The very first consideration for any walking adventure is making sure you wear the best hiking boots on the trails. The enjoyment level of every hiking experience will be determined as much by the adequacy of the kit you use as the beauty and drama of the terrain you traverse.
In this guide we primarily focus on high-quality, technical boots that offer something innovative, are perennially popular performers or which have recently come onto the market. It’s an eclectic selection designed for a range of hiking experiences, from single-day walks to multiday backpacking and trekking expeditions, fastpacking and thru hiking. As such, there is a real range here, and we’re not comparing like-for-like against one set of standard criteria.
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We haven’t reviewed anything at the extremely low end of the market, because boots are a serious affair and you really do get what you pay for. If you’re unsure whether your planned adventures actually call for full-on hiking boots, consider trail and trail running shoes instead, as they can often be a better choice for people intending to travel light and fast on foot for shorter distances.
Every entry on this list of the best hiking boots is featured on its merits. For us, though, the Salomon X Ultra 3 Mid GTX is the standout option for tackling a range of terrain, while the amazingly agile Inov8 Roclite 345 GTX is an excellent option for those who want to travel a little faster and lighter. The super stylish Vivobarefoot Tracker FG is a classy choice for those who like to get a real feel for the trail.
The best hiking boots you can buy today
Inov-8 Roclite 345 GTX
Fast featherweight footwear that punches well above its weight on the trails
RRP: £155 | Weight : 345g | 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 | Colours: Black/Black and yellow/Brown and red/Navy and yellow
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 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.
Salomon X Ultra 3 Mid GTX
Supreme technical capability combines with impressive comfort levels in this agile and versatile boot
RRP: £145 | Weight : 450g | Compatibility: Perfect for trails up to low-alpine – for a more technical model try the Salomon Quest 4D 3 GTX | Colours: Burnt brick/Black/Bleached sand
Nimbly walking the line between high performance and extreme comfort, this boot offers stability, protection, grip and a snug fit in roughly equal measure, although the scales are tipped slightly in favour of stability. The combination of two rubber materials in the outersole adds muscle to the grip, and particular attention has been paid by the designers in reinforcing the heel’s ability to cling to challenging terrain during technical descents, so you can stay in control no matter how steep, wet and slippery the conditions are.
Salomon trail shoes famously cradle the wearer’s foot superbly, and these boots offer the same firm caress – the integrated upper features foam cushioning, which contributes to comfort levels, while a Gore-Tex inner supplies the waterproofing. Lastly, for what it’s worth, this is a seriously good-looking boot – which will encourage you to clean the grit and trail juice off them and keep them well maintained post adventure.
Vivobarefoot Tracker FG
A lightweight low-rider, built for barefoot hikers who want to feel their way along trails
RRP: £155 | Weight : 329g | 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 | Colours: Dark brown/Botanical green
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 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.
A burly boot with environmental credentials that performs well on fells, footpaths, mountain treks and backcountry escapes
RRP: £160 | Weight : 700g | Compatibility: Day walks, long treks, backpacking and backcountry odysseys | Colours: Dark earth (brown)/Bungee cord (grey)
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 5mm wide 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.
Hoka One One Sky Kaha GTX
Walk tall and float through the hills in these maximalist trail-hopping hiking boots that put a big bounce in your step
RRP: £180 | Weight : 508g | Compatibility: Well-made trails, hill walking, low-alpine treks and multi-day backpacking in temperate conditions | Colours: Charcoal grey and blue/Black/Black olive and green/Patriot blue and mandarin red
Despite the supersized stack on these boots (a signature feature of the entire Hoka range) the drop from heel and toe is a modest 6mm, and they deceptively svelte when it comes to the weigh in. The Vibram outsole, armed with 5mm multidirectional lugs, supplies excellent grip and traction, and also features a midsole rocker, which promotes a rolling momentum and a smooth gait. The thick (but surprisingly light) Eva-topped foam midsole takes the jolts out of rough terrain, making these ideal for people prone to aches, pains and injury. Suddenly gaining an inch in height can throw your spatial awareness out a bit, and the rocker takes a bit of getting used to, but Hoka’s ‘Active Foot Frame’ midsole helps by centering your foot and providing enhanced support and stability.
This revolutionary Rubenesque rubber-foam sole is topped by a supportive upper made from full-grain waterproof leather, with a Gore-Tex waterproof bootie and a mid-height cuff. Hokas were initially developed by and for trail runners, but the technology is excellent for walking with a heavy pack over rugged ground.
Aku Trekker Pro GTX
Intelligent design and product evolution has produced a boot that’s a rock solid trail partner for proper backpacking and alpine escapades
RRP: £199.90 | Weight : 660g | Compatibility: Edging further towards a mountain boot, the Trekker Pro is light enough to be comfortable on easy trails, but is capable of taking on much more technical terrain | Colours: Black and yellow/Black and orange
Handmade in Europe, the Trekker Pro is the more technically advanced iteration of the Trekker Lite II. The stiff sole conveys serious intent and capability, and the innovative design of the last creates what Aku call ‘Elica Natural Stride System technology’, spreading pressure evenly across the foot when walking, adding to comfort levels and performance, and decreasing the risk of sores, foot fatigue and pressure points.
The overall comfort level remains high, despite the rigidity, thanks partly to the design and technology employed in the double-layered midsole and the Vibram outsole, which features strategically positioned and lugs that are reliably grippy on a wide range of terrain (rock, scree, mud and grass). The upper, constructed from suede and Cordura, offers excellent lateral support for load-bearing feet when you’re hauling a backpack along the trail.
The combined effect is an integrated chassis and sole offering shock-absorption along with support and control, cushioning the foot during heel strike and propelling it during toe-off to guide the wearer into a fluid and efficient gait.
Waterproofing comes courtesy of a Gore-Tex lining and a rubber rand offers extra toe protection.
Scarpa Zodiac Plus GTX
An all-mountain performer, tough enough to take you to new heights without compromising on comfort
RRP: £200/$269 (US) | Weight : 545g | Compatibility: Technical trekking, multiday backpacking and alpine adventures | Colours: Shark (grey)/Orange
With its substantial cuff, robust build and solid rigidity across the sole, the Zodiac clambers ably across the void from standard backpacking boot to low-level mountaineering hoof. In terms of ankle support and underfoot protection, this is a tough piece of kit, perfect for rough and rugged mountain trails in almost any conditions, some off-piste scrambling and via ferrata shenanigans. Hand-made in Italy, the supple suede upper, complete with a Gore-Tex liner, provides wonderful waterproofing while ensuring breathability.
The Zodiac’s four-density midsole artfully employs PU and EVA inserts to maintain good comfort levels, enhanced by the snug cradling of the heel within the sock fit construction, which integrates the tongue into the upper to minimise the risk of grit getting into the boot. The asymmetric lacing system, which extends right down to the rubber rand-protected toe box, enables you to secure these boots really firmly to your foot, and the tough Vibram outsole supplies the grip, control and extra stability required for exploring mountain terrain. The sky is the limit with these boots.
Mammut Ducan High GTX
A versatile boot that’s simultaneously supportive and sporty, with intelligent tech putting a literal spring in your step on the trails
RRP: £180 | Weight : 545g | Compatibility: Technical day trekking, multiday backpacking and low-alpine mountain adventures | Colours: Black/Zion/Titanium/Surf/Sapphire
An agile player in the low-alpine environment, this swish Swiss boot has a high cuff to keep ankles in line on technical terrain and a chunky rubber rand for top toe protection. A bespoke Vibram sole supplies decent grip, and the upper chassis is encased by an ‘engineered mesh’, waterproofed with a breathable Gore-Tex liner.
But it’s beneath the hood that things get really interesting with this boot. Mammut’s ‘Flextron technology’ employs a spring-steel midsole to increase lateral stability and longitudinal flexibility, increasing energy efficiency while you’re walking. (This innovative piece of tech is even visible through a little window in the Vibram sole, although this can lead to stones getting stuck in the gap.)
The carefully crafted anatomical last, coupled with asymmetric lacing and a mono-tongue design (opens to one side only) enable this boot to clasp your foot firmly, but very comfortably, promoting a natural gait.
Merrell Moab II
Gimmick-free, rock-solid reliable choice for the majority of trail exploits
RRP: £125 | Weight : 475g | Compatibility: Hill walking and formed paths | Colours: Black/Granite/Navy/Beluga
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.
Berghaus Hillwalker II GTX
Beneath the retro look, this no-nonsense boot brings decades of experience to the hills
RRP: £130 | Weight : 600g | Compatibility: Cross country, coast, cliff and hill walking in any weather | Colours: Brown
A more traditional-looking mid-cuff hiking boot, the Hillwalker is a tried and trusted performer on the hills and peaks of Britain, which has sensibly evolved over time to become increasingly technical on the inside.
Beneath the classic-looking outer the clever construction includes a supple oiled-suede shell with a Gore-Tex lining – reliably breathable and waterproof – and an inner that includes strategic use of memory foam (mainly around the heel and across the tongue) to improve comfort. The studded outsole combines control-giving grip with decent shock absorption, and doesn’t accumulate too much mud, even on the gloopiest of trails. Removable footbeds are handy for quick drying and odour management.
Berghaus back their gear up with a ‘Product Lifetime Guarantee’ – a promise to replace items for free if they don’t perform properly (or fall apart) after reasonable usage.
How to choose the best hiking boot for you
What to look for when buying boots
When choosing the best hiking boots for you, consider carefully what you’re going to use them for. If you intend doing mostly day walks across reasonably benign terrain in temperate areas, there’s no point shelling out big bucks on hardcore hiking boots – your feet will cook and you’ll look like a try hard. Go for lightweight comfort and enjoy the walk.
For the vast majority of coast-, cliff- and hill-walking escapades – and even most low-alpine adventures in temperate areas – comfort and grip are your biggest priorities. A well-made flexible boot with good lugs and mid-height ankle protection will suffice perfectly.
As trails become more technical, however, 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.
Carrying more weight – such as a large backpack for a multiday wilderness trip – will affect your centre of balance and natural stability, and increase the need for more supportive, control-enhancing footwear. 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.
1. Fit and comfort
A well-chosen pair of hiking boots should last several years. 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. 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.
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. 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.
The tougher the terrain you’re tackling the greater level of protection and support you’ll require. Mid-height boots, or even trail 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.
Choose a good pair of 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. They are tailored according to the needs of the user and, worn in the right terrain, will be more comfortable than the pricier option.
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