Finding a good pair of hiking boots can sometimes be better than making a new friend!  You laugh, but I’m serious.  After all some people spend hours if not days in their hiking boots trekking for miles or hours.  Especially when you are taking a trip to Iceland.  Having proper shoes that can make or break a day adventuring around.

Choosing the best hiking boots for Iceland can be a lot of research and can be oh-so overwhelming.  But don’t fret!  We have created a guide that covers everything you need to consider when buying new hiking boots.  Fair to say, our Katlatrack adventure tours team is well versed on choosing the best hiking boots for Iceland.  Come along with us as we share with you our two cents on the topic!

Will I need hiking boots in Iceland?

Depending on the kind of Iceland itinerary, you are planning you may or may not need hiking boots.  For example, if you’re a city explorer, just wanting to come to Reykjavik to experience the foodie spots and nightlife and do not want to run around in nature then your Iceland packing list could get away with no boots.

But if you intend on discovering Iceland’s magnificent countryside and natural wonders, you need to invest in a pair.  Why?  To keep your feet supported, comfortable, dry, and you adventuring on all types of landscapes safely!

Welcome to Your Guide to the Best Hiking Boots for Iceland

Choosing what type of hiking shoes you need will depend on the activities you plan on doing.  For example, if you are just walking to and from the mainstream tourist locations like Gullfoss, Thingvellir National Park, Seljalandsfoss, and Skogafoss Waterfalls then a pair of trail running shoes will suit.  Whereas, if you’re heading out on a full day hike or into an Iceland ice cave with us, you’ll see that we are all likely in backpacking or mountaineering boots.  All that said, we would love to walk you through the different types of hiking boots for Iceland adventures to consider!

Hiking Sandals

Only in during the summer months in Iceland would we suggest bringing along a pair of hiking sandals to Iceland.  The main use would be crossing rivers in them because they offer traction and dry fast versus water logging your boots.  Our favorite brands for Keen hiking sandals.

Trail Running Shoes

If your days in Iceland are going to be spent going to tourist locations and hiking around less than 30 minutes at time, then trail running shoes may be a good fit for you.

The Pros of Trail Running Shoes:

  • They are very lightweight.
  • Comfortable like a pair of running shoes.
  • Fast drying.

The Cons of Trail Running Shoes:

  • Not long lasting or durable.
  • No ankle support.
  • The grip is not suitable for winter hiking conditions (snow or ice).
  • You cannot attach crampons to them.

Our favorite trail running shoes for outdoor activities in Iceland follow:

  1. La Sportiva
  2. Salomon

The Best Hiking Boots for Iceland Pro Tip:  If planning short hikes during your Iceland itinerary, then wearing these plus a pair of Sealskinz socks will keep you going strong during summertime in Iceland!

Hiking Shoes

Wait a second, are you confused by the title?  Believe it or not there is a difference between hiking shoes and hiking boots!  Let us educate you on the differences…  Basic difference is that hiking shoes, are basically stronger “trail running shoes” because they offer a stiffer reinforced support throughout the shoe and a bit better traction to tackle more rugged terrain.  In contrast, a hiking boot will offer ankle support and a perfect choice for sloped or longer trail hiking.

Hiking Shoes Pros:

  • The midsole and body of the shoe is stiffer.
  • Breaths
  • If waterproof, they are suitable for Iceland in winter.
  • Great for rougher terrain day-hiking.

Hiking Shoes Cons:

  • Longer to dry.
  • Not good for several day hiking with wet conditions.
  • Not suitable for steep hikes or hard snow / icy terrain.

Selecting the best hiking shoes for Iceland may begin at your favorite recreational outdoor store or online.  Our favorite when we’ve traveled in the US is REI.  They by far, have the best selection of hiking shoes for Iceland.  Brands like Arc’teryx, Merrell, La Sportiva, Oboz, Salomon, Asolo will all withstand the test of time and visiting Iceland!

Iceland Hiking Boots

A pair of proper hiking boots can be the difference between a happy day trekking or a dreaded day filled with blisters.  Spending a few extra bucks to ensure you have hiking boots that will support your ankles, feet, last for more than a few hikes, and allow you to reach tops of mountains without batting an eyelash.

Furthermore, hiking boots is what we suggest you to wear while glacier hiking with us to an ice cave.  Why?  They offer higher support to stabilize your ankles and also allow our crampons to flawlessly be put on to them.  Whereas if you did hiking shoes, the crampons would make your shoes collapse inward.

Pros of Hiking Boots:

  • Insulated and warmer.
  • Waterproof hiking boots for Iceland (most models are).
  • Thorough ankle support and extra stability
  • Suitable for longer hikes (scree slops, difficult terrain, and fresh snow).

Cons of Hiking Boots:

  • Do not allow you to be as mobile as the above options.
  • Heavier and do not breathe or dry fast.

Because you want your hiking boots to last more than a trip or two, it’s important to invest.  Our favorite brands of the best hiking boots for Iceland follow:

  1. Scarpa Hiking Boots
  2. Salomon Hiking Boots
  3. La Sportiva Hikers
  4. Merrell Hiking Boots
  5. Asolo

Backpacking Boots

Likely, you’re wondering what the difference if between hiking boots and backpacking boots, right?  Good question and we are thrilled to enlighten you more on that topic!  As you noticed in our description above, hiking boots offer ankle support and are likely more waterproof.  While backpacking boots are meant for multi-day hiking, and offer better balance overall in a boot.

Some of the pros and cons of backpacking boots follow below.  Note: We do not recommend these for hiking in Iceland unless you truly are running around with a backpack on your back for several days.

Good hiking boots for Iceland can mean a lot of things to different people.  So choosing the best hiking boots for Iceland really depends on what you intend on doing on your adventure.  Spend some time weighing the pros and cons to ensure you select the best for the terrain your trekking on.

Backpacking Boots Pros:

  • They offer durability and protect your feet well.
  • Ideal boots for winter hiking conditions.
  • Higher cut on your feet allowing for full support of ankles, stability, and more motion control. Basically overall better balance for you!
  • Perfect for off trail hiking or steep mountainous terrain.

Backpacking Boots Cons:

  • They tire your feet quicker than other boot types.
  • You must spend a longer time “breaking them in.”
  • At sometimes you could become “over confident” and have an ankle injury from the false sense of security they bring.

Many of our previous Vik Iceland ice cave clients have been happy in these at the glacier.  But in our opinion, they may be bit much for our regular tour.  However, for a private tour they would be perfect if you want more time on the glacier discovering other secret ice caves!

Our favorite backpacking boots follow:

  1. Lowa Tibet GTX Backpacking Boots because of the fearless design.
  2. Asolo TPS 520 GV Evo Backpacking Boots because they last across unforgiving terrain, daily!
  3. Scarpa ZG Trek GTX Backpacking Boots for the thoughtful waterproof stable design.

Mountaineering Boots

If you’re interest lies in technical climbing both on mountains and on glaciers then it would be smart to invest in a pair of mountaineering boots.  Here in Iceland, there are many places throughout the country you can technically climb.  Specifically several of our glacier guides wear these to be able to set ropes in and outside of the ice cave.  For example, they would also do this for safety and to set paths that you will use.  The best mountaineering boots come with pros and cons for sure and here are some thoughts to consider…

Mountaineering Boots Pros:

  • The best boots for challenging conditions both terrain and weather (For instance, glacier adventures and high elevation hiking).
  • Rigid soles to apply technical climbing crampons.
  • High cut on your ankles for the best balance, support, control and overall stability.

Mountaineering Boots Cons:

  • Feel bulky (almost clumsy to some) and less responsive on and off snow or icy conditions.
  • Most expensive outdoor boot out there.
  • Need to be broken in before your big climbs.
  • Takes a long while to dry out.

Hands down the best hiking boots for Iceland mountaineering or ice climbing are Scarpa and La Sportiva.  Specifically following models our team often personally uses:

  1. Scarpa Mont Blanc Pro GTX Mountaineering Boots
  2. La Sportiva Nepal Cube GTX Mountaineering Boots

Where to buy Iceland Hiking Boots?

Where to find boots for Iceland, can be a loaded question.  Therefore, it is clever to do it in steps so you end up happy.  We’ll start with some helpful tips to consider before buying… Firstly, do not leave buying hiking boots for Iceland for the last minute or when you are here.  Iceland is one of the most expensive countries in the world and practically everything is imported and taxed at the high rate.  You are much better off buying your hiking boots before you come.

Second, do not buy hiking boots used.  Never ever do this!  Many companies put a material inside of the sole that molds to your foot shape to increase comfort.  Therefore, your foot isn’t going to likely be a match with someone else’s and will cause blisters or irritation to your foot.

Thirdly, the steps you should consider as you figure out the best place to buy your Iceland hiking boots:

  1. Make a list of the activities you will do using the boots.
  2. Determine what type of boot will suit the trip.
  3. Research online the different brands.
  4. Read reviews.
  5. If the brand is sold near you anywhere, jump into a store and try them on!
  6. Figure out where you can get the best price. It’s been our experience that REI Co-op has an incredible selection.  And Amazon, if you are ready to buy a specific brand and model.

How Much to Spend on Hiking Boots for Iceland?

Choosing the best hiking boots for Iceland, is not dependent on price.  Rather, the quality and comfort of the boot you need for the activity you are embarking on.  Meanwhile, it is important we know to have in mind how much you may need to budget for the type of hiking boot you need.  On that same note, we would like to share with you a quick guide on how much to spend on shoes for hiking for your upcoming trip to Iceland.  Ranges follow by type…

  • Hiking Sandals: $50-120 USD
  • Hiking Shoes: $75-200 USD
  • Hiking Boots: $100-350 USD
  • Backpacking Boots: $250-350 USD
  • Mountaineering Boots: $275-625 USD

How to Clean and Store your Hiking Boots

High pathetically let’s say that you take the plunge and buy new hiking boots… Hang on a sec, now how do you take care of them after you break them in after your hiking adventures in Iceland?  Valuable question!  Allow us to provide some steps to follow:

Step 1: Remove the insoles (Iceland Hiking Boot Tip: If they smell, sprinkle baking soda on them!).

Step 2: Take out the laces.  To wash them, use dish soap and warm water.  Hang dry.

Step 3: Grab a brush and go to town on the outside of the boot removing dirt deposits.

Step 4: Using a tooth brush (soft bristles) and dish soap, gently scrub away!  Hiking Boot Cleaning Tip: You can use a pencil eraser to remove stubborn scuff marks.

Step 5: Wipe away the soap with a wet warm cloth.

Step 6: Time for waterproofing again!  Make sure the boots are dry before applying.

Step 7: Condition your hiking boots with wax or oil depending on the material.

Step 8: Dry your boots away from direct sunlight or extreme heat.

Step 9: Do not put your hiking shoes away until they are completely dry.  Then store them in a cool dry area until you’re ready to adventure again!

Caution: Never put your hiking shoes or boots in the washing machine, you’ll damage them!

Accessories for your Iceland Hiking Boots:

Did you know you can accessorize your hiking boots?  I don’t mean bling them out.  For instance, there are things you can purchase alongside of the best hiking boots for Iceland to make them even more amazing for you.  To illustrate, please read on…

  • Waterproofing Spray – When you first buy your boots, you’ll want to spray them and reapply after you wash them. It’s important to the cleaning and storing process as we alluded to above to ensuring your trekking boots are long lasting! 
  • Oil or Wax – Dependent on if your boots are leather or suede, you’ll need one or the other to condition the outside of the Iceland hiking boot.
  • Sealskinz Socks –The ultimate socks for adventures! If you choose to go the lightweight hiking shoes for Iceland, then pairing them with these is a killer combo!  Imagine crossing rivers and not even feeling your toes get wet!
  • Extra Laces – Not many people consider having an extra set of laces on hand. But if you’re an active hiker, you’ll likely need to change them because of fraying, splitting or breaking.
  • Extra socks – As a general rule of thumb bringing along extra socks while hiking in Iceland is a smart decision. In fact, we often bring two!

Best Hiking Boots for Glacier Adventures

When it comes to picking out the best hiking boots for Iceland glacier adventures, we would suggest formal hiking boots.  Trail running and regular hiking shoes are not comfortable once you slip on our crampons.  Throughout winter in Iceland, we recommend you wear a pair of snow boots for hiking.  Which mainly means that they are insulated against extreme conditions.  Curious about what else to pack for your super jeep adventure?  We’ve previously put together an informative what to pack list!

Hopefully working your way through this thorough advice post on the very best hiking boots for Iceland has educated you.  Specifically also made you more confident in your next purchase of them too!  We dare you to pick your favorite tour and give those new hiking boots a whirl at our amazing offbeat locations!  Lastly, if you really want to be challenged, then book a custom tour with us if you’re into more technical adventures on the glacier.  We’re happy to make sure you get good use out of hiking boots, that’s for sure!!

Your Adventure Awaits,

The Katlatrack Team

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