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 three-season 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 in 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 Mammut and Salewa 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 Keen, Salomon and the Columbia boots under this 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. Most 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.
Note: all weights are for a size 11.
The Best Walking Boots 2019
- Salewa Mountain Trainer Mid Gore-Tex (Best In Test)
- Alt-Berg Nordkapp
- Salomon Quest 4D GTX
- Hanwag Tatra II GTX
- Keen Karraig
- Columbia Terrebonne II Mid OutDRY
- Hoka One One Sky Arkali
- Mammut Kento High GTX
Salewa Mountain Trainer Mid Gore-Tex (Best In Test)
This excellent pair of boots is designed as an ‘alpine trekking boot’, and for that activity, there’s nothing to fault; the fit is exceptional over long distances. The MTN Trainer Mid GTX is constructed with a suede leather upper, protected by a thick rubber rand around the toe and sides, while the heel has even more substantial protection.
The heel protection also doubles for Salewa’s unique 3F lacing system. When you pull your laces, it pulls on a wire that draws in around the back of the heel and another around the arch of the foot. It works well, wrapping round for a very comfortable fit.
The lacing itself goes down to the toes too. All this makes this one of the best fitting boots here. It holds tightly around the top of the toes, but the toe box itself is big enough for wiggle room and to help with balance.
Other features include Gore-Tex protection, an aggressive Vibram outsole – perfect for alpine and British conditions – and a flexible collar. In all, an exceptional boot.
Fit, lacing, durability.
Outsole Vibram WTC outsole / Nylon/Bilight midsole / Gore-Tex lining / 360° full rubber rand / 1.6mm suede leather upper / Highly wear-resistant fabric.
Mammut Kento High GTX
These boots are designed for walking higher up the mountains than most on test here. They are compatible with strap-on crampons for a start. These are perfect for those heading to the Alps or looking for some serious scrambling in the uplands of Britain. The main difference between these and ones just for walking is the stiffness of the sole. They don’t bend so much from toe to heel, nor torsionally. A stiff sole is a requirement for crampons, and the Mammut Kento High can take B1 rated ones. The outer too is very tough, made from Nubuck leather with a wide, rubber rand; these should last a very long time with care.
There is a Gore-Tex membrane and a ‘Michelin Alpine Lite’ sole, designed for activities on rock, ice and snow. The fit is snug as you’d expect from boots of this type when you’re looking for a positive step rather than a wide toe box for hours on the trail. That said, they are incredibly comfortable, and there’s a good roll to them. I particularly like the tongue that is sewn in and hugs the foot. An almost faultless pair of boots for their end use.
Very versatile, comfortable, B1 crampon compatible.
Snug fit, but that’s expected from this type of boot.
B1 strap-on crampon compatible / Gore-Tex membrane / Nubuck outer / Raised rubber rand / Michelin Alpine Lite 3970 outsole.