Choosing the best hiking boots is one of the very first considerations for any walking adventure. 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 to the best hiking boots 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 walking 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 walking boot 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
La Sportiva Trango TRK GTX
A three-and-a-half season trekking boot with superb scrambling capability
RRP: $220 (US)/£215 (UK) | Weight (per boot): 720g/1lb 9.4oz | Colours: Carbon / yellow and black | 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
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.
Inov-8 Roclite 345 GTX
Fast featherweight footwear that punches well above its weight on the trails
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 | 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 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.
Vivobarefoot Tracker FG
A lightweight low-rider, built for barefoot hikers who want to feel their way along trails
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 | 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 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.
A burly boot with solid environmental credentials that performs well on fells, footpaths, mountain treks and backcountry escapes
RRP: $250 (US)/£160 (UK) | Weight (per boot): 700g /1lb 8.7oz | Colours: Dark earth (brown) / Bungee cord (grey) navy/asphalt | 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
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.
Zamberlan Vioz GTX
A rugged Roman boot, handmade in Italy and designed for long days of marching on technical trails
RRP: $310 (US)/£ £190 (UK) | Weight (per boot): 715g/1lb 9.2oz | Colours: Dark grey | 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
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.
The boot features 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.
Salomon Quest 4D 3 GTX
A comfortable boot that offers stunning stability and savagely good grip to keep you upright on technical trails.
RRP: $230 (US)/£180 (UK) | Weight (per boot): 640g/1lb 6.5oz | Materials used: Nubuck leather upper; Gore-Tex lining; Contragrip outer sole | Colours: Wren, bungee cord, green sulphur/Phantom, black, quiet shade/Grape Leaf, peat, burnt olive | Compatibility: 3-season hiking boot for technical trails up to low alpine
Salomon’s most advanced hiking boot now has an improved ‘Contragrip’ outsole with a new lug design, which the gives this top-end midweight hiking boot even more bite when it comes to gripping hold of slippery rocks, offering great control on chunky terrain, specially when descending.
The 4D design of the chassis adds to the superb stability-giving qualities of the Quest, which, combined with the lacing system (where four lower eyelets allow you to achieve a customised fit), provides excellent support for your ankle, making it a top choice if you’re hiking technical trails with a full load.
The boot assists you in maintaining an efficient gait, and the comfort levels are high straight out of the box, with plenty of cushioning where it counts. Waterproofing is supplied by the Gore-Tex membrane, with nylon mesh panels in the upper contributing to the breathability of the boot.
Scarpa R-Evo GTX
Versatile and eminently capable trekking, hiking and backpacking boot with superb out-of-the-box comfort
RRP: $280 (US)/ £200 (UK) | Weight (per boot): 660g/1lb 7.2oz | Materials used: Water-resistant 1.8mm Suede + S-Tech Fabric upper with Gore-Tex lining; Vibram Biometric Trek sole | Compatibility: 3-season, great on technical trails; available in male and female versions
Offering extraordinary comfort from first wear, the Scarpa R-Evo GTX only get better when you take them on the trails. They hug the foot snugly, with no pressure points around the ankle, heel or on top of the foot. A pronounced rear cutaway helps to reduce pressure on the Achilles, yet they still offer plenty of protection and good ankle support, without feeling restrictive.
In fact, the boot is soft and supple throughout, accommodating various foot shapes. Memory foam ankle padding in the cuff helps, but the real secret is in Scarpa’s ‘sock-fit’: a softshell-style tongue that moulds to the overall shape of the foot while offering plenty of padding under the laces.
The overall fit is medium in volume, with a fairly slim heel and a slightly rounded toebox. It’s an accommodating last that strikes the ideal balance between comfort and precision, meaning these boots are the perfect companion for high-mileage hillwalking days, but have the technical ability to take on the occasional scramble too. All in all, if you’re looking for a versatile and comfortable all-rounder, these are a top pick.
Merrell Moab II
Gimmick-free, rock-solid reliable choice for the majority of trail exploits
RRP: $155 (US)/£125 (UK) | Weight: 475g/ 1lb 0.7oz | 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.
Salewa Men's Crow GTX
A light and versatile alpine trekking boot with a crampon-compatible sole
RRP: $280 (US)/ £200 (UK) | Weight (per boot): 675g / 1lb 7.8oz | Materials used: 1.6mm suede leather upper; Gore-Tex performance comfort lining; Vibram New Mulaz sole | Colours: Black and Papavero (red) | Compatibility: 3-season-plus capability on technical trails
A high-flying peak dweller, the Crow is a boot that can cope with a wide range of alpine adventures. It’s completely comfortable on low and mid-alpine mountain trails throughout the majority of the year, with a Vibram New Mulaz sole that offers sticky grip on grit and rock, and stability and traction when you venture higher – it’s also compatible with various crampons when you reach the ice.
The midsole has enough rigidity to instil confidence on technical terrain, and a full and a 360-degree robust rubber rand provides protection for your feet against abrasive rock and scree. Meanwhile, up top the Gore-Tex ‘Performance Comfort’ lining keeps feet dry and warm within the stylish chassis of the boot and the innovative 3F System firmly hugs heels and ankles, puling the ‘Flex Collar’ tight around the top of your foot and lower leg to completely cut out foot slippage within the boot.
The lacing system reaches right down to the toes, adding to the excellent sense of security these boots provide. The abrasion-resistant fabric upper promises durability, and Salewa are confident enough to offer their Alpine Fit 100% blister free guarantee.
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 (UK) | Weight: 660g/1lb 7.2oz | 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, Grey/Black and violet
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.
A beautiful nubuck-leather boot born in Bavaria, and conceived for lowland trekking, gentle hillwalking and hut-to-hut hiking
RRP: $250 (US)/£180 (UK) | Weight (per boot): 625g/1lb 6oz | Colours: Navy/asphalt | Materials: Nubuck leather / Suede / Cordura nylon upper; Gore-Tex membrane; Vibram Endurance Pro sole | Compatibility: 3-season walking on less technical lowland trails
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.
A hardy, but truly classic alpine-style all-leather mountain muncher of a boot from the no-nonsense heart of England
RRP: £250 (UK) | Weight (per boot): 884g/16lb | Materials used: 2.8mm-Anfibio leather (Culatte); Sympatex breathable 4-layer lining with military-grade waterproof membrane interlayer; Vibram ‘Ice Trek’ sole | Colours: Brown – like it or lump it! (best said in a Yorkshire accent) | Compatibility: 3-season plus in the hills and peaks
This robust 3-season-plus boot is the kind of vintage vehicle you can imagine George Mallory stomping around the hills of northern England in, between trips to the Himalaya. The look is so classic it almost feels like we should picture them in black-and-white or sepia, and this retro feel is complimented by the fact that the historic brand still make their boots in Yorkshire (and Italy), using – in this case – top-quality Anfibio Culatte leather that’s almost 3mm thick.
It’s not just about style, though, these boots can walk the alpine walk too, right into the winter months and at icier heights. Hiding beneath the classic leather upper is a military-grade waterproof membrane, and below that a thoroughly modern Vibram ‘Ice Trek’ sole that boasts a rugged heel lug and is compatible with articulated crampons in winter conditions. Famously, Altberg offer a wide range of sizes, accommodating for people with both extra narrow and extra wide feet, and everything in between, and will even make you a pair of bespoke boots if none of those fit your hoof.
Once you’ve secured the perfect size, the fit is exceptional, starting right from the lacing system, which boasts a locking D-ring, enabling wearers to firmly tighten the forefoot before tightening the high, supportive ankle cuff. This is a boot that pushes you forward, by design as well as mentality, and they are more at home ascending or descending hillsides and mountain flanks than they are on the flat – where they suddenly feel slightly chunky and clunky. They’re an excellent all-rounder, however, absolutely steeped in class.
What to look for when buying boots
When thinking about how to choose a pair of hiking boots, 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 walking 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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