Nowadays, more and more people are becoming aware that being a vegan isn’t limited to just consumables and dietary habits. It goes far beyond that to extend to clothing and footwear, and even brands are addressing that need for animal cruelty-free products.
We’re all happy to know that we don’t have to let go of our favorite activities, like hiking, just because their gear is made of leather. There is now a wide range of options that make a vegan existence much easier, even when it comes to hiking shoes.
In fact, because most of the major brands have developed vegan hiking shoes, the choice is harder than ever. We’re here to help with that by reviewing the best vegan hiking shoes on the market, and providing you with a guide on how to pick the perfect one for you as well.
At a Glance
- La Sportiva Trango TRK GTX – Best Overall
- Merrell MOAB 2 – Best for Summer
- Adidas Terrex Swift R2 Mid GTX – Most Comfortable
- Inov-8 Roclite 345 GTX – Top Shock-Resistance
- Astral TR1 Merge – Budget Pick
The 5 Best Vegan Hiking Shoes in 2021
1. La Sportiva Trango TRK GTX – Best Overall
Just at first glance, you’ll already get the impression that the La Sportiva Trango TRK GTX is the genuine definition of hiking shoes. And, they do live up to their exterior appearance, offering a high-end set of qualities that go above and beyond.
Its uppers are made from abrasion-resistant fabrics, and they feature a Gore-Tex membrane, making it both water and windproof as well as breathable. Since your boots allow water vapor to pass through, the sky’s the limit from here; you can go anywhere you want, and in all types of weather!
You’d think that such qualities would make it bulky, especially because it does look that way. Yet, that’s not the case; the boots are super lightweight.
If you’re wondering how so, it’s because of special technology, the Thermo Tech Application technology, specifically designed to deliver an enhanced structure to hiking boots like this one. It opts for a one-construction design free of inserts and stitches, so you get extremely durable and stable hiking boots that are far from bulky.
What’s more, the La Sportiva Trango TRK GTX features a Vibram outsole with deep lugs, providing excellent grip and traction. That’s in addition to the 3D Flex system in the heel, which serves the same purpose along with stability and support on steep terrain. So, slipping shouldn’t be a concern for you; you’ll have the maximum control even on the most uneven of terrain.
Last but not least, the boots offer excellent ankle support due to a graded lacing system that serves the height of the boots.
What’s the catch? Expectedly, the La Sportiva Trango TRK GTX is on the expensive side of the spectrum, especially the men’s models, which cost almost double that of the women’s. Moreover, the sizes tend to run small, so you would want to pay attention to that and go a minimum of half a size up when making the purchase.
If you’re looking for the best vegan hiking shoes with the ideal blend of durability, traction, out-of-the-box comfort, and waterproof protection, you should depend on the ultralight La Sportiva Trango TRK GTX. It will be your perfect companion on your favorite outdoor adventures.
2. Merrell MOAB 2 – Best for Summer
If performance is your top priority, the Merrell MOAB 2 will be one of your best bets. It’s the ideal fit for the hot and sunny summer days when you can’t let go of your favorite activity but don’t want your feet to suffer either.
The uppers of the Merrell MOAB 2 are made of synthetic and mesh with high ventilation. When you combine that with breathable mesh lining, you’ll get the gist of why it’s perfect for summery days.
On that note, it’s also worth mentioning that they’re not suitable for winter days. The boots are not waterproof, so they won’t work well with snow or rain. The only waterproof version is, unfortunately, not vegan-friendly.
Moving on, the Merrell MOAB 2 features a Vibram TC5+ outsole with 5mm multidirectional lugs, which means the grip and traction are out of this world, on all terrain types you can think of.
As for the performance, the heels and arch are both supported through a molded nylon arch shank, compression-molded EVA midsole for superior comfort and stability, and Merrell Air Cushion in the heel, which takes all shocks and further enhances grip.
Additionally, the boots feature the Merrell Kinetic Fit BASE contoured insole, which is known for its off-the-charts comfort and flexible support. If you don’t feel comfortable with it for some reason, it’s removable and can be switched for different preferences.
On the downside, like the La Sportiva Trango TRK GTX, the sizes tend to run small, so you would also want to go half a size up at least.
If you love hiking on summer days and are worried about moisture in your feet, you shouldn’t anymore. The Merrell MOAB 2 will guarantee you dryness and comfort in an all-in-one, versatile set of boots that’s hard not to like!
3. Adidas Terrex Swift R2 Mid GTX – Most Comfortable
If you love running shoes and yearn for their feel in your hiking boots, the Adidas Terrex Swift R2 Mid GTX is about to bring your wishes into reality. Starting from their outdoor-oriented design, you know these boots will endure it all.
With Adiprene shock absorbent, foam midsole, that comfortable feel of running shoes in your typical running shoes is made available in these lightweight boots. This layer ensures maximum cushioning while maintaining absorption on rough terrain.
Moreover, a mid-cut and series of TPU reinforcements in the midfoot and the toecap protect your ankles against injuries and abrasions, keeping your feet protected all the way. Similarly, an anti-gravel tongue makes sure that stones, branches, or other elements are completely pushed away.
On the note of cushioning and comfortable feel, the uppers include Adidas’ ripstop mesh, which lightens their weight and increases their breathability. Also, a Quicklace nylon lacing makes putting on the boots a bliss and with a snug fit, while its lace bungee stows laces on the midfoot entirely prevent tangling and stumbling during your trip.
Furthermore, the Adidas Terrex Swift R2 Mid GTX boasts Traxion rubber outsole lugs, which do wonders with grip, regardless of your hiking type. Not just that, they’re also waterproof, making them further suitable for hiking in different conditions and weathers.
Opposite to our previous picks, these boots run larger than your usual foot size. So once again, make sure to try before you buy.
With comfort at its core, the Adidas Terrex Swift R2 Mid GTX goes the extra mile of making your hiking experience as snuggly as possible, allowing you to move swiftly through the mountains and terrains without worrying about your feet.
4. Inov-8 Roclite 345 GTX – Top Shock-Resistance
The Inov-8 Roclite 345 GTX is not only vegan friendly but also environmentally friendly containing recycled materials. That’s its main selling point, along with its ability to stay waterproof and ventilated all the time.
For starters, the boots have TPU and mesh uppers, allowing for elasticity and flexibility in an eco-friendly manner. Furthermore, they include a Gore-Tex membrane, which is precisely what allows for ventilation.
When it comes to traction, the G-Grip graphene outsole gives you excellent traction on nearly all surfaces. The outsole is also equipped with deep lugs, further adding to your grip.
The Inov-8 Roclite 345 GTX also includes a unique quality, the Powerflow Midsole, an EVA midsole designed to offer you 10% extra shock absorption, and 15% energy return higher than regular midsoles.
However, while the boots are waterproof, they don’t perform up to standard in winter or with snow. Since they lack insulation, you can’t rely on your feet to feel warm in them, which will certainly affect your adventure. You could consider wearing thick socks, but then that will influence the ventilation. It’s a trade-off, in essence.
Last but not least, the boots are sort of narrow. If you know that your size is not straightforward and falls between different sizes, or if you have wider feet than usual, make sure you try it out first and go half a size or one full size up for the best fit.
For an environmentally friendly pick that’s up to par and has a true giving-back-to-society element to it, that would undoubtedly be the Inov-8 Roclite 345 GTX. Buckle up to experience superior shock-resistance, maximum elasticity, and excellent traction!
5. Astral TR1 Merge – Budget Pick
If you’re looking for a top-performing pair of hiking boots, but you’re not willing to break the bank, you will certainly like what the Astral TR1 Merge has to offer. Priced under $150, you’ll be impressed with the value for money you’ll get.
Their uppers are composed of different fabrics, with the most dominant being canvas. Moreover, they feature TPU overlays at the toe and heel, along with a mesh tongue. The presence of the mesh enables high breathability and filtering of hot hair, so you’re guaranteed ventilated feet all the time.
In addition, the Astral TR1 Merge incorporates Water Ready holes at the front and back of the midsoles, which drain any water rapidly when they get wet. Despite that, however, the boots are not waterproof.
On summer days, odor also matters, not just sweat-free feet. The removable Polygiene-treated insoles are here for that; they eliminate all odors and keep you fresh as if you just wore the boots, even if you’ve been on the trail for hours!
On the note of the midsole, it’s made of EVA foam, meaning you’ll be enjoying a lot of stability and support. Not to mention, there’s also a heel contour to further add to that stability.
As for grip, non-marking G rubber Trail Grip outsoles are among the best qualities of these boots. They’re exceedingly aggressive and rugged, featuring 5mm deep lugs that dig deep into the ground to provide you with an unmatched grip every step of the way. If you’re worried about traction, don’t! You have plenty on all terrain types.
Last but not least, it’s worth mentioning that Astral is one of those brands that’s very meticulous about their material choices. In these boots, they use recycled polyester, so if you want to give support to the cause in general, the Astral TR1 Merge boots are your go-to.
For a budget-friendly pick that provides the just-right elements of the best hiking boots, you don’t need to look further than the Astral T1 Merge. Forget about feet fatigue and instability with this one!
How to Pick Vegan Hiking Shoes
When you’re shopping for vegan hiking shoes, there are a few factors to consider to make sure you get your hands on the perfect match for you. Let’s discuss them and make your shopping process a little easier.
Since we’re speaking about vegan hiking shoes, the material is the most crucial aspect to look out for. Most brands tend to go for leather in their production of shoes, since it’s known for its durability, especially for the uppers.
In our case, however, always look for synthetic uppers. These could range from mesh, textile, and canvas, to faux leather; these are the ones that have the green light. Since they won’t be as durable as real leather, you may want to consider some additional coating layers or a ventilated membrane, like Gore-Tex (GTX).
Don’t worry, though. Many hikers are now resorting to synthetic hiking boots instead of traditional ones, regardless of whether they’re vegan or not, because of their optimal performance.
Tip: An alternative is to just search for synthetic shoes, since not all brands label them as vegan, even if they are. Take a look at the material composition, and you can take it from there. However, if you’re able to spot the material, that means that the glue used wasn’t vegan. That’s your call to make.
Ankle vs. Low Cut
There’s no better option between ankle vs. low cut shoes; it’s a matter of preference.
Ankle boots are for you if you need ankle support, and they are more suitable for winter days. So, if your adventures tend to take place on rainy and snowy days and you’re looking at waterproof and insulated shoes, those are most likely to be ankle ones. That said, they won’t do the job at all in summer; they’ll make your feet super hot and sweaty, even if they are ventilated.
On the other hand, if you tend to go on trips during warmer weather, you’d want to go for low-cut boots. While they won’t provide you with ankle support, they tend to be much more lightweight, and your feet won’t sweat in them. Most of them are waterproof and ventilated, so they’re made for summer.
Different hiking boots are made for different hiking types. You’ll pick your partner based on your hiking needs.
By day hikes, we’re referring to those ranging from quick walks to a 10-mile one in the foothills. For such, you’ll need a decent level of support and traction in the sole. Custom fitting lacing systems will also empower you to tie in and adjust the support levels according to the different terrains. If the terrain is challenging, you’ll want to consider good ankle support as well.
For multi-day trekking or backpacking, you’ll need extra ankle support than that of day hikes. Moreover, you’ll need a much stiffer sole to withstand the rugged terrain. In this case, you should avoid lightweight boots and, instead, consider comfort.
Comfort takes different forms when it comes to hiking shoes, but there are several aspects to consider while making the purchase. The most important is to take a pair of walking socks with you to wear when trying on the boots to ensure your comfort.
Tip: Try to schedule your shopping trip for the afternoon, since feet tend to expand at that time, similar to how they would after a day walking in the mountains and on different terrains.
Fully lace up each boot. When you do this, you shouldn’t feel any sort of toes pressing against the front of the boot. Rather, there should be ample room for some movement. Similarly, there shouldn’t be any rubbing in the heel area. To test this, you can attempt going up the stairs and downhill on a slope to try.
Another equally important determinant of comfort is the length of the boots. Push your toes to their front, and if you’re able to squeeze your finger into the boot behind your heels, then you have the right length.
As for the width, don’t depend on the midsole of your boots to soften over time. That won’t happen, so make sure it fits your width adequately but not too tight. Leave some room for movement as well.
Last but not least, a final tip is to walk around your house with the boots as frequently as you can to ensure a perfect fit.
Hiking boots, in general, tend to be pricey. Now, add to that the specific requirement of being vegan, and you understand why they’d be even more expensive. However, don’t give up on the possibility of finding a pair at a reasonable price!
Don’t be tempted to purchase the boot that has it all. Make sure to sort out your priorities and find the one that ticks your own boxes, so that you don’t get ripped off. Yet, don’t scrimp on this purchase either, because it’s more of a long-term investment.
Frequently Asked Questions
Are Vegan Shoes Waterproof?
Not all of them. Yet, a vast majority of them are 100% waterproof and can be worn even in heavy rain, deep puddles, flowing water, and deep snow.
Do Vegan Shoes Smell?
No! They’ll only smell at the beginning when you’ve just bought them. And they won’t smell bad; they’ll just have the smell of artificial leather lingering in them for a while.
Do Vegan Shoes Make Your Feet Sweat?
No sweaty feet! Most materials are breathable, and hiking boots also include further layers that allow for enhanced ventilation.
What Are Vegan Boots Made Of?
As mentioned, vegan shoes are made without using any animal byproducts or materials, like leather, suede, wool, shearling, silk, fur, or others. They’re only made of a variety of synthetic fabrics including polyurethane (PU), a plastic bonded to a cotton backing.
We hope that you’ve clicked with one of our picks of the best vegan hiking shoes by now. If you haven’t and you’re still unsure which is right for you, no problem! We’ll narrow them down further for you.
The crown jewel of this list is the La Sportiva Trango TRK GTX. It doesn’t miss a single element and is equally suitable for both summer and winter hiking types. You will pay a premium sum for it, but it’s certainly worth it, and you will get value for each penny you spend.
If you’re on a tight budget, go for the Astral TR1 Merge without a doubt. It won’t fail you and will give you more value for money than you would expect it. Although it’s not waterproof and more equipped for summer than winter, you’ll get unmatched grip and traction in return.
Last but not least, if you’re looking for incomparable comfort, don’t hesitate to buy the Adidas Terrex Swift R2 Mid GTX. It will give you the feel of your favorite running shoes but with the performance of hiking boots.