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Style Conquer Any Terrain With Our Pick Of The Best Walking Boots

15:21  22 july  2022
15:21  22 july  2022 Source:   menshealth.co.uk

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The best hiking boots will take you a long way. Hiking, walking, rambling, trekking – whatever you call it – is brilliant for both your physical and mental health.

It’s great cardio, builds muscle and burns a ton of calories, as well as helping to ease stress and anxiety. Combine those exercise endorphins with the exhilaration of the outdoors and some beautiful scenery (and possibly a cosy country pub), and you’ll feel the emotional benefits.

Whether you’re going for a gentle countryside stroll or scrambling up mountains, the right hiking gear is essential – and a good pair of boots should be at the top of your list. Some hikers prefer the lighter, lower cut of a walking shoe, but for the best support, protection and durability you can’t beat a classic boot.

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The decision to opt for leather or fabric boots is largely down to personal preference. Fabric boots often have the upper hand as they tend to be lighter, breathable, cheaper and the more ethical choice (although it’s worth noting that fabric boots aren’t always vegan boots).

Yet gone are the days when leather meant heavy, clunky boots that took an age to break in, as there are now some excellent leather hiking boots that are low-maintenance and surprisingly lightweight.

Read more:

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  • 10 best daypacks for hikes and walks

How we tested

Each of these boots has covered many miles on our feet as we stomped our way along trails, up mountains, through peaty bogs and across muddy fields. We judged the boots on how comfortable they were (as much on mile 25 as on mile five), how long they took to break in, and the level of support, as well as technical features such as waterproofing, traction, cushioning, weight and breathability.

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The best women’s hiking boots for 2022 are:

  • Best overall – Scarpa rush TRK GTX: £185, Scarpa.co.uk
  • Best vegan boot – Lowa innox pro GTX mid WS: £175, Lowa.co.uk
  • Best for travelling – Salomon outpulse mid gore-tex: £155, Salomon.com
  • Best for versatility – Adidas terrex AX4 gore-tex hiking shoes: £140, Adidas.co.uk
  • Best all-season boot – Arc'teryx acrux TR GTX: £220, Arcteryx.com
  • Best for rocky terrain – Inov-8 roclite G345 GTX: £155, Inov-8.com
  • Best cushioning – Hoka anacapa mid gore-tex: £159.99, Ellis-brigham.com
  • Best comfort – Merrell bravada mid waterproof boot: £39.99, Sportsshoes.com
  • Best classic style – Danner mountain light cascade clovis: £420, Danner.com
  • Best beginner’s boot – Berghaus explorer trek gore-tex: £150, Berghaus.com
  • Best leather boot – Altberg malham walking boot: £214.99, Altberg.co.uk
  • Best for light hikes – Ecco exohike w: £119, Ecco.com
  • Best lightweight boot – Columbia peakfreak X2 mid outdry boot: £115, Columbiasportswear.co.uk
  • Best for city to trail – The North Face vectiv exploris futurelight boots: £93, Thenorthface.co.uk

Scarpa rush TRK GTX

  14 best women’s hiking boots for rambling and trekking © Provided by The Independent

Best: Overall

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Rating: 10/10

  • Weight: Approx 465g per boot

If you’re looking for an all-rounder boot that will carry you from season to season in the UK and further afield, the Scarpa rush TRK GTX should be on your radar. It’s pretty hard to fault. The ankle is wrapped in Scarpa’s padded autofit collar so the entire foot is supported and protected, making this boot a good option if you’re carrying a pack or tackling rocky terrain.

The rush TRK GTX is also surprisingly lightweight given how sturdy it feels, and is both breathable and flexible while also being an incredibly tough boot. We’ve taken ours on several long day hikes, including steep climbs and splashing through streams (the GORE-TEX lining means the boot is completely waterproof), and it has been able to tackle all the terrains we’ve thrown at it.

Buy now £185.00, Scarpa.co.uk

Lowa innox pro GTX mid WS

  14 best women’s hiking boots for rambling and trekking © Provided by The Independent

Best: Vegan boot

Rating: 8/10

  • Weight: approx 370g per boot

These Lowa mid boots have become our go-to for everything from dog walking and day hikes to overnight camping trips. They’re light and comfortable, and there’s little to no breaking in period – you can take these boots straight out of the box onto the trail. We were particularly impressed by the fact that these boots are 100 per cent vegan, which can be pretty tough to find in hiking boots, as even if not made from leather, boots often contain animal-derived components. The upper is fully synthetic, which makes it both lightweight and breathable, and the boot is GORE-TEX lined so you don’t need to worry about soggy feet.

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Buy now £175.00, Lowa.co.uk

Salomon outpulse mid gore-tex

  14 best women’s hiking boots for rambling and trekking © Provided by The Independent

Best: For travelling

Rating: 9/10

  • Weight: Approx 328g per boot

Salomon is always a reliable choice when it comes to hiking boots and this year we’ve been particularly impressed with this sturdy mid-cut outpulse boot. It’s incredibly lightweight yet retains many of the features that we’d want to tackle more challenging terrain. This makes it an excellent choice for travel as it will add only minimal weight to your suitcase or backpack and yet can handle almost anything you throw at it on your adventures, from sandy trails to rocky scrambles.

For more technical trails or harsh elements you may want to opt for Salomon’s popular crosshike, but the outpulse hits a sweet spot between walking shoe and hiking boot. Your foot feels better protected and supported than it would in a walking shoe, but the outpulse is still agile and flexible with almost trainer-like comfort.

Buy now £155.00, Salomon.com

Adidas terrex AX4 gore-tex hiking shoes

  14 best women’s hiking boots for rambling and trekking © Provided by The Independent

Best: For versatility

Rating: 9/10

  • Weight: Approx 400g per boot

We’ve worn our Terrex AX4 hiking shoes pretty much everywhere and they haven’t let us down yet. Although there is zero wearing-in period and trainer-like comfort from toe to ankle, these boots feel sturdier than other training shoe/hiking boot hybrids and provide superior ankle support. The GORE-TEX  membrane provides complete waterproofing, while also letting feet breathe too.

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Dewy fields, heavy rainfall, muddy puddles and ankle-deep creeks – we took these shoes through the lot and our feet stayed warm and dry. Throw in the Continental compound rubber outsole that offers impressive traction on all terrains, and you’ll find that these boots are perfect for all-weather hiking.

Buy now £140.00, Adidas.co.uk

Arc'teryx acrux TR GTX

  14 best women’s hiking boots for rambling and trekking © Provided by The Independent

Best: All-season boot

Rating: 8/10

  • Weight: Approx 470g per boot

It’s not the lightest boot we’ve tried, but given the level of support and technical features it boasts, we were impressed at how little the Arc’teryx acrux TR GTX weighs. This is thanks to the micro-plated technology of the SuperFabric upper that is superlight and flexible yet incredibly durable. These boots are suitable for technical trails and we found they could handle pretty much anything we threw at them, including icy ascents and even snowy mountain terrain. The lug pattern combined with Arc’teryx’s Vibram megagrip outsole means that they’re incredibly grippy with impressive traction, and the GORE-TEX insert keeps feet dry while also allowing them to breathe in the warmer weather.

Buy now £220.00, Arcteryx.com

Inov-8 roclite G345 GTX

  14 best women’s hiking boots for rambling and trekking © Provided by The Independent

Best: For rocky terrain

Rating: 10/10

  • Weight: approx 345g per boot

If you’re going to be scrambling up  mountains, you’d be hard pressed to find a better boot than the roclite G345 GTX. It features Inov8’s world-first graphene-grip (graphene is the strongest material on the planet) and 6mm lugs for unparalleled grip on all terrains. We really noticed just how superior the grip is on slippery climbs and rocky descents, and with GORE-TEX waterproofing the boots kept our feet completely dry in all conditions, including rain, mud, slush and even snow.

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We were also impressed by the comfort of the Roclite G345 GTX. It’s incredibly light and the midsole is well-cushioned, making it a great choice for fast hiking, as well as more gentle countryside rambles. This is a brilliant boot with some impressive technology at a really reasonable price.

Buy now £155.00, Inov-8.com

Hoka anacapa mid gore-tex

  14 best women’s hiking boots for rambling and trekking © Provided by The Independent

Best: Cushioning

Rating: 8/10

  • Weight: Approx 384g per boot

When it comes to cushioning, it’s not surprising Hoka’s boots are a cut above the rest. The brand is known for the supremely cushioned soles on its running shoes that help prevent injury and soften impact, and the brand has applied this technology to its hiking boots. The Anacapa boot is not quite as striking as the Hoka TenNine Hike GORE-TEX with its oversized sole, so it will likely appeal to a wider range of hikers, yet it still felt incredibly “springy” and has the sense of propelling you forward. Thanks to a Vibram megagrip sole with 5mm lugs, this boot is grippy even on very slippery surfaces and we found it allowed us to keep up a fast hiking pace along very muddy tracks and wet trails.

Buy now £159.99, Ellis-brigham.com

Merrell bravada mid waterproof boot

  14 best women’s hiking boots for rambling and trekking © Provided by The Independent

Best: Comfort

Rating: 8/10

  • Weight: Approx 342g per boot

Merrell’s bravada boot is honestly one of the most comfortable we’ve ever tried thanks to its snug, trainer-like fit, support around the ankle, and air cushion technology in the heel. With 5mm lugs and Merrell’s quantum grip rubber outsole, the bravada will also take care of you over uneven or rocky terrain. It’s 100 per cent vegan and incredibly lightweight at roughly 342g per boot, yet is durable enough to tackle more challenging trails. The clever M select dry barrier membrane keeps water out and kept our feet dry on wet winter hikes, but it also lets moisture escape so our feet didn’t get sweaty when stomping along the trails in the warm early spring weather. For the price, you won’t get a better boot.

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Danner mountain light cascade clovis

  14 best women’s hiking boots for rambling and trekking © Provided by The Independent

Best: Classic style

Rating: 6/10

  • Weight: Approx 650g per boot

Danner’s Mountain Light boots have the feel of an old-school style hiking boot, but that’s the charm of them. Sure, they’re heavy, but they’re also beautifully made in a classic style with full-grain leather and high quality stitching. They’re a very sturdy boot, but the payoff here is that they did take a little wearing in (we wouldn’t want to do a long hike in these straight out the box) and they’re not as flexible as other leather options.

After several short walks and one long hike they’ve started to mould to the shape of our feet and we only expect this to get better mile after mile. They’re an investment, but these Danner boots will likely last you forever.

Buy now £420.00, Danner.com

Berghaus explorer trek gore-tex

  14 best women’s hiking boots for rambling and trekking © Provided by The Independent

Best: Beginner’s boot

Rating: 7/10

  • Weight: Approx 540g per boot

Berghaus has created a simple, sturdy and reliable boot in the explorer trek. It’s a little heavier than some of the other entry level boots on our list, but it also feels a little sturdier and the ankle is well supported. Thanks to the GORE-TEX lining, the boots are completely waterproof and our feet stayed dry even when sloshing through creeks and plodding through thick mud.

As always, the grip of the Berghaus opti-stud sole didn’t let us down even on slippery descents and the OrthoLite hike footbeds kept our feet comfortable as we racked up the miles. The lightweight suede construction also means there’s nothing to break in here – you’ll be ready to hit the trails as soon as you put the explorer treks on your feet.

Buy now £150.00, Berghaus.com

Altberg malham walking boot

  14 best women’s hiking boots for rambling and trekking © Provided by The Independent

Best: Leather boot

Rating: 8/10

  • Weight: Approx 672g per boot

It’s one of the heavier boots on our list (although still light for a leather boot), but we were impressed by the durability and versatility of this classic-style Malham boot from Altberg. After many miles of hiking on wet and boggy terrain and several small mountain ascents, these boots showed little wear and moulded perfectly to our feet for a snug yet supportive fit. The full-grain leather is soft and supple so these boots were comfortable enough to take straight out onto the trail – although we’d recommend doing a few shorter walks in these before embarking on a full day hike to avoid blisters or rubbing.

Buy now £214.99, Altberg.co.uk

Ecco exohike w

  14 best women’s hiking boots for rambling and trekking © Provided by The Independent

Best: For light hikes

Rating: 6/10

  • Weight: Approx 531g per boot

We wouldn’t usually recommend hiking with a boot that’s not fully waterproof (the Ecco exohike W is just water-repellent), but this pair has a lot going for it. It’s rare to find a leather boot that’s this comfortable right out the box and is still comfortable after the first ten miles. There’s none of the pinching, rubbing and chafing you’d expect from a fresh pair of leather boots.

It’s a snug and supportive fit and features Ecco’s phorene midsole that is designed to rebound energy to create a cushioned and almost bouncy feel when hiking. We also love the style of this boot and wear it out and about in the city just as often as on the trails. It’s not a boot that you’ll want to take on serious treks, but for light hikes, walks in the countryside and strolling around town the Ecco exohike W is a top choice.

Buy now £119.00, Ecco.com

Columbia peakfreak X2 mid outdry boot

  14 best women’s hiking boots for rambling and trekking © Provided by The Independent

Best: Lightweight boot

Rating: 6/10

  • Weight: Approx 318g per boot

This is a great little hiking boot for the price. It doesn’t have many of the features that more technical boots boast, but for day hikes and simple trails it’s the perfect entry-level shoe. The boots are nicely cushioned, flexible, and held up well in rainy or muddy conditions. They’re fully waterproof and the omni-grip rubber soles are grippy on slippery paths and trails, as well as rocky or gravelly surfaces.

It’s worth noting that we found that these boots could rub slightly at the top of the ankle when tied too tightly or improperly, so we’d recommend paying attention to your lacing and, as always, investing in a good pair of hiking socks.

Buy now £115.00, Columbiasportswear.co.uk

The North Face vectiv exploris futurelight boots

  14 best women’s hiking boots for rambling and trekking © Provided by The Independent

Best: For city to trail

Rating: 8/10

  • Weight: Approx 357g per boot

The sneaker-style hiking boot is really having a moment right now and the vectiv exploris futurelight ecompasses this beautifully. It feels like a trainer/hiking boot hybrid with the comfort of the former and the technical features of the latter. The vectiv technology combines a 3D plate with a rocker midsole for forward propulsion, which feels a little strange at first with each step almost taking on a rolling motion, but helps power you along the trail. The futurelight membrane is waterproof yet breathable, and North Face’s grippy and high-traction SurfaceCTRL outsole along with protective toe cap make the boot suitable for rocky lowland trails and slippery or muddy terrain.

Buy now £93.00, Thenorthface.co.uk

FAQ with Steve Roberts, managing director, Scarpa UK

Leather vs fabric boots

“A well made leather boot has spent a long time (upwards of 24 hours) being moulded on a unique foot shape known as a “last”. A well “lasted boot” will provide a long term sculpted fit that provides support and function. Leather is a fantastically durable material and easy to care for.

“‘Fabric boots’ are usually derived from a hybrid of modern fabrics that are lightweight, instantly comfortable and quick drying. Fabric boots usually require an added waterproof membrane such as Gore Tex to provide water resistance. They can be more challenging to maintain performance than an all leather boot.”

How long will boots take to break in?

“A modern well made boot will provide ‘out of the box comfort’. The more supportive the internal midsole and the more supportive the upper will dictate the amount of time the materials will take to optimally mould around your foot. A modern lightweight fabric boot will feel optimum on day one, in contrast leather will feel comfortable out the box, but will get better and better with more miles”.

How should I look after my new boots?

“All boots will benefit from regular cleaning and application of care products, these vary from waxes and creams for leather and paint on applications for fabric boots. On wet days  endeavour to dry your boots as naturally as possible. Removing the footbed will aid drying and these can be periodically replaced to reinstate shock absorption”.

What should I consider when buying hiking boots?

Steve recommends matching the style of boot you buy to the terrain you plan to walk in. A mid cut boot would do for flat trails or coastal paths, but a supportive boot is best for steep hills (particularly with a pack).

The further off the beaten track you are, the more likely you are to encounter wet, muddy, boggy terrain – so look for a boot with protection and waterproofing/repellency.

Soles tend to match the style of the upper: so a higher cut, more supportive boot will also have a more aggressive sole with multidirectional cleats for propulsion and grip.

You will also need to consider which shape is right for you. “Once you have narrowed your choice on an appropriate style, the most crucial selection comes down to the best fit for your foot shape. The best way to do this is to try multiple pairs on at an outdoor specialist store, where you will usually find both a broad selection of styles and expert advice.”

And, if you’re buying in-store there may also be artificial slopes and terrain samples so you can get a sense of how your boot feels going up or downhill.

If you buy online, however, consider buying a size larger than your usual shoe. You will want to wear thick hiking socks in your boots as your feet will expand as the day goes on, and the added weight of a pack increases your toe spread (how much room you need in the toe of the boot). “If you have to buy online, we would recommend trying a number of pairs and wearing them around the home to ensure you feel entirely happy with your selection before venturing out on that first walk”.

It’s really important to get the fit right because blisters can ruin even the most glorious walk.

The verdict: Women’s hiking boots

Whether you’re on a country stroll or climbing fells, the Scarpa rush TRK GTX will take excellent care of your feet no matter the weather. We’re also completely sold on Inov-8’s roclite G345 GTX for its technical features, while the price of Merrell’s ultra-comfortable bravada boot is almost too good to miss.

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Add a pair of the best women’s walking trousers to your rambling wardrobe

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