The difference between a fun outing and a miserable one often comes down to what you put on your feet. No piece of gear is more important. Here are our favorite go-to picks:
Best for...short, light hikes
Lace up the Columbia Switchback Omni-Tech ($90; columbia.com), and its knobby rubber tread, flexible midsole, and waterproof, breathable upper will allow you to traipse nimbly down the path (its light weight also makes it an excellent trail running shoe).
Best for...longer, intermediate trails
The padded footbed in the Keen Targhee II Mid ($125; keenfootwear.com) will absorb the shock of stomping up and down the hillside, while its snug-fit lacing system locks your feet in place. Our favorite feature? The rubber toe guards that protect your tootsies from hard rocks and roots.
Best for...tough, multiday trips
Weighing in at just 1.1 pounds per boot, the Asolo Advance GTX ($235; altrec.com) is 50 percent lighter than its long-trek peers, but it still gives you everything you want in a heavy-duty hiking boot: a durable rubber sole, total ankle support for stability, and a plush footbed that will make all-day treks feel like a walk in the park.