Best walking shoes 2018: dominate walking, hiking, yomping and peak-bagging

T3 treads all over the best hiking boots and shoes

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Walking is a great pastime, but not if your feet are frozen, your ankle's broken, and you have blisters. Then it becomes a bit of a chore. But with the best walking boots and shoes, you can iron out the rocky path ahead, stay upright in mud and snow, and cut a dash in hiking boots that are also striking boots.

How to buy the best walking shoes and hiking boots

The perfect walking shoe or boot should be luxuriously comfortable, unstintingly waterproof, heroically breathable, tank-like in its ruggedness, with grip like Spider-Man's socks. 

It also needs to as light as possible, so your calves aren't working overtime, yet without compromising stability and protection. 

As with most outdoor clobber, the perfectionist's dream isn't yet a reality – compromises have to be made somewhere. But we're getting ever closer.

Shoes are an item worth buying from a shop (remember them?) as a bad fit could cause you grief on the hills. Ask an assistant for advice on fitting. Anything that feels even slightly tight is too small, as feet expand during a long walk. That's why it's better to go shopping in the afternoon of a warm day, when your feet have already expanded.

Treat your boots well – clean off muck and re-waterproof them sometimes – and they'll repay the favour. 

Chuck them, still dirty, in the bottom of the cupboard and they'll wreak their revenge on you. Consider yourself warned.

What are the best walking shoes and boots?

We are rather partial to Salomon's trekking footwear, and it scoops both titles. The best walking boot is Salomon Quest 4D 3 GTX for both men and women. Its epic mix of comfort, reassuring protection and even a little bit of style make it worth it's slightly more 'affordable premium' price.

Best walking shoe? That'll be the Salomon Evasion GTX, for much the same reasons. The slightly more affordable Salomon Quest Prime GTX fills out the top 3, so it's fair to say we like Salomon.

How we picked the best

Our man Damian is an outdoor journalist who's happiest when running or walking long distances in lumpy places. His next book, the self-explanatorily-titled Long Distance Walking in Britain is out now.

He chose the best of the best, based on his experience in the fields of walking, yomping and peak-bagging. 

Walking shoes and boots vary considerably, as do the needs of their wearers, so we've gone for a decent spread of options, but most of the boots we've chosen are suitable for walking in most UK conditions, whether backbacking or just walking, on hill or flat, fair weather or foul. A few are more specifically built for speed, in less arduous conditions, although we also have a separate buying guide for proper trail running shoes. 

Now, trot on…

The best walking shoes and boots, in order

1. Salomon Quest 4D 3 GTX

Freshly updated version of the Land Rover Discovery of walking boots

Upper Material: Nubuck Leather & Synthetic
Sole Type: ContraGrip
Waterproof Technology: Gore-tex
Height: High Boot Cut
Weight: 1280g
Reasons to buy
+Lightweight+Good traction

France's Salomon is the Land Rover of premium quality yomping footwear, and the high-cut Quest 4D GTX has a fantastic set of features, making them ideal for backpackers and walkers of all kinds. 

What you get with the 3rd incarnation of the Gore-tex version of the Quest 4D is superb ankle support and gravity-defying traction, with a ContraGrip rubber sole that laughs in the face of mud and snow. 

The outer is sturdy as hell, though breathable, but the Quest 4D GTX is also surprisingly comfortable, thanks to a range of tricks gleaned from the best modern sneakers. Though designed specifically for weight-carrying backpackers, the Quest 4D 3 GTX is a cracking all-round shoe.

2. Salomon Quest Prime GTX

Best lightweight walking boot

Reasons to buy
+Delicious comfort+Reassuring protection+Some style

As noted above, French brand Salomon is the King of Outdoor Clobber. 

It has a reputation for combining cutting edge tech with irresistible desirability and newsworthy new releases. It’s also known for impressively lightweight kit and the new Salomon Quest Prime GTX continues all those trends. 

At just 570g, this athletic backpacking boot, built-for-multi-day walking, is one of the lightest around. Made from waterproof split-suede, Gore-tex and leather, Salomon's Sensifit system and bonus cushioning in all the right places helps make the Quest Prime GTX deliciously comfortable. Rubber toe caps add protection for, obviously, your toes.

3. Salomon Evasion GTX

Best walking shoe

Best for: Comfort
Material: Suede Leather
Waterproof: Gore-Tex
Reasons to buy
+Incredible comfort+Far more rugged than it looks

If you often go on hikes, then the Salomon Evasion GTX is one of the best men’s walking shoes for uneven terrain. They feature Gore-Tex Technology, foam heels and gusseted tongue which makes them ideal for walking over rocks or in harsh conditions. They are resistant to debris so they won’t get ruined after one walk and they will keep your feet warm and dry. These walking shoes make our number one spot as the next best thing to hiking boots, with the added benefit that they can be worn daily with comfort and no rubbing.  

4. Lowa Renegade GTX Mid Boot

Best leather walking boot for hiking

Upper Material: Nubuck Leather
Sole Type: Vibram
Waterproof Technology: Gore-Tex
Height: Mid Boot Cut
Weight: 1110g
Reasons to buy
+Ridiculously comfy+Waterproof
Reasons to avoid
-Not so good on rocky terrain

If you’re going on a long walk, comfort is, of course, a big concern. The Salomon boots and shoes above are hardly uncomfortable of course, but the Lowa Renegade GTX Mid Boot really pushes the boat out when it comes to keeping you hygge

The boot is incredibly soft with plenty of movement in the toes, but the leather outer is both striking in appearance and long-lasting in nature, but doesn’t take too long to break in

Although it's not ideal for rough and rocky terrain, the Renegade GTX is a great choice for clocking up miles across hills and dales.  

5. Keen Galleo Mid Boot

A great walking boot for more mountainous terrain

Best for: Rough Hill Walking
Upper Material: Nubuck Leather
Sole Type: Dual Compound Rubber
Waterproof Technology: Keen Dry
Height: Mid Boot Cut
Weight: 629g
Reasons to buy
+Lightweight+Cushion protection
Reasons to avoid
-Come up small 

If you are a keen hill climber, then the Keen Galleo (figaro, magnifico!), will serve you well. Its PU heel cushion and EVA foam foot bed make them good for comfort and shock-absorbing when going uphill; and the rubber toe protects the feet when walking downhill. 

If some of the classic Gore-Tex and Vibram soled boots are slightly out of your price range, this could be the best men’s hiking boot alternative for you, as the sole and waterproofing technologies are designed in-house by Keen, helping to shave a few quid off the price.  

6. AKU Alterra GTX

Best boot for more extreme conditions

Upper Material: Suede and Fabric
Sole Type: Vibram
Waterproof Technology: Gore-Tex
Height: High Boot Cut
Weight: 1340g
Reasons to buy
+Snug fit+Lashings of lovely tech
Reasons to avoid
-May be overkill for most 'average' walkers

AKU's much-vaunted new Elica Natural Stride System comes in a new Alterra GTX boot and helps to disperse the pressure on your feet as you hike, so you don’t get achy points – such as heels and the balls of your feet – meaning you can walk in comfort for longer. 

An insole board and tread faithfully follow the anatomical shape of the sole of the foot and adapt to it for a natural heel and forefoot inclination, reducing impact and strain. 

The boot is designed for longer treks on more demanding terrain and a sock fit only adds to the comfort levels. These are also super rugged.

7. Salomon X Ultra 2 GTX

Best lightweight walking shoe

Reasons to buy
+Incredibly light
Reasons to avoid
-May be too much like a running shoe for some

The newly updated Salomon X Ultra 2 GTX is sleek and athletic shoe, with superlative comfort and good protection with a reinforced heel and foot, and dependable grip for moderate to technical terrain. 

The material is abrasion resistant with excellent breathability to help prevent pongy feet, and quick drying. 

Put these classy shoes on and you'll simply want to go eat some hills for breakfast, and thanks to Salomon’s unique Quicklace system, they should literally never come undone – now THAT is a feature. 

8. AKU Bellamont FG GTX

Best walking shoe that also works 'in town'

Reasons to buy
+Very stylish (by walking shoe standards)+Reliable grip and comfort
Reasons to avoid
-Ankle support is lacking

AKU's new Bellamont FG GTX are a lightweight option that'll have you happily gallivanting over mixed terrain but are equally comfortable when you're settling down in the beer garden afterwards.

Reliable grip comes courtesy of a Vibram ECO STEP rubber, while full grain leather means comfort and durability, and a Gore-Tex liner adds extra waterproofing. 

The more conscientious will be pleased to know the double-density die-cut EVA midsole is made from recycled materials.

This avant-garde trainer-shoe-boot hybrid is perfect for pub walks or days split over rural and urban activities.

9. Merrell Capra Leather boots

Tackle tricky terrain with this rugged yet comfortable entry

Reasons to buy
+Great shock absorption+Stylish
Reasons to avoid
-A bit bulky 

With the Capra, Merrell may just have designed the most comfortable but rugged shoe yet.

Aimed at fastpacker types but actually a very versatile shoe, it boasts a UniFly air cushion in the heel that absorbs shock and keeps you stable.

Vibram MegaGrip keeps your feet on the ground, while a hoof-inspired (rather than inspired on the hoof) split-toe outsole helps you deal dextrously with steep and uneven terrain, and a leather Gore-Tex upper does everything you'd expect of it. 

They just look damn fine, and are suitable for scrambling and even trail running, especially in the low-cut option that's also available.

10. The North Face Men’s Verbera Backpacker GTX

A cheaper alternative for extreme hikers and backpackers that need stability

Best for: Mountains
Upper Material: Nubuck Leather
Sole Type: Vibram
Waterproof Technology: Gore-Tex
Height: Mid Boot Cut
Weight: 1236g
RRP: £90
Reasons to buy
+Good in snowy conditions +Supports heavy backpacks
Reasons to avoid
-Might not last as long as other boots on this list-Heavy

When hiking up a mountain with a large backpack, you’ll want your shoes to be extra sturdy, and if the Salomon Quest 4D 2 GTX boots are a little out of your price range then these boots have got you covered, and for half the price! The North Face Men’s Verbera Backpacker GTX boots are great for rocky terrain and light snowy conditions, with a sturdy but cushioned sole that eases the pressure when carrying a heavy backpack. Although these may not last as long as a more expensive boot, they are considered a proper mountain boot that will keep your feet comfortable and dry.