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Best Backpacking Shoes

Featuring our patented KURUSOLE midsole for increased performance and to assist you in reaching the summit.

Updated on May 31, 2024

Shop the best shoes for backpacking

“Have shoes, will travel” is seemingly a motto or mantra that backpackers, hikers, and trekkers embody. But before you venture out into the great outdoors, make sure you check what shoes you’re wearing first.

Yes, technically any kind of shoes will take you places but the question is: will it take you there without hurting your feet? Not all shoes are made equal—and going out and about in nature requires some heavy-duty backpacking boots or hiking shoes.

Stay comfortable and experience Pain Relief Beyond Belief after hours of indulging in your wanderlust with the best shoes for backpacking from KURU.

What are Backpacking Shoes?

It’s in the name—backpacking shoes are the ideal shoes to wear when going backpacking, camping, trekking, and exploring nature in general. These types of shoes belong in the same family or group as your hiking boots.

Shoes for backpacking are designed to be highly durable and last longer than your average shoes. Many backpacking trail shoes are made with sturdy yet breathable, insulating, and water-resistant materials like leather, polyester, and nylon.

Backpacking boots also need to offer maximum comfort and support. Unlike lighter, more casual footwear, backpack shoes can easily carry heavy loads while ensuring your feet are fully supported and not crammed inside the toe box.

The best backpacking shoes are high cut ones or those whose tops extend and wrap over your ankles. This gives you excellent support to help keep you from rolling your ankles and hurting yourself while on nature trails.

  • A couple backpacking on a fall day wear KURU ATOM Trail shoes for backpacking.

How To Pair Your Backpacking  Shoes and When To Wear Them

  • When to wear your boots
    Backpacking shoes are best worn when traversing rugged mountains and backcountry, but they also make for amazing statement pieces when worn with everyday or smart casual wear. If you’re planning on walking around the city, backpacking shoes can also be your best friend. Backpacking boots are also a great option for winter wear.
    When to wear your boots
  • Pay attention to your socks
    When it comes to the best backpacking boots, you definitely pay for the quality. If you’re investing in amazing shoes for comfort, make sure you don’t sabotage your whole experience by wearing thin, old socks. Backpacking shoes are ALWAYS designed to be worn with socks, preferably high-quality hiking socks that are warm, moisture wicking, and temperature regulating.
    Pay attention to your socks
  • Play with contrasts
    Backpacking boots have a rustic, rugged feel so you can go the opposite direction and play with contrasts. Pairing a wide, billowy, parachute dress with backpacking trail shoes and calf-high socks will definitely make heads turn in a good way.
    Play with contrasts
  • Stay safe and risk-free
    If you want to wear your best backpacking shoes more often but don’t like to experiment much with style, you can stick to one tried and true combination: jeans and t-shirt. You can also add a jacket for more layers and texture. Skinny or tapered jeans, army jackets, and faux fur jackets will elevate the jeans and shirt combo.
    Stay safe and risk-free
  • Layer up
    Speaking of layers, make sure to wear multiple layers when going backpacking. Don’t worry about sweating—you can always remove layers to feel cooler. At the very least, you need a base layer or underwear, your regular shirt layer, a mid layer like a fleece top, and a hard-shell outerwear layer, such as a waterproof rain jacket.
    Layer up
Shop hiking shoes and boots from KURU today!

Backpacking Packing Checklist

Different people have different backpacking essentials. What you need to pack generally depends on the terrain you plan to cover or explore, the general climate, recent weather around the area, and how long your trip will be.

That said, here’s a good starting point when packing for your next trip:

  • Backpacking boots or shoes
  • Sturdy backpack
  • Camping tent
  • Sleeping bag
  • Portable stove and fuel
  • Camping cookware and cutlery
  • Ready-to-eat food and easy-to-cook meals, like protein bars, dehydrated meals, etc.
  • Personal water bottle, preferably one with a built-in water treatment or filter
  • Emergency or first aid kit
  • Portable lanterns and flashlights
  • Repair kit for your tent and supplies
  • Sunglasses
  • Rain jacket with hood
  • Sunscreen
  • Insect repellant
  • Personal hygiene items or toiletries
  • Compass or GPS and map


  • Are hiking boots necessary for backpacking?

    Yes! You can choose from different types of hiking boots—from low-cut models and high-cut day-hiking boots to heavy-duty backpacking boots. It all depends on your preferences, where you plan to go, and how long your trip will be.

    Backpacking boots are the best for multi-day hiking trips deep in the backcountry where you carry a lot of supplies. These types of shoes are also great for backpacking trips or day hiking with light loads in rougher or more rugged terrain.

  • What is the difference between hiking and backpacking shoes?

    You can consider backpacking boots as the heavy-duty version of hiking shoes. Regular hiking shoes will serve you well for day hikes, short backpacking trips, and other camping trips with light loads.

    However, if you’re venturing deeper into the mountains, forest, or jungle, then you need stout, high-cut backpacking boots with excellent ankle support, arch support, greater shock absorption, and waterproof features.

  • Are your shoes considered orthopedic shoes?

    While our shoes are not currently considered orthopedic by a medical standard, we have received thousands of positive reviews from customers who say their KURUs helped reduce or eliminate their pain.

  • How is the arch support of KURU shoes?

    KURU shoes deliver excellent arch support without the need for thick inserts or expensive, custom orthotics.

    Superior arch support starts with our patented KURUSOLE technology, which delivers natural cushioning and dynamically hugs your heel with every step. Every foot is unique, and our ULTIMATE INSOLES adapt to fit your needs by using your own body heat to custom-mold to the shape of your feet over time.

    The corrective nature of our superior arch support is designed to neutralize your weight distribution and place your foot in the best anatomical position. This support can take some getting used to. We suggest slowly breaking in your new shoes over the course of 2–3 weeks.

  • How do I know which shoes to buy? Which is best for me?

    The best shoe for you will depend on your unique foot type and the style you’re looking for.

    The best shoes for men and women alike offer adequate arch support and cushion. Whether you’re looking for bright blue shoes, dark blue shoes, or white shoes with blue accents, KURUs line of pain-relieving footwear help alleviate foot pain symptoms for all-day comfort.

In our 2024 study on foot pain across America, we found that a significant proportion of individuals sought professional assistance from podiatrists due to various foot ailments. Among the 2,500 survey respondents experiencing foot pain, a notable 12% cited plantar fasciitis as their primary concern.

Explore the latest foot pain trends, common causes of pain, treatment and prevention plans for maintained foot health in our 2024 Foot Pain Trends Report!

Features of Backpacking Shoes & Finding the Best Fit

  • Durable yet breathable
    Backpacking shoes need high durability to outlast the rugged trails and also have good breathability enough so you can keep your feet sweat-free even during warm weather and hours of walking.
    Durable yet breathable
  • Water resistant
    Though not all backpacking shoes are water-resistant, all the best backpacking boots definitely are. You never know when you may need to cross a stream or even encounter rain, so it’s best to be prepared.
    Water resistant
  • Excellent shock absorption
    Backpacking means walking on uneven trails and perhaps even going up a tree or boulder and jumping down. For all these, you need maximum cushioning to ensure not only your comfort but also the health of your feet and your overall safety. Firm arch support: Similar to cushioning, firm arch support is necessary if you want to keep yourself safe throughout your backpacking trip. Good arch support will help reduce the strain on your feet and offer pain relief.
    Excellent shock absorption
  • Good ankle support
    Lack of proper ankle support is one of the main reasons behind spraining and rolling ankles during hiking, trekking, and backpacking trips. Look for high-cut backpacking boots to ensure your ankles are not only supported but also protected from the elements.
    Good ankle support
  • Thick and grippy soles
    This applies not just to outsoles, but even your midsoles. Thick soles in general will protect your feet from getting bruised from all the roots and rocks you walk on. The best shoes to take backpacking are always the ones with rubber soles, which provide you with better traction. This will help minimize your chances of slipping and sliding in the mud or during descents.
    Thick and grippy soles
Finding the Right Fit
  • Know your size
    Always measure your foot size before going or at the store itself. Although shoe sizes are uniform, there may still be small differences depending on the shoe brand, so we recommend using a Brannock device to measure your feet.
    Know your size
  • Go for a bigger or smaller size if needed
    Don’t insist on buying and wearing backpacking shoes in your regular size if it doesn’t fit you comfortably. Some shoes and styles run larger or smaller than the standard shoe size so make sure to not zero in on just the numbers. Make sure you also consider how your feet actually feel while wearing the shoes.
    Go for a bigger or smaller size if needed
  • Wear or bring your socks
    Always have socks on when trying backpacking shoes at the store. Moreover, make sure your socks are either the same one you plan to wear for your backpacking trip or one of similar thickness.
    Wear or bring your socks
  • Shop in the afternoon
    Our feet naturally expand throughout the day, so it’s always best to shop for new backpacking boots in the afternoon or even evening. This way, you can avoid having shoes that only fit you well in the morning.
    Shop in the afternoon

Three Layers of Support

At KURU, we pride ourselves on our unique approach to shoe design. We believe that shoes should be shaped to fit the natural contours of your feet, which is why we create every pair in three distinct support layers, not just an insole.


Our revolutionary ergonomic design starts with a curved footbed and adds unparalleled triple-layer support that includes shock-absorbing KURUCLOUD, heel-cupping KURUSOLE, and arch-supporting ULTIMATE INSOLES. The result? Shoes that are so comfortable you’ll stop thinking about your feet.

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  • How KURU brings relief


    The patented KURUSOLE is the hidden gem in our KURU shoes. Though not visible from the outside, it does wonders for your posture, gait, and overall foot health. The KURUSOLE snugly cups your heel to protect and keep the fat pad in place. This protects your heel from wear and tear while also offering added shock absorption.

Our Secret

Animated GIF showing KURUSOLE tech in KURU shoes vs. typical flat interiors for plantar fasciitis pain.
Why Others Love KURU

Why Others Love KURU

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Pain improving each day. I am a hiker/backpacker and I’m constantly looking for shoes that don’t hurt my feet and a friend recommended these. I bought these just a few weeks ago and I”m still in the break in period but so far my feet are feeling better and a very unexpected pleasant surprise is my hip does not hurt when I have the kurus on.

Jackie H

Great Shoe! I bought these shoes hoping they would help my neuropathy and I am very glad that I did! Excellent shoe! 5 stars overall. Still breaking in shoes but I definitely notice a huge difference at the end of the day.

Robert Slie

Fun Shoe–CHICANE – Women’s Trail Hiking Shoe. Great color, Great support-I have flat feet and nerve damage, break in time was minimal, fits like a glove, very comfortable, my feet do not hurt when wearing Kuru shoes, quality of shoes-they last a very long time-years, I am so thankful for their innovative technology to help people whose feet need extra care and support. I have tried other brands of shoes, but I always come back to Kuru!

Kathy Mc

Best shoe of my life. I have had “ foot trouble” ever since I was through growing. I have had all kinds of appliances and braces. But now I wear simply Kurus and my Chicanes are my second identical pair. I am both happy and astonished.

Barbara Kessel

Very helpful. So far this has helped my serious weakness and pain upon walking. It also supports weak ankle and arch. Better than other orthopedic shoes.

Jeannette B

Shop KURU shoes today!
Recommended Shoes for Backpacking

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