The best safety hiking boots
How to choose your perfect pair
Jen and Sim Benson have been testing walking gear on behalf of the Ramblers since 2019. With a wealth of outdoor and walking experience they have tested all kinds of walking related kit, from boots and poles to jackets and wellies.
Keeping your feet comfortable and well protected is essential for enjoyable, lifelong walking, so it’s well worth considering boots that offer protection against common hazards such as rocks and tools, water and mud, and cold weather including snow and ice.
Kahtoola MICROspikes RRP £60
With 12x1cm aggressive stainless-steel spikes and welded chains, Kahtoola’s MICROspikes add traction to almost any footwear. Best suited to icy conditions and compacted snow, they’re comfortable to wear even when you’re on the go all day. They’re lightweight, packable and easy to put on and take off thanks to a durable stretch rubber harness. Ideal for winter walks, whether you’re tackling icy pavements en route to the shops or on trails slippery with snow. They’re also perfect for stashing in a rucksack when you’re walking in variable conditions, ready to be deployed when required.
Muck Boot Apex Zip Short Boots RRP £180
These chunky, protective boots offer complete waterproofing up to the ankle, along with a full 5mm neoprene lining for added comfort and warmth. The grip is excellent and much better than you’ll find on most traditional wellington boots. The footbed is luxuriously cushioned and insulated against cold ground. The waterproof zipper and Velcro closure means they’re easy to put on and take off, and the whole boot is easy to rinse down after muddy use.
Keen Greta Waterproof RRP £139.99
Described by Keen as ‘puffy jacket meets leather hiking boot’ the Greta really does offer the best of both worlds. There’s full-length lacing for a secure fit; a protective, waterproof, premium leather upper; and an insulated cuff for extra warmth around the ankle and lower leg. The whole boot is well insulated and it’s noticeable how warm they keep your feet. The fit is roomy, allowing for an extra pair of socks in really cold weather. These are a great choice for those days when you need the height and waterproofing of a wellington boot, the grip and fit of a walking boot, and the warmth of a puffy jacket.
La Sportiva Trango Tower GTX RRP £315
Lightweight and stiffened for use with crampons, these beautiful, Gore-Tex-lined boots are designed to offer protection, support and precision. They’re great for mountain hiking, via ferrata and backpacking with heavier loads. Durability and protection are enhanced with a tough rubber toe and heel guard as well as rubber reinforcement right around the boot. The outsoles are a grippy Vibram with a range of different-sized lugs for all-round grip in a variety of underfoot conditions. There’s also an Impact Brake System on the heel and climbing-zone for added foot placement precision at the toe.
The Dryboot Company Harris Dry Boot RRP £81.99
In situations demanding a totally waterproof lace-up boot and a tough protective sole unit these boots are a good choice. An all-rubber outer makes them completely waterproof, easily washable and quick drying. Unlike a standard welly, the full-length lacing holds the foot securely making them more comfortable over longer distances. The upper is nicely padded, while underfoot the tread is grippy. The steel shank in the midsole offers excellent protection from rough ground and protects the foot if you’re digging or standing on hard edges. They come up large, so you may need to go down a size.
Muck Boot Chore Steel Toe Tall Boots RRP £125
In general, wellies aren’t as good as walking boots for longer walks because the slip-on design can’t hold your foot as securely. But if you need a steel toe cap and you spend your days walking around wet and muddy terrain these are a comfortable and protective option. The neoprene upper is fully waterproof but more flexible and supportive than a full-length rubber design. The lower half is reinforced at the heel and Achilles area, as well as the steel toe. The tread is designed to be durable and grippy. Underfoot they feature a reinforced arch support for all day comfort and a steel shank for underfoot protection. Muck Boot suggests sizing up if you’re a half size, which allows for thick socks, but the fit is generous so it would be best to try before you buy.
Hanwag Banks Winter GTX RRP £230
If you live or work in cold conditions, keeping your feet warm is an important safety factor in boot choice. Thicker socks help unless they make the boot too tight, but a dedicated winter boot can make walking a much safer and more pleasant experience. This high-top winter version of the classic Banks trekking boot combines a waterproof Gore-Tex lining with a durable leather and synthetic upper. The insole is insulated to protect your feet from cold ground and cushioned enough for all day walking. The higher cut provides a supportive fit and all-day comfort, especially if you’re comparing them to an insulated welly. The Vibram outsoles’ tread pattern and rubber compound are optimized for cold conditions. Extremely comfortable and a joy to wear, both as a walking boot or as general day to day footwear. Made in Europe.
Scarpa Marmolada Pro HD RRP £240
If your preferred walking or work requires time spent on rough, rocky ground, a boot that offers underfoot protection and support as well as precise foot placement and stability is essential. A lightweight B1 rated mountaineering boot with a stiff sole, grippy outsole designed for climbing and a tough upper will provide this. This type of boot is also great for construction and forestry workers who need to be able to walk long distances on rough ground but also spend time climbing trees or standing on hard, narrow edges. The Scarpa Marmolada is light for this style of boot but still manages to be tough, protective and supportive. The suede upper is bonded to a H-Dry laminate to provide durable waterproofing. To-the-toe lacing, a high ankle and a padded tongue make them secure on the foot. Underfoot, the Vibram Drumlin sole includes a climbing zone for grip on small edges at the toe and a deeper tread and heel for muddy surfaces.
* Recommended retail prices correct at the time of writing. Please refer to manufacturer or retailer websites for the very latest pricing information.
Our gear testers, Sim & Jen Benson have a wealth of outdoor and walking experience. They provide regular gear reviews and kit advice in Walk magazine, the Ramblers quarterly magazine that forms part of your Ramblers membership benefits. Join today from only £3.21 per month.
Ramblers Members also receive a 15% discount at Cotswold Outdoor, home to many of the outdoor brands featured in this article and a great place to get expert advice on walking gear. When this discount is used a percentage of the purchase price is returned to the Ramblers to help us look after the places you love to explore.
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