Best hiking boots 2020: hardy walking boots for every type of terrain

Weekend ramblers, hardcore hikers, Three Peaks contenders! Walk on air and feel supported underfoot with these sturdy hiking boots that are built to last

Best hiking boots 2019: men's walking boots don't get any better

Hiking boots are the ultimate purchase for anyone who regularly spends a lot of time walking outdoors, whether that’s meandering through sun-drenched forests on a lazy Sunday, or hitting your nearest mountain trail for a big adventure before heading back to your tent for the night.

This do-it-all rugged boot is the ultimate type of footwear for all-weather exploring wherever you are in the world, and there are some fantastic hiking boots around now from world-leading brands including Salomon, Merrell, AKU, Keen and La Sportiva.

To enjoy a day (or longer) hiking without running the risk of blisters, raw skin on your heels or crushed toes, it’s important to buy the best hiking boots that you can afford – and ones that match the type of hiking or walking you’ll mostly be doing on the regular. It goes without saying that they will need to fit you properly, too. 

While we love a tech-laden technical hiking boot for certain scenarios, you might not need that many bells and whistles if you just want some waterproof walking boots to keep your feet dry and protected when walking the dog on country trails. In that case, one of the more budget friendly hikers will see you right. This will save you cash and a whole heap of research time. 

You may even prefer some walking shoes if you want a more lightweight type of footwear, or some wellies if you'll be encountering acres of ankle-high mud and water.

There are also different types of hiking boots for different terrains, and choosing the right pair for challenging conditions can boost your enjoyment of the outdoors and bolster your confidence on the trail. That's why we've considered a range of styles, features and tech when rounding up our picks for the best hiking boots.

Unsure what type of footwear you need for the type of walking you do regularly? We have answers in our walking boots vs walking shoes guide.

Best hiking boots: our expert pick

  • Choosing the best hiking boots for every condition is pretty much impossible due to the sheer range of options to choose from, and depending upon how niche you want to get when drilling down into the sub-genres of hiking boots. It's the same story with waterproof jackets. However, the Salomon Quest 4D 3 GTX is a tried-and-tested hiking boot capable of seeing you through a range of hiking, backpacking and trekking scenarios. It really is a do-all outdoors boot.
  • Salomon's hiking boot is purpose built for boosting stability and comfort on longer hikes and backpacking excursions, and has a raft of features and tech to ensure you can go for longer without experiencing discomfort. The Quest 4D 3 GTX is also waterproof and breathable, so you'll be fine if the heavens open.

The best hiking boots: a person treks through the forest

Why do you need specific boots for hiking?

Hiking boots, as a term, is a broad church, but the main reasons you’ll need some for the rough stuff are their blend of protection, grip and stiffness. Standard street boots – Doctor Martens, for example – might offer some ankle support by lacing up high, but a lack of ankle padding will cut you to ribbons on a long trek. 

Most modern hiking boots include a waterproof membrane, which will be useful when you head off the beaten track. In addition, hiking and mountain boots often incorporate a raised ‘rand’, a rubber buffer over the leather of the boot nearest the sole, which protects the boot from sharp stone cuts when walking across scree.  

Hiking boot soles will also be much stiffer than street shoes/boots to shrug off rough surfaces, incorporating aggressive tread for better grip on wet grass, moss or mud, and often cleverly-placed sticky rubber areas for extra grip on wet rock. 

That stiffer sole gets a grade from B0 to B3-B0 and below, making them fine for casual summer hikes, but too flexible for crampons. Meanwhile, B1-3 boots offer increasing levels of stiffness to accommodate increasingly technical rigid crampon use. 

This might sound excessive for the causal walker, but if you’re hill walking in the UK winter, opting for a stiffer crampon-compatible walking boot is highly recommended, as conditions can change fast.  

Hiking through Snowdonia National Park

Outdoor tech, which covers everything from head torches and action cameras to camping stoves and backpacking tents, has come a long way in recent years, with huge strides being made in the way hiking boots are designed and built. From tech geared to keep your toes warm in sub-zero conditions, to innovations that help you stay upright on the most treacherous and slippery trails. These are:

  • Vibram Megagrip (enhanced traction)
  • Gore-tex (improved waterproofing)
  • NestFit (bio-mapping for comfort)
  • Thermo Tech Application technology (better support)
  • CleanSport NXT (odour control)

Choosing the best hiking boots for you

In a nutshell, you're looking for boots that are luxuriously comfortable, unstintingly waterproof, heroically breathable, tank-like in their ruggedness, and offer as much grip as Spider-Man's socks. 

It’s essential to get the right rating for your hiking boot – wearing B3 double-boots for summer trekking will be hell, as will attempting the likes of Indicator Wall in Converse. Overall, you’re looking for ankle support from a boot – which in the hills can be vital when a stone shifts underfoot – but also a comfortable fit. 

A snug (not tight) fit minimises heel lift, as well as assorted blisters at ‘hot spots’ like heels and toes. When seeking out winter boots (B1+) this is particularly important, as a loose fit will see your toes smash into the toe box when using crampons, and the stiffer sole will also exaggerate heel lift unless the heel pocket fits just right.  

The accepted wisdom is to try on hiking boots in the afternoons, once your feet have expanded, and take a range of socks to try them on with. Thin office socks are helpful to show up any obvious shape mismatches and pressure points, before moving on to your preferred walking sock. 

Do experiment with sock fit as well as boot fit, as even the most expensive socks are cheap compared to boots, and some of the more specialised socks can make a real difference to your hiking comfort. 

Hiking boots come in different weights. Generally speaking, any weighing 400-500g and under are best suited to speed hiking, trail running (some types, not all) or day to day offroad use. Dog walkers and fairweather hikers, you'll like these ones.

Hiking boots that are tough enough to withstand multi-day hikes, where you might be carrying a heavy load on your back, are usually heavier. The trade-off for that extra weight is that these types of technical boots are much more supportive.

Best hiking boots 2019: man on a solo alpine hike

Is the type of hiking boot material important?

Construction-wise, old-school full leather hiking boots are rare beasts these days, not only because of cost but also because they need months of ‘breaking in’ before extended use. Modern boots use a range of synthetic materials in addition to leather panels, so are much softer out of the box. 

Indeed, the latest thermo-fitted/NestFit models are pretty much ready to rock straight off the shop floor, although wearing around the house or to and from work is always a good idea before leaving on a major expedition.

In short, the golden rule is to buy what fits, and a model that suits your main use. In terms of brands, at the more robust end of the spectrum La Sportiva, Scarpa, Mammut, Lowa and Aku all build boots that will shame a tank, while at the lighter, summery end Teva, Keen and Salomon bring considerable expertise to the table.

The best hiking boots you can buy right now

Best hiking boots: Salomon Quest 4D 3 GTX

1. Salomon Men's Quest 4D 3 GTX

Show the mountains who’s boss with these best hiking boots for all terrains

Upper material: Nubuck leather, textile
Sole type: Contragrip TD
Waterproof technology: Gore-Tex
Reasons to buy
+Fully waterproof+Rugged and durable+Enhanced stability+Supremely comfortable

Winner of the T3 Awards 2019 for Best Hiking Boots, the waterproof Salomon Quest 4D 3 GTX (Gore-Tex) will see you over any mountain pass, powering you onwards in sheer comfort come rain or shine.

They’re a backpackers dream too, supporting you under heavy pack loads, and are designed to fully cradle and support your foot and ankle with each step. Foot fatigue is reduced, which is a boon on longer, heftier walking days, and the EnergyCell EVA midsole helps to reduce shock impact. 

Though they’re fully robust, the Quest 4D 3 GTX aren’t as heavy as you’d think and are breathable enough to be worn during the warmer months whenever you need full support. The Contragrip sole with deep lug pattern dishes out mega traction on mixed terrain, boosting your confidence to tackle harder trails that may have previously felt out of reach.

SensiFit tech provides a secure fit by cradling your foot from the midsole through to the Lace Locker lacing system, while a gusseted tongue stops debris and small stones from sneaking into your boots. Wear your Quest 4D 3 GTX’s with a pair of proper hiking socks and get out on the trail. They’ll have your back each step of the way.

Check out more of this year's award winners on our main T3 Awards 2019 page.

Best hiking boots: Adidas Men’s Terrex Free Hiker GTX in Burgundy and Black

(Image credit: Adidas)

2. Adidas Men’s Terrex Free Hiker Gore-Tex

The best hiking boots for causal wanders, from city to trail

Upper material: Primeknit textile
Sole type: Coninental Rubber
Waterproof technology: Gore-Tex membrane
Reasons to buy
+Huge energy return+Supremely comfortable +The most stylish hiker here

The Adidas Terrex Free Hiker GTX have shaken up the walking boot market, creating a whole new category of ultra-lightweight trainer-hiking-boots. The big upgrade here is the addition of a waterproof Gore-Tex membrane, which is essential for the damper days of autumn and winter.

Elsewhere, there are new olive/Khaki colourways, but the rest is the same excellent Terrex of last year. Think an enormously potent Boost midsole to put a real spring in your step, and a Primeknit upper for a super-snug, comfy fit but with big breathability. 

The sole is a robustly lugged Continental Rubber number, which grips well in most conditions. Overall, this is an ideal lightweight hiking boot that will easily handle longer days out if you fancy moving away from the well-worn streets of the city and onto some more offroad routes.

You can buy the Adidas Terrex Free Hiker direct from the official Adidas website

Merrell Men’s Zion Mid Gore-Tex Hiking Boots in Toffee

(Image credit: Merrell)

3. Merrell Men’s Zion Mid Gore-Tex Hiking Boots

New waterproof hiking boots for men to help you battle through autumn/winter

Upper material: ballistic mesh, full-grain leather
Sole type: Vibram Megagrip
Waterproof technology: Gore-Tex
Reasons to buy
+Waterproof+Decent grip+Sneaker-like comfort

Merrell’s super-comfy new hiking boots, also available for women, are well cushioned and dish out big grip to keep you upright on slippery terrain. Lightweight yet tough, they’re perfect for those of you who want a pair of easy to wear hikers that can be worn to the pub after a day on the trail. 

Merrell has designed them with a wipe-clean ballistic mesh and full-grain leather upper, with a rubber toe cap and a bellow tongue protecting your toes and feet from debris on the trail. 

Gore-Tex is on board for waterproofing, and a Vibram Megagrip sole with 5mm lugs boosts traction each step of the way. The Zion Mids are breathable too, ensuring you don’t end up standing in a pool of sweat after an intense hike.

Best hiking boots: Mammut Kento High GTX Men’s Hiking Boots

(Image credit: Mammut)

4. Mammut Kento High GTX Men’s Hiking Boots

Crampon-compatible hiking boots for mountain adventures

Upper material: Nubuck leather
Sole type: : Michelin
Waterproof technology: Gore-Tex
Reasons to buy
+Light yet strong+Mountain ready

The Mammut Kento High GTX is all things to all people; a highly versatile hiking boot that’s not only lightweight, but also surprisingly practical as an all-rounder.

There’s a bit of everything in the Kento High GTX. These walking boots, available for men and women, are hardy enough to accomodate strap-on crampons, but designed first and foremost to deliver hiking and walking comfort. This is aided by a Michelin Alpine Lite 3970 sole.

The Nubuck and softshell outer soak up sharp-rock punishment without falling apart, and the robust rand is there to fend off the worst those mountains can throw at your feet. Weighing in at a lightweight 620g, this is one of the best hiking boot options for alpine exercusions, and an excellent option for pretty much any mountain adventure.

Best hiking boots: Keen Venture Mid WP in blue and black

(Image credit: Keen Venture)

5. Keen Venture Mid WP

Big comfort straight out of the box

Upper material: mesh
Sole type: Keen All-Terrain rubber
Waterproof technology: Keen.Dry
Reasons to buy
+Ready to rock+Heel capture comfort+Odour killing insert+PFC-free waterproofing

The Keen Venture Mid is a very robust yet comfortable hiking boot, ready for use straight out of the box and ideal for lower-level rambles and casual day hikes. Much of the tech here is aimed firmly at boosting your walking comfort, and there’s plenty of it too. 

Most notably, the heel-capture system is designed to lock your foot back into the boot, preventing heel lift. This minimises chafing and provides a secure sensation around the foot. That security is augmented with a stability shank, supportive lacing system and 4mm deep lugs on the outsole. Those bad boys will grip mud, scree and shale. 

Final touches include Keen’s own-brand waterproof membrane paired with a breathable mesh upper, embedded odour control based on probiotic technology, and PFC-free DWR. overall, it’s a strong performer for autumn adventures around the UK. 

Best walking boots: Hoka One One Sky Kaha in black

(Image credit: Hoka)

6. Hoka One One Sky Kaha

The best hiking boots for backpacking trips where comfort is paramount

Upper material: Leather
Sole type: Vibram MegaGrip
Waterproof technology: eVent Waterproof Bootie
Reasons to buy
+Ludicrously soft+Huge grip

Deceptively lightweight, the Hoka One One Sky Kaha is an astonishingly soft and comfortable hiking boot, but also delivers on support and strength too. This might well have something to do with the name (the Māori word for strength and support), but definitely does have something to do with the spec-list.

There’s the surprising inclusion of a super-robust full grain, waterproof leather upper, a Vibram Megagrip hi-traction outsole with massive 5mm multi-directional lugs, and EVA/Rangi foam midsole, tasked with delivering all that bounce. Finally a full eVent waterproof bootie should keep the wet outside where it belongs – ideal for the damp days ahead. 

Best hiking boots: AKU Trekker Lite III GTX

(Image credit: AKU)

7. AKU Trekker Lite III GTX

These handsome hiking boots will give rocks a good kicking

Upper material: Suede, PU film
Sole type: Vibram curcuma
Waterproof technology: Gore-Tex Performance Comfort
Reasons to buy
+Fully membrane lined+Rugged and durable+Surprisingly light

AKU is often underestimated as a brand, and the Trekker Lite III is an impressive underdog, boasting a Rolls-Royce build quality and yet impressively low weight. These are hiking boots in the traditional sense, and are given huge rigidity with a 6-4mm Nylon lasting board. 

That rigidity is all on your side though, with a sculpted rocker sole that rolls with the stride, and an enormously breathable upper of suede, air8000 and welded PU film that helps to keep weight down to an impressive 570g a boot. 

The outsole is no less robust, and with a deep tread and the magic grippiness of Vibram Curcuma these should stay right-side-up whatever the conditions. A worthy addition to our best hiking boots guide.

Best hiking boots: The North Face Ultra Fastpack III Mid

(Image credit: The North Face)

8. The North Face Ultra Fastpack III Mid

These men’s hiking boots take their lead from trail running shoes

Upper material: TPU-coated mesh
Sole type: Vibram MegaGrip
Waterproof technology: Gore-Tex membrane
Reasons to buy
+Understated +Sticky rubber+'Snake plate' protection+Supremely comfortable

The North Face Ultra Fastpack III deliver fast and light protection for your feet in all areas. From a full Gore-Tex membrane to the host of protective TPU elements throughout the boot, the Vibram Megagrip outsole to the ESS Snake Plate forefoot protector lifted from TNF’s trail running line, these are grown-up solutions to outdoor challenges. 

The Ultra Fastpack’s low profile ankle support and trail-derived features all point to tackling trails and hills at a good pace, while the dual-density FastFoam midsole will make sure you last the distance by boosting responsiveness and comfort in the process. 

From quick weekend blasts in the Lakes to hut-walking in the Alps, this best hiking boots contender will have you putting your best foot forward, time and time again.

Best hiking boots: Teva Arrowood Riva Mid in black and charcoal

9. Teva Arrowood Riva Mid

These hiking boots might look retro but the tech is anything but

Upper material: Leather, EVA
Sole type: Vibram
Waterproof technology: eVent Waterproof
Reasons to buy
+Impressive performance+Waterproof outer+Cool retro feel

An updated take on the classic walking boot, the Teva Arrowood is a surprise entrant here, and boasting a highly robust full-grain leather upper and Vibram soles, this is the 4x4 of walking boots. 

Less visible is the eVent membrane inside the upper, a highly breathable but waterproof layer that’ll keep water out but allow sweat out, and nylon shanks to stabilise your feet on rough ground and add stiffness on more challenging terrain. EVA midsoles and polyurethane footbeds round out the package. 

Best hiking boots: Danner Arctic 600 in tan

(Image credit: Danner)

10. Danner Arctic 600

A Vibram Nisqaully arctic grip keeps you upright on ice

Upper material: Suede
Sole type: Vibram Nisqually
Waterproof technology: Danner Dry
Reasons to buy
+Stable on sheet ice+Trad looks+Waterproof+Easy to don/doff

Winter boots may be popping up like mushrooms now, but the gorgeous Danner Arctic’s are a little bit special. A suede upper really looks the part, and the traditional lacing is augmented with a side zip, enabling you to don your boots in a jiffy. 

The spec is what you’d expect from a high-end pair of hiking boots, including 200g PrimaLoft insulation, a waterproof membrane and DWR coating. They also have one cunning trick up their sleeve (or rather, sock): Vibram Nisqaully Arctic Grip. This Vibram sole compound grips even sheet ice, so there’ll be no more sliding around, gripping onto the nearest bit of fence, on frosty mornings for you.

You can buy the Danner Arctic 600 direct from Danner’s website. 

Best hiking boots: La Sportiva Stream GTX in black with green heel trim

11. La Sportiva Stream GTX

Fast and light hikers sporting Gore-Tex Surround breathable tech

Upper material: Abrasion-resistant mesh, PU TechLite
Sole type: Vibram
Waterproof technology: Gore-Tex Surround
Reasons to buy
+Lightweight+Enhanced breathability +Very comfortable

A fast and light hiking boot for those sun-soaked European breaks, the La Sportiva Stream GTX won’t weigh you down. Designed to be highly breathable with an abrasion-resistant mesh outer, yet waterproof with a Gore-Tex inner, the Stream GTX is for built for hiking fast and light in good conditions.

That fast and light ethos is taken to great lengths, with La Sportiva even incorporating aeration channels (Gore-Tex Surround tech) into the midsole to augment the breathable upper. This hiking boot is all about keeping your feet comfortable when you're powering along the trail. 

There’s a Vibram sole for grip, and stability control systems baked in, so the total package is more than capable of dealing with rough stuff in a hurry.  

Best hiking boots: Lowa Renegade Mid Hiking Boot in brown with orange laces

(Image credit: Lowa)

12. Lowa Renegade Mid Hiking Boot

Leather boots built for racking up the miles, but break them in first

Upper material: : Nubuck Leather
Sole type: Vibram
Waterproof technology: Gore-Tex
Reasons to buy
+Ridiculously comfy+Waterproof

If you’re going on a long walk, comfort is, of course, a big concern. The Lowa Renegade GTX Mid Hiking Boot really pushes the boat out when it comes to keeping you hygge

The Renegade GTX 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, Lowa's hiking boots are a great choice for clocking up miles across hills and dales.  

Best hiking boots: TOG 24 Whernside Waterproof Boots in black and grey

13. TOG24 Whernside Waterproof Boots

Best for updated old-school hiking boot style

Upper material: Suede leather
Sole Type: Vibram
Waterproof technology: Waterproof membrane and DWR
Reasons to buy
+Robust build+Mud-proof

Intended as an upgrade on the classic walking and hiking boot, the TOG24 Whernside is all business on the trail. This isn’t a hugely technical boot, but it's supportive and very comfortable.

A suede and leather upper will break in quickly and mould to your foot shape (just like the good old days), while a built-in waterproof membrane keeps damp at bay. 

A wicking lining is there to help internal dampness levels, with an EVA heel cup taking care of stability as well as boosting comfort. Finally, a Vibram outsole with a deep-cut traditional tread will handle the rough stuff along with the smooth. 

For a sub-£100 price point there are always compromises, but here you’re getting a very solid package for the cash - ideal for light summer/autumn hikes across the moors and downs. For steeper, more technical terrain you’ll be wanting a more technical beast, though.

Best hiking boots: Tecnica Forge in black and red

14. Tecnica Forge

The best hiking boots for blister-free walking

Upper material: 1.8mm Nubuk leather, stretch fabric base
Sole type: Vibram Forge Megagrip
Waterproof technology: Gore-Tex
Reasons to buy
+Bespoke, customisable fit+Rolls-Royce comfort+Looks great

The Tecnica Forge brings a little something special to the usual footwear mix. In short, it's a solid enough three-season walking boot, but with ski-boot technology in the sole and heel area that's thermo-formed to your feet using heaters and huge inflatable bags.

The result of all that effort is well worth it, with these hiking boots being moulded precisely to your feet. With a deeper heel pocket than normal, there's little heel lift either. 

A wrap-around overlap cuff instead of traditional tongue also minimises potential chafing. Blister free walking with no breaking is here - and very welcome it is too. 

(Image credit: Berghaus)

15. Berghaus Supalite II Gore Tex Boots

Show the mountains who’s boss with these best hiking boots for all terrains

Upper material: Leather
Sole type: Supalite
Waterproof technology: Gore-Tex
Reasons to buy
+Highly robust+Comfortable+Waterproof+Long-lasting

Sometimes old-school is best, and that’s what Berghaus have gone for here in spades. A proper leather upper might take some breaking in, but once done it’ll last decades, shrugging off abrasions, mud and rock with ease. 

In spite of the solid build, these are surprisingly light at only just over 500g a boot, a fact that’ll add to your comfort on longer days. Speaking of comfort, the Supalite II’s pack in some seriously non-old school tech in the foot-care line, with OrthoLite footbeds and memory-foam heel and toe features that cushion you from impacts, as well as conforming to your unique foot shape. 

There’s a Gore-Tex membrane to keep sogginess outside, and high-grade sheep leather on internal collar and tongue structures for improved suppleness. They might look traditional, but they’ll do the job brilliantly. 

(Image credit: Jack Wolfskin)

16. Jack Wolfskin Wilderness Peak Mid Boots

Excellent mountain boots for all hilly terrains

Upper material: Nubuck leather
Sole type: Vibram
Waterproof technology: TEXAPORE O2+
Reasons to buy
+Go anywhere machines+Crampon-ready+Super-supportive+Highly breathable

Go big or go home, runs the phrase, and these boots are in the former category. If you’re planning anything involving hills these should be on your list, whatever the season. At 1540grams per pair these are no lightweights, but equally there’s a lot of spec-list bang for your buck here, as well as crampon compatibility. This last being vital for winter walking even in the UK mountains, as well as higher-altitude alpine activities year-round. 

A Vibram trekking sole will keep you right-side up on less exciting surfaces too, such as mud or scree, and the high ankle support will certainly help protect you from uneven foot placements. That high ankle also provides two (as opposed to the usual one) lace locking positions, which will help keep tension across your foot at the optimum level on longer days. 

A Texapore membrane takes care of the wet stuff, while a rock zone at the toe adds extra grip for steeper via ferrata or scrambling moments, while the superman-sized rand will protect the upper from any abrasions. Overall, these are big boots that won’t let you down, wherever you wander. 

The final word:

As with all types of outdoor gear, you get what you pay for. The Salomon Quest 4D 3 GTX takes our best hiking boots crown because they offer a superb fit, with zero break-in time, and can be worn on everything from day hikes to big backpacking excursions.

The Adidas Terrex Free Hiker GTX is a close second because they are the easiest to unbox, put on and simply get out there with the minimum fuss, all while delivering maximum fun and style.

If you’re looking for something more technical, the Mammut Men's Kento High GTX hiking boot is mountain-ready and always up for a challenge. 

If you're looking for something not quite as intense as a hiking boot, check out our selection of the best men's walking shoes. Walking shoes are lighter and more comfortable than boots, but don't provide as much robust support.

About the author...

Mark Mayne is an outdoors journalist who specialises in camping, hiking and diving.

Damian Hall is an outdoors journalist, ultrarunner and walking expert who has authored books on the subject.