Colorado Hiking Boots: The 3 Best Options in 2022

In the rugged state of Colorado, hiking boots are an essential piece of gear. Whether you plan to climb a fourteener in the front range or explore a canyon on the western slope, boots provide essential ankle support and traction that sneakers cannot match. Anyone visiting Colorado should plan to get a good pair of hiking boots to ensure they have a good experience. Without them, your chance of injuring yourself from a trip or fall is much higher, and you have pretty good odds of developing blisters. Here are some key factors to consider and three good options for Colorado hiking boots in 2022.

Do I need Hiking Boots for Colorado?

If you’re wondering whether full hiking boots are really necessary, take a moment to think about the terrain in Colorado. Snow and ice are possible in any month of the year, even July, which can leave trails wet and slick. The trail itself is likely composed of loose, rocky surfaces that also require traction. At times you may need to scramble over larger rocks and boulders. While hiking shoes or tennis shoes may work in less extreme environments, Colorado is an extremely rugged place. You should plan on getting a pair of hiking boots if you want to hike in Colorado.

How to Pick Out A Pair of Colorado Hiking Boots

Before we get to specific recommendations it is important to understand what’s important when it comes to picking out a pair of boots for Colorado. The most important consideration of all is the boot’s fit. If you pick a pair that is too big or too small, even slightly, you will have a very uncomfortable experience. 

If you order your boots online, I recommend getting them from a store like REI that makes exchanging them for a different size easy and painless (I link to REI below for each of my recommendations). That way, if you find your usual size is a bit too tight, you can easily swap them out. 

Here are some other factors to consider when choosing a pair of hiking boots:

  • Warmth: How much insulation do the boots have? Are they for all seasons or summer?
  • Weight: Heavier shoes provide more durability, but tire you out more quickly.
  • Durability: Durable shoes last longer, especially on rough, rocky terrain.
  • Comfort: Some brands make a point of focusing on comfort and breathability, while other boots treat it as an afterthought.
  • Traction: If you plan to scramble or cross streams, look for a pair with superb grip.
  • Cost: The more robust the boot, the higher the price.
  • Water Resistance: Boots range from no water protection to water resistance, to full waterproofing. Pick what you think you’ll need, without going overboard.

If you don’t want to spend a fortune, I recommend figuring out what you care most about: Do you need something warm for snowy conditions? Or are you backpacking and in need of boots that will be comfortable and durable after four days of hiking? Once you figure out your priorities it gets easier to pick a boot that meets your needs. If you want a few ideas to get started, I shared a few specific recommendations below.

The Best Colorado Hiking Boots for 2022

I tested out each of the three boots below in 2022 and selected my favorite overall pair, my favorite pair specifically for the mountains, and my favorite value pair. Here are the three best Colorado Hiking Boots in each category.

1. Best Overall: Salomon X Ultra 3 Mid GTX Hiking Boots

These Colorado hiking boots almost consistently receive top ratings regardless of what source you’re looking at. They are my personal favorite and my hiking boots of choice for the past four years. After more than thirty fourteeners and dozens of shorter hikes, they are still in great shape. They’re well constructed and have some insane traction, ideal for mountainous terrain on fourteeners and thirteeners. However, they are still lightweight enough to avoid extra strain. They have limited water resistance and warmth so I would recommend something warmer between late fall and early spring. They don’t handle snow as well as rock. 

Click here to buy a men’s pair | Click here to buy a women’s pair

2. Best for Mountains: La Sportiva Nucleo High II GTX Hiking Boots

If you’re looking for a pair of Colorado hiking boots specifically for the mountains, the Nucleo from La Sportiva is probably your best bet. They come with extra ankle support to keep you safe despite rolled or twisted ankles, and it’s one of the most breathable boots on the market right now. That comes in handy after twelve-mile days on the trail. It comes with a higher price tax than the Salomon X Ultra due to its sturdier build, but if you plan on spending a lot of time in the mountains it is probably worth the cost. If you’re aiming for shorter, gentler hikes, these may be overkill for your needs.

Click here to buy a men’s pair | Click here to buy a women’s pair

3. Best Value: REI Co-op Flash Hiking Boots

If you want a good pair of Colorado hiking boots without paying a fortune, this third option is just for you. REI’s Co-op Flash Boots have most of the same features as most name brand hiking boots but at a fraction of the cost. The ankle support is not as robust as the La Sportiva, and it’s not nearly as durable either. However for the price you pay it is a very reliable pair of hiking boots ideal for day hikes and shorter trips into the mountains. I wouldn’t rely on them for multi-day trips or difficult mountain scrambles, but they are excellent for beginners who just need something for a weekend trip.

Click here to buy a men’s pair | Click here to buy a women’s pair

Breaking in Your New Colorado Hiking Boots

Once you buy your new pair of boots, you need to take some time to break them in before you head out to the trail. Breaking in your boots just means wearing them down a bit so conform better to the unique shape of your foot. While there are many ways to do this, it comes down to wearing your boots but not overdoing it, so you stretch them out without hurting your feet. Here are a few ways to do this:

  • Wear them around your house while doing chores like picking up and cleaning.
  • Take short walks around your neighborhood wearing the boots
  • Go for easy hikes, no longer than 1-2 miles

If you push yourself and find you are getting blisters or raw spots on your feet, you likely need to slow down and take more time to break in your boots. Whatever you do, never go out and buy a pair of boots without taking this time or you will end up with very painful feet and a lot of blisters.

Don’t Forget A Good Pair of Hiking Socks!

A hiking boot is nothing without its sock companion. For those hiking in Colorado, you should plan on using two layers of socks for the most comfort. Start with a thin wicking sock made of silk. It helps minimize rubbing caused by sweat and limits the development of blisters. Put a heavier-duty hiking sock made of merino wool on top of that. This will help wick sweat away from your feet to help them stay warm and dry while cushioning the bottom of your heel with every step you take. 

A lot of people balk at the high price of these socks, but they are worth their weight in gold. I highly recommend stocking up on a few pairs of socks.

Click here to buy men’s hiking socks | Click here to buy women’s hiking socks

Colorado Hiking Boots: Now You Know!

There are thousands of hiking boots available on the market in 2022, but there’s no need to be overwhelmed. These three options are among the best and work for almost any situation. Whether you are looking for a versatile boot that works for any environment, something suited specifically for the mountains, or a value option that won’t break the bank, you have the answer here. I hope these recommendations help make the choice a little easier for you. Safe travels on the trail!

Colorado Hiking Boots: Additional Resources

Looking for more information about the ideal pair of Colorado hiking boots? These guides and resources were helpful for me while researching and writing this article. If you have your own suggestion for hiking boots or resources on the web, share them in a comment below and we might just add them to the article in our next regular update.

Alex Derr, Creator of The Next Summit

Alex is an Eagle Scout and mountaineer living in Denver, Colorado. He created The Next Summit to help others stay safe exploring the mountains and advocate to preserve the peaks for the future. You can subscribe to his Next Summit Newsletter here.

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