Sustainable Hiking Shoes Made From Recycled Materials

Sustainable hiking shoes are made using eco-friendly materials and manufacturing processes designed to minimize their environmental impact.
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Merrell Moab Hiking Boots Sustainable Hiking Shoes

Sustainable hiking shoes made from recycled materials

Hiking is a great way to enjoy the outdoors, but it’s important to do so sustainably. One way to reduce your ecological footprint is by wearing sustainable hiking shoes made from recycled materials. In this article, we’ll showcase some of the best options in the market and examine the features that make each sustainable.

Best for Short Trails: Grandview GTX Hiker

Teva Grandview hiking-shoes made from recycled materials

The Grandview GTX Hiker is designed to provide comfort and reliable performance, while keeping your feet snug and odor free. We really like the antimicrobial treatment, which comes in handy after hours on the trail. While it may not provide enough ankle support for longer trips, it is comfortable and the Vibram™ Megagrip outsole provides excellent traction on various types of terrain. The shoe has a waterproof leather and quick-dry mesh upper with a GORE-TEX bootie to seal out the elements. It also has a wider toe-box and an adjustable Universal Heel Lock System to keep your foot in place when you’re going downhill.

What activities are the Grandview GTX best for?

Everyday wear, shorter day hikes, moderate backpacking trips

What are customers saying about the Grandview GTX?

The Teva Grandview GTX has over 200 reviews on Zappos with 89% rated 4+ stars. Customers find them comfy and light with good grip and waterproofing. Some note the wide toe box and need for thick socks to fill out the boot. A few have had arch support issues, but most find them supportive enough for light and moderate hikes. Some found them tricky to get on/off, and those with narrow feet had some fit issues. Overall, the Teva Grandview GTX is a solid choice for lightweight outdoor activities.

FEATURES

    • Recycled Materials: Recycled plastic using traceable, verifiable REPREVE® polyester yarn by Unifi®, and 40% recycled polyester
    • Upper: Waterproof leather and quick-dry mesh with a GORE-TEX bootie
    • Outsole: Vibram™ Megagrip outsole
    • Height: Over the ankle
    • Weight: 13.5 ounces women’s size 7 
    • Special Features: Adjustable Universal Heel Lock System, wider toe-box, Nylon shank, EVA-foam midsole, ESS shank, TPU shank, Life Naturals antimicrobial treatment

PROS

    • Antimicrobial treatment fights odor-causing bacteria
    • Waterproof
    • Adjustable heel

CONS

    • Lacks sufficient ankle support for long, multi-day hikes or technical terrain
    • People with narrow fit may have sizing issues
    • Some users report problems with arch support

Best Winter Hiking Shoes: Icebug Pace3 BUGrip GTX

Icebug Pace3 BUGrip GTX

Icebug, a Swedish company founded in 2001, makes durable outdoor footwear with performance-specific features like traction studs, waterproof protection, and BOA dial laces. They use synthetic, natural, and recycled materials to create shoes for everyday outdoor activities. As a Certified B Corp, their business meets high standards of social and environmental impact.

What activities are the Icebug Pace3 BUGrip GTX best for?

These shoes are designed for winter weather, including snow, ice, and slippery surfaces. They will also perform well on rocky, uneven terrain, however the insulation may be too warm in hot weather.

What are customers saying about the Icebug Pace3 BUGrip GTX?

The Icebug Pace3 BUGrip GTX received an average of 4.7 out of 5 stars on Amazon from 59 customers, with mostly positive reviews. Customers love these hiking boots for their comfort, lightweight feel, and great traction on snow and ice. They also appreciate the eco-friendly materials used to make them. However, some have noted that the boots may not be warm enough in very cold temperatures.

FEATURES

    • Recycled Materials: Recycled ripstop, 20% recycled rubber
    • Upper: PU-molded laminate, PU mudguard
    • Outsole: Rubber with 16 carbide studs
    • Height: Over the ankle
    • Weight: 2 lbs., 14 oz. (1.30 kg) for a size 9

PROS

    • Breathable
    • Waterproof
    • Optimized for snow, ice and slippery surfaces

CONS

    • Pricey
    • Heavy

Best All-Terrain: HOKA Anacapa Mid GTX

Hoka Anacapa

The HOKA Anacapa Mid GTX are grippy, waterproof and versatile hiking boots.

What activities are the HOKA Anacapa Mid GTX best for?

Technical hikes on rocky terrain, rain, mud and ice.

What are customers saying about the HOKA Anacapa Mid GTX?

An average of 4.1 / 5 stars based on 398 reviews in REI and 4.2 / 5 stars based on 612 reviews in Google. Customers love these boots for their comfort, light weight, excellent traction, and waterproof feature. They’re also great for plantar fasciitis and long hikes. However, a few negative reviews mention discomfort in the ankle area due to the eyelets digging in and that the boots require more time to break in. Some customers also note that they’re not as comfortable as previous HOKA models.

FEATURES

    • Recycled Materials: Recycled Polyester in the collar, mesh and laces are recycled.
    • Upper: Nubuck leather/GORE-TEX textile
    • Outsole: Vibram Megagrip rubber
    • Height: Over the ankle
    • Weight: 2 pounds (per pair)

PROS

    • Excellent traction
    • Quick-lace hook hardware
    • Achilles-cradling pull tabs
    • Extended heel geometry for smoother heel-to-toe transitions
    • Waterproof

CONS

    • Not as padded as previous Hoka boots
    • Eyelets may dig into ankles

Best All-Terrain: Salomon Outpulse Hiking Shoes

Salomon Outpulse Hiking Boots for Men

Salomon Outpulse Hiking Shoes are a popular choice for outdoor enthusiasts looking for a shoe that is both durable and versatile. The shoes are highly adaptable to different terrains and are made with a specialized rubber compound that provides excellent traction on all types of terrain.  They also feature a supportive heel cup and a protective toe cap.

What activities are the Salomon Outpulse Hiking Shoes best for? 

Backpacking, hiking, and trail running, including on rough and uneven terrain.

FEATURES

    • Recycled Materials: Plastics PET bottles and miscellaneous waste materials
    • Upper: Synthetic
    • Midsole: Fuze Surge Foam
    • Outsole: Rubber
    • Height: Over Ankle
    • Weight: 1 lb. 10.8 oz. (Men) / 1 lb. 7.1 oz. (Women)

PROS

    • Encourages flexible movement
    • All-terrain
    • Gore-Tex waterproof membrane

CONS

    • Limited support for heavy loads

Best Antimicrobial: Astral Rambler Hiking Shoes

Astral Rambler Hiking Shoes

Astral Rambler hiking shoes are a popular choice because of their excellent grip and durable, water resistant hemp uppers. Hemp requires less water to grow compared to cotton and is grown without pesticides, herbicides, or fertilizers. Some customers complain that the shoes are extra stiff when first breaking in.

What activities are the Astral Rambler Hiking shoes best for?

The shoes are engineered to provide excellent grip, making them well suited for hiking, biking, skateboarding and running on wet trails.

FEATURES:

    • Recycled Materials: Recycled polyester
    • Upper: Hemp
    • Midsole: EVA foam
    • Outsole: Rubber
    • Height: Ankle
    • Weight Per Pair: 1 lb. 2.4 oz. (Women) / 1 lb. 15.6 oz. (Men)

PROS

    • Odor resistant / antimicrobial hemp upper
    • Lightweight
    • Wide toe box

CONS

    • Not waterproof
    • No ankle support

Best Outsole: adidas Terrex AX4 GORE-TEX Hiking Shoes

adidas Terrex AX4 GORE-TEX Sustainable Hiking Shoes

The adidas Terrex AX4 GORE-TEX are lightweight, sturdy hiking shoes with waterproof GORE-TEX membranes and Continental rubber outsoles to navigate challenging trails and hills in wet and dry conditions.

What activities are Adidas Terrex Swift R3 Gore-Tex best for? 

Hiking in wet weather, technical hiking.

What are customers saying about the Adidas Terrex Swift R3 Gore-Tex?

The adidas Terrex AX4 GORE-TEX have an average rating of 4.6 out of 5-stars from 402 customer reviews on REI. The majority of customers are satisfied with the adidas Terrex AX4 GORE-TEX Hiking Shoes for their comfort, durability, and excellent traction. While some mention that they may run a bit small or narrow, the overall reviews show that these shoes are a great option for outdoor activities and hiking.

FEATURES:

    • Recycled Materials: Contains a minimum of 50% recycled content.
    • Upper: Abrasion-resistant mesh uppers with synthetic overlays.
    • Midsole: Lightweight EVA midsoles.
    • Outsole: Continental rubber outsoles
    • Height: Below ankle
    • Weight: 1 lb. 12.6 oz. (Men)

PROS

    • Comfortable
    • Waterproof
    • Grippy

CONS

    • Some reviewers found the shoes stiff and heavy

Best Traction: Merrell Moab Speed Hiking Shoes

Merrell Moab Hiking Boots

Merrell Moab Speed Hiking Shoes are a popular, lightweight option for hikers who value speed and agility on the trails. An integrated toe cap and rock plate offer excellent protection on rough terrain. However, some users caution that the shoes may not provide enough support for hauling heavy loads or on technical terrain.

What activities are Merrell Moab Speed Hiking Shoes best for?

Hiking on rocky terrain

What are customers saying about the Merrell Moab Speed hiking shoes?

Some users caution that the shoes may not provide enough support for hauling heavy loads or on technical terrain.

FEATURES:

    • Recycled Materials: 100% recycled mesh linings and 100% recycled laces
    • Upper: Mesh/TPU
    • Midsole: FloatPro foam
    • Outsole: Vibram Rubber
    • Height: Ankle
    • Weight Per Pair: 1 lb. 5 oz. (Women) / 1 lb. 7 oz. (Men)

PROS

    • Gore-Tex waterproof
    • Robust ankle support
    • Durable construction

CONS

    • Heavy
    • Pricey

Best Budget: Teva Ridgeview Low Hiking Shoes

Teva Ridgeview Hiking Shoes for Men

Teva Ridgeview Low Cut Hiking Shoes are a popular choice for hikers looking for comfortable and low-profile footwear that can handle rough terrain. The hiking shoes are made with waterproof leather and a breathable mesh upper, keeping your feet dry on wet trails.

What activities are Teva Ridgeview Low Hiking Shoes best for?

Multi-day treks and rugged terrain.

FEATURES:

    • Recycled Materials: Recycled polyester
    • Upper: Textile/leather
    • Midsole: EVA
    • Outsole: Vibram rubber
    • Height: Over ankle
    • Weight Per Pair: 1 lb. 9.2 oz. (Women) / 2 lbs. 1.2 oz. (Men)

FAQs

What are the benefits of sustainable hiking shoes?

Why make hiking boots and shoes from recycled materials?

Hiking boots and shoes can be made from recycled materials to reduce the environmental impact of shoe production. According to the BBC, by 2050 there will be more plastic in the ocean than fish. In response, an increasing number of brands are making new products like hiking shoes made from post consumer waste that ends up in landfills and oceans. This also reduces the need for new materials to be extracted from the earth

What is used to make hiking shoes from recycled materials?

A variety of recycled materials can be used to make sustainable hiking shoes from recycled materials, including fishing nets, tires, plastic bottles, algae foam, and fibers from discarded fruits and vegetables like apples, mushrooms, and pineapples.

What material are hiking boots traditionally made of?

Synthetic materials or animal-based leather material is typically used to make hiking boots, including polyester, nylon, artificial leather, plant-based materials, full grain leather, nubuck leather.

    • Synthetic Materials: Polyester, nylon, and other synthetic materials like artificial leather are used to create hiking shoes. In most cases, a blend of components are used. Boots made of synthetic materials lack the inherent waterproofing of leather, making the waterproof membrane used in their construction all the more critical. However, synthetic materials are lighter and more flexible than leather, which could be more comfortable for long hikes.
    • Plant-Based Materials: Natural rubber, bio oil sourced from organic cereal crops, Tencell Lyocell sourced from wood fibers.
    • Genuine Full Grain Leather: Abrasion- and water-resistant leather with excellent breathability and durability. Used most effectively in rainy or mountainous areas. It is possible to get hiking boots in a variety of various thicknesses, depending on the kind of trekking you want to do.
    • Leather with a nubuck finish: Nubuck is full-grain leather that has been buffed to have a smooth finish. It’s waterproof, breathable, and abrasion-resistant, but also less durable than full grain leather. Durability suffers compared to full-grain leather, but flexibility increases.

What are hiking shoe soles made of?

Ethylene vinyl acetate (EVA), polyurethane, thermoplastic rubber, natural rubber, leather, vibram are common hiking boot sole materials.

    • Polyurethane shoe soles: Constructed from an organic polymer, these soles are long-lasting, slip-resistant, shock-absorbing, and water-resistant. They are also low density, inexpensive and can be created from recycled plastics and other materials.
    • EVA shoe soles: Made with Ethylene Vinyl Acetate (EVA), these soles are shock-absorbing, flexible and lightweight. EVA can be created from recycled material like plastic bottles and one of the most popular materials used for hiking shoe soles.
    • TRP shoe soles: Constructed of thermoplastic rubber, these soles are well-known for their outstanding shock absorption and slip resistance. TPR soles are also lower in weight and more flexible than PVC soles.
    • BPU shoe soles: Composed of eco-friendly polyurethane materials, these soles are one of the most dense, hard soles available and also have excellent weather resistance.
    • Natural rubber shoes soles: Used for centuries, rubber soles are tough, weatherproof and water-resistant, so no worries about rain getting into your shoes. Natural rubber is also a biodegradable, sustainable material.
    • Vibram shoe soles: Created in the 1930s and named after Vitale Brahmani, an alpinist and outdoor pioneer. These soles are robust, slip-resistant, and waterproof, making them a popular choice for hiking shoes.
    • Commando shoe soles: The thick lugs and rugged shape of commando soles make them good for all kinds of weather. The thick lugs also provide grip and traction. Commando soles are also thick and heavy, so use a different kind of sole if you want your shoes to be lighter.
    • Leather shoe soles: Leather soles are breathable, durable and can withstand harsh conditions as long as they are properly maintained.
    • Lug shoe soles: Thick soles constructed of rubber to provide great grip and traction. The drawback of lug soles is that they collect a lot of dirt and hence need frequent cleaning.

Are there biodegradable shoes?

Shoes made completely from plant-based and natural material are biodegradable and will naturally decompose over time. This includes shoes like vegan hiking boots, eco friendly sandals and vegan shoes made of algae foam, bamboo, cotton, hemp, Tencell Lyocell wood-based fibers, sugarcane, apple or pineapple fibers, natural rubber and cork.

Footwear brands that make biodegradable shoes include Allbirds, Cariuma, Native, and Rothy’s.

Can shoes be made from recycled plastic?

Yes, shoes can be made from recycled plastic, with PVC (polyvinyl chloride) being the most common form. Recycled plastic is used in shoe production to create various components, including the upper, sole, and laces.

What is a polyurethane midsole?

Polyurethane is a durable, stable midsole material that is often used in trekking and mountaineering boots. When new, polyurethane (PU) is thick and heavy, and it normally takes a break-in time before it becomes flexible and comfy to wear.

Polyurethane midsoles will have a longer lifespan than EVA midsoles and provide better support. However, because polyurethane is usually heavier and more expensive, it is most often used for hiking boots. EVA is most often used for running shoes, where lightweight cushioning is important for speed and agility.

What is EVA and PU?

Eva foam is a soft foam derived from Ethylene-vinyl acetate. It is often used in both traditional and vegan shoe construction. EVA is great for cushioning your feet which is why is it frequently used in shoes and sneakers.

Polyurethane foam (PU foam) is a kind of foam that is denser and often heavier than EVA foam. It is created from polyurethane. PU foam is more long-lasting and delivers durable support over an extended period of time.

Where can I find resources to learn about sustainable footwear?

    • According to Statista, the use of sustainable materials in Nike’s footwear and apparel segments increased from 19% in 2015 to 62% in 2020. This indicates a growing trend towards sustainability in the industry.

    • Caleres, a major footwear retailer, has developed its own sustainability index, on which shoes must rate a 51% or above to be considered sustainable.

    • The Higg Index is a tool developed by the Sustainable Apparel Coalition to measure the environmental and social impact of apparel and footwear products.

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