The most important tool in the box is probably the one on your feet. Peter Macfarlane, Kirsty Pallas, Fiona Russell and David Lintern take a look at the best walking boots for women, men and children.
Three season boots are the walking footwear most of us wear for a large part of the year, so they are worth careful consideration, especially in relation to fit and expected terrain. Get the fit wrong and you’ll feel uncomfortable or insecure and if your footwear is under- or over-specified for the ground you’ll cover, the simple act of walking will not be as straightforward as it should be.
The best pair of walking boots for three season hiking will need to tick a number of boxes and strike certain balances. They’ll need to have a sturdy sole that can cope with rocky terrain, for instance, but there will also need to be a bit of flex to make the wearer comfortable when covering long distances. A sole that can grip reliably to a range of surfaces, from wet rock to muddy slopes, is always going to be desirable too, plus you’ll want to look for padding and cushioning that will keep you comfortable but without causing overheating if you do need to wear the boots in warmer temperatures.
Do walking boots need to be waterproof?
The best walking boots for hiking in cold and wet weather will be backed up with a waterproof membrane and this will often be in the form of Gore-Tex (though there are many other different fabrics are available). This membrane will block out water from puddles and wet vegetation while also allowing moisture vapour generated from your feet (aka sweat) to escape from the inside.
Related: Best trail shoes for hiking reviewed
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For hiking in conditions that are very likely to be very warm and very dry, you might want to consider walking boots that aren’t lined with a waterproof membrane as this will limit the likelihood of your feet overheating and sweating.
Some hikers will favour non-lined walking boots even when hiking in wet conditions. This will generally be if they own quality, leather boots that have minimal seams and that are well maintained with water resistant wax. It’s a traditional approach but one that many will swear by – check out our guide to re-waterproofing hiking boots and shoes for more info on that. Almost all of the options assessed in this round up have waterproof membranes, but you will find in some instances that brands will sell non-lined versions of them too.
Bear in mind, if your boots are a little old and broken, you could consider whether you can fix them up. This guide on how to repair walking boots should help there.
The best walking boots reviewed 2023
Our experienced gear testers have assessed a broad range of options for this group test, with aspects such as performance, price, reliability and longevity all taken into consideration. The following list shows the walking boots for men and women that have come out on top.
- Inov-8 Roclite Pro G 400 – Best walking boots for women tested
- Oboz Bridger Mid B dry – Best walking boots for men tested
- Vasque St Elias FG GTX
- Salewa Mountain Trainer Mid 2 GTX
- Scarpa Rush Trek GTX
- Salomon X Ultra 4 Mid
- Hanwag Banks II GTX
- Keen Ridge Flex Mid WP
- Berghaus Supalite II GTX
- Craghoppers Adflex Boots – Best value walking boots
- Haglöfs Duality AT1
How we tested them
These walking boots were all tested extensively by outdoor industry professionals within our gear review team. In this instance, our testers were Peter Macfarlane, Kirsty Pallas, Fiona Russell and David Lintern. They were all responsible for the testing and reviewing throughout the entire process and they carried out their assessments in mountainous locations throughout the UK, including in the Cairngorms, Inner Hebrides and the mountains of Snowdonia. The testing season ranged from spring through to autumn and involved short and long hikes over mix terrain.
The best walking boots for women
Here are the best women’s walking boots of 2023, according to our expert testers. Scroll further down the page to find our selection of the best options for men.
Inov-8 Roclite Pro G400 – Best women’s walking boot tested
- Price: £200
- Weight: 850g
- Pros: Comfort, flexibility, grip
- Cons: Price, limited larger sizes, weight quibble
- Rating: 4.5/5
Materials: Schoeller ceramic-coated fabric upper, Gore-Tex membrane, graphene-enhanced rubber soles | Features: sole with ‘iconic’-shaped studs and water dispersion grooves, ‘meta plate pro’, external heel cage | Men’s version: yes | Sizes: UK 3.5 to 8.5 (including half sizes)
Inov-8’s main specialism lies in trail running and there’s a big focus on lightweight performance throughout the brand that extends into their hiking collection. Case in point: the Roclite Pro G400. It’s a light, versatile boot that fits like a slipper, with a narrow to mid-width female fit and a smooth but precise lacing system. The upper, which is made from synthetic mesh, is lined by a Gore-Tex waterproof membrane and there’s light protection at the toe and at the heel where there’s a stabilising external rubber structure.
Then there’s the impressive outsole. This contains graphene, a substance that’s commonly regarded as one of the toughest materials in the world. Inov-8 use this across most of their collection these days in order to increase the lifespan of their products. You’ll find 6mm trail shoe-like lugs across the outsole too, making the Roclite Pro G400 ideal for muddy conditions. The grip is generally good except on wet rocks and tree roots, and the uppers are durable and resist abrasion. Sole rigidity is lacking, so look elsewhere if you prefer a stiffer sole.
Read our full inov-8 Roclite Pro G 400 Gore-Tex women’s boot review
Vasque St Elias FG GTX
- Price: £190
- Weight: 1332g
- Pros: Waterproof, durable, good protection, 2 widths
- Cons: Heavy, reduced breathability
- Rating: 4.5/5
Materials: upper: 2.2mm full-grain leather upper and Nappa leather cuff, Gore-Tex membrane; lining: moisture wicking textile, midsole: ATC (All-Terrain Compound), footbed: dual-density EVA compound; outsole: Vasque ‘exclusive’ Vibram Frontier | Features: midsole with EVA cushioning pods and TPU shank, rockered toe, positive lock heel pocket, rubber toecap, padded tongue, metal eyelets and hooks | Men’s version: yes | Sizes: UK4-9 (including half sizes)
The St Elias FG GTX from U.S. brand Vasque is a solid, sturdy and stable walking boot with a supportive ankle design and three metal hooks for secure, reliable lacing. It has a Gore-Tex membrane for protection from wet weather, puddles, mud and rocks, as well as a rubber toecap and a double layer of leather at the heel. The insole and underfoot cushioning are in the middle range, and the outsole offers reasonable traction on varied terrain. From our tests, we found the lugs can become clogged with dirt – probably due to the fact that the lugs are placed quite close together. This is a boot that could be worn into winter, but in warmer summer weather it may feel a little heavy and warm.
Read our full Vasque St Elias FG GTX review
Salewa Mountain Trainer Mid 2 GTX
Weight: 940g (pair, size 39)
Pros: Climbing lacing, climbing zone on the sole
Cons: Steel cable attachment issue on test sample
Materials: suede | Features: Gore-Tex Performance Comfort lining, Vibram sole, multi fit footbed | Sizes: UK 3-9 | Men’s version: yes
The Salewa Mountain Trainer Mid 2 GTX is a bit of a hybrid that’s good for anything from hill and trail walking to scrambling and mountaineering.
The sole has enough flex to make this comfortable over long distances but then there’s also dependability and performance on rocky, technical terrain too.
It’s waterproof, thanks to its Gore-Tex membrane and the leather upper is very durable with plenty of reinforcement and padding in the right places. Climbing lacing extends right down to the toes giving the potential for a good, close fit.
At £220, it’s not the cheapest of options but, given its versatility and multi-use performance, you are getting some bang for your buck here.
Read our full Salewa Mountain Trainer Mid 2 GTX review.
Scarpa Rush Trek GTX
- Price: £185
- Weight: 930g (pair, size 38)
- Pros: Weight, breathability
- Cons: Narrow fit
- Rating: 4.5/5
Materials: suede and fabric | Features: Gore-Tex Extreme Comfort lining, Presa sole | Sizes: EU 36-42 | Men’s version: yes
Italian brand Scarpa are well known for producing great walking boots and they haven’t dropped the ball here. It’s a well-made reliable boot that’s very versatile, comfortable and agile feeling.
Scarpa have used their own Presa rubber for this boot and during a couple of days of testing on greasy granite our tester found it to be just as grippy as the more common Vibram rubber.
There is a good balance here between durability and weight and the Gore-Tex Extended Comfort lining brings excellent breathable wet weather protection. A comfortable ankle collar gives a nice flexibility, whilst still providing plenty of support on uneven surfaces.
We found that there is a little breaking in needed with this model with one of our testers struggling with the narrowness for a day on the hill. Its very comfortable once broken in though.
Read our full review on the Scarpa Rush TRK GTX
Salomon X Ultra 4 Mid GTX
- Price: £170
- Weight: 824g
- Pros: Comfort, durable, lots of sizes
- Cons: Weight quibble
- Rating: 4/5
Materials: textile /synthetic upper with PU-coated leather details, Gore-Tex membrane (free from PFCs of environmental concern), OrthoLite sock liner, rubber Contagrip outsole with ‘Chevron’ lugs, EVA foam midsole with ‘EnergyCell’ | Features: Advanced Chassis, PFC-free water repellency, SensiFit construction, protective mudguard | Men’s version: yes | Sizes: UK3.5-9.5 (including half sizes
This has a robust synthetic upper with a high level of leather detailing at the toecap, heel and all the way around the rand of the boot. The fit is generous and would best suit a mid to wider foot, and the lacing system, which fabric eyelets, metal eyelets and a metal hook at the ankle, gives a comfortable, precise fit.
They are fairly lightweight at 412g each for the female UK 8.5. The cushioning is medium, and grip is good in most conditions. The heel of the sole is shaped to dig into soft terrain when descending, making it a solid and stable boot with good levels of protection.
Read our full Salomon X Ultra 4 Mid Gore-Tex women’s boot review
The Best Walking Boots For Men
Here’s our selection of the best boots for men, all tested by Peter, David and the wider team at The Great Outdoors.
Oboz Bridger Mid B Dry – Best Men’s Walking Boot Tested
- Price: £160
- Weight: 1220g
- Pros: Comfort, grip, wide range of use
- Cons: Rounded heel
- Rating: 4.5/5
Materials: nubuck leather upper, rubber toe and heel bumper, rubber outsole | Features: Oboz B DRY waterproof lining, O-FIT insole | Sizes: 8-13 including half sizes up to 11; regular and wide fit available | Women’s version: yes
One of the most popular products in Oboz’s collection, the Bridger is a reliable three-season boot that’ll suit anything from hill and country walking to a multi-day hike along a national trail.
It has a snug heel with a regular forefoot and toe box and this allows for natural walking and comfort over long distances.
The outsole is Oboz’s own proprietary design, with deep, aggressive lugs and a rounded heel area. The laces are chunky with easy-to-clean hardware and a padded tongue. The footbed is simple but effective and the ankle is high enough to provide a good level of support on uneven terrain. During tests, the B DRY waterproof liner remained waterproof through months of regular use
The uppers softened over the course of use, and they strike a good balance between protection on difficult rocky terrain and being flexible enough for comfortable hiking on lighter tracks.
Read our full Oboz Bridger Mid B Dry review
Hanwag Banks II GTX
- Price: £210
- Weight: 1430g
- Pros: Comfort, grip, lacing system
- Cons: Weight, cost
- Rating: 4/5
Materials: nubuck leather upper, Vibram rubber outsole | Features: Gore-Tex waterproof lining, extra midsole padding | Sizes: 6-14 including half sizes | Women’s version: yes
German footwear specialists Hanwag have designed the Banks to provide durability, protection and comfort over long distances and over a variety of terrain. From our tests, we found it suitable for rocky trails, boggy moorland and steep inclines.
The upper is leather and suede, the ankle is high and flexible and there’s plenty of padding around the cuff and across the tongue. The lacing system is excellent, the Vibram outsole is aggressively lugged and grips across a wide range of terrain, the Gore-Tex lining remained waterproof through months of testing and the leather upper should be re-proofable in the future using a product from the likes of Nikwax or Grangers. One slight downside is that the Banks is heavy, but the well-designed features offset that in use, and the high price comes partly from the fact it’s manufactured in Europe.
Read our full Hanwag Banks II GTX review
Keen Ridge Flex Mid WP
- Price: £160
- Weight: 1185g
- Pros: Weight, comfort, grip
- Cons: Heel lock feature abrades socks, bellows feature can be felt on your foot
- Rating: 3/5
Materials: leather upper, EVA midsole, rubber outsole | Features: ridge flex bellows, KEEN.DRY waterproof lining, moulded insole, heel lock feature | Sizes: 6-16 with half sizes up to 11 | Women’s version: yes
The Ridge Flex has an unusual and distinctive feature that is designed to make walking easier and to reduce wear and tear on the boot. It features a panel of synthetic material shaped into a series of ridges to act as a bellows, stretching and contracting as the whole boot flexes. One way to describe it is that it works in the same way that a flexi straw would.
The upper is made from leather with durable synthetic overlays at the heel and toe. The fit and comfort is impressive, with a wide forefoot to let the toes splay slightly and then a snug heel.
The outsole is Keen’s proprietary design with reasonably deep lugs and the signature chunky Keen toe bumper that helps to protect the toes. The laces run over a padded tongue, and the webbing lace loops and metal hooks are designed to be easy to keep clean.
Read our full Keen Ridge Flex Mid WP review
Berghaus Supalite II GTX
- Price: £165
- Weight: 1075g
- Pros: Light, easy-care reproofable upper, durable
- Cons: Initial breaking in, grip
- Rating: 4/5
Materials: leather upper, sheep leather inner, Vibram rubber outsole | Features: lightweight, one-piece leather upper, Gore-Tex lining | Sizes: 7-12 including half sizes | Women’s version : yes
Berghaus’ Supalites are the lightest boots in the men’s selection within this review, with a single-piece leather upper (minimising stitching) and a softer sheep leather inside. The sole is a Vibram rubber compound and it has an open and shallow tread pattern. During our tests, we found this sole struggled for grip on very wet grassy and muddy terrain. The leather upper is easy to keep clean and will be easy to reproof in the future, and the inner lining protects the Gore-tex membrane from dirt and abrasion. The lacing is a mix of metal eyes and hooks, and it runs smoothly with a little cleaning after every trip.
Read our full Berghaus Supalite II GTX review
Weight: 902g (pair, size 9)
Pros: Comfortable, grippy sole, light
Materials: synthetic mesh upper, overlay and reinforcement, EVA midsole | Features: high percentage of recycled materials, ghillie lacing, Aquadry waterproof lining, Vibram outsole | Sizes: 6-13 including 6.5 and 9.5 | Women’s version: yes
The Adflex might look chunky and heavy but it’s surprisingly quite lightweight. It has a thick midsole that’s comfortable for longer hikes over rough ground and a breathable synthetic mesh and TPU reinforcements make up the upper. Initially the collar was quite stiff during our tests, but this quickly softened while in use. The waterproof membrane did its job and was excellent at keeping water out.
Overall, at £150 this is one of the better value options out there and it’s a good option to consider if you prefer to hike in lighter, more breathable boots.
Read our full review on the Craghoppers Adflex Boots
Haglöfs Duality AT1 GTX Mid
- Price: £240
- Weight: 1078g
- Pros: Comfortable, grip, adaptability
- Cons: Weight, cost
- Rating: 4/5
Materials: nubuck leather upper, polyester mesh, rubber sole | Features: Gore-tex waterproof lining, interchangeable insoles | Sizes: 6.5-12.5 including half sizes | Women’s version: yes
This unique, lightweight boot has the ability to swap between two insoles, the intention being that you can adapt it to suit different types of hike. The insoles are colour-coded, with red being soft and flexible (good for casual use and light trails) and grey being stiffer and denser (good for rockier trails). The outsole is an excellent outsole with aggressive trail shoe-like levels of traction. The upper is made from perforated leather with plastic reinforcements and there’s a sock-like knitted fabric around the ankle cuff. The laces run through holes in the leather with small metal eyelets higher up. The waterproof Gore-Tex lining has remained intact throughout our tests and there’s been good breathability too.
Read our full review of the Haglöfs Duality AT1 GTX Mid
The best walking boots for kids
David Lintern (and daughter) looks at a trio of outdoor shoes for the under 10s
Versatility, durability, cost – that’s the holy trinity with kids’ stuff. Children grow fast, and that growth needs to be balanced with the heavy wear and tear they subject things to, along with cost. It’s a delicate equation, and one that changes if there’s a younger sibling to factor in, or a local clothing exchange (often informal, community or friendship-based) that can mean extending the life of an item whilst sharing the financial burden. All this, and it needs to be fit for purpose, of course!
What constitutes ‘fit for purpose’? In general, kids are not specialists, and a love of plodding up hills to the exclusion of everything else often comes a bit later in life. My eight-year-old daughter likes to mix things up – a cycle to a local swimhole, a walk to some easy bouldering – and her preferences in this test reflect that versatility. However, much of what informed those preferences was very practical. She was keen to understand which shoes were the grippiest in both wet and dry conditions, and what felt more stable on rocky or rooty ground, as well as which kept her feet the driest and were the most comfortable underfoot. From a parent’s point of view, we’re looking for a good fit that suits her foot shape and doesn’t cramp fast-growing feet, plus something solid that she can hopefully pass down to her brother without us having to shell out for a new pair!
Scarpa Rush GTX
Pros: All-round versatility; for dance class, school sports day, cycling and walking | Cons: Durability
Price: £60 | Weight: 466g (UK kids’ size 2, pair) | Materials: Gore-Tex liner, ‘fabric and film’ upper | Features: vegan-friendly, IKS sole system, mesh and cage upper support, laces | Sizes: UK kids’ 9 to youth 5
These were the standout choice for our young reviewer, and they proved the most versatile. There are also no compromises here – it’s a small version of a really technical, low-cut trail shoe with a Gore-Tex liner.
The sole is the brand’s own excellent ‘Presa’ rubber, offering lots of lugs, good lateral support between heel and ball of the foot, and excellent grip. A soft foam midsole provides plenty of comfort and ‘spring’ but the shoe retains a fairly traditional, low-profile outline, which allows for good attention to footwork; my daughter is confident whilst scrambling in these, as well as cycling and running.
The rubber toe bumper curls around from the sole and is very low-profile, but there is a decent-sized rand at the front, as well as an external ‘mesh and cage system’ that interfaces with the laces to provide excellent support in the upper, especially at the heel.
The shoes are vegan-friendly, but it’s worth noting that synthetic materials aren’t always as durable or breathable as traditional ones. The Gore-Tex liner is still performing well, but the shoes are showing early signs of wear in the foam midsole at the rear of the shoe.
I’m told they can be warm to wear when working hard or in hot weather. They are also tied with traditional laces, which for younger children necessitates parental help. Otherwise, these are fully fledged, technical trail shoes that offer lots of support for a range of activities.
Regatta Kids Samaris
Pros: Underfoot cushioning, wide fit, best in test grip | Cons: None
Price: £80 (in Millets/Blacks sale for £30) | Weight: 624g (UK kids’ size 2, pair) | Materials: 55% polyurethane, 45% polyester upper, rubber outsole | Features: Isotex and Hydropel waterproofing, EVA midsole, Velcro fastening. | Sizes: UK kids’ 9 to youth 6.
The Samaris is a lot of boot for the money – especially at the sale price [see left] – and it’s my daughter’s close second favourite in this small lineup. She told me how protected her feet feel, and how secure her footing is when wearing them.
The outsole is a fairly pliant rubber and features multidirectional lugs, which provided the best in test grip on wet and slippery surfaces, and has so far proved very durable.
There’s ample foot support by way of a shank, which makes for great lateral stability and superb edging. This is paired with a reasonably firm EVA foam midsole, making the Samaris “the most comfortable of all three”.
The upper is a mix of natural and synthetic materials – a chunky, robust PU rand at the toe and heel, and a mix of nubuck and mesh in the middle, upper and tongue.
Fastening is simplified by elastic lacing and a Velcro ankle strap, making the boot easy to get on and off, despite a relatively high and well-padded ankle. Waterproofing is provided by Isotex and a Hydropel DWR.
Treatments and membranes will always fail eventually, especially in footwear; but so far, so good.
These are a firm favourite when there are woods or hills on the agenda. They have a chunky, modern look and should last long enough for my younger son to enjoy wearing them in due course, too.
Keen Targhee kids
Pros: Durability | Cons: Narrow fit at bottom of ankle cuff, underfoot cushioning
Price: £70| Weight: 598g (UK youth size 2, pair) | Materials: LWG -certified leather and textile upper, rubber outsole | Features: PFC-free DWR, Keen. Dry waterproofing, Eco Anti Odor, lace lock bungees | Sizes: UK kids’ 9 to youth 5
The Targhee for kids is a miniature version of the brand’s well-known and long-running general-purpose boot, with some key differences. The boot is similarly well-made with a solid toe bumper, grippy outsole and effective ‘heel capture’ system that in turn is tied into the bungees, which takes care of lacing at the front.
My daughter used these a lot during her woodland-based Brownies activities and commented favourably on the stability and security that the outsole and heel system provided.
So far, the proprietary Keen.Dry waterproofing and PFC-free DWR has kept her feet dry. The leather used in the upper is from a Leather Working Group (LWG)-certified tannery, which shows some attention to environmental concerns, and there’s a mesh liner and padded tongue and collar.
The fit of the kids’ Targhee differs to the adult version – it is narrower where the ankle cuff meets the foot. The extra padding at tongue and cuff can also make it tricky to put on or remove the boot, despite the lack of traditional laces.
My daughter also remarked that she could feel stones through the shoe on the ball of her foot.
Examining the design of the outsole confirms that whilst the boot has good edging and lateral support between the heel and the toe, the rubber in the centre of the sole is thinner, with fewer lugs. These are durable choice for young walkers if the shoe fits well.
How to choose walking boots: what makes a good pair?
The sole perhaps the most important component of a boot – it’s what connects you to the ground. You could be wearing the best-fitting boots in the world, but without a good sole they won’t do you any good.
The make of rubber will affect how grippy and hard-wearing it is, with Vibram and Michelin often being used for walking boots. Deep lugs help with grip on grass and moorland terrain, and some boots might have a smoother area at the toe – the climbing zone – which is useful for scrambling and climbing.
This is the section between the sole and the footbed. The stiffness and flexibility of a boot depend on how, and with what materials, the midsole is constructed. A ‘shank’ will make the boot stiffer, which is required if you want to use crampons; but with less flex, walking on less challenging terrain may feel more tiring.
The drop between the heel and toes is also dependent on what the midsole is constructed of, with a minimalist or ‘barefoot’ style having little or no drop whilst providing less protection.
The materials used here make a difference to how breathable your boot is, and how long it will take to break in. Leather takes the longest to mould to your feet, and isn’t as breathable or as light, but has some natural waterproof properties.
Suede is a little softer than full-grain leather and nubuck but is lighter and more breathable. Synthetic materials are the lightest and most breathable, but due to more external stitching they may not be as durable.
Some models rely on the waterproof nature of leather, whilst others use a membrane as well, whether that is Gore-Tex or a brand’s own. Regular waxing or other treatment will lengthen a boot’s life and improves the chance of dry feet.
- Ankle support
A leather boot can often feel more structured and sturdy, whilst a fabric or synthetic boot may provide more flex. Look for hooks, or cleats, that can be used to tighten the boot around your ankle. A drop at the back of the ankle collar will allow a bit more flexibility, albeit with compromises on the support given.
Lacing is a key way to tune the fit of your boots. Some lacing designs start near the toes, which is often better for wider feet. A locking cleat to keep the heel in place before lacing up the ankle can also be useful.
This is the part your foot sits directly on. Different boots are designed with a wide or narrow forefoot, a narrow heel or arch support in mind.
The adage ‘try before you buy’ is critical with footwear. Ensure you don’t feel hot spots or rubbing, to prevent blisters and corns later. It’s worth wearing the boots around the house whilst they’re new, and perfecting the fit to your feet, before venturing out for a full day on the hill.