Best Walking Boots 2024 | Leather And Synthetic Boots For Multi-Terrain Hiking - Outdoors Magic

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Walking Boots

Best Walking Boots 2024 | Leather And Synthetic Boots For Multi-Terrain Hiking

Light but protective, grippy and waterproof. Those are the key qualities to look for in a hiking boot for three-season walking. Here are the options that tick those boxes...

A good pair of hiking boots can be the difference between an enjoyable day out and one you’d rather forget. Find the right pair for you and they’ll help you to go further, higher and over terrain that would otherwise be inaccessible. Of course, choosing boots can be difficult, with huge variations in price and quality and different categories of walking boots to choose from too, but we’re here to help you there. In this article, you’ll find our recommendations for all types of hikes, ranging from casual weekend walks through to multi-week thru-hikes; your three-season work horses, options for hikes that might involve scrambles and lighter options for warm weather walking too.

If you’re after lighter boots for summer trails, you might want to check out our round up of the best walking shoes. Looking for something warm and rigid for crampons? Our best mountaineering boots has you sorted there. You’ll need a good pair of hiking socks too, of course. And if you want to learn more about how to choose a pair of hiking boots, follow that link or skip down to the bottom of this article for all our expert advice.

 

Our Team’s Pick of the Best Walking Boots for 2024

In this article, we’ve whittled down the 10 hiking boots that we think are the best, along with some standout category winners too. The category winners are as follows:

  • Best Overall Walking Boot: Aku Trekker Lite III

  • A Close Second: Hanwag Banks GTX

  • Best Lightweight Walking Boot: Salomon X Ultra 360 Edge

  • Best Technical Boot for Scrambling: Arc’teryx Acrux LT

  • Best Budget Walking Boot: Haglöfs Skuta Eco Proof

  • Best Vegan-Friendly Hiking Boots: Lowa Trek Evo GTX

 

The Expert

I’ve been testing and reviewing outdoor gear on a professional basis for over a decade now. In that time, I’ve been on numerous gear awards juries, including for ISPO, the Scandinavian Outdoor Awards and OIA Awards and I’ve written for a raft of outdoor magazines and websites along the way. I have a particular fondness for the hiking trails of Wales, my home country, and have walked just about every long-distance path you can find there, including the Wales Coast Path and Offa’s Dyke, the Cambrian Way and the Beacons Way. 

The Outdoors Magic team and contributors out conducting some gear testing.

How We Tested Them

This list of the best walking boots is the result of a seven-year, on-going process involving careful study of the latest product launches, trips around trade shows in the UK and Germany and rigorous testing on hill walks, scrambles and multi-day backpacking trips. I’ve personally tested all of the men’s boots that are featured here, while the women’s boots were assessed by our female testers. All of the pictures you can see in this article show the products in use by our team. 

Our criteria? Durability and longevity is a big factor in the selection process. Hiking boots should perform for years, especially given how much they can cost these days. As such, we wear each pair of boots over testing terrain to assess their ruggedness and pay particular attention to dependability of the membrane which is usually the first thing that wears out on a badly made pair of boots. We also look at the grip on soft, hard and wet surfaces and we assess the protection, stability, waterproofing and breathability too. 

Best Overall Hiking Boot

AKU Trekker Lite III

OM editor Will using the Trekker Lite IIIs in the Cairngorms.

Price: £215
Weight: 570g
Best for: Hillwalking, trekking
Key attributes: Well-crafted, grippy, versatile

Having tested this out over a long period now this has risen up to the top of our list to become our pick for the best overall hiking boot. 

During our tests we found that the Trekker Lite III ticked a lot of boxes. Over rough ground, the sole unit was protective and able to block out sharp rocks and roots while there was still enough flex to it to save your feet from getting worn out over long distances. 

The Gore-tex waterproof membrane was reliable, keeping our feet bone dry during river crossings, and the overall construction of the upper felt durable, supportive and well-crafted. It’s a boot that, from what we’ve seen, is built to last, and it’s from a brand with a good track record in terms of the longevity of their products.

This, we found, is a boot that’s a lot more capable than a lot of today’s ‘three season boots’, many of which are little more than glorified high-top trainers. They look, feel and perform like proper mountain boots, without feeling too heavy. 

The Vibram sole provides a nice amount of grip on a variety of surfaces – we found it to be particularly impressive on muddy slopes – and the lugs are widely spaced so they shed dirt and debris well. There’s no dedicated climbing zone on the toe, reflecting the all-purpose nature of this boot, but the thick tread blocks at the edge of the outsole still made jamming and edging on easier scrambling terrain possible. 

Full Specifications

Sizes: 6-15 (men), 3-9 (women) / upper: suede and air8000 synthetic / Gore-tex membrane / Vibram Curcuma sole / double density EVA midsole / nylon shank / custom fit footbed. 

Selected for our Outdoor 100 2023/24. Read our full AKU Trekker Lite III review.

BUY NOW: TISO.COM

 

Our Runner Up

Hanwag Banks GTX

Price: £235
Weight: 720g
Best for: Hiking and hillwalking
Key attributes: Comfortable, durable

Hanwag’s popular Banks boot, originally released 16 years ago, received an update a couple of years ago with new materials and a slightly modernised design and fit, and it’s been a big hit with our testers ever since. It’s still as stable, durable and comfortable as ever, so it’s made for managing a day wading through sticky peat on top of Kinder Scout or for navigating the bogs of Rannoch Moor.

The Banks proved its versatility while on Jack's Rake. Photo: Jordan Tiernan

It also comes in a number of different variations to cater for different foot shapes. The standard model has Hanwag’s StraightFit last which gives a nice amount of space around the toes to let them sit naturally, then there’s the new SF Extra version which offers a wider fit around the ball of the foot. There are ladies specific variations of both of these models, plus a narrow fit option as well.

If you want something reliable enough and comfortable enough for a big day hike, or maybe even a national trail, the Banks GTX would be a very safe bet. We tested these out over a long period and we were impressed by their durability and comfort. We’d recommend just making sure you look after these by cleaning and waxing them as often as possible to ensure that the leather remains flexible and water resistant.

Full Specifications

Huge range of sizes and fits / Slightly larger forefoot for enhanced walking comfort / Reinforced PU foam wedge / Robust cast metal lace hooks / Inside stitch-and-turn seams for abrasion resistance / GORE-TEX lining.

Read our full Hanwag Banks GTX review.

BUY NOW:
£235 AT SNOWANDROCK.COM

 

Best Lightweight Hiking Boot

Salomon X Ultra 360 Edge Mid

Price: £155
Weight: 365g (UK5)
Best for: trail hiking, summer backpacking, casual wear
Key attributes: very light and breathable, good grip, lots of comfort

A brand new offering from French brand Salomon and one that’s really impressed us in our tests. When we first tried the X Ultra Edge on, the arch support and overall comfort was noticeable right away and, after weeks of hiking, we haven’t been disappointed.

The outsole used here is aggressive – much like an outsole you’d find on some of Salomon’s trail running shoes – and walking down muddy slopes in these felt a breeze. They also felt very light and agile, almost encouraging you to move quickly. The fit is quite snug around the mid foot, but we found the toe box was perfect – not too narrow, nor too wide.

What we would’ve liked to have seen on these is a bit more protection to the upper as there’s not too much there to shield the mesh and the waterproof liner underneath. But the absence of any tough materials here is what keeps these light. As such, these are a good pair of boots for when fleet-footedness is a priority and solid durability isn’t so important.

Full Specifications

Available in men’s and women’s version / Gore-tex waterproof liner / Contragrip outsole / textile synthetic upper / TPU reinforcements / 49% recycled materials used in the upper / rubber outsole.

Read our full Salomon X Ultra 360 Edge review.

BUY NOW:
SALOMON.COM

 

 

The super comfy knitted upper is made from 100% recycled polyester, so too are the laces and the webbing on the heel, and the sole unit is easy to remove and replace should any issues occur. Haglöfs have also used Bloom Foam to make the midsoles, which utilises algal blooms taken from waterways. By removing it, these waterways are essentially turned back into much healthier ecosystems for marine life to thrive. Using this instead of your more typical plastic-based foam made from non-renewables also has its obvious benefits in terms of environmental impact as well.

The mesh upper makes this an extremely comfortable shoe to wear, one with a sock-like fit. Fortunately it also has a decent amount of durability to it as well thanks to the premium leather Haglöfs have used (this, by the way, comes from a tannery that meets a set of stringent ethical and environmental standards). It’s very lightweight at just 363g (per shoe) so you certainly feel very agile in these.

Though the AT1 boot isn’t waterproof, for £20 extra you can get a version that has a Gore-Tex lining (the AT1 GT). There’s also the AT2, which has a lower cut ankle.

Full Specifications

Sizes: men’s UK 6.5-12.5, women’s UK 4-8.5 / Exchangeable midsole / Premium sustainable leather with fluorocarbon free DWR / AHAR Plus (ASICS High Abrasion Resistance Rubber) outsole / Algae-based BLOOM FOAM in midsoles for excellent comfort, saving fresh water and CO2 / Knitted upper with sock comfort, made from 100% recycled polyester / Finger loop webbing on heel and tongue / Webbing and laces made from 100% recycled polyester

Chosen for our Green Gear Guide 2021. Read the full Haglofs Duality AT1 review

BUY NOW:
£130 AT AMAZON.CO.UK

 

Best Scrambling and Alpine Climbing Boot

Arc’teryx Acrux LT GTX

The Arc’teryx Acrux LT in use by our team on a test trip in Scotland. Photo: Dave Macfarlane

Price: £300
Weight: 650g
Best for: Scrambling, alpine climbing
Key attributes: excellent for rocky terrain, very durable build

This is part of Arc’teryx’s highly technical line of Acrux boots. Within the collection, there’s a winter boot and a classic three-season option, while this one, the Acrux LT, sits kind of in the middle of the two. It’s sleek, streamlined and made for three-season alpine use – so think rocky scrambly traverses and scree slope ascents.

It has a notably stiff sole (thanks to its carbon plate) and that makes this suitable for pairing with a C2 crampon, but there’s still a touch of flex to make this comfortable enough for a bit of mileage. It’s not made to be a boot you’d want to trek all day in, however. 

The uppers are made from an ultralight woven polyester fabric that looks and feels a lot like Cordura or even Kevlar – the stuff they make bulletproof vests from. That should say enough about the durability of this thing. 

The sole has aggressive lugs and a pattern that, from our experience, promotes both uphill and downhill traction. There’s also a Gore-tex membrane for full waterproof and breathable protection. It’s worth noting that this boot is built on a close-fitting last with a narrow toe, which is what makes the Acrux LT feel so agile and precise. However, it might not suit those with wider feet, especially if you prefer a roomier toe box. It’s a boot built for scrambling and climbing and not for long, easy hikes.

Full Specifications

Sizes: 4.5-12.5 / B2 rated / 3d-moulded TPU toe cap / SuperFabric synthetic upper / compressed EVA midsole / Gore-tex membrane / full-length carbon plate with PU foam core.

Selected for our Outdoor 100 2023/24. Read our full Arc’teryx Acrux LT review.

BUY NOW: ALPINETREK.CO.UK

 

 

Best Vegan-Friendly Hiking Boot

Lowa Trek Evo GTX Mid

Our team using the Lowa Trek Evo in the Langdale Valley while hiking the Cumbria Way. Photo: Joe Whitmore

Price: £230
Weight: 920g
Best for: Trail hikes, country walks, light treks
Key attributes: Sustainable design thinking, light and supportive, vegan-friendly

This is one of just a few products to make it into our exclusive Green Gear Guide this year. Why? Well, it’s not a totally carbon-neutral product, but we thought Lowa deserved commendation for focussing on making sure this can be resoled. 
This also doesn’t use any leather or glues derived from animals. In fact, it’s fully vegan-friendly. 

During our tests with this in the Lake District, we were impressed by its traction, cushioning and support. We also liked the lacing system, which gives a nice dialled-in fit. 

It makes a great three-season all rounder for hiking, hillwalking and backpacking. It comes in at a decent weight – not superlight but light enough – and it’s still sturdy and robust enough to take into the mountains with a heavy pack. All in all, it’s a very versatile boot with a modern design that works well for mixed terrain.

While you do see quite a lot of mountaineering boots that can be resoled, you don’t see many in the lightweight category, so it’s refreshing to see Lowa take this approach here. Far too many boots go to landfill simply due to the tread wearing out early. 

Full Specifications

Sizes: 3 1/2 to 9 (UK) / Upper: fabric, synthetic / Waterproof liner: Gore-tex / Outsole: Vibram Rock Track Sense / Midsole: PU / Two-zone lacing system / Fully resoleable.

Selected for our Green Gear Guide – take a closer look at the Lowa Trek Evo GTX Mid

BUY NOW:
£206.99 AT SPORTSSHOES.COM

 

 

Best Budget Walking Boot

Haglöfs Skuta Mid Eco Proof

Price: £135
Weight: 950g
Best for: Hiking and hillwalking
Key attributes: Comfortable, eco-friendly

As we’ve come to expect from Swedish brand Haglofs, the Skuta Mid Proof Eco has been built with sustainability in mind. This has been done by avoiding the use of any nasty chemicals in its creation. What we’re specifically referring to are those PFCs or perfluorinated compounds, which have been proven to be environmentally hazardous. In an impressively bold move, Haglöfs have said they’ll actually be phasing out fluorocarbons from their complete range by 2020.

Eco friendliness aside, we think that these are a nice-looking boot, successfully blending that traditional leather look with a modern style to create something that looks high-tech without being over the top or ‘out there’. It’s generously cushioned and fairly flexible midsole features both EVA foam and a shock absorbing gel so you can expect comfort over distances. All-in-all, a great boot at a decent price as well.

Full Specifications

Sizes 6.5-12.5 (UK) / waterproof, fluorocarbon free Proof Eco membrane / Gel rearfoot cushioning / moulded EVA midsole / premium eco-friendly leather / Asics high abrasion resistance rubber

Selected for the Outdoor 100 2019/20 – take a closer look at the Haglofs Skuta Mid Proof Eco here

BUY NOW: ALPINETREK.CO.UK

 

Best of the Rest

 

Keen Ridge Flex

Price: £150
Weight:
595g (per pair)
Best for: Hiking and hillwalking
Key attributes: Versatile, eco-friendly

Footwear specialists Keen tend to think a little bit out of the box with their designs. Case in point the Keen Uneek sandal… Google it. With this design, the Keen Ridge Flex, they’ve created a boot that draws upon the same kind of mechanics used on a bendy bus, incorporating a built-in TPU ‘bellows’ to reduce the amount of resistance to the natural flex of your stride. We can vouch for it. It works. These boots feel very comfortable and easy to walk in and the bellows should actually reduce the risk of these boots wearing out at that typical flashpoint at the toes that you normally see on footwear.

Some images from our test trip in Snowdonia. Photos: Chris Johnson

All the usual traits of a Keen boot are there: a well-cushioned sole, nice roll to the sole unit itself, a wide toe box to let the toes sit naturally, big toe bumper and then a decent enough bit of grip. The Ridge Flex is waterproof too, thanks to the application of Keen’s proprietary Keen.Dry membrane. This, by the way, is completely free from any nasty of the PFCs that you often find in walking boots.

Full Specifications

Sizes men’s US 6-16, women’s US 2.5-8.5 / Sustainable leather uppers with KEEN.Dry waterproof, breathable membrane / Speed hook lacing / EVA foam midsole / Removable PU footbed / Shank offers lightweight support / 5mm multi-directional lugs for traction / Eco-friendly odour control.

Chosen for our Outdoor 100 2021/22. Read our full Keen Ridge Flex review.

BUY NOW: ALPINETREK.CO.UK

 

Hoka Anacapa Mid GTX

Jordan Tiernan using the Anacapas on a hike in Scotland.

Price: £120
Weight: 453g
Best for: Trail walking
Key attributes: Efficient roll, breathable upper, lots of cushioning

If you’re familiar with Hoka’s running shoes, you’ll know that the French brand is all about plush cushioning and comfort. With their hiking boots, things are no different. Case in point: the Anacapa Mid GTX.

This is a boot designed to appeal to hikers and hillwalkers who want long-distance comfort. They’re certainly not for lovers of minimalist footwear, that’s for sure. But, alongside that cushioning, we also have found that they do provide all of the other details that you want from a hiking boot. There’s a waterproof and breathable Gore-tex membrane, for instance, and a nice stable ankle that provides a good level of support on uneven terrain. The outsole, which is made by Vibram, has a decent tread to it and it’ll grip well on gravelly tracks. There’s grip on muddy surfaces too, though it does have its limitations on really steep and sloppy slopes. 

We noticed that this has quite a pronounced rocker – the curvature from hell to toe – with a 6mm drop that creates a fulcrum effect, like a rocking chair. This takes some getting used to, but eventually we did come to realise that it makes for a nice efficiency roll from initial impact to toe-off. 

Full Specifications

Sizes: 6.5-13.5 (men’s), 3.5 – 9.5 (women’s) / nubuck leather upper / Gore-tex waterproof membrane / recycled polyester laces / PFC-free DWR / compression moulded EVA midsole / Vibram Megagrip outsole / 5mm lugs.

Selected for our Outdoor 100 22/23. Read our full Hoka Anacapa review.

BUY NOW: HOKA.COM

 

Brandecosse Capriolo

Price: £180
Weight: 980g (per pair)
Best for: Country walking, hiking, hunting
Key attributes: Waterproof, timeless looks, precise fit

The stylish Brandecosse Capriolo walking boots feature a fully waterproof and breathable suede upper, with a robust Vibram outsole and traditional good looks. Weighing in at 980g per pair, they’re relatively lightweight for a premium shoe and offer comfort and protection on the trails.

Photos from our test trip with the Capriolo in the Highlands of Scotland.

The upper is hewn from soft but strong Italian suede, a highly breathable material that gives these boots their classic appearance. This, enhanced with a sustainably made Sympatex waterproof lining, equates to a shoe that can regulate your temperature while simultaneously keeping you dry, which makes for an ideal piece of footwear for the warmer months.

In terms of features, the Capriolo features a tough rubber toecap to achieve the level of shielding required for summer missions in the backcountry. The comprehensive lacing system goes all the way from the ankle to the toe, giving you a customisable fit depending on the shape of your foot. This is reminiscent of approach shoes, so you have the option of tightening everything up nicely for precise scrambling moves when you hit the rock.

The Capriolo has been extensively tested by our team for nearly two years now and there’s virtually no sign of wear and tear. That’s testament to the durable construction and quality materials Brandecosse have used. Excellent boots.

Full Specifications

Scottish brand, Italian manufacturers / fully waterproof and breathable suede upper / Vibram outsole / leather midsole / memory foam footbed / three-season hiking / approach shoe-style lacing system / waterproof lining / tough rubber toecap / UK size 4 to 12/

Selected for the 2020 Outdoor 100 – take a closer look at the Brandescosse Capriolo walking boots review.

BUY NOW: BRANDESCOSSE.COM

 

Salomon Quest 4 GTX

OM editor Will testing out the waterproof protection of the Quest 4 GTX in Pembrokeshire.

Price: £180
Weight: 1524g
Best for: Hillwalking and trekking
Key attributes: Comfortable, good flex but still supportive

The Salomon Quest, in its various iterations over the years, has been one of the best-selling boots in the UK – and with good reason. It’s a superbly comfortable boot that performs well on those days with big mileage.

The first thing to notice is how high the ankle is. It goes well above the ankle and up to the shin and this makes these boots very stable on rocky ground – the chances of going over on your ankle in them is slim. The sole has a nice bit of flex to it and plenty of cushioning and the lacing system draws in well around the foot to give you a lot of control over the fit. The outsole is reasonably aggressive and there’s a cut out at the heel for particularly impressive traction on the downhill.

That high cut ankle, the Gore-Tex lining and chunky leather and fabric uppers make the Quest fairly warm boots. There’s plenty of panelling and stitching too, which makes us question its likely long-term durability a little. But other than that, there’s not much to fault.

Full Specifications

Sizes men’s UK 6.5-13.5, women’s UK 3.5-7.5 / upper: Nubuck leather/textile / Gore-tex membrane / Ortholite insole / Contragrip outsole / protective mudguard / protective toecap / gusseted tongue / EVA foam midsole / drop: 12mm.

For more, check out our full Salomon Quest 4 GTX review.

BUY NOW: DECATHLON.CO.UK

 

La Sportiva TX4

Price: £200
Weight: 485g
Best for: Hiking, hillwalking, scrambling, approach
Key attributes: Precise, grippy

La Sportiva have taken their climbing shoe knowledge and applied it with great success to their range of approach shoes and boots – the Traverse X line. As the name implies, the line is designed to traverse mountainous terrain, whether that be via ferrata, mountain ridges, or easy trad climbing.

“The grip has been great over all of the terrain I’ve been testing them out on, and also the waterproofing has certainly been up to scratch,” said Outdoors Magic gear tester Anna Blackwell, who took the TX4 out during a testing trip in the Brecon Beacons. “These are right at home on rocky routes, but are also a good option for easier hiking and hillwalking as well.”

Full Specifications

Sizes 36-47.5 (EU) / available in men’s and women’s / Gore-Tex waterproof lining / shock absorbing EVA midsole / Vibram Mega-Grip outsole / Impact Brake System / climbing zone at the toe / Mythos lacing system

Selected for the Outdoor 100 2019/20 – take a closer look at the La Sportiva TX4 Mid here

BUY NOW:
BLACKS.CO.UK

 

Danner Mountain 600

Price: £210
Weight: 600g
Best for: three-season hiking
Key attributes: Well-cushioned, comfortable, good materials

We’ve hiked extensively in the Mountain 600s. In fact, one of our team even hiked the whole 300-mile Cambrian Way across Wales in them. 

From our experience, we’ve found these extremely comfortable to wear – even for just day-to-day wear. The sole unit feels soft, spongy and shock absorbing and we found there’s a little bit of room to let your toes sit naturally. The tread was great on defined trails and the rubber compound had versatility over a range of different surfaces. The sole also gripped to some muddy slopes too, but it does have some limitations on very steep and muddy slopes. 

From what we’ve seen, we’d say the Danner Mountain 600s are super useful for anyone who lives an outdoorsy lifestyle and tends to like footwear they can do anything in; something they can wear on a big trek, an impromptu trail hike or even just for heading down the pub.

We’d recommend looking after the leather on these as it’s quite supple and can dry out and crack quite quickly if mud is left on it for extended periods. Just brushing off the mud and giving them a quick wipe down post-hike will do the job and ensure these last a decent amount of time.

Full Specifications

Sizes 5 – 14 (UK) / available in men’s and women’s / removable Ortholite sole / Danner.Dry waterproof membrane / Vibram Fuga sole / nylon shank / supplied with two pairs of laces.

Read our full Danner Mountain 600 review.

BUY NOW:
ELLIS-BRIGHAM.COM

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. You’ll find loads of in-depth information in our three-season walking boots buyer’s guide and our lightweight walking boots buyer’s guide to help you make the right choice for you, or read on to discover the basics.

Some important details to look out for when choosing a pair of hiking boots.

The Type of Hiking You’ll Be Doing

One of the main things to consider when you’re trying to decide what kind of hiking boots to go for is the climate you’ll mainly be hiking in. If you’re venturing to a hot place that tends to be dry, you might not need a waterproof boot and can instead prioritise breathability. Conversely, if you’re heading somewhere wet and cold, you might want a pair that will offer the protection of a waterproof membrane.

Then there’s the type of terrain underfoot. If you’re going to be on very rocky trails then a sturdy sole and a high ankle will be highly beneficial for support but on well-maintained trails you might be better off with a lighter and more nimble boot.

James Forrest wearing a pair of lightweight and waterproof boots while on a long distance hike.

Distance plays a factor too. If you’re travelling far then a light and cushioned shoe with a spacious toe box can be more comfortable than a sturdy and rigid alpine boot, depending on the terrain. Hoka, Inov-8 and Altra are really popular brands for long-distance trail hiking. If you’re looking for footwear for tough mountain terrain, Hanwag, AKU, Scarpa, La Sportiva and Salewa tend to be good brands to turn to.

Ultimately, a lot of hikes can throw up different kinds of trails and different conditions along the way and it’s important to consider all of the aforementioned variables – distance, terrain, conditions – to find something that strikes the right balance for your needs.

Assessing Grip

Here at Outdoors Magic, we can tell when a boot is grippy just by looking at and feeling the outsole. If it has deep lugs with an aggressive tread pattern you can count on it providing decent traction. If it has a heel brake then you’ll know it’ll be handy on downward slopes. If the outsole has a sticky and soft feel to it then it’ll be good on hard ground, whereas if it feels hard then it’ll perform on soft stuff like mud and sand. The Vibram logo tends to be a good signifier of a reliable grip, though their soles aren’t the be all and end all. Michelin and Continental also make good boot soles and the likes of Keen and Merrell have their own proprietary rubber that we’ve found often performs well.

Just remember, while grip matters, it’s not a substitute for being careful and knowing how to place your feet. Your judgment and experience are equally important for safe hiking.

Sole Flexibility

The flexibility of the sole in hiking boots is a crucial factor to consider. It’s like the suspension on a car; it impacts how well your boots adapt to the terrain. Boots with a flexible sole allow your foot to move naturally, reducing fatigue and increasing traction on uneven ground. So, for easier trails, some flexibility can be comfortable. But on rugged terrain or with a heavy backpack, you’ll want a stiffer sole for better support and protection. It’s all about matching the sole’s flexibility to your hiking style and the type of trails you’ll be conquering.

What Materials Are Best For Walking Boots?

When it comes to selecting hiking boots, the material they’re made from plays a significant role in how they perform and how comfortable your feet remain on the trail.

Jordan Tiernan hiking in a sturdy pair of alpine boots made from middle distance and technical hikes

Here at Outdoors Magic, we typically hike in the wet and rugged UK mountains and therefore will often favour leather boots. Leather hiking boots are known for their durability and robustness. They can withstand challenging terrains and provide exceptional ankle support. However, they often require a break-in period for optimal comfort and flexibility. Scarpa, Lowa, Hanwag and British-brand Alt-berg are particularly renowned for the quality of their leather boots.

On the other end of the spectrum, you have synthetic hiking boots. These are lighter and more breathable than leather boots, making them ideal for faster, less demanding hikes. Synthetic boots are often more comfortable right out of the box, requiring minimal break-in time.

The more mesh you see on a hiking boot, the more breathable it’s likely to be and boots with a lot of mesh are therefore a good choice for warm-weather hiking. Their breathability keeps your feet cool, but they may lack the durability needed for rugged terrain and extended use.

Some boots will mix everything – that’s leather, synthetic overlays, mesh panels and more. These can have their advantages but just be wary of their durability. Here at Outdoors Magic, as a rule we tend to be suspicious of boots that are made out of lots of different parts as this means more seams and therefore a greater chance of things coming apart.

A Boot Fitting Guide

Once you’ve decided on end use, it’s time to start looking at fit. For different hiking types, the fitting requirements vary. For day hikes on well-groomed trails, prioritise comfort with a secure fit and room for your toes to breathe. On rugged mountain terrain, it’s a good idea to opt for boots with sturdy ankle support and lacing systems for stability. Multi-day backpacking journeys demand snug yet accommodating boots, considering potential foot swelling. Climbing or technical hikes call for precision and control, so opt for a close, responsive fit. In all scenarios, it’s essential to try on boots in the afternoon when your feet are slightly swollen and wear the socks you’ll use on the trail.

A lot of boots now come ready to be walked in but we’d say it’s still important to give them a breaking in period – check out our article on how to break in a pair of walking boots if you need some tips there. It’s a good idea to wear them around the house, ideally in the same pair of hiking socks you’ll be wearing on your trip.

Ultimately, well-fitted and comfortable boots not only enhance your hike but also empower you to focus on the adventure itself and not on discomfort.

How to Clean and Reproof a Pair of Walking Boots

Here’s my own guide to keeping your boots in tip top shape. Give it a watch – it’ll make your boots last a lot longer and the process is super easy.

 

 

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