Do you agree with us that the most important piece of gear are the boots? You can have all the high-end equipment for the upper and lower body, as well as other useful outdoor gadgets, but if the boots are uncomfortable, the overall experience will be on an extremely low level, and the hike will definitely end much sooner than you thought, right? That is why you need to focus on the best walking boots you can find, to ensure your outdoor experience is on a high level, as well as to keep your feet safe.
Comfortable boots will make sure that your feet are well positioned to stay safe, but they also need to protect them from the outside elements. However, there are so many models available on the market, and even though you can find many that are comfortable, there’s no guarantee that the particular models will provide comfort and protection to your feet in particular. That is why we decided to write this article and help you shorten the research and learn where and what to look for.
In this article, besides having the opportunity to read the in-depth reviews of some of the market’s best models, you will also get to learn which features are the most important ones when it comes to comfortable boot research. By the time you get to the reviews section, you will have all the needed knowledge to make the right choice. But first, let’s take a look at the table of the reviewed models so that you know what to expect later.
|Product Name||Weight (Pounds)||Specific Features||Best Use||Price|
|Salomon Elios Mid||2||Lightweight, breathable abrasion resistant materials, gusseted tongue, protective rubber heel cap||Hiking, all-weather trails, long distance||Check price on Amazon|
|Merrell Moab Mid||2||Vibram sole, waterproof and breathable, Gore-Tex performance comfort lining, bellows tongue, Air cushion heel||Day trips, hiking, trails||Check price on Amazon|
|Brasher Hillwalker GTX||2.3||Full grain leather upper, Brasher rubber sole, shock absorbing EVA midsole, waterproof & breathable Gore-Tex lining||Hiking, trails, backpacking||Check price on Amazon|
|Hanwag Tatra GTX||3.2||Leather, import, whole year product, waterproof, Vibram soles||Backpacking, long distance, hiking||Check price on Amazon|
|Berghaus Explorer||2.5||Waterproof, lightweight mesh and suede upper, Gore-Tex Performance Comfort technology, EVA midsole, OrthoLite foot bed||Hiking, trail, backpacking||Check price on Amazon|
|Hi-Tec Altitude OX I||2.8||Waterproof, breathable upper, Michelin rubber outsole, Ortholite Impressions insole, i-Shield water and stain repellent||All-weather, trail, backpacking||Check price on Amazon|
|Hi-Tec Eurotrek II||2.4||Rubber sole, waterproof leather upper, soft padded synthetic collar, Hi-Tec removable contoured sockliner||Walking, hiking, backpacking||Check price on Amazon|
|Salomon X Ultra Mid 2||0.88||Women’s model, textile/nubuck leather, gusseted tongue, protective rubber toe cap, Sensifit system, ContraGrip traction outsole||Back country running, off-trail hiking||Check price on Amazon|
Things to Consider Before Buying
If you want to make sure that your shoes are comfortable and offer proper protection for your feet, you need to know which features to pay attention to. Here are the most important ones you should keep in mind before making the final choice.
Every hiking boot is made differently. Companies use materials that range from full-grain leather to plastic. However, if you want boots that aren’t going to fall apart after your first journey, then you’re going to have to look at high-quality materials that are designed to take a lot of punishment.
Leather comes in a wide variety and is one of the more common materials that walking boots are made from. It comes as full-grain leather (weather-resistant, but not breathable) and split-grain (breathable).
Leather overall, however, is not very waterproof and special care has to be exercised when drying leather to ensure that it lasts longer. Also, leather is extremely easy to keep clean.
This is very similar to suede, but it does require more time to break in. However, this is because the material is extremely rugged, so you know that it’s designed to withstand the elements and whatever else Mother Nature has to throw at you.
Fabric walking boots are extremely lightweight, as they’re made from synthetic materials. This can make it easier for you to go further, as you won’t have the weight of your boots slowing you down.
Walking boots made from fabric are also cheaper and have more breathability, and you don’t have to wear them in for them to be comfortable. However, they do need regular cleaning, and aren’t waterproof at all. This requires the application of waterproofing sprays or coatings in order to make these boots effective in all kinds of weather.
Even the best-cushioned walking shoes aren’t going to be capable of handling everything if you’re not aware of what you should be looking for. For example, a one-season boot, isn’t going to do you any good if you’re hiking during the winter. So here’s a look at the various season boots that are available:
These have mobility in mind so that you can get where you need to go without expending too much energy. They are lightweight and extremely flexible but don’t have a lot of ankle support.
They work best on flat and easy trails during the summer months, not multi-day hikes or traveling over rough terrain. One-season boots aren’t likely to be waterproof, so you may have to apply a waterproofing gel or spray. They cannot be used with crampons.
These boots are a bit stiffer and can handle more varied terrains. There’s more ankle support to reduce spraining or twisting and provides more heel and toe protection.
Two-Season boots are made to be a bit more durable as they use a more varied combination of materials, including synthetic. Depending on the manufacturer, some of these may be waterproof, but you’ll likely pay a bit more.
They work well on firm and varied terrain, but nothing that’s too steep, and won’t provide a lot of support for hikes that take several days. They cannot be used with crampons.
This is considered as the most versatile style of walking boots, as you can wear them on a wider variety of terrain. They do require some breaking in before they’re comfortable to use, so it would be a good idea to do this before you take them on your hiking trip.
Leather, suede, and mesh are amongst the popular materials used in the construction of these kinds of boots and are suitable for use throughout the year.
A majority of products are waterproof, and can be worn up to the snowline, but not in deep snow. They can be used with flexible crampons, if they are crampon-compatible, but are not suitable for extended use with crampons in extreme weather conditions of ice and snow.
Also known as mountain boots, the four-season boots are extremely specialized and are meant for tough conditions that would normally tear up even the best boots. Four-season boots are extremely stiff and have a very durable body withstand all of nature’s harsh elements.
These boots will also be quite thick in order to help insulate your feet and prevent hypothermia, so you may want to look for boots that are a half-size larger so that your toes don’t feel cramped. They work well in most conditions, but their use should be limited because of the overall stiffness throughout the body of the shoes.
It’s not a good idea to wear them during light walks during the summer because their weight will tire you out very quickly. If you’re a light hiker who isn’t interested in winter camping, then a one- or two-season boot would probably be best, while three- and four-season boots are more suitable for those who are avid about hiking in all kinds of conditions and getting around comfortably.
The bottom part of your boot is a complex place. Made up of three key parts, the outsole, internal support and the midsole, there is a lot of technology that goes into them. The combination needs to be just right – too stiff and the boot won’t let your feet naturally flex or bend, too soft and your foot will slide around.
The combination of these three components will dictate how the hiking boot feels. The alignment of your whole body is determined according to the outsole, internal support, and midsole. Here’s what these aspects are:
The outsole is the bottom part of the shoe. Usually made of rubber, the tread provides much-desired traction while walking. Referred to as the lug pattern, the bumps on the bottom are the key.
The depth, spacing and weight will determine the quality of performance of the boot. A heel brake, the part just after the arch, could be the difference between standing and sliding. For even more traction in the winter, look for boots that are compatible with crampons.
These are essentially big spikes that attach to your boot that help in snowy and icy conditions. It shouldn’t make or break your decision on buying boots unless you are buying them for winter use, but should definitely be seen as an added bonus.
Internal support cradles your feet and supports your arches. Made up of rubber, shanks and plates, are an integral part of the hiking boot. Shanks are usually 3 – 5 millimeters (0.1 – 0.2 inches) pieces of rigid material.
Furthermore, they provide support and make the boot stiff, while being comfortable. Depending on the boot, they can cover the entire arch or just part of it.
Another component to the internal support is something called plates. These are pieces of material below the shank, along with the bottom of the boot, that provide protection from rocks and other hard material you will be walking on.
The midsole is a portion of the boot that provides cushion and comfort. Being in contact with your foot means that it needs to be comfortable while offering support. Materials used to make this part of the boot include EVA and Polyurethane.
Ethylene Vinyl Acetate, or EVA, is the cheaper version providing firmer support – depending on the density. Polyurethane, or PU, lasts longer and is used in high-quality boots. This is the material you should look for when buying your hiking boots.
There are many things you should think about when considering what size to get. For example, you should know your size, and if you don’t, you should get your feet sized. Take note of how your foot fits in them and bring your orthotics if you use them. Whenever possible, try using a ramp to experience what it will be like walking downhill.
Do your feet slide forward? Is the ankle support firm enough? These are all important considerations. You should keep in mind that if you are hiking in a colder climate you will be layering with thicker socks, so either bring them or think about getting a half size bigger.
Different brands, size differently, and companies will often tell you if the boot fits large, or small. Also, almost all boots require you to break them in. It is recommended to wear your newly purchased shoe around the house for a bit before you embark on your hike. This will reduce pressure points and let you get a feel for them.
Price to Quality Ratio
Many people don’t consider this factor when buying their boots. The leather is harder to produce, thus it is more expensive, while the synthetic materials are cheaper and can be produced in larger quantities. Logically, boots that are made mostly out of synthetic materials, should be cheaper.
However, that is not always the case. So, when choosing your new boots, you should also pay attention to the materials as you don’t want to overpay, right? Of course, in most cases, more expensive, usually means better quality. But, just to be on the safe side, pay close attention to all the materials the boots are made of, and if they are priced fairly.
Best Products on Today’s Market
Now that you have a much better insight into the features that matter the most when making the final choice, you can dive in the in-depth reviews of some of the best models on the today’s market.
Price: Approx. $110
Weight: 2 lb
Specific features: Lightweight, breathable abrasion resistant materials, gusseted tongue, protective rubber heel cap
Best use: Hiking, all-weather trails, long distance
Description: Boots are supposed to be able to support your ambitions of climbing any mountain you want, and the Salomon Elios Mid GTX 3 Boots let you do just that. These boots are made of high-quality, waterproof Nubuck leather, and they will stand the test of time.
Furthermore, to make sure your feet don’t suffer during your walks, foam has been added to the heel for added padding and comfort. Also, Gore-Tex technology provides a coating that keeps your feet dry and lets them breathe, while the rubber toe caps provide added protection from the pesky roots and rocks that are hidden on every trail, and represent a serious threat for your toes.
Also, when it comes to keeping your feet protected from the elements, a recessed tongue is added to keep the dirt out of your boot, which comes in handy for those exceptionally dirty trails. In general, these boots represent an excellent combination of comfortability, breathability, and durability and are a great choice for those who plan on taking long distance walks in the outdoors.
- Stylish design
- Great fit
- Poor grip on wet rocks
Related: You definitely want to keep your boots in great shape so that they could last you for many seasons to come. Since these boots are made of Nubuck leather, you will need a proper care kit for this type of leather.
We recommend checking out the McNett ReviveX Nubuck Boot Care Kit. This kit includes a water repellent spray, boot cleaner, brush, and scuff eraser, and is also great for taking care of Suede and fabric boots as well.
Price: $90 – $155
Weight: 2 lb
Specific features: Vibram sole, waterproof and breathable, Gore-Tex performance comfort lining, bellows tongue, Air cushion heel
Best use: Day trips, hiking, trails
Description: This Merrell Moab Mid Hiking Boots are designed to keep your feet dry and are a great choice if you plan on using them in areas with a hot climate, but will perform great in wet environments as well. The key factor when it comes to comfort and breathability, is the mesh lining, as it reduces contact points, which would otherwise cause discomfort and blisters while wicking the moisture away.
Another useful feature of these boots is the Gore-Tex material, which also helps to keep the outside water out of your boots. This membrane is specially designed to be breathable yet waterproof.
When it comes to the grip and stability, the soles of the boots come with lugs, with a special type of thread, which has been tested to give the optimal grip. Also, the Moab boots come with a special Feet Flex technology, which allows the boot to bend and provide a natural flex for your feet.
- Great grip
- Gore-Tex comfort system
- Vibram lugs
- The sole part that folds up on the toe can get separated from the material
Related: Now that you found comfortable and breathable boots, it’s time to look for breathable and comfortable socks. We recommend checking out the Hanes Men’s X-Temp Socks, as they are great for wicking out the moisture, as well as staying breathable and allowing your feet to breath.
Price: Approx. $165
Weight: 2.3 lb
Specific features: Full grain leather upper, Brasher rubber sole, shock absorbing EVA midsole, waterproof & breathable Gore-Tex lining
Best use: Hiking, trails, backpacking
Description: The premium Brasher Hillwalker GTX Boots are made from leather, which means that, if you take proper care of them, they will be waterproof as well as exceptionally durable. Just like other models on this list, the Brasher’s come with a Gore-Tex lining, which adds another waterproof layer to the boots.
As for the construction and design, the boots come well constructed, with a classically styled, full leather mid cut, and an extremely comfortable fit, right out of the box. Features include Gore-tex lining, and.
Furthermore, the Hillwalkers come with a polyurethane midsole, meaning that are great for absorbing shock as well, and a Brasher designed outsole, with rather aggressive treads that offer good slip resistance
All in all, even though Brasher is focused on a more casual, hill and valley walking on well-defined paths and trails style, these boots are actually great for long distance hikes on mixed terrain with rocky paths, plenty of mud, streams, even knee-deep snow and ice. They will definitely perform great and hold their ground at pretty much anything you throw at them.
- Extremely durable
- Great grip on all types of surfaces
- Classic styling is not everybody’s cup of tea
- Soft leather with no rand means the boots will show signs of wear pretty soon
Related: After being used in the outdoors for a while, your shoelaces will show signs of wear and lose their ability to hold your boots tied up properly, and they might snap when you least expect. That is why it is always a good idea to have a spare pair with you, every time you go hiking.
We recommend getting the Rhino Laces, as they are advertised as indestructible. This is not just a marketing trick as these laces are used by the firemen and police and military forces, and are meant for extreme situations.
Price: $275 – $350
Weight: 3.2 lb
Specific features: Leather, import, whole year product, waterproof, Vibram soles
Best use: Backpacking, long distance, hiking
Description: The Tatra GTX Boots are an extremely comfortable model that is lightweight and sturdy and a great choice for a wide variety of trips over moderate terrain. The boots come with a GoreTex lining, which not only makes them waterproof, but also breathable, and your feet will stay dry from the outside, as well as the inside. They also come with a robust Vibram outsole, which makes sure you are stable and have a good grip on various terrains.
Furthermore, the padded soft leather cuffs at the ankle, deliver a wrap-around support, while the vent holes deliver great temperature regulation and breathability. Another useful feature are pulley lace-hooks with ball-bearings, which provide a consistent and easy lace tensioning.
As for the fit, the boots come with a medium broad forefoot, and not overly tight and snug heel, which actually delivers exceptional comfort. They also have a quite solid underfoot, however, with a combination of a pronounced curve to the sole, as well as some flex means, you will feel comfortable on all types of terrains, including broken rock terrains as well.
However, the downside of all this comfort is the fact that the boots are not on the light side, as they weigh 3.2 lb, but, this just means that they are really durable and will last you for many years to come.
- Solid feel and build quality
- Vibram sole
- Lots of ankle protection and support
- Different foot shape versions available
- A bit heavy
- Stiff underfoot
Related: All leather boots need proper care if you want them to last, and these boots are no exception. To make sure you treat them right, we recommend getting the Otter Wax Leather Care Kit. This kit comes with a saddle soap to clean, a leather salve to condition, leather oil to shine, and boot wax to protect. It also includes a flannel buffing and the applicator cloth, to make this a complete leather care set.
Price: $95 – $220
Weight: 2.5 lb
Specific features: Waterproof, lightweight mesh and suede upper, Gore-Tex Performance Comfort technology, EVA midsole, OrthoLite foot bed
Best use: Hiking, trail, backpacking
Description: The Berghaus Explorer Trek Boots offer a lightweight, yet durable performance, and still come with a quite affordable price tag. Their lightness actually gives you more of a high-cut approach shoe, as each boot comes with just 1.25 lb of weight, but they are nevertheless great for long hikes. And, even though the foot protection had been sacrificed to a certain extent so that they could be so light, the boots still feel great and offer protection on rough ground, but walking on shattered rocks would be pushing it too far.
As for the build of the boots, mesh and suede had been used for the upper, while a Gore-Tex membrane is added for waterproof abilities. Furthermore, with the EVA midsole, the cushioning is quite effective, while the footbed comes with the anti-odor properties, which is quite useful if you plan on spending an entire day in the boots and then the night in the tent.
Another great feature is the pleasingly detailed and studded outsole. It offers quite an impressive grip on most terrains, including damp rocks and wet grassy slopes. However, when it comes to fit, the boots will do great for those with a wider foot as they offer quite space inside and are rather broad, which might not be so good for those with narrower feet.
All in all, the Berghaus Explorer Trek Boots are impressive and very well built, and offer comfort on most terrains, even though they are lightweight and don’t offer as much protection as some heavier, sturdier models do.
- Great design
- More suitable for people with wide feet
Related: These boots come with odor-free properties, but that doesn’t mean anything if your socks are bad quality and made of the wrong materials. To avoid smelly feet and bacteria that might develop if your feet are wet all the time from sweating, you need a pair of high-quality hiking socks. We recommend getting the Mirmaru Multi Performance Hiking Socks, as they are made with high absorbing materials, offer great insulation, and are highly breathable. They also come in a pack of five pairs.
Price: $70 – $130
Weight: 2.8 lb
Specific features: Waterproof, breathable upper, Michelin rubber outsole, Ortholite Impressions insole, i-Shield water and stain repellent
Best use: All-weather, trail, backpacking
Description: When you take a look at the Hi-Tec Altitude OX I Hiking Boots, your initial thought will probably be that they look too nice to be worn on rough terrain, right? However, don’t let their stylish design fool you as these boots represent a crossover between stylish oriented lifestyle and outdoor spirit. They are designed to be used for regular daily use in the city, while offering great comfort and protection from both the elements and rough terrain in the wild and unforgiving outdoors.
As for the materials used in the built, Hi-Tec Altitude OX I boots are made from waterproof full grain, rugged Nubuck upper, which is in charge for the outstanding comfort, Dri-tec breathable, yet waterproof membrane, that adds to the waterproofness and is in charge of keeping your feet dry, and keeps feet dry, and Ortholite impressions footbed, with added slow recovery foam, for an advanced cushioning effect.
Now more about the performance. These boots feature the same Michelin-backed tread, which is also used on other Hi-Tech models such as Trail OX Chukka. Therefore, the Altitude OX’s grip is quite firm and offers stability when walking on wet, slippery surfaces such as wet rocks, or in city conditions, damp bricks and wet tiles.
- Keeps feet dry
- Hard wearing
- Plenty of support
- Slightly heavier than most people would prefer
- Not very breathable
Related: Since the color and the material of these boots is quite unforgivable when it comes to stains and dirt sports after each outdoor trip, in order to keep them as new looking as possible, you will need to take special care of them. To get rid of water stains and shine spots that will definitely appear when using the boots on your outdoor adventures, we recommend the Kiwi Suede and Nubuck Stain Eraser.
Price: Approx. $100
Weight: 2.4 lb
Specific features: Rubber sole, waterproof leather upper, soft padded synthetic collar, Hi-Tec removable contoured sock-liner
Best use: Walking, hiking, backpacking
Description: Support is one of the most important things every outdoor enthusiast requires from boots, and the Hi-Tec Eurotrek II Womens Boots provide exactly that, thanks to the padded synthetic collar, which also offers great protection from sharp rocks.
To further ensure a secure fit and superb support, the boots are fastened with six fixed lace pulls and six moveable eyelets. Furthermore, the tongue of the boot comes with a gusseted design and is cushioned, and extends all the way to the bed, which provides a great watertight fit, for those walks that may include stepping in ankle high streams or mucks.
As for the upper, it is made of leather and provides the structure for the foot, as well as exceptional support. Though, even though leather comes with natural waterproof properties, cleaning it and reproofing it before every outdoor trip, would be a very smart idea.
Furthermore, the outsole of the boots is made from a durable carbon rubber that’s fitted with a steel shank, for additional sole support. The grip of the outsole comes as medium depth and delivers a rather good traction.
- Made of leather
- Comfortable and offer great foot support
- Nice traction on slippery and wet terrain
- More suitable for Spring summer season due to low ankle protection
Related: If you want your new boots to look shiny, but what’s more important, to stay protected from the elements, we recommend buying the Meltonian Boot and Shoe Cream Polish. It comes in a dark brown color, which is exactly the tone you need for these boots.
Price: $87 – $315
Weight: 3 lb
Specific features: Women’s model, textile/nubuck leather, gusseted tongue, protective rubber toe cap, Sensifit system, ContraGrip traction outsole
Best use: Backcountry hikes, off-trail hiking
Description: The Salomon X Ultra Mid 2 Boots for women are designed in a way that allows them to come out on top no matter the terrain they are used on, whether we are talking about muddy trails, rocky scrambles, sandy beaches, they can take it all.
Furthermore, the boots everything else but bulky, which actually makes them a great choice for people want support for their feet, yet still want to be able to move quickly, without the “bricky” feeling at their feet. The fact is, even though they are unbelievably light when compared to other hiking boots, the X Ultra Mid 2 boots still provide enough support for your ankles so that you are well balanced during your walks or even runs, but without a range of motion limitations.
As for the design, these boots offer a well thought out design, yet subtle, and, the best thing about them is that the most important features are not visible, such as the OrthoLite sockliner, which is in charge of keeping your feet cushioned and comfortable, and the gusseted tongue, whose main role is to keep the dirt, small rocks, branches, and other annoying and potentially dangerous stuff out of the boot.
But, the boots do have one issue, and that is the fact that they won’t keep the dam out when walking through tall, wet grass, even though they are rated as Gore-Tex Performance Comfort Wear. However, you won’t have such problems with the protective mudguard.
All in all, these boots come with a stylish and sporty look, and they provide a rather good support for your feet and are quite comfortable, and unless you are planning on taking serious mountaineering expeditions, these boots will be a great choice.
- Great design
- Not completely waterproof
Related: To make these boots even more comfortable, and to keep your feet dry and to allow them to breathe, we recommend getting a high-quality pair of hiking boots. The Solax Women’s Merino Wool Sport Socks will do all the above mentioned, and come in lovely girl colors. Also, for a quite affordable price, you will get 3 pairs.
With the Salomon X Ultra Mid 2 Boots, we have reached the end of our article. After going through the entire read, you now possess the knowledge to pick exactly the walking boot model that you need. Just remember what you read in the features to consider section, make a list of your preferred features, and the final choice should be easy and the right one.
Now, if you still have some doubts and can’t quite decide between the models we reviewed, we will help you out a bit more. For example, if you are looking for a pair of comfortable boots for your hikes, and expect them to be as lightweight as possible and not limit your range of motion, yet, to offer a solid support for your feet, we recommend the last reviewed model, the Salomon X Ultra Mid 2 Boots.
On the other hand, if you are not that concerned about your range of motion, and looking for a solid made pair of boots that will keep your feet safe from anything that might come your way, and to last you more than just a few seasons, we recommend getting the Hanwag Tatra Boots, as they are literally “Tank boots” and the most durable on our list.
Now, it’s your turn to share some thoughts. Have we missed a pair of boots that should be on the list? Or, have you walked in any of the reviewed models? If so, please share your thoughts by leaving a comment in the comments section below. Thanks for reading.