A New Era of Wacky, Wavy and Wild Outdoor Footwear Is Nigh

10 labels proving that we just hit peak GORP 2.0

February 27, 2024 12:55 pm
two models wearing merrell on a camo background
Brands like Merrell are reinventing the wheel when it comes to hiking footwear.
Merrell/Getty Images

Nota bene: If you buy through the links in this article, we may earn a small share of the profits.

To some extent, outdoor brands have always been a part of the menswear conversation. Dating back to the days of Eddie Bauer’s puffer jacket, technical gear has long influenced the domain of form and fashion. This understandably might sound a bit esoteric and overly analytical, but one look at literally any of the European runway shows, large-scale commercial apparel operations or Noah lookbooks over the past decade or so should prove that outdoor apparel continues to be intrinsically intertwined with looking sick as hell.

20 Outdoor Brands Every Guy Should Know
It’s been a long time since Columbia and The North Face were your only options

The connection between nature-inspired utility has never been this close to the fore of fashion. Coming off a wave of Arc’teryx-style GORP — an acronym for good old raisins and peanuts, a verbal homage to trail mix and a classic euphemism for gear — that’s dominated the explore page trend cycle, the possibilities for outdoor-inspired garb feel endless.

To that end, we’ve rounded up a variety of brands in the outdoor footwear space that we’ve got our eye on. From classics like Keen and Merrell to new labels pushing what it means to make a hiking shoe (read: Tarvas), these companies are reinvigorating a chinch-lace sneaker-saturated market with weird, wacky and, above all, quality outdoor footwear to wear on your nature walks and nights out alike. Read on for the best outdoor footwear brands in 2024.

The Brands Reinventing Outdoor Footwear


Key style: Salomon XT-6

It doesn’t feel hyperbolic to suggest that Salomon, more than any other brand, has benefited from the massive menswear-endemic movement that is GORPcore. Originally a niche french outfitter waring alpinist footwear, Salomon has grown into a streetwear mega force, with a variety of lifestyle-leaning options — the XT-6 immediately shoots to mind — maintaining a vice-grip on IG explore pages everywhere.

Merrell 1TRL

Key style: Merrell Moab Mesa Luxe

Much like Salomon, Merrell has long been a name in the outdoor space, but the addition of the 1TRL subbrand has seen the company foray into form-meets-function styles like never before. The classic MOAB (mother of all boots), of course, remains not only a GOAT hiking boot but an acceptable piece of kit for virtually every occasion.


Key style: Diemme Roccia Vet Hiking Boots

Italy-based Diemme has caught fire in recent years, providing a retro-inspired catalog that offers an alternative to the sneaker-esque styles we’ve come to expect from GORPcore. Their Roccia Boot has been the basis for tons of collabs, and for good reason — it’s built like a tank.


Key style: Danner Mountain Light

Danner might not induce the same novelty as other outdoor labels on this list — the Portland, OR-based bootmakers are closing in on 100 years of history — their recent forays into cutting-edge technology and new partnerships have seen a ton of output from the OG hiking boot brand. Collaborations spanning from Americana dealers Todd Snyder to hiking microbrands out of Japan have ensured that Danner remains one step ahead of the competition.


Key style: Fracap M120 Scarponcino Boot

Another Italian-based boot company, Fracap’s designs skew towards the classic design of a leather hiking boot, opting for a classic silhouette and sable performance as opposed to newfangled foams or high-fashion looks. This is not to suggest that the end product is poor — quite the contrary.


Key style: ROA Andreas Boot

The last of the Italian labels going to insane lengths to make your hikes that much better, ROA’s premium products use materials that range from an industry-standard Vibram sole to fibers typically found in bulletproof vests. Their hero Andreas boot might be the most technical style on this list…but it still looks like something you’d see at Paris Fashion Week.


Key style: Keen Jasper Suede Approach Sneaker

We’re steadfast in our assertion that Keen’s Jasper Approach Sneaker is going to be the shoe of the spring, but the heritage outdoor brand has more going for it than a trendy shoe. Incorporating high octane designs and technical performance, the affordable outdoor is a winner on all fronts.


Key style: Norda 001 Trail Running Sneaker

The trail runner scene has blown up in the past decade, and with major players like Nike and Hoka crowding the space, it can be hard to cut through the noise. Candian label Norda, however, has had zero problem — designed to handle the brutal outdoor conditions of the far north, their trail racers lean on low-impact, abrasion-resistant bio-based Dyneema and Cordura fabric for premium protection.


Key style: Tarvas Explorer

A small footwear retailer out of Helsinki, Finland, Tarvas’ locally manufactured footwear options might feel more urban-gear than much of the performancewear on this list. That’s the intention — the brand’s stated mission is to remain “firmly rooted in the city, yet always close to nature”. With styles that range from lugged derbies to proper hikers, there’s a shoe for anyone who pedistals quality and leans more Paraboot than Patagonia.

Nike ACG

Key style: Nike ACG Air Exploraid

As acolytes of Nike’s longstanding outdoor sub-label will happily inform you (perhaps in excessive detail), the vein of All Conditions Gear (ACG) innovation runs deep. From legendary ’90s styles — the Mowabb, Air Terra and Lava Dome are just some of the iconic silos to be born from the swoosh’s hiking-focused division — to just launched sneaker-boots with Nike’s latest tech, ACG is undeniably at the heart of a dominant sneaker culture and outdoor performance.

The InsideHook Newsletter.

News, advice and insights for the most interesting person in the room.