13 best men’s hiking boots and shoes to get you through the toughest of walks
Whether you're doing the Three Peaks Challenge or are just a weekend rambler, you won't regret investing in sturdy and supportive footwear that can last a lifetime
The hiking boot; a must have for anyone even remotely outdoor orientated. Admittedly, they’re unlikely to be used on a daily basis – perhaps even just a handful of times per year – but for any kind of inclement weather, that impromptu afternoon walk in the countryside, or a full on hiking holiday in the mountains, you’ll be cursing yourself for not having a decent pair when the occasion does arise.
Hiking boots have come on a very long way – remove thoughts of an unwieldy weight on your foot – and we now see options from what is essentially a lightweight hybrid trainer right through to those offering full support with a bucket-load of spec while still reasonably light.
Nearly all hiking boots will be waterproof – Gore-Tex being the most popular and highly regarded – and be equipped with a sturdy and grippy sole – Vibram considered the best in this instance.
The vast majority of boots will be made of leather; either nubuck (the outside of the leather is sanded); suede (a more velvety like finish but less durable – this is when the inside part of the leather is sanded and used as the exterior), or just a treated leather finish. They will also come in different weights: lightweight – below 500g which are good for either day or speed hikes; mid-weight – 500g-700g that are best suited to more arduous terrain; heavyweight – 700g+ which are for rough terrain and long multi-day hikes and will be very supportive.
Before you invest in a pair, consider when you’re most likely to be wearing them, as British weather is never that reliable. Three-season boots are the most versatile and useful footwear for walking in the UK, pretty much serving you year round. While two-season boots are good in spring and especially the British summer, when the terrain is firm, low-level and not too steep.
Hiking shoes are a great alternative to the boot, and well worth considering. They’re lighter, cheaper, easier to take on and off, afford a more natural walking style and are more compatible with normal life too (if it’s a wet morning walk into work for example).
So for some occasions – less treacherous terrain / day hikes – they’ll be a great option.
We’ve selected the best two to three season boots, and divided them into three categories to help you home in on those that will be right for you and what you need them for.
Salewa mountain trainer mid Gore-Tex, midweight: £195, Salewa
Material: Robust suede leather and fabric
Colours available: grey and black
Sizes available: 6-13
A real premium choice, this not only looks the part but they’re robust, very well built and comfortable and is an overall fantastic boot. Unlike some, it fits very neatly with a more elegant outline, so it’s nice they don’t feel cumbersome when placing your step. At 670g they’re a little heavier but they somehow don’t feel it. The upper is constructed of a great looking, Gore-Tex lined, 1.6mm thick suede which affords great breathability, and there is great support round the back of the ankle, and the rubber-reinforced toe cap is really strong – even when you press hard with your thumb it doesn’t buckle. They come quite high up on your ankle so offer great support, making them an ideal if carrying a pack or just on long hikes or uneven terrain. With aggressive and generous lugs and Vibram soles, you’re very sure underfoot. A more expensive option, but so well worth it and you won’t regret this investment.
Hoka One One sky arkali: £170, Hoka One One
Material: Hoka’s MATRYX technology – a mix of fabric and Kevlar strands
Colours available: black / reflective or black / cyan / citrus
Sizes available: 6.5-13.5
Hoka – a well established favourite in the running community – has put its knowledge and technology into a lineup of three brand new hiking boots, and of these the eye-catching sky arkali is their most running-meets-hiking shoe. At 432g it’s not quite trainer light, but it really does bring that springy feel into the hiking category and great grip underfoot with Vibram soles, plus 5mm multi directional lugs. The upper has adjustable Velcro heel and ankle straps providing a lighter touch ankle support and – rather handily – keeping trail rubble out of the shoe, as well as a tough rubber toe cap for durability and protection. Although, note it is not waterproof. This is a great option for those more into their speed hiking, or looking for something more lightweight in the summer season.
Salomon outline mid GTX: £130, Salomon
Material: synthetic textile
Colours available: yellow, blue, green / black
Sizes available: 6.5-12.5
As the second lightest boot in this lineup at 415g, it’s certainly on the minimal end of the hiking boot scale offering a more pimped-up trainer feel – it is actually shaped on a narrower snug-fitting running shoe too to accentuate this less bulky feel. They are really comfortable from the moment you put them on. Equipped with decent 5mm lugs (deep indentations in the sole) and grippy outsole combined with Gore-Tex lined waterproof upper, so you’ll be set in muddy, steep and wet conditions. A great option for the summer months and great all-rounder for general use when spending extended periods on your feet.
Anatom V1 Glenmore men’s ultralight shoe: £100, Anatom
Waterproofing: Nikwax treated
Material: Ballistic polyester and true suede
Colours available: black / red
Sizes available: 7.5-12
A brand new model for 2019, this Scottish footwear brand has created a top-class hiking shoe. Pretty light at just 420g, they’re really comfortable from the moment you put them on, with a subtle design that’s not too chunky, yet still very sturdy with Vibram outsoles, so you’re firmly planted with each step. The brand doesn’t use Gore-Tex because it’s not from a sustainable source – a nice touch often overlooked by the consumer – however they do have a triple layer outer, finished with quality suede, and treated with Nikwax, so they’re fully waterproof. A very capable hiking shoe that’s also great for everyday outdoor type use.
Merrell Ontario mid-waterproof: £140, Blacks
Waterproofing: M select dry membranes
Material: Full-grain leather
Colours available: olive, dark earth, brown sugar
Sizes available: 7-12
Complete with its red laces, this fuses that classic hiking boot look with an adequate level of hiking capability yet everyday practicality. Granted, it’s not a full-on hiking boot – it has smaller 3mm lugs and offers a more modest support to foot and ankle – but it’s perfectly sufficient for more occasional hikes and is made from premium materials. The upper is full grain leather, waterproof and breathable, and the midsole offers a ride more akin to a trainer and outsole is Vibram – they’re very capable yet unobtrusive and really really comfortable. A stylish boot that will transition into everyday life seamlessly and on a cushion of air.
Adidas terrex freehike shoe: £169.95, Adidas
Material: Primeknit textile upper with abrasion-resistant weldings
Colours available: core black / grey six / active orange, sesame / carbon / real magenta, core black / grey six / night cargo
Sizes available: 6.5-14.5
Adidas have produced a super lightweight option here. Equipped with its famed Boost midsole, they offer a very responsive and energised ride in a really comfortable package – something not too often associated with a hiking boot. Fitted with a Continental outsole for great grip, the lugs are certainly more akin to a trainer than a boot, but in dry summery conditions they would be adequate. The upper has an elasticated sock like construction which makes it really breathable – offering just mild support – also doubling up to keep loose scree or small gravel from coming into the shoe. Certainly an eye catching design too, they’ll be good around town too and perfect for those drier summer day hikes.
AKU trekker lite III GTX: £169.90, AKU
Material: Suede and welded PU rand
Colours available: olive grey, grey red, black
Sizes available: 5.5-13
A great looking brand new boot – now in its third iteration – and, for all the features it boasts, pretty lightweight at 570g. The upper is made from a real quality feeling suede allowing for great breathability, and combined with premium Gore-Tex lining it’s a perfect combination for a summer and hot-climate hiking boot. The ankle height gives a good level of re-assurance without hindering, and your foot feels firm and well supported by the boot, but not restricted, and the toe cap is absolutely solid. Despite this they’re still flexible and offer great comfort. The outsole is Vibram and with perfect lug depth and sturdiness around the sole to feel well planted on the trails. What’s more they’re a fairly sensible price for what they offer too.
Meindl tonale GoreTex walking boots: £168, Cotswold outdoor
Material: Suede and mesh
Colours available: Anthracite/ lemon
Sizes available: 7-12
This German specialist footwear brand make top class boots, and the Tonale is a fantastic lightweight option at 530g, offering a perfect summer hiker. With a nice bit of extra width in the toe area – but not too much – combined with the double-density, shock-absorbing sole they’re really comfy. Equipped with Vibram for good grip with nice – yet not too aggressive – lugs, they’re sure underfoot and with a generous rand, the extra layer of rubber placed over the suede on the front and sides. Another nice touch is a hook placed on the tongue which the lace locks onto, ensuring it stays in place.
Hanwag banks II GTX boot: £173, Hanwag
Material: Nubuck leather and cordura
Colours available: brown
Sizes available: 8.5-12.5
This is a great all-rounder – at 510g it’s really nicely weighted despite a high-ankle support, cushioning and all round robustness, so you won’t be feeling cumbersome in these. The upper is constructed from a combination of Nubuck and the more durable Cordura, helping achieve its lightweight yet robust performance and with Gore-Tex lining ensures good waterproofness and, of course, breathability. The Vibram outsole with sufficient lugs give good grip, it has a pretty generous toe bumper and what’s more they can be resoled too, ticking the increasingly important eco box.
Scarpa ZG pro GTX: £220, Scarpa
Material: Nubuck leather
Colours available: coffee/ rust
Sizes available: 7-12
A high cut more traditional style of walking boot made from 1.8mm thick nubuck leather; this is a full-spec, hill-and-mountain walking boot. It’s no surprise then they weigh a little more – but still respectable – at 640g. You will, however, be benefiting from full support and a heavily cushioned and durable boot that’s ideal for long days or multiple days on the trail, or carrying a pack. They feel very supportive around the ankle and robust on the toe cap. Albeit, they’re not the cheapest option, these will provide years of service.
La Sportiva trango TRK GTX mountaineering: £190, La Sportiva
Material: Abrasion resistant synthetic fabric and Thermo Tech TPU
Colours available: blue / carbon, carbon / sulphur, yellow / black
Sizes available: 6-13
La Sportiva only turn out best-in-class gear, and these boots certainly follow in this vein. Fitting firmly within the hiking category – rather more full mountaineering like the name might suggest – this boot is really comfortable while still offering a nice level of support and protection all round, and still at just 600g. The upper is nicely soft and flexible in the front section, albeit still with reinforcement on the grippy toe cap (good for scrambling too) and full support around the heel and back of the ankle. The upper is lined with a premium Gore-Tex and made of an abrasion resistant fabric and Thermo Tech TPU, known for its strength and flexibility. A great all-rounder, they’re super easy to put on and off so you could slip them on for a quick stroll, or you’d be set for multi-day tours in harsh weather and conditions too. The ankle has good support albeit it support to a super high degree, so perhaps bear in mind if you’re going to be carrying a heavy pack.
Mammut Ducan knit high GTX: £229, Mammut
Material: 3D Knitted Textile Synthetic fabric
Colours available: dark olive / black, black / titanium
Sizes available: 6.5-13
From Mammut’s new Ducan line of footwear, this 540g innovative boot has a more unusual design with a knitted Gore-Tex upper, making the fit more reminiscent to a sock, with then a durable hard mesh laid over the top providing those protection and support elements. The sock grips very well around the ankle so ideal if you’re likely to be tackling loose scree, pebbles or sand. Integrated within the Vibram sole itself is Mammut’s proprietary spring-steel plate technology, which would come into its own on longer day or multi-day hikes as it offers good stabilisation. Albeit they’re not the cheapest, they’re cutting edge and ideal for summer hikes in the mountains.
Berghaus hillmaster II Gore-Tex boots: £165, Berghaus
Material: Full grain leather
Colours available: brown
Sizes available: 7-14
When activewear brand Brasher launched the hillmaster some 35 years ago, it built a devoted following quickly becoming Britain’s bestselling walking boot – which it still is – setting the standard for modern hiking boots as we know them. After merging with Berghaus, the hillmaster II GTX was released in 2012 flaunting a number of improvements to bring it totally up to date. It’s made from full grain, two-tone, leather with virtually no stitching which not only looks great, but extends the lifespan of the boot. Exceedingly comfortable, with memory foam in the collar and tongue of the boot, and the Vibram outsole offers fantastic grip, combined with the generous midsole for good cushioning. The hillmaster II takes very little time to break in, providing comfort and support from the first hike, and Gore-Tex lining ensures 100 per cent waterproofing and breathability. It is on the heavier side of boot at 708g and perhaps a little hot for summer months, but this is to be expected given its durability and support.
The verdict: Men’s hiking boots and shoes
If you’re on a bit more of a budget, but still looking for a strong all-rounder for summer hiking, the Hanwags banks II GTX boot are a great option. The AKU trekker lite III GTX comes in a very close second – very lightweight for what they are, super comfortable and no doubt a strong trail companion.
However when all is considered, the Salewa mountain trainer mid GTX are exceptional boots. A really full specification, they’re super comfortable right out of the box and encapsulate everything you could want in a summer hiking boot.
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