Female hiker on mountain (Shutterstock: see credit below)
Review Words : Phoebe Smith | 08 June

Traveller's guide to: Mid-height walking footwear

With more ankle support than a shoe but less bulk than a full-on boot, mids can be a great, versatile choice for both hiking on trails or sightseeing in cities

Mids are mid-height or mid-heeled footwear – think short boot or high shoe. The cuff around the ankle rises to around half the height of a ‘proper’ walking boot, offering some extra support compared with a shoe. They’re not ideal for tackling a full-on multi-day hike such as the Inca Trail, but they are good for trips that combine some longer lower-level walks on well-defined trails with casual strolls and general sightseeing.

Fabric:
Mids are usually made of synthetic fabric, distinguishing themselves from more traditional leather walking boots. Bear in mind that a boot with fewer panels and less stitching should, in theory, last longer.

Weight: Choosing lightweight mids is great for your luggage allowance, but make sure the lower weight does not mean sacrificing other features – eg less cushioning or smaller lugs, which may compromise grip.

Mid-sole: Before you try the mids on, push the toe end up towards the tongue to see how flexible the sole is. A bendy sole isn’t a problem if you’ll be walking on lower, flatter, level surfaces but if you will be walking over a lot of uneven terrain you may want something firmer so that your feet don’t get tired.

Toe: A stiffer toe box will offer better protection from knocks (push down on it to see how firm it is). Also look at the rubber rand (the bit that covers the upper with the sole) – the larger it is, the better protection and durability it offers.

Outsole: Turn the mids over to look at the lugs (indentations) – deeper ones will take longer to wear and will grip better on muddy surfaces. Some will also have a pronounced heel breast to help you grip better going downhill.

Cushioning: Lighter footwear often has less cushioning underfoot. Put the mids on and try walking on uneven terrain and stamping your feet – you’ll quickly feel the difference between mids with a lot of cushioning and those without. Choose the level of cushioning that feels right for you.



Regatta

Garsdale Mid, £70

The test: If your budget is tight, you might want to consider this offering from Regatta. Weighing 936g a pair (size 6), they are towards the heavier end of those on test (fourth lightest) but are by far the cheapest.

What you lose by paying less are some of the finishing touches that make the other mids more comfortable. For instance, the toe box is much softer than the others on test, offering you less protection from bumping against rocks; the heel is also softer. There is noticeably less cushioning underfoot and the sole is very bendy; these two factors may mean your feet tire quicker on longer walks or on rough terrain. I found that the tongue rubbed a little – be sure to try these on before you buy them to ensure they fit your feet well.

The Garsdales do feel reasonably light on the foot and offer a varied mix of lugs for gripping on mud (though others are more aggressive) and a heel breast. They also have a waterproof lining – a bonus at this price.

The verdict: Lacking some of the finishing touches of the pricier brands, this is an option for those who need to save.

Features: ★★★★★
Design: ★★★✩✩
Comfort: ★★★✩✩
Versatility: ★★★✩✩
Value: ★★★★✩
Overall: ★★★✩✩

www.regatta.com

Berghaus

Exp Trail VII GTX, £120

The test: Made mainly from one piece of leather, and with a waterproof lining, these mids are built to last. And it’s not just their upper: the sole has a set of well-spaced, aggressive lugs and a pronounced heel breast for good grip on slippery ground.

The toe box is nice and solid, to protect against loose stones, and there’s a small rand to help with durability. Underfoot there’s a fair amount of cushioning, which helps with comfort. There’s a fairly solid heel, offering good support. However, the mid-sole is a bit more flexible than you’d imagine based on how sturdy it looks – and other mids on test offer more rigid soles, better for those hoping to do longer walks on mixed terrain.

Height-wise, these sit comfortably over the ankle. Weight-wise, they come in at 885g (size 6), the third-lightest on test. They’re also priced competitively. The main drawback? They’re only available for women, so men miss out.

The verdict: Built to last, though fairly flexible, these will be good for travellers looking to do lower-level walks – just a shame Berghaus doesn’t make them for men too!

Features: ★★★★★
Design: ★★★★✩
Comfort: ★★★★✩
Versatility: ★★★★✩
Value: ★★★★✩
Overall: ★★★★✩

www.berghaus.com

Keen

Durand Mid, £140

The test: Like the Meindls, these mids are a little higher than some, but they also sit well on the ankle. However, that’s where the comparison ends.

The Durand has a nice bit of cushioning underfoot, making them good on more uneven terrain. Also, the mid-sole strikes a great balance between rigidity and flex, so these are a good option for valley walks and meanders in towns as well as for jumping on and off planes and trains. The toe box is reinforced for a good amount of protection and the heel is supported too.

Underfoot there’s a good, varied set of fairly aggressive lugs as well as a heel breast (though others are more pronounced). Inside there’s a waterproof liner.

Where the Durands fall down a little is on weight: at 1,144g (size 6) a pair these are the heaviest on test. But what they offer in design features makes the pay-off worthwhile.

The verdict: A heavier option but, with good features and cushioning, these are a great, versatile choice for travellers.

Features: ★★★★★
Design: ★★★★✩
Comfort: ★★★★★
Versatility: ★★★★★
Value: ★★★★✩
Overall: ★★★★★

www.keenfootwear.com



Salomon

X Ultra Mid 2 GTX, £130

The test: The first thing you notice when you put these on is the weight. At 847g a pair (size 6), they are the second-lightest on test. However, with the loss of weight come a few reductions in comfort. It feels like they have less cushioning underfoot than some of the others on test, though there’s some padding to help on uneven ground. The mid-sole is – unsurprisingly – bendy, often the way with lighter footwear; this isn’t a problem for those who like to walk fast and light, but those heading on longer hikes may find their feet get tired.

The toe box is fairly soft, offering more limited protection. The heel, though supported, is less solid than on other models. Underfoot there is a good, well-spaced set of lugs to help with grip; the sole would have benefitted from a more pronounced heel breast though. However, for the weight and features (they are also waterproof lined), they are reasonably priced.

The verdict: A good option for those for whom weight and price are important, as long as you don’t mind a little less cushioning.

Features: ★★★★★
Design: ★★★★✩
Comfort: ★★★✩✩
Versatility: ★★★✩✩
Value: ★★★★✩
Overall: ★★★★✩

www.salomon.com

Meindl

Respond Mid GTX, £140

The test: Though fairly high-backed for a mid, these do sit well on the ankle and offer a comfortable fit straight from the box.

As with the Salomon mids, these are good for those who are looking for a luggage-limitpleasing weight, coming in at 842g (size 6) for the pair – the lightest on test. Despite the low weight, these Meindls offer a little more cushioning underfoot, which does help with comfort. However, the soles are still very bendy, which won’t be a problem on shorter strolls but may start to make your feet ache on longer trail walks.

These have a waterproof lining, but the toe box is soft and the heel support is less than on other models tested here. Underfoot there’s a well-spaced set of lugs to help with grip. There is also something of a heel breast, though this is not as pronounced as on some of the others here.

The verdict: A lightweight option that offers a reasonable amount of cushioning – great for shorter walking days and tackling more even trails.

Features: ★★★★★
Design: ★★★★✩
Comfort: ★★★★✩
Versatility: ★★★★✩
Value: ★★★★✩
Overall: ★★★★✩

www.meindl.co.uk

Oboz

Yellowstone Bdry, £125

The test: This Montana-based company is new to the UK market. Its Yellowstones are a great mid-level height, offering a good compromise between a shoe and boot.

With the shoelaces extending quite far down the foot, almost like a climbing shoe, these offer an excellent fit. The upper is comprised of large pieces of material, good for durability, and there is a waterproof lining. They also provide a decent amount of cushioning underfoot. The outsole has a good level of bend, being midway between flexible and stiff – good for both strolls in town and walks on trails. The toe box is sturdy and the heel is supportive and not too soft.

Underneath there’s a nice, varied set of lugs, with something of a heel breast – though this is not quite as pronounced as others on test. Weight-wise, these come in at 1,024g (size 6), second-heaviest on test, but that’s not bad considering all the features they offer – and all for a good price.

The verdict: A nice, versatile option for travellers – a good halfway point between a shoe and a boot.

Features: ★★★★★
Design: ★★★★✩
Comfort: ★★★★✩
Versatility: ★★★★★
Value: ★★★★★
Overall: ★★★★✩

www.obozfootwear.com


Main image: Female hiker on mountain (Shutterstock)