Best Hiking and Walking Boots in the UK for 2020 (November Update)


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Best Hiking and Walking Boots in the UK for 2020 (November Update)

Budget
Merrell Men's Moab 2 Ltr Mid Gtx High Rise Hiking Boots, Brown Pecan, 9 UK
Value-for-Money
La Sportiva Trango TRK Gore-Tex Walking Boots - AW20-9 Black
The Best
Meindl Bhutan MFS Men's Hiking Boots, Brown, UK8
Title
Merrell Men's Moab 2 Ltr Mid Gtx High Rise Hiking Boots, Brown Pecan, 9 UK
La Sportiva Trango TRK Gore-Tex Walking Boots - AW20-9 Black
Meindl Bhutan MFS Men's Hiking Boots, Brown, UK8
Rating
-
Waterproof
Weight
878g
575g
1300g
Upper material
Leather / mesh
Abrasion-resistant polyester mesh and rubber
Leather
Price
£89.49
£159.77
£200.79
Budget
Merrell Men's Moab 2 Ltr Mid Gtx High Rise Hiking Boots, Brown Pecan, 9 UK
Title
Merrell Men's Moab 2 Ltr Mid Gtx High Rise Hiking Boots, Brown Pecan, 9 UK
Rating
Waterproof
Weight
878g
Upper material
Leather / mesh
Price
£89.49
Value-for-Money
La Sportiva Trango TRK Gore-Tex Walking Boots - AW20-9 Black
Title
La Sportiva Trango TRK Gore-Tex Walking Boots - AW20-9 Black
Rating
-
Waterproof
Weight
575g
Upper material
Abrasion-resistant polyester mesh and rubber
Price
£159.77
The Best
Meindl Bhutan MFS Men's Hiking Boots, Brown, UK8
Title
Meindl Bhutan MFS Men's Hiking Boots, Brown, UK8
Rating
Waterproof
Weight
1300g
Upper material
Leather
Price
£200.79

The most important part of your kit when you set off on the trail is a good pair of hiking boots.

Everything else you can beg, borrow or steal but wearing the wrong pair of boots will only end in blisters and a trip cut short.

We’ll help you figure out what kind of shoes you need, and what qualities you should be looking for in your purchase.

Hiking Boots Best-Sellers

SaleBestseller No. 1
SaleBestseller No. 2
Hi-Tec Men's Storm Waterproof Hiking Boots, Brown Dark Chocolate Dark Taupe Burnt Orange 041, 8 UK
1,456 Reviews
SaleBestseller No. 3
Berghaus Men's Hillwalker 2 GTX Boot, Brown (Chocolate) - 9 UK
586 Reviews
Berghaus Men's Hillwalker 2 GTX Boot, Brown (Chocolate) - 9 UK
  • A range of tried-and-tested comfort and performance features...
  • Waterproof guarantee - thanks to the breathable Gore-Tex...
  • Tailored to you - improved tongue and collar pattern with...
  • Engineered heel support ensures stability
  • Locking eyelets let you control tension across your arches

Firstly you might be wondering why to choose hiking boots over hiking shoes or heavy-duty trainers – particularly if you’re looking for rambling footwear rather than heading off to Everest.

Essentially, they provide better sole and ankle support, which is crucial over long distances and when carrying a weight on your back.

Anyone that has ever rolled their ankle will vouch for the pain and misery that ensues after such an incident. On top of this, they better protect you from muddy, wet and brushy terrain.

1. Best for Budget

Merrell Moab 2 Mid (Men’s)

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Key Product Details

  • Weight: 878g
  • Waterproof: Both options available
  • Upper material: Leather / mesh

Summary: A no-frills option for leisurely hikers

The Merrell Moab 2 Mid-Waterproof boots are an inexpensive option for people who don’t hike regularly or aren’t looking to take on extreme terrains.

Although they come in at the bottom end of the price range, they scored relatively well across all metrics.

They were waterproof for short stints of time, whilst also being breathable, offered good ankle support on short hikes and have an easy to use lacing system.

A major plus of these boots is that they are ready to wear and comfortable straight out of the box thanks to a cushioned collar and tongue, refined insole with arch support and flexible footbed.

The boot comes up pretty low on the ankle, similar to a trail shoe, which means reduced support but it does remove the need to wear them in.

The modest stability and support is reflective of the fact that the Moab 2’s core customers are day hikers, rather than mountaineers or extreme adventurists.

The trusty outsole has a respectably long lifespan with a toe that shows scuffs but generally withstands damage well.

The tread on the shoe is not particularly deep, meaning it’s suited to a limited range of terrains and does not support carrying a heavy load, but offers decent enough traction over rock and dirt.

The shoes come in a waterproof and non-waterproof version so the wearer can decide accordingly where their priorities lie. Anyone looking to wear the shoe in warmer climates should opt for the non-waterproof version as they have superior breathability.

Pros
  • They ticked all the boxes over short distances
  • Offer comfort right out of the box
Cons
  • The grip and traction leave a bit to be desired

2. Best Boots for Cold Conditions

La Sportiva Karakorum (Men’s)

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Key Product Details

  • Weight: 1950g
  • Waterproof: Yes
  • Upper material: Single leather

Summary: A midweight champion for taking on mountainous terrains

These boots are the perfect solution for anyone who hikes or treks regularly and would like to do so during winter months too.

Designed for taking on trekking, mountaineering or alpine adventures, the La Sportiva Makalus are burly, supportive, and extremely durable.

Although they’re not the most technical shoe, the design is a good all-year-round shoe that works well for basic mountaineering and heavy backpacking.

The shoe is built with a water-repellant leather upper and insulation to keep your foot warm, whilst the Dry-Brst lining wicks moisture away from the skin to keep it dry and comfortable.

An aircushioned midsole features a honeycomb heel grid that flexes on impact to provide the ultimate comfort, even over longer distances.

It should be noted, however, that the Makalu is not built for serious cold weather mountaineering, and those looking to head to alpine regions overseas would need a second, snow-specific boot.

A Vibram toe cap helps to protect the front of the boot when scuffing through snow and rocks and a full shank offers support when carrying a heavy backpack or load.

The boot works with automatic crampons for icy adventures, allowing the wearer to easily transition between climates and terrains.

The downside would be that the Dry-Best lining doesn’t quite match up to the breathability of Gore-Tex and so the boot is prone to moisture build up during longer walks.

Pros
  • Crampon compatible
  • Fantastic warmth
Cons
  • Heavier than their counterparts
  • Fairly rigid

La Sportiva Trango (Women’s)

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Key Product Details

  • Weight: 575g
  • Waterproof: Yes
  • Upper material: Abrasion-resistant polyester mesh and rubber

Summary:  Lightweight technical boot designed to hold up in the cold

La Sportiva’s Trango TRK GTX boots are one of the few real hiking boots that require little to no breaking in.

Trail-ready right out of the box means that these are the perfect last minute purchase without the fear of blisters and sore feet.

Because the boots are crampon compatible, individuals can hike in them throughout every season.

In just a few minutes, the Trangos can be converted from walking and hiking shoes to mountain-friendly boots. They also have a fully gusseted tongue which aids breathability and comfort.

Unlike the Sportiva Makalu, these boots fared almost as well in warmer weather as they did in the cold. The boots are breathable and waterproof, and sweat seemed to be wicked away from the feet just fine.

However, when accidentally submerged, the Gore-Tex inners were inundated and they took much longer to dry out than expected.

The Trangos’ 3D-flex system allows the ankle to flex forward whilst the upper provides enough stability to stop the ankle from rolling over. This means that the wearer can take on everything from steep slopes and rocky outcrops, to shingle paths and muddy hills.

The dual-density midsole provides plenty of support and rigidity so these boots held up well when tested with heavy backpacks.

The outer sole boasts a technical edging platform and aggressive lugs, allowing them to keep the wearer stable, and a rubber rand wraps around the toe and heel of the boot to feet safe from jagged rocks, roots or objects hiding in the snow and mud.

The boots held up well when wading through shallow streams or creeks and dewy grass, and the air mesh insert and tongue are both fast-drying.

Pros
  • Crampon compatible
  • Superior grip on varied terrains
Cons
  • Don’t provide as much sole-support when carrying a heavy bag

Scarpa Zodiac Plus Gore-Tex Boots (Women’s) – NEW for 2020

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Key Product Details

  • Weight: 1000g
  • Waterproof: Yes
  • Upper material: Suede/Gore-Tex

Summary: The recently released Scarpa Zodiac Plus boot is our go-to option for anyone venturing off the trail into alpine terrains

A mountain-ready, waterproof design makes the Scarpa Zodiac Plus the perfect companion for those looking to take on some more challenging hikes.

With maximum underfoot support and protection, they provide excellent traction and stability but are light enough to allow for rock scrambling and technical terrain, even in wet conditions.

The semi-stiff build and solid protection provides confidence on steep climbs as well as tricky descents.

The Zodiacs are a bit lighter and more supple than an actual mountain boot, feeling more like a mid-weight hiking shoe.

The sock fit construction maintains an excellent heel fit, and Scarpa’s new Drumlin Outsole reduces weight and enhances comfort with its blend of PU and EVA inserts.

This boot mixes the traction you might find in an approach shoe with the toughness and stability of a lightweight mountaineering boot.

Combined with the additional cuff height and a Gore-Tex liner, users get an increased range of uses compared with other lower-cut boots.

Though the Zodiac is respectably comfortable straight out of the box, its stiffness in general hiking terrain will leave your feet a bit sore at the end of a long day. For this reason, these boots are an overkill for anyone who doesn’t plan to take to mountainous trails.

Pros
  • Great boot over rock and snow
  • Breathes well thanks for the Gore-Tex
  • Well-made and durable
Cons
  • Wide fit
  • Not as good for warm or hot environments

3. Best Light to Mid-weight Boots

Lowa Renegade GTX Mid (Men’s)

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Key Product Details

  • Waterproof: Yes
  • Weight: 1100g
  • Upper material: Nubuck leather

Summary: Full of features and yet relatively light

At over 1kg in weight the Lowa Renegate GTX wouldn’t qualify as a lightweight shoe but we think it sits at the perfect middle point between having all the benefits of a heavyweight shoe whilst maintaining the agility and ease-of-wear of a lightweight boots.

The increasing popularity of lighter footwear has not tarnished the demand for the Low Renegade range. Its superior comfort, support and protection make it a year-round favourite for trekkers and backpackers.

Although it comes in a little pricier than its lightweight counterparts, it makes up for with its performance when hiking over dicey or steep terrain. Experienced walkers will be able to notice the increased stability, traction, and build quality.

The boots are sufficiently firm with enough stiffness to support your feet on uphill climbs  but offer a soft collar and midsole that provide isolation from the rocky trail beneath.

A benefit of stepping up slightly in weight from the lightweight options is the Vibram outsoles and thick tread pattern which allows grip over everything from rocks, roots and hardpack to soft dirt, dust and snow.

Wearers can feel confident and stable whilst descending loose, dusty trails or climbing up wet and muddy hills.

Breathability is often an issue in leather hiking boots but the Renegade seems to have a thin enough outer that there is ventilation and moisture can escape, helping to prevent blisters and hot spots.

The waterproof build and modest insulation from the Gore-Tex liner keeps them fully resistant in snow, mud or shallow water.

A final bonus is that it’s available in a range of sizes and widths, meaning that it can be a go-to boot even for people with tricky feet.

The only real downside is one that comes with all heavier shoes, and that is the noticeable rigidity of the boot. Although not stiff by any means, it’s worth bearing in mind.

The female version of the Lowa Renegade offers all the same specs and is an affordable mid-weight boot.

Pros
  • Extremely stable and comfortable on difficult trails and terrains
  • Fits a wide range of foot sizes and shapes
Cons
  • Heavier than its counterparts
  • Tougher lacing system

Salomon X Ultra 3 Mid GTX (Women’s)

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Key Product Details

  • Waterproof: Yes
  • Weight: 765g
  • Upper material: Synthetic

Summary: The best of comfort, traction, and durability in a lightweight shoes

Put simply, this is a high-performing shoe, not just in the lightweight class, but in any. It is light and agile and yet grips perfectly on just about any surface.

Thanks to Salomon’s expertise in outdoor-wear, it is certain to maintain its comfort and quality through extended and rough use.

The comfort of the boot feels more like a supportive trail-running shoe but with the benefits of a supportive collar and tongue and a sculpted insole.

At just 765 grams you might expect it would have sacrificed key features or quality, but the comfort, traction, and durability have not been compromised and Gore-Tex is still used to ensure waterproofness.

The solid heel and toe provide plenty of protection on rough and rocky hikes, whilst the synthetic upper allow breathability and ventilation. Fans of the boot will be pleased to know that they’re now available in wide sizes too.

The shoe is perfect for day-hiking and lightweight backpacking.

The boot has had minor upgrades from the previous version, with Salomon redesigning the outsoles for improved downhill traction whilst maintaining its durability and flexibility.

The Gore-Tex lining holds up well in shallow water but the low-rising heel support means wearers should bear in mind that the boot is more prone to being flooded when wading across streams or creeks.

One key issue, as mentioned with some of the other boots, is that the Gore-Tex waterproof version often runs pretty warm. For anyone primarily walking in warmer weather, it would be worth buying the non-waterproof option.

Additionally, some users  report their dislike for the Quicklace system and needed to tighten and adjust it on occasion.

Pros
  • Supportive yet nimble, easily top of their class in lightweight performance
Cons
  • Not protective enough underfoot for carrying a heavy load
  • Not the easiest Quicklace system

4. Best Multi-purpose Boots

Asolo Falcon GV Hiking Boots (Men’s) – NEW for 2020

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Key Product Details

  • Weight: 980g
  • Waterproof: Yes
  • Upper material: Suede and Gore-Tex

Summary: Well built, extremely comfortable and tough, the Asolo Falcon GV hiking boots ensure a smooth ride on any terrain.

There’s no doubting that the the Asolo Falcon GV is one of the best all-rounders on the market right now – made to last and able to handle just about anything you can throw at it.

There are a few different models of Asolo’s Falcon boots, but the GVs are our favourite.

The GV denotes its construction of a Gore-Tex lining with a Vibram outsole. The Gore-Tex offers a high level of breathability and Vibram soles help traction significantly on wet rocks.

Cutting down on some of the weight and support you’d expect in a traditional hiking boot, the Falcons offer serious technical ability.

The suede/Gore-Tex combination keeps your feet dry much better than the heavier, full-leather models and sweat is constantly wicked away.

The Radiant sole with aggressive heel cleats is designed with trekking enthusiasts in mind and the mid-cut design provides decent ankle protection. A plush tongue and Lite 2 Plus insoles offer superior underfoot comfort for long days on the trail.

Their main downfall is that the laces are a bit skinny for a hiking shoe, and they don’t feel as supportive as some of the heavier boots on our list.

The only upside of the smaller strings is that it is possible to cinch almost all the way to the front toe area. For anyone with narrow feet, this offers an extra level of security.

However, the stability could only be rated as moderate. Anyone used to a high-cut boot with tons of support might feel a little exposed in the Falcon.

That said, when laced up tight, you can head off backpacking over all sorts of terrain without any issues, making it a great midweight and comfortable do-all boot.

Pros
  • Great breathability
  • Comfortable straight out of box
  • Good traction
  • Ideal fit for narrow feet
Cons
  • Laces are too thin
  • Lack stability of other mid/heavyweight boots

Salewa Alpenrose Ultra Mid Gore-Tex Boots (Women’s) – NEW for 2020

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Key Product Details

  • Weight: 680g
  • Waterproof: Yes
  • Upper material: Breathable mesh/ coated fabric

Summary: A hiking boot that is durable, yet lightweight and affordable.

It’s not often that you get a hiking boot that is so durable, yet lightweight and affordable, but the Salewa Alpenrose Ultra Mid manages to tick all three boxes.

With sturdy ankle protection and a strong profile, it looks more like a high-tech approach shoe and is suitable for virtually any terrain – whether it is technical, mountainous or just your local trails.

In terms of weight and water resistance, it could be the best women’s boot out there.

The waterproof upper keeps rain and mud out but the Gore-Tex liner allows your feet to breathe, avoiding build up of perspiration and blisters.

In fact, you can wade straight through a running stream and you won’t feel a drop of moisture within. The seamless construction not only keeps water out, but makes them incredibly tough-wearing and durable.

The technical prowess of the Alpenrose is unexpected in boots in this price range. They feel light on the foot, with sticky soles and angled lugs of varying sizes find traction on any surface.

The boots run very well on uneven, stony trails with outstanding grip that offers stability on steep ascents or sketchy descents. Salewa uses Michelin rubber soles (rather than Vibram), which is generally less popular but performs almost as well.

If we had to be picky, the comfort rating isn’t as high as we would like. Despite being light and flexible, the fit isn’t for everyone and can cause some hotspots. Perhaps this would be negated by some extended breaking in.

Online reviews indicate that if they fit your foot well, it’s like wearing socks.

The insole supports the arch of the foot, making it perfect for those who have flatter feet and reducing the need for additional insoles.

Pros
  • Lightweight
  • Versatile
  • Durable
Cons
  • Only averagely comfortable

5. New Additions – Requested by Readers…

Vasque St. Elias Gore-Tex Boots (Women’s) – NEW for 2020

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Key Product Details

  • Weight: 1350g
  • Waterproof: Yes
  • Upper material: Full-grain leather

Summary: An old-school hiking boot with modern technology incorporated

The Vasque St. Elias is s full-grain leather boot build combined with a Gore-Tex membrane guarantees protection from the elements and overall climate comfort.

With no mesh panels or synthetic fabrics in the upper, you’d expect them to be incredibly stiff yet minimal breaking in is actually needed before hitting the trails.

Additional comfort comes in the form of a dual-density EVA footbed, comfort pods at the heel, and supple glove leather collar and tongue gussets that conform to your unique foot shape.

A large amount of structural support under the foot reduces foot fatigue and there is just enough torsional rigidity.

Plenty of stability and foot protection is offered, with a high-top silhouette and molded rubber toe cap for increased durability.

These are heavy-duty, rugged boots designed to withstand backpacking adventures in the toughest conditions.

The Vibram Frontier soles are constructed with a lug pattern designed to maximise efficiency and traction even on loose scree on wet days.

Their performance whilst scrambling though is less impressive and some of the other boots in our lineup would provide more confidence.

The all-metal lacing hardware with three upper sets of lacing hooks means that the boots can be snugly fit, but there is unfortunately no lace lock.

The angle of the speed hooks doesn’t seem to keep the laces tight, meaning they need to be retied or knotted multiple times.

The biggest issue is the weight. For those who don’t mind a heavier boot, the tradeoff is outstanding durability, top-tier traction and stability for big loads.

However, for anyone who wants a lighter shoe for technical terrain, it would be worth looking elsewhere.

Pros
  • Great stability and protection
  • Durable
  • Suitable for cold conditions
Cons
  • Reduced breathability
  • Heavy

Berghaus Hillmaster II Gore-Tex Boots (Men’s) – NEW for 2020

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Key Product Details

  • Weight: 1480g
  • Waterproof: Yes
  • Upper material: Full-grain leather

Summary: An old-school hiking boot with modern technology incorporated

The Berghaus Hillmaster II has to be the best three-season hillwalking boot in its price range.

Building on the success of previous Hillmaster models, Berghaus hasn’t disappointed, ensuring the features that made the previous boot so great have lived on.

The boot entry is nice and wide, and the top three rows of cleats are just open hooks, making them exceptionally easy to get on and off – even with cold hands and thick socks.

Metal eyelets allow for a fast closure and tight fit with minimal effort.

The locking eyelets let you control tension across your arches, so as not to tire out the foot unnecessarily. They also are guaranteed to be waterproof throughout the duration of their life, with

breathable Gore-Tex making sure all moisture is transferred and kept on the outside.

An engineered heel support ensures stability and the ankle support is ample without being restrictive. For those taking to more treacherous routes, it would be worth investing in a higher and more supportive boot.

The reduced lug depth provides decent grip along with anti-clogging properties.

Fitting well all around the foot, there are no tight points and they are tailored to each individual wearer. Comfort is enhanced by a fabric lining, additional ankle foam pads and memory foam in the collar and tongue.

Although the leather is quite stiff to start off with, speed up the breaking in process by using Dubbin wax on the boot flex points.

Weighing in at almost 1500 grams, they are one of the heaviest in our lineup. This is to be expected given their all-leather build, thick Vibram soles and robust design.

Though it wasn’t something that we noticed, some users have indicated that there is a significant amount of wear evident on the soles after a few months of use – particularly when worn on paths, scree and gravel, rather than grass and dirt.

Pros
  • Extremely comfortable, tailored fit
  • Easy to get on and off
  • Waterproof
Cons
  • Heavy
  • Some wearers report sole wearing down
  • Reduced lug depth does not offer enough traction for steep, loose terrains

Oboz Bridger Vented Mid B-Dry Boots (Men’s) – NEW for 2020

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Key Product Details

  • Weight: 1070g
  • Waterproof: No (but water resistant)
  • Upper material: Nubuck leather & textile mesh panels

Summary: Oboz took their flagship Bridger and evolved it further, maximising air flow around the foot.

When seasons change and temperatures begin to rise, having a highly-breathable boot to wear on the trail is a game changer.

Based in Bozeman, Montana, if anyone knows how to make tough, comfort-first footwear, it’s these guys.

Moisture-wicking fabrics keep the feet dry and the shoes well ventilated, reducing the build up of sweat.

Synthetic mesh panels offer superior breathability and once combined with Oboz’s B-DRY waterproof membrane, the wearer can enjoy a completely dry and comfortable hike.

If fully submerged in a stream or river, water can eventually make its way in.

Designed to go the distance, no matter how hard or far you hike, the Bridger Vented boots have the support and sturdy construction to hold up on long hikes across rugged terrain.

A rubber toe cap provides the forefoot with protection and the form-hugging heel cup adds to the stability of the shoe by keeping the feet locked in and protecting the ankles.

The tread is aggressive, with soles thick enough to protect your feet on the most savage of trails. Unsurprisingly, given the weight, the boot feels slower and heavier than competitors out on the trail.

These boots come with Oboz’s proprietary O FIT Insole. This purpose-designed technology delivers unrivalled fit, feel and performance and the low-density EVA pods within provide cushioning and comfort.

Their infamous Granite Peak Midsole is great for day hiking but burly enough for a multi-day backpacking trip – even when carrying a heavy load.

Engineered to support the arch and put the foot in a neutral position, combined with a lower ankle height, softened tongue and collar, it is all-round a highly comfortable and supportive shoe.

For those who are eco-conscious, Oboz has partnered with Trees for the Future to plant a tree for every pair of shoes sold.

For an increased level of waterproofing and heat retention, take a look at Oboz’s Bridger Mid, which are much the same but get rid of the mesh panels on the boots’ uppers.

However, it should be noted that they are significantly stiffer, almost debilitatingly so on steep terrain and large rock steps.

Pros
  • Highly breathable
  • Good arch support
  • Sturdy
Cons
  • Pricey
  • Feels heavy on the trail

Meindl Bhutan MFS Hiking Boot (Men’s)

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Key Product Details

  • Waterproof: Yes
  • Weight: 1660g
  • Upper material: Nubuck leather

Summary: A well-built boot suited to cold and wet conditions.

Meindl is known for its build quality and attention to detail and the Bhutan Hiking Boot is no exception.

Small tweaks have been made to its popular predecessor to make the boot a more comfortable fit and longer-lasting, but the weight has not come down yet.

Although it’s slightly heavy by modern standards, there are a number of features that make up for this increased weight.

The weight of the shoe comes down to both price and personal preference, in terms of preferring a traditional supportive boot or wanting to opt for a boot with a lighter sole.

Underfoot it’s relatively stiff with a rigid sole, but this is balance out by its memory foam system which enhances its comfort, fit and support.

The solid chassis is perfect on rough ground and changing terrain, and the soft ankle cuff provides support from rolling (as well as keeping grit and dust out) without feeling claustrophobic or restrictive.

Although it’s not exactly a lightweight, fast or nimble boot, it is well suited to hill and mountain walking, backpacking and its quality leather means it lasts well.

The waterproof & breathable Gore-Tex performance lining keep feet dry and wick away moisture, although are certainly better suited to cooler temperatures as it can get warm pretty quickly inside the boot due to its limited mesh panels.

This is exacerbated by the memory foam, which moulds snugly to the shape of your feet.

The multi-grip Vibram sole are reliable enough, although the tread is not as deep as some other boots in this range, and the Digifix lace system ensures the boot doesn’t slide around on the foot.

There is also a women’s Bhutan model from Meindl that is equally popular.

Pros
  • Quality build
  • Memory foam padding
  • Gore-Tex liner
Cons
  • Heavier than its competitors

Salomon’s Quest 4d 3 GTX High Rise Hiking Boots (Men’s)

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Key Product Details

  • Waterproof: Yes
  • Weight: 1200g
  • Upper material: Synthetic and nubuck leather mix

Summary: Sturdy boots for a long life off the beaten path

The Quest 4D 3 GTX is a mid-weight backpacking boot designed for hiking on technical terrain – think trail hiking, scree skating or scrambling over slush and ice.

Salomon claims it was developed with running shoe-adapted technology, but we found the boots far too weighty to agree with this claim, although the statement could be a nod to the slightly flexible chassis.

Salomon is well known for its active, outdoor and adventure wear, from trail and hiking boots, to snowboarding boots and ski jackets.

As a result, splashing out £155 actually feels like a great investment as you know they’re going to stand the test of time, be well-designed and built from quality materials.

The lacing system provides flexibility and range of motion whilst keeping the boot tight enough to prevent slipping, with the middle eyelet even offering little gripping teeth.

This ankle lock lacing system pulls the heel in to the rear of the boot, preventing your toes from sliding forward into the front of the toe box during steep descents.

As you might expect from Salomon, the Quest 4d 3 offers a range of features for comfort, protection and durability.

The suede nubuck leather and Cordura-type fabric upper combine to crate a thick and protective feel around the foot, with a rubber bumper for extra toe protection and Gore-Tex waterproof membrane lining the walls.

In the sole unit is a removable Ortholite insole, an EVA foam midsole and a Salomon Contragrip outsole with plenty of padding under the heel.

For the occasional hike without a heavy load, these boots would certainly be an overkill, but for serious backpackers and trail-trekkers, these shoes would make the perfect companion.

The boot offers a sturdy fit for better ankle protection and the pivot point is less flexible than previous models, a possible tweak resulting from feedback that the movement was causing the rubber to come away.

The Gore-Tex membrane upper offers reliable waterproofing as well as superb breathability.

This allows sweat to move away from the foot and cool air to enter but repels water, ensuring a dry wear and letting the user cross shallow streams or move through slush without any repercussions.

Although they’re relatively quick to wear in, we wouldn’t recommend going from box to trail without a few short walks, and due to a snug fit around the middle of the foot it is also worth trying out the lacing tightness over different terrains and inclines.

Pros
  • Highly breathable
  • Un-matched comfort
Cons
  • Reported durability issues with the metal eyelets

Altberg Defender Mk. II Boots (Men’s)

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Key Product Details

  • Waterproof: Yes
  • Weight: 1100g
  • Upper material: Anfibio Leather

Summary: An ultra-light and durable army-designed boot

These British-made boots were developed for issue to UK Military, and on this basis are well-made and built to take on the countryside for hundreds and thousands of steps without giving out.

Made from leather with an Anfibio 2.4mm leather upper, the boots are water resistant passing the SATRA dynamic water resistance test at 100,000 flexes.

The lining is non-waterproof membrane cambrelle, which is breathable and allows the boot to dry out more quickly from being wet. It also means that the boot is cooler on hot days compared with a boot using a waterproof membrane lining.

The flex control and underfoot torsional resistance don’t offer the same level of comfort as some of the previous boots we’ve reviewed but then again, gear utilised by the army has other priorities.

The boots comes up very high, offering ultimate ankle support. However, depending on what you’re used to, this may be at a detriment to comfort and freedom of movement on steeper inclines.

Designed for rough terrains and rural use the boot also has a full rubber rand for upper protection.

The micro/rubber shock-absorbing sole reduces impact on joints when running and the ultra lightweight construction reduces leg fatigue – ideal over long distances.

Pros
  • High ankle support
  • Won’t cause fatigue due to low weight
Cons
  • Not particularly comfortable

What to look for in the perfect pair of boots?

The following things are all important when making your selection but you should assess which are priorities for you.

If you’re a keen trekker and you’re setting off on a major expedition, such as The Three Peaks in the UK, or looking to keep the boots for years to come – then it’s worth splashing out on a pair of high quality, durable boots.

If you’re looking for something for the occasional ramble or walking the dog, then a cheaper lightweight pair will do the trick.

All the boots reviewed in the article below are made by well-respected brands, so you can rest assured that whatever decision you make, they’ll serve you well.

  • Comfort

This goes without saying and should be a number one priority. All shoes reviewed here score well for comfort in their category.

  • Support

This will include a well-designed sole, comfortable ankle support and a solid lacing system.

  • Water resistance

Most boots can withstand a moderate amount of water and/or snow, but if you know you’re going to be crossing creeks or taking on the worst of Britain’s weather then you’ll need a pair that can keep your feet dry whatever the climate.

Boots that you wear regularly will need to be treated with waterproof membranes twice a year to maintain their water resistance.

  • Breathability

A well-designed pair of boots will keep water out without trapping moisture in.

Sweaty and swollen feet are prone to blistering, so breathable and well-ventilated shoes are crucial to comfort and foot health.

  • Traction/Grip

Your boots should keep you upright regardless of whether you’re climbing muddy hills, snowy mountains or wet rocks.

  • Durability

Last but by no means least, you want to look for a shoe that will stand the test of time.

Decent hiking boots should last 300 to 500 miles, whether that’s over the course of a year or 5 years, without suffering broken eyelets, laces, seams or soles.

Getting the right fit

Although some boots are unisex, we would generally recommend going for a gender-specific boot as the stitching and ankle support will fall in slightly different places and women’s Achilles tend to be positioned differently to men’s.

Men’s feet also tend to be wider and have a slightly different instep.

Allow yourself a thumb’s width between your toe and the end of the boot to allow for some swelling as you walk and a bit of movement as you walk on different inclines.

Generally speaking, the expertly designed lacing systems mean that the shoe can be tied to snugly fit either wide or narrow feet.

You should be able to wiggle your toes but if your foot slides from side to side then you’ve got a problem.

Your heel, on the other hand, should be able to rise up around a quarter of an inch – this protects your Achilles tendon and prevents blisters.

If you have a particularly high or flat arch, we would recommend trying the shoe on in a store before purchasing online – just to be sure.

Doing them up

You may think we’re being nit-picky by telling you to lace them up properly but getting it right prevents blisters, relieves hot spots and helps you wear them in properly.

The boots will generally be laced for you when they arrive in a way that helps the boot fit your foot properly, but there are numerous ways of tying them up – all designed to help different issues.

The laces should be taut, but not tight, and start at the toe end, moving towards the ankle.

Breaking them in

Even the comfiest, best-fitting boots need to be worn in.

Never be fooled into thinking that they can go from box to mountain without repercussions.

Always start by wearing them around the house so that if you need to return them or change size there won’t be any issues.

After that, just wear the boots a few times a week on short walks, making sure you cover different terrains or inclines, and always make sure you’re wearing proper socks.

This will also let you figure out possible hotspots and re-lace them accordingly.

As well as breaking them in, you need to ensure you wear them at least once a month to keep them flexible and pliable.

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Last update on 2020-11-28 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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