Test of the Best: 3-Season Walking boots review (2018)


Is it worth paying more for a top quality 3-season boot? We reviewed boots with price tags from £175 to £250 to find what benefits they offer.

Ankle Cuff

To reduce weight and price of footwear the ankle cuff may be cut quite low in some boots. However, this can be a false economy, as a lower ankle cuff more easily allows water, mud and debris to enter the boot while also providing less ankle support to the foot, which means your foot has to work harder on more uneven ground.

Upper

A traditional leather upper, made with minimal stitching, will last for many years if cared for well – and will probably outlast the grip on the sole. Conversely, an upper that is made of lots of synthetic fabric, mesh and thin strips of suede leather is unlikely to be as durable– due to extra stitching – and often tends to be slow drying.

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Midsole Flex

Grab the boot by the toe and heel and bend them together to test longitudinal stiffness, and then twist the sole to test lateral stiffness. A more flexible sole flex is better for comfort on level ground, while a stiffer sole flex is more comfortable on rockier ground and also allows a more precise use of small footholds when scrambling over rockier ground.

Toe Box

To protect the foot from stray boulders, a stiffened toe box is important. You can test this by pressing the top of the area where your toes will be in the boot.

Rand

To enhance durability on rockier ground, a rubber rand may be added at the toe. On the most durable designs, this rubber rand extends around the whole of the boot, between the sole and the upper.

Outsole

Well-spaced deep lugs can bite into soft ground without clogging. A deep heel breast – the step between the heel and midfoot area of the sole unit – is vital for providing braking power in descents.


Salewa Mountain Trainer Mid GTX £190

  • Men’s 7-13
  • Women’s 4-9
  • Weight 1584g (size 11 pair) 

It's good

This boot is lighter than most others in this category and has a little more flexibility in the ankle cuff and sole unit too, which adds up to this being better than many others here for walking. The upper is made from suede leather, with some synthetic materials in the tongue, there’s a Gore-Tex waterproof lining inside and a full rubber rand on the outside to increase durability. Underfoot, you get a very aggressive sole with a good heel breast and deep lugs. On the foot, this feels great as the ankle cuff and softer sole flex all make walking very comfortable. But the sole has good lateral stiffness too, so it scrambles well on easier rocky routes.

However

The Salewa’s upper is quite soft and flexible, so this forces your foot to work a little harder on more uneven terrain – which may take some getting used to. Stray boulders impacting the top of the foot are more noticeable in this boot compared to one with a stiffer upper. The fabric tongue, and the upper in general, may also wear out sooner on rockier ground than boots with leather in this area or with less stitching. So, for me, this boot is probably best used for general trekking here in the UK or abroad, over a range of path types, rather than too much dedicated use on very rocky ground.

Verdict

An interesting mix of a very good sole unit for mixed path use, as well as a softer and more flexible upper for comfort when walking.

  • Features 4/5
  • Fit 5/5
  • Comfort 5/5
  • In use 4/5
  • Value for money 4/5
  • OVERALL SCORE 88%

Asolo Greenwood GV £190

  • Men’s 6-13.5
  • Women’s 3.5-9
  • Weight 1514g (size 11 pair) 

It's good

New for 2018, this boot replaces the popular Asolo Tribe. First, check out the weight, as this boot is lighter than most at this price point. The upper is made from Perwanger leather, with minimal stitching, and there is a Gore-Tex waterproof lining. There is a rubber rand at the toe and good stiffness in the upper for general hill and mountain walking. The outsole is an Asolo Vibram Duo Radiant design with a very deep heel breast and good sole lugs for softer ground. On the foot, this boot feels noticeably lighter and more dexterous than others, and easier to place on small footholds when scrambling. The toe-to-heel flex is good and this feels good for walking.

However

The toe area is slightly narrower than some, which is great when scrambling, but you may want a little more room here. If I was being picky, I would say some higher-priced boots flex slightly more smoothly across the forefoot area, but this is a tiny difference. Higher-priced boots do often have a full rubber rand and the upper on some other boots is softer against the foot, too. So, this boot may lose out on overall comfort, and potentially on durability, but it’s a small drawback when you look at the price and weight benefit. For most British hill and mountain walkers I think this offers an excellent package of benefits. 

Verdict

The weight and performance is very good for general hillwalking. So, at this price point, it is a superb option but pay more and there may be additional benefits.

  • Features 5/5
  • Fit 5/5
  • Comfort 4/5
  • In use 5/5
  • Value for money 4/5
  • OVERALL SCORE 92%
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Mammut Trovat Advanced High GTX £199

  • Men’s 7-12
  • Women’s 4-8.5
  • Weight 1776g (size 11 pair) 

It's good

A well-established boot that for has provided the right goods for hillwalking over rougher terrain for some years. The upper is nubuck leather with a Gore-Tex waterproof lining and this is well stiffened for support and protection on rougher rocky ground. A rubber rand at the toe and heel adds further durability. The outsole is Vibram with a good set of deep lugs and a heel breast. On the foot, this has a closer fit around the toe than others and it feels quite good for scrambling. The ankle cuff is a little stiffer than on other boots too, so it feels more supportive on scree slopes. So a good boot for scree and rougher terrain.

However

Some others are lighter, have a slightly smoother roll when walking and feel a little more dexterous when scrambling, giving this a slightly clumpier feel on the foot by comparison. Also the toe area is offering a slightly closer fit around the foot, so some wider-footed people may prefer those with more space in this area particularly for walking rather than scrambling. Some higher-priced models have a full rubber rand and less stitching on the upper, which may promote even more durability for the hardiest of users. Mammut does offer the excellent Trovat Guide High (£219), with a full rubber rand, but also more sole stiffness. All in all, there’s not a lot wrong here, but there are some small details to consider.

Verdict

Solid performance on rock and scree mountain terrain, but lighter and more flexible boots are available.

  • Features 5/5
  • Fit 5/5
  • Comfort 4/5
  • In use 4/5
  • Value for money 3/5
  • OVERALL SCORE 84%

La Sportiva Trango Trek Leather £200

  • Men’s 41-48
  • Women’s 37-42
  • Weight 1714g (size 11 pair) 

It's good

A unique welded upper construction keeps weight down and, potentially, durability up. There is a Gore-Tex waterproof lining and a rubber rand at the toe for durability. The sole unit is a very stiff Vibram Mulaz unit with very deep lugs and an aggressive heel breast, so this is great for grip in mud and softer terrain. The ankle cuff benefits from an exceptionally soft forward and lateral flex compared to others, which makes walking far more comfortable and scrambling easier. The close-fitting toe area is particularly good for scrambling, as it allows more precise foot placement and, when combined with the stiff sole and easy ankle movement, this is great when used on rocky via ferrata-style terrain.

However

The toe box is a little snug, so broad-footed hillwalkers – or those that just like more wiggle room – may prefer different boots. The outsole is pretty stiff, and while this is great on rockier ground, if you are walking on easier terrain then a more bendy boot will suit you better – with the additional benefit of less weight and a lower price. One slight concern is that the fabric tongue extends to the toe, so this area may be less durable compared to other boots when used on scree and rock regularly. Some people may also prefer a stiffer lateral flex in the ankle area than is offered here. 

Verdict

Superb ankle flex, combined with a welded upper, make this boot ideal for rockier scrambles and via ferrata routes.

  • Features 5/5
  • Fit 5/5
  • Comfort 4/5
  • In use 4/5
  • Value for money 3/5
  • OVERALL SCORE 84%

Zamberlan 996 Vioz GTX £200

  • Men’s 38-49
  • Women’s 36-43
  • Weight 1756g (size 11 pair) 

It's good

This boot is stiffer than many others in this price range, making it particularly suitable for scrambles and rockier walks. The full-grain leather upper has minimal stitching for maximum durability and there is a Gore-Tex waterproof lining. The sole has good, well-spaced lugs for general walking, as well as a good heel breast for grips during descents. This is a stiff boot, but it still feels great when walking on the level, due to a curvature of the sole that allows a reasonably natural roll from heel to toe – while the ankle cuff flexes forward a little, too. This is superb for walking over typically rocky British mountains and ideal for scrambles, as it feels precise on the foot.

However

The toe is a little neater and closer fitting than on some boots, which is great for scrambling. But those who are more walking-oriented will probably prefer boots with a slightly wider toe area. There is no rubber rand, so those who want maximum durability for very regular jaunts onto rocks and scree may prefer others. These boots are slightly heavier than some others too – due to the extra stiffness. Of course, if you are not tackling rockier ground then boots with a softer ankle cuff and softer sole flex are all you need – with the benefit of less weight, a cheaper price tag and more comfort.

Verdict

Excellent boot for scrambling and rockier terrain, but it has no rubber rand and other boots are slightly better away from the rocks.

  • Features 5/5
  • Fit 5/5
  • Comfort 4/5
  • In use 5/5
  • Value for money 4/5
  • OVERALL SCORE 88%

Scarpa Trek GTX £200

  • Men’s 40-48
  • Women’s 36-42
  • Weight 1684g (size 11 pair) 

It's good

Built around a low-volume last for a closer fit, the Trek has a 1.8mm nubuck leather upper with minimal stitching on the outside to improve durability as well as a Gore-Tex waterproof lining inside to maintain dry feet. You get a rubber rand that fully encloses the boot, too. The sole is a Vibram Biometric Fly unit with deep, well-spaced lugs and a good heel breast. The sole flex between toe and heel is good for rockier ground, and the sole also resists pressure from jagged rocks well. We also liked the slightly more precise fit on this boot around the toe – it made scrambling a little easier and neater when placing the foot. 

However

This is not the lightest model around, so if you don’t need all that durability and stiffness you can definitely get lighter boots. Also, if you are not going to be heading onto rocky ground regularly you could choose a boot without a rubber rand, which would be lower in price and lighter. As with any boot that is stiff enough for rocky ground, if you walk on moors or paths then you will find boots with a softer flex more comfortable, of course, until you hit the rocks. So, something like a Scarpa Ranger at £180 may be all you need if you plan on backpacking over paths, rather than regularly clambering over rocks. 

Verdict

An excellent general-purpose hill and mountain trekking, and scrambling, boot that is great for regular use on rockier terrain.

  • Features 5/5
  • Fit 5/5
  • Comfort 5/5
  • In use 5/5
  • Value for money 3/5
  • OVERALL SCORE 92%
 

Alt-Berg Nordkapp £205

  • Men’s 4-14
  • Women’s none
  • Weight 1670g (size 11 pair) 

It's good

This boot has remained the same price for a couple of years now, which is impressive in the current climate. Equally impressive is the weight when you realise what you are getting. This boot has a nubuck leather upper, without much stitching, so durability is good. But you also get a full rubber rand for even more abrasion resistance and, inside, you get a Sympatex waterproof lining to ensure dry feet. The sole is a Vibram Masai unit with good lugs for grip. There is a nice rolling action on the foot, making easier ground comfortable, but also plenty of stiffness for rockier ground. This is great for tackling rockier routes on Lakeland fells, Scottish Munros and Welsh 3000ers. 

However

There is no women’s version,of this boot, but it does come in a good size range, from 4 to 14. While this boot does roll exceptionally well with the foot, from toe to heel, and the toe box is very spacious, it doesn’t feel quite as neat and precise as others might when scrambling over rock. So, if you’re planning to do a lot,of scrambling, these boots may not be,your best bet. While this is a relatively lightweight model, you could go for an,even lighter boot if you don’t really need the impressive stiffness and durability on offer here – and this would save you cash at the checkout, too. 

Verdict

Superb for general mountain walking over rockier ground with an excellent heel to toe rolling action, but others are more precise on scrambles.

  • Features 5/5
  • Fit 4/5
  • Comfort 4/5
  • In use 4/5
  • Value for money 3/5
  • OVERALL SCORE 80%

Meindhl Bhutan £210

  • Men’s 6-14
  • Women’s 3.5-9
  • Weight 1794g (size 11 pair) 

It's good

The Bhutan is a popular boot that replaced the classic Meindl Burma back in 2014. It is a very solid boot with a little more stiffness in the sole than some lower-priced options, making it better for rockier ground. The upper features nubuck leather, with Gore-Tex waterproof protection, and there is lots of padding inside for more comfort against the foot. A full rubber rand provides even more protection on scree and rockier routes. Underfoot, a Vibram sole, with deep lugs, and a good heel breast help keep a decent grip. This is a well-proven and very popular boot for regular trips to rockier British mountains. 

However

This boot is heavier than other others in this category and it also feels a little less precise and neat on the foot – so, when scrambling over rocks, it feels a bit more clumpy, in general, than some of its competitors. There is also slightly more stiffness in the sole than in other boots, here – which is great on rockier ground but, obviously, if you are tramping across moorland or sticking to well-trodden paths for the most part, a boot with a softer flex will provide all your needs. It would also give the benefit of less weight on the foot and be quite a bit cheaper. It’s still a great boot, but there are other models that are starting to show some desirable benefits.

Verdict

A popular boot for regular jaunts over rockier ground – but new trends towards lightness and dexterity are starting to challenge its dominance.

  • Features 5/5
  • Fit 5/5
  • Comfort 4/5
  • In use 4/5
  • Value for money 3/5
  • OVERALL SCORE 84%

Arc'teryx Bora Mid GTX £250

  • Men’s 6.5-13
  • Women’s 3.5-10
  • Weight 1376g (size 11 pair) 

It's good

Boot design is changing rapidly, with lower weights the norm and ankle cuff design becoming more and more flexible. The Bora Mid GTX pushes the term ‘lightweight’ to new levels, with this super-light boot. Inside, your foot sits within a Gore-Tex sock which is fixed to the outer shell, while the outside is made of synthetic PU-coated materials and features a rubber rand. The sole features Vibram for grip and the result is unparalleled forward flex and dexterity underfoot, but with the sort of performance you’d expect from, say, a boot priced at £175 or above. Very impressive. The outer is also very durable as there is no stitching, and the mesh and PU-coated materials feel very durable.

However

The toe box and sole flex are softer than other 3-season boots in this price band – and the sole flexes when standing on jagged rocks, so comfort is not ideal on rock. But the lateral stiffness is good, so it’s useful when scrambling. Compared to other boots, it doesn’t have the deepest sole lugs or most pronounced heel breast. Then there is that Gore-Tex sock liner – it is too early to say how durable it will prove to be, so the jury is out on that for the moment. Water can get between the liner and the shell easily, which feels cold, but it does pump out while walking. The price is painfully high though.

Verdict

The low weight, flexible ankle cuff and durable outer shell are major benefits, but the price and potential durability of the sock liner are concerns.

  • Features 5/5
  • Fit 5/5
  • Comfort 4/5
  • In use 4/5
  • Value for money 2/5
  • OVERALL SCORE 80%

Test of the best: 4-season walking boots

ANKLE CUFF
The ankle cuff helps prevent mud, snow and grit from entering the boot. It also protects the ankle against being scraped by rocks. The stiffness in the ankle cuff reduces the strain on the ankle when traversing slopes, by adding extra support, which makes it less tiring and easier to get a stable foothold, particularly on lower slopes.

MIDSOLE STIFFNESS
Grab the boot by the toe and heel and bend the toe towards the heel, then twist the toe while holding the heel stationary. The harder it is to bend the boot in these two directions, the better the boot will perform on snow and ice and be compatible with crampons. A 4-season boot will be almost totally rigid, a 3-season boot will be very bendy and a 3- 4-season boot will be somewhere between these extremes.

OUTSOLE LUGS
Deep, widely spaced lugs will bite into snow without clogging, while also providing many years of wear before they are too shallow to give a good grip.

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DURABILITY
As these boots are destined for the particularly challenging conditions of winter, they need to be durable, so look for uppers with minimal stitching and a rubber rand at the toe box. For maximum durability, look for a rubber rand that encloses the whole boot.

FIT
No boot is worth having if it does not fit. The inside of the boot should be 13-15mm longer than your foot, which you can gauge by putting on the boot without the laces tightened up and then placing your forefinger down the inside of the boot at the heel. Better outdoor stores will measure your feet. The upper should be snug and comfortable across the foot.

CRAMPON COMPATIBILITY
The 4-season boot is rated as B2, which means it is compatible with a C2 rated crampon (stiffer than a C1 crampon used with 3-4-season boots). To make it easier to fit crampons, 4-season boots may have a ledge at the heel that allows crampons with heel clips to be fitted. These are easier and quicker to fit than strap-on crampons, which is important in very cold conditions.


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Mammut Magic High GTX £230

  • Mens 6.5-13
  • Womens 4-9
  • Weight 1878g (size 11)

IT'S GOOD Compared to other 4-season boots, the price and weight are instantly more appealing. The upper is made with a mix of velour leather and synthetic textiles, with lots of stitching, but there is a full rubber rand for more durability and a Gore-Tex waterproof lining. The outsole is Vibram, with a good set of deep, well-spaced lugs. There is slightly more flex in the sole and ankle cuff than some boots, making this better for easier ground than pure mountaineering designs. The toe area feels reasonably precise for scrambling, but you also get a wider forefoot area, which makes this better for more general use. Better than most at this price.

HOWEVER The complex upper may be less durable than simpler designs with less stitching, although this will only be an issue for the hardest of mountain users. While this has a good weight, it does not feel quite as precise underfoot when scrambling as some heavier boots, which is due to it having more padding and a less precise fit to the upper, compared to others. As there is slightly more flex in the upper and sole than some designs, your foot has to work a little harder when traversing slopes or negotiating scrambles, so again this points this boot more toward general use than high grade mountaineering. 

VERDICT A very good all-round boot with a good weight and price that should be ideal for many, unless you really cannot live without specific benefits.

  • Features: 4/5
  • Fit: 5/5
  • Comfort: 4/5
  • In use: 4/5
  • Value for money: 4/5
  • OVERALL SCORE: 84%

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Asolo Elbrus GV £230

  • Mens 6-13
  • Womens 4.5-9
  • Weight 1802g (size 11)

IT'S GOOD The weight and price set this apart from other 4-season boots, but also you get some important performance benefits. Firstly, the upper does not have too many layers of material, with large panels of suede leather and synthetic Schoeller materials in use, while a full rubber rand adds further durability benefits. There is a Gore-Tex waterproof lining too. The outsole is a very aggressive Vibram unit with deep, widely spaced lugs and a good heel breast. This has a good general fit. The toe is slightly narrowed, to improve performance when scrambling over rock. The ankle cuff gently flexes to allow easier walking but it remains supportive. The outsole has a good rolling action. 

HOWEVER The foot does sit slightly higher from the ground than some higher priced designs, which means this does not feel quite as stable and precise on rockier ground, although this is probably only an issue for those needing the ultimate in performance. The synthetic materials around the ankle cuff may be less durable than other boots. If you want an out-and-out mountaineering design, then others are slightly better, and you can get a lighter mountaineering design if you have more cash. Hard to fault for general mountain walking in winter conditions, though. 

VERDICT Unless you need the absolute best performance, then this is a superbly priced boot for general winter mountain use, which is very difficult to improve upon.

  • Features: 5/5
  • Fit: 5/5
  • Comfort: 5/5
  • In use: 4/5
  • Value for money: 4/5
  • OVERALL SCORE: 92%

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Zamberlan 1000 Baltoro GTX £230

  • Mens 40-48
  • Womens none
  • Weight 1828g (size 11)

IT'S GOOD The weight and the price tag are both great and, for this, you get an upper that is primarily made from Hydrobloc Perwanger leather, with Cordura nylon in the tongue and ankle cuff areas. There is a Gore-Tex waterproof lining inside and a rubber rand at the toe and heel. The Vibram outsole has well-spaced lugs and a good heel breast. On the foot, the upper is noticeably stiffer than some, particularly around the ankle cuff, which is great for more uneven ground when more support is of benefit. The toe box is spacious and good for general mountain use. Overall, a good all-round performance. 

HOWEVER There is no women’s version of this boot. Also, the fit does feel less precise and neat on the foot, compared to higher-priced designs. While the stiffness on the ankle cuff, in particular, is a benefit on really rough ground due to its increased support, there is a less comfortable forward flex in the ankle cuff, which means this is not the best for comfort when walking on level ground. In terms of the sole, the lugs are not as deep as others, so this does not quite have the best grip on soft ground or snow when not wearing crampons. Others with a more narrow toe are also better for more precise climbing or mountaineering. Others get a full rubber rand for harder use. 

VERDICT A good price and weight for a general use mountain boot, but others are better for more natural walking on level ground and for climbing on more technical ground.

  • Features: 4/5
  • Fit: 3/5
  • Comfort: 5/5
  • In use: 4/5
  • Value for money: 4/5
  • OVERALL SCORE: 80%

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Hanwag Ferrata Combi GTX £235

  • Mens 6-13
  • Womens 3.5-9
  • Weight 1852g (size 11)

IT'S GOOD An appealing price tag and weight compared to other 4-season boots. The upper is made from Cordura synthetic textiles with leather overlays and a Gore-Tex waterproof lining as well as a full rubber rand for durability. The outsole is a Vibram Climbing II unit with well-spaced lugs that are slightly more shallow than some designs and there is a smooth climbing zone under the toe. The ankle cuff is slightly softer than some others for more comfort. On the foot this feels slightly more spacious than some designs, so good for general users and also the upper is slightly softer so again great for general use. Walking is reasonably natural in this boot although others have a slightly smooth rolling action from the sole. 

HOWEVER The outsole lugs are not the deepest, making this good for rocky ground, as you get a more precise feel from more shallow lugs, but less good on softer ground or snow, as the grip is not so great without crampons. The upper is softer throughout than others, which is great for use on easier ground, but this means it lacks a little support for more technical ground or traversing slopes. I do find that the tongue area is less well padded, so I had to be a little more careful with the lacing to prevent creating a firm spot on the top of my foot, something I did not have to be so careful about with other boots. 

VERDICT A relatively low priced and relatively low weight boot that is good for general use.

  • Features: 5/5
  • Fit: 5/5
  • Comfort: 4/5
  • In use: 4/5
  • Value for money: 4/5
  • OVERALL SCORE: 88%

Aku Tengu GTX £260

  • Mens 5-12
  • Womens none
  • Weight 1812g (size 11)

IT'S GOOD The upper is stiff and supportive and made from a nylon fabric with some small areas of suede leather and a full rubber rand for extra durability. There is a Gore-Tex waterproof lining on the inside. The outsole is a Vibram Curcuma unit, with deep and widely spaced lugs. This provides a good general fit, being neither too narrow nor too wide. The upper and ankle cuff are stiff and supportive, so again, great for general use. Toe flex is smooth and the ankle cuff flexed forward nicely to allow a reasonably natural walking for this category of boot. It is also pretty lightweight compared to other 4-season boots. The price is slightly less than some too. 

HOWEVER The good overall performance and features of this boot are let down by there not being a women’s specific option, but at least the unisex size range does extend down to size 5, so some women may find this boot does fit them. The upper is made from nylon, rather than a thicker and more durable leather, so really hard users may want to consider other models. While great for general mountain use, others are better for more the precise footwork needed for more technical climbing or scrambling on harder grades of rock. Some boots have a little more padding and softer flex at the ankle cuff for more comfort, if that is your priority. 

VERDICT A great all-round mountain boot with a good weight and price to suit general users, but specific benefits are available in other boots.

  • Features: 4/5
  • Fit: 3/5
  • Comfort: 4/5
  • In use: 5/5
  • Value for money: 4/5
  • OVERALL SCORE: 84%

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Salewa Vulture Gore-Tex £270

  • Mens 6-13
  • Womens none
  • Weight 2012g (size 11)

IT'S GOOD This eye-catching design uses suede leather on the upper, with synthetic materials around the ankle cuff, as well as a Gore-Tex waterproof lining and a full rubber rand. The ankle cuff is lower than others and also more flexible. Underfoot, you get a Vibram sole unit with very deep lugs for biting into soft snow and there is a smooth climbing zone under the big toe for scrambling. To ensure a good fit, this boot comes with a choice of footbeds to manage the volume. On the foot, the toe feels slightly narrow and lower in volume than some, but it widens at the forefoot and the ankle cuff is very flexible in the forward flex when walking, as well as laterally. 

HOWEVER This is not available in a women’s specific size range. The ankle cuff is so flexible that this means your foot has to work harder on more uneven ground, as you are not getting the support from the boot, so this makes this more of a walking than a mountaineering design for me. But then, the narrow toe means it is not quite as comfortable as other more walking-orientated designs, but also it is not the most precise for scrambling either. So, overall this is great for walking over level snow and glaciers, but on ground when you need more support from the ankle cuff, or precision at the toe, it is not quite the best. 

VERDICT An unusual mix of features with the benefit of a more flexible ankle cuff and deep sole lugs that are great for walking over snow-covered mountains.

  • Features: 5/5
  • Fit: 3/5
  • Comfort: 4/5
  • In use: 3/5
  • Value for money: 3/5
  • OVERALL SCORE: 76%

La Sportiva Cube GTX £290

  • Mens 41-48
  • Womens none
  • Weight 1962g (size 11)

IT'S GOOD This is exceptionally lightweight for a 4-season boot, at just 1692g (size 46). It also features a unique seamless upper construction of abrasion-resistant nylon and a thermoplastic covering. Inside, you get Gore-Tex for waterproofness and there is a full rubber rand on the outside. The tongue is a softer and more flexible synthetic material, but overall this upper is very durable in design. The outsole is a unique Vibram Cube unit, with deep, widely spaced lugs, with a smooth climbing zone under the big toe. The fit is narrow and neat and, when combined with the low weight, this boot is ideal for scrambling and more technical ground, as well as walking in general. 

HOWEVER There are no women’s specific fit options here and the size range is relatively small. The fit is narrower than some, too, which may hinder those with wider feet. Also, the ankle cuff is lower and has less forward flex, which means walking is not quite so comfortable. There is also a little less cushioning around the foot in general compared to some, so this does not feel quite as comfortable as others in general. It’s not uncomfortable, it is just that others are more comfy. The price is still quite high compared to some options, but if you want that low weight, then these are the drawbacks you have to consider. 

VERDICT A very lightweight and durable boot, that is ideal for technical ground, but walkers may prefer the extra comfort on offer elsewhere.

  • Features: 5/5
  • Fit: 3/5
  • Comfort: 4/5
  • In use: 4/5
  • Value for money: 3/5
  • OVERALL SCORE: 76%

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Meindl Jorasse GTX £295

  • Mens 6-12
  • Womens 3.5-8
  • Weight 1858g (size 11)

IT'S GOOD The upper is a mix of leather and synthetic materials, with a Gore-Tex waterproof lining on the inside and a high rubber rand on the outside for extra durability. This boot has a double tongue design, for more comfort around the top of the foot and at the top of the ankle cuff a small additional elasticated cuff to lock out debris. The outsole is a Vibram unit with good well-spaced deep lugs and a substantial heelbreast. There is a little more volume around the foot than some others, to suit chunkier feet, and there is also more cushioning around the foot too, particularly under that double tongue. So, in terms of comfort this has a slight edge over some other designs. 

HOWEVER While this has a good weight, it feels slightly less precise on the foot, and slightly clumpy, which is not an issue for general walking, but is noticeable when more precise footwork is needed, such as when walking or scrambling over more uneven rocky ground with crampons. While this has a good weight, you can get even lighter designs and some boots have a lower price tag, but of course those boots may not have the extra comfort and space around the foot offered here. It is possible that boots with less layers of material and less stitching will be more durable on the feet of really hard users. 

VERDICT A great boot for mountain walks if you prefer a more spacious fit and more cushioning but it does feel slightly less precise on rocky steps.

  • Features: 5/5
  • Fit: 5/5
  • Comfort: 4/5
  • In use: 4/5
  • Value for money: 3/5
  • OVERALL SCORE: 88%

Scarpa.jpg

Scarpa Manta Pro GTX £300

  • Mens 40-50
  • Womens 36-42
  • Weight 2074g (size 11)

IT'S GOOD Setting the standard of 4-season boots for British mountain use, the Manta Pro has a Gore-Tex waterproof lining that is protected by a stiff leather upper, with additional synthetic materials and a rubber rand. The ankle cuff is particularly comfortable and allows forward flex to allow easier walking, yet it still maintains lateral support. The Vibram sole has deep well-spaced lugs and a heel breast and, while it is fully stiffened, it also provides a reasonable forward roll for this class of boot, to make walking below the snow possible. The forefoot and toe area is slightly wider than some, more climbing-orientated, designs and this makes it great for general walking over snow and glaciers. 

HOWEVER If you are looking for a boot for mountaineering, where lots of precise toe placement is needed, then others are slightly better, owing to them having a more narrow toe, that allows more accurate placement of this area onto smaller footholds while climbing. In an ideal world, a little fewer layers of material and less stitching may be more durable for really hard users. Other boots are also slightly lighter but of course they may have additional drawbacks. Then there is the price tag, which is more than most but, on the bright side, the price has remained the same over the past couple of years. 

VERDICT For regular mountain walks in snow and ice the Manta Pro GTX remains the first choice but others do have benefits in more climbing focused situations.

  • Features: 5/5
  • Fit: 5/5
  • Comfort: 5/5
  • In use: 5/5
  • Value for money: 3/5
  • OVERALL SCORE: 92%

HOKA ONE ONE Tor Ultra Hi WP walking boots

The Tor is trail running technology expanded for walkers. Hoka emerged in 2010 with a range of shoes designed to help runners attack nasty descents, so their shoes are based around a hugely oversized midsole that delivers firm foot placement plus lashings of cushioning. The Tor is their first boot, and it definitely works for walkers. Yes it looks odd, and yes you’ll feel slightly too elevated when you first put it on, but get going and you’ll soon see what it gives you. Your feet sit way above the turf, and you may not like the loss of ‘ground-feel’ that this entails. But if you just want to barrel onwards with minimal worry about hard impacts on your feet, the Tor is terrific. It’s also surprisingly well ventilated for such a thickly padded product. Hi-Tec’s Rolling Gait System does something similar, but the Tor weighs a lot less and comes with funky trail running styling. Plus, this is the only style of sole they make, so you know that all their attention was ploughed into it. They won’t suit everyone, but if you hate bumpy rides, look no further.

SPECIFICATION

RRP: £160

Sizes: Euro 40-49

Weight: 1012g (pair)

Waterproof/breathable lining: eVent

Outsole: Vibram

Women’s version: Yes

Contact: 0808 234 0518,

VERDICT

Best for agile walkers who prioritise speed and confidence on rough, tough mountain walks.

MERRELL Capra Mid Sport GTX walking boots

As we say every month, these tests aren’t about picking a winner. Except in this case, where the Capra has been such a delight to wear that it would be a crime not to tell you I love it. It’s a solid combination of featherweight swiftness, decent support and adaptability; it just flies over rock, mud and sand. I initially worried it might be too flimsy; the upper is thin (despite containing a Gore-Tex membrane) and it tapers upwards to an ankle cuff with hardly any padding at all. Yet it has a magical degree of sturdiness that has kept my weak right ankle from turning even on chunky boulders. You can find more supportive and protective boots, but probably not with this level of fun. Merrell say it’s ideal for scrambling and that is true; it’s great on Striding Edge. But equally it flounced over Lincolnshire Wolds farmland as well. Taut, grippy, waterproof and fun: that’s a winning mix, whatever your criteria.

SPECIFICATION

RRP: £140

Sizes: 6.5-13

Weight: 976g (pair)

Waterproof/breathable lining: Gore-Tex

Outsole: Vibram Women’s version: Yes

Contact: 0203 376 2738, www.merrell.com

VERDICT

If you don’t need masses of support and sturdiness, this agile, good-looking boot is near flawless.

 

AKU Erera GTX walking boots

It feels like faint praise to say “there’s nothing wrong with this one”. The Erera carried me for miles along muddy South Downs paths and icky clay shorelines, and did a couple of mountain walks too. It’s a mid-cut, so it prioritises speed and lightness over support, and its generous fit will please those with wider feet (narrower feet may slide around a little). Grip is good, lacing is firm and the ankle cuff offers good protection, plus it has Gore-Tex to keep you dry. It’s the perfect mid-range boot in many ways – except perhaps excitement. It lacks the precision of a Meindl, the comfort of a Hi-Tec and the fun of a Merrell, and for me it somehow misses that instant click that comes when you find a boot that really loves you back. But for an all-rounder that will take you anywhere with few or no complaints, give this a try. It will score highly in all departments; I just wish I could love it more. 

SPECIFICATION

RRP: £135

Sizes: 7-13

Weight: 1218g (pair)

Waterproof/breathable lining: Gore-Tex

Outsole: Vibram Women’s version: Yes

Contact: 01250 873863, www.aku.it

VERDICT

A perfect all-rounder boot at a very fair price; somehow it lacks a bit of zing, though.

Best Group - Group Spray Walking Boots

Best Group are new to the market; the name might be awful, but they are aiming to mix it with Hi-Tec and Karrimor in the value market, and on this evidence they make a good case. The RRP may be £130 but most outlets are selling it for £70, and for the amount of features involved that’s a great price. The Spray is the lightest boot here; sleek and well put together, with a flat Vibram sole that does well on country paths. Don’t take it to high ground unless you’re very sure-footed though; the lightness makes it flimsy and there isn’t a lot of ankle support. The own-brand Tepor/Dry membrane is good with water (surviving a full-on dunking) but poor on breathability; your feet will heat up as the day goes on. Overall, you may not feel the reassurance that comes with a name brand at a higher price, but on easier walks it’s a great option, and terrific for just getting you out there.

SPECIFICATION

RRP: £130

Sizes: Euro 38-46 Weight: 962g (pair)

Waterproof/breathable lining: Tepor/Dry Outsole: Vibram

Women’s version: Yes

Contact: 0191 261 4161, www.wildtrak.com

VERDICT

Light, fun and cheap: great for low-level walks and particularly for newcomers to walking.

MEINDL Air Revolution GTX walking boots

If you’ve ever wondered what a benchmark feels like, you’ll find out when you slip these on. Meindl’s Air Revolutions are the boots to beat, and thoroughly justify their price tag. Like the Mammuts, they offer a high-tech ventilation system, but these lose nothing in performance either. The Air-Revo system uses the natural pumping motion of walking to suck air in and out of the boot, ensuring a circulation of freshness around the foot. But by far the most impressive thing about these boots is the way they balance strength with comfort. The outsole is sturdy enough to deal with gnarly terrain, and the suede leather upper combines with the mesh tongue to pull snugly over the foot, holding it in place. But against the rugged exterior comes the soft centre: every part of these boots is luxuriously cushioned. The insole is wonderfully supportive, the ankle cuff is spongy, and even the tongue has removable padding. Compared to their rivals, these are weighty, but who cares when they’re this good?

SPECIFICATION

RRP: £200

Sizes: 3.5-10 (including half sizes)

Weight: 1200g

Waterproof/breathable lining: Gore-Tex

Outsole: Vibram

Men’s version: Yes

Contact: 01539 560214, www.meindl.co.uk

VERDICT

The perfect fabric boot: well-ventilated, comfy and mountain-ready. You’ll wear them everywhere.

MAMMUT Comfort High GTX Walking Boots

These are lightweight but exceedingly comfortable. With the Gore-Tex Surround technology, Mammut have their sights set on ventilation and comfort as opposed to speed. The idea of Gore-Tex Surround is to let the whole foot breathe through a 360-degree ventilation system. It works well – my feet stayed cool even on the big climbs – but there is a trade-off. In order to get the all-round ventilation and comfort, Mammut have sacrificed strength in the midsole and outsole. Although the flex is great, I could feel everything underfoot during rocky sections, and didn’t feel I had the support to venture an easy scramble. Despite that, the sole offers good grip and the ankle is surprisingly sturdy. If you want a comfy boot to romp over grasslands and moors, these are a good bet.

SPECIFICATION

RRP: £170

Sizes: 4-8.5 (including half sizes)

Weight: 900g (pair) Waterproof/breathable lining: Gore-Tex

Outsole: Gripex Men’s version: Yes

Contact: 01625 508218, www.mammut.ch

VERDICT

Airy, light and comfy with a whizzy ventilation system, but unsuited to the mountains.