hiking shoes reviews

Backpackers on the South Kaibab Trail in the Grand Canyon.

The Best Backpacking Gear of 2021

By Michael Lanza

The Maze District of Canyonlands National Park. The Wonderland Trail. The Teton Crest Trail. Yosemite. The Grand Canyon. Glacier National Park. The Ruby Crest Trail. The Pasayten Wilderness. Yellowstone. The Wind River Range. The North Cascades. Idaho’s Sawtooth Mountains. The High Uintas Wilderness. The Tour du Mont Blanc. These are just some of the numerous places where I’ve tested the backpacking gear you see reviewed at The Big Outside. I treat gear roughly in places that are hard on outdoor gear and apparel so that I can give you brutally honest and thorough, field-tested opinions that help you make the best gear choices for your adventures.

And that’s exactly how I came up with these picks for today’s best backpacking gear.

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Hoka One One TenNine Hike Gore-Tex boots.

Review: Hoka One One TenNine Hike Gore-Tex Boots

Hiking and Backpacking Boots
Hoka One One TenNine Hike Gore-Tex
$250, 2 lbs. 2 oz. (US men’s 9)
Sizes: US men’s 7-14, women’s 5-11, standard and wide sizes
backcountry.com

Lacing up the Hoka One One TenNine Hike Gore-Tex boots for the first time felt a little like suiting up for a moon walk—if moon boots feel exceptionally cushy, light, supportive, and surprisingly stable, given their oversized platform. Although I’ll probably never walk on the moon, after wearing these boots on a four-day, 45-mile backpacking trip in Yosemite, I’ll definitely hike many more miles of trails in them.

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Danner Trail 2650 Mesh hiking shoes.

Review: Danner Trail 2650 Hiking Shoes

Hiking Shoes
Danner Trail 2650 Mesh
$150, 1 lb. 7.5 oz. (US men’s 9)
Sizes: men’s S-XL, women’s XS-XL
backcountry.com

Want one pair of hiking shoes that do it all? Join the club. And maybe also check out Danner’s Trail 2650. Having knocked off some trail miles in the mesh version of these very light hikers, from brutal desert heat (which can do terrible things to feet) to a trail strewn with wet, slippery, large rocks (which can demand terrible things of shoes), I’m convinced that many dayhikers and lightweight backpackers would find quite a lot to admire about these shoes.

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A backpacker on the John Muir Trail overlooking the Cathedral Range in Yosemite National Park.

The Best Backpacking Gear for the John Muir Trail

By Michael Lanza So you’re planning to thru-hike the John Muir Trail and making all of the necessary preparations, and now you’re wondering: What’s the best gear for a JMT hike? Having thru-hiked the JMT as well as taken numerous other backpacking trips all over the High Sierra—mostly between late August and late September, which I consider that the best …

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A backpacker on the Teton Crest Trail in Grand Teton National Park.

5 Things to Know Before Buying Backpacking Gear

By Michael Lanza Are you in the market for a new backpack, boots, tent, sleeping bag or other backpacking gear or apparel? How do you find something that’s just right for you? What should you be looking for? How much should you spend? These are questions I’ve heard from many friends and readers over the years as they’ve waded through the …

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