Helly Hansen Traverse HellyTech Hiking Shoes review: sturdy and protective meets lightweight and comfortable

With out-of-the-box comfort and loads of protection, these shoes are great for short and long hikes

Helly Hansen Traverse HellyTech Hiking Shoes
(Image: © Future)

Advnture Verdict

These hiking shoes are nearly perfect those seeking the benefits of trail running shoes in the more rugged form of a boot


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    Good ankle, toe and heel protection

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    Out-of-the-box comfort

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    Uses recycled materials


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    Sometimes lose traction on slick surfaces

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    Run a little small

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Helly Hansen Traverse HellyTech Hiking Shoes: first impressions

Recent years have seen the leather hiking boots of yore losing out to the comfort of lightweight trail running shoes on the trail, but many hikers are still seeking the stability and protection of a boot, and this pair of hiking shoes seeks to bridge that divide. 

With the shape of a boot and the materials of a shoe, the Traverse provide the best of both worlds in almost every way. They’re lightweight and require no breaking in before your first use, while the soles and uppers are robust enough to offer good stability and decent protection on rocky trails.


• List price: $200 / £160
• Gender specification: Men’s and women’s sizing available
• Sizes: Men’s 7 - 13 US, 6.5 - 11 UK, Women’s 5.5 - 10, 3.5 - 8 UK
• Weight (per shoe): 400g / 13.4 oz (women’s UK 4)
• Materials: Upper: 100% Polyester (Recycled) - Upper 2: 100% Polyester (Recycled) - Upper 3: 60% Polyurethane 40% Polyester (Recycled) - Lining: 100% Polyester (Recycled) - Lining 2: 58% Polyester (Recycled) 32% Polyurethane 10% Cotton - Insole: 100% EVA - Outsole: 100% Rubber
• Colors: Amethyst, Trooper, Darkest Spruce, Iron Oxide, Black/Red, Evening Blue

They’re fully waterproof for boggy hikes and stream crossings, and while we’ve mostly been testing them out in colder weather, we’ve yet to experience hot or sweaty feet in them so we’re hopeful the breathability holds up through the summer months. They also come in a boot version which comes higher up the ankle for more stability and protection.

Really our only slight gripe is that, on rocky descents that are really slick, we’ve had the odd slip and slide, but the soles provide enough traction for most day hikes. Though they could be overkill for really arid environments and well-maintained trails, they’re almost the perfect go-anywhere do-any-hike shoe.

Helly Hansen Traverse HellyTech Hiking Shoes: in the field 

Julia Clarke wearing the Helly Hansen Traverse HellyTech Hiking Shoes

For my second outing in these, I wore them up Ben Lomond (Image credit: Future)

My Helly Hansen Switchback Trail HT boots are looking well-worn after wearing them non-stop for a year, so I was pleased to get to test out another pair of Helly boots. 

I first tested these hiking shoes on a recent excursion in the Scottish Highlands with members of Arrochar Mountain Rescue. Storm Babet was hitting Scotland that day, bringing lots of moisture, and while the conditions meant we didn’t venture up into high elevations, I still spent the day bushwhacking through rugged terrain as we performed safety drills and carrying a stretcher. Since then, I’ve had them up Ben Lomond, a Scottish Munro, on a freezing day as well as on several other nearby hiking trails.

Here’s how they performed:  

Sizing and fit

I’d say these run slightly on the small side. I’m a UK 3.5 and typically go up to a 4 in hiking boots to give my feet room to swell. I can get away with that in these shoes, but I think going up a full size would be perfect, especially if I want to wear these with thicker socks as winter goes on. That would give my toes plenty of room to spread and my feet to swell, but so far I haven’t had any issues with them.

The fit is really nice and supportive, with great heel lockdown and a secure fit around the midfoot, and the toe box isn’t too narrow (especially if you size up). They come up to just above my ankle bone.

Comfort and temperature regulation

What stands out above all else with these shoes is how comfortable they are straight away. I wore them to Arrochar without breaking them in and had no problems wearing them all day, even though we didn’t walk far. The next time I wore them was up Ben Lomond, which is about 11k roundtrip (6.8 miles) and my feet were perfectly happy. They’re secure without rubbing in the way a good pair of trail runners is, and the sole is really robust without being so stiff as to limit movement.

I’ve mostly worn these in really cold temperatures with medium weight socks, so I can’t speak to how they’d perform on a hot summer’s day, but my feet definitely haven’t gotten cold or sweaty in them. The uppers are more akin to a reinforced running shoe fabric than a really stiff boot upper, so I hope they’ll be reasonably breathable when it warms up, though of course they are waterproof which always limits the breathability factor somewhat.

Helly Hansen Traverse HellyTech Hiking Shoes

They deliver a nice, stable ride (Image credit: Future)

Weatherproofing and protection

I haven’t got to test these out in a downpour, though I’ve had several very boggy walks and avoided wet feet and it was rather rainy when I wore them in Arrochar. However, I’ve performed my Litmus test of standing in a stream wearing them and they are watertight.

There is good reinforcement around the heel and decent reinforcement around the toes, so I’ve had no problems getting stuck into rocky trails in these without worrying about stubbed toes.

Grip and stability

The Max-Grip soles have about 4 mm lugs and they’re pretty good, although I did notice myself sliding a little a few times coming down some steep sections of Ben Lomond. It was a bright but exceptionally cold day so the rock was a bit slick with cold condensation, and while I think these types of conditions would be too much for many shoes, it’s still worth noting that if you’re looking for something for really slick conditions, you might want to try a different shoe.

As for walking, the build delivers just a nice, stable ride where I’m never worried about turning an ankle, and that even went for when I was bushwhacking through overgrown and steep terrain carrying a stretcher.

Durability and value

Even though I’ve compared these to trail running shoes several times, the uppers are well reinforced and these are quite a robust pair of walking shoes that I can imagine holding up to some good mileage.

They’re also pretty versatile across different seasons and have enough protection for longer treks but are light enough for a day hike, so I’d say you get quite a lot for your money here.

Helly Hansen Traverse HellyTech Hiking Shoes: the bottom line

If you’re looking for a robust yet lightweight pair of trail-ready waterproof hiking shoes good for both short and long walks across different seasons, you can be walking comfortably in these on day one, assuming you size up. 

If you need something with just a little more cold weather protection with more aggressive traction, check out the Hanwag Makra Trek GTX.

Julia Clarke

Julia Clarke is a staff writer for Advnture.com and the author of the book Restorative Yoga for Beginners. She loves to explore mountains on foot, bike, skis and belay and then recover on the the yoga mat. Julia graduated with a degree in journalism in 2004 and spent eight years working as a radio presenter in Kansas City, Vermont, Boston and New York City before discovering the joys of the Rocky Mountains. She then detoured west to Colorado and enjoyed 11 years teaching yoga in Vail before returning to her hometown of Glasgow, Scotland in 2020 to focus on family and writing.