Photo courtesy Xero Shoes

These Hiking Boots Easily Move Between Trail Adventures and City Life

Technology + Gear
by Johnny Motley Feb 29, 2024

For an upcoming trip to Moab and its surrounding national parks, I wavered between buying either hiking boots or trail runners, those lightweight, sneaker-shaped shoes trending in the hiking blogosphere as of late. Both types of outdoor footwear boast distinct advantages. Trailrunners are lighter and nimbler, while boots are sturdier and more durable.

Ultimately, an email to David Poston (@ Yoyo_onthe_Trail), a hiking expert with thousands of miles of trail experience under his belt, settled the matter in favor of good old-fashioned boots. “For many hikers, especially hobbyists, hiking boots are ideal for several criteria — ankle support; cushioning and traction on rocky, wet trails; and warmth in the snow,” Poston told me.

I was concerned about having enough time to break in a new pair of boots before my Utah adventure, but Poston assured me that newer-gen hiking boots have solved this problem. “Gone are the days of heavy leather boots that require months of breaking in, with blisters and lost toenails as the price to pay for admission. With any modern boots worth their salt, you’re ready to rock right out of the shoebox.”

On Poston’s recommendation, I snagged a pair of Xero Shoes Ridgeways. With exceptional grip, a waterproof design, and reinforced soles, these boots are outdoor all-stars. The vintage design and eye-catching colors make them great kicks for wintry days in my hometown of New York City to boot (shameless pun intended).

Looking for a pair of hiking boots? Check out Matador’s detailed hiking boot reviews:

We hope you love the Xero Shoes Ridgeway hiking boots! Just so you know, Matador may collect a small commission from the links on this page if you decide to book a stay. Listed prices are accurate as of the time of publication.

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What I like about the Xero Shoes Ridgeway Hiking Boots

Photo courtesy Xero Shoes
Photo courtesy Xero Shoes

My prime criterion in choosing hiking boots is durability. Let’s face it: quality boots are expensive, and I expect a pair to hold up even after years of rugged trekking. Xero Shoes Ridgeways are so well made that they come with a 5,000-mile warranty. In other words, you could hike the entire Appalachian Trail (2,200 miles) twice, and then tramp around for another few hundred miles, and your Ridgeways should still be in shipshape.

Waterproofing and grip are two other non-negotiables. Tightly sealed and manufactured with water-resistant leather and rubber, the Xero Shoes Ridgeways keep my paws dry even after stomping through snow or fording streams. Unlike boots that I favor strictly for urban settings, Xero Shoes Ridgeways’s soles grip uneven, rocky terrain and steep inclines, allowing me to skip from boulder to boulder as gracefully as a young ibex.

Especially on longer hikes or camping trips, comfort is paramount. Even the most primo hiking boots are a waste of money if uncomfortable. Hiking in the early aughts as a teenager, I used to spend weeks breaking in new boots in preparation for camping trips, lest blisters and sores inflict my trotters like some horrible pedal pox. Fortunately, Xero Shoes Ridgeways requires no break-in period. As Poston notes, you can snag them right out of the shoebox and hit the trails the same day. Solving a problem I have had with other brands, the Xero Shoes Ridgeways accommodate my wide feet, giving my toes plenty of room to wiggle. While they’re not feather-light like trailrunners, my Xero Shoes Ridgeways are not cumbersome or clunky like some brands I have worn in the past.

Finally, the retro aesthetic of Xero Shoes Ridgeways was a strong selling point for me. Granted, fashion is a secondary concern in the wilderness, but having hiking boots that look handsome with jeans or khakis is a bonus. I went with a classic brown and navy blue pattern, but Xero manufactures boots in a variety of colors.

What could be better?

xero shoes ridgeway

Photo courtesy Xero Shoes

If I had to change something, I would swap out the eyelets for speed hooks on the upper half of the boot, similar to the design of Red Wing’s Iron Rangers, my all-time favorite city boots. I won’t hold it against Xero, but a thicker sole would be appreciated for extra lift. (I’m 5’7”, so this gripe comes from pure vanity). Otherwise, all facets of Xero Shoes Ridgeways pass with flying colors.

Are the Xero Shoes Ridgeway Hiking Boots worth the money?

gray xero shoes ridgeway boot

Photo courtesy Xero Shoes

At under $150, Xero Shoes Ridgeways are a score for weekend warriors or hobbyist hikers. While elite hikers like Poston might justify splurging on more specialized boots, for a greenhorn like me — a city-slicker who dreams up a camping trip or two per year — Xero Shoes Ridgeways check every box. And even though I don’t spend extensive time on the trail, my Ridgeways still see plenty of mileage when winter’s snow and slush cover New York’s streets and sidewalks. I expect to use my latest pair of Xero Shoes Ridgeways for years, but when the time comes to buy another pair of hiking boots, this is my brand.

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