Three- season boots are your workhorse, the everything boot. These are the walking boots you throw in the car for a weekend walk across Wales or that you wear to take the dog for a wander in the woods. Three-season says it all really; for everything except using crampons in steep snow, these spring to autumn walking boots will do just fine.
During summer, however, many of the boots on test here will run hot, and a pair of trail or trail running shoes are probably best on low ground. Up on the mountains, no matter the weather, the stability of a high collar is recommended among the ankle-crunching rocks.
What To Look For When Buying Walking Boots
There is a myriad of elements to look at when searching for the best three-season walking boots, and even among this category, there’s a wide range of styles. It all depends on what you’ll be using them for.
For scrambling and summer mountaineering, you need a pair of boots that fit snugly and hold your toes for a decisive climb on steep rock. Boots such as the Hanwag and La Sportiva examples here also have stiffer soles. For that kind of stuff, it’s worth checking out our round up of the best mountaineering boots we posted recently.
For long-distance mountain walking without too much steep ground, then aim for a pair with a wider toe cap to let your feet relax and balance. We’d file the Danner and the Keen boots here under the category.
A Boot Fitting Guide
Once you’ve decided on end use, it’s time to start looking at fit. There should be enough room for your toes to wiggle and overall, once laced up, they should feel snug and secure with no hotspots that could lead to rubbing or blisters. The days of ‘breaking-in’ shoes are almost over. While they all benefit from time to get to know your feet, most will feel good walking out of the shop. All of these boots will have half-size increments.
Fit and comfort are of the paramount importance and should override any other considerations, but it’s also worth thinking about the material used. Leather is very durable but needs more looking after. It also tends to be heavier than synthetic materials. Consider too the waterproof membrane. Not all boots have a waterproof lining. Having one will mean they keep your feet dry (usually) but will run hot no matter how breathable the manufacturers claim the membrane is. It’s the same situation as you’ll find with even the best waterproof jackets out there. Most of the boots here have a Gore-Tex membrane or something similar. It’s less critical on leather boots as cowhide is naturally water resistant if treated.
Other elements to think about include the outsole. Will the lugs stand up against the wet soil of Britain or are they designed for trotting across dry Californian rock? Are the laces easy to tighten?
You usually just know when you’ve got the right boot for you, so if something is not quite right, move on.
The Best Walking Boots 2021
- Hanwag Banks GTX – Best Walking Boot Tested
- Haglöfs Duality GTX – Best Lightweight Walking Boot
- Adidas Terrex Free Hiker
- Inov-8 Roclite 345 – Best Fast Hiking Boot
- Haglöfs Skuta Mid Proof Eco
- Keen Targhee
- Hoka One One Stinson Mid GTX
- On Cloudrock
- Merrell Chameleon 8
- Salomon Quest 4 GTX
BEST BUY: Hanwag Banks GTX
Best for: Hiking and hillwalking
Key attributes: Comfortable, durable
Hanwag’s popular Banks boot, originally released 16 years ago, has been updated for 2020 with new materials and a slightly modernised design and fit. It’s still as stable, durable and comfortable as ever, so seems made for managing a day wading through sticky peat on top of Kinder Scout or for navigating the bogland of Rannoch Moor.