We’ll never tire of the classic outdoor recreation aesthetic—give us 60/40 parkas, wool pants, and chunky sole, laced-to-the-toe 1970s hiking boots all day. But the issue with living in the past is that there’s never anything new. Sure, we could amass an entire collection from eBay and vintage sellers worldwide, but production capabilities have come quite a ways since the ‘70s and ‘80s. Plus, it’s not always so easy to track down that grail piece in your exact size and color choice. That’s part of the fun in collecting vintage, but it’s not everyone’s thing.
There is a best of both worlds though, and hiking footwear is one category where you might've noticed new styles channeling vintage hiking boot roots while adding contemporary touches. Cushier soles, better waterproof construction methods, funkier colorways, responsibly sourced leather; we’re not skating around on hoverboards yet, but we’ve got some pretty great hiking shoes.
By balancing form and function, this breed of vintage style hiking shoe keeps classic outdoor style alive. From breakout and established brands alike, there are plenty of retro boots to choose from (and not all of them are old school hiking boots with red laces). Keep scrolling for the 10 best to rock on trails and sidewalks alike.
Not much has changed for the Mountain Light in the forty-plus years since Danner began handmaking them at its Portland, Oregon factory. This style is the grandaddy of several lifestyle spin-offs introduced by the brand over the years, so check those out if black or brown doesn’t cut it. Thick, full-grain leather uppers with a Gore-Tex waterproof membrane sit atop a heavy-duty Vibram outsole with traction for days. With a pair weighing in at 58 ounces, they’re by no means a lightweight boot (despite the name) but are fully capable of your next backpacking trip, once you break them in.
Women's Option: YES
Price: $390 SHOP NOW
American bootmakers Vasque created an instant classic when they released the Sundowner boot in 1984. A cleverly named update dubbed the Sunsetter retains much of the original flavor of the original Sundowner and other vintage Vasque hiking boots while injecting some 21st Century tech. The Sunsetter's uppers have made the switch to a waterproof suede leather, and are made from 50% recycled materials and lined with a 100% recycled interior fabric. Ankle support comes from a molded mesh collar with a cushy midsole providing comfort at the base. They truly offer the best of vintage Vasque hiking boots, and the tan “lion” colorway perfectly executes the classic old-school hiking boots with red laces look.
Women's Option: YES
We’re pretty big fans of the high-style and highly rugged boots Italy’s Diemme puts out. Though the style of the Roccia Vet fits well into the vintage hiking boot world, its origins are actually as a hunting boot. A lighter weight sole makes it an ideal candidate for daily wear, but there’s no shortage of lugs down there for traction for Winter or rough terrain. Vegan wearers will appreciate the synthetic Cordura upper, and everyone should like this vintage style hiking boots' wraparound rubber guard, which protects from abrasions.
Price: $417 SHOP NOW
The French Tyrolean shoe specialists at Paraboot are known best for their stylish Michael shoe, but the brand's catalog packs some heavy-duty gems like the climbing-inspired Yosemite boot. Handcrafted in Spain, the leather boot's textured rubber mudguards protect the luxe material while providing a touch of rugged hiker style. Thick rubber lugged soles are sure to provide plenty of traction for everyday and casual wear while still lending some bounce to your step. The blue colorway is undoubtedly the favorite, but more somber palettes are available.
Price: $281 SHOP NOW
After a dip into the world of fashion, we found this reasonably conventional boot from California designer Reese Cole. Production of the line’s apparel takes place in their hometown of Los Angeles, but Italian bootmakers take care of the vintage hiking boot-inspired Wilson. Immediately noticeable is its extra D-ring located at the heel, which we’re pretty sure serves no functional purpose other than style. The brand encourages wearers to lace the suede boot however they feel though, and even includes three pairs of shoelaces for further customization and color combos.
Price: $595 SHOP NOW
Apparently, the designers at the classic preppy retailer have noticed the vintage hiking boots trend, too. The Crew’s boot riffs on sneaker-boot hybrids of the ‘80s and ‘90s, whose popularity grew thanks to the hip-hop fashion that defined the era. The boot’s uppers blend natural and synthetic, using suede and nylon panels. There’s no name-brand waterproofing to be found here, but Vibram soles ensure quality traction on rugged terrain underfoot.
Price: $198 SHOP NOW
Italian bootmaker AKU has fused alpine DNA into the moderately capable Slope Original GTX, which is suitable for regular wear or light trails with grip from a Vibram sole. A combo of suede and proprietary fabric makes up the boot uppers, and of course, you’ll find Gore-Tex taking care of waterproof membrane duties. The palette of brown, yellow, and green could prove tricky to coordinate into your fit, so please drip with caution.
Women's Option: YES
Price: $179 SHOP NOW
Getting its start in 1921, Bavarian-based bootmaker Hanwag has been around since mountaineering’s early beginnings. The Alaska GTX packs just about everything you’d want in a boot for the mountains–nubuck leather uppers, a Gore-Tex waterproof membrane, a protective rubber rand, and a resole-friendly Vibram outsole. The Alaska GTX boot might be overkill for just about everything but actual backcountry trips, but it’s rich in the mountain style that we just can’t resist.
Women's Option: YES
Price: $370 SHOP NOW
Italy’s Scarpa makes footwear for facing the rock, snow, and trails of mountains worldwide. They even make this sharp-looking boot for streetwear, aprés wear, or just some low-key adventuring while channeling the vibes of 1970s hiking boots. The waxed full-grain leather on the Guida City GTX presents a unique look and, as the name suggests, is lined with Gore-Tex for waterproof wear. The Vibram sole is on the lighter end of the rugged spectrum compared to other options, but it’s perfect for regular wear and prevents you from looking like a full-blown alpinist.
Price: $209 SHOP NOW
The crown jewel of the original ACG lineup (that stands for All Conditions Gear, for the uninitiated) created by legendary Nike designer Tinker Hatfield returned this year to celebrate its 30th birthday. The Air Mowabb is explicitly not a boot, but sneakers, but it deserves a place in the vintage hiking boots hall of fame. The retro release came and went quickly, and only the thirstiest sneakerheads will pay top dollar in the resale market. Will you test it through all conditions or let its value mature in deep storage like a fine wine?
Price: $160 SHOP NOW