Solid – if not super sexy – hiking shoes that will keep you comfortable and full of confidence on a wide range of trails. Available in a special version for walkers with bunions, these are a potential game changer if you have been trekking through the pain up until now.
- Available in a version designed specifically for hikers with bunions
- Excellent materials and workmanship
- Good grip on the sole
- One color only
- Slightly clunky
Hanwag Banks Low Bunion LL: first impressions
The Hanwag Banks Low Bunion LL could be your saviour. The Hanwag Banks hiking boot is a tried-and-tested trail star so far as we’re concerned – we were so impressed with this boot on test that it was announced as the winner of the best Hiking Footwear in our inaugural Advnture Hiking Awards earlier this year.
Now, the German brand have not only introduced a low-cut, hiking-shoe version of the Banks, they have also developed a special version of this footwear for walkers who suffer from hallux valgus – a very common complaint better known as bunions, which are the bane of many hiker’s lives.
The trekking shoe still uses all the top-end materials you would expect in a Banks boot, so the upper is constructed from fine quality nubuck and suede leather. The shoe is fitted with an innovative and well cushioned midsole, featuring a reinforced PU foam wedge with a high-quality footbed and additional heel-to-midfoot reinforcement package. The ‘Endurance Hike’ outsole is made with 10% recycled rubber, and promises good grip.
One of the areas that Hanwag has focused on is the tongue, which they have modified to include a bellows construction, allowing people with wider feet to get the shoes on nice and easily. There is also extra space allowance around the ball of the foot near the base of the big toe, where bunions occur.
Various versions are on offer, including shoes with Gore-Tex or hypo-allergenic chrome-free leather lining, and both men’s and women’s specific styles are available.
• RRP: $210 (US) / £180 (UK) / €200 (EU)
• Materials: Nubuck and suede leather upper; leather lining; ‘Endurance Hike’ outsole (10% recycled rubber)
• Weight (average, per shoe): 440g / 15oz
• Colors: Black
• Compatibility: Three-season hiking on a wide variety of landscapes and terrain types
Hanwag Banks Low Bunion LL: in action
Our test dummy – let’s call him me – is perfectly placed to test these shoes (and the Hanwag bunion socks that compliment them) because he has horrible hooves, complete with bad bunions on both feet.
So, I was looking forward to trail testing the bunion-fit Hanwag Banks Low Bunion LL hiking shoe, and it did not disappoint. For my first outing with them, I did a hiking loop of Lundy Island, which is circled by singletrack trails that vary from easy to very scratchy and quite technical. The island is also famous for its granite rocks, much beloved by trad climbers, and I ended up scrambling around on a few low-level crags and boulders while wearing the Banks.
The arrangement of the lugs on the outsole is intelligent and effective, supplying good grip on all sorts of terrain, including bare rock, but with a well spaced tread pattern that doesn’t accumulate mud when conditions are more gloopy.
The hike itself was 23km (14 miles) in length, and I was out walking for the entire day without taking the shoes off once. Typically my feet – specifically the bits where the bunions are – would be screaming at me by the end of such an outing, but they were quite happy at the end of this adventure.
Having wide feet, it does sometimes take me a little while to get hiking boots/shoes on and off, and the bellow arrangement on the integrated tongue of the Banks Low really helped speed this up. The tongue and heel were also very comfortable, with no hot spots or areas of rubbing.
I’m not going to claim that these are the trendiest looking walking shoe on the market – they are pretty chunky, and the color scheme is a little dour, but over all, I found the Banks Low a really comfortable ride, well fit for purpose and perfect for day hikes. And my feet kept thanking me for wearing them for days afterwards.
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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