(The Gear Loop) - If recent times have taught us anything, escaping constant Zoom meetings to hike across the countryside is one of life’s necessities. But, if you’re going to ditch the laptop and head into the wilderness, you need more than a Thermos flask and an adventurous disposition. The first thing on your list should without a doubt be a good pair of hiking boots.
One of the easiest (and most likely) things when shopping for a pair of hiking boots is to follow the herd and land on something that sells in big volume. It’s not always the most sensible option, but it happens a lot and makes sense for many novice walkers, where price is a big consideration.
Here, we’ve collated some of the most popular hiking boots on the market, taking sales data from the likes of Cotswold Outdoors, Snow + Rock and other online retailers to produce a shortlist of some of the most sought after and affordable out there.
As any hiker will tell you, your boots can make or break any trip. You may be able to get away with a jacket or pair of trousers that aren’t quite perfect for the job, but your boots need to be as reliable as the family Labrador.
Choosing the right pair of boots for your hikes isn't always a simple task, though. The number of options available can be overwhelming, with brands developing an increasing number of targeted designs focussing on all types of terrain, weather and mileage.
It may seem simple, but the first thing you need to do when deciding on a pair of hiking boots is to determine what type of hiking you’re going to be doing. If you’re looking at spending 90 per cent of your time walking across muddy fields, don’t pick up a pair of boots with features specifically built for traversing equatorial mountain paths.
Likewise, if you’re going to be doing all of your trips in blistering heat, avoid heavily padded options built for adverse weather conditions. Trust us, sweaty feet bring a host of often smelly problems to your carefully planned trip.
Here we run through the most popular hiking boots available to buy at the moment. No bold claims and fancy materials designed by NASA, just reliable options that real hikers rate.
The most popular hiking boots
Scarpa Terra II GTX
- Very comfortable
- Easy to clean
- Good waterproofing
- Narrow fit
- Unappealing design
It might not be a looker but the Scarpa Terra II GTX is a reliable workhorse that’s praised for its comfort and durability.
As well as having an easy to clean full-grain leather upper, the Gore-Tex waterproof exterior can easily handle the worst the weather throws at it.
There’s also a hard-wearing outsole that offers a good level of grip for lighter trails. It is, however, worth noting that some users have said the boot comes up narrow.
- Keeps feet warm in cold weather
- Great value
- Unapealing design
- Low durability
Another boot that looks like the design team stopped trying out new ideas in the 1980s, the Hi-Tec Eurotrek isn’t going to garner many likes on Instagram. But when you’re pushing through gale-force winds across Dartmoor, the last thing any serious hiker cares about is style kudos.
The fact that the Hi-Tec Eurotrek was seen on ITV's I'm a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here may not be the seal of approval most hikers wants, but it’s inclusion in the Duke of Edinburgh Awards recommended kit list suggests that it’s a boot worth investing in.
According to those that bought a pair it offers an impressive level of comfort that keeps feet warm in cold conditions, although the low price may be a trade-off for less durability.
Berghaus Baltra Trek GTX
- Very warm
- Snug, supportive fit
- Some reported durability issues
The main focus of the Berghaus Baltra Trek GTX is winter conditions. The suede upper combines with a hidden Gore-Tex lining to keep the cold and rain out while you’re feet are toasty inside.
According to some of the boot’s many satisfied customers, it’s a great option if you’re looking for comfort and cushioning with a good level of support in the midsole for long hikes over varied trails.
The boot also comes with some great features for long days out on the fells, with an anti-odour footbed, a good level of shock absorption in the midsole and directional lugs to offer grip on tricky surfaces.
Peter Storm Millbeck
- Good grip for varied terrain
- Waterproofing isn’t great
Anybody who’s ever wandered around Millets looking for cheap equipment will have inevitably stumbled across Peter Storm. But, although it’s a brand most people would associate with budget products, it still offers some great kit that’s surprisingly impressive when put to the test.
The RRP for the Peter Storm Millbeck may be a bit punchy for a budget option when compared with other boots out there, but you can generally find it cheaper at most outlets or when hunting for deals online.
At a discounted rate, it’s a great option that delivers a comfortable supportive design with a competent level of grip for most terrain. The only downside that buyers have mentioned is a lack-lustre level of waterproofing when tackling wet ground.
La Sportiva TX4 Mid GTX
- Supportive, sturdy design
- Impressive grip
- Not very versatile
The La Sportiva TX4 isn’t your average hiking boot, so unless you’re planning on hitting some technical mountain terrain, it may be worth looking elsewhere.
But, for those taking things up a notch, there are few brands out there that have the same level of kudos as La Sportiva when it comes to tackling a few tricky climbs.
The high collar design is built to protect the ankle from pointy rocks, while the "STB Control System" delivers structure and torsion for traversing.
There’s also Gore-Tex waterproofing to protect from the elements and a "MegaGrip" Vibram outsole – a very useful feature when you’re staring down into the abyss.
Unlike many of the cheaper options on the list – where popularity is largely due to value for money – the La Sportiva TX4 Mid GTX is a shoe that’s reassuringly pricy.
If you’re going to climb up a mountain, saving a few pennies should be at the bottom of your priorities. This is popualr for a reason. It's very good.
Brasher Country Walker
- Very comfortable
- Great durability
- Poor waterproofing
- The traditional design may not be for everyone
Brasher may not be a brand that normally goes hand in hand-in-hand with modern trends but, like Barbour wax jackets, its popularity comes from sticking to its guns where style is concerned.
The Brasher Country Walker is a general walking boot that’s doesn’t mess about, offering a reliable level of comfort and support when heading out for day walks in the countryside.
There’s a waterproof leather upper, a Vibram outsole for grip and a soft EVA midsole to take the brunt of the mileage when you’re out in the wilderness.
Satisfied Country Walker customers talk at length about the durability of the boot and how they stay comfortable for many years of wear.
The only downside is that the waterproofing doesn’t tend to match up to other boots out there and you need to keep on top of applying protective balm to keep them at their best.
Merrell Moab 2 Mid Boot
- Extra comfort features
- Flexible upper design
- Poor waterproofing
There aren’t many hiking boots out there as popular as the Merrell Moab 2 Mid. According to the brand, it has been worn by 20 million people since the first version was released and shows no signs of slowing down.
Where many boots opt for a traditional design, the Merrell Moab 2 Mid wants nothing to do with it. The synthetic leather upper is built for comfort and flexibility, combining a Gore-Tex layer with a light breathable mesh lining.
There’s also a big focus on comfort, with an EVA contoured footbed with added zonal arch and heel support, as well as an air cushion in the heel to absorb shock and add stability.
On the downside, some of those 20 million wearers have hinted that the waterproofing isn’t great.
Salewa Mountain Trainer
- Excellent waterproofing
- A firm, stable fit
- Not very versatile
Built for alpine trekking, the Salewa Mountain Trainer is a boot made for the toughest conditions. As a result, it’s packed with features that aim to make ascending and descending as enjoyable as possible.
These include a 'Flex Collar' to allow the foot to move naturally during descents and a dual-density midsole that’s ergonomically shaped to provide comfort over longer hikes.
The popularity of the Mountain Trainer is largely down to its reliability when hitting technical terrain, with customers singing its praises when it comes to the sturdy design for reliability on tricky ground as well as an impressive level of waterproofing.
What to look for in a pair of hiking boots
The type of boot you buy is largely dependent on the terrain you’re planning to hike and the amount of time you’re planning on moving. However, there are some fundamental features that you should look out for when buying a pair of hiking boots.
The most important feature for most people is comfort. Whether you’re enjoying a long walk across the British countryside or climbing up a mountain path in the Dolomites, if your boots have even the slightest hint of ill-fitting, it will turn you’re halcyon outdoor trip into a world of rubbing, blistering discomfort.
Make sure you test your boots out on some shorter walks before heading out for any long-distance efforts and look for reviews that focus on the comfort of any prospective options.
Get the right boot for the terrain
We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again, no boot is designed for every sort of terrain. Decide on the type of hiking you’re most likely to be doing before emptying your bank balance on the latest pair of technology-designed options out there. Technical features may sound like a smart move when you’re spending upwards of £150 on a new pair, but if it comes at the expense of comfort or durability, reconsider.
Make sure it fits
Getting the right fit for a pair of hiking boots can be difficult and often you won’t know until you’ve covered a few miles in them. One of the biggest mistakes people make when picking up a new pair is to try and get a locked-down fit. When you’re walking for miles over the countryside it’s likely that your feet will swell up, so make sure there’s enough wiggle room in the forefoot to ensure you can splay your toes.
Choose the right outsole
Every brand will wax lyrical about the outsole of their boots, but not all grip is designed for the same purpose. If you’re planning on doing a lot of walking across wet, muddy fields then make sure you have longer lugs on the outsole. If you’re walking across harder ground for long periods opt for a softer outsole that helps to minimise the continuous impact.