Whether you are climbing Annapurna, scrambling in Wales or trail running in the Alps, you want to be safe in the knowledge that your feet are warm, dry and comfortable. This is why you need to wear a good pair of walking boots or trail running shoes when you are exploring the great outdoors.
When choosing a pair of walking boots, you need to make sure they are comfortable, breathable and ready for the rocky trails or scree-covered slopes. Most will come with a removable liner, so you can take it out and dry it overnight.
"Whether you are climbing Annapurna, scrambling in Wales or trail running in the Alps, you want to know that your feet are warm, dry and comfortable"
Trail running shoes need to be suited to the terrain you’ll be tackling - some come with waterproof gaiters to keep your feet dry, others are focused on being super breathable.
Our top testers put these walking boots and trail running shoes through their paces to see which ones were suited for winter hiking, mountaineering or running along mountain trails. Interested in their findings? Read on….
Scroll down to view all shoes, or skip to a particular brand using the links below.
All photographs by Dan Milner
Arc’teryx Bora2 Mid GTX Hiking Boots
Arc’teryx are new to the hiking boots game, but their latest designs do not disappoint. The Bora2 Mid GTX is their flagship boot. It’s made up of two separate parts - a single seamless nylon boot and a GoreTex waterproof liner that fits your foot like a glove. The beauty of having an easily removable liner is you can dry your damp, sweaty boots out overnight on a multi-day hiking expedition through the Alps. We were incredibly impressed by these boots - they are lightweight, quick drying and will last you for years.
Hanwag Tatra GTX Hiking Boots
German manufacturers Hanwag have been making boots since 1921 - from mountaineering boots to the first leather Winter Olympic ski boots. The Tatra GTX is a trekking boot, made from Nubuck leather with a durable GoreTex liner. It has an aggressive tread designed for grippy rocky paths or scrambling up scree. The Tatras are sturdy and comfortable, ready to enable you to take on long-distances by foot.
Keen Feldberg Hiking Boots
If you are looking for a seriously comfortable pair of hiking boots or sandals, you need to try a pair of Keens. As soon as you pull them on, you won’t want to take them off. The Feldbergs are Keen’s latest hiking boots, made for low-level winter walking.
Outside, they have a leather upper and are made with Keen’s signature breathable, waterproof membrane that will keep your feet both warm and dry. Inside the cushioned foot bed has excellent support, especially for the foot arch. These boots are understated enough that you could wear them into the city after a day hiking in the hills.
Keen Uneek O2 Sandals
Keen designed the Uneek sandals with the aim of creating a shoe that moulds perfectly to your foot. They are made with an intricate cord structure, laced together so they flex with your foot while you walk. The latest version of the Uneek sandal has a closed heel, so they are shaped like running trainers at the back and sandals at the front.
Needless to say, the unique construction means they are lightweight, breathable and extremely comfortable. A great pair of sandals when you want your feet to breathe at the end of a long day.
Lowa Renegade GTX Women’s Mid Hiking Boots
Lowa are known for making hiking boots that will last you for decades. This year’s Renegade GTX are lighter than ever before. These women’s hiking boots are made from Nubuck leather and come in a mid-length size, which provides extra ankle support. Inside you will find the climate control footbed pumps heat and moisture away from your foot while you walk, keeping you dry and cool, plus the GoreTex lining will prevent your feet from getting soaked when trekking over soggy ground.
Salomon S-Lab X Alp Carbon GTX Mountaineering Boots
When it comes to choosing mountaineering boots, lightness is key for a fast ascent up your chosen peak. The Salomon S-Lab X Alp Carbon GTX mountaineering boots are built for speed. They are extremely light, weighing just 1 kilogram for the pair, including the fact that they have protective toe caps and heels.
The integrated gaiter stops snow building up on your boots while climbing, keeping your feet warm and dry. The real feature that makes these boots stand out is the ‘carbon edging chassis’ which keeps the boots stable laterally while allowing plenty of bend in the toe, plus they are crampon compatible. What more could you ask for?
Salomon S-Lab XA Alpine Trail Running Shoes
These aren’t just any old pair of trail running shoes. The Salomon S-Lab XA Alpine shoes are made for trail running at high altitude where snow and ice are likely in the winter months. They are one of the few pairs of trail running shoes out there which include an integrated gaiter.
Just like the mountaineering X Alp Carbon boots above, this gaiter keeps your feet from getting wet from snow or rain. They are also extremely light at 350g each, plus comfortable and extremely stable on the trail.
The North Face Women’s Ultra Trail Shoes
The North Face are known for making gear that just works. Their women’s Ultra Trail Shoes are a perfect example of this. They are so comfortable and lightweight that our testers almost forgot they were wearing them.
Inside the Airmesh construction makes these shoes extremely breathable and sweat-wicking, plus the springy midsole is efficient and holds its stability on all types of terrain. Outside the Vibram sole will keep you gripped to the trail.