance hikes and thru-hiking adventures.

    With its Zero Drop platform and foot-shaped toe box, Altra Lone Peak promotes a natural stride and toe splay, reducing the risk of injuries often faced by runners on challenging trails. The TrailClaw outsole, featuring multi-directional lugs, provides excellent traction on varied terrains, from rocky paths to muddy slopes. The sandwiched StoneGuard protects your feet from sharp rocks without compromising flexibility, making it ideal for technical routes. Its gaiter trap keeps debris out, enhancing your overall trail experience by keeping distractions at bay.

    The Cushioned Option: HOKA ONE ONE Speedgoat

    HOKA ONE ONE Speedgoat stands out as a cushioned option with a wide toe box, providing hikers and trail runners with exceptional comfort and protection on rugged terrains.

    The cushioning in the HOKA ONE ONE Speedgoat ensures a plush feel underfoot, absorbing impact and reducing fatigue during long hikes. Its wide toe box allows the toes to splay naturally, preventing discomfort and potential blisters. This design feature accommodates various foot shapes, promoting a more relaxed and enjoyable hiking experience. The enhanced comfort from the cushioned midsole and supportive upper enables users to tackle challenging trails with confidence and stability, fostering a deeper connection with nature and the outdoors.

    The Durable Option: Merrell Moab

    Merrell Moab is renowned for being a durable option that offers exceptional support for trail hikers tackling challenging terrains and long-distance journeys.

    Its sturdy construction, featuring a Vibram outsole and protective toe cap, ensures longevity and protection against rough elements on the trails. The Merrell Moab excels in providing stability and cushioning, making it a go-to choice for hikers navigating rocky paths or uneven terrain. From steep inclines to muddy tracks, this shoe delivers reliable grip and traction, enhancing the overall hiking experience. Whether you’re venturing through forest trails, scrambling over rocks, or trekking through desert landscapes, the Merrell Moab is designed to meet the diverse demands of outdoor enthusiasts with comfort and performance.

    The Rock Plate Option: Topo Athletic Terraventure

    Topo Athletic Terraventure is the go-to choice for hikers needing a rock plate option and gaiter compatibility to navigate rocky terrains and challenging trails with ease.

    The inclusion of a rock plate in the shoe’s design offers essential protection from sharp rocks and roots, ensuring a comfortable and injury-free hiking experience. The gaiter compatibility feature allows you to easily attach gaiters for added protection against debris and dirt during your outdoor adventures. These components work in harmony to enhance both the protection and performance of the Topo Athletic Terraventure, making it a versatile choice for tackling diverse trail conditions.

    The Full-Featured Option: Brooks Cascadia

    Brooks Cascadia is the full-featured choice for trail runners and hikers seeking excellent support, foot protection, and performance across varied terrains and distances.

    One of the standout features of Brooks Cascadia is its durable yet lightweight design, making it ideal for long outdoor adventures without weighing the wearer down. The shoe’s rock plate technology offers enhanced protection against sharp rocks and debris, ensuring a comfortable and safe journey. Its grippy outsole with multi-directional lugs provides superior traction on both wet and dry surfaces, giving hikers confidence in any conditions.

    Thru-Hiking Shoe Breakdown

    To make an informed choice, a thorough breakdown of thru-hiking shoes is essential for trail runners and long-distance hikers looking to invest in the best shoe that suits their specific needs.

    What Thru-Hikers Need to Know

    Thru-hikers need to be well-informed about the best thru-hiking shoes available, tailored to the needs of trail runners and hikers embarking on long-distance adventures.

    One crucial factor to consider when selecting thru-hiking shoes is the level of support and protection they offer. Look for shoes with durable outsoles that provide excellent traction on various terrains, ensuring stability and grip during challenging hikes.

    Another essential feature to keep in mind is the shoe’s breathability. Opt for shoes constructed with breathable materials to prevent overheating and moisture build-up, reducing the risk of blisters and discomfort on long treks.

    Lightweight thru-hiking shoes are advantageous for thru-hikers as they minimize fatigue and allow for faster movement along the trail. Ensure the shoes you choose provide adequate cushioning without compromising on weight.

    Three Factors to Consider

    When choosing thru-hiking shoes, three critical factors to consider are trail conditions, cushioning levels, and the level of support provided to ensure a comfortable and effective hiking experience.

    Trail conditions play a vital role in determining the type of shoes needed for a thru-hike. From rugged terrains to muddy paths, the right shoe can significantly impact the ease of your journey.

    Cushioning is crucial for absorbing shock and providing comfort during long hikes, reducing strain on your feet and joints. Having adequate support in your hiking shoes can prevent injuries and offer stability on uneven surfaces. By carefully evaluating these factors, hikers can make informed decisions to optimize their performance and enjoyment while on the trails.

    Finding Comfortable Shoes

    The quest for comfortable hiking shoes involves prioritizing features such as adequate cushioning and a wide toe box to ensure a snug fit and enhanced support for extended hikes and challenging terrains.

    Proper cushioning is crucial in hiking shoes as it helps absorb impact, reducing strain on your joints and feet. A wide toe box allows your toes to splay naturally, preventing blisters and increasing overall stability on uneven surfaces.

    By focusing on cushioning and toe box width, hikers can enjoy a more pleasant trek with reduced discomfort and fatigue. The combination of these two elements creates a harmonious blend of support and flexibility, crucial for a fulfilling hiking experience.

    Best Thru-Hiking Shoes of 2024: Reviews & Recommendations

    In 2024, the best thru-hiking shoes for long-distance backpacking enthusiasts include top picks like Brooks Cascadia and Hoka ONE ONE Speedgoat, known for their exceptional performance and comfort on challenging trails.

    Best Zero Drop: Altra Lone Peak 7

    Altra Lone Peak 7 emerges as the top choice for zero drop design enthusiasts, offering a natural foot position and enhanced ground feel for a more connected hiking experience.

    This innovative feature eliminates the height difference between the heel and the forefoot, promoting proper posture and a more natural stride. With zero drop, hikers can enjoy reduced strain on their joints and muscles, leading to less fatigue and a decreased risk of injuries during long treks. By encouraging a more natural foot position, this design enhances stability and balance on uneven terrain, allowing outdoor enthusiasts to tackle challenging trails with confidence and agility.

    Best Low Drop: Topo Ultraventure 3

    Topo Ultraventure 3 stands out as the optimal choice for low drop enthusiasts, providing a balanced drop height that promotes stability and agility during long-distance hikes and challenging trail runs.

    One of the standout features of the Topo Ultraventure 3 is its exceptional low drop design, carefully crafted to enhance the natural movement of the foot while maintaining a stable platform. This specialized feature not only minimizes strain on the joints but also provides a more efficient energy transfer, crucial for extended treks through varied terrain.

    For hikers and trail runners seeking a shoe that can keep up with their demanding adventures, the Ultraventure 3 offers the ideal blend of responsiveness and support.

    Best Rocker Bottom: Hoka Speedgoat 5

    Hoka Speedgoat 5 is the top choice for those seeking a rocker bottom design, providing enhanced propulsion and efficiency for navigating steep inclines and technical terrains with ease.

    The innovative rocker bottom feature of Hoka Speedgoat 5 revolutionizes the hiking experience by promoting a smooth, rolling motion from heel to toe. This design not only reduces strain on the joints and muscles but also enhances stability on uneven surfaces.

    • One of the key advantages of this design is its ability to absorb impact, offering a cushioned ride even on rugged trails, leading to reduced fatigue and faster recovery.
    • The rocker bottom significantly improves agility and responsiveness, allowing hikers to tackle obstacles with precision and confidence.
    • Its superior traction and grip provide unmatched control, ensuring excellent performance on both ascents and descents.

    Things to Consider Before Buying Thru-Hiking Shoes

    Before purchasing thru-hiking shoes, it is crucial to consider factors such as shoe pronation, ankle and big toe mobility, and strike patterns to ensure optimal comfort and performance on the trails.

    Length and Width

    When selecting thru-hiking shoes, it is essential to pay attention to the length and width of the shoes to ensure a proper fit and avoid discomfort during long hikes on challenging terrains.

    In the world of thru-hiking, where every step counts, the right shoe fit can make all the difference in your journey.

    Shoe length plays a crucial role in preventing issues like blisters and black toenails, common complaints among hikers wearing ill-fitting shoes.

    The width of the shoe impacts stability and support, especially on uneven trails, as a snug fit prevents your foot from sliding around inside the shoe, reducing the risk of injuries.

    Therefore, a thorough consideration of both length and width is vital for a comfortable and successful thru-hiking experience.


    Understanding pronation and its effects on foot alignment is crucial when choosing thru-hiking shoes, as it can significantly impact comfort, support, and overall hiking performance.

    In the context of hiking shoes, pronation refers to the inward rolling motion of the foot during each step. This natural movement can have different effects depending on the individual’s foot alignment. For instance, overpronation, where the foot rolls excessively inward, could lead to instability and discomfort.

    Conversely, underpronation or supination, where the foot rolls outward, may cause issues like poor shock absorption. It’s essential to select hiking shoes that cater to your specific pronation type to ensure proper support and minimize the risk of discomfort or injury.

    Ankle and Big Toe Mobility

    Optimal ankle and big toe mobility are essential considerations when choosing thru-hiking shoes, as these factors play a vital role in maintaining balance, stability, and agility on challenging terrains.

    Strong ankle mobility allows hikers to navigate uneven surfaces with ease, adapting to varying angles and inclines without compromising stability.

    Adequate big toe flexibility ensures proper toe-off during each step, maximizing propulsion and minimizing strain on the rest of the foot.

    Together, these characteristics not only enhance performance but also reduce the risk of injuries such as ankle rolls or foot fatigue.

    Strike Pattern

    Considering the strike pattern of your feet is crucial when choosing thru-hiking shoes, as it determines how your foot makes contact with the ground and affects your overall comfort and performance on the trails.

    Understanding different strike patterns, such as heel strike, midfoot strike, and forefoot strike, is essential for hikers. Each pattern has distinct effects on foot-ground interaction and muscle engagement.

    For instance, a forefoot striker tends to have a more responsive and agile hiking experience due to the natural shock absorption of the foot arch. On the other hand, a heel striker may experience more impact on joints but benefit from stability on descents. Thus, determining your strike pattern can guide you towards the right shoe design and features for optimal performance and comfort during long hikes.

    Frequently Asked Questions

    What are the best thru hiking shoes with 8mm heel-to-toe drop?

    The Salomon X Ultra 3 GTX and the Merrell Moab 2 Mid Waterproof are both great options with an 8mm heel-to-toe drop. They provide a good balance of cushioning and stability for long distance hiking.

    Are there any thru hiking shoes with a waterproof option?

    Yes, the Salomon X Ultra 3 GTX, Merrell Moab 2 Mid Waterproof, and the Altra Lone Peak 4 Mid RSM all have waterproof versions available.

    Which thru hiking shoes have the best traction for different terrains?

    The Salomon X Ultra 3 GTX and the Altra Lone Peak 4 Mid RSM both have excellent traction for rocky and uneven terrains. However, the Merrell Moab 2 Mid Waterproof is best for wet and slippery surfaces.

    What are the lightest thru hiking shoes with good support?

    The Altra Lone Peak 4 Mid RSM and the Brooks Cascadia 14 are both lightweight options that still provide good support for long distance hikes.

    Do any thru hiking shoes have wide width options?

    Yes, the Merrell Moab 2 Mid Waterproof and the Brooks Cascadia 14 both have wide width options available for those with wider feet.

    Are there any thru hiking shoes with a vegan-friendly construction?

    The Altra Lone Peak 4 Mid RSM and the Brooks Cascadia 14 both have options made with vegan materials, making them suitable for vegan hikers.

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