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 2019

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 2019

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 2019

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...

Best Running Shoes of 2019

Running is among the most approachable forms of fitness, requiring only a pair of quality shoes to get you going. But the sport’s widespread popularity has led to a dizzying array of shoe brands, styles, and available features. Below...

Best Approach Shoes of 2019

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 2019

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 such as the La...

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 you’ve crammed into them on somebody’s bad advice. That’s why...

Best Downhill Ski Boots of 2019-2020

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 2018-2019

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 2019

Winter boots are a timeless and charming piece of gear. They bring back memories of being a kid, when snow falling always meant the anticipation of stomping around for hours at a time...

Best Mountaineering Boots of 2019

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 2019

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...

Hoka One One Sky Toa Review

Hoka One One has dabbled in hiking footwear in the past, but they’ve truly jumped into the fray with their new Sky lineup. Eager to test the boots against long-time favorites...

La Sportiva Trango Tech GTX Review

Designed for long, demanding missions in the mountains, La Sportiva’s new-for-2019 Trango Tech GTX effectively bridges the gap between hiking and mountaineering boot. We took the hybrid on an...

Salomon Sense Ride 2 Review

For 2019, Salomon lightly updated their do-it-all Sense Ride trail runner with a redesigned mesh upper and lighter-weight build. After getting full use out of the previous version, I was eager to see how...

Asics Gel-Cumulus 21 Review

Asics is one of the most recognizable names in road running, and the Gel-Cumulus is a standout in their lineup of neutral shoes. Now in its 21st iteration, the newest model builds off of the outgoing “20” with...

The North Face Hedgehog Fastpack GTX Review

The North Face’s Hedgehog Fastpack GTX has been a staple in their hiking shoe lineup for years. It’s consistently a big seller thanks to its desirable $120 price point and solid feature set that includes...

Altra Torin 4 Review

The recently released Torin 4 is Altra’s latest addition to their popular road-running lineup. Building off of the outgoing 3.5, the new model incorporates an upgraded midsole, lower stack height, redesigned mesh upper and tread, and lighter-weight...

Hoka One One Clifton 6 Review

For spring 2019, Hoka One One has revamped their popular Clifton road runner. Notable changes for the sixth iteration include a lighter build and redesigned upper and tread pattern...

Oboz Sawtooth II Mid Waterproof Review

Recently updated with a new collar design and increased ventilation, Oboz’s Sawtooth II Mid is a stable and tough boot meant to handle the rigors of backpacking. We put the women’s...

Altra Lone Peak 4 Mid RSM Review

Altra shoes are most known for their zero-drop platform and wide toe box design, which encourages natural alignment and stability. Their lightweight Lone Peak series has been a popular choice among trail...

Saucony Guide ISO 2 Review

Saucony’s Guide ISO 2 marks the 12th generation of the popular stability shoe. Compared to the outgoing ISO model, the “2” incorporates more breathable mesh, has slight changes in the midsole, and comes in a bit lighter. Now my third pair of Guides, I...

La Sportiva Bushido II (2019) Review

The La Sportiva Bushido has been at the top of our trail-running shoe rankings for years for its excellent traction and stability, performance on highly technical terrain, and snug fit...

La Sportiva TX4 Review

La Sportiva’s popular TX lineup runs the gamut from the minimalist TX2 approach shoe to the mid-height TX5 hiking boot. Over the past few seasons, I’ve enjoyed my middle-of-the-pack TX3...

Salomon Odyssey Triple Crown Review

Drawing heavily from their since-discontinued Odyssey Pro hiking shoe, Salomon’s recent addition to their lineup, the Odyssey Triple Crown, is aimed at long-distance backpackers looking to cut weight...

Vasque Breeze LT Mid GTX Review

Recently updated with improved traction, a running shoe-inspired design, and significant weight savings, Vasque’s Breeze LT Mid is aimed squarely at the lightweight hiking and backpacking...

Salomon OUTline Review

Salomon’s OUTline mirrors the modern trends: it’s essentially a trail runner up top with hiking shoe tread on the bottom. At 1 pound 8.6 ounces for the pair, the shoe is lighter than the popular X Ultra 3 and has a sleeker look that can be readily worn...

Arc’teryx Norvan LD Review

Although Arc’teryx only recently entered the trail-running game with their 2016 Norvan VT (short for “varied terrain”), the Vancouver, BC company hasn’t wasted any time establishing their running shoe line-up. Cue the Norvan LD...

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...

La Sportiva TX3 Review

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 throughout a season of testing, from high-mileage link-up...

Salomon Quest 4D 3 GTX Review

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

Black Diamond Momentum Review

For decades now, Black Diamond has been a mainstay for climbing gear and protection. And in late 2017, they finally released their own lineup of shoes. The first to hit the shelves was the...

Salomon X Ultra 3 Review

Salomon’s X Ultra line of hiking footwear is one of our long-time favorites for all types of uses from day hikes to lightweight backpacking trips. We’ve tested the latest low-top shoe version through everything from early winter conditions in the...

Merrell Moab 2 Review

Merrell’s original Moab reached legendary status, and the current “2” carries on the tradition. To cut right to the chase, after taking the Moab 2 Vent to Utah’s Canyon Country and subsequent testing in Washington’s Cascade Mountains, the shoe...

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...

Scarpa Maestrale RS Review

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...

Lowa Renegade GTX Mid Review

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...

Five Ten Guide Tennie Review

Five Ten’s Guide Tennie is widely considered to be the first approach shoe ever made, and over 30 years later, it’s still a crowd favorite. The combination of durable materials, lightweight design...

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: 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...

Salomon Speedcross 4 Review

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...

La Sportiva Genius Review

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...

Evolv Shaman Review

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...

Five Ten Anasazi Lace Review

The Anasazi Lace—aka the “Pink”—has been a mainstay in Five Ten’s lineup since the ’90s. And with notable improvements throughout the years, it still holds its own in today’s modern market. Boasting a medium-stiff build and powerful edging platform...