Footwear is one of our specialties here at Switchback Travel—we depend on it for just about every outdoor activity that we do. From lightweight hikers to rock climbing shoes and ski boots, we have all of your adventure footwear informational needs covered. Below you’ll find full buying guides detailing our top picks in different product categories along with individual reviews on leading shoe and boot models. Make sure to check back with this page as we continue to update our articles and review new footwear models for summer and winter. 

Best Hiking Boots of 2018

Hiking boots are critical to your comfort and performance on the trail, but this no longer means a stiff and burly model that will weigh you down. The trend is toward lighter materials that still offer decent support, and waterproof boots...

Best Lightweight Hiking Shoes of 2018

The momentum in hiking footwear is moving away from bulky boots toward lightweight shoes and even trail runners that are faster and more comfortable. You do lose some ankle support when carrying...

Best Trail-Running Shoes of 2018

For many, running on varied and challenging trails is a welcome break from the monotony of pounding pavement (or even worse, the belt of a treadmill). Better yet, trail running is...

Backpacking Footwear Tips and Advice

Backpacking footwear has come a long way from the burly and heavy all-leather boots of your grandparent’s generation. Now you can choose from everything from waterproof hiking boots dominated by lightweight...

Best Approach Shoes of 2018

I knew I was officially a climber when I bought my first pair of approach shoes. A climbing-specific style of footwear, approach shoes offer a unique combination of hiking shoes, climbing slippers, and sometimes even mountaineering boots...

Best Rock Climbing Shoes of 2018

We love rock climbing shoes, and we bet you do too. The good news for climbers is that there are more quality products and styles to choose from than ever before. Impressive new models...

Best Rock Climbing Shoes for Beginners

As a beginning climber, the last thing you want to spend your time worrying about is your shoes, or the poor feet that you’ve crammed into them on somebody’s bad advice...

Best Downhill Ski Boots of 2017-2018

No matter your ability level, a comfortable boot is an absolute necessity. Nothing ruins a good powder day faster than cold or painful feet, and ill-fitting boots also run the risk of not properly transferring energy...

Best Ski Boots for Beginners of 2017-2018

If there is one piece of gear that will keep first timers from sticking with the sport, it’s an uncomfortable ski boot. A cheap boot can pinch and freeze toes turning potential fun...

Best Winter Boots of 2018

The winter boot: such a timeless and charming piece of gear. Maybe it’s because they harken back to being a kid, when snow falling always meant the anticipation of stomping around in a crisp, wonderful world for hours at a time with the promise...

Best Mountaineering Boots of 2018

No piece of gear is more critical to summiting high peaks than footwear. A great mountaineering boot fills countless roles: it must offer support while carrying heavy loads...

Best Mountain Bike Shoes of 2018

A quality mountain bike shoe plays a number of important roles. Its solid platform delivers power to the pedals, strong construction keeps your feet protected, and secure fit...

Review: Salomon Quest 4D 3 GTX

Salomon’s Quest 4D boot has headlined their backpacking lineup for years. Updated for 2018, they fine-tuned the design with a new outsole and reworked platform that offers a little more flexibility...

Review: The North Face Endurus Hike Mid GTX

Every year, trends in hiking footwear are shifting more toward fast and light. Many people now opt for lightweight hiking shoes over traditional boots, and thru-hikers are even reaching for trail runners...

Review: La Sportiva TX3

As an alpine rock climber and climbing guide, my feet frequent a great deal of trail, rocks, and snow—especially during the summer months. I took on the La Sportiva TX3 as my faithful companion this season, from high-mileage...

Review: Salomon X Ultra 3

Salomon’s X Ultra line of hiking footwear is one of our all-time favorites for all types of uses from day hikes to lightweight backpacking trips. The new “3” was released in late 2017, and Salomon mostly stuck to the original script—changes include...

Review: Merrell Moab 2

More than 10 years after the original Moab was released, Merrell has given us the Moab 2 for 2017. The first edition reached legendary status, so we were excited to see what Merrell had done for the reboot. To cut right to the chase...

Review: Scarpa Zodiac Plus GTX

Scarpa’s Zodiac Plus GTX is a fully supportive yet exceptionally lightweight boot ideal for handling high mileage days with a heavy load. This midweight hiker is designed to shine in...

Review: Scarpa Maestrale RS (2018)

Among Scarpa’s impressive and diverse lineup of ski boots, the Maestrale RS alpine touring model is a standout. A stiffer version of their popular Maestrale, the RS is designed to be light up the skin track...

Review: Salomon Odyssey Pro

Salomon aims to shake up the hiking shoe market with the unapologetically lightweight Odyssey Pro. Taking a number of cues from a cushioned trail-running model, the shoe is a great choice for non-technical day hikes or ultralight...

Review: Lowa Renegade GTX Mid

Nearly every major hiking boot brand has its signature model, and for Lowa, it’s the Renegade GTX. We took the popular mid-height boot out backpacking and day hiking...

Review: Vasque Grand Traverse

The Vasque Grand Traverse isn’t your Swiss Army Knife outdoor shoe, but it is one of the most fun pairs we’ve tested this year. With a lightweight and flexible build that is great for desert scrambling, this hybrid hiking and approach shoe is about as...

Review: Salewa Firetail 3 GTX

Salewa isn’t yet a household name, but the company has a serious following among the climbing community and those who like to get into the alpine. Their Firetail 3 GTX is an approach shoe that is robust, functional...

Review: La Sportiva Trango TRK GTX

With a serious alpine pedigree, La Sportiva has been manufacturing highly regarded climbing and skiing gear for almost 90 years. Therefore it’s no surprise that their Trango...

Review: Altra Lone Peak 3.0

The Lone Peak 3.0 is the latest version of Altra’s most popular trail shoe, released last year as a replacement for the 2.5. The core elements of the design—zero-drop platform, wide toe box, and significant cushioning...

Review: Brooks Caldera

In December of 2016, Brooks released a brand new shoe—the Caldera—filling a much-needed hole in their trail running lineup. The timing was perfect: in January of 2017, I completed training for and ran my first ultramarathon. During testing...

Review: Saucony Peregrine 6

Saucony’s Peregrine has long been a favourite among trail runners, so much so that introducing changes could be seen as a risky move. With their sixth version of the Peregrine...

Review: Salomon Speedcross 4

As one of their most popular and recognizable designs, the Speedcross trail-running shoe has been a huge hit for Salomon. The toothy, exposed traction and bright colorways are a common sight at...

Review: La Sportiva Bushido

Over a decade ago I purchased and wore a La Sportiva Wildcat trail runner, and though I loved the tacky tread, the stability was unimpressive. I easily dismissed the brand as simply...

Review: La Sportiva Genius

La Sportiva calls the Genius, “the highest performance climbing shoe on the market.” Climbing companies love to make superlative claims like that, but when it’s La Sportiva, it definitely gets our attention....

Review: Arc’teryx Bora2 Mid GTX

Arc’teryx made the jump into footwear for 2015, and to little surprise, mimicked no one in the process. The Bora2 Mid GTX hiking boots combine the protection and grip...

Review: Scarpa Boostic

Combining Italian craftsmanship with an aggressive, downturned shape, the Scarpa Boostic is a solid performance shoe. Priced at $179, it does fall into the extremely competitive high-end of the market...

Review: Evolv Shaman (2016)

Chris Sharma is one of the greatest sport climbers of all time, if not the greatest. It goes without saying that he could choose any shoe company, and any shoe in their lineup that he wanted, and get paid to wear...

Review: Salomon X Ultra 2

New for 2016, the X Ultra 2 continues Salomon’s popular line of trail shoes that are lighter and lower cut than hiking boots. We put the X Ultra 2s to the test on steep, technical terrain and came away...

Review: Evolv Addict

The Addict is a relatively new climbing slipper from Evolv, and a solid one at that. Built similarly as the time-tested design of Five Ten’s excellent slipper, the Moccasym, Evolv managed to create a shoe that...

Review: Scarpa R-Evolution GTX

Lightweight backpacking boots are a big ticket item these days, as hikers of all kinds appreciate the benefits of cutting a pound or two off their leaden feet. Scarpa’s entry into this category is the boldly...

Review: Keen Durand Mid WP

With a compelling mix of ankle support, light weight and durability, the Keen Durand Mid WP boots take aim at the popular light hiker category. To see how they compared...

Review: Five Ten Anasazi Pink Lace-Up

Ah, the Anasazi Pink. If only I could review arguably my favorite shoe ever every day. How do I love thee? Let me count the ways. You edge on a dime, fit like a glove, conquer virtually all terrain...

Review: Salomon Quest 4D 2 GTX

Appreciated for its light and nimble feel, the original Salomon Quest 4D GTX quickly became a go-to hiking boot for serious day-hikers and fast moving backpackers. The 2nd generation...

Review: Lowa Innox GTX Mid

The Lowa Innox GTX is at the forefront of the hiking footwear movement: it’s a lightweight boot that’s comfortable, nimble, and has a Gore-Tex waterproof liner. And despite weighing 2 pounds for the pair, ankle support is plenty sufficient for hauling...