Time to upgrade your footwear? Our experts Jen and Sim Benson sample the best ‘all-purpose’ walking boots and accessories to make them last
Your choice of footwear has the power to make or break a walk. Boots that fit perfectly are a joy to wear, offering support and protection in all the right places. Get it wrong, however, and you risk blisters, black toenails and a miserable day out. Choosing the right grip for the terrain and conditions you’re likely to encounter means you’re safer and more confident, leaving you free to enjoy your surroundings rather than worrying about your feet.
A good pair of walking boots doesn’t come cheap but, properly looked after, they can keep you comfortably and safely on your feet for many years. Regular cleaning and re-proofing is essential, as a muddy boot will be heavy, absorb water and won’t feel as comfortable to wear or last as well as one that’s been well cared-for.
La Sportiva TX5 GTX - 4.5/5
+ These lightweight boots combine a plush nubuck upper with a protective rand and toe cap. The 3D Flex system allows good freedom of movement, while a tapered shape gives a secure fit and excellent precision on technical terrain. The Vibram MegaGrip sole offers great wet and dry traction, plus stability and cushioning for all-day comfort.
– Narrow fit.
Verdict A great choice for walks on technical terrain. Comfortable, lightweight and cushioned for all-day wear.
Salomon Quest 4D 3 GTX - 4.5/5
+ For an all-round walking boot, these are hard to beat. Tough, durable and protective, yet comfy straight from the box, with good precision. The suede/synthetic wraparound upper means they’ll fit almost any foot, with great support throughout. Smart looking and Gore-Tex lined for waterproofing.
– Upper is hard to clean.
Verdict Outstanding fabric boot for all-round use. Comfortable, grippy, protective and durable for all day walking on mixed terrain.
Lowa Taurus II Mid GTX - 4/5
+ This is a lightweight, versatile, mid- height boot. The mixed suede/synthetic upper is supportive yet comfortable, lined with Gore-Tex for waterproofing. The sole is robust and protective, offering a decent level of grip on easier terrain in wet and dry conditions.
– Mid-height ankle may not offer enough support for some on rougher ground.
Verdict A great-value women’s- specific Gore-Tex lined boot. Comfortable, versatile and ideal for everyday and lower-level walking.
Altberg Malham - 4/5
+ Light yet protective, these boots have a snug-fitting heel and roomy toe box. The Vibram Masai outsole offers good grip and mud clearance, while the midsole has a good balance of flex and stability. With cushioned ankle protection and Sympatex waterproofing.
– May not suit narrower feet.
Verdict A lightweight full-leather boot for year-round, lower-level use. Generous fit with a good combination of grip, protection and comfort.
Zamberlan 311 Ultra Lite GTX - 5/5
+ These boots team a beautifully supple full-grain leather upper with a plush lining and padded ankle cuff for instant comfort. They’re supportive and Gore-Tex lined with a Vibram sole for great grip, even in mud, and excellent underfoot cushioning. Classic styling with contrast stitching and brass eyelets.
Verdict Incredibly comfortable classic walking boot. Well suited to lower-level trails and longer days on easier terrain.
Scarpa Maverick GTX - 4/5
+ Designed for fast, light hiking, these lower-cut boots have a Gore-Tex lining to keep feet dry, while the lacing wraps the fabric upper around the foot, keeping it secure and comfortable. Nicely padded tongue and ankle areas. Reinforced toe and heel areas add extra durability and protection.
– Not so well suited to mud.
Verdict Good balance of light weight, protection and grip. Best for dry, rocky trails and lower-level walking.
Asolo Falcon GV - 4/5
+ The lightest men’s boots on test are very comfortable, with a nicely padded inner, Gore-Tex waterproofing and soft upper. Despite the low weight, there’s a protective toe bumper and supportive heel. The protective dual-density EVA midsole offers a smooth, stable ride.
– The shallow Vibram Megagrip sole grips well on rock but struggles in mud. Feels a bit pricey.
Verdict Light and comfortable yet still quite supportive. Great for general hiking and very grippy on rock.
Salewa Mountain Trainer Mid GTX - 4.5/5
+ Designed for alpine trekking, these boots have a deeply treaded sole that’s stiffer than others on test. With a tough Gore-Tex lined suede upper and full rubber rand, they offer superb support and protection. The 3F heel system works well in combination with a wider forefoot and full-length lacing to give
an excellent fit through the foot.
– Heaviest, stiffest, most expensive on test.
Verdict Outstanding grip, support and protection. Exceeds hillwalkers’ needs.
Boreal Ordesa Style - 5/5
+ A high-quality, hand-cut, one-piece nubuck leather boot. A supple, yet protective upper pairs well with a deeply treaded, grippy Vibram sole to create an outstanding general-purpose walking boot. The anatomically padded heel is supportive and comfortable, while Boreal’s Dry-Line membrane keeps feet dry.
– A rubber toe bumper would increase the durability.
Verdict Superb all-rounder, all-year leather boot. Top-quality materials and build. Good value, too.
Berghaus Supalite II GTX - 4/5
+ The newest version of the full-grain leather Supalite holds true to the original. Memory foam under the heel and toe improves underfoot comfort. The Vibram outsole has widely spaced lugs, which are grippy and clear mud well. Gore-Tex lined for added waterproofing.
– Doesn’t offer much ankle support.
Verdict A much-loved classic still offering lightweight, comfortable walking performance. Best suited to less technical paths and trails.
Meindl Tereno Mid GTX - 4/5
+ The Tereno has a slightly wider and deeper fit, but the full-length lacing, Variofix heel support and padded inner mean it still suits a range of foot types. Lightweight with a soft upper, it feels almost trainer-like, but it is still durable and supportive enough for longer walks. Gore-Tex lined for waterproofing.
– Tread struggles for grip in slippery mud.
Verdict Light and comfortable straight from the box. Well suited to wider feet and lower-level walking.
AKU Tribute II GTX - 4.5/5
+ These well-made, single-piece, full-grain leather boots will last many years of walking. Fit feels standard, while the shape of the heel holds the foot in place well. They’ve a grippy Vibram sole and waterproof Gore-Tex membrane. Easy to clean and look after.
– A toe bumper or rand would make them even more durable.
Verdict A well-made and long-lasting boot designed for all-round use. Ideal for almost any British terrain and conditions.
Nikwax Footwear Cleaning Gel
A non-toxic and effective way to keep your boots clean, protected and good for many more years of walking.
Drysure Extreme Boot Dryer
A hygienic way to dry your boots without using heat. Less messy than stuffing with newspaper!
Storm Footwear Proofer
An easy-to-use waterproofing product to help maintain any walking boots. Sold in recyclable aluminium bottles.
Ellis Brigham Boot Bag
A good solution to the problem of muddy boots in your car or pack. Durable, washable and easy to use.
Scarpa HS12 Cream
Long-term durable waterproofing and leather conditioning cream for full-grain leather boots.
A very effective product.
Sole Active Medium Footbed
A comfortable and supportive insole designed for active use. Great for improving boots’ fit and feel.
Sim Benson is an outdoor author and photographer with an environmental science background. He is a kit expert with over 15 years working, testing and reviewing in the outdoor industry.
Jen Benson is an outdoor adventure photographer and writer with an MSc in sport & exercise medicine. Jen is happiest when she is outdoors, and is passionate about exploring Britain’s wild places on foot.