If you're thinking about hitting the Appalachian Trail, you are wise to be researching your gear and supplies first. It's an incredibly demanding hike, both mentally and physically, and this preparation and research that you're doing now can truly mean the difference between life and death. Your boots will be carrying you the whole way, so make sure you're wearing the best hiking boots for the Appalachian trail and nothing less.
Quick Comparison Winners: Best Hiking Boots for the Appalachian Trail
**Below, you'll find our detailed reviews, but you can also click the links above to quickly check the prices of our top hiking boot picks for the Appalachian Trail.
Table of Contents
- Why your hiking boots are of the utmost importance
- Why not just wear comfortable shoes, instead?
- Things to know about the Appalachian Trail
- What makes a boot higher quality than another?
- Zamberlan Men's 1025 Tofane NW GT RR
- Salomon Men's Quest 4D 2 GTX
- Scarpa Men's Zanskar GTX
- Danner Women's Mountain Light Cascade
- Zamberlan Women's 996 Vioz GT
- Asolo Drifter Gv Boots for Women
- Best Appalachian Trail Hiking Boots WINNERS
Why your hiking boots are of the utmost importance
There are certain pieces of gear, even a few of the essentials, where it is not the end of the world if you don't go all out. In some cases, you can get away with "good enough", but when it comes to your boots - good enough truly isn't good enough. Anything less than great just won't cut it.
When you're going to be traversing a variety of landscapes, sometimes you'll be walking on slippery rocks in the rain, other times you'll be walking on top of logs and brush, and you need something on your feet that's going to be able to adapt to your terrain.
Not all hiking boots are created equal, and not all of them are going to be suitable for tackling the Appalachian Trail. You'll want to lean more towards backpacking boots, which are heavier, sturdier, and more rugged than a typical pair of regular hiking shoes.
Why not just wear comfortable shoes, instead?
It's not just about comfort, it's also about support. When you're carrying your pack, that's an extra 20, 30, or more pounds on your back, which changes the dynamic of the way your body carries the weight. It puts extra strain on your feet and legs, but having boots that are designed to help carry that extra weight is going to make things a lot more manageable.
Shoes may feel more comfortable for the first twenty minutes, but ultimately it's not just about comfort - it's about support - and those "comfy" shoes are going to leave your feet cold, sore, and wet before you know it.
There are hikers, as well, that prefer to go with trail shoes over hiking boots. Ultimately, it comes down to a personal preference, but for our intents and purposes today we won't be covering any shoes, just boots.
Things to know about the Appalachian Trail
We're focusing on hiking boots today, but there are some key things to keep in mind about hiking this particular trail, besides footwear. We don't have nearly enough time to get into all of it, but we would be doing you a disservice if we didn't take a minute to cover, at the very least, some of the basics.
- It's a good idea to test your gear out first. Especially your rain gear. Don't let the first time you're putting up your tent, or the first time you're walking any distance in your boots, be when you embark on this trail. You don't want to be in the middle of a storm when you realize your water-proof tent isn't exactly as advertised.
- It's a long trail, but you'll get to the end eventually. Don't try to cover too much distance, too soon. People get burnt out, injured, and jeopardize the rest of their journey by doing this, all the time.
- You're going to change a lot during these few months. If you're going at a solid clip, it will still take months to complete the hike. You're going to change a lot as a person. Mentally, physically, spiritually. You'll learn things about yourself, about nature, about other people.
- It's not going to be easy. If it was, would it even be worth doing? At the end of the day, it all comes down to you and what you've got inside, but don't underestimate how important it is to have quality gear.
Spending an extra $50 or $100 to get great boots, instead of just 'good' ones... are you really going to miss that money, when you're in the middle of your hike and your lower-quality boots start to give out on you? No, of course not.
What makes a boot higher quality than another?
We've gone on and on about the importance of wearing a quality hiking boot when you're tackling the Appalachian Trail, but what makes one boot better than another? Initial comfort is important, but stability is more important. Comfort isn't just how good it feels when you first put it on and walk around, it's how good the boot is going to be supporting you after 100 miles, 1000 miles...
A boot can be comfortable at first, but that doesn't mean it'll hold up long-term, and it also doesn't mean that it's giving you the necessary support for a long hike. Your body will start to give out before you reach the end, and you'll have to dig deep - just make sure your gear doesn't start to give out too soon.
The quality of materials it's made from, coming from a reputable brand that has had decades to perfect their craft, and making sure it's suitable for long distances are all key things to look out for.
We've done a lot of the legwork (no pun intended) to put you on the right path (pun intended) towards choosing a pair of boots that's going to be able to keep up with you.
Tip: It's usually recommended to go a size-up when you're shopping for hiking boots. Each brand fits slightly differently, but two things are universal. First, you'll be wearing thicker socks than usual and second, your feet will be swollen and larger than usual.
Full Review: Best Hiking Boots for the Appalachian Trail
Best Appalachian Trail Hiking Boots WINNERS
Choosing the Winners
With so many excellent boots out there for both men and women, choosing the winner was a difficult task, but when it's all said and done - there were two pairs that rose above their peers:
Top Choice for Men: Zamberlan 1025 Tofane NW GT RR
This is a serious pair of boots for a serious hiker, and you'd better be exactly that if you're planning to tackle the Appalachian Trail. There are people who have been wearing the same pair of Zamberlan boots for 20 years. When you're racking up serious mileage along the AT, you can't expect your boots to last forever, but with this pair - you're definitely getting the quality that you're paying for.
Compared to the other men's boots featured here, this pair by Zamberlan just goes that extra mile, which will help you to do the same.
Top Choice for Women: Danner Mountain Light Cascade
Because you can never go wrong with a classic. These boots offer the quality, craftsmanship, and durability to take you down just about any trail, including the Appalachian. Compared to the other women's hiking boots we featured, these ones edge them out in terms of value, style, and durability. On top of it all, you're getting great value for the price, which makes these a top choice for the best hiking boots for the Appalachian trail.