People running through muddy and rocky terrain.

The outsoles of many hiking boots are leather, but when you are buying hiking boots, even leather hiking boots, you will see some types with synthetic components to aid in comfort and lessen the weight of the shoe. Here’s a review of some features in hiking boots and the functions they serve.

Weight and Price

Synthetic materials (e.g. polyester, nylon mesh, and synthetic leather) are used in some hiking boots. These products weigh less and cost less than leather hiking boots, and they are appropriate for light hiking and walking on maintained trails. Synthetic materials also provide added ventilation in the form of nylon mesh. But if you are serious about backpacking, it is worth investing in leather hiking boots for those treks. Keep a pair of light hiking boots on hand for day trips.


One of the important non-leather features of any hiking boots is the waterproof lining. Gore-Tex hiking boots are a reliable choice for waterproof hiking boots, but other common waterproof brands you might see when buying hiking boots include eVent, and XCR.

For example, the Merrell Men’s Moab 2 Ventilator Wide Hiking Boots feature combination synthetic leather and mesh upper for breathability and lightness, with EVA cushioning and a Vibram multi-sport sole. For a similar women’s option try the Keen Women’s Targhee III Waterproof Mid Hiking Boots which also features a combination synthetic leather and mesh upper, dual-density EVA cushioning, and a Keen Dry waterproof membrane.

Understanding how synthetic materials affect your hiking boots can help in your decision making. With that in mind, now you can choose the best one for you! Have more questions about hiking boots? Come see us in-store or online at your local Sun & Ski Sports for more info on all things hiking.