Best Hiking Boots - Expert Reviews | Mountain IQ (2024)

There are literally hundreds of hiking boot brands on the market, all boast different features, designs and specs, making the selection of a suitable pair of boots quite a daunting task. This key buying guide sets out what is important to look for when purchasing a trekking boots.


The durability of hiking boots or any other piece of hiking equipment for that matter is a long-term question rather than a short-term one, and so is often overlooking by buyers.

More durable boots tend to be heavier and bulkier and so don’t appeal at face value when making the purchasing decision as their value is only realised after countless hikes and multiple years of use.

With the trend in hiking moving towards using lightweight materials, the inevitable trade-off between weight and durability can be seen in almost any equipment category from trekking poles to hiking boots.

Compromises in material and build quality to shed a few grams are evident in some of the boots we tested, although most of the boots tested in the top 10 were durable enough to last at least a few seasons of use, while still being lightweight when compared to hiking boots of the past.

The main determinant of durability is the materials used in the upper of the boot. Thicker leather is naturally more durable and doesn’t suffer from the same issues that synthetic materials do, especially at the seams where the upper meets the sole.

The lighter synthetic materials are also prone to cutting and in some cases peeling where the laminate became detached.

The level of durability required should largely depend on your needs and how you intend to use the boots. Light, on-trail use can be benefitted by using more lightweight synthetic boots while heavy bushwhacking on variable terrain will be benefitted most by a durable leather construction.


As anyone who has ever hiked in uncomfortable shoes will tell you – comfort is king.

Unfortunately, hiking boots have gotten bad press for comfortability over the years, especially for out-of-the-box use, but with the introduction of lighter materials and advanced linings, many shoes are able to be worn right away and maintain their comfort and breathability throughout the hike.

Most boots in the market now don’t need to be worn-in thanks to replacements for the stiff leather used in the past. While comfort is primarily subjective, there are some things to look out for when trying on a pair of boots for the first time.

It is important that the shape of the sole matches that of your foot and that there are no pressure points where your foot feels cramped or where the boot is too loose and can cause blistering.

Try to get an idea of the room in the toe box, as this is where most pain and blistering occurs on your feet.

After the comfort of your foot, focus on the comfort of the boot surrounding your ankle and how well the boots lock-in your heel.

Boots come with varying degrees of ankle support so it is important to know and understand what type of terrain you will be traversing before committing to a purchase.

The final determinant of comfort is the breathability and water resistance of the shoe (not an oxymoron). All the boots we tested had a fabric membrane that prevented water from entering the shoe while still allowing the foot to breath and stay dry.

Keeping your feet dry and cool is important because blistering occurs more often when your feet are damp and hot.


Hiking with a pair of boots that weighed the same as your daily running shoes would be a miracle, but unfortunately all the added benefits of hiking boots over shoes (durability, support, traction and comfort) come with the price of being significantly heavier.

So while lighter doesn’t always means better, a few hundred grams can make a difference to a pair of boots when you consider that you have to raise and lower each foot hundreds if not thousands of times per hike.

We recommend focussing on the other key features of hiking boots such as support, stability and durability when finding a group of boots that match your needs.

Only then should you look at weight and go for the lighter option if it still meets your other requirements.


The stability of hiking boots is what sets them apart from hiking shoes and is one of the most important benefits that boots provide over other types of footwear.

A large part of the stability of the boot is determined by the level of ankle support which is in turn driven by the height of the ankle collar.

We tested various components of stability from the ability to ‘edge’ with the boot to the stability of the sole in how it resisted being twisted.

The wideness of the sole plays a role in the prevention of ‘rolling’ and twisting of the ankle as it provides a more stable base that comes into contact with the ground.

On the flip side, a wider sole makes it harder to use the edge of the sole to climb up places with small footholds and so reduces the ability of the boot to be used for edging.

The resistance of the sole to twisting is known as torsional resistance and prevents fatigue on the feet when hiking on uneven terrain by keeping the foot on the same plane.


The traction of the sole plays a role in the overall stability of the shoe but also in its ability to perform under various weather conditions and on various types of terrain.

The sole shape and pattern determine the traction achieved underfoot, with narrower soles performing the best on looser terrain.

Lugged soles provide the best traction in snowy or muddy conditions, while more tacky rubber performs the best for climbing over rock faces or smoother surfaces.

Best Hiking Boots - Expert Reviews | Mountain IQ (2024)
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