Picking a new pair of hiking boots can be a complicated endeavour. There's a lot of choice out there, as well as a lot of jargon (ultra-lightweight microporous expanded polytetrafluoroethylene membrane, anyone?), so if you’re on the hunt for one pair of trusty boots it’s worth taking time over it.
First up, decide if you'd rather plump for leather, which is naturally waterproof, long-lasting and good-looking, but stiffer, heavier and harder to wear in, or fabric boots, which tend to be lighter and comfier on the feet, rather like wearing trainers, but less warm in harsh weather and not as durable.
If you're shelling out on just one pair of boots and you'd like a good all-rounder, aim to spend around the £100 mark and pick something engineered with Gore-Tex (sometimes written GTX), which is a reliable waterproofing system. It’s absolutely crucial that you buy a pair which fit you perfectly, with enough room to wriggle your toes and no tightness anywhere. These 10 styles stand out as well designed, rugged and weatherproof contenders, but make sure you try on as many pairs as you can (wearing decent hiking socks) to see which suits you best. Happy hiking.
1. Scarpa Peak Gore-Tex Boot: £160, Cotswold Outdoor
Scarpa’s Peak really stood out on test. These beauties have the ease and comfort of a fabric boot with the toughness and all-weather tech of a leather one, and can withstand any storm you care to chuck at them. A higher cut keeps ankles secure, and while the laces are a bit of a fiddle to hook up properly, once on the Peaks will go the distance with you over hill and fell.
2. Merrell Moab Gore-Tex: £115, Merrell
Merrill's Moab means business. This boot boasts Vibram soles, which are thick, hardwearing and give tons of grip, as well as Gore-Tex: boots with both are certainly a sensible choice. The Moab is rather functional and frill-free to look at, but its tough outer membrane is breathable and quick to dry. A lower cut means more flexibility but a little less ankle support.
3. Keen Terradora Waterproof Boot: £109.99, Keen Footwear
Fun and quirky is Keen’s signature style, and it’s stuck to its roots with the new Terradora, a bright spark in a sea of brown and grey hiking boots. The Terradora still packs all the techie treats you need, though, and is fully waterproof, with comfy, cushiony soles. A good choice for summer hikes and travelling.
4. Hi-Tec Equilibrio Bijou Low I Waterproof Shoe: £39, Cotswold Outdoor
Summer hikes and scrambles call for a lighter, trainer-style shoe, and Hi-Tec’s Equilibrio is perfect for the job, with a puddle-proof outer layer and a good grip even on slippy rock. The outer layer claims to repel dirt, and it’s true that they’re easy to dry and clean. Hi-Tec’s range of winter hiking boots are also all of decent quality (and often under the £75 mark). A great value pair.
5. Hanwag Womens Tatra Gore-Tex Boots: £200, Cotswold Outdoor
The Tatra's hefty price tag reflects how downright brilliant this rust-red beauty of a hiking boot is. If you're investing in a boot to last you the next decade, this baby is the one for you. Gore-Tex and Vibram soles are on hand to keep you warm and dry, and butter-soft leather outers and fleece-lined inners will treat your feet while you hike. Definitely a luxe option if you’re feeling flash.
6. Hi Gear Snowdon Waterproof: £40, Go Outdoors
This is an affordable, all-leather all-rounder. Hi Gear's Snowdon is rather bulky and not the slickest of boots, but it's durable, comfortable and fully waterproof, with a tough full-grain leather upper. A brilliant boot for tackling its namesake, Snowdon, or for wearing on Duke of Edinburgh adventures.
7. Jack Wolfskin MTN Storm Texapore: £65, Cotswold Outdoor
A pocket-friendly price for a great wet-weather boot. The Mountain Storm uses a Texapore membrane to keep toes dry. If you normally find hiking boots clunky and heavy, try these – the boots feel light, cushiony and comfortable, with decent ankle support, and are easy to care for. Ideal if you’re just getting in to trekking. Also available in a “mid” version with higher ankle support.
8. Lowa Renegade Gore-Tex Mid Boot: £150, Cotswold Outdoor
The Renegade is one of Europe’s best-selling outdoor boots, reckons Lowa. It’s certainly an easy choice, with a sturdy, Gore-Tex upper of nubuck leather, chunky Vibram soles and great ankle support. They do fit a tad on the narrow side, though, so aren’t best suited to walkers with wider feet.
9. Columbia Redmond Mid Waterproof Shoe: £80, Cotswold Outdoor
Waterproof meets breathable in the Redmond, ideal if your feet tend to overheat a bit in sports shoes. Columbia’s Omni-Tech™ treatment does the waterproofing, their Omni-Grip™ does, well, what it says on the tin, and clings on like a limpet to valley paths and rocky passes. There’s also a lower cut version if you’re after a shoe rather than a boot.
10. AKU Ultra Light Micro Gore-Tex: £180, AKU
AKU’s all-Italian made footwear is invariably handsome to look at, and the bright colours and retro cut of these Ultra Lights make me think of mountain climbers in the 80s. A Vibram sole lets you stride for miles and the flexible, elasticated upper hugs ankles really well, keeping rain and dirt out of your socks. Slick enough to wear around town, although the suede outer layer will need more carful cleaning than most.
The Verdict: Women’s hiking boots
We’d recommend trying on a few of the above on for yourself before splashing the cash, but the standout pair from this test are the Scarpa Peaks – a fantastic, reliably waterproof and hard-wearing pair of boots which should last you for years. If you’re on a budget but want something of decent quality, Jack Wolfskin’s functional Mountain Storm will do you proud, and if you can afford to splash out, treat yourself to Hanwag’s gorgeous Tatra.
Sian Anna Lewis is a travel and outdoors writer and editor of The Girl Outdoors blog.
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