My favorite hiking boots in Tucson, AZ

The 6 Best Desert Hiking Boots for 2024

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LOOKING FOR THE BEST DESERT HIKING BOOT IN 2024?

So you’re thinking about hiking in the desert and are curious about the best hiking boot options out there. I get it – I was in your position once too! You’ve come to the right place because after a ton of research, and some personal testing, we’ve come up with a list of six that we believe are the best options!

 In a hurry? Here are the 6 best boots we recommend!

  • OUR OVERALL PICK: Salomon X Ultra 4 Mid-GTX – Womens | Mens
  • BEST BOOT ON A BUDGET: Merrell Moab 3 Mid Hiking Boots – Womens | Mens
  • MOST SUPPORTIVE: Salomon Quest 4 Gore-Tex Hiking Boots – Womens | Mens
  • TOP PICK FOR NARROW FEET: La Sportiva Nucleo High || GTX – Womens | Mens
  • BEST FOR BACKPACKING: Lowa Renegade GTX Mid – Womens | Mens
  • LIGHTEST HIKING BOOT: Altra Lone Peak ALL-WTHR Mid 2 – Womens | Mens
  • BLISTER-RESISTANT HIKING SOCKS: Smartwool Socks – Womens | Mens

Next up on the blog: 11 Best Valley of Fire Hikes You Can’t-Miss

The Best 6 Desert Hiking Boots

Hiking boots are ideal for desert hiking because they provide comfortability, ankle support, and durability. Additionally, it’s nice to have hiking boots for other landscapes too – not just the desert. We’re confident that out of these six, you’ll find a perfect pair for your next desert hiking trip.

Salomon hiking boots

Salomon X Ultra 4 Mid GTX (Womens | Mens)

Let’s start with the hiking boot that ranks online as the best overall: the Salomon X Ultra 4 Mid GTX boot (Womens | Mens). This boot was the most referenced best desert hiking boot on various platforms, and we’re going to go over why below. This boot is great for its agility, stability, grip, and waterproof protection on alpine or mixed terrain. 

Pros:

  • Extremely supportive
  • Excellent durability
  • Lightweight
  • Waterproof
  • Sleek Design

Cons:

  • Runs large and narrow
  • Poor quality insole
  • Uncomfortable upper seam
  • Shoelaces are long and awkward

Features & Specifications:

Insole & Outsole: Textile, Rubber
Weight & Height: 425g, Mid
Interior Lining & Upper Material: Textile, PU-coated leather
Manufacturer Warranty: Limited warranty that covers material and manufacturing defects for up to two years.
Online Rating: 4.5 stars

Overall Impressions:

The Salomon X Ultra 4’s are great for their durability, weight, water resistance, and feel. There have been complaints about the shoe laces being too long and awkward and the insole being flimsy, but luckily those things can be remedied by purchasing ones that work better for each individual. We recommend sizing down a half size and trying them on beforehand to make sure the seams aren’t uncomfortable!

Buy the Salomon X Ultra 4 Mid GTX Boot here – Womens | Mens


Merrell has one of the best desert hiking boots on the market, and I'll be sure going with these next time!

Merrell Moab 3 Mid-Hiking Boots – Womens | Mens

You’ve come to the right place if you’re looking for a budget-friendly yet effective hiking boot. Merrell’s Moab 3 Mid-Hiking Boots (Womens | Mens) are affordable desert hiking boots that don’t compromise quality. They’re best known for their comfortability, durability, and support.

Pros:

  • Extremely comfortable
  • Little time is required to break them in
  • Great for everyday use
  • Very durable and will last a long time
  • Sturdy and supportive

Cons:

  • Not waterproof
  • Limited breathability
  • Poor quality insoles

Features & Specifications:

Insole & Outsole: Kinetic Foot Advanced footbed, Vibram TC5+
Weight & Height: 385g, Mid
Interior Lining & Upper Material: Mesh, Leather & Mesh
Manufacturer Warranty: Limited warranty that covers material and workmanship defects for up to one year.
Online Rating: 4.6 stars

Overall Impressions:

The Merrell Moab 3’s are the most affordable hiking boots that ensure comfortability straight out of the box! Many love them for their versatile use, durability, and support. The downsides are that they aren’t extremely waterproof or breathable, and those who have bought them recommend buying a better quality insole.

Buy the Merrell Moab 3’s here – Womens | Mens


Hiking boots that are waterproof

Salomon Quest 4 Gore-Tex Hiking Boots (Womens | Mens)

Next up we have the Salomon Quest 4’s (Womens | Mens) – a hiking boot loved for its comfort, water resistance, fit, and durability. If you struggle with ankle support, these are the boots for you. They’re great for desert hiking because of how stable they make your feet feel while on the trail!

Pros:

  • Extremely comfortable
  • Waterproof
  • Sturdy and supportive
  • Excellent fit
  • Great for every day, season, & terrain

Cons:

  • Stiff upper material
  • Uncomfortable seams
  • Noisy irreplaceable shoe laces
  • Deteriorates after a year of use
  • Uncomfortable on rocky terrain

Features & Specifications:

Insole & Outsole: Textile, Rubber
Weight & Height: 655g, High
Interior LIning & Upper Material: Textile, Leather
Manufacturer Warranty: Limited warranty that covers material and manufacturing defects for up to two years.
Online Reviews: 4.5 stars

Overall Impressions:

These Salomon Quest 4s are great desert hiking boots due to their comfortability, water resistance, sturdiness, fit, and terrain versatility. However, one of the most commonly cited problems (Dylan can attest) with Salomon’s is that they can crease at points, making it extremely uncomfortable for the user. These boots are also on the heavier side (hence the excellent support), and have the potential to deteriorate after a year’s use.

Buy the Salomon Quest 4s here – Womens | Mens


La Sportivas are the best desert hiking boot, in my opinion!

La Sportiva Nucleo High II Gore-Tex Hiking Boots (Womens | Mens)

Let’s talk about one of my personal favorites – the La Sportiva Nucleo High 2s (Womens | Mens). I own a pair of these hiking boots and can attest that they are great for the Sonoran desert from personal experience. La Sportiva is a mountaineering company, so they’re known for their comfort, fit, traction, support, and lightweight quality.

Pros:

  • Extremely comfortable
  • Great fit for narrow, flat, and large feet
  • Lightweight
  • Good traction and grip
  • Excellent support

Cons:

  • Sole and stitching deterioration
  • Not waterproof
  • Poor quality shoe laces and eyelets

Features & Specifications:

Insole & Outsole: Ortholite Hybrid, Vibram Nano XS Trek Compound
Weight & Height: 476g, Mid
Interior Lining & Upper Material: Gore-Tex surround, Nubuck Leather
Manufacturers Warranty: Limited warranty that covers only original La Sportiva material and workmanship for up to one year.
Online Reviews: 4 stars

Overall Impressions:

La Sportiva’s are an excellent desert hiking boot choice due to their comfortability, lightweight feel, fantastic traction, and support. However, they do run pretty narrow, so if that’s something you’re concerned about, I’d buy their wide size. Additionally, users complain about the shoelace quality, the lack of water resistance (though that may not be as important in the desert), and how fast the sole and stitching wear out.

Buy La Sportiva Nucleo High 2s here – Womens | Mens


Lowa and Merrell hiking boots in meadow

Lowa Renegade GTX Mid-Hiking Boots (Womens | Mens)

Next up, we have the infamous Lowa Renegades (Womens | Mens)! These are an extremely popular desert hiking boot due to their quick break-in period, supportive feel, excellent traction, water resistance, and lightweight quality. Many people claim that these run small, so use Amazon’s Try Before You Buy feature to make sure you get the perfect fit!

Pros:

  • Extremely comfortable
  • Little time is required to break them in
  • Sturdy and supportive
  • Excellent fit when upsized
  • Good traction
  • Water resistance
  • Lightweight

Cons:

  • Shoelaces too short & non-functional
  • Poor quality insoles
  • Sole and stitching deterioration
  • Too costly for quality

Features & Specifications:

Insole & Outsole: ATC, Vibram EVO
Weight & Height: 555g, Mid
Inner Lining & Upper Material: Goretex, Nubuck Leather
Manufacturer Warranty: Limited warranty for any material or workmanship defects for up to one year.
Online Rating: 4.1 stars

Overall Impressions:

The Lowa Renegades are comfortable boots that fit like a glove right out of the box when they are sized correctly! They are supportive, have great traction, and are lightweight and water resistant. Some people find them to be too expensive due to their low-quality insoles, laces, and defective soles and stitching.

Buy the Lowa Renegades Here – Womens | Mens


Altra lone peaks trail runners

Altra-Lone Peak ALL-WTHR Mid 2 Hiking Boots (Womens | Mens)

Last but not least, we have the Altra-Lone Peak All-Weather hiking boots (Womens | Mens)! If your boot requirements include being lightweight and comfortable, these might be the fit for you! However, the lack of weight does compromise the durability and water resistance that often come with hiking boots. Let’s go over them!

Pros:

  • Extremely comfortable
  • Lightweight
  • Excellent fit when upsized
  • Supportive

Cons:

  • Not waterproof
  • Deteriorates quickly
  • Soft soles
  • Limited breathability

Features & Specifications

Insoles & Outsoles: Altra EGO, MaxTrac
Weight & Height: 428g, Mid
Inner Lining & Upper Material: Waterproof Bootie Protection (upper)
Manufacturer Warranty: Limited warranty on any manufacturing defects for up to one year after purchase.
Online Ratings: 3.9 stars

Overall Impressions:

In general, the Altra-Lone Peak All Weather boots are great for those looking for a comfortable, lightweight, and supportive desert hiking boot. However, they don’t tend to last long on rocky terrain due to their soft soles and aren’t great at providing water resistance or breathability. These can be great if they have the qualities you’re looking for!

Buy the Altra-Lone Peak ALL-WTHR Mid Boots Here – Womens | Mens


Check out this post for six of the best desert hiking boots!

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How To Choose Your Perfect Boot

Now that we’ve gone over six of the best desert hiking boots (in our and Google’s opinion), let’s talk about the process of actually choosing your perfect boot. Everybody is different, so it’s important to look at the qualities that you need in a boot to make sure you’re making a purchase that you’ll be satisfied with. Let’s dive in!

Fit & Size

First things first, you want to make sure that the hiking boot you choose is the correct fit and size for your feet. Anything too tight will cause uncomfortability, rubbing, and potential injuries. Anything too loose will cause slippage and blisters.

One way to ensure you’re getting the right fit is by reading the reviews. Additionally, our post covers whether buyers thought the shoe ran either big or small. Amazon also has the Try Before You Buy option, which is a great way to ensure that your boot is the right fit.

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Cushioning & Comfort

What do all the boots that we covered in this post have in common? It was that all boots ranked extremely high in comfortability from purchasers’ reviews. Comfort is one of the most important things in a hiking boot because if you’re not comfortable, you’ll probably be miserable, and who wants that!?

One of the things that makes a hiking boot comfortable or not is the amount of cushioning that it has, whether that be from the insole or the outsole. Luckily, if you aren’t satisfied with the insole that comes with a boot, you can always buy a different one, but you can not change the outsole on a boot.

Good questions to ask yourself when you’re feeling out a boot are: How does it feel when I step on something tough? Does it support my arch? Does it feel okay going up and down steep terrain?

Ankle Support & Durability

Everybody differs in their preference for ankle support, though I’ve found it extremely helpful to think about ankle support in rocky, desert terrain. The desert comes with a ton of challenges, including sharp rocks, uneven terrain, and prickly cacti. This makes ankle support that much more important for this type of hiking!

Additionally, since there are a lot of sharp and pokey objects in the desert, it’s ideal to choose a hiking boot that will last in these conditions. Durability matters just as much as comfort, stability, and support in this case. Plus, you want to get your money’s worth and have your boots last you a long while!

Hiking in the Utah desert

Water Resistance & Breathability

One of the biggest misconceptions about the desert is that there is no water to be found. While it may be true that there is less snow and natural water sources, hiking in the Sonoran desert can consist of many stream crossings and heavy rainfall during the winter and monsoon seasons.

Water resistance will vary based on an individual’s preference, although it’s always nice to have a boot that ensures some sort of waterproofness. Additionally, if water can get in, you’ll want a way for water to get out. Breathability is imperative for preventing blisters from forming.

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Height & Weight

While this post covers different hiking boots, you may be inclined to buy hiking shoes or trail runners instead. It varies based on personal preference, though desert hikers tend to lean towards boots for their added stability.

 If you do choose to go down the boot route, consider different boot heights. Some may like the additional support of a high boot while others may find them to be too restrictive. I’ve found that mid-height is a safe bet to go with if you’re unsure.

Socks & Accessories

Last but not least, we cannot forget about something equally important for foot care: the correct socks! Even if you have the best hiking boots in the world, they can become uncomfortable quickly without the proper socks. You’ll want to find a wool sock that is moisture-wicking to prevent blisters from forming.

Additionally, you might look into buying moleskin if you start feeling a hotspot. This can prevent a blister if you feel one coming on and can help you out dearly in the future. These are just a few ways to ensure that you’re feet will remain in good condition and will thank you later.

Buy Smartwool Socks here – Womens | Mens


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    FAQs: Best Desert Hiking Boots

    Now that you’ve seen six great desert hiking boots and advice on how to choose the best one for you, let’s go over some of the most frequently asked questions on the subject!

    Are hiking boots good for the desert?

    Hiking boots are ideal for the desert because they offer durability and ankle support. This post includes six of the best desert hiking boots for 2024.

    What shoes to wear for desert hiking?

    Shoes that are popular for desert hiking include hiking boots, hiking shoes, and trail runners. This will depend on personal preference, though you’ll want a pair that provides support and protection against sharp and pointy desert objects.

    Are hiking boots good for hot weather?

    There are plenty of hiking boots that do fine in hot weather. You’ll want to read reviews and look for the words “breathability” to ultimately decide which is the best option to go with.

    What shoes to wear in the Sahara desert?

    This list contains six of the best desert hiking boots, including the Salomon X Ultras/Quest 4’s, Merrell Moab 3’s, La Sportiva Nucleo High 2s, Lowa Renegades, and Altra Lone Peaks.


    My favorite hiking boots in Tucson, AZ

    Wrapping Up: Best Desert Hiking Boots in 2024

    There you have it! Six of the best desert hiking boots for 2024. We hope that out of this list, you’ve found one pair that you find is the perfect fit for you. Make sure to buy Smartwools to accompany you to give your feet the proper care that they deserve!

    Happy hiking!