Best 3-Season Walking Boots Reviewed 2016
We review 18 of the best three-season hill and mountain-walking boots out there from lightweight cruisers through to stiffened traditionalists
- By admin -
We've reviewed 18 of the best three-season hill and mountain-walking boots to help you decide which might work best for you. We've tried everything from nimble fabric lightweights through to much stiffer, traditional, all-leather boots.
Bear in mind that the best boot in the world is useless to you if it doesn't fit your foot. As a starting point, we've given a rough idea of how each boot fits, but there's no substitute for trying boots for size. On top of that, everyone has different tastes in boots. Some walkers prefer a lighter, more flexible boot, others like lots of underfoot support and a stiff sole.
There really is no 'best boot', just what fits your foot best and works for your personal preferences, but we have picked out some of our favourites in each category as a starting point. We've also linked to full reviews of most of the boots complete with more images and more detailed information.
There are heaps of walking boots on the market we haven't included so let us know in the forum below if you have a particular boot you love and tell us why it's so great.
To check out all the boots either scroll down the page or follow the brand links below.
Aku Super Alp GTX: £220 / 1560g
We love the combination of decent underfoot support - there's clever stuff going on in the construction - with a super comfortable, close-fitting suede and fabric upper complete with a full rand and great-looking alpine styling with flash of extrovert orange giving parakeet appeal.
The uppers are super soft making the boot instantly comfortable if the medium-close fit suits your foot and overall we found it a great all-round mountain walking and scrambling boot that gives plenty of traditional-style support and stability, but without the heavy, old-fashioned leather feel of some 'classic' designs.
Stiff down below, but flexible and snug-fitting up top, the Super Alp GTX is remarkably comfortable given the amount of support provided by its high-tec, Exoskeleton-based sole unit and the stiffish sole works well for general mountain use as well as on simple to middle-grade scrambles.
Brand website: www.aku.it/en.
Altberg Nordkapp - £204.99 / 1450g
Dales-based Altberg describe the new Norkapp as a 'classic three-season hill-walking boot' based on the Tethera, but it has some neat modern twists: lush nubuck leather and artfully-crafted protective rand give it handsome looks, the slick lacing system makes tension adjustment a breeze. And finally it has an unusual shape that marks it out from most boots, close but still wide and flat at the toe-end sums it up and gives a close, precise fit on hard to accommodate feet.
Underfoot there's traditional stiffness and reliable Vibram grip, but the soft, padded leather ankle cuff gives decent mobility and deceptive cush making it a nice mix of support and comfort helped by a pronounced easy-rolling rocker (curve) to the sole unit. Finally, we can't fault the build quality. It's a beautifully put together boot and a great option for the hard-to-fit foot.
Beautifully-made, decently light, UK-designed classic three-season boot constructed from Designed leather, but with a twist: the Nordkapp uses Alt Berg's unique A-Forme lasting to mix running shoe fit with traditional shepherd's boots. The result may be ideal if you find most walking boots overly roomy and imprecise.
Brand website: www.altberg.co.uk.
Anatom Q3 Braeriach - £144.95 / 1480g
Early days for these as they only arrived recently, but what we can tell you is that these are recognisably a traditional brown leather, three-season sort of boot with lower-cut uppers than the more alpine-orientated brands and just a toe-bumper rather than a full-on rand.
Fit is wide and generous with lots of ankle padding, which will suit broader-footed walkers looking for a comfortable alternative to, say, Scarpa or Brasher and there's a reassuring medium level of support and comfort both above and below. Neat touches include a reliable Vibram outsole and a lasting board that's graded so you get the same level of flex from a small size boot as from a longer one, which isn't always the case.
Designed in Scotland for British hills and feet, Anatom's boots are nicely-made, no-nonsense modern classics and the new this winter 2015 Braeriach is no exception with a roomy, UK-friendly fit combined with a 'stiff enough' chassis, premium components and clean lines.
Brans website: www.anatomfootwear.co.uk.
Arc'teryx Bora2 Mid GTX - £280 / 1260g
The Arc'teryx footwear line is a little bit Marmite. We love the close, precise fit, unusual looks and fast-drying construction, but others we know don't get on with them quite so well. Our experience is that the close fit and flexible grippy sole is super for walking and scrambling beneath the snowline and while water can get in through the open tongue area, your foot stays dry thanks to the Gore-Tex liner and most of it seems to find its way out in due course. The pay-off is improved breathability.
They dry in a matter of an hour or so thanks to the lack of water-sucking components and the removable inners in the top-end versions double as handy hut slippers - they'd be brilliant for Nepalese tea houses too. Downsides are a certain amount of faff when putting them on despite handy pull-loops and the relatively high price tags. That aside we love them and traditionalists might like to note that leather uppered versions are available this spring 2016.
The Canadian brand's radical lightweight double-boot is quite unlike anything else out there and the combination of stretchy Gore-Tex foam-lined inner boot and high tec, hydrophobic, laminated synthetic outer gives a brilliant, precise fit. It dries super fast if it does get wet and as a bonus, the inner boot doubles as a hut slipper.
Brand website: www.arcteryx.com.
Asolo Powermatic 200 GV MM - £187 / 1660g
Another late arrival and another Italian-made solid-feeling leather backpacking creation. Lots of support underfoot and while the uppers too feel pretty beefy, a flexible ankle cuff and plenty of internal padding mean they're nothing like as clumpy out of the box as we'd feared. In fact, they're deceptively comfy for such a rugged feeling boot.
Interesting stuff going on in the cushioning department too where there are no fewer than three different densities of PU to tailor cushioning to different parts of the sole unit and gait cycle.
That said, there's no protective rand, so we'd fear a little for the uppers if exposed to sharp scree and you might want to look elsewhere in the range if that bothers you. First impressions though are that they're a decent modern take on a traditionally solid three-season boot albeit a slightly weighty one.
A solid little tank of a boot mixing tough-feeling 2.8mm full-grain leather uppers with a mid-sole using three different densities of PU and a classic Vibram outsole. Masses of underfoot stiffness means they should appeal to those with more traditional ideas of underfoot support.
Brand website: www.asolo.com.
Berghaus Fellmaster GTX - £140 / 1340g
As above, the Berghaus Hillmasters remind a little of a BMW Mini, in their rounded off, modern take on a classic original. Like the original they're very light, have plenty of lengthways flex for comfortable walking and enough sideways support that they don't flex like limp spaghetti when you stand on a rock.
The overwhelming impression though is instant comfort thanks to the roomy fit fore and aft and luxurious memory foam ankle padding. All of which is great if your feet are similarly generously proportioned, but mean the boot can feel swimmy and imprecise particularly at the heel.
That's not a bad thing in itself, but it does mean you need to make sure they really do fit your foot or you'll end up with a sloppy, imprecise boot. If they do suit you though, you can expect a light, super comfortable boot for all-round walking below the snowline, though we suspect the lightweight construction will mean reduced durability compared to sturdier, more traditional, full-weight leather boots.
The evolved Berghaus version of the original Brasher reboot - sorry - of the classic Fellmaster GTX boot, is a handsome, generously-lasted modern take on the classic, lightweight brown leather walking boot, that's the outdoors equivalent of the BMW Mini or the new VW Beetle.
Brand website: www.berghaus.com.
Hanwag Tatra GTX - £195 / 1660g
You might be more familiar with Meindl, but 'the other German footwear brand' Hanwag, is well worth a second look thanks to thorough design, top-notch build quality and a 'just right' medium last. At first glance, the Tatra GTX looks like a solid, high-ankled teutonic trekking weapon, and, to an extent it is.
What that doesn't tell you is that it's also impressively comfortable thanks to a high, flexible, well-cushioned ankle cuff, a 'memory insole' that moulds to your foot shape and a pronounced rocker to the grippy Vibram sole unit that literally helps you roll along as you walk. Add in a super-slick lacing system with ball-bearing lace hooks and a handy locking instep hook adn you've got a very impressive modern take on a traditionally-stiffened mountain-walking boot.
Super-solid, bombproof-feeling, high-ankled, three-season hiking and backpacking boot from the 'other' German footwear brand combining underfoot stiffness with reassuring foot-hold and top-notch build quality.
Brand website: www.hanwag.com.
Hi-Tec Helvellyn V-Lite WP - £109.99 / 1440g
It's easy to get hooked on the idea that Hi-Tec is all about bargain basement build, but the Helvellyn WP is European-designed and manufactured - Romania if you were wondering - and features British-tanned Pittards leather, the same brand used by the Berghaus Fellmaster along with a grippy Vibram sole unit.
And while the boot's at the flexier end of the spectrum, it's light, roomy and comfortable and a decent price. You don't get a branded waterproof membrane or trick lacing arrangements and it's very much a 'below the snowline' and probably not for scrambling boot, but for general hill and mountain walking use, it's not bad at all.
Light comfortable, no-nonsense three-season walking boots devoid of high mountain pretensions, but using decent components including a Vibram outsole and British-tanned Pittards leather. Buy a pair and £1.00 goes to the National Trust as well.
Brand website: www.hi-tec.co.uk.
Hoka One One Tor Ultra Hi WP - £160 / 950g
These are the 'quiet' Tor Ultra Hi's, the loud ones use colours borrowed from an old Fruit Salad chew... but when you're this radical, why not shout about it? These things are oddly brilliant. The fat, unstructured mid-sole, which uses a mix of EVA and rubber gives a phenomenally cushioned ride, that's malleable enough to wrap around surface irregularities, so the shoes are also improbably stable even on rough surfaces. No, it doesn't look that way, but it's how they work.
They're brilliant on hard, jarring surfaces in particular, but the downside to all that cushion and sole thickness is that they lack precision, so if you progress across the hills with the lazer-guided footfall of a rock-hopping penguin, you may find them frustrating.
Get beyond that and the curious looks though and the sumptuous cushioning that's seduced large numbers of ultra-running diehards is equally adept at long-distance walking. Terrible on scrambles mind...
The bastard love child of one of Hoka One One's fat-soled running shoes and a lightweight hiking mid, the Tor Ultra Hi WP takes your preconceptions and rolls over them in a frenzied blur of super-cushioned, lightweight, fast-hiking energy.
Brand website: www.hokaoneone.eu.
KEEN Liberty Ridge - £149.99 / 1460g
KEEN has tried its hand at general hiking footwear before, but the Liberty Ridge is by far its best shot at a general hill and mountain walking boot so far. Made in Europe, the build quality is excellent with full-grain leather uppers combined with KEEN's excellent 'Direct Attach' PU technology.
The latter is more durable than lighter EVA cushioning, but doesn't lose out in shock absorption thanks to a cunning protruding plug of PU which sits directly under your heel and gives a deceptively cushioned ride even on harder surfaces. Other touches we like include an external moulding which helps to seat the foot solidly in the heel section of the boot and artful ankle cuff cushioning that does much the same thing.
Elsewhere the traditional KEEN-ness of the boot has been toned down slightly. The integral toe bumper is still present and correct, but less bulbous than earlier versions and while there's still plenty of forefoot room, it's not up to the pantomime volumes of some earlier KEEN shoes.
Overall an excellent and very comfortable boot. Our only slight quibble is over the level of grip from the big tread-blocks in real slop.
New this autumn, KEEN's European-made Liberty Ridge leather hiker is the winter-friendly, old country cousin of the excellent lightweight Durand and mixes just the right amount of underfoot support with a reassuringly tough full leather upper, durable but comfortable PU cushioning and a fit that for us at least is 'just right'.
Brand website: www.keenfootwear.com.
Mammut Mercury Advanced High II GTX - £165 / 1260g
Solid and sturdy on the foot with just the right level of support for all-round walking below the snowline, but still light, precise and comfortable with none of the slightly clumpy feel of stiffer, heavier traditional 'backpacking' boots from other alpine brands.
Mammut is big on technology with stuff like 'Mammut Rolling Concept', 3D Memo Foam and 'Liquid Rubber Protection' all name-checked, but mostly you just need to know that it all works. The '3-Zone Lacing', for example, features a mini locking hook at the top of the forefoot, rather than at the instep, and it works really well for being able to vary lace tension on different parts of the foot.
Similarly the EVA wedge and rolling concept just translates into a natural, easy ride and walking action across a variety of surfaces. Plenty of support, but no so much you can't feel what you're walking over and we'd argue that the lighter construction is really noticable over a long day's walking.
If there's a downside, it's that the underfoot EVA cushioning won't be as durable in the longer term as heavier PU alternatives, but them's the breaks, as they say.
Mammut's footwear range is based on years of top notch experience from Raichle, and the result is a spot-on blend of lightness, support and comfort that's ideal for walkers who want to avoid the clumpiness of some more traditional boots, but without going 'full-on lightweight'.
Brand website: www.mammut.ch.
Meindl Bhutan MFS - £195 / 1660g
The Bhutan looks instantly familiar and it's very much a case of 'if it ain't broke, don't fit it'. That means small detail changes rather than a sweeping transformation, so you get a new softer ankle cuff with memory foam (MFS) padding, a slightly re-shaped heel section, slicker lacing and, on the leather upper, some subtle 'slashes' below the lace hooks for a more contemporary look.
At heart though, the Bhutan is still a stiff, durable, traditional three-season mountain walking boot with the added reassurance of a full rand. The high ankle cuff is deceptively comfortable thanks to the memory foam, which moulds to your own contours, but the underfoot stiffness and support does make them feel slightly clumpy compared to lighter boots.
There's enough rocker on the sole for them to roll along nicely however and the pay-off for the solid build quality should be years of reliable service even if you hammer them. Our review boot was supplied by Cotswold Outdoor.
The new Bhutan MFS is essentially an updated version of Meindl's classic three-season Borneo and, as you might expect, it's a beautifully-made modern take on a stiffish, high-ankled, traditional mountain walking boot.
BrWhere tand website: www.meindl.co.uk.
Salomon X Ultra GTX - £150 / 1170g
The X Ultra GTX actually has one of the highest ankle collars here along with the Meindl Bhutan, but despite using leather for the uppers, Salomon's lightweight construction - it's basically a much higher version of the excellent X Ultra trail shoe - means that it's also one of the lightest options we tested.
The fit is close and secure and the underfoot lightness, flexibility and cushioning mean that the boot flies along compared to heavier alternatives with a really neat, precise feel. The high ankle cuff is decently padded for comfort and support and does increase the feeling of security compared to a lower version, which makes it an interesting choice to traditionalists wanting to lose weight from their boots but without losing ankle coverage.
The downside is likely to be reduced durability - EVA padding tends to wear faster for example - but Salomon has incorporated rubber heel and toe protectors and a lightweight Mud Guard 'rand' to up durability on rockier terrain.
We like the X Ultra GTX a lot, but if you are in the market for a leather-uppered Salomon boot, we'd also check out the slightly more substantial Quest Origins.
You can have high ankle cuffs, leather uppers and a lightweight flexible construction and the X ULtra GTX is the living, walking proof of the pudding mixing Salomon's running shoe-type technology with more substantial uppers for a really impressive light hiker.
Brand website: www.salomon.com.
Scarpa Marmolada Trek GTX - £199.99 / 1250g
Scarpa's Marmolada Trek is a brilliant boot for those who like to mix up their walking with some more technical scrambling thanks to a brilliant mix of walking comfort, underfoot grip and stiffness and close-fitting, precise last. It's light too, which helps it feel precise and nimble on the foot.
The BQ last fits more closely than Scarpa's walking boots and, combined with the stretch SOCK-FIT tongue technology gives a glove-like feel with no slop or slip for us. Underfoot the boot's stiff enough to edge on small-ish edges, but unlike some more focussed scramble or via-ferrata boots, there's enough cushioning and enough roll on the Vibram sole unit to make for comfortable walking.
The Schoeller L-Tech fabric seems to be deceptively tough and is backed up with a full rubber rand and the boot also gets the excellent OutDry waterproof technology, which bonds to the inside of the outer boot for maximum effectiveness. It's the only boot in Scarpa's range to offer this and, in our opinion, well worth having.
Overall it's a brilliant mountain all-rounder though it won't be as durable as heavier, full-leather alternatives and surprisingly supportive underfoot for such a light boot.
A lightweight alpine-styled trekking boot that's stiff enough to make an excellent scrambling weapon, tough enough for rocky mountain terrain and super comfortable thanks to Scarpa's SOCK-FIT technology. Near perfect technical walking boot.
Brand website: www.scarpa.co.uk.
Scarpa R-Evo GTX - £179.99 / 1380g
Scarpa's R-Evo GTX is all about the SOCK-FIT technology, which has trickled down from the brand's technical boots and eliminates the conventional tongue design in favour of a padded, seamless, stretch Schoeller fabric construction that wraps around the foot like a, well, a glove really. Or a sock.
It really does work, the most obvious way of telling is simply to try the boot back-to-back with a more conventional one. If it fits your foot - bear in the mind the last is looser and more generous than the scrambly Marmolada - the combination of stretch tongue and padding is impressively cushy wihtout feeling imprecise.
The rest of the boot's pretty good too: lightweight suede uppers with a handy toe protector and a Gore-Tex liner, slick lacing hardware and a reliable, but relatively lightly-treaded Vibram Fagus sole unit. The EVA cushioning gives a nice level of shock absorption, though the price of weight-saving suede uppers and that EVA is probably reduced durability compared to a heavier, more traditional boot.
The pay-off though is that it's a really nice balance of comfort, support and lightness for all-round walking use.
A super -comfortable modern walking boot using the SOCK-FIT technology pioneered on Scarpa's technical mountain boots to give good all-round hill and mountain-walking performance below the snowline.
Brand Product Page: www.scarpa.co.uk.
Teva Kimtah Mid eVent Leather: £120 / 1080g
You could argue that the Kimtah Mid eVent Leather is a little out of its depth in this review and it's arguably the least technical boot here. That said, while it wouldn't be our first choice for a day of rubbly mountain walking, it manages perfectly well for general pottering about and would be a good call for a relaxed weekend away that might or might not take in the odd moorland track or low-level amble.
It's light and flexible enough to wear around town too, where the relaxed styling won't turn heads. On the negative side, we found the lightly padded, low-ish ankle cuffs had a tendency to dig in uncomfortably in a way that similar height, but more padded boots didn't.
Probably the least technical boot here, the Kintah Mid eVent has a semi-casual, crossover vibe to it, but don't write it off, it's still a comfortable option for day walks.
Brand website: www.teva.co.uk.
Treksta Jotunheim GTX: £tbc / 1460g
We're used shoes from Korean brand Treksta before and they were, in all honesty, really quite reasonable, but we never really hit it off with the Jothunheim. For a start, the Korean-made boots seems unnecessarily high in the ankle without any significant support benefit. Next, the fit is incredibly generous, so you'll need high volume feet and heels to feel at home here, the theory is that it allows your toes to spread out and work as intended, but while we liked the shoe version, the boot just felt sloppy and huge.
Things aren't helped by sluggish lace-hooks and an eccentric, mechanical locking one that makes it really hard to snug things up. We just didn't get on with them.
Underfoot, there's something called IceLock, which uses 'micro-glass filaments' embedded in nine lugs per shoe to give enhanced grip on snow and ice and, also, to a lesser extent, in the wet. There's also a full protective rand for the uppers.
Potentially worth a look if you have really wide, high volume feet and the IceLock technology is interesting while the boot, apart from the lacing system, seems reasonably well put together.
Korean boots - yes really - using a fit designed after a multi-thousand foot measuring project to produce something called Nest Fit - high-ankled, sturdy and very roomy all-round leather walking boot.
Brand website: treksta.com.
Zamberlan 1006 new Vioz Plus GTX RR: £210 / 1720g
Definitely one for walkers who prefer a more traditional mountain walking boot feel. The Zamberlan is the stiffest-soled boot we've tested here and that, in combination with top-notch waxed leather uppers and a near-full rand also makes them one of the heaviest.
There's no mistaking the build quality of the Zamberlans, the components are top spec - Gore-Tex, Vibram etc - or the level of underfoot support. They're ideal for use on rough ground if you prefer a really stable platform scramble decently too and will happily take a flexible crampon for occasional winter use.
The downside is that they do feel a little clumpy compared to lighter boots, though the uppers do have a little flex built into the ankle making them more comfortable than you might think. Our personal preference is for a lighter, more nimble boot, but if you do like a more solid platform that should last for years, you won't go far wrong with the Vioz Plus GTX.
One minor note is that the rand doesn't fully cover the back of the heel, not a huge problem, but with crampons, it's an area we'd prefer to see covered up. Then again, the boot isn't intended primarily for winter use.
Traditional, super-solid three-season leather mountain-walking boot with stiff-soled support built on Zamberlan's wider ZWL last to suit broader feet than the brand's standard fit. Serious mountain footwear that can also take a crampon if necessary.
Brand website: www.zamberlan.com.
Verdict - Our Best Buys
Boot choice is one of the great variables. For a start, if a boot doesn't fit your foot shape, it's useless to you, no matter how good it is in other ways. Next, personal tastes vary hugely, some people like a light, nimble, flexible boot, others prefer a solid, traditional, stiff leather one that allows you to walk over pretty much anything without even a hint of its presence. Others still prefer something in the middle.
What matters is that the boot fits you and suits your ideal of what's ideal. That said, here are a few of our favourites in different categories as a starting point.
Light And Nimble
If you like your boots on the lighter side of things, we have two favourites. The first is the innovative Arc'teryx Bora2 Mid GTX with its unusual double boot construction. It works brilliantly in damp UK conditions, has a glove-like fit and just the right balance of lightness and support.
Our second favourite is the Mammut Mercury Advanced High II GTX which just does everything well without carting around any excess weight or bulk. A really nice lightweight all-rounder.
We're as cynical as the next journo about clever innovations, a fair few of them turn out to be gimmicks, but the Sock-Fit used by Scarpa for its R-Evo GTX does a brilliant job of providing a sock-like fit that's complemented by the rest of a really well thought-out modern walking boot.
Stiffer underfoot, but still relatively light, is the handsome Alt Berg Nordkapp with its unusual slim-fitting A-Forme last. Finally, the new European-made KEEN Liberty Ridge is hard to fault to all-round walking use.
If you want a solid-feeling, leather-uppered boot with lots of underfoot support, there's plenty of choice out there. Depending on your foot shape and preferences, we'd pick out the Meindl Bhutan MFS and the Zamberlan 1006 new Vioz Plus GTX RR as classic designs, but we'd also suggest the Hanwag Tatra GTX as a slightly left field call.
Finally, if you want a boot that combines comfortable all-round walking with real scrambling elan, the Scarpa Marmolada Trek GTX is a little slice of genius. Light, stiff and precise, but still great for all-round comfort and with excellent OutDry waterproofing, it rocks.
Or for a little more weight and solidity, if that's your thing, check out the Aku Super Alp GTX which does a similar, but weightier gig and makes a great all-round mountain walking boot.