Quick Links To Shoes Featured In This Post
Hemp Shoe Ruler
Check out the Vivobarefoot Gobi III Eco
Check out the Vivobarefoot Primus Trail Knit Shoe
Vibram Men’s and Women’s Shoes
Rawganique vegan boots and shoes
Icebug hiking boots for men and women
I’ve been an avid hiker all my life. Nature is where I go to clear my mind and relax. It just doesn’t feel right to wear hiking boots that harm the environment when out on the trails, so I’m always on the lookout for eco-friendly hiking boots that aren’t made from plastic and have a low environmental impact.
Unfortunately, I’ve also dealt with back pain since I was in highschool and have had a couple severe injuries, so I’m very careful about what shoes I choose to wear.
Here’s a bit about why choosing eco-friendly hiking boots matters, and a roundup of some of my favorites!
How Hiking Boots and Shoes Can Harm the Environment
We all know about prominent pollutants like plastic bottles and fossil fuel emissions. Sadly, many of the everyday products we buy are also growing our carbon footprints more than we realize. Hiking boots and shoes are no exception.
Problematic Shoe Materials
Plastic is one of the most damaging materials for the planet. It doesn’t break down naturally or provide nutrients when it decomposes, and it creates hazardous clutter in the oceans and on land. Many hiking boots are made with synthetic fabrics, which typically include plastic fibers and coatings.
In addition to sitting in landfills, synthetic fabrics cause problems when you’re using them, too. Any time you wash them, some of the plastic microfibers can break loose and seep into the water supply.
In addition to synthetic fabrics, many hiking boots and shoes use synthetic rubber to protect your feet. Unfortunately, producing this rubber requires a chemical process that causes massive pollution. However, rubber is generally better for the environment than plastic.
Many traditional hiking boots are made from leather, which has a huge carbon footprint. Raising cows takes a lot of land and water, and growing the food for them uses even more land, pesticides, transportation, and energy. Looking for high quality vegan shoes is a great to stop using animal products and reduce carbon emissions.
Pollution-Heavy Shoe Production
While the materials in your boots or shoes might be creating pollution, it doesn’t end there. Assembling the materials into finished, use-ready boots can also be a damaging process.
Manufacturers use heavy machinery to make their products quickly on a massive scale. That machinery uses enormous amounts of energy, which is damaging to the environment if manufacturers aren’t using renewable energy sources.
Producing Waste When Shoes Get Thrown Away
We’re simply running out of room for all the non-biodegradable trash we produce, and it’s affecting the planet’s health more and more. One of my favorite sustainability sayings is ‘there’s no such thing as away.’ Everything goes somewhere, and ideally when we finish using products their materials return to nature or get reused.
If your hiking boots or shoes are only lasting you a matter of months before you throw them out, this produces a lot of waste. It takes as long as 80 years for rubber boot soles to decompose, and up to 40 years for leather boots. If you’re tossing out a pair of boots twice per year, you would have thrown out about 159 other pairs before the first one was gone.
Here are my 6 Favorite Eco-Friendly Hiking Boots and Shoes!
As upsetting as it may be to think about the damage hiking boots and shoes can do, you can push that stress aside when you switch to one of these eco-friendly options. I’ve put together a list of my favorite eco-friendly hiking boots and shoes that are all nearly or completely plastic-free.
Hemptique Hemp Shoe Ruler
It should come as no surprise that a company with a name like “Hemptique” is selling hemp items. Hemp is one of those fabrics that has become an eco-friendly favorite because it’s environmentally healthy but also practical. It’s one of the best choices out of all the sustainable materials out there.
The Hemp Shoe Ruler is made out of 100% organic hemp. The shoes are handmade in Europe to ensure that the manufacturing process is easy on the ecosystem.
Hemp doesn’t only make up the primary fabric of the shoe. The laces are 100% organic hemp as well, and so are the insoles. To keep you comfortable on your hike, the hemp in these hiking shoes is also breathable enough to help your feet stay cool.
Check out Hemptique
The Women’s Vivobarefoot Gobi III Eco Vegan Desert Boot
If you’re heading out for a hike in desert terrain, nothing is more appropriate than a hiking shoe named after a desert. Considering that this vegan shoe is also gentle on the planet you’re hiking to enjoy, it’s even better.
The Gobi III Eco Vegan shoe is lightweight and has a barefoot style sole. I love barefoot shoes for hiking, and Vivobarefoot is one of the best brands for both comfort and sustainability.
The Men’s Vivobarefoot Primus Trail Knit
Vivobarefoot recognizes that as wonderful as natural materials are, synthetic materials provide an added durability on the trail. To merge the two worlds of longevity and eco-safety, they make their Primus Trail Knit Shoe with rubber, recycled, and knit materials.
The fabric is made from recycled plastics fibers that are woven together to protect your feet without adding new plastic to the environment. For sole comfort, the Primus Trail FG also features a performance insole made with bio-based materials.
Vibram’s CVT-Hemp Shoes
Few issues are more divisive in the world of footwear than “toe shoes” – shoes that separate each toe. Even if you don’t love these shoes’ aesthetics, the fact is that they can have fantastic benefits for your foot health by helping your feet move more naturally. Vibram soles have a barefoot feel that works for both easy trails and more rugged terrain. I’ve worn them for years for both running and gym workouts and I swear by them.
Vibram takes it a step further (pun only slightly intended) by using hemp to make their version of these hike friendly shoes for both men and women. The planet will thank you when it can more easily break down the CVT-Hemp shoe’s fibers. At the same time, your feet will thank you because they’ll have both flexibility and protection on the trails.
If you’re looking for vegan hiking boots, Rawganique makes super comfortable vegan boots and shoes from organic hemp.
They’re colored with biodegradable, eco-friendly dye. Even the shoelaces are made of earth-friendly hemp.
The boots are also handmade by specialized artisans. You don’t need to worry about your boots coming from a pollution-pumping factory or an unethical sweatshop.
Icebug is the first climate-positive footwear brand, meaning they go beyond zero emissions and actually make a positive impact on the environment. They make high-quality walking shoes, running shoes, and hiking boots and shoes for both men and women.
Some of the materials they use for their sustainable hiking boots include 100% recycled PET, natural rubber, and BLOOM foam EVA. The shoes are great for long hikes and are made to last a long time.
Protecting the Planet with Eco-Friendly Hiking Boots and Shoes
To be a great hiker, all you need is an affinity for nature. After all, you’re seeking peace and refuge within its arms. Now, you can return the favor by choosing eco-friendly hiking boots and shoes that protect the planet around you.
Disclosure: Every product is carefully selected by our editors. Things you buy through our links may earn us a commission.