Hiking boots are designed to protect the feet and ankles during outdoor activities like hiking and mountain climbing. They are essential because they determine the duration of hikers’ walk without injuries. Can we make it cruelty-free with vegan hiking boots? Yes!
Footwear manufacturers usually use animal leather and polyester to make traditional hiking boots. But we can make it vegan by creating it into non-leather hiking boots.
Typically, these materials are cork, pineapple fiber, apple leather, natural rubber, nubuck leather, and plant-based plastic. Some companies also use recycled materials to produce hiking boots, as long as they are not based on animal products.
This article explores how to choose the best vegan hiking boots. It also explores the best shoe brands offering vegan-friendly options.
You must consider what's best for your feet when choosing vegan hiking shoes. Consider these three factors:
There are three major types of hiking boots: short-ankle, mid-cut, and high-cut. The short ankle boots are the least heavy. They have very flexible midsoles, so they often bend forward slightly. Short ankle boots are great for short hiking trips because they don't have enough stability for uneven terrain.
Mid-cut boots have low-rise tops and provide adequate ankle support. They are great for long hiking trips lasting 2 to 3 days. However, break them in at home before your trip. Wear them around your house for a while to get comfortable in them.
High-cut or knee-length boots provide extra support, but they are very stiff. You can carry heavy baggage with a high-cut boot without stressing your knees and ankles. They give the best ankle support. They also prevent stones and sticks from entering your boots. High-cut boots are great for hiking trips that last over a week.
There are three main parts of a hiking boot. These parts are the upper, midsole, and the outer sole.
The upper area determines how waterproof and breathable the boots will be. It also determines the weight and durability of the boot. The materials used to make the upper areas of hiking boots are:
Nubuck leather is full-grain vegan leather that is like suede leather. Nubuck leather is durable under harsh conditions but needs time to break in. Also, it is water-resistant. Unlike nubuck leather, split-grain leather isn't very waterproof.
Manufacturers using split-grain leather split it into two. They use the smoother side to make the exterior because it is lighter and more breathable. You don't have to worry about using animal leather for vegan boots. Manufacturers mainly use plant-based materials like cork, pineapple fiber, and apple leather to make the upper area.
They can also use recycled rubber and polyester. They often include mesh in the upper part because it is breathable. Some producers use a waterproof membrane because it keeps the feet dry.
The midsole is a part of hiking boots that cushions your feet, giving you support and stability when you walk. You have more support when the midsole is very thick. The midsole area absorbs shock when you walk, run, or jump.
Manufacturers usually produce it from polyurethane and Eva foam. Eva is lighter and more suitable for short hikes, while polyurethane is heavier and suitable for long hiking trips. Also, the insoles are breathable. It prevents the development of bacteria and unpleasant odors caused by foot moisture.
The outer sole handles your feet's grips on the ground. So, a stiffer outer-sole will give you more comfort and support. Outer soles have a gap between the heel and arch for stability on steep, muddy ground. Manufacturers make them from rubber.
Galahad and Asher Clark established Vivobarefoot in 2012. They are a sustainable footwear company that focuses on maintaining the sensory connection between the feet and the brain.
By focusing on the important connection between the feet and the brain, they create shoes that feel almost like walking barefoot. Their shoes eliminate the unskillful movement and pain that comes with most footwear.
They use various recycled and organic materials to create their hiking shoes. They use algae-based Eva foam instead of plastics. This helps the environment by clearing waterways, encouraging the prosperity of biodiversity.
Vivobarefoot uses recycled plastics instead of virgin plastics. They also use wild hide leather from free-roaming small cattle herds for their shoes.
They have various designs of boots for women, men, and children. Vivobarefoot uses organic cotton for its boot insoles. They use recycled plastics for the lining and laces of the boots. The upper area of the boots contains wild hide, wool, and recycled plastic.
Vivobarefoot hiking shoes are great for climbing extreme terrain. They have sturdy ankle support, keeping your feet firmly rooted to the ground. Their prices range from $150 to $300.
The Astral company started producing shoes in 2012. Their first shoe, the Brewer™, won the Outside Magazine’s Gear of the Year Award. In 2014, they introduced G Rubber™ shoe outsoles for better grips. By the year 2020, Astral shifted more into producing sustainable shoes.
They started using hemp or recycled materials to produce the upper parts of shoes. Also, they introduced PFD Sandal M’s. These sandals provide secure and adjustable fits that allow you to move around light trails around river areas.
Astral vegan boots include Rambler M’s and Pisgah M’s. Rambler M’s vegan boots contain 77% hemp, 23% recycled polyester, and 100% recycled breathable mesh tongue. They mostly use recycled polyester and waterproof membranes for most of their hiking boots. You can wear them on mixed terrain because they endure wet or dry conditions.
Will Green founded Will’s Vegan Store in 2012. He wanted to promote the vegan lifestyle and provide more vegan options. Their vegan hiking footwear received carbon-neutral certification in 2016. Between 2017 and 2019, they introduced plastic-free packaging and bio-based raw materials.
They use Italian bio-based vegan leather produced from cereal crops. They use 69% bio-oil and viscose from eucalyptus trees. Will’s Vegan Store also uses solar energy for most of its production. They have the best vegan hiking boots.
They use a special waterproof membrane that gives room for water resistance and durability. Will’s vegan hiking boots have Vibram soles that provide strong, grippy traction for your feet.
Their designs suit serious vegan hikers and trail runners who walk long distances. The vegan boots have proper paddings for feet and ankle support.
They also have vegan winter boots to warm your feet while moving through snow-filled terrains. The WVSport Snow Boots and WVSport Insulated Alpine Trail Hiking Boots can withstand freezing temperatures up to -22/-7.6 Fahrenheit.
Shop on Will’s Vegan Shoes' Website.
Thesus is a sustainable outdoor footwear brand. They aligned themselves with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. The brand addresses environmental problems like climate change, marine pollution, and economic inequalities.
They focus their designs on reducing waste in the environment and providing comfort for hikers around the world. Thesus produces vegan hiking boots with over 95% natural and recycled materials. They also use recycled ocean plastic for the vegan boot's upper part and back patch.
Also, Thesus used recycled nylon for the lining and recycled PU from car dashboards. They recycled the threads used to sew the boots' plastic PET bottles.
They used water-based vegan glue during production. The boot's insole is recycled nylon, while the outsole is vegan rubber. Thesus vegan footwear comes in various colors and costs $198.
Shop on Thesus Outdoors' Website.
8000Kicks is a vegan company that produces a wide range of vegan-friendly footwear. They use natural materials to produce comfortable running shoes. These materials include hemp fibers and algae bloom soles.
The vegan running shoe has antibacterial and antimicrobial properties. As a regular trail runner, their waterproof footwear suits all weather conditions. They even added a layer of protective coating that protects the hiking shoe from stains and dust particles.
They also used recycled polyester to make the inner lining and waterproof layer. The trail running shoes are surprisingly lightweight. It costs $129, and they deliver it with recycled cardboard.
Robin established this vegan company in 1990 when the vegan lifestyle wasn’t popular. He got his inspiration from the different parts of Africa that use car tires to make shoe soles.
The vegan company now offers a wide range of vegan hiking boots. Their vegan hiking boots are so durable you can use them as mountaineering boots.
They have a lot of vegan-friendly materials used to produce hiking and mountaineering boots. These materials include vegetan mycro, pinatex, apple leather, hemp, and organic cotton. They also use cork, vegan suede, and BioEco (a mixture of corn and recycled plastics).
Most of their vegan hiking boots are water resistant, with Vibram soles. Some hiking boots have steel toes for extra durability. These boots are suitable for a vegan mountaineer who does high-altitude mountaineering. Some of their vegan hiking boots come with removable ice grippers and speed-lacing fastenings.
Shop on Vegetarian Shoes' Website.
Andrew Rademacher created Lems Boulder in 2008. He conducted research for three years on the art and science of shoemaking. During his research, he discovered that footwear should fit the natural shape of the feet instead of the feet fitting into the form of the footwear.
He creates women’s vegan hiking boots with recycled polyester and plant-based materials. Ken's hiking boot has a wide toe box shape that fits the shape of your feet. This shape provides comfort and reduces foot injuries.
Lems has a collection of trail hiking shoes that are comfortable for all feet shapes, especially for wide feet. It gives room for natural foot movement and is great for mountain hiking. They cost between $130 to $200.
Shop on Lems Shoes' Website.
Nae is a Portuguese vegan company that specializes in producing vegan footwear. The brand name Nae stands for No Animal Exploitation. They are against the creation and use of animal products.
Nae uses organic, recycled, and synthetic leather. Their natural raw materials include vegan leather, pineapple leaf fibers, cork, corn, and organic cotton. They use recycled plastics and apple waste.
The company produced the Nerea black vegan walking boots with vegan leather. The upper, lining, and insole are hypoallergenic. They used organic cotton for the inner lining.
The vegan hiking boot is breathable, and they have antibacterial and antimicrobial properties. This prevents the development of unpleasant odors.
They produced the hiking boot’s shoelaces from recycled polyester. The soles are chunky but have a lighter weight than you would expect. The Nerea vegan hiking boots cost $176.
Shop on Nae's Website.
Established in 2013, Ahimsa is a vegan company to inspire vegan-friendly behaviors. Their mission is to manufacture sustainably without harming the environment. Initially, they used cotton, recycled, and recycled PET. In 2016, they started using vegan leather.
They produced their Jeffery vegan hiking boots with vegan leather and Vibram soles. Jeffery vegan hiking boots are lightweight, soft, and comfortable. Also, the boots are unisex. Both men and women can wear it.
Shop on Ahimsa's Website.
Phil Loyley founded Eco Vegan Shoes to make the vegan lifestyle easier. The brand believes fashion should be eco-friendly and free of animal products. So, they only use materials that are not animal products or tested on animals.
According to the European Union’s working standards, they produce footwear in Portugal. They don't use animal leather because of its negative environmental impacts. Instead, they use OrthoLite®. OrthoLite is a material made from recycled polyurethane and partly polyurethane from castor oil.
They also use hard-wearing PVC-free polyurethane to make their faux leather parts. The materials are so durable they'll hardly show any signs of wear from hiking for miles. Some of their vegan hiking boots, like the Easy Walker Boot, are waterproof.
Shop on Eco Vegan Shoes' Website.
Maximilian Hundhammer and Matthias established Doghammer to produce outdoor shoes with a minimal ecological footprint. All the hiking boots made by Doghammer are handmade in Portugal.
They produce vegan hiking boots using cork, vegan leather, recycled cotton fibers, marine plastic, and rubber. Also, they use recycled paper for packaging. Using recycled paper as packaging helped the brand save 7,780kg of resources in 2021.
Doghammer's vegan hiking boots are water resistant, keeping your feet warm and dry as you pass through wet terrains. The boots also have additional padding around the toe areas to protect your feet during mountain hiking. A vegan hiking boot comes with a removable footbed made with cork.
Shop on Doghammer's Website.
Thomas Reichel and Dirk Zimmermann created Avesu Vegan Shoes in 2010. They established the brand because they found a business niche that needed filling. There were only a few brands that produced vegan-friendly footwear.
They wanted to produce footwear free from animal products. So, they used cotton, hemp, PU, cork, and natural fibers to make footwear. They also use pineapple fiber, recycled rubbers, and PET bottles. The vegan brand uses gore-tex lining for its boots.
They have various designs of vegan hiking boots. Avesu collaborated with Vegetarian Shoes to create a sturdy winter boot. They produced the Retread Boot with vegan leather, a mix of cotton and PU.
Shop on Avesu's Website.
Icebug is a family company founded in 2001. They use sustainable materials like wool, nubuck leather, Bloom algae foam, and recycled polyurethane. They also use recycled plastics and recycled polyester from fishing nets.
Icebug have multiple designs of vegan trekking shoes. Each shoe contains a various percentage of recycled materials and bio-based materials.
The shoes are comfortable to walk in and have moisture-wicking attributes. Some of their running footwear is water resistant. Also, the boots are very easy to lace.
Shop on Icebug's Website.
Whether you're an established vegan, interested in more sustainable choices, or simply an outdoor enthusiast seeking reliable hiking boots, these vegan brands are worth your attention.
Their commitment to cruelty-free materials without compromising a traditional hiking boot's durability, comfort, and functionality makes them a compelling choice. Review this list again and find vegan hiking boots you will wear on your next adventure.
Jen’s a passionate environmentalist and sustainability expert. With a science degree from Babcock University Jen loves applying her research skills to craft editorial that connects with our global changemaker and readership audiences centered around topics including zero waste, sustainability, climate change, and biodiversity.
Elsewhere Jen’s interests include the role that future technology and data have in helping us solve some of the planet’s biggest challenges.