The North Face makes some of the most durable and well-made hiking shoes available. Their lightweight models are great for day hikes and backpacking trips, while their heavier hiking boots can handle any unforgiving trail you throw at them. Great Walks has reviewed several models from this brand, including the Activist, Hedgehog Fastpack II, and the waterproof Ultra 109WP.
The Vectiv Exploris Futurelight shoes take the key hi-tec, high energy-return components that are usually found in top trailrunning footwear and put them in a hiking shoe that is also designed for stability. Their carbon fibre plate and rocker in the midsole work together to stabilise the foot while at the same time propel it forward. The result is a comfortable bounce that made the Vectiv Exploris one of the most pleasant shoes to wear on our new snowies alpine walks (see GRW Feb-Mar 2022).
These aren't for anyone planning a long or technical trek in wet weather, as they don't offer as much protection against sudden contact with rocks and roots as other more substantial hiking shoes. However, they're great for bluebird days when you want to stride across the countryside in comfort.
The Hedgehog Fastpack II shoes offer the best balance of traction and breathability out of any men's hiking shoe we've tested. Their Vibram outsoles are famous for their ability to grip any terrain and still be light enough that you can walk comfortably from sunup to sundown. Their DryVent waterproofing isn't quite as effective as some other solutions, but it will keep your feet drier than most hiking shoes.