Best hiking boots 2022: sturdy, supportive footwear to tackle any trail

We walk you through the best men's hiking boots around, to provide comfort, protection and support on your adventures

best hiking boots 2022: person standing on a rocky mountain
(Image credit: Ali Kazal on Unsplash)

Investing in a pair of the best hiking boots for you will make a massive difference when it comes to your outdoor adventures. In fact, it's arguably your most important outdoor equipment purchase. Hiking boots that fit your feet well and suit your route terrain perfectly will make the toughest ascent and rockiest escapades seem perfectly serene... while poorly fitting and inappropriate footwear is not only uncomfortable, but can be downright dangerous. This guide is all about helping you thread a path through the hundreds of options on the market, arriving at the very best hiking boots for you, whatever your budget or the types of trails you're planning on tackling. (For female-specific options, head to our best women's hiking boot guide instead).

As you’ll probably know already, hiking boots offer much more protection than walking shoes, especially in terms of ankle support. While for walking the dog, a pair of the best men's walking shoes or best women's walking shoes will do just fine (or perhaps even some of the best wellies, on wet days), for anything more strenuous, only hiking boots will do.

So what to look for in a pair of hiking boots? Outsoles should be grippy, with good sized lugs to handle varied terrain, from scree to wet grass. The midsole unit should be stiffer than you'd find on a shoe too, depending on the grade of the boot, and the uppers are usually more robust than a lightweight hiking shoe. 

Fit is the most important factor though, especially where your personal comfort is concerned, and that’s all down to how the manufacturers 'last' marries up with your personal foot shape. Some makes and styles will immediately feel ‘right’, and others (usually the ones with a hefty sale discount) simply won’t ever fit your feet. Test new boots as much as you can bear around the house or in the shop before wearing them outside to break in your hiking boots – you’ll not regret the time spent here, benefiting from avoiding blisters and fewer hotspots down the road. All clear? Now read on for our review of the best hiking boots right now. 

The best hiking boots 2022 reviewed

Inov-8 Roclite G 345 GTXT3 Best Buy badge

(Image credit: Mark Mayne)
The best fast and light hiking boots

Specifications

Upper: Cordura mesh, textile
Outsole: Graphene Grip
Waterproofing: Gore-Tex

Reasons to buy

+
Incredibly grippy
+
Long life Graphene
+
Very lightweight

Reasons to avoid

-
Not the most ankle support
-
Can be a bit cold

If it's fast-and-light you're after, the Roclite G 345 GTX might be some of the best hiking boots for men right now.We're partial to a bit of tech at T3, and trail experts Inov-8 have an award-winning trick up their sleeve (or sock): a Graphene-infused sole unit. The wonder-material adds strength, hardness and elasticity, resulting in up to 50% better wear – especially relevant for these deep 6mm lugs. It's not all marketing talk either, with these gracing the feet of athletes taking on some of the toughest outdoor challenges around, such as the UK's ultra-marathon Spine Race.

Designed for fast hiking, the grip is certainly phenomenal on wet rock and muddy grass alike, a fact aided by the highly flexible but shanked midsole. Weight is minimal, leaning into that trail running heritage, at 345g (size 8.5), you'll barely notice these on your feet – certainly until the miles really stack up. The bellows-style tongue is another trail-essential, keeping small stones and dust out of your boots, as is the low heel, allowing a full range of movement while providing more support than a standard shoe with the extra front lacing. 

Elsewhere the Gore-Tex liner should keep damp at bay, while a Powerflow midsole delivers a claimed 10% better shock absorption and 15% better energy return than standard midsoles. This fast-and-light hiker is guaranteed to keep you right-side up and dry on the longest days out. Head to our Inov-8 Roclite G 345 GTX review for more info.

Jack Wolfskin Wilderness Lite hiking bootT3 Award Winner sponsored by Wiggle

(Image credit: Sian Lewis)
The best all-rounder hiking boots for men

Specifications

Upper: synthetic textile
Outsole: Vibram
Waterproofing: Texapore O2+

Reasons to buy

+
Rugged and robust
+
Vibram soles deliver excellent grip
+
Breathable upper

Reasons to avoid

-
Too chunky for light summer strolls
-
Slightly narrow fit

Designed with intrepid mountain hikers in mind, the Jack Wolfskin Wilderness Lite is our pick for the best hiking boot right now. A technical boot that's not stiff, heavy or bulky, these will cope comfortably with whatever you throw at them. Seriously grippy Vibram soles will keep you sure-footed even on tricky terrain, they're fully waterproof with Texapore technology, and a tough toe box and a high cut around the ankle provide further protection on uneven trails. They're comfy straight out of the box, too. While they're reasonably breathable and won't weigh you down on an all-day trek, we think the 'Lite' moniker is a bit of a stretch – there are lighter boots in our ranking if that's your priority. We were so impressed in our tests that we gave these a 2021 T3 Award for best hiking boot. Head to our full Jack Wolfskin Wilderness Lite Texapore Mid review for more info.

Keen NXIS Evo mid bootT3 Approved badge

(Image credit: Mark Mayne)
The best men's hiking boots for summer

Specifications

Upper: Mesh upper with TPU overlays
Outsole: Rubber Keen all-terrain
Waterproofing: Keen Dry

Reasons to buy

+
Lightweight 
+
Broad-foot fit 
+
Good heel control 

Reasons to avoid

-
Less technical than others
-
Styling not for everyone 

If you're looking for a versatile summer hiker, the Keen NXIS Evo Mid waterproof hiking boot is well worth a look. This lightweight men's hiking boot ticks a lot of boxes, offering plenty of comfort straight out of the box, good grip and an excellent heel control system. With Keen’s own-brand waterproof membrane keeping the weather out, solid toe protection and 4mm multi-directional lugs for traction, there’s lots to keep you safe and warm on a long day out in the hills. 

A stability shank might not be stiff enough for higher-level adventures, but it’s enough for casual rambles in comfort – a featherweight 332 grams per shoe certainly won’t tire you unnecessarily. Keen’s signature wide toe box is also all present and correct, ensuring that the wide-of-forefoot don’t get cramps or hotspots. Breathability is decent thanks to the mesh upper, and there’s an environmental nod in the PFC-free water repellent to boot. Head to our Keen NXIS Evo Mid hiking boot review for more info. 

Berghaus Explorer Trek Gore-Tex Hiking BootsT3 Best Buy badge


(Image credit: Sian Lewis)
Another excellent all-rounder hiking boot

Specifications

Upper: suede
Outsole: Vibram rubber
Waterproofing: Gore-Tex

Reasons to buy

+
Excellent grip
+
Very supportive
+
Reliable waterproofing

Reasons to avoid

-
Not as breathable as summer boots
-
Narrower fit

Another impressive all-rounder is the Berghaus Explorer Trek. This versatile design is perfect for those who are getting more ambitious with their hiking adventures and want to graduate from a more basic boot. We tested out the female version for our Berghaus Explorer Trek review, and found these boots delivered outstanding grip, even on wet rock or muddy ground, thanks to well-placed lugs. These boots are also ready to wear straight out of the box, with deep, cushiony insoles that mould to your feet over time. A robust suede upper, with Gore-Tex liner will keep your toes dry even in the worst weather. Note: we found these fit on the narrow side, especially around the toes. Make sure you don't miss a deal by checking our Berghaus discount codes page before you buy.  

Arc'teryx Acrux TR GTX hiking bootT3 Approved badge

(Image credit: Mark Mayne)
A mountain-ready and deceptively minimalist design for keen hikers

Specifications

Upper: SuperFabric
Outsole: Vibram Megagrip
Waterproofing: Gore-Tex

Reasons to buy

+
Lightweight
+
Abrasion resistant
+
Mountain-ready

Reasons to avoid

-
Prioritises precision over protection

Slimline, minimalist but practical is what we have some to expect from the Canadian outdoor brand Arc'teryx, and the Acrux TR GTX is another good example, and well worth a spot in our best men's hiking boots ranking. A high rubber rand protects much of the upper from sharp rocks and abrasion, bending into a 'SuperFabric' upper – the latter employing unique micro-plated technology to remain lightweight but robust.

An almost-obligatory Gore-Tex liner will keep damp at bay, and overall weight is low for a mountain boot, at a claimed 550g (heavier than the Inov-8 Rocklite, but lighter than the Hanwag Banks), leaving more spring in your step at the end of a long day. Underfoot the Vibram Megagrip outsole and aggressive lugs will deliver non-slip traction on rock, mud or scree alike, while the low heel will give plenty of flex in the ankle for moving through rugged terrain. Overall there's little to dislike here, and much to commend in an all-round trekking/hiking boot for most occasions. 

For more info, head to our Arcteryx Acrux TR GTX boot review – or see how they compare to our #1 rated boot in our Inov-8 Roclite vs Arcteryx Acrux Tr hiking boots face-off.

Jack Wolfskin Force Striker Texapore hiking bootT3 Approved badge

(Image credit: Mark Mayne)
Super-protective mile-munchers for all round comfort

Specifications

Upper: Textile
Outsole: Vibram Megagrip
Waterproofing: Texapore o2

Reasons to buy

+
Very protective 
+
Plenty of traction
+
Stable platform

Reasons to avoid

-
Might be a bit warm in summer

The Jack Wolfskin Force Striker Texapore boot is not a shy and retiring boot, it’s chunky in most dimensions and radiates the kind of knockabout robustness you’d hope for in a hiking companion. There’s a few factors mixed into that impression - the high ankle and substantial padding offer serious support for tiring legs, while the forefoot ‘force plate’ hidden in the sole unit adds stiffness and protection all in one. This makes a relatively lightweight boot seem much more substantial - an ingenious trick. That said, the mesh and fabric upper does a great job of shedding weight while keeping things breathable, as does the Texapore o2 membrane. 

Running through the boot is a solid seam of quality components too, which add little by little to a good overall impression - the alloy lace hooks for example - and of course the all-important sole unit. That’s moulded from Vibram Megagrip, offering fierce grip on uneven and rocky terrain. Overall, the  Jack Wolfskin Force Striker Texapore boot has lots to say for itself, and not much to complain about - a worthy competitor. Read our full Jack Wolfskin Force Striker Texapore hiking boot review for more details.

Hanwag Ferrata II hiking bootsT3 Approved badge

(Image credit: Hanwag)

7. Hanwag Ferrata II

The best light-yet-sturdy boots for serious mountains

Specifications

Upper: synthetic, Microfiber
Outsole: Hanwag TubeTec Rock
Waterproofing: Gore-Tex

Reasons to buy

+
 Full mountain protection 
+
 Light but strong 
+
 Lots of support 

Reasons to avoid

-
 Overkill for low-level rambles 

If you’re headed into steeper terrain, it’s wise to choose a stiffer, more robust boot than you might wear on the fells and trails. The Hanwag Ferrata II offers serious tools for the job, coming in at a ‘C’ rating, being stiff enough to take a hybrid or semi-automatic crampon. That also means the sole unit offers top-grade protection from anything you might encounter in the mountains, giving you a solid platform you can trust. Often mountain boots are clunky beasts, but the genius of the Hanwag Ferrata II is that it weighs in at 720 grams per boot – a trainer-like lightness that you’ll appreciate on longer days. That lightness and precision also allows you to pick your path as accurately as you need to; handy on complex, rocky ground. A Gore-Tex liner will keep the worst of the damp out, and the cuff is designed for support as well as movement; the best of both worlds. 

Inov-8 ROCFLY G 390 bootT3 Approved badge

(Image credit: Mark Mayne)
The best fast and light hiking boots

Specifications

Upper: textile
Outsole: Graphene Grip
Waterproofing: none

Reasons to buy

+
 Incredibly grippy 
+
New Graphene foam
+
Super fast-and-light

Reasons to avoid

-
No waterproofing

The Inov-8 ROCFLY G390 is a new hiking boot for AW21 from UK-based Inov-8, and features the company’s acclaimed Graphene-Grip outsole. The Graphene isn’t just technology for the sake of it, adding durability and strength to a very grippy sole compound (Inov-8 claims a 50% improvement on strength and wear). Inov-8 has rigged the deck in their favour by adding 35 multi-directional 4mm deep lugs to the sole too, their distribution specifically designed to prevent debris from gumming them up.

The midsole also features Graphene, this time in the shape of G-Fly foam, it’s presence being a first for hiking boots. Offering enhanced energy return for a fresher feel after a long day, the wonder-material means that the foam can be softer to begin with, and will resist wear, lasting longer. Finally, a knitted upper conforms to the foot, allowing the foot to swell over longer distances without requiring adjustment, as well as offering excellent breathability. Indeed, there’s no waterproof membrane here, so you’re relying on water getting in, but also getting out easily. 

Coming in at a stupidly lightweight 390g, the Inov-8 ROCFLY G390 has already been used to break distance and speed records, namely James Forrest’s new record time for a solo and self-supported hike of Great Britain’s National Three Peaks. They’re certain to feature in similar fast-and-light adventures over the coming months too – maybe on your own feet? Head to our Inov-8 ROCFLY G390 hiking boot review to find out more.

Scarpa Manta Tech GTX hiking bootsT3 Approved badge

(Image credit: Scarpa / Future)

9. Scarpa Manta Tech GTX

The best hiking boot for all-seasons hillwalking

Specifications

Upper : Perwanger Suede leather
Outsole: Vibram Mont
Waterproofing: Gore-Tex liner

Reasons to buy

+
 Field-proven over decades 
+
 All-season boots 
+
 Super protection

Reasons to avoid

-
 Heavier than some 

A true mountain classic in one form or another, the Scarpa Manta has stomped about pretty much every inch of terrain from the Rockies to the Alps, Scotland to the Lakes, and everywhere in between. Stiff enough for proper crampons, but still comfortable enough for long days on the trail, it's a true workhorse that’ll do anything, anywhere. The newest version, the Tech GTX, offers relative lightness (1740 per pair) but professional levels of protection for your feet thanks to a 3mm Perwanger Suede leather upper and a substantial rand that combines rubber and PU. 

The exceedingly robust outsole is Vibram Mont rubber, a compound designed for longevity and good traction in low temperatures, and of course there’s a Gore-tex liner to keep everything as dry and breathable as possible. Overall, it’s a compelling all-year-round package with a real winter-adventure edge that’s been proven over the last few decades-odd.

Salomon Predict HikeT3 Approved badge

(Image credit: Mark Mayne)
A robust boot with oodles of energy return

Specifications

Upper: textile / synthetic
Outsole: All Terrain Contagrip
Waterproofing: Gore-Tex

Reasons to buy

+
Lightweight yet robust
+
Lots of bounce
+
Capable all-rounder

Reasons to avoid

-
Snug fit
-
On the warm side for this style

The Salomon Predict Hike Mid is a boot with plenty of bounce. In the manner of a Hoka One One model (although without the head-turning looks), these really do bounce you onwards with each stride, especially on harder surfaces. The sole unit is fairly still, but flexes enough to contribute to the bouncy ride. The build quality is solid, with the mid-height cut delivering ankle support, and the Gore-Tex keeps rain at bay effectively. The lacing system keeps everything securely in place, and although the laces can be slick to begin with they do bed in quickly. On the down-side, in our Salomon Predict Hike Mid review, our tester found they came up narrow – if you've got wide feet, you might need to go a half or even full size bigger than normal. And while we didn't have this issue, some other customers report debris getting stuck inside the layers of the boot. 

Keen Ridge Flex WP hiking bootT3 Approved badge

(Image credit: Mark Mayne)
Old school looks; new school comfort

Specifications

Upper: Leather and performance mesh
Outsole: Keen All-Terrain rubber
Waterproofing: Keen.Dry

Reasons to buy

+
Designed for comfort
+
Robust build
+
PFC-free waterproofing

Reasons to avoid

-
Traditional styling

The Keen Ridge Flex WP has the makings of a bit of a classic, combining the elements of several recognisable Keen boots into one, along with some new technology to boot. There’s the mid-ankle support and robust padding of the Keen Targhee on show here, as well as a proprietary waterproof membrane and similarly in-house sole unit. Environmentally preferred leather panels make up a sizeable percentage of the upper, adding plenty of foot protection and durability to the upper. 

The new technology element is the Keen bellows system, which Keen claims reduces the amount of energy required to flex the sole on each step by 60%. The bellows section sits just above the toe box, allowing the upper to flex seamlessly, and also avoiding the age-related cracking and damage that can occur in this high-use area. This also means less requirement to wear the boots in - the flex is already built in - making for a more comfortable boot even when box-fresh. It’s an ingenious concept, and adds quite a few benefits to an otherwise stolid and robust boot; well worth considering for lower-level treks and longer day hikes. Head to our Keen Ridge Flex WP hiking boot review to find out more.

Hoka OneOne TenNine Hike GTXT3 Approved badge

(Image credit: Mark Mayne)
The best walking boots for speed

Specifications

Upper: Ripstop textile
Outsole: Vibram Megagrip
Waterproofing: Gore-Tex

Reasons to buy

+
Fast rocker soles
+
Enormous heel for energy return
+
Light

Reasons to avoid

-
Looks aren't for everyone
-
Lack of precision on rockier terrain

The Hoka OneOne TenNine Hike GTX are set up for trail speed, armed with a long pedigree of fast and light trail tools that have won epic endurance races round the world. The obvious feature – that jutting 'Hubble geometry' heel provides masses of energy retention, while an endlessly deep sole unit soaks up everything the trail can throw at you. The physics are in your favour too, with an enormous contact area via the Vibram Megagrip sole and chunky 5mm lugs, there's very little chance of parting company with the earth in these monsters. 

Weighing in at a mere 504g, an inner Gore-tex lining keeps toes dry, and recycled materials in the upper go some way to salving your sustainability concerns. On the downside, RRP is relatively forceful for a dedicated speed-walking boot, and Hoka OneOne's own instructions warn not to 'operate vehicles' or 'navigate stairs' while wearing the boots – so Crib Goch is right out. And the design and colourways isn't Overall, the Hoka OneOne TenNine Hike GTX are innovative, eye-catching, and deliver an enormously plush ride as promised. No all-rounder, but as a dedicated fast-tracker, these are perfect. 

Head to our Hoka OneOne TenNine Hike GTX review to find out more, or check out our Hoka One One TenNine Hike GTX vs Columbia Facet 45 article to see how these two unusual looking designs compare.

Danner Free Spirit bootT3 Approved badge

(Image credit: Mark Mayne)
The best hiking boots for style meets substance

Specifications

Upper: suede and nylon
Outsole: Vibram Overlook with Megagrip
Waterproofing: Gore-Tex

Reasons to buy

+
Looks cool
+
Very breathable
+
Plenty of dexterity

Reasons to avoid

-
Low profile tread lacks grip on wet grass

The Danner Free Spirit is an absolute winner in the style stakes, and there's plenty of reassuring outdoor tech behind those retro cool looks, too. The upper is a combo of durable suede and nylon, which make these nice and breathable as well as offering enough flex to be comfy to wear straight out of the box. These don't look like the sturdiest boot on the block, but in our Danner Free Spirit hiking boot review, our tester found they delivered ample support, thanks to a surprisingly stiff sole unit and effective old school lacing design. For the sole, Vibram Megagrip provides reliable stickiness on uneven, rocky surfaces, although the low profile tread means they're less grippy on wet grass. Overall, a boot that delivers on style as well as substance.

La Sportiva Nepal Cube GTXT3 Approved badge

(Image credit: La Sportiva / Future)

14. La Sportiva Nepal Cube GTX

This is the best hiking boot for winter mountains

Specifications

Upper: Idro-Perwanger Roughout Leather
Outsole: Vibram Matterhorn
Waterproofing : Gore-Tex liner

Reasons to buy

+
 Impeccable stiffness and comfort 
+
 Ultimate foot-protection 
+
 Only boot you'll ever need?

Reasons to avoid

-
 Overkill for summer rambles 

If you’re considering more daring hill-related winter exploits, but don’t want to be weighed down unnecessarily, the La Sportiva Nepal Cube GTX is the latest iteration of La Sportiva’s reference mountain boot. Comfortable enough for hiking as long and as far as you wish, but stiff enough for literally any mountain scenario you might encounter, the Nepal Cube GTX can take on anything from peak-bagging winter Munros to alpine glaciers in the summer months. 

The La Sportiva Nepal Cube GTX is based on the revered Nepal Evo, a boot design that has graced the feet of most mountain-botherers over the last few decades, but adds a few updates. Most notably weight is down a significant 100grams per boot, thanks to a super-technical carbon honeycomb insole, which also improves warmth and is lower profile than the old Evos. Elsewhere, the 3D Flex System increases walking comfort, while still providing masses of ankle support, the Vibram sole and Impact Brake System grips and absorbs unwanted impacts, and the Gore-Tex Insulated Comfort lining keeps warm in and water out. Arguably the ultimate all-year, all terrain hiking/mountain boot on the market. 

Hanwag Banks Winter GTXT3 Approved badge

(Image credit: Mark Mayne)
The best walking boots for keeping warm in the winter

Specifications

Upper: Nubuck Suede
Outsole: Vibram IceTrek
Waterproofing: Gore-Tex

Reasons to buy

+
Very warm indeed
+
Tuned up ice grip
+
High ankle support

Reasons to avoid

-
Too soft for hardcore treks

The Hanwag Banks Winter GTX boots are immediately recognisable as being based on the Hanwag Banks pattern, offering a robust and relatively traditional walking boot platform. That's no bad thing, the nubuck upper offering excellent durability but relatively low weight, and a traditional mountain boot sole that'll grip mud, rock and snow equally well. 

Hanwag has not been idle on the winter front though, adding in a variety of anti-cold technologies to keep your toes comfy. These include a higher-than usual ankle, trapping warmth and also increasing support, an insulated aluminium-layered footbed, and a Vibram Icetrek sole material that grips better in icy conditions. However, what you'll notice first is the inside of that raised ankle, resplendently lined with Gore-Tex Partelana. This gives a plush and snug fit to comfort the coldest feet, while still remaining breathable. Although too soft for hardcore mountain adventures, these Hanwags look and feel the part for low-level trekking and winter walking in serious comfort. For more info, head to our Hanwag Banks Winter GTX boots review.

How to choose the best hiking boots

The two key things to prioritise when hunting for the best hiking boot for you: finding the right boot style for the activity, and getting a really good fit for your individual foot shape. The fit will vary by brand and style of boot, with some coming up much narrower (or broader) in the midfoot than others. It's absolutely vital to try boots on before embarking on an expedition, and usually wearing them round the house before removing the retail labels is enough to show up any hotspots that could lead to painful difficulties further down the line. Head to our guide to how to break in hiking boots for some top tips (and our guide to how to treat blisters if the worst comes to the worst).

Although there are some stunning and super-technical hiking boots that might catch your eye, make sure you actually need the features they're offering before you shell out. Super-stiff mountain boots can be a trial on casual Sundays strolls, but equally, rocking up in trainers for a snowy ascent is a terrible idea. Generally though, the extra support of a good hiking boot will see you happily meander wherever the fancy takes you.

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.

Hiking boot materials and technologies

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 still a good idea before leaving on a major expedition.

Outdoor tech has come a long way in recent years, with huge strides being made in the way the best hiking boots are designed and built, from tech geared to keeping your toes warm in sub-zero conditions, to innovations that help you stay upright on the most treacherous and slippery trails. Here are a few of the most popular hiking boot technologies, and what they do:

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

Best hiking boots: features to look for

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 (although we'd always recommend a pair of the best hiking socks for an added layer of protection). 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 off-road 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.

Do I 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.

A lighter-weight alternative is a walking shoe. Check out our walking boots vs walking shoes explainer if you're deciding between the two.

Mark Mayne
Mark Mayne

Mark Mayne has been covering tech, gadgets and outdoor innovation for longer than he can remember. A keen climber, mountaineer and scuba diver, he is also a dedicated weather enthusiast and flapjack consumption expert. 

With contributions from