Has the advent of long, sun-soaked spring days got you itching to lace up your boots and head outdoors? Make sure you’ve got the right protection on your feet first, with our pick of the best men’s hiking boots on the market (we’ve found ones for women, too).
First up, you’ll need to decide whether you want a leather or fabric design. Leather boots are heavier but will last for years if you care for them. They can feel stiff and unforgiving when new, but will mold to your feet over time. Fabric boots are a lot comfier straight out of the box, are usually lighter and feel more like wearing trainers on the trail.
If you’re planning on hiking all year round, high-cut boots are your best bet – they’re warmer and offer better ankle support. If you’re after something to take on summer travels, lower cut hiking shoes (basically very rugged trainers) are a good option and easier to wear around town as well as in the hills. When it comes to fit, make sure there’s lots of room to wiggle your toes and no tightness around your heels, and always try boots on whilst wearing proper hiking socks.
The brand buzzwords to look for are Vibram soles, which are tough, bouncy and hard-wearing, and boots treated with Gore-Tex, sometimes written GTX, a reliable waterproofing agent. Companies often use their own versions of these technologies – make sure the pair you buy claim to be waterproof, and not just water resistant.
1. Lowa Renegade GTX Mid Boot: £150, Cotswold Outdoor
There’s a lot of lovely stuff packed into the Renegade. A seamless lining and soft, cushioned insoles keep feet comfortable mile after mile, while the tough yet lightweight Vibram soles won’t weigh you down. The higher cut protects ankles and the Gore-Tex nubuck leather outer is as good-looking as it is waterproof. An outstanding all-rounder of a boot.
2. Columbia Men’s Redmond Waterproof Mid Hiking Shoe: £80, Columbia
This is a well-priced, comfortable and versatile hiking shoe. The Redmond is fully waterproof, using Columbia’s own Omni-Tech treatment to keep rain out. Well-designed midsoles offer cushiony support and the soles’ tough grip offers great traction, even on wet days. They’re ideal for warmer but changeable weather.
3. AKU Alterra GTX: £179.95, Nightgear
The new Alterra is a good-looking, waterproof addition to all-Italian brand AKU’s line-up of modern, comfortable boots with retro looks. If you’re prone to rolling your ankles, try this pair - an elasticated tongue and well-designed lacing system give great support on uneven terrain.
4. Mammut Men’s Ayako High GTX Walking Boot: £144, Go Outdoors
Climbers and ambitious hikers will love these. They’re designed to give great grip on via ferrata routes and steep rocky trails, a job they do excellently. And it’s a boot that means business, cramming in design features including memory foam insoles, liquid rubber waterproofing and climbing compatible soles.
5. Brasher Men’s Country Master Walking Boot: £150, Blacks
A classic for good reason, Brasher’s sturdy boot is surprisingly breathable for such a solid-looking boot. Our tester loved the Country Master’s timeless looks and waterproof, buttery-soft leather uppers, as well as the pillowy foot beds.
6. Jack Wolfskin Vojo Hike Mid Texapore: £75, Jack Wolfskin
These are so light and comfortable you can just sling them on and forget about them. Jack Wolfskin’s Vojos are a no-fuss choice at a pocket-friendly price - ideal for summer hikes or Duke of Edinburgh challenges. The soft suede outer may need more careful cleaning than most, though.
7. Danner Mountain Pass: From £299.33, Danner
Danner’s coveted leather creations are the hipsters of the hiking boot world, but that doesn’t mean they put style over substance. These beautiful boots are carefully crafted in Portland using Vibram soles and Gore-Tex leather uppers, and are also a sustainable choice, as Danner will repair your boots for a reasonable fee if they get damaged. Pick them if you want to invest in something special. Available in four colours.
8. Karrimor Munro Men Walking Boots: £38, Sports Direct
If you’re hunting for a bargain, look no further than Karrimor’s cheap-as-chips Munros. These smart, simple leather boots offer fantastic support and comfortable insoles, and are so waterproof our tester reckoned sporting them was ‘like wearing wellingtons’. An absolute steal for such a well-made boot.
9. Merrell Phaserbound Waterproof: £145, Merrell
These are a great pick for cold-weather walking, as the fully waterproof uppers, higher cut ankles and soft, fleecy lining work together brilliantly to protect your feet from the elements. Merrell recommends this strong and sturdy boot for backpacking and they’re definitely comfortable enough to go long distances, although you might overheat on summer hikes.
10. Adidas Terrex Swift R: £94.95, Adidas
If you don’t like the feel of clunky hiking boots weighing you down then this lightweight Terrex pair will be right up your street. They look like running trainers but perform like hiking shoes, with Gore-Tex and exceptionally grippy soles, which don’t bat an eyelid at wet rock. Take them hiking or trail running – they can take the pace.
The Verdict: Men’s hiking boots
It’s worth testing out as many boots as you can to find out what styles (and often which brands) suit your feet the best. You simply cannot get a great pair of hiking boots for a better price than Karrimor’s Munro, making them a smart choice for weekend hikes. But if you can afford to invest in a well-designed all-rounder that can cope with more serious mileage, Lowa’s Renegade ticks all the boxes for waterproofing, sturdiness and comfort.
Sian Anna Lewis is a travel and outdoors writer and editor of The Girl Outdoors blog.
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