Hiking boots (Shutterstock: see caption below)
Article 02 July

Traveller's guide to: Walking boots

Whether you’re meandering down easy trails, traversing Alpine paths or climbing mountains, a good pair of 3-Season Boots will be versatile enough to keep your feet in good walking order throughout your adventures…

What's 3 season?

Boots come graded most commonly as 3, 3/4 and 4 season. 4 season boots have a very stiff sole and are designed to take a crampon so are no good unless you’re stepping up to winter mountaineering. 3/4 can be a good option if you think you might want to take your walking above the snowline – as they will often take a crampon in an emergency. But for everyday walking, on a multitude of terrain (but not snow), year-round, you can’t go far wrong with 3 season footwear. They will offer your feet and ankles enough support for backpacking trips (when your pack will be heavier), protection from loose stones and rocks when walking on trickier ground, but be light enough to be suitable for lower level trails too.

Key considerations when choosing walking boots

Weight
As usual for travellers this is key. Going light is great, but do check the other features of the boot to make sure you’re not getting a lower weight at the expense of less-comfortable cushioning for your foot, good lugs for grip, or support for your ankles.

Fabric
This can be leather or synthetic. It’s worth bearing in mind that a boot with less panels and stitching should, in theory, last longer, although it may often mean a heavier weight. Synthetic fabric also looks a bit more modern though and may be your preference.

Outsole
Turn the boot over and look the lugs – deeper ones will take longer to wear and grip better on muddy surfaces. Some boots will also have a heel breast to help you grip better going downhill.

Cushioning
In order to make the boots lighter, there is sometimes less cushioning underfoot. Check how much there is by putting the boot on and walking on uneven terrain and stamping your feet – you’ll quickly feel the difference between those with a lot of cushioning and those without. Some people don’t need much, others prefer more, so choose what’s right for you. If you plan on doing a lot of walking over multiple days then more cushioning is preferable.

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

Berghaus – Expeditor AQ Suede £90


THE TEST: Made from a combo of mesh and suede panels, the Expeditor has the look of a multi-activity shoe. And it does have that feel too, with a fairly bendy sole making it better on lower level tracks than rough off-piste walking. Though at the lower end of the price range, it does boast a waterproof lining and at 945g (pair, women’s UK size 5.5) – the third lightest here – they’re a good weight too.

There’s a decent amount of cushioning, but you can still feel rocks and stones as you trek over them. The toe box is less solid than some but a small rubber rand and a suede panel does help give some protection. Suede also helps at the heel too, holding the foot in place. Underfoot there’s a nice selection of lugs – good on muddy surfaces – as well as a heel breast. If you’re looking for some ankle support and an upgrade from walking shoes then these are a step in the right direction.

THE VERDICT: A well-priced boot that doesn’t feel too hardcore and a great option for those doing mainly lower level hikes on trails.

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

www.berghaus.com

Mammut– Atlas Mid GTX £110

THE TEST: Known for higher priced, quality footwear, Mammut now offer this budget-friendly boot. The catch? They’re only available from Go Outdoors, but with a discount card you can get these for £99. At 841g (pair, women’s UK size 5.5) they’re the lightest here and a great option for those needing to lighten their luggage. However, as with the Berghaus model, they have a bendy sole – less versatile if you want them to take you onto rougher, higher ground.

The outsole features a good set of lugs for grip, though there isn’t as pronounced a heel breast as with others. A rubber rand helps reinforce the toe box and the heel offers some support for the ankle. There’s a good amount of cushioning, but you can definitely feel rocky ground through these. Externally they’re made from suede and mesh panels and feature a Gore-Tex lining for waterproofness.

THE VERDICT: A budget option if you want a little more support than a shoe but for more versatility you may prefer a stiffer sole.

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

Exclusively from www.gooutdoors.co.uk

Zamberlan Zenith Mid GTX £125

THE TEST: For an extra £15 you can opt for this model from Zamberlan, which looks more like a climbing boot due to its extensive lacing. These work well in helping get a secure fit and, along with a stifer panel of suede at the heel, hold the foot in place. The toe box is covered by a large rubber rand. Like several of the others here, the sole is fairly bendy, which won’t matter on shorter and low-level hikes, but may result in tired feet on multi-day trekking.

The cushioning is reasonable but you can still feel stones through them if leaving well-maintained paths. Underfoot, the outsole features well-spaced and different sized lugs to help with grip as well as a slight heel breast, though not as pronounced as others. At 903g (pair, women’s UK size 5.5) these are the second lightest on test, but those venturing onto tricky terrain may find others perform better.

THE VERDICT: Offers an excellent fit and is ideal for shorter, lower level walking, though other options will offer more versatility.

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

www.zamberlan.uk.com

TEVA Riva Peak Mid £140

THE TEST: The first thing you notice about Teva’s 3-season boots are they're made from full grain leather. In theory, less stitching and panels offer good durability and leather can offer a good long-term investment. As such the price tag is competitive. The firm toe box is protected by a generous rubber rand. The heel holds the ankle in place and the softer leather around the cuff adds comfort. It’s lined with waterproof eVent, offering excellent breathability.

Underfoot, there’s a good amount of cushioning – you can feel some rocks but less so than with others. The sole offers a balance between flex and stiffness and, coupled with the outsole’s good set of lugs and heel breast, these will be good on both trails and rougher ground. But all this does come at a heavier weight however – 1221g (pair, women’s UK size 6; no half sizes available), the heaviest here.

THE VERDICT: A good price for a boot that’s versatile enough to use on lower level walks and on rockier ground – if a little weighty.

IN BRIEF

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

www.teva.co.uk

Asolo Revert GV £150

THE TEST: Lighter than its leather counterparts, but still packing in lots of features, is the Revert. Made from synthetic panels and Gore-Tex lined, it offers good waterproofness and breathability. There’s a solid toe box with a sizeable protective rubber rand and a sturdy heel to keep your foot in place. The sole boasts a rugged set of varied, well-spaced lugs as well as a heel breast for better grip.

It’s also stiff enough to stop your feet getting too tired on rough ground but offers enough flex to be comfortable on low-level walks too. There’s also a reasonable amount of cushioning underfoot – not as much as some featured here, but enough to keep you comfy. Weight-wise these are the fourth lightest on test, coming in at 999g (pair, women’s UK size 5.5), but for what you get in terms of features that’s not a deal breaker.

THE VERDICT: Offering all the features you need for a range of walks but at a lighter weight, the Revert is an ideal choice for those not keen on traditional full leather.

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

www.asolo.com

Brasher Supalite II GTX £150

THE TEST: This classic-looking walking boot is made from durable full grain British leather with very little stitching or panels meaning these should last well. The toe box features a small rubber rand but is still very firm, offering great protection. The heel is also sturdy holding your foot in place well. It’s Gore-Tex lined so is waterproof and breathable. Though some on test offer a little more cushioning, there’s still a good amount here and due to the stiffer sole (the stiffest here) you don’t even feel much on trickier terrain, which really helps with comfort.

Despite being feature-packed and full leather they weigh 1,012g (pair, women’s UK size 5.5), the fifth heaviest here, though these don’t feel clumpy. The outsole has a pronounced heel breast and well spaced lugs for grip. If you prefer a sportier look go for Asolo, otherwise these will see you right on all your adventures.

THE VERDICT:
A traditional boot that offers great features, support and durability and will be good both on and off trails.

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

www.brasher.co.uk