Isn’t it remarkable that our feet have the power to take us to some of the most awe-inspiring landscapes in the world? Be it a 14k summit, a mellow desert wildflower trail, or a 3,000-mile thru-hike, putting one foot in front of the other on a trail grants us some pretty unparalleled experiences in nature.
It doesn’t always come without its struggle, though. If you deal with collapsed arches or flat feet, then you know a hike can quickly turn into a sufferfest without the proper support in your footwear. The right hiking shoes are truly invaluable, and can alleviate hike-ending leg cramps, muscle aches, and splitting foot pain.
So are you ready to take the quality of your hiking experience into your own hands? From boots and trail runners to hiking sandals, I’ve rounded up the best hiking shoes for flat feet, so you can log trail miles with ultimate comfort and confidence.
My Review Process
Not a week goes by when I’m not gearing up for a new hike or high-energy outing in nature. I’ve been an avid hiker for over twenty years, and it’s an integral part of my well being and how I connect with the world around me.
Have I tested a fair share of hiking footwear over the years? Indeed. Am I a flat-foot warrior? Luckily, I’ve never had to contend with serious foot issues, like plantar fasciitis or flat feet. I have, however, spent ample time with hikers who wrestle with it firsthand, and my curiosity has prompted plenty of dialogues about proper footwear on the trail.
So what are the cardinal features of the best hiking shoes for flat feet? Without question, extra arch support and midfoot stability should be at the forefront of your search. That said, you still want durable, lightweight and comfortable shoes that will perform in a range of mellow and rough terrain alike. I’ve laid out other key factors in the Buying Guide below, so be sure to give it a read.
Merrell’s best-selling Moab boot is a powerhouse for hiking adventures. Offering a trifecta of reliable support, quality construction and a great price, the third-generation Moab 3 easily takes the crown for our best overall.
With upgrades to already solid “air cushioning” and traction, the Merrell Moab 3 becomes even more stable for the roughest trails. Specialized, super cushy kinetic insoles and built-in nylon shanks are key for that extra support. They help curb tension and discomfort when cranking miles, while the wider footbed helps with any overpronation issues.
Now, is the Merrell Moab 3 a leader in lightweight footwear? Not exactly. But the materials and design— suede leather and open-weave mesh upper— really aids in airflow. Plus, the waterproof membrane will have you tackling water crossings without doubt. So if those extra ounces give you the confidence to go the distance, I’d say that’s a worthwhile tradeoff worth its weight in gold.
If the Oboz Bridger Mid’s look like they’re cut for some serious trailblazing, you’re absolutely right. These babies are engineered to take you across all terrain, and in all weather. If it’s a do-it-all, year-round shoe that you’re after, Oboz’s flagship hiking boot is up for the challenge.
Rugged is one thing, however, and supportive is another. Do the Bridger Mid’s deliver enough support for problematic arches? Oh yes. The premium footbeds feature a well-defined arch and dual-density EVA foam cushioning that’s a game-changer for flat feet. With a reliable waterproofing system, excellent traction, and ankle support for the toughest scrambles, you’ll feel like you can tackle it all.
If you’re thinking that the price is a bit steeper than some other boots, don’t let it deter you. Consider the Oboz Bridger Mid’s an investment in multi-season hiking adventures of all calibers. They’re made for challenge, excellence and water-repellent comfort in the outdoors. Trust me: your feet will thank you.
Want max performance and max cushioning in a super lightweight package? Meet the trail runner darlings of ultra-marathoners, casual hikers and flat-footed adventurers alike: the Hoka Speedgoat 5’s. They’re the sidekick you need for utmost comfort and agility on the trail.
What’s the secret? For one, their signature super-thick, compression-molded EVA (CMEVA) foam midsole ensures that shock is minimized, and strain from long days is kept at bay. The structured design also provides excellent medial support, which helps reduce tension in the foot. Even after 10+ miles with the Speedgoats, I don’t feel the bane of tired feet!
The shape may feel a bit narrow for the widest of wide feet, but the average hiker shouldn’t find it an issue. If light, fast and comfortable is your motto, be prepared for the Hoka Speedgoat 5’s to change your world.
Clocking in at just over 10 ounces, the Salomon Outpulses are the kind of hiking shoes you’ll forget you even have on! They’re our top lightweight choice for those who want a fluid, swift-footed gait without compromising arch support.
Much of the appeal is in the design, which is a perfect mix of barely-there trail runner and low-rise hiking boots. That means you have the best of both worlds: the stability of traditional hiking boots, and the super light, nimble energy return of a premium trail running shoe. Add in a specialized, shock-absorbing midsole, and say goodbye to the strain associated with flat feet.
As versatile as they are, they’re probably not the best suited for those not used to low-rise hiking shoes, since the ankle protection isn’t exactly there. But if you’re looking to shed weight and move faster on trail, you won’t regret Salomon’s Outpulse Gore-Tex hiking shoes.
Do you crave challenge and open-air footwear supportive enough for multi-mile days and backpacking trips? The Chaco Z Cloud Sandals are built to handle everything the trail throws at you without sacrificing comfort.
The magic is in the Podiatrist-certified “cloud” footbed. The combined high arch design and cushioning really ensure your foot-body connection stays on point when hiking with collapsed arches and flat feet.
Okay, okay: but why is the price as steep as hiking boots? It’s simple: you get what you pay for. And if you want a built-to-last sandal you can trust to alleviate foot issues on hikes and daily strolls alike, the Chaco Z Clouds will deliver support and comfort your feet will love.
For tiny tykes with flat feet and a zest for hiking, I’d stop your search at the Merrell Moab 3. Just like our best overall pick for adults, the children’s version of the popular Moab boot strikes an impressive balance of comfort, support and value.
Mesh panels allow kids’ tootsies to breathe, while the interior waterproof material lets them explore puddles and streamsides while keeping their feet dry. A rubber toe cap ensures rock bumps and trail tumbles won’t be a cause for tears, either.
But let’s talk arch support. Is it enough to keep kids pain-free and smiling even on those longer days? You bet. EVA foam cushioning puts comfort at the forefront, while ankle protection provides better all-around stability for the most active of little adventurers.
Sizing does tend to run small, but sizing up is an easy fix. Consensus is: the Merrell Moab 3 is the superhero cape your kids’ feet need to feel stable and empowered on the trail.
They may have the lowest price point on our list, but that doesn’t mean Columbia’s Newton Ridge Plus boots are lacking in any department. I can attest that they’re one of the most supportive, durable and stylish hiking shoes out there. And their budget-friendly price is just the cherry on top.
Inspired by hardy mountaineering boots, the Newton Ridge Plus boots will make you feel sure-footed even in the most complex, uneven terrain. All while offering ample support exactly where you need it, from your ankles to your toes.
If flat feet or weak arches are your kryptonite, fear not. The techlite midsole is as cushiony as it gets, and offers supreme energy return and lasting comfort during long hikes.
Some may feel the Newton Ridge Plus boots run a bit small and narrow. But sizing half a size up or choosing a wide model is an easy solution. And a worthwhile effort for an adventure-ready hiking shoe that looks as good as it feels.
Hiking Shoes Buying Guide
When choosing hiking shoes, it’s important to cater your footwear to the types of terrain you’ll be in, the distances you plan on going, and the weight you plan on carrying. Here are some other important factors to consider.
With hiking gear, the reality is: you get what you pay for. Footwear is no different. Expect to pay anywhere from $80 to $200 for a quality pair of hiking boots or shoes made with durable materials.
Especially if you have flat feet or are prone to foot issues, it’s important to prioritize key features like arch support and advanced cushioning. They may come at a higher cost, but your feet will thank you. By investing in your hiking shoes, you’re investing in your all-around hiking experience.
Hiking shoes generally come in one of two main options: leather uppers, or synthetic materials.
Leather is a super durable, naturally water-resistant and high-quality material. And it does an excellent job withstanding abrasion caused by rocks, trees, and rugged terrain. It’s also known for its ability to absorb and diffuse moisture.
Synthetic upper materials and mesh fabrics, on the other hand —be it polyester, nylon, or faux leather— are very lightweight, have little to no break-in period, and dry very quickly. They’re not as durable as leather constructions, however, and tend to need replacing sooner.
Style & Comfort
From traditional hiking boots to lightweight trail runners and hiking sandals, there’s a hiking shoe out there for every style. Regardless of the type of shoe you’ll be donning, ensure comfort is at the forefront by knowing how hiking shoes should fit.
Now, although people with arch issues and flat feet will generally benefit from footwear with extra arch support, shoes are a very personal decision. There are plenty of flat-footed hikers, for instance, who prefer minimal drop shoes (shoes with little or no heel rise and hardly any arch support) for helping strengthen and rebuild their arches.
Fact is: there’s no one Cinderella slipper for flat-footed hikes, and it may take time to figure out what option works best for you.
Just like a good car tire, the tread, or outermost layer of a hiking shoe sole, provides traction, extra grip and support on a variety of terrain. Keep in mind that tread designs vary from shoe to shoe, and there are notable differences in the depth of lugs, their patterns, and the type of rubber used.
While some hiking shoe models feature “multi-purpose” treads suitable for everyday trails, others offer more specialized designs for uneven surfaces and technical, rocky terrain. Softer rubber soles and shorter lugs are generally best for slippery surfaces and rock grip, while deeper, wider lugs are meant for loose rock, mud, and snow. Unless you plan on doing a bit of everything, match your tread to the terrain you plan on being in most often.
The insoles of your hiking shoe are responsible for providing arch support. For alleviating pain and discomfort associated with flat feet, you’ll generally want solid, defined arches and a support midsole. If the hiking shoes you like are perfect but you still crave more arch, know that you can purchase specialized removable insoles, too.
Cushioning in a shoe mainly aids in shock absorption, while adding extra comfort. That’s critical for hiking, since you’ll often have to bounce through rough terrain, and you’re on your feet for hours on end.
There’s also your backpack weight. Chances are that if you’re hiking anything over a mile, you’ll be carrying a pack with snacks, water, a first aid kit, and other essentials. If you’re going longer distances and camping overnight, you’ll be tacking on things like a tent, sleeping bag, and food storage. All that extra weight puts pressure on your feet. Extra cushioning helps absorb all that impact force and provides all-day comfort.
From stream crossings and muddy terrain to surprise thunderstorms, you’re bound to encounter water in some form when logging trail miles.
So is there a perfect pair of waterproof hiking boots out there for keeping your feet dry? Not exactly. What some shoes have in waterproof protection they lack in breathability. So it’s important to rank which is more important to you based on your local climate or where you’ll be hiking.
Many hiking boots, for instance, feature waterproof “membranes;” think Gore-Tex and similar. These are amazing for wet weather, snowy hikes, or trails with plenty of water crossings. But they’re usually not the most breathable materials, especially in the heat.
For flat-footed hikers of all ages, Merrell’s Moab 3 Mid balances comfort, support and value like no other. All in a rugged, waterproof package that is truly hard to beat.
If weight and being quick on your feet are more of a concern, though, I recommend Salolmon’s Outpulse Gore-Tex shoes. Or, go the trail runner route with the Hoka Speedgoat 5’s. Both offer agility without compromising a strong arch.
Now, if sandals are more your jam, look no further than the Chaco Cloud Z’s. They’re one of the few sandals that can be trusted to support weak arches on longer hikes.
Yes, you can absolutely still hike and have epic outdoor adventures with flat feet.. It’s very important, however, to invest in quality, supportive footwear so that you have a pain-free gait and don’t experience any foot or leg discomfort.
Most active people with flat feet find arch support to be paramount, as it provides midfoot stability and helps alleviate discomfort and pain. It also stretches the Achilles tendon, which further assists in creating a strong, stable stride.
Most people with flat feet and collapsed arches tend to have wider feet as a result. So yes, wide shoes are generally better for flat feet. Wide-fitting styles provide more room in the heel area and toe box, so you don’t have extra pressure or tightness or toe crowding.
Whether boots or shoes feel better for flat feet is mainly a personal preference. At day’s end, a supportive sole matters most. Boots and shoes with mid to high cuts do provide more ankle support, though, and hence, more overall foot support.
If you’re unsure of whether you have flat feet, the easiest way is the “wet test”. Wet your feet and step on a surface like cardboard. Observe your footprint. Normal feet have a more pronounced curve in the middle. With flat feet, the curve is hardly noticeable at all. Another quick and easy test is checking how your footprint looks in sand on the beach.
*The information on this site is based on research and first-hand experience but should not be treated as medical advice. Before beginning any new activity, we recommend consulting with a physician, nutritionist or other relevant professional healthcare provider.