5 OF THE BEST... 4-season boots REVIEWED (2018)

When the hills are plastered in snow a well stiffened 4-season boot is ideal to make mountain walking safe and secure, so here’s five of the best. 


Fit

No boot is worth having if it doesn’t fit properly. The inside of the boot should be around 13-15mm longer than your foot. You can gauge this by putting the boot on, 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 for a precise fit. The upper should be snug and comfortable across the foot too.

Durability

If you want your boots to last as long as possible, look for uppers with minimal stitching and a rubber rand that fully encloses the whole boot. Durable designs are most important for those regularly heading out onto rockier ground and ice-covered mountains, but it’s not so important if you walk less often in the hills, or tend to stick to paths or level terrain.

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Ankle cuff

The ankle cuff helps prevent mud and grit from entering the boot. It also protects the ankle against being scraped on rocks. The stiffness in the ankle cuff reduces the strain on the ankle when traversing slopes and while scrambling by adding extra support. But on easier ground, smooth paths and level ground, such support is less important. Some walkers also prefer the freedom and easier ankle movement of boots with lower or softer ankle cuffs.

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 with crampons. A 4-season boot will be almost totally rigid,
while a 3-season boot will be very bendy, and a 3-4 season boot will be somewhere between these extremes.

Outsole lugs

Deep, wide-spaced lugs will bite into soft mud and snow without clogging, while also providing many years of wear before they are too shallow to give a good grip on soft ground.  A heel breast between the forefoot lugs and heel of the sole adds valuable braking power on descents.

Crampon compatibility

Not all boots are designed to be used with crampons due to the stiffness of the sole and flexibility of the upper. Crampons are not generally recommended for 3-season boots, but flexible crampons rated as C1 can be fitted to 3-4 season boots, while stiffer crampons rated as C2 can be fitted to 4-season boots.


Asolo Elbrus GV £250

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  • Men’s 6-13.5

  • Women’s 4-9

  • Weight 1802g (size 11)

It’s good

This well-priced boot is built around a suede leather upper, with Schoeller soft shell materials around the ankle cuff. There is not too much stitching or overlays of material, so durability is good and you also get a full rubber rand. There is Gore-Tex inside for waterproofness. The very aggressive Vibram outsole has deep, well-spaced lugs and a deep heel breast, which is ideal for crunching through snow and keeping a grip. The fit is great, with a slightly narrow toe which helps with scrambling over rock. The ankle cuff is very comfortable and allows a gentle flex forward, while the outsole rolls smoothly from heel to toe. Walking below the snowline is good for this category of boot.

However

This boot holds the foot slightly higher above the ground than some, which means that when walking over rocky ground or when scrambling you feel slightly less stable. But this is a tiny difference and will only impact those wanting the absolute best performance on tricky ground. I’m always cautious about recommending synthetic materials for hard environments, as they’re rarely as durable as quality leather or a plain rubber rand, but again this will only impact the hardest of users. For pure mountaineering others are very slightly better if you want the best and can afford it. But most hillwalkers will find this ideal for their needs and any benefits from others are small.

Verdict

A great boot at this price for general winter hillwalking, with some benefits available if you pay more.

  • Features 5/5

  • Fit 5/5

  • Comfort 4/5

  • In use 4/5

  • Value for money 5/5

  • OVERALL SCORE 92%

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Zamberlan 1000 Baltoro GTX £250

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  • Men’s 38-48

  • Women’s n/a

  • Weight 1828g (size 11)

It’s good

Zamberlan’s 1000 Baltoro competes well with other boots, particularly as the price is more tolerable than some and it’s also relatively low in weight. The upper is made from Hydrobloc Perwanger leather, with Cordura nylon around the tongue and the ankle cuff. Inside the boot there is a Gore-Tex waterproof lining. I like that there’s not too much stitching, and for even more durability there is a rubber rand at the toe and heel. Underfoot you get a Vibram sole unit with widely-spaced lugs and a heel breast. Get the boot on and the toe box is spacious, and the upper is quite stiff and supportive, so the result is a great boot for general hillwalking.

However

While this feels good on the foot, it does not feel quite as neat and precise as some. Also the ankle cuff is not quite as well padded as others and doesn’t flex quite so smoothly forward when walking, so this area in general is just a little less comfortable than higher-priced boots. The sole unit is good but the outsole lugs are not quite as deep as others, so on snow without crampons the boot does not crunch into the surface and grip as well as others. If you want a boot for scrambling then those with a slightly narrower toe are better, as they offer more precise foot placement. There is no women’s option either. 

Verdict

For its price tag this boot is ideal for most hillwalkers who don’t need the best performance but do want to save some cash. Slightly more expensive boots offer extra benefits though.

  • Features 5/5

  • Fit 5/5

  • Comfort 4/5

  • In use 4/5

  • Value for money 5/5

  • OVERALL SCORE 92%


AKU Tengu GTX £280

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  • Men’s 5-12

  • Women’s n/a

  • Weight 1812g (size 11)

It’s good

The Vibram Curcuma sole unit of this boot sets it apart from many others, and makes it ideal for winter use thanks to its deep and widely-spaced lugs. The sole has great stiffness too, and a good heel breast. Working from the ground upwards you get a full rubber rand for durability and an upper made from synthetic fabric with suede leather overlays. The tongue and flexpoint of the ankle cuff are made of softer synthetic materials. Get it on and this boot feels great on the foot, with a fit that is neither too narrow nor too wide. The ankle cuff is supportive and ideal for general use. When walking below the snowline the sole rolls nicely. It’s a pretty lightweight boot too. 

However

While the overall performance and general comfort is great, what lets this boot down is that there is no women’s option, although at least the unisex size range does go down to a 5, which may be sufficient. Like other synthetic boots, it probably won’t be quite as durable as a leather boot without stitching, although only really hard users need to worry about that. If you do lots of scrambling or mountaineering you’ll notice that others allow for slightly more precise footwork. Some also offer more comfort around the ankle cuff for a little more cash, while for those with an eye on the budget other boots carry a lighter price tag.

Verdict

A relatively lightweight boot with great performance for general winter walking, but regular scramblers or mountaineers will find others offer even better features.

  • Features 5/5

  • Fit 4/5

  • Comfort 4/5

  • In use 4/5

  • Value for money 4/5

  • OVERALL SCORE 84%


Meindl Jorasse GTX £300

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  • Men’s  6-12

  • Women’s 3.5-8

  • Weight 1885g (size 11)

It’s good

The first unusual feature of this boot is that the top of the ankle cuff gets an elasticated gaiter to help block debris from entering the boot. The ankle cuff itself is high and supportive, but it also flexes forward comfortably to allow easy walking. A double tongue design extends from the ankle cuff down the boot to add more cushioning and breathability. The upper is made from leather with synthetic materials, while a Gore-Tex waterproof lining keeps feet dry, and a full rubber rand provides more durability. The outsole is a Meindl Vibram Alpin 3 unit with a great set of deep, well-spaced lugs for grip on snow. Get it on and it instantly feels spacious and comfortable, and generally great for mountain walks on snow.

However

While this boot feels spacious and comfortable, it doesn’t feel quite as precise on the foot as others, which is slightly more noticeable when scrambling over rocks or mountaineering rather than walking. It is not the lightest boot either, and so when that is combined with its slightly less precise feel it just feels a little clumpier than some others when scrambling. These are tiny drawbacks though and not really that apparent when just walking. The main drawback is that this boot has a higher price tag than others, so you have to really value the extra comfort and spacious fit you’re paying for. 

Verdict

This very comfy and spacious mountain walking boot is ideal in many ways, but isn’t the best if you want a more precise feel for climbing over rocks.

  • Features 5/5

  • Fit 5/5

  • Comfort 5/5

  • In use 4/5

  • Value for money 3/5

  • OVERALL SCORE 88%


Scarpa Manta Pro GTX £320

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  • Men’s 40-50

  • Women’s 36-42

  • Weight 2074g (size 46)

It’s good

The Manta Pro defines the 4-season mountain walking boot category, and while it remains unchanged it is still the best option if you can stretch your budget. Built around a leather upper with synthetic overlays and Gore-Tex waterproofness, the upper is supportive, with extra durability coming from a full rubber rand. The ankle cuff is slightly more comfortable than other boots. It provides great support and also flexes forward particularly smoothly for comfortable walking. The outsole is a Vibram unit with deep, well-spaced lugs and a good heel breast, and it also rolls reasonably well from heel to toe when walking. A nice benefit is that the forefoot and toe areas are slightly wider than others, but still afford a precise feel for scrambling over rocks. 

However

If you need a boot mainly for mountaineering then a more dedicated design would be better, owing to those boots having a narrower toe and therefore an even more precise feel. It would be nice if this was a little lighter, but on the foot it actually feels lighter than some other boots that do weigh less, and this is due to the careful design that works so well with the foot. A boot with fewer overlays might be more durable for those of you that really hammer your kit. But the main drawback is the price, so if you aren’t a regular winter walker then a lower-priced boot will no doubt suffice.

Verdict

Sets the standard for regular walks and scrambles over British mountains in winter, but others have benefits for climbers or less regular hillgoers.

  • Features 5/5

  • Fit 5/5

  • Comfort 5/5

  • In use 5/5

  • Value for money 3/5

  • OVERALL SCORE 92%

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THE BIG TEST: WALKING SHOES VS. WALKING BOOTS (2018)

Trail shoes are popular in summer but do they have their limits when heading into the mountains? To find out, Trail headed into the heart of the Lake District with three pairs of trail shoes and three pairs of 3-season boots from across the price ranges.

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THE RUNNERS UP


Hi-Tec Wild-Fire Low i WP £70

Tester: Graham Thompson

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  • Material Upper suede and synthetic mesh, Dri-Tec waterproof lining

  • Sole M-D Traction sole

  • Men’s 6-13 n Women’s 3-8

  • Weight 1202g (size 11) 

On paper, this lower-priced shoe has all the basic features needed for walking outdoors: a waterproof lining, some reinforcement in the toe box and heel cup, and an external synthetic toe cap and heel cup to protect these areas from abrasion. Underfoot there are some quite aggressive sole lugs, but you don’t get a substantial heel breast for added traction. Once on, this did not provide the closeness of fit of other shoes either. On rocky paths it was noticeable how little stiffness there was in the forefoot of the sole, as jagged rocks easily pressed through, leading to discomfort. So while the cushioning works well on level paths, as soon as the terrain becomes rocky, the drawbacks of this shoe are very noticeable.

Pros

Price, weight, comfort on level paths without rocks, waterproof

Cons

Even level rocky paths caused the sole to flex too much to maintain comfort, lack of heel breast limits grip on muddy slopes, upper is unlikely to be as durable as those with less stitching and less mesh

Buy it if

You want a shoe just for forest tracks or moorland paths rather than anything too rough
and rocky


Keen Targhee II £100

Tester: Anna Humphries

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  • Material Upper suede leather and synthetic mesh, Keen.Dry waterproof lining

  • Sole 4mm deep lugs

  • Men’s 6-16 n Women’s 2.5-8.5

  • Weight 824g (size 7)

A well-established shoe that carries the Keen trademark design of a broad toe box with the sole rubber extending over the toe for more durability. The upper is leather and synthetic mesh, and there’s a waterproof lining to keep feet dry. You also get Cleansport NXT treatment to control odour. This shoe was noticeably wider than others, and they felt a little too wide once I got onto the rockier ground, as the edges tended to roll off smaller holds and my foot moved side to side within the shoe. The foot space was great on level paths though. The outsoles performed well on paths and there was enough stiffness to prevent rocks poking into my foot. Like others, a deep heel breast would give better grip.

Pros

Good lugs for grip, reasonable stiffness to make rocky paths comfortable, good toe protection

Cons

Wider forefoot is a drawback on rockier ground, needs a deeper heel breast for slopes and more stiffness for rocky terrain, upper unlikely to be as durable as those with less stitching and less mesh

Buy it if

You have a wider foot, or are walking on level paths and want better protection against stones


Meindl Meran GTX £214

Tester: Tim Butcher

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  • Material Nubuck leather, Gore-Tex waterproof lining

  • Sole Vibram Meindl Multigrip 3

  • Men’s 6-15 n Women’s 4-8

  • Weight 1642g (size 12) 

On the shelf these look like stunning boots, with a wider fit as standard, a full leather upper, a Gore-Tex lining and a Meindl Multigrip sole. First impressions are of great comfort, with a soft footbed and higher than average ankle cuff which together provide cushioning underfoot and gentle support and protection for the ankle on well-maintained paths and grassy fells. The sole unit was a surprise when we hit rockier ground though, as it flexed and twisted far more than other 3-season boots I’ve come to trust, and the softness meant I felt every rock through the flexible sole. The lugs were not as deep as I’d have liked, so grip was not ideal, especially on rock and scree. The Meran GTX would be ideal for moorland paths, forest tracks and boggier ground where its overall comfort and waterproof lining would excel – but on rockier ground I’d prefer more stiffness and deeper lugs.

Pros

Comfort, soft ankle support, wider fit than standard Meindl boots

Cons

Outsole did not offer the same depth of lugs or stiffness as others

Buy it if

You want a very comfy boot for use on easier paths, moorland and boggy ground


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The Top Three


Anatom Q2 Classic/Q2 Ultralight £140

Tester: Graham Thompson

Is this low-priced leather boot the best alternative to shoes in the mountains – or is it worth paying more?

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  • Material Full grain leather, waterproof tri.aria lining

  • Sole Vibram Grivola

  • Men’s 41-47 (Q2 Classic)

  • Women’s 37-42 (Q2 Ultralight)

  • Weight 1546g (size 46)

It’s good

For the price the Anatom Q2 has become a benchmark product, as it offers most of what hillwalkers need. This prized package includes a relatively stitch-free leather upper, with no mesh, which means durability is great. The toe box is well stiffened, and the ankle cuff provides enough support to protect the foot when stepping through rivers, crossing moorland bogs or rubbing your feet against rocks during scrambles or scree crossings. 

Underfoot there’s a nice deep set of well-spaced lugs, as well as a substantial heel breast, so this sole really does bite into softer ground better than shoes or boots with more shallow lugs. 

Importantly the sole is also well stiffened, so you can securely stand on jagged rocks without the boot flexing too much. But the sole still has enough flex to make walking on easier paths comfortable. 

In terms of fit, these fitted well. Overall it was a relief to get these on in place of the bendier shoes I was wearing.

However

At this price you can’t expect perfection, and some higher-priced boots do offer better performance. While the Q2 fitted me and performed well on rocky scrambles, other boots have a closer and neater fit that allows far more precise placement. 

Some pricier boots also have a more controlled flex from toe to heel, so you get comfort for level paths but with a little more stiffness and support when scrambling. The boot tended to buckle and bend more than is ideal for scrambling, so while scrambles were still possible they would be easier in some pricier boots. The upper seems very durable, but the rands on higher priced boots would be more so.

Verdict

Superb performance for the price when used on a wide range of terrain – but spend more and you’ll get a lighter, more precise feel and fit.

  • Features 4/5

  • Fit 4/5

  • Comfort 4/5

  • In use 4/5

  • Value for money 5/5

  • OVERALL SCORE 84%


Asolo Finder GV £178 

Tester: Anna Humphries

Does the extra precision of fit and increased performance on rock make this the best choice for hillwalkers for an all-round do-anything boot? 

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  • Material Suede leather, Cordura synthetic materials, Gore-Tex waterproof lining

  • Sole Asolo/Vibram Duo Radiant

  • Men’s 6-13.5

  • Women’s 3.5-9

  • Weight 1034g (size 7)

It’s good

Designed as an entry-level model, but one that offers a welcome step forward in performance compared to lower priced products, the Finder GV is built around a suede leather upper with Cordura synthetic materials and a Gore-Tex waterproof lining. This made it a great boot to step straight into as the material slowly loosened to fit my foot shape. 

Underfoot there is a very good sole unit with deep lugs and a substantial heel breast to provide grip. On the foot this felt quite neat and precise, with a solid heel grip and a great feel at the toe that was ideal for scrambling. The sole flexed enough to make walking on easier ground comfortable, but also provided all the support I needed over rockier ground. 

It was also nice to see a boot designed for women without the requisite pink flashes to prove it!

However

The upper is a mix of suede leather and Cordura with minimal stitching, but paying more would get an upper with a bonded rather than stitched construction for no seams, while a one-piece leather upper would be even more durable. Also the rubber rands on higher priced boots would be even more durable. The precision of fit was great, but you can get boots that offer even more precise foot placement when scrambling. 

The sole stiffness was superb, but pricier boots might have stiffer soles that offer an even smoother role for the optimum in toe to heel comfort when walking. These are all minor niggles and only come into play if you are going to be out on the rockier hills regularly as for most hillwalkers it is hard to justify paying more. This is a great boot for sure, but pay more and you could get even more comfort and precision.

Verdict

This all-rounder is ideal for most walkers, but if you can afford to pay more then even better performance can be found.

  • Features 4/5

  • Fit 5/5

  • Comfort 5/5

  • In use 4/5

  • Value for money 4/5

  • OVERALL SCORE 88%

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Scarpa Mescalito £160 

Tester: Tim Butcher

Can the best shoes compare to a boot for a wide range of terrain... or should they stick to what they do best?

  • Material Suede leather

  • Sole Vibram Dynamis LBT

  • Men’s 40-47

  • Women’s n/a

  • Weight 1062g (size 47)

It’s good

I can see why this is a popular shoe with outdoor instructors and climbers, as it’s designed for technical approach routes to crags, such as scrambles and rockier paths – and it was certainly comfortable enough to be worn all day. 

The good-looking upper is suede leather, but without a Gore-Tex waterproof lining I had to be careful where I stepped. The fit is neat and precise, with lacing that extends right to the toe keeping my foot secure, and there’s good cushioning underfoot, so my feet remained comfy, even during the long descent at the end of the day. 

Even without huge lugs or a defined heel breast, grip was assured as we descended in the rain down a man-made stone pitched path. But this shoe really stood out from the crowd when scrambling, with great sole stiffness in the forefoot and toe area. I’d certainly choose these, rather than any boot I own, for scrambling up reasonably difficult rock routes. 

However

Although my feet were dry on Great Gable, for sustained walking on wet days in the hills boots with a high ankle cuff and a Gore-Tex lining will keep feet drier and more comfortable for longer. And when crossing steep scree, I needed far more support than a shoe can offer, and I was pleased to have the option of a pair of boots to swap into at such times. 

While the sole was great for scrambling over rock, the shallow lugs and absence of a heel breast would make descending wet grass and boggier paths quite dicey. 

These are great shoes for what they are intended for, but are an expensive luxury for footwear that’s not ideal on all mountain conditions. Boots will always have their place for big mountain days where you’ll meet a wider range of terrain. 

Verdict

 Ideal for scrambling over rock and very comfortable on rocky paths, but for a wider range of terrain other shoes and boots have real benefits.

  • Features 3/5

  • Fit 4/5

  • Comfort 4/5

  • In use 4/5

  • Value for money 3/5

  • OVERALL SCORE 72%


For the latest reviews - including extra photos and products that won't appear online - 
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5 of the best... 3-4 season boots reviewed (2018)

Stiff enough to wear with crampons on snow, yet flexible enough to be comfy below the snowline on scree, rock and mountain paths, 3-4 season boots are the most versatile you can buy. Let’s check out five of the best...


FIT

No boot is worth having if it doesn’t fit your feet properly. The inside of the boot should be around 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. The upper should be snug and comfortable across the foot. Better outdoor stores will measure your feet and match you to the correct footwear.

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ANKLE CUFF

The ankle cuff helps prevent mud and grit from entering the boot. It also protects the ankle against scrapes on rocks. Stiffness in the ankle cuff reduces the strain on the ankle on slopes and scrambling by adding extra support, which makes it less tiring to wear on rockier ground or snow. But on easier ground, smooth paths and moorland, ankle support is less important. Some also prefer the freedom and easier ankle movement of boots with lower or softer ankle cuffs.

DURABILITY

If you want your boots to last as long as possible, 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. Durable designs are most important for those regularly heading out onto rockier ground and ice-covered mountains, but less important if you walk less often in the hills or tend to stick to paths or moorland walks.

CRAMPON COMPATIBILITY

Not all boots are designed to be used with crampons, due to the stiffness of the sole and flexibility of the upper. Crampons are not generally recommended for 3-season boots, but flexible crampons rated as C1 can be fitted to 3-4 season boots, while stiffer crampons rated as C2 can be fitted to 4-season boots.

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 stiffer the midsole is and the better the boot will perform on snow and ice, and be compatible with crampons.

OUTSOLE LUGS

Deep, widely-spaced lugs will bite into soft mud and snow without clogging, while also providing many years of wear before they are too shallow to give a good grip on soft ground. A heel breast between the forefoot lugs and heel of the sole adds valuable braking power on descents.


Asolo Lagazuoi £210

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  • Men’s 6-13

  • Women’s 4-9

  • Weight 1722g (size 11)

It's good

This is a very well-priced boot for what you get, and it’s also lighter than others. The upper is 2.2-2.4mm nubuck leather with a Gore-Tex waterproof lining, and this is protected by a full rubber rand for more durability. Underfoot you get a Vibram sole unit with deep, well- spaced lugs and a deep heel breast for grip in soft terrain. Sole stiffness is also good both laterally and toe-to-heel, so this makes the boot great for scrambles and edging on snow. The ankle cuff is slightly softer than some other boots, so you get slightly more comfort when walking below the snowline than stiffer boots. So all that for less cash and less weight is pretty impressive.

However

Both the upper and ankle cuff are a little softer than on other boots, and this means your foot has to work a little harder on more uneven terrain, but of course this is not a drawback on easier ground. Some boots have a little less stitching on the upper and it is likely that they will be more durable in the long-term, so really hard users may benefit from looking elsewhere. The toe box is quite narrow and shallow, and while this fitted my narrow, pointy feet well, and felt great for scrambling, those with wider feet may feel this is too restrictive.

Verdict

A relatively low-weight and low-priced boot that offers great 3-4 season performance, with only small benefits available to those that spend more.

  • Features

  • Fit

  • Comfort

  • In use

  • Value for money

  • OVERALL SCORE

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Alt-Berg Mallerstang £215

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  • Men’s 5-14, with five width fittings

  • Women’s n/a

  • Weight 1982g (size 11)

It's good

The size range and width fitting options set this boot apart from many, so this is a great option if you are struggling with fit. It’s a classic design using 3mm-thick leather that is virtually stitch-free, so there is little chance of water getting in or abrasion having too much impact. However, you do also get a Sympatex waterproof lining to manage any leaks. The outsole sports an exceptionally deep set of lugs and towering heel breast, making this ideal for getting grip in scree, snow or mud. The sole is well stiffened too, so again it is great on more challenging terrain. To allow easier walking the toe does flex more easily than some.

However

There is no women’s version, although the size range and width options mean there is a good chance this will fit many women. You don’t get a full rubber rand, so really hard users may prefer others for even more durability. Although the weight is similar to others, this does feel a little less precise on the foot when scrambling, and the foot feels further from the holds too, so others are nicer for delicate footwork. That slightly soft toe flex also means this is not quite as good as others for edging on snow or rock steps. A great boot for rough terrain though.

Verdict

The width fitting options and the stable performance on rough ground put this boot a step ahead, but others are better for more precise footwork.

  • Features

  • Fit

  • Comfort

  • In use

  • Value for money

  • OVERALL SCORE


Zamberlan Vioz Plus GTX £240

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  • Men’s 37-49

  • Women’s n/a

  • Weight 2040g (size 46)

It's good

Designed with a wide last, so it should fit those with wider feet better than some other designs. The boot features a very robust Hydrobloc waxed full grain leather upper, which offers plenty of durability and weather protection. You also get a Gore-Tex waterproof lining and a wide rubber rand for even more protection. The outsole is a Vibram unit with very deep and widely-spaced lugs that are great for biting into soft ground. Lateral stiffness of the sole is good, making this great for scrambles, scree and edging on snow. But you also get a little more softness during forward flexing, which will suit those looking for more comfort below the snowline.

However

That softer forward flex means you have to work a little harder on scrambles or snow slopes than slightly stiffer and more supportive boots. Also the forefoot and toe don’t feel quite as precise as some other models, so while good for easier scrambles, others are nicer when the holds need a little more careful foot placement. It is slightly heavier than some boots that are stiffer, and when this is added to the other drawbacks it just feels slightly less precise. There is no women’s version either.

Verdict

A great mountain walking and backpacking boot for rough terrain and easier snow slopes, but others are slightly better on more technical ground.

  • Features

  • Fit

  • Comfort

  • In use

  • Value for money

  • OVERALL SCORE


Scarpa SL Activ £250

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  • Men’s 41-50

  • Women’s n/a

  • Weight 1918g (size 46)

It's good

For its 80th anniversary, Scarpa has produced the ninth version of the SL. This latest makeover brings a closer heel hold and a leather lining inside the ankle cuff, as well as some weight shaving. The weight reduction comes from the use of a new mono-density outsole for more cushioning underfoot. The upper is still a supportive leather design, but with little extra forward flex at the top of the ankle cuff thanks to two fingers of leather rather than a solid panel. Lacing eyelets have been upgraded too. You still get great stiffness and support for years of durability in this boot.

However

Female hillwalkers still have to look for other Scarpa boots to meet their B1 needs, such as the Marmolada Pro at £235, which may favour some users as it does have a waterproof lining, which is something the Scarpa SL cannot claim. However leaks are few, as there is barely a stitch to allow water through and if treated, the thick leather will fend off water easily. The weight has come down but there are still lighter boots, though those generally don’t provide the durability or support of the SL. Others can be yours for less cash, but they don’t always offer the benefits of the SL.

Verdict

The birthday boy gets another welcome makeover, which should ensure the SL maintains its popularity. But still nothing for the girls...

  • Features

  • Fit

  • Comfort

  • In use

  • Value for money

  • OVERALL SCORE

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Salewa Raven 2 £250

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  • Men’s 6-13

  • Women’s 3-9

  • Weight 1866g (size 46)

It's good

This is lighter than other boots with its support, but you still get plenty of stiffness in the sole to allow it to perform really well when scrambling or edging on snow slopes. The ankle cuff is a little more supportive than others too, so again this is great when tackling slopes or scrambling up rock. The very deep lugs are well spaced to bite into softer ground, gravel and scree. The fit is slightly unusual as it is quite broad in the forefoot and very close around the heel and ankle cuff, and then you get a choice of footbeds to refine the volume. The upper has a full rubber rand for protection and a Gore-Tex waterproof lining.

However

The upper has some exposed seams and softer materials. This may be the weak point in the design if this boot is used too much on the kind of rough terrain on which it excels in many other ways. The ankle cuff is also higher than others, which makes it superb for more technical ground but when walking up snowy Munros you may value just a little more freedom of movement in this area. The upper materials tend to bunch up at the lower eyelets and this area may more easily allow grit and abrasion to take their toll. These are all tiny points but at this price point they are worth considering.

Verdict

A lighter 3-4 season boot with a more supportive ankle cuff, though durability of the upper could be a potential drawback for harder users.

  • Features

  • Fit

  • Comfort

  • In use

  • Value for money

  • OVERALL SCORE


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Best for budget: Trail shoes review (2018)

Best Kit across the price bands

Trail shoes are lighter and more comfortable than boots, and most are a lower price too, which makes them ideal for walking and backpacking along good paths. But some can be taken on more challenging terrain while those described as ‘approach shoes’ are particularly good on rockier ground.

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What to Expect: Up to £100

At this price, you are getting the basics needed to walk comfortably along footpaths that are not too rough underfoot. The shoes are generally well-cushioned and quite flexible in the sole when flexed from toe to heel, as well as when twisted between the forefoot and heel. This makes them great for walking on level surfaces, but less suited to rougher terrain. The lugs on the sole will be relatively shallow, which again is fine for easier paths, but for more rugged ground deep lugs will offer more grip and longer-term wear. The upper may have more mesh for low weight and improved comfort, but it’s less likely to have any additional reinforcement – such as rubber rands, for example – to increase durability.

What to Expect: From £101 to £125

Shoes in this price band offer more durability on rougher terrain and may use less mesh or have additional rubber rands. These shoes may also benefit from stiffening in the heel cup and toe box to make them more suitable for uneven or rockier ground. The sole unit will have a deeper set of well-spaced lugs and, hopefully, a heel breast to ensure better grip on softer ground. There may also be more stiffness in the sole to ensure that jagged rocks do not place too much pressure on the foot when traversing rockier ground. These shoes are ideal for those who want a little more performance and durability than is offered in the lowest price band.

What to Expect: From £126

Optimum levels of performance and durability are available in this price band, making it a better bet for regular use. You’re likely to see more durable upper materials, along with rubber reinforcements, in this price bracket. The sole may be stiffened to improve performance on rockier ground and you may see even more pronounced lugs on the sole for better grip. More specialised products may include stiffer soles and sticky rubber for climbing over rocks. Some very lightweight products, using the latest tech, may also be available.


Hi-Tec Wildfire Low 1 WP £70

  • Men’s 6-13
  • Women’s 3-8
  • Weight 1066g (size 11 pair) 

It's good

The low price tag is instantly appealing, and you also get some good features. The shoe has a suede leather and mesh upper with a Dri-Tec waterproof lining. But you also get an i-shield treatment on the outside to repel water. The toe box and heel cup are reasonably stiffened, to support and protect the foot, which is good for uneven paths. Underfoot the sole lugs are reasonably deep and well-spaced for good grip, and there is some stiffness in the forefoot area of the sole to help resist pressure from jagged stones. There’s also a good wedge of cushioning under the heel to make walks on firm paths comfy. 

However

This shoe provides a slightly clumpy walking experience compared to higher-priced shoes that tend to contour to the foot and move more naturally as you walk. A deeper heel breast would be nice and, while the lugs are good, we’ve tried better. The sole is not as stiff as it could be and other shoes have less mesh on the upper and stiffer rubber reinforcement at the toe for more durability. 

Verdict

For those on tight budgets, this shoe is great for walks on valley and moorland paths.

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

Berghaus Expeditor ACT AQ Tech £95

  • Men’s 7-12
  • Women’s 4-8
  • Weight 944g (size 11 pair) 

It's good

This is a low weight shoe at a relatively low price. The Pittards suede leather upper has perforations on the sides to increase breathability with some mesh around the tongue. An AQ waterproof breathable lining keeps your feet dry. There is some good stiffness in the heel cup and toe box to provide support and protection. The outsole uses well spaced lugs and there is a slight heel breast, so this all adds up to reasonable grip on muddy paths. Importantly, there is also enough stiffness in the sole to resist pressure from rocks. A good all-rounder.

However

While the features are generally good for easier paths, other shoes offer even more benefits. Some shoes have deeper lugs on the sole for even better grip in mud and a more pronounced heel breast for improved breaking when descending. A dedicated approach shoe style is also better for scrambling. Others are more durable if they have a rubber rand or if they have less stitching. Of course all those benefits would add weight and cost though.

Verdict

A very good shoe for walking on general paths, but if the going gets too muddy or too rocky then others are better and more durable.

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

Keen Targhee III WP £100

  • Men’s 6.5-16
  • Women’s 2.5-8.5
  • Weight 1088g (size 11 pair) 

It's good

This shoe is available in an exceptionally broad range of sizes. Plus, on the foot, the forefoot area is slightly more spacious than others, with a good fit at the heel. You also get a more durable shoe than most – a very robust upper, made from full-grain leather, with far less stitching than other shoes at this price and no open mesh. The sole rubber extends around the toe box for even more durability. Underfoot the lugs are reasonably deep and well-spaced to provide grip in softer ground. Inside there is a Keen Dry waterproof lining. In use this provides a comfortable walk.

However

The sole is quite flexible, so on rockier ground it may not be as comfortable as a higher-priced shoe. Also while the lugs are quite good, you might want something more aggressive. A more pronounced heel breast to improve grip during descents would be ideal too. The sole is not the best at resisting pressure, so may not be ideal if you plan on walking over rockier ground. But on earth or grass paths it performs well.

Verdict

The spacious forefoot, durable design and decent sole lugs make this a good shoe for easier path walks.

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

Lowa Taurus GTX Lo £110

  • Men’s 7-13
  • Women’s 4-8
  • Weight 1028g (size 11 pair) 

It's good

This well-priced shoe offers a good weight, as well as decent performance for walking on easier paths. It is built around a synthetic fabric upper, with suede overlays and a fairly spacious fit, to suit general walkers. Gore-Tex is used inside to keep the feet dry and the outsole is a Loren unit with a good heel breast and lugs that are fine for paths. You also get some stiffness in the forefoot to prevent pressure through to the foot on rocky paths. To provide more support and protection to the upper, the sole unit employs a Lowa Monowrap skeleton design that encloses the upper around the midfoot area. 

However

While this shoe is fine on level paths, that’s potentially its limit. The sole lugs are not as deep or as aggressive as they could be, so grip on grass slopes or mud is not top-notch. The upper is also quite soft at the toe box and heel, so performs better on more level paths, where its support is not challenged. There is also no rubber toe rand here – not great for rough terrain.  

Verdict

A lower-priced, lightweight shoe that is great on level paths, but step onto slightly challenging terrain and its limitations become clear.

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

Berghaus FT18 GTX £120

  • Men’s 7-12
  • Women’s none
  • Weight 804g (size 11 pair) 

It's good

The remarkable weight of this shoe sets it apart and, as it is designed for fast hiking, it has some other nice features too. Firstly, you get a Gore-Tex waterproof lining to keep your feet dry and this is protected by a ripstop synthetic fabric upper, with thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU) overlays and minimal stitching for durability. The heel cup and toe bumper are also slightly stiffened for use on uneven ground. And the sole is a Vibram Opti-stud design with well-spaced stud-like lugs. Finally, there is also some stiffness in the forefoot to prevent rocks pressing through the sole. 

However

The sole lugs are not as deep, nor as aggressive as in some other shoes, so it’s not the best for muddy ground. Also, while there is some stiffness in the sole, heel cup and toe box it could be even stiffer. There is also a little less cushioning underfoot than we’d like. But the absence of these little details is what helps reduce the weight of course. Annoyingly, there is no women’s version of this shoe, which is a real pity as it boasts some unique features.

Verdict

A great shoe if fast-hiking and lightness are your priorities.

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

Oboz Firebrand II Low Waterproof £125

  • Men’s 7-13
  • Women’s none
  • Weight 1168g (size 11 pair) 

It's good

This tough shoe is great for rougher tracks where scrub and scree claw at your footwear, thanks to its suede leather and dense synthetic upper. But, importantly, you also get a very stiff rubber toe rand so you can kick through loose scree with comfort. You also get a B-Dry waterproof lining and the magic continues underfoot with great cushioning and a stiff sole that resists pressure. A very aggressive set of lugs, for biting into softer earth and mud, complete the package. The fit is precise and neat, to allow accurate foot placement on rockier ground, which means that, while it’s not the lightest shoe, it feels nimble. 

However

Sadly, there is no women’s option – the nearest equivalent is the £130 Bridger. Of course, you can get lighter shoes than the Firebrand and lower-priced options too, if you don’t need this level of performance. But it’s a great shoe for general walking and hard to find fault with, apart from personal preferences.

Verdict

A great shoe for backpacking over a range of paths and tracks, with reasonably heavy loads, where support and durability are key.

  • Features 4/5
  • Fit 4/5
  • Comfort 4/5
  • In use 4/5
  • Value for money 4/5
  • OVERALL SCORE 80%
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Mammut Alnasca Low GTX £129

  • Men’s 6.5-13
  • Women’s 4.5-8
  • Weight 1002g (size 11 pair) 

It's good

This shoe is designed as an approach shoe, but has a few more general usage features in the mix too. You get a neat precise fit at the toe and a smooth climbing zone on the rubber sole. The sole itself is a Michelin Rock Tech unit with sticky OCX rubber for better grip on rock and a series of stud-like lugs for traction in softer earth. There is good cushioning at the heel and this extends under the toe, making it a good shoe for walking. The leather and synthetic upper has a Gore-Tex waterproof lining on the inside and a rubber rand for durability at the toe and heel.

However

This is a good shoe for use on rock approaches and via ferrata routes, but its broader appeal, to general walkers, means that those in need of a dedicated approach shoe may prefer the neater performance at the toe of other shoes. General walking users may feel the toe is too restrictive and may want more wiggle room. The sole is great for rockier ground and via feratta, but if you are predominantly walking on softer ground, shoes with deeper lugs might be better. 

Verdict

Great shoe for a mix of approach, via feratta use and walking.

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

Oboz Bridger Low B-Dry £130

  • Men’s 7-13
  • Women’s 3.5-8.5
  • Weight 1176g (size 11 pair) 

It's good

When this shoe was released last year it was our instant favourite for trail walking and it remains hard to beat. It's built around a great sole unit, with deep, well-spaced lugs that claw their way across the ground like tractor tyres. But you also get plenty of cushioning and enough stiffness to resist pressure and not to strain the foot too much over uneven ground. The upper is made from suede leather, with minimal stitching, and a firm rubber rand at the toe box and heel cup, for support and durability. Inside you get a B-Dry waterproof lining. It's neat and precise on the foot and superb on the trail.

However

There is very little to fault here from the perspective of walking with a rucksack over valley, moor, hill and mountain terrain. It's not the lightest or the most flexible shoe, and not the best shoe you could find for scrambling up rocks or via ferrata, but then it's not supposed to be.

Verdict

An outstanding shoe for regular trekking over varied and uneven terrain with a rucksack

  • Features 5/5
  • Fit 5/5
  • Comfort 5/5
  • In use 5/5
  • Value for money 4/5
  • OVERALL SCORE 96%
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Aku Montera Low GTX £135

  • Men’s 3-13
  • Women’s 3-8
  • Weight 1090g (size 11 pair) 

It's good

The Montera Low GTX is a versatile design that is good for general walking on valley paths and easier hill terrain. It has a Michelin Pulsar outsole, with a reasonably deep and aggressive set of lugs, and a good heel breast. The sole is reasonably stiff and fine for general walking on paths. The upper is a mix of suede, leather, synthetic fabric in the tongue and PU rand at the toe for durability. A Gore-Tex waterproof lining keeps the rain out and the fit is quite precise, so good enough for scrambling over rocks easily, if you need.

However

The sole could do with a little more stiffness in the forefoot, as you can feel rocks through it. The upper also does not enjoy the full rubber rand or durability features other shoes offer, as there is lots of stitching - not great for rocky terrain. It's not ideal for scrambling or via ferrata as the toe is not particularly neat, so this is best kept as a general-purpose walking shoe. It could also do with more cushioning for long distance walks on hard surfaces.

Verdict

A general-purpose shoe that benefits from a deep and aggressive lug pattern and good durability.

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

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%

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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%