Best Lightweight Hiking Boots

Best Lightweight Hiking Boots: Top 5 Reviewed 2021

If you love hiking fast and light, the last thing you need is a heavy pair of boots weighing you down. However, finding a lightweight boot that’s can match your ambitions is often a challenging task.

Here at SnowSunSee, we believe that having a spring in your step is an important part of any hiking trip. That’s why we’ve put together this guide, reviewing the best lightweight hiking boots for a variety of situations.

The boots we have included prove that you don’t need to sacrifice quality in order to save weight. Take the time to read our reviews and you’re sure to find a lightweight hiking boot that suits your style.

Ranking The Best Lightweight Hiking Boots

  1. Salomon X Ultra 4 Mid GTX
  2. La Sportiva Nucleo High II GTX
  3. Columbia Newton Ridge Plus II
  4. Salomon X Raise GTX
  5. The North Face Ultra Fastpack IV Mid Futurelight

Best Lightweight Hiking Boots Comparison

Name

Price

Overview

Outstanding support and comfort, it's the best lightweight hiking boot

Super lightweight and comfortable hiking shoe

A day-hiking boot with trail running features, it's extremely fast and light

Supreme support and comfort for weight conscious backpackers

Comfortable and weather-resistant day-hiking boot for a bargain price

Best For

Overall

Shoe

Day-Hiking

Backpacking

Budget

Pros

Light, comfortable, flexible, stable, good traction, waterproof

Light, comfortable, good cushioning, flexible, waterproof

Lightweight, waterproof, reliable traction, good toe protection

Supportive, light for a backpacking boot, durable, comfortable

Relatively lightweight, durable leather upper, comfortable, cheap

Cons

Sole feels a bit thin

Poor traction, not very supportive

Lacks durability, limited stability

Expensive, too narrow for some feet

Not very supportive, lacking breathability

Overall Rating

Material

PU Coated Leather, Textile

Textile, Synthetic

Mesh, TPU

Nubuck Leather

PU Coated Leather, Suede, Mesh

Weight 

(pair)

1lb. 14oz (851g)

1lb. 7.6oz (670g)

1lb. 14oz (850g)

2lbs. 1.6oz (992g)

1lbs. 15.8oz (904g)

Why Do I Need The Best Lightweight Hiking Boots?

Finding a lightweight hiking boot can make all the difference. It will improve your stamina, comfort and overall energy with every step you take.

Quality hiking boots usually come with excellent support and weather-resistance, but are generally heavy. Anyone looking to shed some weight is often left with diminished quality or a boot that’s only suitable for summer weather.

In order to find you a boot that can support your time on the trail without weighing you down, we have reviewed a multitude of options. Every boot listed provides exceptional performance in its category, while still giving you a light and comfortable feel underfoot.

Hint: If you’re hoping to keep costs down, we have also reviewed the best hiking boots under $50.

Best Lightweight Hiking Boots
Lightweight hiking boots can improve your energy

How To Choose The Best Lightweight Hiking Boots

Weight

Since we’re looking for lightweight hiking boots, it’s probably not surprising that weight will be a key consideration.

In general, the lightest hiking boots tend to be designed for hiking basic trails during warm weather. The lightest boots will usually be constructed for thin materials the prioritise breathability, while also offering limited support.

However, it is possible to find hiking boots that can cope with cold and wet climates without weighing you down. They often use quality material and make the most of modern waterproofing technology to provide lightweight protection.

If you’re only interested in hiking during the summer months, then finding a boot that’s light and ventilated shouldn’t be too much of a challenge. In fact, we have another article reviewing the best summer hiking boots that will steer you in the right direction.

Best Lightweight Hiking Boots
Saving weight doesn’t always mean sacrificing support

Type of Hiking Boots

Hiking Shoes

Hiking shoes are minimalist in design, making them the lightest type of hiking boots. Using a style that closely resembles a sneaker, they are great for comfort and speed across well-trodden trails.

If you’re a summer hiker who is serious about saving weight, hiking shoes will meet your needs. However, they lack the stability and support for tough terrain.

Day-Hiking Boots

Day-hiking boots are generally mid to high-cut, sitting around or above your ankle joint. As you might expect from the name, they provide enough support for short hiking trips with light loads.

Most good day-hiking boots are relatively lightweight and flexible, while still remaining supportive. However, they lack the stability of stiffer boots when heading off-trail or carrying a heavy pack.

Backpacking Boots

If you’re serious about support, you should be looking at backpacking boots. Using a high-cut design with stiff midsoles, then can cope with uneven terrain found during multiday hikes.

The added stability backpacking boots offer makes them essential for carrying a heavy pack. However, they are often the heaviest options around and usually take some ‘break-in’ time.

Material

Hiking boot material has a big impact on breathability, weather-resistance, durability and weight. Depending on your goals, you should be aiming for a specific type of material.

Full-Grain Leather

If you’re looking to maximize durability and weather-resistance, full-grain leather will suit your needs. It’s often the most supportive material, making it a common component of backpacking boots.

Keep in mind that the strength and stability of full-grain leather comes at a cost. It’s the most heavy hiking boot material you will find, while also taking the longest time to be ‘broken-in’.

Split-Grain Leather

Split-grain leather is a ‘reduced thickness’ version of its full-grain counterpart. It’s a popular choice due to its lightweight durability and is frequently paired with synthetics.

In general, split-grain leather boots provide a decent level of weather-resistance without weighing you down. Despite offering less durability than full-grain leather, its reduced weight makes it a good weight saving option.

Nubuck Leather

Designed from full-grain leather than has been sanded down to produce a ‘suede-like’ surface. It’s relatively lightweight and boasts great water-resisting capabilities.

It’s a popular choice amongst lightweight day-hiking and backpacking boots, offering support and durability without excess weight. It can also be paired with synthetics to make a ‘best of both worlds’ boot that’s strong and light.

Synthetics

Anyone serious about saving weight will often be looking towards a boot that includes synthetics. The most common materials are nylon and polyester, both of which are lighter than leather.

The other benefits of synthetics include their flexibility, quick-drying properties and reduced cost. However, they generally lack the durability and weather-resistance of leather.

Stability

Hiking boots are generally known for their ability to stabilize your ankle on uneven terrain. However, the amount of stability offered can be vastly different from boot to boot.

In general, heavier boots are the most stable. Since they are made from stiffer materials and use a high-cut design, they a great at supporting your ankle joint.

However, some lightweight boots can still offer the stability required for heading off-trail. Split-grain, nubuck and synthetic boots can offer a solid amount of support without too much weight; providing they use a quality design.

Water-Resistance

Anyone that enjoys hiking during the winter months will know the importance of dry feet. Finding boots that are capable of braving wet weather isn’t always easy, with each product using a different method.

Gore-Tex has arguably become the ‘go-to’ waterproofing material, which is also true when it comes to hiking boots. It’s often used as an inner ‘bootie’, providing a lightweight layer of protection.

Many brands also offer their own style of waterproof ‘membrane’. Each one is designed to keep your feet completely dry, while also remaining light and breathable.

Another feature to look for is durable waterproof coating (DWR). Applied to the outside of your boot, it works by making the water ‘bead’ off the material surface to provide an added layer of protection.

Breathability

It might not be a surprise to hear that lightweight boots are often the most breathable. The use of ‘thinner’ synthetic fabrics with a minimalist design will make a boot breathable, while also reducing weight.

If you’re looking for a boot that’s capable of braving adverse weather without heating your feet, you will need to look for added features. Making sure the waterproof membrane is breathable holds high importance, with this often the source of overheating issues.

Some of the best lightweight hiking boots also offer special ventilation systems throughout the boot. If your feet tend to run warm or you enjoy hiking in the summer, be sure to keep an eye on the type and placement of any ventilation.

Another way to maximize breathability is by wearing a decent pair of socks. We also have a guide comparing the best summer hiking socks that will keep your feet breathing during warm weather.

Best Lightweight Hiking Boots
Not all hiking boots offer the ventilation required for warm weather

Best Overall Lightweight Hiking Boots

Salomon X Ultra 4 Mid GTX

Salomon X Ultra 4 Mid GTX Lightweight Hiking Boot

Weight

Comfort

Support

Traction

Breathability

Water Resistance

Durability

Overall

If you’re looking for an outstanding all-round hiking boot that will feel light on your feet, we strongly recommend the X Ultra 4 Mid GTX. By combining technology taken from trail running shoes with the stability of a hiking boot, we found it to be impressive in every category.

The upper uses a combination of PU leather and textile that is purpose built to maximize stability without adding weight. Not only have Salomon achieved both of these feats, but they have retained the comfort and flexibility one should look for in a modern hiking boot.

Inside you boot you will find a Gore-Tex liner that keeps out the elements, while still maintaining a decent level of breathability. Underneath the boots we found the sole provided an excellent level of traction on almost any terrain type, despite feeling a bit less protective than a traditional backpacking boot.

The X Ultra 4 Mid GTX is the perfect example of an outstanding modern hiking boot. It’s light, fast and flexible enough to keep ‘speed hikers’ content, while still offering the support and stability required by anyone looking to head off-trail.

Pros

  • Lightweight
  • Flexible
  • Comfortable
  • Reliable traction
  • Good toe protection
  • Durable
  • Great stability
  • Waterproof (Gore-Tex)

Cons

  • Limited underfoot protection
  • Not quite as supportive as a traditional ‘heavy-duty’ hiking boot

Best Lightweight Hiking Shoes

Salomon X Raise GTX

Salomon X Raise GTX Lightweight Hiking Shoes

Weight

Comfort

Support

Traction

Breathability

Water Resistance

Durability

Overall

Anyone looking to find seriously lightweight footwear to attack the trail should be looking towards hiking shoes. In our opinion, the X Raise GTX stands head and shoulders above the competition when it comes to cutting weight without compromising performance.

Using a synthetic and textile upper material, they feel exceptionally fast and light on your feet. The design is flexible enough to support your regular stride pattern, with standout comfort right out of the box.

Another area the X Raise GTX excels is cushioning, with the midsoles giving the best spring out of any hiking shoes on the market. Inside the shoe, they have used the classic Gore-Tex membrane that provides reliable waterproofing in any weather.

Anyone looking for a lightweight hiking shoe that provides excellent all-round performance will be impressed by the X Raise GTX. Despite lacking the support of a traditional hiking boot, it is a solid choice for proclaimed ‘speed hikers’ looking for a comfortable shoe that is capable of performing in any weather.

Pros

  • Flexible
  • Lightweight
  • Excellent cushioning
  • Waterproof (Gore-Tex)
  • Outstanding comfort
  • Fast and athletic feel
  • Intuitive quick-lace system

Cons

  • Underfoot traction is not the best
  • Usual lack of support that comes with any hiking shoe

Best Lightweight Day-Hiking Boots

The North Face Ultra Fastpack IV Mid Futurelight

The North Face Ultra Fastpack IV Mid Futurelight

Weight

Comfort

Support

Traction

Breathability

Water Resistance

Durability

Overall

Anyone looking for a lightweight day-hiking boot that also has the capability to deal with challenging terrain will enjoy wearing The North Face Ultra Fastpack IV Mid Futurelight. As the name suggests, it’s a a futuristic hiking boot in both look and performance, with the priority focussed towards speed and comfort.

Anyone looking to keep hiking fatigue at bay will be content with the lightweight underfoot feeling they offer. However, unlike some ‘ultra light’ boots, the Ultra Fastpack’s still retain enough support for longer treks on steeper surfaces.

Another area where the Fastpack impressed was waterproofing. The inner membrane is more than capable of standing up to torrential rain, while still maintaining an element of breathability that is marginally superior to the more common ‘Gore-Tex’ bootie used by other brands.

Finding a lightweight hiking boot that still offers support and weather-resistance can often be a challenge, but the Fastpack IV Mid Futurelight proves that cutting weight doesn’t mean sacrificing performance. Providing ample traction underfoot with waterproofing that can handle any weather, it’s sure to improve your time on the trail.

Pros

  • Lightweight
  • Waterproof
  • Decent breathability
  • Comfortable out of the box
  • Supportive for a lightweight boot
  • Good underfoot traction
  • Versatile enough for multiday hikes

Cons

  • Lacking long-term durability
  • Stability is lacking when heading off-trail

Best Lightweight Backpacking Boots

La Sportiva Nucleo High II GTX

La Sportiva Nucleo High II GTX Lightweight Hiking Boot
  • Material: Nubuck Leather
  • Waterproof: Yes (Gore-Tex)
  • Weight: 2lbs. 1.6oz (850g)
  • Retailers: Amazon, Backcountry
  • Previous Model: Nucleo High GTX
  • Alternate Versions: N/A

Weight

Comfort

Support

Traction

Breathability

Water Resistance

Durability

Overall

Designed to provide maximum support for the toughest trails, it’s common hiking knowledge that backpacking boots can be heavy. However, La Sportiva have done a great job of providing support without excessive weight when creating the Nucleo High II GTX.

The Nucleo is one few backpacking boots on the market that feels light on your feet without sacrificing support. Not only is this boot lightweight, but it still offers the standout stability on uneven terrain and is more than capable when carrying heavy loads.

We were also impressed by the combination of waterproofing and breathability the Nucleo has to offer. A Gore-Tex membrane has been used to ensure dry feet, which has been coupled with ‘nano call’ inserts to produce underfoot ventilation that is vital for keeping your feet cool during the summer months.

Overall, we were impressed the by the Nucleo High II GTX’s ability to perform on any terrain and in any weather. Although it might be ‘overkill’ for the average day-hiker, it’s an essential boot for thru-hikers looking to save weight without sacrificing performance.

Pros

  • Lightweight for a backpacking boot
  • Waterproof (Gore-Tex)
  • Great ventilation
  • Durable nubuck leather upper
  • Great support and stability
  • Reliable traction
  • Decent ankle mobility

Cons

  • Comparatively expensive
  • Overkill for your average day-hike

Best Budget Lightweight Hiking Boot

Columbia Newton Ridge Plus II

Columbia Newton Ridge Plus II Lightweight Hiking Boots
  • Material: PU Coated Leather, Suede, Mesh
  • Waterproof: Yes (Gore-Tex)
  • Weight: 1lb. 15.8oz (904g)
  • Retailers: Amazon, Backcountry
  • Previous Model: Newton Ridge Plus
  • Alternate Versions: N/A

Weight

Comfort

Support

Traction

Breathability

Water Resistance

Durability

Overall

Anyone looking for a solid day-hiking boot for an incredibly reasonable price should consider the Newton Ridge Plus II. Coming in at just under 2lbs, it sits in the lightweight category despite providing a range of features that are usually only available in heavyweight boots.

Anyone looking to brave the winter trails will be impressed by the weather-resistance offered by the Newton Ridge. Despite being in the budget category, it boasts a durable suede and mesh upper that is supplemented by the use of an ‘omni-tech’ membrane that makes them fully waterproof.

Unlike many leather hiking boots, the Newton Ridge offers comfort right out of the box. We found the padded upper collar and tongue provides a soft feel, while the underfoot midsole has ample cushioning to keep your feet happy on basic trails.

Despite its fairly limited ankle support, we found the Newton Ridge Plus II performed well above its price tag. Anyone looking for a light and comfortable boot that will keep your feet dry while enjoying a day in the outdoors won’t be disappointed.

Pros

  • Durable leather upper
  • Waterproof and seam sealed
  • Comfortable out of the box
  • Good midsole cushioning
  • Versatile enough to be worn casually
  • Budget friendly price
  • Enough traction for day-hiking trails

Cons

  • Lacks support
  • Not very breathable

Summing Up

Wearing lightweight boots can greatly improve your hiking experience. It will provide you with an energy boost that will make you feel fantastic during your outdoor adventure.

The best lightweight hiking boots are designed to cut weight without sacrificing quality. Every option is perfectly designed for a specific situation, making sure you’re prepared for the conditions you frequently face.

Take the time to review each product before making your purchase. Every boot on this list is sure to improve your time on the trail.