Hiking is a great way to get some exercise, explore new places and see the world from a different perspective. But it’s not always easy, especially when you’re hiking in waterfalls. So what are the best shoes for hiking waterfalls?

Waterfalls are one of the most popular hiking destinations in the country. They’re beautiful, rugged and offer a great way to get away from it all. You can go swimming in them too!

But sometimes you need to wear shoes that are waterproof and lightweight while still being sturdy enough to handle rough terrain. Luckily there are plenty of options out there that will work well on your next hike through a waterfall!

Best Shoes For Hiking Waterfalls

The Best Waterproof Hiking Boots for the Damp Fall Season

Keep your feet dry and happy on wet hikes.

The 15 Best Waterproof Hiking Boots for Damp Days Outdoors Danner Altra Scarpa

Seasoned hikers know you should never skimp when it comes to hiking footwear—because no matter how beautiful the scenery, you won’t enjoy yourself if you’re battling blisters and sore feet. And if you’re trekking around puddles, hiking through the rainforest, or caught in an unexpected drizzle, not just any boots will do.

You’ll need a good pair of waterproof hiking boots to keep your feet dry and comfortable.

“When buying hiking boots, I always recommend paying the extra for waterproofing,” Cat Ekkelboom-White, a certified hiking guide in the Austrian Alps, tells SELF. “Sometimes all it takes is some morning dew on long grass for you to get wet feet. Having a fully waterproof boot means you can cross rivers, power through when it rains, and not worry about getting wet feet.” Once you invest in high-quality boots (and a good pair of hiking socks), you’ll be ready to hit the trail.

What to Look For In a Waterproof Hiking Boot

Waterproofing Mechanisms

Two key features make the best hiking boots truly waterproof. First, the interior of waterproof hiking boots usually features a membrane that’s designed to keep water out, while also letting your sweat evaporate. While Gore-Tex is the most well-known waterproofing, some brands, like Altra, use other materials like eVent.

Next, waterproof hiking boots also need to shed water from their exterior. To do this, brands incorporate materials like nubuck leather or a water-repellent coating like DWR.

It bears mentioning that waterproofing isn’t always a necessary—or helpful—feature: “A traditional waterproof boot will provide more protection from the elements but lacks breathability and takes a long time to dry if they get wet,” so it’s a trade-off, explains Lauren de Vega, a hiking guide for Another Summit and experienced thru-hiker who has backpacked over 15,000 miles. “Many hiking enthusiasts use a waterproof boot during winter and spring seasons, and a breathable trail shoe during the summer and fall.” In other words, leave room in your gear closet for non-waterproof hiking boots, approach shoes, or even trail runners.

Fit and Support

Sadly, there’s no one-size-fits-all hiking boot, as every hiker has a different foot shape and preference, but there are a few general criteria to keep in mind while shopping. Hikes should look for a boot that’s “snug yet roomy around the toes to allow for some light movement in the hiking shoe,” explains New York City–based podiatrist Nelya Lobkova, DPM. Too tight a fit and your toes will hit the end of the toe box as they slide forward on steep descents. Too loose and your foot will rub against the boot fabric, causing blisters and hot spots.

You should also find a boot with a secure ankle cuff, Ekkelboom-White says. The ideal boot will “hold your foot in a stable position with no heel-lift when you step, and no pressure points.” Some hikers will require more ankle support than others, so if in doubt, check with a podiatrist before you start shopping.

Even with these tips, you may have to try on multiple pairs in order to find the right fit for you. When you buy online it’s best to purchase your new pair of boots from a company with a generous return policy, like REI.


The outsole is one of the most important parts of a hiking boot, because it keeps you solidly attached to the ground. Depending on the type of terrain you are hiking, you should consider the tread profile (the pattern on the bottom of the shoe), sole stiffness, and type of rubber, Ekkelboom-White says. “If you’re hiking on relatively flat trails, you don’t need a boot with a stiff sole. It should have a good tread profile but can be softer rubber. But if you are hiking in high-altitude locations, such as the Alps, where you may be hiking over a variety of terrain including snow and ice, then you want a stiffer Vibram sole for better grip when using friction in rocky terrain.”

Added Protection

Hiking boots come packed with specialized features to make your time outside safer and more comfortable, and one of the most helpful is the reinforced toecap—the “piece of rubber, often Vibram, that covers the front and part of the top of the toe box,” explains Candice Criscione, a travel blogger and experienced hiking guide in Italy. “[The toecap] helps you get a little extra grip when you’re climbing on rocks, much like a rock climber uses his or her shoes to grip the rock.” It can also protect your toes while navigating rough terrain.

Using these tips as guidance, check out some of the best waterproof hiking boots recommended by outdoor experts.

All products featured on SELF are independently selected by our editors. However, when you buy something through our retail links, we may earn an affiliate commission.

  • Blue and black La Sportiva TX Hike Mid GTX Hiking Boot on white background
    • REI1La Sportiva TX Hike Mid GTX Hiking BootsIf you want a lightweight and versatile waterproof hiking boot, the La Sportiva TX Hike Mid GTX is a great choice. Gaby Pilson, an outdoor educator and backpacking guide, has used these boots for well over half a decade and has been “nothing but impressed with their performance,” she tells SELF. Their Vibram outsole gives them “unparalleled sensitivity to rocks underfoot, and it makes them particularly great for scrambling over bouldery terrain,” she says.The rubber toe cap provides more traction on rocky terrain, and the advanced lace system allows you to cinch the boot around the midfoot and forefoot for a secure fit. However, “They don’t provide as much ankle support as some other high-top models,” explained Pilson, so they’re best for hikers without ankle injuries.Available in EU sizes 36 to 43.$179 $134 AT REI
  • Brown Vasque Breeze LT NTX Mid Hiking Boot on white background
    • REI2Vasque Breeze LT NTX Mid Hiking BootsAnother candidate for best lightweight boot, the Vasque Breeze is designed for backpacking trips and hikes in any season, which is why it’s popular with avid, year-round hikers. Philip Imler, founder of the Global Alliance of National Parks, frequently hikes for work, and the Breeze, with its durable suede leather and mesh upper, is his go-to boot. “When it comes to stability, they provide excellent support, which is necessary for a smooth hike,” he says. De Vega also uses Vasque boots for winter hiking and snowshoeing because they’re warm and very reliably waterproof. While you can find many versions of the Breeze boot, we love the striking teal and purple colorway of this model.Available in sizes 6 to 11.$180 $126 AT REI
  • Grey and blue Altra Lone Peak ALLWTHR Mid Hiking Boot on white background
    • Amazon3Altra Lone Peak ALL-WTHR Mid Hiking BootsOne of the lightest waterproof hiking boots around, the Altra Lone Peak Mids are perfect for hikers who want a barely-there shoe that won’t weigh them down. De Vega switches from heavy boots to Altra trail running shoes in the summer because they’re more breathable.Altras have amassed a cult following for their wide toe box that allows the foot to splay out into a more natural position, meaning no more cramped toes. The Lone Peak is known for its zero-drop design, which positions the heel the same distance from the ground as the toes (most boots elevate the heel). This feature requires greater calf flexibility, so it’s not ideal for all hikers.Available in sizes 5.5 to 12.$180 AT REI$175 AT AMAZON
  • Pink and green Adidas Terrex Trailmaker Mid GoreTex Shoe with black soles on white background
    • Nordstrom4Adidas Terrex Trailmaker Mid Gore-Tex ShoesIt’s hard to find sleek, lightweight hiking shoes that are also waterproof, but the Adidas Terrex Trailmaker fits the bill. It feels like a running shoe but performs like a hiking boot. The deep lugs on the outsole help you tackle any terrain, while the added band around the minimally structured ankle cuff provides an exceptionally secure fit. It is perfect for day hikers who like to move fast but also want a boot with a cushioned footbed and a cool, city-friendly design.Available in sizes 5 to 11.$150 AT ADIDAS$150 AT NORDSTROM
  • Light grey and pink Merrell Ontario 2 Mid Waterproof Hiking Boot on white background
    • REI5Merrell Ontario 2 Mid Waterproof Hiking BootsA solid all-around option for the casual hiker, the Merrell Ontario 2 offers comfort and durability at an affordable price point. Plus, for a full-grain leather boot, it has a surprisingly short break-in period. Merrell is known for accommodating wide feet, so this shoe has a roomy toe box, and reviewers have noted that the insoles provide good arch support. However, it lacks a toe cap and deep lugs, so it is best for well-graded trails without overly rugged terrain.Available in sizes 5 to 11.$155 $108 AT REI
  • Blue and fuchsia Scarpa Rush Mid GTX Waterproof GoreTex Shoe on white background
    • Moosejaw6Scarpa Rush Mid GTX Waterproof Gore-Tex ShoesThe Scarpa Rush is a great option for hikers looking for a capable boot that they can wear on any type of hike—from day hikes to backcountry trips. It’s comfortable enough for mellow outings, but rugged enough for challenging mountain scrambles. I was impressed by its tacky rubber sole, which sticks effortlessly to rock, and the reinforced toe box, which protected my feet from rocks. Overall, this is a high-quality lightweight boot with superior traction.Available in sizes 6.5 to 10; and in E.U. sizes 37 to 40.$199 AT MOOSEJAW$199 AT AMAZON
  • Brown leather Danner Mountain Light Cascade Hiking Boot with red laces on white background
    • REI7Danner Mountain Light Cascade Hiking BootsWhen you wear these boots, you’ll be right at home at a cabin in the woods, chopping logs for your evening campfire (or somewhere similarly retro and woodsy). The classic outdoor aesthetic is eye-catching, thanks in part to the bright red laces. The Danner Mountain Light boots take a while to break in because they are full-grain leather, but once you do they’ll mold to your feet and last for years. Keep in mind they run extremely narrow, so if you have wide feet (like me), the toe box may be too restrictive to wear comfortably.Available in sizes 5 to 11.$430 AT REI$430 AT BACKCOUNTRY
  • Grey and light green On Running Cloudrock Waterproof boot on white background
    • On Running8On Running Cloudrock WaterproofTechnically capable yet a little more stylish than a traditional hiking boot, the On Cloudrock will seamlessly take you from the trail to the brewery. It blends the qualities of a running shoe (like the deep Missiongrip lugs that grip the ground with ease) with the midheight design of a hiking boot. It also comes in four earthy colorways, including desert clay and mineral.Available in sizes 5 to 11.$230 AT ON RUNNING
  • Grey blue and black Salomon Quest 4 GORETEX Hiking Boot on white background
    • REI9Salomon Quest 4 GORE-TEX Hiking BootsThe Salomon Quest 4 is one of the best backpacking boots on the market because it provides structured support in a relatively lightweight package. The ankle cuff is higher than many other boots, which enhances its waterproof protection, and the Contagrip rubber sole provides excellent traction on the trail. “They have lace eyelets located at the base of the ankle area, which helps keep the boot in place so that your ankle is always supported, which is great if your terrain is challenging,” says Will Hatton, founder of Broke Backpacker. “They’re also quite reasonably priced, so they won’t break the bank.” And don’t worry about having to replace them after one hiking season: Compared to cheaper alternatives, the Quests are incredibly durable.You might notice that they don’t have the highest ratings online, but that’s mainly because they run large, so be sure to size down to find the right fit!Available in sizes 6 to 11.$230 AT REI$230 AT DICK’S SPORTING GOODS
  • Purple grey and black Columbia Crestwood Mid Waterproof Hiking Boot on white background
    • Backcountry10Columbia Crestwood Mid Waterproof Hiking BootFor under $100, you can’t beat the Columbia Crestwood Mid boots. Kylia Goodner, an avid backpacker and outdoor blogger, says she has hiked exclusively in these for the past two and a half years. She loves that they support her without restricting ankle mobility. Also, they’re lightweight, “which makes wearing them on longer hikes much more manageable,” she explains.Available in sizes 6 to 12.$90 AT BACKCOUNTRY
  • Brown and black Lowa Renegade GTX Mid Hiking Boot on white background
    • REI11Lowa Renegade GTX Mid Hiking BootsThese hearty, leather hiking boots keep your feet dry in the wettest climates and provide all-day comfort thanks to their nubuck leather uppers and moisture-wicking Gore-Tex liners. Alec Sills-Traugh, an outdoor and landscape photographer, loves his Lowa Renegades: “Over the last four years, I’ve put over 400 miles onto them, and they’ve held up in all conditions.”They may be heavy, but they are “four-season shoes,” which means they’re warm enough for winter. “And they keep water out like a dam,” Sills-Traugh says. He loves the mid-ankle height, which protects you from rolling but is “not too constrictive that it’s choking your lower leg.”Available in sizes 6 to 12.$245 AT REI$245 AT BACKCOUNTRY
  • Brown Zamberlan Vioz Lux GTX RR Hiking Boot with black sole on white background
    • REI12Zamberlan Vioz Lux GTX RR Hiking BootsIf you need a pair of boots for hiking in the Pacific Northwest or a multi-day trek in Iceland, the Zamberlan Vioz Lux will outshine the competition. These durable, all-leather boots are built for backpacking in wet, cold environments. (They’re way too hot for summer hiking.) They’re structured enough to stand up to a heavy load, and the Vibram cap provides enough toe protection to help you feel confident hiking off-trail.My favorite feature is the women’s-specific heel design, which secures your foot in place. I often find that my heel moves up and down in wider hiking boots, so give this pair a look if you have narrower heels.

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