The best leather walking boots reviewed (2022)

Durable and comfortable, good leather hiking boots remain many hikers' footwear of choice. We test and recommend the best.

Three hikers wearing leather hiking boots

by LFTO |

Despite all the technological advances in boot design, the traditional leather boot remains the mainstay of many walkers’ wardrobes. Use our round-up of the best tried and tested leather boots to make sure you buy the right pair this year.

What to look for in leather hiking boots

Ankle cuff: The ankle cuff is the section of the boot that sits around your ankle. Higher cuffs offer additional ankle support, which helps you traverse uneven ground while also reducing the risk of sprains. The height of the ankle cuff can also help fend off water, mud and debris from entering the boot - which is always a nuisance. Some boots have a lower cuff. While this makes the boot lighter, it reduces the above benefits.

Often, the height of an ankle cuff is referenced in the title of a boot. For example: low, mid and high.

Upper: The upper of a hiking boot is the exterior material of a hiking boot - effectively all the area that isn’t the sole. Hiking boots are manufactured with different upper materials, and each has its pros and cons. Traditional leather uppers are constructed with minimal stitching and are renowned for lasting years (if well cared for). Synthetic and composite uppers typically offer some form of technical advantages - such as cooling, airflow and lower weight - but aren’t as durable as leather due to increased stitching and material strength.

Midsole flex: Midsole flex is a way of looking at the flexibility of a boot and the rigidity of its sole. This is important to note, as a flexible sole is preferred for even ground, while a rigid sole offers superior performance on inclines, scrambles and rough ground. You can test the longitudinal midsole flex by bending the boot from toe to ankle, and twist the sole to check lateral flex.

Toe box: A toe box protects your toes from the peril of stary rocks and heavy items. The harder the toe box, the more protection offered.

Rand: Rand is a rubber layer that can wrap around the toe, sole or whole boot. It can sit between the sole and upper, and it offers additional protection and improved durability.

Outsole: Well-spaced deep lugs can bite into the 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.

The best leather hiking boots

La Sportiva Trango Tech

Verdict: A fully featured, durable leather boot that’s ideal for big mountain days. As far as an all-round hiking boot goes, you’ll struggle to find anything better.

La Sportiva Trango Tech on test
©Photo: Live For The Outdoors/Tom Bailey

This is one of the best mountain boots we’ve tested in many years. The Trango Tech is protective and supportive, yet surprisingly comfortable. It features a single-piece nubuck leather upper with minimal stitching, high-ankled cut, soft tongue, and rubber protection at the heel and toe. Waterproofing is via a Gore-Tex lining and a rubber Vibram outsole provides slip-free traction with a front climbing zone for edging.

Trail magazine Gear of the Year 2022

Asolo Greenwood GV High Rise Hiking Boots

Verdict: A durable boot with a precise fit that is ideal for walking over a wide range of terrain, including negotiating more uneven rocky terrain and scrambling over rock.

Asolo Greenwood GV display image
©Photo: Asolo

Features 5/5 | Fit 5/5 | Comfort 5/5 | In use 5/5 | Value for money 3/5

Overall score: 92%

Pros: Great fit, performs over a variety of terrain, very durable.

Cons: Only worth the cost if using on harsher terrain.

The Greenwood sits at the pinnacle of Asolo’s Radiant Hiking range and is designed for trekking with heavier packs when more support, protection and comfort is needed for rougher terrain.

The upper is made from quality leather, with a rubber rand at the toe for extra protection. Lacing extends to the toe, and the toe box itself is a neater fit and shape. It almost felt like a sock around my foot, while other boots are more spacious. I also like how effective the locking eyelet is to really pull the boot into my instep.

Underfoot, the Vibram sole unit has widely-spaced, deep lugs and a huge cliff of a heel breast. The toe area allows more precise placement of my foot onto small rock ledges, which other boots did not allow me to do so easily.

While walking on the paths and when scrambling over the rock, this was a really comfortable boot, so it managed to do everything I needed it to, rather than just be good for walking on paths or grass alone.

The colour did not immediately appeal, but if I’m honest, after just a day or two of use I have grown to quite like it and now actually prefer it to a standard brown leather boot.

Looks aside, what’s not to like? Well, at around £200, the benefits of this boot over others need to be valued to justify the extra cash, as if I was not heading over rockier ground, then a lower-priced option would still be perfectly adequate. On really rocky ground, if I was using this boot day-in, day-out, I am sure a boot with a full rubber rand would be even more durable in the long term. Also, all that lacing, eyelets and stitching in the toe box is surely going to be less durable over time compared to boots with less clutter in this area. The drawbacks really come down to whether or not you want a boot for rockier ground, rather than a boot for easier ground.

Weight 1244g (size 7 pair) | Sizes Men’s 6-13.5, women’s 3.5-9 | Material Perwanger leather, Gore-Tex waterproof lining | Sole Asolo/Vibram

Zamberlan 996 Vioz GTX

Verdict: An awesome mountain boot for tough days on fell, hill and mountain paths, as well as scrambling over rocks. Worth the price tag for such a precise, durable, well-made and good-looking boot.

Zamberlan 996 Vioz GTX display image
©Photo: Zamberlan

Features 5/5 | Fit 5/5 | Comfort 5/5 | In use 5/5 | Value for money 3/5

Overall score: 92%

Pros: Highly durable, comfortable and secure fit, superb on a range of terrain.

Cons: Quite stiff and take some breaking in, only worthwhile for serious hikers.

This superb boot immediately filled me with confidence on the hill, and in dark grey with flashes of red, beautiful stitching and that subtle Italian flag, it looks awesome, too.

A thick waxed leather upper, Gore-Tex lining and minimal stitching make the Vioz a very durable waterproof boot. The leather is stiffer than other boots and may take a little breaking in, but the quality and durability here are obvious.

The Vibram sole and aggressively-styled heel breast give secure grip whether descending on path, rock or wet grass. However, what’s most outstanding is how Zamberlan has brought all of this together with a stiffish midsole that flexes when rocking forward while stepping but has great lateral stiffness to hold the foot precisely on smaller toe holds while scrambling on steeper ground.

The five lacing eyelets run freely, so pulling up the laces tightens the boot right to the toe box, with the three hooks enabling a tight and secure feel across the ankle.

I’d choose the Vioz for the most challenging mountain days through spring, summer and autumn.

While the heel breast is deep, the lugs on the main sole aren’t as deep and well-spaced as on some other boots. With a stiffer sole and less internal padding than on other boots, these may not be the softest boots straight out of the box, and also not as comfortable for long walks over flatter ground where more padding and a softer flex may be better. There are also lighter boots out there, as well as boots with lower price tags.

The most serious British hill goers may prefer a boot with a full rubber rand for absolute maximum protection, but most hill- and mountain walkers heading to the rockier Scottish Munros, for example, will find this is ideal for their needs.

The drawbacks can be distilled to a simple question – do you want a boot for general mountain walks and scrambles, such as the Vioz, or something even tougher for extremely frequent mountain walks, or something with a softer flex and more padding for easier hill walks?

Weight 1804g (size 46.5 pair) | Sizes Men’s 40-48, women’s 36-43 | Material Hydrobloc Full Grain Waxed Leather, Gore-Tex waterproof lining | Sole Zamberlan Vibram

Meindl Bhutan MFS Walking Boot

Verdict: Idea boots if you want a classic leather boot for paths, moors, hills and fells, but don’t need the best boot for scrambling.

Meindl Bhutan MFS display image
©Photo: Meindl

Features 5/5 | Fit 5/5 | Comfort 5/5 | In use 5/5 | Value for money 3/5

Overall score: 84%

Pros: Ideal all-round waterproof boot, well-padded and comfy sole and ankle, huge size range.

Cons: Less precise feel on steep slopes and on smaller footholds on scrambles, quite heavy, higher price.

The Bhutan MFS has been one of the brand’s best-selling boots for 10 years. It has great ‘out of the box’ comfort, with memory foam padding inside that moulds to the shape of your foot for all-day comfort.

The high ankle cuff and tongue are both really soft and give ample support, although with so much padding care is needed to prevent rucking of materials. A high rubber rand protects the upper from damage, although I found the shine quickly wore off the upper with scrapes and scuffs. The Vibram sole gives great traction and the self-cleaning lugs stayed clear of debris.

The large amount of memory foam padding and double-density cushioned sole is ideal if you prefer a softer more comfortable boot, but the trade-off is a loss of precision on complex ground, such as scrambles over rocks with smaller footholds and a greater degree of lateral movement of my foot inside the boot.

Weight 1818g (size 11.5 pair) | Sizes Men’s 6-14, women’s: 3.5-9 | Material Waxed 2.7mm nubuck leather, Gore-Tex waterproof lining | Sole Meindl Vibram Dual density

Scarpa Terra GTX High Rise Hiking Boots

Verdict: A durable boot with a precise fit that is ideal over a wide range of terrain.

Scarpa Terra GTX High Rise display image
©Photo: Scarpa

Features 3/5 | Fit 5/5 | Comfort 4/5 | In use 4/5 | Value for money 4/5

Overall score: 80%

Pros: Light for leather boots, good on wet grass and mud, comfortable ankle cuff.

Cons: Higher priced boots usually have more aggressive lugs, not that stiff.

The popular Terra is a boot that manages a very respectable weight given its leather construction, while still managing to pack in a great set of features and performance benefits. The leather upper sports a stitching pattern that helps to maintain durability by being carefully positioned away from flex points. The toe box and heel cup are both well stiffened, while the ankle cuff is comfortably padded with a perforated lining to allow airflow.

The sole unit has a studded layout of lugs, so they are widely spaced and quite small in size, which is great on wet grass and mud. Also, the sole lugs are steeply angled so small stones cannot get lodged between them. There is a small heel breast too, for extra traction on descents.

The fit is more precise than the lower-priced boots, which allows for easier foot placement on more uneven terrain and also provides a smooth rolling action when walking on level ground.

The low weight has brought some drawbacks for design and performance. The sole unit lugs and heel breast are more aggressive on higher-priced boots, so on really muddy ground, some boots with deeper lugs are even better. Also with some wear, the Terra will offer less grip more rapidly than those boots with deeper or wider lugs.

Overall, it is also quite a bendy boot, so when the ground does become uneven your feet have to work quite a lot harder, which is fine for some people but not everyone will welcome the extra strain. Overall this boot is better used on pathed terrain rather than anything too challenging off-path. Certainly, for regular use on rocky mountains, a stiffer boot offers more secure foot placements and more foot support in general.

The price and weight are appealing, so it comes down to whether you value those factors above performance on more uneven ground.

Weight 1406g (size 46 pair) | Sizes Men’s 41-48, women’s 36-42 | Material 2mm leather, Gore-Tex waterproof lining | Sole Vibram Energy

Hi-Tec Ravine Waterproof Hiking Boots

Verdict: For those who want a durable boot with good general performance for walking on paths, hills and fells but would like to save some cash, too.

Hi-Tec Ravin WP display image
©Photo: Hi-Tec

Hi-Tec Ravine WP Women's

Hi-Tec Women's Ravine Waterproof Boot
Amazon

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Tester: Graham Thompson

Features 3/5 | Fit 4/5 | Comfort 4/5 | In use 3/5 | Value for money 5/5

Overall score: 80%

Pros: Great for general hill, fell and path walking on a budget, durable leather upper design and sole lugs.

Cons: No rubber rand, for scrambling over rocks this is not as good as boots that fit more precisely to the foot, some boots are lighter, and some have better grip on softer ground too.

This low-priced boot has everything many hillwalkers will ask for. The upper is nice and thick, making it supportive, protective and durable. The ankle cuff is softly padded, and there is very little stitching or lace eyelets in the flex point of the forefoot, to ensure a smooth flex and increased durability. The toe box, heel cup and sole unit are well stiffened for general use too – something boots at this price often lack.

Underfoot, the deep lugs are quite wide to help with durability. However, they don’t dig into mud as well as more studded designs, so aren’t the best on softer ground. The boot offers quite a spacious fit and isn’t as precise on the foot as some higher-priced options. This is fine on easier ground, but on uneven terrain, the foot moves about a little too much and footholds are less precise and secure during scrambles.

Weight 1570g (size 11 pair) | Sizes Men’s 7-13, women’s 4-8 | Material 2.2mm thick oiled nubuck leather, Dri-Tec waterproof lining | Sole Hi-Tec rubber

Berghaus Hillmaster II GTX

Verdict: Great value and cushioning for walking on hills and fells and trekking over pathed terrain. But not as good at rock scrambling as more expensive options.

Berghaus Hillmaster II GTX display image
©Photo: Berghaus

Features 3/5 | Fit 5/5 | Comfort 4/5 | In use 4/5 | Value for money 4/5

Overall score: 80%

Pros: Price, weight, durability, comfort, and the spacious fit makes this great for general hillwalking on paths, moorland and fells.**

Cons: Less precise for scrambling over rocks, you can spend less and there are even lighter boots.

The boot is well-cushioned underfoot with a very flexible ankle area, so comfort is great from the box. The fit is spacious and I found them ideal for walking on easier terrain. However, when I moved onto rockier ground, I noticed that these were less precise for scrambling when I wanted to use small holds and I just did not feel quite as confident on the rock. So use these for walking and they are great, but for rockier ground, others are better. Great price for the performance though.

This is the latest version of 1994’s classic Brasher Hillmaster but now under its new owners, Berghaus. It has a leather upper with minimal stitching for more durability, and the flex area of the boot around the forefoot is free of stitching, lacing and eyelets too, which should improve durability further as well as improve the toe flex. Underfoot there is a good sole unit, with widely spaced, deep lugs that are great for clawing over the muddy slopes, while the deep heel breast is ideal for grip on muddy descents.

Weight 1360g (size 7 pair) | Sizes Men’s 7-14, women’s: 3-8 | Material Leather, Gore-Tex waterproof lining | Sole Vibram

Leather hiking boot care

To make the leather on your hiking boots last as long as possible and perform as well as it can, you need to take the time to care for it. We recommend Grangers Footwear + Gear Cleaner and Waterproofing Wax. The former we have tried, and is an effective cleaner and odour eliminator. The Waterproofing Wax does a great job at conditioning and protecting the leather, while maintaining breathability and water repellency.

Read our in-depth guide on how to care for your hiking footwear.

Grangers Footwear + Gear Cleaner Spray 275ml

Recommended
Grangers Footwear + Gear Cleaner Spray 275ml

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Simple, easy-to-use spray that does many cleans. The solution is water-based and PFC-free and the bottle is made from Ocean Waste Plastic too.

Grangers Waterproofing Wax 100ml

Recommended
Grangers Waterproofing Wax 100ml
Amazon

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A paste that uses beeswax to protect leather. Easy to apply and very effective. This product is PFC-free and Bluesign approved.

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