Choosing the best men's hiking boots for a big backpacking escapade is a weighty consideration. Most serious hiking boots have an equally serious price tag hanging off them, so it’s important to make the right selection, and secure a pair that will see you right for multiple mountain-trail adventures.
So, is there actually any such thing as the ‘best men’s hiking boot’ – as opposed to simply a good unisex hiking boot? That begs the question – is there any such thing as a good woman’s hiking boot, or is it all just a cunning marketing ploy… and that’s like recklessly kicking over Pandora’s Box with a pair of size 11s.
We won’t pretend there hasn’t been a tendency over the years for some brands to take a unisex product, pink-and-shrink an element of it, and brand it women-specific, with the leftover item by default being the men’s version. However, the industry has become more sophisticated in recent times, and there are some completely valid differences in what men and women need and demand from high-performing apparel and footwear.
These varying requirements stem from both physical attributes and behavioural differences, both of which walk us straight into the dangerous terrain of generalisations and stereotypes. But various scientific tests have revealed significant differences between the shape of men and women’s feet, well beyond the obvious size discrepancy, which has led many companies to use gender-specific lasts when designing footwear.
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Men are generally heavier and taller in body, and their centre of gravity is different, with narrower hips and broader shoulders, which make many males top heavy and less stable. Combine that with a horrible habit of carrying heavier backpacks – not (just) because we like to think we’re tougher, but because everything we use, from clothes to sleeping bags, is a bit bigger – and that tendency to topple is even more accentuated.
Some might say that men are also more likely to attempt things that are a little outside their skillset, knowledge zone and fitness level, but let’s not venture there. I should point out, this image of a big, clumsy dude stumbling around on the hillside is not reflective of you. I’m describing a Frankenstein’s monster made up from bits and pieces of all of us – myself very much included – or at least the beasts we were until the outdoors schooled us.
Suffice to say, a good men’s hiking boot – with a slightly higher cuff, a supportive chassis and a high-performing grippy sole for additional stability and control – will help alleviate some of the challenges men face when hiking. Here we have focussed on exactly that kind of boot, with an emphasis on the more technical end of the market.
All of these products are featured in this best men’s hiking boot ensemble on merit, but we particularly like the Salomon Quest and Scarpa R-Evo GTX for outrageous comfort combined with performance, the Salewa Mens Crow GTX for its elevated capability, the Zamberlan Vioz for smart design, the Keen Karraig and Hanwag Banks for their enviro creds, and the Altberg Mallerstang for its magical mix of old-school optics and cutting-edge tech.
The best men's hiking boots available now
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.
AKU Trekker Pro GTX
Supremely well-built boot with an innovative construction for an easy walking action and mile-after-mile comfort
RRP: $200 (US)/ £200 (UK) | Weight (per boot): 660g/1lb 7.2oz | Materials used: Suede and PU upper; Gore-Tex performance comfort lining; Vibram curcuma sole | Colours: Black and orange / Black and bright yellow | Compatibility: 3-season on low alpine and technical trails
It’s rare to find a boot that has the perfect balance of support, stability, cushioning and flexibility, but Italian bootmaker AKU’s has hit the sweet spot with their Elica Natural Stride System. This clever tech aims to deliver a more even distribution of foot pressure when walking, by combining an innovative boot last with specially designed insole, midsole and outsole components. (Basically, the sole unit is angled to promote a more natural walking action.) The heel is inclined slightly outwards to help with heel strike, while the insole is inclined inwards to ‘support a natural toe-off’.
This medium-volume boot has a rounded, slightly asymmetric toebox with a broader forefoot, narrowing at the midfoot with a slim heel. A suede heel counter and rand offer a bit more durability than most fabric boots, aided by a burly rubber toecap. The high ankle cuff offers both protection and support too. This has a decent amount of padding, though it lacks the rear cutaway that many other boots have to reduce pressure on the Achilles tendon. Still, the increased ankle height aids stability on uneven, broken ground, preventing rolling.
While this isn’t the lightest boot, it doesn’t feel heavy, and it offers enough technical ability to make it a capable and versatile workhorse well-suited to three-season use.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
Arc’teryx Acrux TR GTX
A ruggedly good-looking toughnut of a boot, that will take anything the trails can throw at it and still come out looking classy
RRP: $ (US)/£220 (UK) | Weight: 550g/1lb 3.4oz | Colours: Black/Neptune | Materials: SuperFabric upper with Gore-Tex lining; Vibram Megagrip outsole | Compatibility: 3-season trekking on reasonably challenging trails
A durable can-do boot, which belies its modest weight to perform well on the trails and in the hills, offering excellent support for full-pack expeditions, despite the mid-height cuff. The fossilised bird logo always connotes top quality (albeit at a top cost) and the Canadian brand doesn’t disappoint here, with the relatively new Arc’teryx Acrux, which replaced the old Bora boot.
The Acrux features a truly tough and superbly supportive ‘SuperFabric’ upper, with a Gore-Tex insert that keeps trail juice out while allowing feet to breath freely. The mid-height cuff does dip a bit low at the back, and the level of cushioning on the OrthoLite insole is a bit stingy, but the lugs on the aggressively clingy megagrip Vibram outsole mean it grips technical terrain excellently.
Choosing the best men’s hiking boots
When choosing hiking boots, consider carefully when and when you’re going to use them. 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, and 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.
As we’ve discussed, carrying more weight – such as a large backpack for a multiday wilderness trip – will affect your centre of balance and natural stability, and the 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.
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.
You wouldn’t skimp on tyres for your car, so take the same approach to your boots, which might save you from sliding down ice or scree, or turning an ankle. 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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