Getting hold of the right pair of boots for trekking is essential. Pick some that donât quite fit, make your feet sweat or have the grip of a pair of plimsoles and that that 10-mile yomp home is going to feel significantly longer.
There are loads of factors to consider when choosing the right pair of boots, and understanding the sorts of terrain and weather that youâll most likely be using them in can make your decision much easier.
If you're heading for a full day's hike up a mountain in winter, you're going need a pair of boots that are far more hard-wearing than what youâd take on a two-hour flat walk in the middle of summer.
Fabric vs leather
At one end of the hiking boot spectrum you have light fabric pairs designed for comfort, and at the other, you have thick leather options that will offer more support and protection against the cold. Fabric pairs are better suited to warm and dry conditions, whilst the leather products out there are often built to help you up some of the toughest of snow-covered mountains.
Here we run through our choices for the best options out there at the moment, from light and breathable to full-on winter trek boots.
On average, a good pair of hiking boots built to last will set you back in the region of $120 to $300. Cheaper options are available, but, depending on the level of hiking youâre planning to do, itâs an investment that sits right at the top of the hikers checklist.
Best for heavy-duty hiking and backpacking
Lowa Renegade GTX Mid
The Renegade is a terrific multifunctional boot thatâs suitable for pretty much any kind of walking, trekking or climbing you want to do, but it truly excels on less technical trails, and those who do spent most of their scrambling up peaks might be more at-home in a dedicated climbing boot.
At just over a kilo the Renegade is also light enough to use for day walks, or even strolls around town in inclement weather, especially as the simple style of the boot fits in as well on the high street as it does the trails. Thereâs also no breaking in period required with the boot, which is comfortable to wear straight out to the box.
Weight: 2.44lbs / 1.11kg
Scarpa R-Evo GTX
Aside from the fact that the R-Evo GTX is a really nice-looking modern shoe, the major plus point here comes from a design that focuses heavily on the technical aspects of hikes. Essentially that comes down to the fact that everything from the high level of ankle support to a very impressive amount of technical traction delivers a boot that's not far off mountaineering levels.
As well as great durability and effective Gore-Tex waterproofing goes, the boot will keep your foot firmly held in place over technical terrain. However, there is a trade-off and if you're looking for something that's comfortable and breathable over less demanding terrain, the R-Evo GTX is probably going to be overkill. One negative feature to note is that it also has very thin laces that can be tricky to use.
Weight: 2.9lbs / 1.3kg
Danner Mountain 600
When it comes to boots that tick all the boxes, from daily wear to serious hiking, Danner is the brand to beat. The Mountain 600 manages to combine the functional requirements needed on tough terrain with a design that mixes a classic hiking look with modern stylings.
The distinctive full-grain leather upper offers support without stiffness, plus 100% waterproofing as well as an impressive grip via the Vibram outsole. Add to that the fact that theyâre also one of the comfiest pair of boots weâve tried â without any need to wear them in â and youâre looking at a formidable option for anyone looking to invest in a great pair of boots thatâll do the job in most scenarios. Theyâre not designed for technical mountaineering though, so donât expect them to do everything.
Weight: 2.4lbs / 1.1kg
Note: Look at getting a half size down as the Danner range tends to run slightly larger.
HOKA ONE ONE Sky Kaha
HOKA ONE ONEâs hiking range has taken everything the company knows about running shoes, from the comfort and cushioning to the outside-of-the-box modern design, and created an impressive range of boots that cover a wide audience of hikers.
The Sky Kaha is by far our favourite part of the collection. Sturdy, hardwearing boots that can tackle the toughest terrain while still feeling like youâre wearing something a lot lighter. Aesthetically, the Sky Kaha is, like most of HOKA ONE ONEâs products, a modern (chunky) take on a concept, with the thick outsole an acquired taste for some people.
The Vibram Megagrip traction on the outsole is extremely effective on wet slippy surfaces and the soft eVent bootie keeps your feet secure and dry whilst still feeling light and airy. A smart, innovative piece of kit which has managed to make an item of high-level technical gear look remarkably modern and stylish.
Weight: 2.2lbs / 1.0kg
Salomon Quest 4D 3 GTX hiking boots
If youâre looking for a pair of boots thatâll keep safe and dry in the toughest conditions, the Quest 4D 3s are our top choice by a long way. Perfect for long hikes carrying heavy loads and, thanks to a fancy new lug design, technical scrambles on wet surfaces.
Salomon has managed to create a boot that combines a really tight level of support with a chassis that allows for a surprising amount of flexibility in the forefoot. The result is a product which moves like a mountaineering boot but actually feels like a more general walking boot over a longer distance.
Other nice features include impressively effective Gore-Tex waterproof sealing, artificially treated antibacterial footbeds and a very smooth lacing system that probably helps to explain the supportive feel of the boot.
Weight: 2.8lbs / 1.28kg
Keen Karraig hiking boots
To be honest, thereâs not one major standout element from the Karraig, but that really isnât a bad thing. Where some boots excel in one area, the Karraig is just a strong player across the board. The waterproof leather outsole comes up nice and high on the leg which, twinned with the interestingly effective lace locking âeyeletsâ, makes for a sturdy fitting shoe that doesnât feel noticeably tight. Theyâve also managed to design a shoe that looks aesthetically pleasing whilst still giving the appearance that you could happily wander over all manner of painful objects.
The deep lugs on the rubber outsole make the Karraig a great option for wet and muddy trails whilst the breathable mesh, twinned with a slightly generous shape, make them one of the best options for people with wider feet. They're also made with a handy probiotic technology that naturally breaks down sweaty odours â one that aims to be safe for the environment too, so no heavy metals or hazardous chemicals.
Weight: 3.1lbs / 1.4kg
Mammut Trovat Guide II High GTX
The Trovat Guide II are the closest youâre going to get to full-on mountaineering boots whilst still retaining a level of comfort that you need for long-distance hiking. That said, they fit firmly at the technical end of the spectrum, so what you gain from grip, waterproofing and hard-wearing materials, you lose in comfort.
If youâre looking for multi-day hikes over nice comfortable trails, then there are far better options in the list. If, however, you want a pair of boots to cover you for a tricky series of technical day hikes, theyâre a great investment for your boot cupboard.
As looks go, the design fits firmly in the classic style of older hiking boots, although there have been some subtle updates to modernise them. However, from a functional aspect, thereâs a lot the Trovat Guide II have to be proud of: double heel straps and special cushioned foam to help prevent blistering, a three-zone lacing system for a secure feel and a level of waterproofing that is one of the best weâve seen.
Theyâre also strap-on crampon compatible, which is a major bonus for any serious hikers out there who often hit colder routes.
Weight: 3.5lbs / 1.6kg
Best for lighter trails
Merrell Men's Ontario Mid Waterproof
Much like the Danner Moutain 600s, the Ontarios are an all-rounder shoe that bridge the gap between mid-level hikes and smart modern design. As looks go, theyâre a long way from the older, bulkier styles of boot out there and their weight in comparison to how sturdy and functional they are is extremely impressive.
Incorporated into the deceptively streamlined design are a lot of clever technical features. The M Select impermeable membrane, twinned with the full-grain leather upper, will keep your feet dry in the toughest of conditions, whilst the inner lining has antibacterial micro-agents to stop odours from developing.
The Vibram Megagrip outsole is also true to its word, offering a reliable grip on the trickiest wet and dry surfaces. All packed into a boot thatâs surprisingly stable and supportive considering how lightweight it is. For those with a heavy focus on the style of the shoe, they also come in a range of colorways.
Weight: 2.1lbs / 0.9kg
HOKA ONE ONE Sky Toa
As hiking boots go, the Sky Toa packs an awful lot into a minimally designed piece of footwear. The majority of the marketing surrounding the Sky Toa is focused towards the idea of speed hiking, a concept tailored towards those hikers that want a balance between light kit and those features that hikers want in an effective boot.
In reality, the Sky Toa fits into a world between hiking boots and hiking shoes, offering more support than the latter but taking a hit on being super light as a result. Thatâs not a bad thing though, as the result is a boot thatâs sturdy enough for the cold and wet of the mountains but offers the wearer the freedom to move a lot faster than they would do in a significantly more technical boot.
Weight: 1.9lbs / 0.8kg
Arcâteryx Bora2 Mid GTX Hiking Boot
As you'd probably expect from Arcâteryx, the Bora2 is by far the most creative and distinctive design we've seen for a while. The most important feature of this mid to light hiking boot is the inclusion of a clever removable liner that can be swapped out depending on the weather or terrain you're planning on tackling. The other benefit of this, and it's a big one for anyone who wears their boots a lot, is that you can wash it separately from the boot itself.
As well as being one of the lighter shoes on the list, the inventive design offers a sort of gator effect with the waterproof liner securely covering the whole foot and leg from water. The outer is an extremely hardwearing piece of kit designed to deal with scuffs and scrapes on the outside, while the Vibram sole offers an impressive level of technical handling across tough terrain.
Ingenuity doesn't come without a price, however, and the Bora2 is an expensive bit of kit. The build and replaceable inner do make it a long-lasting and durable investment if you're willing to spend the money though.
Weight: 2.4lbs / 1.1kg
On Cloudrock Waterproof
When it comes to running shoes there aren't many brands that have continued to release as many exciting and innovative new products as On. In 2019 that creativity saw the company take things a step further as it launched its first product for hikers an walkers; the Cloudrock Waterproof.
As you'd expect from On, the boot is a beautifully designed piece of kit â both aesthetically and functionally â taking a heap of tried and tested features from the running shoe range and developing them into a lightweight product made for speed-hiking on tough terrain.
As well as an impressive waterproof membrane that'll cover you for the wettest of hikes, the design incorporates On's Missiongrip rubber outsole, a soft-terrain feature used in the popular Cloudventure trail range. That, combined with a very comfortable fit, makes the Cloudrock one of the best options for day and weekend hikes across muddy and wet ground. We've used them for a number of long-distance walks across the UK countryside and have been consistently impressed with the comfort and the protection.
We have, however, found that the lugs aren't particularly good when walking across slippery, rocky surfaces, so if you're looking for a boot that'll handle more technical routes, they aren't the best option on the list.
Weight: 2lbs / 0.9kg
Best for day walking
Adidas Terrex Free Hiker
The Free Hikers are probably the lightest hiking boots weâve ever come across. Not only do they incorporate the same boost technology that makes their running shoes so popular but they also utilise primeknit uppers, like those seen in the Ultraboost range. The result is a ridiculously comfortable and flexible boot which feels like youâre wearing a trainer.
If youâre looking for a hardwearing boot thatâll take a few hits whilst handling the cold and wet, then the Free Hiker isnât going to cut it. If, however, you want a stylish spring/summer boot thatâll feel ventilated and bouncy whether youâre sightseeing around a city or spending the day walking the trails, the Free Hiker is an impressive piece of footwear. The Continental rubber outsole offers a surprising level of grip and even though the water repellent outer wonât save you from a Snowdonian bog, itâll keep you dry from a rain shower or two.
Weight: 1.9lbs / 0.8kg
Mountain Warehouse Boulder Winter Trekker Boots
The main feature of this boot, aside from the affordable price, is the fact it's specially designed to keep your feet warm in the coldest conditions thanks to the IsoTherm layer. Not only that but it's also waterproof, so if you're planning on taking a long walk in snowy or icy conditions you'll be warm and dry.
As well as offering a durable, long-lasting build it's also one of the comfiest fits you're likely to find, backed up by hundreds of reviews made by customers, making it a perfect option for those who plan to spend a long day out in the cold.
If you're planning on heading up on rockier climbs, however, there are far better options on the list as the rubber outsole grip â although thick and sturdy â lacks the grip of a technically designed boot.
Regatta Bainsford Hiking Boot
There arenât many brands out there that offer a cost-effective option for hikers whilst still retaining the necessary technical requirements of great kit. Regatta is by far one of the best with a range of reliable kit that comes in significantly cheaper than most of the big-name manufacturers.
The Bainsford boot is a surprisingly comfortable option, even on some of the tougher hikes you might come across. The waterproof upper does a great job in wet conditions and the light rubber outsole is effective on most terrains youâll come across.
As far as looks go, thatâs where the majority of the cost-saving goes, so if you want a modern-looking design then you wonât be in luck here. If however, you have an absolute budget limit but you want a boot thatâll cover you for mountains hikes and wet conditions itâs a great option.
Weight: 2.4lbs / 1.1kg
Decathlon Quencha MH500 Mid
If price is your absolute top priority, then you could do a lot worse than some of the Quencha range. They may not be the best looking boots on the market and they wonât stand up to some of the other products in the list in terms of technical specifications, but theyâll do the job when you need it.
The Quencha MH500 is our pick of the bunch when it comes to day and multi-day hikes. A comfortable fit that has a well-built outsole for grip on most surfaces and nice level of cushioning for longer hikes. As far as waterproofing goes, theyâll cover you for the odd bit of rain or the occasional puddle, but donât expect to get home with dry feet if youâre travelling through bogs or in a heavy downfall â for that, you'll need to invest in some gators.
Weight: 1.7lbs / 0.8kg