Hiking boots range from pumped up trainers to stiff mountaineering boots and the first thing to decide is which end of the spectrum you sit. Generally, the softer and lighter the boot the more comfortable, but before you head out in your best slippers consider that you still need protection from stones and rocks and a stable platform to walk on. As the terrain gets steeper and rockier so the shoes and boots get stiffer and have more protective features to deal with the impact and twisting of travelling over it. If you want to walk on snow or ice in the winter then consider the boots compatibility with crampons; generally the more serious the winter walk, the more serious crampon is needed and therefore the stiffer the boot will need to be to take the crampon.
As always, consider your foot shape and take this into account when reading reviews from a tester who may have different feet to yours!
We've tested over 30 pairs of hiking boots over the past six months and these are our pick of the best for 2019.
Best value hiking boots
Salomon Quest Prime GTX | £140
The Quest Prime boots feel great to wear straight out of the box, with soft, plush inners and a supple outer that takes very little wearing in, plus a light weight that doesn’t weigh you down over long distances. The depth and pattern of the sole’s lugs gives good grip on varied terrain, with the Quest Prime offering surefooted handling on all but the most greasy and polished of rocks and tree roots. The sole feels fairly neutral on the transition from heel strike to toe off without much noticeable roll, but the lively mid-stiff sole makes up for this with a good bit of energy return. You get plenty of cushioning around the ankle and good support, but the tongue could do with a little more padding to fend off abrasion from knotted laces. Gore-Tex waterproofing takes the grimmest weather conditions in its stride. You wouldn’t want to be strapping into crampons and going for a full-on winter yomp in the Quest Prime boots, but stick to low level paths and moderate mountain terrain and they’ll do you proud.
An impressive mix of weight, performance and comfort all wrapped up in a great value package.
Best three season all-rounder
Aku Tengu Lite GTX | £200
Aku have done a fantastic job with the Elica Natural Stride System, and one of the first things we noticed during testing was indeed how natural these boots felt to walk in. The heel area of the sole feels stable to land on and provides good grip that continues across the outsole thanks to deep lugs and sticky Vibram rubber. Walking in the Tengu Lites feels comfortable and stable, with a slight roll off the heel and bounce off the toe into the next stride. An even distribution of weight across the footbed minimizes hotspots, and thanks to a low weight of 510g per boot you don’t get dragged down by the Tengus, even on a long hike. It’s easy to achieve a precise fit in the toebox, which is perhaps a little more spacious than most Italian boots. The overall width of the boot is narrow though, especially across the midfoot where it really tapers in - this is a boot we would recommend you try on in person before you buy. The overlaid material that extends from the heel offers great stability and makes the boots quick and easy to get on and off.
Our favourite pair of boots this year; comfortable, light, lively and nimble, if rather expensive.
Best for daily use
Danner Mountain 600 | £145
The Mountsain 600s may not be a pair of boots to wear into a steep scree field but they’re perfect for gentler lowland walks. Great leather looks make this a pair of boots that work just as well worn with a pair of jeans in town as they do with hiking trousers in the hills. There’s substance as well as style here - Bouncy midsoles and Vibram Fuga outsoles offer great cushioning and grip and the full-grain leather has a waterproof Danner Dry lining.
A real looker of a leather boot that’s technical enough to handle most lowland walks.
Best for woodland walks
Merrell Ontario | £140
The Ontarios are competent but not overly technical leather boots that ooze style and provide plenty of comfort. They look great on, feel very well cushioned inside and have a soft but responsive sole. A light weight makes them easy to walk in, and a good lacing system allows you to cinch everything in for a great fit that successfully holds blisters at bay and supports the ankle, inspiring confidence when the terrain gets steep and rocky.
The Ontarios are a great pair of boots for woodland trails, coastal walks and lowland rambles.
Best for technical hiking with a bit of scrambling
Salewa Mountain Trainer GTX | £127
Salewa’s Mountain Trainers are aimed towards 'alpine trekking in mixed and technical terrain', so any terrain with a lot of ups and downs, loose rock and mildly scrambly faces is fair game. Classic alpine lacing to the toe and Salewa’s excellent heel cradle system allow you to get a precise fit across the whole boot, giving great support and decent comfort without any blisters. Ever-reliable Gore-Tex keeps everything bone dry.
Good ability over technical terrain but stiffness makes the Mountain Trainer overkill for easier walks.
Best for travel and fast hiking
Adidas Terrex Free Hiker | £170
Aside from the chunky sole and mid ankle height there’s nothing really to distinguish these hiking boots from your comfiest trainers. We love the feel of the midsole, which has loads of energy return, and the stretchy, seamless knit upper is superbly comfortable and airy to wear in hot weather but isn’t the most supportive when the going gets tough. Reasonably aggressive lugs give good grip on varied terrain.
Extremely comfortable to wear, the Terrex is a stylish trainer-like option for more casual use.
Best for via ferrata
La Sportiva TX4 GTX | £165
The TX4 Mid GTX is a belting boot, ideal if you’ve got your eye on a Via Ferrata in the Dolomites or some classic UK scrambles. The ‘climbing’ zone at the front of the Vibram MegaGrip sole and the Impact Brake System at the rear combine perfectly to provide sticky grip and traction when you need it. Comfortable, light, responsive and reassuring, the TX4 adapts to varied terrain with ease.
This versatile boot is a great option for fast mountain missions and some occasional scrambling.
Best for progressing into trekking and winter walking
Scarpa SL Active | £260
Built with a good deal more heft than your average three season hill walking boots, the burly and stiff characteristics make the Scarpa SL Active boots suitable for UK winter walks and overseas treks. The outer is built with Scarpa’s thickest and toughest leather which has been impregnated and has minimal stitching so is still largely waterproof despite not having a liner. Cocona on the inside and a soft leather heel section prove both durable and comfortable in what is otherwise an uncompromisingly stiff and heavy boot at 1918g per pair in a size 46. This weight can feel cumbersome but with regular use you get used to it. Foot hold is firm, especially across the midfoot and up front you get a fairly narrow toe box, with just enough wiggle room for comfort. You can dial in the fit thanks to lacing to the toes, although you’ll be fighting against the thickness of leather when you cinch up the laces. These boots need serious breaking in and we would recommend you do this along relatively gentle paths before taking on hikes in the hills.
If good old-fashioned bombproof leather boots that last forever are your thing and you can deal with the associated weight and stiffness then the SL Actives are a solid option.
Best for regular walkers
Anatom Q2 | £140
These boots look far more expensive than they are and at £140 they give some of the better known brands a serious run for their money. The Q2s surprised us by being very comfortable to walk in straight away and remaining comfortable for the duration of the testing period but with enough stability to take you from daily dog walking to proper hiking. They're lightweight and offer great grip as well, and reports suggest that durability is excellent, outlasting much more expensive boots.
A classic leather boot with timeless styling that offers durability, value and great three season performance.