Best-in-class ankle support and sensational out-the-box comfort levels make the Banks a real winner for us. If you do most of your hiking on mixed terrain below the high peaks, you will get phenomenal performance from these handsome boots.
Extremely supportive around the ankle
Well designed and excellently engineered
Not tough enough for high alpine trails
Lack of heft in the toecap
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Hanwag Banks: first impressions
Straight out of the box these Bavarian boots are a thing of beauty to behold. The soft Nubuck leather oozes quality, the Hanwag Banks have a lovely fine finish and they are instantly comfortable when you slide your hiking hooves into them.
This latest version of the Hanwag Banks, released in 2020 has been 15 years in the making. During that time the brand’s Bavaria-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 (see: parts of a hiking boot). The new boot also has a slightly larger forefoot, to increase comfort levels on the trail, and a Vibram sole.
A three-season model, the Hanwag Banks is primarily designed as a daywalking or hut-to-hut hiking boot, for use on trails from early spring through to late autumn. 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.
• RRP: $260 (US)/£180 (UK)
• Gender availability: Male / Female versions
• Weight (per boot): 625g/1lb 6oz
• Materials: Nubuck leather / Suede / Cordura nylon upper; Gore-Tex membrane; Vibram Endurance Pro sole
• Colours: Mocca & asphalt / Black & asphalt / Asphalt
• Compatibility: 3-season walking on most trails below technical alpine
Hanwag Banks: on the trails
When we got these on our trotters and hit the trails proper, the Hanwag Banks blew us away to such an extent that we awarded them the accolade of Best Men’s Hiking Footwear in the inaugural Advnture Hiking Awards. They are not just for men, however – there are equally excellent women’s versions of all the iterations of the latest Banks (mid boot, GTX and low-cut hiking shoe).
This isn’t the most aggressive hiking boot out there, but then most people don’t trek in the kind of hardcore conditions that necessitate a super rigid shank and fang-like lugs – the majority of us do a large percentage of our walking on low alpine trails, hills, peaks, and coastal and countryside paths that are occasionally rugged, but not ultra technical. And on that type of terrain, the Banks are superb – even in winter.
We tested them on a range of rocky hills and peaks, some boggy moorland and a plethora of countryside tracks and trails, in a wide range of weather conditions and temperatures. At the end of it all, although we recognise their limitations on high and very technical trails, we think the Banks are a very versatile hiking boot, providing comfort and capability on the vast majority of trails. With the excellent ankle support they supply, and therefore the confidence they bestow, we think they are totally suitable for backpacking escapades when you’re carrying a load, as well as more cruisy day walks and hut-to-hut adventures.
Here’s how the Hanwag Banks performed in each of the key metrics by which we gauge a hiking boot’s performance (find more on these in how to choose a pair of hiking boots):
With an upper made from 100% PFC-free, certified-sustainable super soft Nubuck leather, their out-of-the-box comfort levels are sensational. Absolutely no breaking in was required before hitting trails, even for long days when there was no opportunity to remove the boots. They breathe well, and we experienced zero rubbing or hot spots. They are also more than adequately padded, to keep your feet nice and warm in all but the most extreme conditions.
The latest generation Hanwag Banks is available in versions made with a normal last, and a straight-fit extra last. The toe-box and heel cup are both accommodating without leaving any real room for slippage, and the ankle support is absolutely superb (see below). There are also versions (mid and low) to suit those who suffer with bunions – an extremely common problem that can seriously impact people’s enjoyment of walking.
It’s the innovative design of the chassis and the positioning of the lace hooks that makes the Hanwag Banks such a great performer. The first pair of speed hooks, located just above the closed eyelets, are cleverly positioned in close proximity to your ankle, which means that once you pull the laces tight, the level of ankle support provided is unsurpassed in this genre of boot.
The cushioning in the heel is excellent, thanks to the reinforced PU-foam wedge in the heel, which increases cushioning during foot strike, and improves the roll-off as you take your next step.
The Banks strike a good balance between allowing enough flex in the forefoot for comfort during most hiking outings, and providing just enough rigidity across the last to allow for some low-level rock edging and scrambling if required.
The Gore-Tex lining supplies a great level of breathable protection from trail juice. Stream crossings, puddles, bogs and shallow snow will pose no major dramas for you when you’re wearing the Banks.
The Vibram sole offers excellent grip on most terrain (like many Vibram soles, these are excellent on wet and gloopy surfaces, but can be a little slippy on wet smooth rock). The lugs are nowhere near as aggressive as some of the more technical boots we have been testing and have included on our list of the best hiking boots, but they are perfectly sufficient for the vast majority of non-high alpine hiking.
The toecap is, perhaps, a little on the minimalist side. It will protect your pinkies perfectly well from normal stub hazards, but these are not designed for kicking snow steps on high-Alpine trails.
The Banks are made with fine-grade Nubuck leather, and you will need to give them a little love when you return from escapades on the rough stuff. However, they have been built to last for years, with double-stitching, cemented construction and a tough outsole, so although they’re not cheap, you should get your money’s worth here if you apply a small amount of common-sense maintenance - our guide on how to waterproof hiking boots is a great place to start.
The Banks are a really handsome looking boot, which perform well on the trails but look the business when you come down out of the hills and hit the café or pub for a post-adventure brew of choice.
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 (opens in new tab) and Dorset (opens in new tab), and once wrote a whole book about Toilets (opens in new tab) for Lonely Planet. Follow Pat’s escapades here (opens in new tab).
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