Backpacking for beginners: How to choose the best hiking boots and socks

What are the best hiking boots? I hope this backpacking for beginners series continues to be helpful for those of you hiking for the first time. In this video I go over what I think is a good way to find the perfect boot for backpacking. I started by doing what everyone typically does and chose a Gore-tex hiking boot for ankle support. Then I transitioned to a lighter weight shoe with a low ankle cut because I hate when my foot feels restricted. Finally I’ve moved to using trail runners. The major benefit of these are that they are lightweight and breathe very well. Your feet can get wet but this style of shoe dries very quickly.

Salomon Speed Cross 3s
Salomon Quest 4d 2:
Merrell Moab Ventilators:
Wright Socks:

Instagram: @timwatsonoutdoors
Twitter: @timwoutdoors

Video description may contain affiliate links. These help support the channel.


the mi woodsman says:

Great demo Tim ! Gotta have good boots , maybe this year we can do a camp in Manistee forest ! It’s only like 4miles from my house!
ATB john

Midwest Outdoors says:

I use the Altra Lone Peak 2.5 but I’m also in the market for the Lone Peak 3.0 mid. My Merrell boots are too heavy and want to try something in between a boot and a trail runner

39camper says:

Really enjoy the video Tim, specially the sock part, i’ll have to try those wright socks. Have you try darn tough socks, if so, you like them?? You ready to do a Michigan hike? Manistee???

Pack Addict says:

Good video, thanks. I’m glad you made the comment about using thin socks with the trail runners. My experience has been that thick socks just don’t work well in them. Even if you’ve factored that in to your shoe size choice.
I too am a fan of the Speedcross 3’s. Something to keep in mind about them though is the tread wears down pretty fast. I get 350-400 miles out them which for me is a year of hiking (3 season). I’m on my 3rd pair now. I still use the tread-worn pairs for non-hiking activities as they are otherwise perfectly fine.

Big Boy Bushcraft says:

I’m gonna have to try some of those socks

Yankee Liv'n says:

Thanks for the awesome tips

TAC-HILL says:

great video and information Tim! i never been too big on the crocs but they are quite comfy.. seen a pair at sportsmans warehouse i liked may have to try em out n see

Ronan O'Connell says:

Thanks for a very useful video, Tim. Has opened my mind, especially to the use of trail runners for hiking.

uptrail71 says:

Very good Tim! I’m still debating on what kind of series to make. Maybe a beginners or breakdown of my pack. I just need to find the time to do it!

Shiny Knife says:

Also important to wear a bad ass Star Wars shirt too hehe

Abraham Pacas says:

Very helpful!! What do you think about the X ULTRA MID 2 GTX??

Juan Munoz says:

thank you so much! very useful, answer all of my questions! I will be backing through rainy terrain for about two weeks, I guess wet feet are inevitable.. better to have comfortable, light, quick drying trail runners than heavy expensive boots. Thanks again!

Southern Food Junkie says:

Very good advice. I am glad you posted because I was just thinking about getting a new pair. I love my crocs too. When I go hunting I take them along for when I get back to the truck I kick my boots off and wear my crocs home. I wear Zekos when I go kayaking. They are lightweight and can be worn anywhere but they drain water out. I like the idea of that last sock you showed too. I will check them out also.

Sean Erlenbeck says:

Used you Amazon affiliate Tim and bought the Salomon boots and a pair of the Wright Socks. Love helping fellow entrepreneurs out. If you have your own business, come check my company out.

Jacqui Blanchard says:

Another great video, Tim. Very informative and I love the personal perspective. Much appreciated! I’m sock shopping today so it;s perfect timing for me. I hadn’t heard of right socks before but I’m on the hunt for them now. Thanks!

Hiker Videos 99 says:

FYI – This is the HOKA “rocker” boot –

Thanksman says:

Great vid

Ben Cox says:

Your tips are awesome, your shirt even more so :D. Thanks for the video brother!

BillGoudy says:

Excellent info, Tim!! 😉

PGHackman says:

Another great video Tim! I am slightly surprised that Salomon works so well for you. Yes, they are really well made boots but as they are designed in France they are made on a european last which makes them a bit narrow for an american foot. Mine turned out to be torture chambers. Check out the Altra line of trail shoes. They have a foot shaped toe box that might help with the black toe nail problem. Keep up the great videos!

Hiker Videos 99 says:

Great! I have the exact Salomon Quest 4D 2 GTX boots. I feel guilty hiking them because they are so comfortable. A little pricey at $230. Try different lacing tensions if you are toe jamming. I bought the same street size and no issues. I hike the AT and Skyline Drive on weekends. Never had a blister or any toe jamming issues. LOVE my Salomons! For socks I like Walmart Russell Performance Active Dri-power. $10. Thanks for the great video. ( Smell n Roses recommended your channel ^5)

Rush Creek Survival says:

You know there is a huge conversation missing on .. socks … !! Glad you mentioned it .. ! Great vid !! ~Luke

Catherine Gregory says:

Great information. I made the very same mistake and bought my exact size initially. Same thing after a couple long hikes with downhills. I lost both big toe nails. I have the Merrell Moab now myself (1/2 a size bigger) and wore those on my last backpacking trip. All seems well now. Although, my feet look really big as they are already big in the first place. haha. Safety before beauty on trail. 🙂

Danny's Off Grid Flat says:

good job

leo A says:

I wouldn’t go on a rugged terrain with trail runners..especially with a heavy pack. you’ll sprain your ankle.
Also, I’ve noticed that heavier boots work better when you have a heavy back pack; it stops me falling on my ‘but’ when I’m going up hill.
Socks 100% wool are the best! hands down; it wicks away sweat, and they dry quicker than cotton or polyester when they get wet.

Todd Wittenmyer Backwoods Living! says:

Some good points there Tim! In these vids I’m always looking over your shoulder to see what kind of literature you and your family are into. I read a lot and have written a few books so novels always draw my attention. Anyway, back to the footwear, I have some Goretex boots, but I couldn’t tell you who manufactured them. LOL! They’re pretty comfy though, but I guess I’ll pay a little more attention when I have to purchase another pair! Later buddy!

Massachusetts Prepper says:

This video was packed full of good ideas and suggestions for hiking boots and socks. And you are definitely right my friend you take care your feet they will take care of you. Thanks for sharing brother.

Vdub Camper says:

Very interesting thanks for sharing. Atb Dean

Nathan4071 says:

Excellent tips Tim.

Steve LFZ says:

You’re right about the boots staying wet after they get wet. I hike everyday 5-7 miles with trailrunners and have several pairs to alternate. I never get blisters, but usually lose toenails. Tall hiking boots can be rather cumbersome…and heavy when encased in mud.

BrianWest58 says:

I’m stuck on Merrell light hiking boots these last several years. Splitting the difference so to speak. Always thought I needed a traditional boot for carrying a pack. I hadn’t worn out my Vasque Sundowner leather boots but wanted a lighter type. High end Merrells are light with semi stiff soles. Always Goretex. I can mix sock thickness seasonally, even at my normal shoe size. I’m guessing they are made just a tiny bit longer to accommodate real hiking situations, like the toe bump on downhill like you described. Haven’t had any issue aside from wearing a pair out in 2-3 years. Not really a bad tradeoff for comfort.

Brcboston says:

Thanks for the sock info! Really helped

Ranger Kooky says:

Ty for the share

Duffelbag Drag says:

You said tail runners aren’t waterproof? Mine are. Saloman makes Goretex trail runners as well as boots.

The Bushcraft Family Buttery says:

Great advice Tim I have two pairs one high ankle and one mid and love em both


Great Video Tim! Good point on the thickness of the socks… had the same issue last summer and went to a thinner sock… Instant relief!

robert wood says:

super info – thanks

Ellen's Homemade Delights says:

Great Video Tim! Survival Mindset sent me over, New Subscriber!!

Survival Mindset says:

Boots are number 1 thing great video and post Tim I have wasted a lot of money on boots nice solid boot you have

 Write a comment


Do you like our videos?
Do you want to see more like that?

Please click below to support us on Facebook!