Danner Explorer 650 | £144
BEST FOR: People with small suitcases who want one do-it-all boot.
Danner have worn their heritage on their sleeve in reimagining their 1970s classic Danner Light – the first boot to use a Gore-Tex liner – in modern materials. But the throwback styling hides a well thought-out use of current lightweight technology.
The old-fashioned looks might lead you to expect a heavy, chunky boot, but the weight is the great surprise with the Explorer 650 - they weigh in at 935g per pair. Innovative design is behind it; introducing durable nylon panels in strategic areas to replace the heavier leather (and at the same time increasing breathability) and collaborating with Vibram to create a new outsole.
The result is a highly technical boot in a package from a bygone age. The Explorer 650 is a joy to wear all day thanks to its weight but equally has the guts to support a full day’s hiking on any terrain.
Versatility is essential to the active traveller who needs to pack as little as possible. The Danner Explorer 650 could be as close to a ‘quiver of one’ as any footwear we’ve tested.
Aku Alterra GTX | £200
BEST FOR: Hikers and trekkers looking for a supportive and stylish boot.
With their bright pink lacing and dark brown suede/stretch fabric upper, the funky style of the Alterra GTX makes them immediately different and a really striking looking boot for those ready for a change.
Style is one thing, but as all good hikers know, substance is absolutely key. Thankfully the stylish Alterra GTX are also similarly well built for the trail and more than capable in all terrain, as long as you’re not planning a month long mega bog yomp or anticipating wet scrambles at altitude.
The Alterra GTX come with a myriad of technical features; the GORE-TEX performance comfort liner offers waterproofing and breathability, the dual density PU midsole provides cushioning and protection from the trail, and the ankle cuff is soft and flexible to facilitate a natural stride whilst offering a degree of support when required.
The Vibram octopus sole with MegaGrip compound not only sounds impressive, it actually works. The suction cup deep lugs grip in the wet and the tread pattern sheds mud and debris surprisingly well.
Capable of way more than the pink laces would have you believe, the Alterra GTX is a genuinely impressive boot that’s well worth checking out. Overlook it at your peril.
Style meets substance in a fun, funky boot that still delivers on technology and comfort.
Salewa Mountain Trainer Mid GTX | £190
BEST FOR: A variety of vertical adventures in the Alps
It may be described as a ‘mid’, but we suggest you look at the Salewa MTN Trainer Mid GTX as a lightweight summer trekking boot. The flexible collar may offer a degree of freedom of movement in the ankle area but offers way more support than a traditional mid.
The intention of the MTN Trainer Mid GTX is immediately apparent. A good looking, technical, lightweight boot, it’s likely to appeal to fans of fast and light mountain adventures and the associated style.
At 570g, these boots may be light, but they’re definitely fit for purpose and they come with a host of features designed to facilitate fast and efficient movement in the mountains.
The GORE-TEX Performance Comfort lining delivers protection from the elements while the Ortholite footbed allows your feet to breathe on the warmest of alpine summer days. The dual density TPU midsole is stiff enough to respond in technical terrain but still provides a solid level of cushioning when needed.
For day hikes and fast multi-day alpine adventures the Mountain Mid GTX should do the trick.
Teva Arrowood Lux Mid WP | £120
BEST FOR: Light hikers looking for a casual and comfortable mid boot.
Putting your feet into a pair of the Teva Arrowood Lux Mid WPs feels like the footwear equivalent of slipping into a huge warm bubble bath with a glass of wine.
Described as a ‘sneakerboot’, the Arrowood Lux Mids are light, soft, flexible and designed to be worn on urban trails, low level hikes and for everyday casual wear. Cushioning and comfort are the name of the game here so if you’re looking for a stiff, high performance rugged hiking boot then look elsewhere.
The mid and outsole of the Arrowood Lux Mid feature Teva’s FloatLite foam construction, designed to deliver a combination of lightweight support, cushioning, protection and traction. We tested the boot on an all-day river hike as well as a gentle Mallorcan mountain hike and found these boots to be soft, springy and noticeably forgiving underfoot
Whilst the Arrowood Lux Mids come equipped with a waterproof membrane and waterproof leather upper designed to keep your feet dry, our natural instinct was always to avoid any muddy sections, puddles, and long wet grass. A classic case of ‘it’s not you, it’s me’ - the problem with these boots is that they look so good you won’t want to get them dirty!
Pricy for a non-technical hiking trainer but expect uber levels of comfort and exceptional quality.
Zamberlan Fell Lite GTX | £145
BEST FOR: A great leather boot for the UK hill and fell walker.
As the name suggests, the Fell Lite GTX is designed to be used for fell walking, and as such, can afford to be lighter and less rigid than a mountaineering boot.
The sole has a good amount of flex, and the footbed is Zamberlan’s own and has quite a solid initial feel, but there is some give under high pressure as well as enough cushioning on impact.
On the outsole you’ll find deep lugs which grip fantastically well on all the usual ‘fell terrain’, and they also shed mud well. There’s a sticky climbing zone at the forefoot to help with steep ascents.
The premium full grain waxed leather upper has a classic fell walking look to it and the lack of stitching adds to the durability, reliability, comfort and looks. Zamberlan have added a Hydrobloc treatment to the leather to keep the water at bay but this is only a first defence before the real work of keeping your feet dry is done by the Gore Tex performance comfort liner which is both waterproof and breathable (to a degree).
The considered approach to the Fell Lite’ construction keeps the weight down to a respectable 545g per boot which, along with the comfortable sole unit and upper contributes to all day wearing comfort.
A fantastic option for their namesake fells as well as woodland rambles and evening dog walks.
La Sportiva Trango TRK GTX | £190
BEST FOR: Hillwalkers, backpackers and trekkers with narrow feet.
A lightweight trekking boot designed for a variety of off-road adventures, the Trango TRK GTX is technical enough to take you scrambling but comfortable enough to use for multi-day hikes no matter the terrain.
As you would expect from an Italian brand, the Trango TRK GTX are immediately impressive out of the box. The combination of modern lines and bright Euro colours indicate their alpine intent, ensuring that you’ll fit right in with the Chamonix dudes when strolling around town this summer.
The ankle cuff is soft and unlike many other similar boots, we experienced zero rubbing or chafing in this area which is a massive plus if you don’t have the luxury of a long lead up time to break the boots in before heading off on a trip.
Out on the trail they more than delivered. Thanks to the 3D Flex System, the Trango TRK GTX are rigid enough to hold firm on tricky ground yet light and flexible enough to facilitate a natural stride when travelling in more neutral terrain.
The breathable/waterproof GORE-TEX liner did a fine job of keeping our feet dry when crossing shallow streams and whilst we haven’t tested them in particularly hot temperatures, all indications suggest they’ll met the challenge with style.
At 595g and £190 the Trango TRK GTXs are a seriously impressive pair of high-end, technical boots.
Keen Targhee EXP Mid | £115
BEST FOR: Weekend warriors, casual hikers and bargain hunters.
An extension of Keen’s popular Targhee range, the Targhee EXP is described by Keen as being tough and lean. We must say it looks almost identical to the Targhee III boot, to the point where it’s difficult to tell one from the other, but we did reckon the EXP was a tad more durable on test.
This incarnation is comfortable straight out of the box, and the performance mesh upper marries synthetic and mesh materials for a flexible but supportive feel. The waterproof Keen.Dry membrane protects your feet from any inclement weather, and we’ve found the boots very breathable on test. The removeable insoles are cushiony and bouncy, and 4mm-deep lugs take care of grip.
A weight of 518g per boot makes this an easy shoe to walk in. PU-coated leather adorns the bottom section of the Targhee EXP, this adds durability and makes them easy to keep clean. The Targhee EXP wouldn’t be complete without Keen’s classic chunky rubber rand, offering bomb-proof protection for your toes even on tough terrain.
Great value for a durable, comfortable boot from a respected brand. A good choice as a first hiking boot.