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The best hiking boots: for supreme protection, comfort and performance on the trails

Included in this guide:

best hiking boots: hiking boots and sunrise
Hiking boots are the foundation of your hiking gear (Image credit: Getty)

Choosing the best hiking boots for big adventures is a weighty consideration, particularly if you’re heading for the trails in winter. Most serious boots have an equally serious price tag hanging off them, and with your comfort and enjoyment of the outdoors at stake, it’s important to make the right selection.

The best hiking boots all have two things in common: comfort and durability. Some walking boot models, while clearly mimicking the outdoor lifestyle, rip, tear and fall apart when put through the rigors of a winter trek. When you hit the trailhead filled with anticipation of exploring the backcountry, nothing can bring those dreams to an abrupt halt like a pair of ill-fitting hiking boots that can’t stand up to the winter terrain or keep your feet warm.

best hiking boots: a hiker racing down a mountain

The best hiking boots enable you to take on multiple terrain types (Image credit: Getty)

The best men's hiking boots – just as with our selection of the best women’s hiking boots – enable you to take on anything the trail can throw at you. For the harsh winter, keep an eye out for the GTX tag, which means the boots will come with Gore-Tex waterproof membranes, the gold-standard within the industry.

In our guide, we feature every kind of boot, from chunky winter stompers – like La Sportiva’s Trango TRK GTX – to lightweight hiking boots for when spring rears its colourful head. Think about when and how you intend to use your boots and read carefully to select the best hiking boots for your planned adventures.

The best hiking boots you can buy today: our top 15 picks

Best hiking boots for winter trails

None of the boots listed here are mountaineering boots that feature crampon compatibility. However, we recommend the La Sportiva Trango TRK GTX for winter trails that do not reach the technical difficulty of winter mountainerring.

Best hiking boots: La Sportiva Trango TRK GTX

(Image credit: La Sportiva)

La Sportiva Trango TRK GTX

A three-and-a-half season trekking boot with superb scrambling capability

Specifications
RRP: $220 (US)/£215 (UK)
Weight (per boot): 720g/1lb 9.4oz
Materials: Idro-Perwanger Leather; Gore-Tex Performance Comfort; Vibram sole
Compatibility: 3-season-plus off-track trail blazing and alpine adventures with a heavy backpack
Colors: Carbon / yellow and black
Reasons to buy
+Terrific traction+Great flex around ankle +Useful rock-edging feature on the sole
Reasons to avoid
-Tight toe box-Potential durability concerns around lace loops

Whether you’re a fan of La Sportiva’s waspy yellow colour palette or not, there’s no denying that these boots are a great example of head-turning trail bait. An instantly striking-looking boot, the Trango TRK GTX boasts a distinctive and durable waterproof upper constructed from top-quality 1.6mm-thick Idro-Perwanger leather. Beneath the bright and brazen outer, a breathable Gore-Tex performance comfort membrane works its magic to complete the breathable waterproofing system.

La Sportiva’s excellent 3D flex system facilitates impressive bendiness both between the ankle and the foot, and across the toe region, while attempting to maintain a level of rigidity across the sole that’s crucial to confident rock work (latitudinal flex with longitudinal lockout). We’ll be reporting on how successfully this is achieved in a more extensive review.

The Vibram Mulaz rubber sole is stickier than a good old pub floor, making this a great boot for scrambling. The rear lugs and the impact brake system help maintain control and traction on tricky terrain and steep slopes, and the sole also features a technical ‘climbing zone’ beneath the toe, ideal for rock edging and use on via ferratas. A dual density EVA midsole supplies yet more flex. There’s a light TPU overlay around the toe and around most of the rest of the boot. A fully synthetic option of this boot is available for the vegan hill hoppers out there.

Best lightweight hiking boots 

best hiking boots: Salomon Cross Hike Mid GTX

(Image credit: Salomon)

Salomon Cross Hike Mid GTX

Ultra light walking boots for speed hiking, fast packing and pacey all-day adventures

Specifications
RRP: $170 (US) / £165 (UK)
Gender availability: Male / Female
Weight (per boot): Men’s: 396g/14oz; Women’s: 340g / 12oz
Materials: Synthetic textile Upper with Gore-Tex lining; EnergyCell high-rebound midsole; Contragrip rubber outsole
Colors: Men’s: Phantom, black & ebony / Autumn blaze, black & rainy day / Magnet, black & lime punch; Women’s: Phantom, black & Ebony / Lead, stormy weather & charlock
Compatibility: Brisk trail walking and fastpacking across three seasons on most trails below technical alpine, without a heavy load
Reasons to buy
+Super light+Mega comfortable+Excellent grip+Laces never come undone
Reasons to avoid
-Lacks secure ankle support-Unsuitable for carrying heavy loads-Lace failure worries

These ultra-light, mid-height hiking boots are so light they feel like they must have helium in the heels. Featuring a quick-lace fastening system, they are speedy to put on, and lend themselves to moving quickly once you are on the trails – in fact they seem to encourage it, with their sporty feel, low profile and trail-running-shoe-like Contagrip outsole. The aggressive lugs are well spaced, so they don’t collect mud (which would add weight and slow you down, going against the Cross Hike’s raison d'etre), and cleverly arranged, to supply traction going uphill and braking ability and close control during fast technical descents. The lugs even extend up onto the toe cap, so you can get a grip on very steep terrain. They supply a comfortable ride, and the heel cap and toe box both feel secure without being too tight (Salomon footwear is often narrow in the toe, but these don’t pinch at all). 

The Gore-Tex membrane an integrated tongue makes them reliably waterproof up to the lower ankle. The downside of the quicklace system and the spongey nature of the cuff and tongue is that it really is hard to get a solid grip around the ankle – we feel an extra lace loop and a very slightly taller cuff would make the world of difference here. As it is, these are absolutely superb for zooming along technical trails if you are sure on your feet and you’re not carrying a heavy load, but less suitable for backpacking with a weighty pack (which, to be fair, isn’t what they’re designed for).

best hiking boots: Vasque Breeze LT GTX

(Image credit: Vasque)

Vasque Breeze LT GTX

Lightweight platform for fast and light day hikes

Specifications
RRP: $180 (US) / £150 (UK)
Gender availability: Male / Female
Weight (per boot): 754g / 1lb 11oz
Materials: Synthetic abrasion-resistant upper with mesh; Gore-Tex membrane; Dual-density compression-molded Enduralast EVA midsole; Vibram Ground Control LiteBase outsole with Megagrip compound
Colors: Mens: Beluga & Lime Green / Gargoyle & jet black / Ranger / Dune/ Jet Black / Rabbit & tawny olive / Anthracite / Silver Birch; Women’s: Egg plant & anthracite / Black & teal / Trellis & mist green / Drizzle & vintage violet
Compatibility: Walking fast and light in late spring to early fall, on most trails below technical alpine
Reasons to buy
+Light and nimble+Comfortable+Flexible +Breathable+Waterproof
Reasons to avoid
-Sizing can be narrow for some hikers-Designed for day hiking, not heavy backpacking loads-Not robust enough for some conditions

Another entry in Vasque’s iconic Breeze model line-up, the LT boots are 25% lighter than previous models. Best-in-class lightweight materials and construction keep your feet comfortable, dry and stable when you are pushing miles on a fast and light day hike. Created exclusively for Vasque, Vibram’s Ground Control LiteBase with Megagrip offers a hard-to-match combination of lightweight and superior traction on rocks, roots and mixed terrain. 

The upper is constructed from a combination of synthetic microfiber, abrasion resistant mesh and a waterproof Gore-Tex liner. The result is a very lightweight comfortable boot for hiking dawn to dark. These are highly recommended for fastpackers. For color conscious hikers, there are multiple combinations to match your style preferences. 

best hiking boots: Haglöfs Skuta Mid Proof Eco Hiking Boot

(Image credit: Haglöfs)

Lightweight, high-performing mid-height hiking boot with a small footprint

Specifications
RRP: £130 (UK) / €150 (EU)
Gender availability: Male / Female versions
Weight (per boot): 240g/8.5oz
Materials: Leather upper; EVA midsole; waterproof fluorocarbon-free Proof Eco membrane; Asics high-abrasion resistance rubber outsole
Colors: Oak & deep wood / True black
Compatibility: 3-season walking on most trails below technical alpine
Reasons to buy
+Light and nimble+Comfortable+Flexible +Breathable+Waterproof
Reasons to avoid
-Not robust enough for technical alpine trails or winter use-Outsole accumulates mud in gloopy conditions

A lovely looking hiking boot, the Skuta Mid Eco offers instant comfort as soon as you get it out of the box and stick your hoof in it. The leather upper is soft and supple, the molded EVA midsole supplies good cushioning, which is complemented by the use of a gel insert in the heel, and unless you’re extremely prone to hotspots and blisters, there is no real need to wear these boots in before hitting the hills.

The open mesh design doesn’t fill you with confidence about their waterproofing credentials, but on test the Skutas stood up pretty well to being immersed in water during stream crossings and on coastal tracks. 

With a reinforced rand and a toe cap, the Skutas provide more toe protection than they first appear to. Robust without being overly chunky, they can be worn with hiking shorts or long walking pants, and look good with a pair of jeans at the pub just beyond the trail head too. 

The lacing system features an integrated tensioning band across the forefoot, which allows you to get these boots on good and tight.

As the name suggests, Haglöfs place plenty of stock in the environmental considerations that have gone into making these boots. The Proof Eco membrane is entirely fluorocarbon-free and the premium leather in the upper is sourced from a tannery audited by the Leather Working Group, which endeavors to ensure ethical practices and supply chains are used in the production process of leather goods. The heel and toe areas have been reinforced with extra suede, to add to the durability, and the tongue is integrated with the use of a gusset, which completes the waterproofing system and prevents gravel, stones and water getting into the boots.

best hiking boots: On Cloudrock Edge Raw

(Image credit: On)

On Cloudrock Edge Raw

A cutting edge, eco-friendly, trail-ready hiking boot

Specifications
RRP: $250 (US) / £195 (UK)
Weight (per boot): 470g / 16.58oz
Materials: 80% recycled polyester upper, waterproof membrane made from 50% recycled polyurethane, Missiongrip sole
Compatibility: Hiking, hill walking and trekking
Colors: Undyed white
Reasons to buy
+Environmentally conscious design and construction+Mostly made from recycled materials+Waterproof+Available in male and female versions
Reasons to avoid
-Undyed materials show wear over time-Expensive

Since the brand’s debut in 2010, On has brought a new vision, design ethos and construction approach to running and hiking footwear markets. And true to form, the new Cloudrock Edge Raw hiking boot pushes all sorts of boundaries. This visually arresting hiking boot is constructed from a high percentage of recycled materials, and it is made in a manner that minimises negative impact on the environment, so no bleaches or dyes are employed – hence the virginal look

Offered in pristine white – a unique color for hiking boots, for obvious reasons –the Cloudrock Edge Raw isn’t only interested in an environmentally conscious fashion play. The boots’ relatively high collars feature offers soft support around the ankles, and a padded liner and reinforced tongue keeps the wearer comfortably cushioned. 

The Cloudrock Edge is also water and windproof. The proprietary and durable Missiongrip sole features a traction pattern that provides a secure, stable platform for hiking on uneven terrain. The boot’s soft high collar and padded liner keep you comfortable when you spend a long day on the trail. Will you keep them clean? Well that depends on the adventures you take them on, but let’s face it, if you’re using them as intended, there’s zero chance of these boots staying white for very long. Whether that’s a problem or not, depends on you – one walker’s trail-blotched boot is another’s story stained badge of honor.

best hiking boots: Scarpa Maverick Mid GTX

(Image credit: Scarpa)

Scarpa Maverick Mid GTX

Cover ground fast in this lightweight, nimble and rugged boot

Specifications
RRP: $169 (US) / £160 (UK)
Weight (per boot): 459g/16.2oz
Materials: Gore-Tex waterproof membrane, synthetic leather upper, EVA midsole, proprietary SCARPA HDR outsole
Compatibility: Day hikes and quick overnights
Colors: Black/Grey, Iron Grey/Orange
Reasons to buy
+Comfortable straight out of the box+Proprietary sole with good grip
Reasons to avoid
-Limited capacity to take on big missions-Check sizing carefully

The Maverick blends traditional hiking boot components with modern, athletic design to result in a boot built for agility on day walks, short backpacking escapades and fastpacking missions, as opposed to hardcore mountain ascents. A dual-density compression-molded EVA midsole cushions your feet nicely on rugged trail surfaces. The synthetic leather upper and well-designed stretch fit fabric collar deliver comfort with very little break-in required. 

Scarpa’s proprietary rugged HDR outsole creates a high friction, stable platform when jumping fast from rock to rock. A Gore-Tex lining keeps your feet comfortably dry inside, while the TPU toecap protects pinkies and the heel stabilizers provide confidence. Best-suited for day hikes or carrying a lightweight backpack for a quick overnight, the Maverick is a full-featured hiking boot that will let you add up the miles without any concerns. All in all, the best hiking boots out there for hikers who like to feel fleet of foot and unencumbered by their clogs.

Best hiking boots: Inov-8 Roclite 345 GTX

(Image credit: Inov8)

Inov-8 Roclite 345 GTX

Fast featherweight footwear that punches well above its weight on the trails

Specifications
RRP: $190 (US)/£155 (UK)
Weight: 345g/12.1oz
Compatibility: Spanning the divide between trail shoe and hiking boot, these agile rock hoppers can handle fairly tough and technical trails up to low alpine level
Colors: Black/Black and yellow/Brown and red/Navy and yellow
Reasons to buy
+Light +Tough and durable+Superb grip
Reasons to avoid
-Relatively low thermal qualities-Too flexible in the foot for really high-end trails

Combining the light feel and track-clinging capability of a high-performance trail running shoe with the ankle support and extra protection of a decent hiking boot, the Roclite 345 GTX is proving a popular choice for hikers who don’t want to dawdle. The graphene-strengthened G-GRIP outsole – appearing here for the first time on a walking boot – seizes hold of challenging terrain like an angry gorilla, but also quickly shakes off mud, grit and snow thanks to the multi-directional claw-shaped cleats. This sole technology isn’t just a solid performer, however, it’s also genuinely durable, so you can be confident of getting many miles out this boot.

The Gore-Tex upper provides good weather protection, while a cushioned midsole supplies some suspension, absorbing the shock of downward foot placement while returning plenty of bounce back into your step.     

The bendy blade is, of course double edged, and some of what you gain in flexibility and dexterity you lose in sturdiness, but Inov-8’s footwear is forged in the fells of the English Lake District and can deal with almost anything the elements throw at them.

Best barefoot hiking boots

Best hiking boots: Vivobarefoot Tracker FG

(Image credit: Vivobarefoot)

Vivobarefoot Tracker FG

A lightweight low-rider, built for barefoot hikers who want to feel their way along trails

Specifications
RRP: $240 (US)/£190 (UK)
Weight: 329g/11.6oz
Compatibility: On the right feet (experienced hikers) these are capable of taking on technical trails up to low-alpine, but most walkers will enjoy these boots best on well-made paths in warmer months
Colors: Dark brown/Botanical green
Reasons to buy
+Extremely light+Unrivalled connectivity to the trail+Slipper-like comfort
Reasons to avoid
-Flexible to the point of floppiness-Low protection level in harsh conditions-Price tag isn't as lightweight as the materials

These boots bring a barefoot approach to the trails, meaning that there is no drop between heel and the toe, the box is extra wide (allowing toes to spread and further heightening the tactile experience), and the stack height (distance between foot and the ground) is tiny, so you can really feel the trail you’re traversing.

Is all this a good thing? That depends on your experience and point of view: barefoot walkers/runners love the dexterity, arguing that by increasing the sensory perception of the trail surface you enjoy a closer relationship with the terrain, pay more attention to foot placement, and therefore walk/run more intelligently. By cutting out excess cushioning the weight is slashed, allowing wearers to scamper along the track fast, if that’s your thing.

Despite the minimalist design, the sole does feature 3mm lugs for traction and grip. These walking boots feel comfortable straight out the box, but you need to break your legs in – initially the back of your calves will burn, but gradually this will dissipate as muscles strengthen. On softer surfaces these boots are delightful, but less-experienced users will struggle on tougher, technical terrain, especially jagged rocks.

The best hiking boots for all-round adventure

best hiking boots: AKU Trekker Lite III GTX

(Image credit: AKU)

AKU Trekker Lite III GTX

Stylish hill-ready hiking boots born in the mountains of Italy

Specifications
RRP: $ (US) / £190 (UK)
Weight (per boot): 570g / 20oz
Materials: Suede & welded PU full upper; Gore-Tex membrane; double-intensity die-cut EVA midsole; Vibram Curcuma outsole
Compatibility: 3- to 4-season day hiking on almost any trails, and a good boot for longer trips in decent conditions
Colors: Black & green / Black & blue
Reasons to buy
+Robust+Secure and supportive fit+Waterproof and breathable+Comfortable+Stylish+Available in wide-fit last
Reasons to avoid
-Expensive-Fairly weighty for day boots

These beautiful boots from a brand based in the Italian alps absolutely ooze style before you get them dirty, but they also perform impressively when you stop posing and start tackling trails and peaks. The construction is robust, with precision stitching reinforcing each eyelet in the lacing system, which is where pressure is applied every time you pull the boots on. Having three pairs of quick-lace hooks at the top of each boot really enables you to get them done up nice and tight, for a firm and secure ride when you start pounding the paths. 

The component parts are all top end, from the Vibram Curcuma outsole up to the Gore-Tex lined suede-and-fabric upper. There is an all-round rand that shields toes and heels, and on test they were warm, comfortable, confidence-giving and classy, protecting our feet from the elements and supplying a really decent level of performance. They’re not as lightweight as some other daywalking boots out there, but the level of ankle support is far superior to the vast majority of other comparable boots.  The standard last is quite narrow in the toebox department, but the Trekker Lite IIIs are also available in a wide-fit.

best hiking boots: Salewa Mountain Trainer Lite Mid GTX

(Image credit: Salewa)

Salewa Mountain Trainer Lite Mid GTX

A rugged boot that will take you anywhere you want to go

Specifications
RRP: $200 (US) / £175 (UK)
Weight (per boot): 565g / 20oz
Materials: 1.6mm suede leather upper with Gore-Tex lining, EVA midsole, Pomoca MTN outsole
Compatibility: 3-season alpine hiking and long backpacking routes
Colors: Black / Carrot
Reasons to buy
+Gore-Tex waterproofing+Comfortable+Heel stabilizer+Available in male and female versions
Reasons to avoid
-May need some breaking-in

Technical terrain can quickly shred hiking boots that aren’t up to the task after just a few adventures, but although the Salewa Mountain Trainer Lite Mid GTX is a trimmed down version of the Mountain Trainer Mid, it is still built for the long run. And, while you might not literally be running in these boots, they are built for speed, weighing in a full 140g lighter (per boot) than their heavier siblings. They lack the Vibram outsole of the heavier and more expensive boot, but Salewa’s Pomoca compound rubber sole, with its well-thought-through lug design, creates a pretty stable, confidence-building platform.

The Lites still feature the Italian brand’s signature 3F system on the main chassis, which cleverly connects the instep, sole and heel of the boot to increase levels of support, comfort and flexibility. A TPU-coated, abrasion resistant upper shrugs off rock edges and boulder scrapes, while a flexible ankle cuff, heel stabilizer and rubber toecap provide protection and support. Inside, a Gore-Tex Extended Comfort lining and a shock absorbing EVA midsole cradle your feet in dry comfort.

best hiking boots: La Sportiva TX5 GTX

(Image credit: La Sportiva)

La Sportiva TX5 GTX

A hardcore boot for hardcore backpackers

Specifications
RRP: $218 (US) / £180 (UK)
Weight (per boot): 530g/18.7oz
Materials: Nubuck leather upper, Gore-Tex extended comfort liner, Ortholite Approach footbed, Vibram MegaGrip outsole
Compatibility: Big backpacking adventures
Colors: Chocolate & Avocado / Slate & tangerine / Falcon brown & tropic blue / Carbon & Yellow /Carbon & opal / Pine & kiwi
Reasons to buy
+Vibram MegaGrip outsole+Capable of heavy backpack loads
Reasons to avoid
-Narrow fit for some-Break-in required

When you throw a heavy backpack on your shoulders, you need a rugged hiking boot to carry the load. La Sportiva's TX5 is up to the challenge. A Gore-Tex Extended Comfort membrane supplies the breathable barrier against the in ingress of water, while an Ortholite Approach footbed supports your foot inside the boot. On the outside the Nubuck leather upper is mountain-fit, and a protective rubber rand, toecap and a combine to shield your feet from roots, rocks and trail debris. The high collar not only provides protection for ankles, its also supplies excellent support for when you’re tackling technical trails with a heavy pack on your back. 

Deep in the forest and high in the hills, when the underfoot conditions are rocky, slippery and uneven, the boot’s Vibram MegaGrip sole and Impact Brake System offers shock protection and stability. LaSportiva’s 3D Flex System and an underfoot stabilizer provides freedom of movement yet further protects your lower legs from twists and turns on challenging and tricky terrain.

best hiking boots: Keen Karraig

(Image credit: Keen)

A burly boot with solid environmental credentials that performs well on fells, footpaths, mountain treks and backcountry escapes

Specifications
RRP: $250 (US)/£160 (UK)
Weight (per boot): 700g /1lb 8.7oz
Materials: Premium leather and mesh uppers with breathable mesh waterproofing; all-terrain rubber outsoles
Compatibility: 3-season day walks, long treks, backpacking and backcountry odysseys
Colors: Dark earth (brown) / Bungee cord (grey) navy/asphalt
Reasons to buy
+Robust, comfortable and versatile +Eco-friendly materials+Generous fit for wide feet
Reasons to avoid
-Comparatively heavy -Slightly sweaty in warmer climes

Although based in Portland, Oregon, Keen have looked to Europe while upgrading their ever-hardy hiking boots in recent years, establishing a base in Italy and identifying the technical requirements of trekkers on the continent’s myriad mountain trails. From their European range comes the Karraig, a mid-cuff boot that retains the brand’s signature elements, including the super-substantial toe bumper, while introducing various innovations to suit fell walkers and backpackers alike.

These include an integrated ankle support system with a contoured heel lock and an extra lace-locking eyelet to further improve the fit around the foot, increasing control and stability on rough terrain. The premium leather upper has a performance mesh, the PU midsole boasts decent cushioning qualities and the removable dual-density EVA footbed has arch support for extra comfort.

The outer sole is armed with 4mm multidirectional lugs and a full-length shank supplies reassuring rigidity on challenging terrain, especially when coupled with a heel brake for steep descents. The high shank and taller-than-usual mid-cuff makes for excellent wading capability. Keen use LWG-certified environmentally preferred leather and a PFC-free waterproofing system in their uppers, and biocide-free insoles.

Best summer hiking boots

best hiking boots: Merrell Moab II

(Image credit: Merrell)

Merrell Moab II

Gimmick-free, rock-solid reliable choice for the majority of trail exploits

Specifications
RRP: $155 (US)/£125 (UK)
Weight: 475g/ 1lb 0.7oz
Compatibility: Hill walking and formed paths
Colors: Black/Granite/Navy/Beluga
Reasons to buy
+Well designed+Sensibly priced+Consistent performer
Reasons to avoid
-Not ideal for high-alpine or off-piste adventure

There are numerous reasons why this perennially popular trail performer has been one of the world’s most popular and best hiking boots for over a decade. But simply put, it’s excellently designed for trekking trails and is priced sensibly.

There have been a few tweaks over the years, but nothing too radical – without bells and whistles, it just performs how you want it to. The upper is constructed from durable suede and mesh, with a breathable and waterproof Gore-Tex lining.

The integrated closed-cell tongue keeps stones, gravel and mud out, and the EVA midsole and comfy contoured footbed offers arch support, which, combined with an air-cushion in the heel, helps soften the shock from repeated foot placement.  The Vibram outer soul has bitey 5mm lugs, providing traction and grip, and the substantial rubber cap protects toes. There’s nothing ultra-technical going on here, but if most of your hiking is done on standard trails during day hikes, or on trips when you’re not carrying too much weight, this boot is bombproof. The Moab II's friendly price tag also makes them one of the best hiking boots out there for buyers on a budget. 

best hiking boots: Hanwag Banks

(Image credit: Hanwag Banks)

A beautiful nubuck-leather boot born in Bavaria, and conceived for lowland trekking, gentle hillwalking and hut-to-hut hiking

Specifications
RRP: $250 (US)/£180 (UK)
Weight (per boot): 625g/1lb 6oz
Materials: Nubuck leather / Suede / Cordura nylon upper; Gore-Tex membrane; Vibram Endurance Pro sole
Compatibility: 3-season walking on less technical lowland trails
Colors: Navy/asphalt
Reasons to buy
+Well designed and excellently engineered +Supremely comfortable+Beautifully finished and durable
Reasons to avoid
-Not tough enough for alpine trails-Lack of bite in the outsole lugs

The 2020 version of the Hanwag Banks has been 15 years in the making. During that time the Bavarian-based designers have been constantly evolving the last for this family of boots in response to hikers’ heartfelt feedback, and the men’s version is now available in versions made with a normal last, and a straight-fit extra last. The new boot also has a slightly larger forefoot, to increase comfort levels on the trail. A Vibram sole offers excellent grip, although the lugs are nowhere near as aggressive as some of the more technical boots featured here.

It is primarily designed as a hut-to-hut hiking boot, for use in the lower areas in late spring to early autumn, but there’s a reinforced PU-foam wedge in the heel to increase cushioning during foot strike, and to improve the roll-off as you take your net step. The 100% PFC-free upper is made from certified-sustainable Nubuck leather, and there’s an option to go with or without the Gore-Tex liner (the alternative option being you stick with the comfy leather lining).

The metal lace hooks are well engineered and built to last, and the inside stitch-and-turn seams complete a very attractive and classy finish. In fact, longevity is central to the design and build of this and other Hanwag boots, with double-stitching and cemented construction, making this a keeper for many years of hillside high jinks.

The best hiking boots for technical trails

best hiking boots: Tecnica Plasma Mid 5 GTX

(Image credit: Tecnica)

Tecnica Plasma Mid 5 GTX

A year-round hard-to-beat hiking boot, customized to fit your foot

Specifications
RRP: $200 (US) / £195 (UK)
Weight (per boot): 490g / 17oz
Materials: Custom Adaptive Shape (C.A.S.) upper with Gore-Tex lining, EVA midsole with TPU shank, Vibram Plasma outsole with Megagrip rubber
Compatibility: All terrain, all conditions, all year roud
Colors: Black, Somber Mare / Dark Piedra, Fresh Lava / Night Fiume, Shadow Fiume
Reasons to buy
+Patented Custom fit process+Waterproof and breathable Gore-Tex Lining+Vibram MegaGrip outsole+Available in male and female versions
Reasons to avoid
-Lug pattern may not self-clean-Expensive compared to other models

Every hiking boot brand starts with an approach to fit, which usually starts with a last for the footwear being made. By design, some have narrow heel cups, others offer a wide toe box. Finding the right boot can take some trial and error, with multiple boots and fittings, and the occasional blister along the way. The Tecnica Plasma Mid fundamentally changes that fit dynamic. Tecnica’s patented Custom Adaptive Shape technology delivers a personalized, custom fit. Using an in-store thermo-molding process to shape the internal footbed and upper, the result is a fit tailored to the shape of your foot. The molded boot holds your heel stable, supports your arch and protects your feet from the rubbing and blisters that can ruin a day on the trails.

What you end up with is a boutique boot, with a Gore-Tex waterproof lining, an EVA midsole with TPU shank (offering plenty of cushioning and arch support) and a Vibram Megagrip rubber outsole – basically a customized and fully pimped piece of technical footwear, which is rugged, durable and high performing in any alpine setting.

Best waterproof hiking boots

best hiking boots: Zamberlan Vioz GTX

(Image credit: Zamberlan)

Zamberlan Vioz GTX

A rugged Roman boot, handmade in Italy and designed for long days of marching on technical trails

Specifications
RRP: $310 (US)/£190 (UK)
Weight (per boot): 715g/1lb 9.2oz
Materials: Hydrobloc-treated, full-grain, 2.4mm-thick waxed leather; Gore-Tex lining. Zamberlan Vibram 3D outsole
Compatibility: 3-season-plus off-track trail blazing and alpine adventures with a heavy backpack
Colors: Dark grey
Reasons to buy
+Mega durable+Excellent outsole+Beautifully made
Reasons to avoid
-Relatively heavy-No toe rand-Pricey-Requires maintenance 

If the Vioz feels a little stiff straight out of the box, that’s because it’s a full grain leather boot that requires a degree of breaking in. Once you’ve tamed these handmade Italian stallions, however, you’re not going to want to stop cantering around the hills in them.

The Vioz is an outstanding performer on the trails, combining excellent durability with technical ingenuity. High-quality 2.4mm-thick leather stretches in one beautiful expanse across the upper, which has been treated with hydrobloc to repel water, and a Gore-Tex lining completes the breathable waterproof system. An interesting cut-out section just beneath the cuff allows flex in the ankle area without compromising the sturdiness of the rest of the chassis.

These waterproof hiking boots feature an extremely robust riveted lacing system with metal eyelets all the way up to the speed hooks on the cuff, which itself is well padded for comfort and relatively high for good ankle support. A gusseted tongue keeps trail debris from entering the boot. The midsole is reassuringly rigid and robust, bolstered by the Z-flex GT shank, and it contains Zamberlan ‘air’ cushioning technology for comfort. There’s no rubber rand on the toe, which keeps the boot looking handsome, but makes us fret about scuffing its face.

The Zamberlan Vibram 3D outsole is particularly impressive, with really pronounced and aggressive lugs and a central ridge along the middle section for extra security on loose terrain. The big chunky terrain-chewing teeth are super widely spaced, to avoid stones and mud collecting in the gaps, and it has an undercut heel for secure braking. Nice.

Best hiking boots comparison table
Hiking bootPriceWeightStyleBest use
Salomon Cross Hike Mid GTX$170 (US) / £165 (UK)Ultra lightWaterproof, mid-height hiking boots3 season use: fastpacking and speed hiking
Vasque Breeze LT GTX$180 (US) / £150 (UK)MediumWaterproof, mid-height hiking boots3 season use: fastpacking and light day hikes
Haglöfs Skuta Mid Proof Eco Hiking Boot£130 (UK) / €150 (EU)Ultra lightWaterproof, mid-height hiking boots3 season use: fastpacking and light hikes
On Cloudrock Edge Raw$250 (US) / £195 (UK)LightWaterproof hiking boots3 season use: hiking, hill walking, trekking
Scarpa Maverick Mid GTX$169 (US) / £160 (UK)MediumWaterproof mid-height hiking boots3 season use: hiking, hill walking, trekking
Inov-8 Roclite 345 GTX$190 (US) / £155 (UK)Ultra lightWaterproof, low-height hiking boot3 season use: speed hiking, scrambling, technical trails and fastpacking
Vivobarefoot Tracker FG$240 (US) / £190 (UK)Ultra lightBarefoot hiking boots 3 season use: light hiking, hill walking
AKU Trekker Lite III GTX£190 (UK)MediumWaterproof mid-height hiking boots3 season use: hiking, backpacking, trekking, scrambling, technical trails
Salewa Mountain Trainer Lit Mid GTX$200 (US) / £175 (UK)MediumWaterproof mid-height hiking boots3 season use: hiking, backpacking, trekking, scrambling, technical trails
La Sportiva TX5 GTX$218 (US) / £180 (UK)HeavyWaterproof, rugged hiking boot3 season use: hiking, backpacking, technical trails
Keen Karraig$250 (US) / £160 (UK)HeavyWaterproof, mid-height hiking boot3 season use: hiking, backpacking, technical trails
Merrell Moab II$155 (US) / £125 (UK)LightWaterproof, mid-height hiking boot3 season use: light hiking, hillwalking and fastpacking
Hanwag Banks$250 (US) / £180 (UK)HeavyWaterproof, mid-height hiking boot3 season use: light hiking, lowland trails
Tecnica Plasma Mid 5 GTX$200 (US) / £195 (UK)MediumWaterproof, mid-height hiking boot3 season use: hiking, backpacking, technical trails, scrambling
La Sportiva Trango TRK GTX$220 (US) / £215 (UK)HeavyWaterproof, rugged hiking boot4 season use: hiking, backpacking, trekking, technical trails, scrambling. However, no crampon compatibility for winter mountaineering
Zamberlan Vioz GTX$310 (US) / £190 (UK)HeavyWaterproof, rugged hiking boot3 season use: hiking, backpacking, trekking, technical trails, scrambling

What to look for when buying the best hiking boots

When thinking about how to choose a pair of the best hiking boots, first consider if you need to make such a serious purchase. If you're looking to do fairly straightforward day walks in temperature conditions, you will look a little bit daft turning up in boots that could tackle Mount Rainier. Better to go for a pair of hiking shoes or a trail running shoes if this is you; they'll feel lighter and your feet won't cook in the heat.

Boots become absolute hiking essentials once you get more technical trails of the coasts, hills and mountains. This is when comfort and grip become your biggest priorities when looking at the best men's hiking boots. A well-made flexible boot with good lugs and mid-height ankle protection will suffice perfectly.

However, as trails become more technical — especially if they traverse high-alpine areas with exposed rock, snow and ice — rigidity across the sole of the boot becomes a real requirement, along with better thermal properties and the additional ankle protection offered by a higher cuff.

In the following overview of things to look for when buying, you'll come across a few terms that you might not be familiar with. If you're in need of a jargon buster, check out our explainer on the parts of a hiking boot

Fit and comfort

A well-chosen pair of men's hiking boots should last several years. When it comes to the best hiking boots, comfort is just as important as performance, so you actively look forward to getting back on the trails. Poor-fitting boots can cause blisters, coldness, toe injuries, general discomfort and even accidents, all of which will discourage you from going hiking again. Of course, you should always take time to break in hiking boots after purchasing them.

All brands have their eccentricities – such as a tight toe box – and some tend towards being larger or smaller than you might expect for the size, so try before you buy if possible. Factor in the need for a good hiking sock – our guide to the best hiking socks you can buy will point you in the right direction.

best hiking boots

Fit and comfort are two of the most important aspects when choosing a pair of hiking boots (Image credit: Getty)

Weight

Every ounce counts when you’re hiking and never is this more pronounced than in the boot department – if you feel like you’re walking around with feet clad in concrete, the experience will be utterly miserable from start to finish, especially if you are tackling a long thru-hike. A lightweight option could turn what would have been a suffer-fest into an absolute joy.

Of course, there is a trade-off – greater protection usually comes at a weight cost, so more extreme trails will demand studier and heavier hiking boots. As a rule, though, cheaper, less technical boots made with inferior fabrics and technologies will be heavier than their more finessed and thought-through counterparts. Our selection of the best men's hiking boots takes this into account.

Support

The tougher the terrain you’re tackling the greater level of protection and support you’ll require. Mid-height boots, or even the best trail running shoes, might be fine for low-alpine adventures in dry environments, but once you start taking on mountain trails that venture across exposed rock, scree, snow and ice, you will need more support and rigidity to help with edging, prevent the likelihood of slippage and ankle injury, and provide more protection.

When you are burdened by more weight, such as a large backpack for a multiday wilderness trip , your centre of balance and natural stability will be affected. This increases the need for more supportive, control-enhancing footwear. Even with a pair of the best trekking poles along for the ride, if you're manoeuvring around rock formations and hopping across streams, you'll need that support. Good grip is essential for technical descents, and your knees will thank you for choosing a boot that absorbs some of the impact incurred during repeated footfall.

best hiking boots: a hiker climbing u a mountain

The best hiking boots give you enhanced support and rigidity, allowing you to take on more technical terrain (Image credit: Getty)

Price

Choose a good pair of hiking boots now and you’ll get many miles of action out of them – so it’s well worth investing time and some hard-earned cash on better materials. While there’s a limit to everyone’s budget, any investment made in serious kit (and boots are the most important things in your trail toolbox bar none) serves as inspiration to get out, go further and explore more. 

That said, many brands offer a non-waterproof iteration of their boots for hiking in hot or dry climates, and although invariably cheaper than their higher-spec counterparts, it’s a mistake to dismiss these as the poor cousins of the range. The best men's hiking boots are tailored according to the needs of the user and, worn in the right terrain, will be more comfortable than the pricier option. 

best hiking boots: a hiker gazing down on a mountain

With the best hiking boots, you're good to take on the toughest trails (Image credit: Getty)

Seasonality

The best hiking boots for summer differ from the best hiking boots for winter. Most hiking boots are 3-season, though most can cope with winter hikes until crampons are needed above the snowline. However, once in the realm of ice and snow, winter boots are essential for your own safety.

Due to their need to offer exceptional support, a rigid-crampon compatible sole and weatherproof qualities, winter boots tend to be more expensive and heavier. If you are looking to hit the trails this summer, a lighter, 3-season boot will suffice. 

Pat Kinsella

Writer, editor and enthusiast of anything involving boots, bikes, boats, beers and bruises, Pat has spent 20 years pursuing adventure stories. En route he’s canoed Canada’s Yukon River, climbed Mont Blanc and Kilimanjaro, skied and mountain biked through the Norwegian Alps, run an ultra across the roof of Mauritius, and set short-lived records for trail-running Australia’s highest peaks and New Zealand’s Great Walks. He’s authored walking guides to Devon and Dorset, and once wrote a whole book about Toilets for Lonely Planet. Follow Pat’s escapades here.