This is an old-school clash of the titans, two big-hitter brands come together with two long-running favourite boots. History might be on their side, but what of the future?
In the blue corner, the Hanwag Banks SF Extra GTX, and in the red, the Berghaus Hillwalker Trek. Both light-to-midweight all-rounders, ideal for most three season hiking situations, both available now. For a wider range of the best hiking boots available, check out our full buying guide.
Berghaus Hillwalker Trek vs Hanwag Banks: Design and features
The imposing Hanwag Banks SF Extra GTX is hard to miss by any measure – in all-black suede it looks rugged, the ‘extra' referring to additional width across the forefoot. Devotees of Hanwag will recognize the general shape and stance of the boot – the ‘Banks' platform has been reinvented many times to serve slightly different purposes. However, that's far from a negative – it's a tried and tested, gently iterated offering that has had all the sharp edges bevelled away over the years.
Features-wise, there's good, high ankle support, Gore-Tex liner and a Vibram Endurance Pro sole unit, and a total weight just over 600g per boot – not lightweight, but far from a full winter mountain boot. Partly this is down to the ankle area being fabric, as opposed to the rest of the boot's suede leather, but mostly just down to lightweight construction overall.
Meanwhile, the Berghaus Hillwalker Trek has a noticeably lower ankle than the Hanwag, and the upper is mainly fabric with the odd outbreak of suede, rather than the other way around. Toe area and heel are both armoured with suede, while the midfoot has a decent size rubber rand protecting the fabric. An internal Gore-Tex membrane is included, of course, and the ‘opti-stud' sole is surprisingly aggressive.
Design and features winner: The Berghaus Hillwalker Trek is lightweight, robust and highly breathable, while the Hanwag Banks SF Extra GTX is even more beefy in both stature and weight. For casual rambling, the Berghaus Hillwalker Trek is an excellent choice.
Berghaus Hillwalker Trek vs Hanwag Banks: Comfort and performance
Hanwag Banks SF Extra GTX is all about comfort, even more so for those of wider foot, so there's few surprises to be had from the fact that they are very comfortable indeed. The well-padded ankle and high lacing allow a really solid fit, the materials are flexible and supple right out of the box, and a medium-stiffness sole unit means you can get up and go with minimal fuss. There's little heel lift to complain about thanks to those materials too – as the suede is confined to the lower foot area there's loads of flex around the ankle to enjoy.
The Berghaus Hillwalker Trek has no such challenges, as the low/mid cut ankle provides trainer-like flexibility with a touch of support. Due to the fabric build there's again nothing to ‘break in' here, and a similarly flexible sole unit to the Hanwag gives plenty of movement. The lightweight lacing system (fabric tabs and two hooks) is perfectly serviceable, but nothing overly exciting. The ortholite footbeds are a nice touch though, soaking up minor imperfections and impacts with ease. The Gore-Tex Extended Comfort membrane combined with the fabric upper does seem to breathe well, especially on faster treks.
Comfort and performance winner: The Hanwag Banks SF Extra GTX just about edges a win here, mostly due to the epic comfort levels and businesslike performance. The Berghaus Hillwalker Trek isn't a bad boot, just designed with lightness as a priority rather than outright robustness.
Berghaus Hillwalker Trek vs Hanwag Banks: Price and verdict
The Berghaus Hillwalker Trek is priced at a very reasonable £120, while the Hanwag Banks SF Extra GTX comes in at around the £210 mark. Here's the rub though – compared side by side you can see where that extra cash has gone, making the premium choice a much easier nod to make. That said, both boots are squarely targeted at the causal rambler, enjoyer of footpaths and trails rather than venturing off into the wild open. Either boot will fill that role perfectly, so if you're seeking a boot for the odd wander choosing the cheaper option makes lots of sense, while the bigger, heavier and long-lived Hanwag won't get the use to justify that price hike.
However, if you're looking for the absolute best boot from these two, it has to go to the Hanwag Banks SF Extra GTX – an awful lot of boot for the wedge, and one that'll keep knocking out the miles on your behalf for many years to come…