What’s the best type of sole for a hiking boot?We regularly get questions and comments about the soles of walking and hiking boots:
- What’s best for mud?
- What’s best for roads?
- Why do mine always slip on wet rock?
- Historically used to give extra grip to leather-soled footwear on soft surfaces.
- Very durable.
- Good grip on snow and ice.
- Poor grip on hard, flat surfaces.
- Very poor cushioning.
- Used on boots designed for fly fishing.
- Excellent grip on smooth, wet rock.
- Poor grip on mud.
- Not very durable.
- Used on rock climbing and bouldering shoes.
- Excellent grip on dry rock, due to providing maximum surface area of rubber in contact with rock.
- Dangerously poor grip on wet grass and mud.
Heavily cleated rubber
- Open, ‘tractor tyre’ type tread pattern, used on some military jungle boots.
- Excellent grip on mud.
- ‘Lumpy’ sole makes walking less comfortable on hard surfaces.
- Reduced surface area of lugs accelerates wear and reduces grip on hard surfaces.
- Designed to give a good balance of grip and durability under most conditions.
- Rubber grips hard surfaces, such as rock and asphalt.
- Cleats give ‘bite’, providing extra grip on soft surfaces like wet grass and mud.
- Used on the majority of modern hiking and mountaining boots.
- Will not give the best performance in all conditions, but will give good performance in most conditions.