Deciding on a good pair of hiking boots is no easy feat. But, finding the right pair of vegan hiking boots is even more difficult.
While leather is still the fabric of choice for many outdoor footwear manufacturers, many companies now make vegan-friendly boots for hikers and backpackers. In fact, vegans now have plenty of plant-based and synthetic footwear options when planning for their outdoor adventures.
So, here’s the low-down on the top vegan-friendly hiking boots on the market today!
What Are Vegan Hiking Boots?
Okay, first things first: what even are vegan hiking boots? Basically, vegan boots are a type of outdoor footwear that’s made without any animal products.
However, these are different from leather-free boots, which are shoes that are only made with non-leather textiles. That being said, even though leather is the most obvious animal product in shoes, many companies use animal-based glues to create their footwear.
So, vegan boots are not only leather-free textiles, but they also use synthetic materials for all of their components, including the glue that holds them together.
Benefits Of Vegan Hiking Boots
If you live a plant-based life without animal products, vegan hiking boots are your best choice for outdoor footwear. However, even omnivores and vegetarians can benefit from using vegan hiking shoes. Here are some of the main advantages of this type of footwear:
- Lightweight. Since vegan boots aren’t made of leather, they’re generally much lighter than non-vegan options. Leather is very durable, which is why it’s a fabric of choice for many shoemakers. But, it’s heavy, which can hold you back on the trail. Vegan boots, on the other hand, are often as lightweight as a pair of running shoes, but provide more support for your ankles.
- Breathable. The vast majority of vegan hiking shoes are made using mesh and other textiles. This makes them very breathable, which is particularly useful for hot weather conditions.
- Faster-Drying. Let’s face it: Wet hiking boots are no fun. If you don’t want to spend time drying your boots in camp at night, vegan hiking shoes might be a good option. The lightweight, breathable fabrics in these shoes tend to dry out very quickly, which is ideal if you hike somewhere with a lot of river crossings or rainy weather.
- Eco-Friendly. Multiple studies, including one done on the leather industry in Pakistan and one on leather tanning in China, have found that the process of mass-producing leather is often harmful to the environment. While there are certainly some companies that create leather that is environmentally friendly, most of the leather found in our clothing requires a whole lot of toxic chemicals to produce. So, vegan hiking boots are often the most eco-friendly option.
The Adidas Terrex Swift Mid Gore-Tex is a lightweight hiking boot that’s a good choice for both short and long trips into the mountains. These shoes have TPU overlays on the side of the foot, which adds support for your ankle as you hike.
They have a molded TPU toe cap to protect your toes and for added durability in rough terrain. As far as traction goes, the Terrex Swifts’ Traxion outsole with Continental Rubber provides good grip even on wet rock and muddy surfaces.
The uppers of these boots are made with a textile and synthetic fabric that’s vegan-friendly. They also have a Gore-Tex liner to help keep your feet dry in wet conditions.
Ultimately, if you’re looking for a lightweight boot that provides good traction and solid all-around ankle support, the Terrex Swift is a top contender.
- Great traction thanks to sticky outsole and good lugs
- TPU overlays on side of the foot provide stability
- Lightweight for a mid-top boot
- Lots of mesh fabric makes them less durable than some other options.
The Altra Lone Peak 4 Mid is a super comfortable hiking boot with a semi-casual look. The boots are made with vegan-friendly eVent fabrics, which are completely waterproof for hiking in damp environments.
They have a unique outsole design with large lugs in a “TrailClaw” pattern that offers good traction in slippery mud. The outsole is also made with DuraTred rubber, which is sticky and durable.
Something that’s unique about these boots is that they have a very flexible outsole. This makes them feel more like a pair of sneakers while still having the support of a mid-top boot.
What we really like about the Lone Peak 4 is how lightweight they are. At just 12.9oz (366g), they’re some of the lightest boots on the market. However, they don’t have too much cushioning underfoot, so they’re best for a hiker that prefers a more “barefoot” walking experience.
- Lightweight design
- TrailClaw traction system provides good grip
- Fully waterproof for hiking in the rain
- Not a lot of cushioning underfoot for downhill hiking
- The very soft outsole isn’t ideal for hikers that need a lot of foot support
The La Sportiva Blade GTX is a burly hiking boot that can also handle rough conditions and intense trails. They are made with an abrasion-resistant mesh upper that’s reinforced with lightweight thermo-adhesive microfiber.
This makes them both lightweight and supportive around the ankle. Additionally, the upper fabric on these boots is waterproof enough for trekking in damp environments.
Other key features include a unique lacing system that also provides plenty of flexibility for the foot. This helps create a more natural walking experience while also stabilizing the foot on longer hikes.
These boots also have a unique Frixion Blue rubber compound in the outsole, which is very sticky on rocky terrain. Plus, the outsole on the Blade GTX has differentiated lugs for traction on wet mud, as well as harder, more-durable rubber in high-wear areas.
- Sticky rubber with large lugs for traction
- Fully waterproof design
- Flexible and lightweight, yet supportive around the ankle
The Arc’teryx Acrux TR GTX is a mid-top hiking boot that provides hikers with a good mix of waterproofing and breathability. This vegan-friendly show has a “SuperFabric” upper, which uses micro-plated technology so that it’s flexible, lightweight, and abrasion-resistant.
On the underside, the Acrux TR has a Vibram Megagrip outsole that’s sticky enough for scrambling over rocks. This outsole also has an aggressive lug pattern for added traction in slippery terrain.
For stability, the boots have a TPU-molded chassis at the midfoot. This makes the shoes more stable, especially when you twist your foot from side to side.
The liner on these shoes is made with Gore-Tex, which is highly waterproof. But, they’re still breathable, so they’re a good option for hot and humid hiking conditions.
- Upper fabric is lightweight, flexible, and very durable
- Good support for the ankle and food
- Lots of traction
- Fully waterproof but also breathable
- Expensive for a mid-top boot
The Merrell Moab 2 Vegan is one of the only purpose-built vegan hiking shoes from a major boot manufacturer. These shoes have the same design that made the original Moab boot so popular, but they contain only vegan-friendly fabrics and glues.
They have a large round toe with a rubber bumper for protection and added durability against rocks and debris on the trail. Their uppers are made from synthetic and mesh, which is breathable enough for very hot environments.
Additionally, these shoes have a built-in nylon arch shank that provides underfoot stability. They also have a compression-molded EVA midsole and an Air Cushion heel, both of which provide a lot of cushioning, particularly on long downhill sections of the trail.
The outsoles on these shoes are made with Vibram TC5+ rubber. This rubber compound is made specifically for durability while the boots’ large 5mm lugs also offer good grip on slick, wet terrain.
NOTE: These shoes are the only truly vegan option in the Merrell Moab line-up. All of the other options, including both the vent and waterproof options, either use suede leather or non-vegan glues in their construction.
- Breathable upper material
- Comfortable design with lots of padding underfoot
- High-quality rubber outsole with good lugs for traction
- Minimal support for ankles and feet
- Not waterproof
Vegan hiking boots are a lightweight, breathable, and quick-drying alternative to traditional leather boots. They are also an environmentally-friendly choice that helps reduce our impact on the environment. Many popular outdoor gear companies make vegan hiking boots, so the trick is finding the right pair for your needs.