Best hiking boots 2020: Robust walking boots to help you take on any trail

We walk you through the best hiking boots around, for weekend ramblers right through to hardcore adventurers

best hiking boots: Inov-8 Roclite G 345 GTX
(Image credit: Inov-8)

A pair of quality hiking boots is one of the most important outdoor equipment purchases you can make, hands down. In this guide, we'll walk you through the very best hiking boots available right now, for a range of different needs and budgets. 

Whether you're heading off on a speed hike through challenging terrain or simply heading on a stroll through the local countryside, a good hiking boot can make all the difference to the experience. Or more to the point: pick the wrong boot, and you could be facing blisters, damp feet, and – at worst – a twisted ankle, in a matter of minutes. There’s a bewildering variety of boots out there, from ultra-lightweight fabric in fizzing colour schemes through to sober leather designs that haven't changed in generations, all designed specifically for different purposes, terrain and situations.

Whether you’re planning a week of alpine walking, long distance trekking, or just a few weekend rambles, there is a boot that'll fit you to a tee. This guide to the best hiking boots for men should help you find the right pair for you (we also have a dedicated guide for the best women's hiking boots).

The best hiking boots 2020: our expert pick

  • Our pick for the best hiking boot right now is the Inov8 Roclite G 345 GTX. Inov8’s combination of running-shoe lightness and graphene sole technology is ideal for beginners looking for out-of-the-box comfort, as well as serious athletes looking for reliable all-terrain grip at speed. 
  • However, it's worth browsing our full top five boots to get an idea of the range of options available. The Hanwag Banks SF Extra GTX offers a chunkier and more traditional design, and if you’re in the market for something more supportive to soak up longer routes you'll also want to consider the Arc'teryx Acrux GTX.

How to choose the best hiking books

The two key things to prioritise when hunting for the best hiking boot for you: finding the right boot style for the activity, and getting a really good fit for your individual foot shape. The fit will vary by brand and style of boot, with some coming up much narrower (or broader) in the midfoot than others. It's absolutely vital to try boots on before embarking on an expedition, and usually wearing them round the house before removing the retail labels is enough to show up any hotspots that could lead to painful difficulties further down the line.

Although there are some stunning and super-technical hiking boots that might catch your eye, make sure you actually need the features they're offering before you shell out. Super-stiff mountain boots can be a trial on casual Sundays strolls, but equally, rocking up in trainers for a snowy ascent is a terrible idea. Generally though, the extra support of a good hiking boot will see you happily meander wherever the fancy takes you. Read on for our pick of the best hiking boots available now!

If you're still unsure what type of footwear you need for the type of walking you do regularly, take a look at out walking boots vs walking shoes explainer. And once you've got your boots, make sure you check out our guide to how to break in hiking boots, to avoid painful blisters.

Best hiking boots: Hanwag

(Image credit: Hanwag)

The best hiking boots you can buy right now

Best hiking boots: Inov8 Roclite G 345 GTX Men's hiking boots

(Image credit: Inov8)

1. Inov-8 Roclite G 345 GTX Men's hiking boots

These T3 Award-winner are the best walking boots right now

Specifications
Upper material: Cordura mesh, textile
Sole type: Graphene Grip
Waterproof technology: Gore-Tex
Reasons to buy
+Super grippy+Long life Graphene+Waterproof+Very lightweight

Although it's a fierce battle, the Roclite G 345 GTX are the best hiking boots right now. These T3 Awards 2020 prize-holders will enable you to move fast and light through any terrain. We're partial to a bit of tech at T3, and trail experts Inov-8 have an award-winning trick up their sleeve (or sock): a Graphene-infused sole unit. The wonder-material adds strength, hardness and elasticity, resulting in up to 50% better wear – especially relevant for these deep 6mm lugs. It's not all marketing talk either, with these gracing the feet of athletes taking on some of the toughest outdoor challenges around, such as the UK's ultra-marathon Spine Race.

Designed for fast hiking, the grip is certainly phenomenal on wet rock and muddy grass alike, a fact aided by the highly flexible but shanked midsole. Weight is minimal, leaning into that trail running heritage, at 345g (size 8.5), you'll barely notice these on your feet - certainly until the miles really stack up. The bellows-style tongue is another trail-essential, keeping small stones and dust out of your boots, as is the low heel, allowing a full range of movement while providing more support than a standard shoe with the extra front lacing. 

Elsewhere the Gore-Tex liner should keep damp at bay, while a Powerflow midsole delivers a claimed 10% better shock absorption and 15% better energy return than standard midsoles. With brand new colourways for 2020, this fast-and-light hiker is guaranteed to keep you right-side up and dry on the longest days out.

Best hiking boots: Hanwag Banks SF Extra GTX

(Image credit: Hanwag)

2. Hanwag Banks SF Extra GTX

When the going gets tough, these robust boots have your back

Specifications
Upper material: Nubuck leather, suede, synthetic
Sole type: Vibram Trekking SF
Waterproof technology: Gore-Tex
Reasons to buy
+Very robust+Classic design+Three-season comfort

The Hanwag Banks SF Extra GTX is a classic-style hiking boot that delivers all that you'd hope for in a robust hiking boot, at a competitive price point and without fuss. The certified sustainable nubuck upper looks the part, as well as having subtle strengthening tricks built in, such as the stitch and turn seams and the cast metal lace hooks that won't fail under pressure like plastic ones can.

A high ankle cuff gives serious support for long days on the trail, while a Gore-Tex membrane keeps the damp outside, where it should be. Hanwag has tweaked the classic design slightly to create more room in the forefoot and toe box area, which allows feet room to swell and contract, as well as room for toes to avoid blisters as you rack up the lowland or hut-to-hut miles. The Vibram sole might appear a perfectly respectable standard-issue unit, but has been specifically tailored to allow straightforward removal and replacement after it has become worn – these classics are long-term keepers…

Inov-8 Roclite Pro G 400

(Image credit: Inov-8)

3. Inov-8 Roclite Pro G 400 GTX

The toughest hiking boot

Specifications
Upper material: Schoeller ceramic-coated fabric
Sole type: Graphene grip
Waterproof technology: Gore-Tex
Reasons to buy
+Super tough+Very lightweight
Reasons to avoid
-Might be overkill

For the hardiest hikers, the Inov-8 Roclite Pro G 400 GTX might be the best hiking boot for you. These combine the Graphene outsole found in our number 1 pick (tweaked to add water-dispersion grooves, to make these even gripper on wet ground) with a super-protective Schoeller ceramic-coated fabric upper. Inov-8 has also added extra cushioning in both the forefoot and rear, and a high-cut ankle collar for extra stability. They're slightly heavier than the lightest of the Inov-8 boot range, but they're still impressively lightweight. If you're looking for a boot that'll enable you to move fast and light over the trickiest terrain, these are a great choice. Head to our Inov-8 Roclite Pro G 400 GTX review for more info.

Best hiking boots: Adidas Men's Terrex Free Hiker Parley

(Image credit: Adidas)

4. Adidas Men's Terrex Free Hiker Parley

The best hiking boots for causal wanders, from city to trail

Specifications
Upper material: Primeknit textile
Sole type: Continental Rubber
Waterproof technology: None
Reasons to buy
+Big eco boost+Super comfort fit +Style and substance
Reasons to avoid
-Not waterproof

The Adidas Terrex have been a fixture in best hiking boot circles since they first launched, and this latest update is no exception. The big news is that Adidas has teamed up with Parley for the Oceans to take plastic pollution that is collected on shorelines and in coastal areas and recycle it into the upper elements of the Free Hiker Parley

Aside from subtle design tweaks, the overall product remains broadly the same, just with a whole lump of good recycling karma. The Primeknit upper still has an elasticated sock-like fit that grips the foot and prevents friction blisters (you may want to size up for the best fit), and at 400g for men's and 340g for women's, these are very lightweight indeed. 

Stiffer EVA sections of the sole unit provide stability, while the bulk of the midsole is Adidas’ Boost material that delivers impressive energy return on each stride. Finally the outsole is mounded from grippy Continental rubber, with decent lugs to deal with muddier moments. For stylish boots ready to wear right out of the box, these are well worth a look. 

Best hiking boots: Arcteryx Acrux TR GTX boot

(Image credit: Arcteryx )

5. Arcteryx Acrux TR GTX boot

A mountain-ready and deceptively minimalist design for keen hikers

Specifications
Upper material: SuperFabric
Sole type: Vibram Megagrip
Waterproof technology: Gore-Tex
Reasons to buy
+Lightweight+Abrasion resistant+Mountain-ready

Slimline, minimalist but practical is what we have some to expect from the Canadian uber-outdoor brand Arcteryx, and the Acrux TR GTX boot is yet another good example. A high rubber rand protects much of the upper from sharp rocks and abrasion, bending into a 'SuperFabric' upper – the latter employing unique micro-plated technology to remain lightweight but robust.

An almost-obligatory Gore-Tex liner will keep damp at bay, and overall weight is low for a mountain boot, at a claimed 550g (heavier than the Inov8 Rocklite, but lighter than the Hanwag Banks), leaving more spring in your step at the end of a long day. 

Underfoot the Vibram Megagrip outsole and aggressive lugs will deliver non-slip traction on rock, mud or scree alike, while the low heel will give plenty of flex in the ankle for moving through rugged terrain. Overall there's little to dislike here, and much to commend in an all-round trekking/hiking boot for most occasions. 

Best hiking boots: Mammut Kento High GTX Men’s Hiking Boots

(Image credit: Mammut)

6. Mammut Kento High GTX Men’s Hiking Boots

Crampon-compatible hiking boots for mountain adventures

Specifications
Upper material: Nubuck leather
Sole type: Michelin
Waterproof technology: Gore-Tex
Reasons to buy
+Light yet strong+Mountain ready

The Mammut Kento High GTX is all things to all people; a highly versatile hiking boot that’s not only lightweight, but also surprisingly practical as an all-rounder.

There’s a bit of everything in the Kento High GTX. These walking boots, available for men and women, are hardy enough to accomodate strap-on crampons, but designed first and foremost to deliver hiking and walking comfort. This is aided by a Michelin Alpine Lite 3970 sole.

The Nubuck and softshell outer soak up sharp-rock punishment without falling apart, and the robust rand is there to fend off the worst those mountains can throw at your feet. Weighing in at a lightweight 620g, this is one of the best hiking boot options for alpine exercusions, and an excellent option for pretty much any mountain adventure.

Best hiking boots: Salomon Quest 4D 3 GTX

7. Salomon Men's Quest 4D 3 GTX

Show the mountains who’s boss with these hiking boots for all terrains

Specifications
Upper material: Nubuck leather, textile
Sole type: Contragrip TD
Waterproof technology: Gore-Tex
Reasons to buy
+Fully waterproof+Rugged and durable+Enhanced stability+Supremely comfortable

Winner of the T3 Awards 2019 for Best Hiking Boots, the waterproof Salomon Quest 4D 3 GTX (Gore-Tex) will see you over any mountain pass, powering you onwards in sheer comfort come rain or shine. They’re a backpackers dream too, supporting you under heavy pack loads, and are designed to fully cradle and support your foot and ankle with each step. Foot fatigue is reduced, which is a boon on longer, heftier walking days, and the EnergyCell EVA midsole helps to reduce shock impact. 

Though they’re fully robust, the Quest 4D 3 GTX aren’t as heavy as you’d think and are breathable enough to be worn during the warmer months whenever you need full support. The Contragrip sole with deep lug pattern dishes out mega traction on mixed terrain, boosting your confidence to tackle harder trails that may have previously felt out of reach.

SensiFit tech provides a secure fit by cradling your foot from the midsole through to the Lace Locker lacing system, while a gusseted tongue stops debris and small stones from sneaking into your boots. Wear your Quest 4D 3 GTX’s with a pair of proper hiking socks and get out on the trail. They’ll have your back each step of the way.

Check out more of last year's award winners on our main T3 Awards 2019 page.

Best hiking boots: Keen Innate Leather WP

(Image credit: Keen)

8. Keen Innate Leather WP

Old school looks; new school comfort

Specifications
Upper material: Leather
Sole type: Keen All-Terrain rubber
Waterproof technology: Keen.Dry
Reasons to buy
+Understated classic looks+Premium hardwearing leather+PFC-free waterproofing

There is a reason boots have been made out of leather since pre-Roman times: it's hardwearing, organic and ages beautifully. The Keen Innate Leather WP is a take on a traditional hiking boot that packs in some very high-end leather from a Leather Working Group (LWG) tannery (the gold standard in responsible leather), but marries it up with a decidedly modern sole unit for improved comfort – the best of both old and new. 

The eco credentials extend beyond the leather, with a PFC free durable water repellent coating and odour control using a natural probiotic and no pesticide, while a durable secure fit lace system with robust aluminium eyelets keeps everything anchored to your feet. 

Keen’s in-house waterproof membrane should keep damp at bay, and a stability shank adds stiffness for longer outings, finally the All-Terrain rubber outsole is designed to provide grip on uneven or slippery surfaces in all weathers. The best of old and new, all in the same boot?

Merrell Men’s Zion Mid Gore-Tex Hiking Boots in Toffee

(Image credit: Merrell)

9. Merrell Men’s Zion Mid Gore-Tex Hiking Boots

New waterproof hiking boots for men to help you battle through autumn/winter

Specifications
Upper material: ballistic mesh, full-grain leather
Sole type: Vibram Megagrip
Waterproof technology: Gore-Tex
Reasons to buy
+Waterproof+Decent grip+Sneaker-like comfort

The Zion Mid Gore-Tex, Merrell’s super-comfy new hiking boots, are well cushioned and dish out big grip to keep you upright on slippery terrain. Lightweight yet tough, they’re perfect for those of you who want a pair of easy to wear hikers that can be worn to the pub after a day on the trail. 

Merrell has designed them with a wipe-clean ballistic mesh and full-grain leather upper, with a rubber toe cap and a bellow tongue protecting your toes and feet from debris on the trail. Gore-Tex is on board for waterproofing, and a Vibram Megagrip sole with 5mm lugs boosts traction each step of the way. The Zion Mids are breathable too, ensuring you don’t end up standing in a pool of sweat after an intense hike.

Best walking boots: Hoka One One Sky Kaha in black

(Image credit: Hoka)

10. Hoka One One Sky Kaha

The best hiking boots for backpacking trips where comfort is paramount

Specifications
Upper material: Leather
Sole type: Vibram MegaGrip
Waterproof technology: eVent Waterproof Bootie
Reasons to buy
+Ludicrously soft+Huge grip

Deceptively lightweight, the Hoka One One Sky Kaha is an astonishingly soft and comfortable hiking boot, but also delivers on support and strength too. This might well have something to do with the name (the Māori word for strength and support), but definitely does have something to do with the spec-list.

There’s the surprising inclusion of a super-robust full grain, waterproof leather upper, a Vibram Megagrip hi-traction outsole with massive 5mm multi-directional lugs, and EVA/Rangi foam midsole, tasked with delivering all that bounce. Finally a full eVent waterproof bootie should keep the wet outside where it belongs – ideal for the damp days ahead. 

Best hiking boots: AKU Trekker Lite III GTX

(Image credit: AKU)

11. AKU Trekker Lite III GTX

These handsome hiking boots will give rocks a good kicking

Specifications
Upper material: Suede, PU film
Sole type: Vibram curcuma
Waterproof technology: Gore-Tex Performance Comfort
Reasons to buy
+Fully membrane lined+Rugged and durable+Surprisingly light

AKU is often underestimated as a brand, and the Trekker Lite III is an impressive underdog, boasting a Rolls-Royce build quality and yet impressively low weight. These are hiking boots in the traditional sense, and are given huge rigidity with a 6-4mm Nylon lasting board. 

That rigidity is all on your side though, with a sculpted rocker sole that rolls with the stride, and an enormously breathable upper of suede, air8000 and welded PU film that helps to keep weight down to an impressive 570g a boot. The outsole is no less robust, and with a deep tread and the magic grippiness of Vibram Curcuma these should stay right-side-up whatever the conditions. A worthy addition to our best hiking boots guide.

Best hiking boots: Danner Arctic 600 in tan

(Image credit: Danner)

12. Danner Arctic 600

A Vibram Nisqaully arctic grip keeps you upright on ice

Specifications
Upper material: Suede
Sole type: Vibram Nisqually
Waterproof technology: Danner Dry
Reasons to buy
+Stable on sheet ice+Trad looks+Waterproof+Easy to don/doff

Winter boots may be popping up like mushrooms now, but the gorgeous Danner Arctic 600s are a little bit special. A suede upper really looks the part, and the traditional lacing is augmented with a side zip, enabling you to don your boots in a jiffy. The spec is what you’d expect from a high-end pair of hiking boots, including 200g PrimaLoft insulation, a waterproof membrane and DWR coating. They also have one cunning trick up their sleeve (or rather, sock): Vibram Nisqaully Arctic Grip. This Vibram sole compound grips even sheet ice, so there’ll be no more sliding around, gripping onto the nearest bit of fence, on frosty mornings for you.

Why do you need specific boots for hiking?

Hiking boots, as a term, is a broad church, but the main reasons you’ll need some for the rough stuff are their blend of protection, grip and stiffness. Standard street boots – Doctor Martens, for example – might offer some ankle support by lacing up high, but a lack of ankle padding will cut you to ribbons on a long trek. 

Most modern hiking boots include a waterproof membrane, which will be useful when you head off the beaten track. In addition, hiking and mountain boots often incorporate a raised ‘rand’, a rubber buffer over the leather of the boot nearest the sole, which protects the boot from sharp stone cuts when walking across scree.  

Hiking boot soles will also be much stiffer than street shoes/boots to shrug off rough surfaces, incorporating aggressive tread for better grip on wet grass, moss or mud, and often cleverly-placed sticky rubber areas for extra grip on wet rock. 

That stiffer sole gets a grade from B0 to B3-B0 and below, making them fine for casual summer hikes, but too flexible for crampons. Meanwhile, B1-3 boots offer increasing levels of stiffness to accommodate increasingly technical rigid crampon use. 

This might sound excessive for the causal walker, but if you’re hill walking in the UK winter, opting for a stiffer crampon-compatible walking boot is highly recommended, as conditions can change fast.  

Outdoor tech has come a long way in recent years, with huge strides being made in the way hiking boots are designed and built. From tech geared to keep your toes warm in sub-zero conditions, to innovations that help you stay upright on the most treacherous and slippery trails. These are:

  • Vibram Megagrip (enhanced traction)
  • Gore-tex (improved waterproofing)
  • NestFit (bio-mapping for comfort)
  • Thermo Tech Application technology (better support)
  • CleanSport NXT (odour control)

Choosing the best hiking boots for you

In a nutshell, you're looking for boots that are luxuriously comfortable, unstintingly waterproof, heroically breathable, tank-like in their ruggedness, and offer as much grip as Spider-Man's socks. 

It’s essential to get the right rating for your hiking boot – wearing B3 double-boots for summer trekking will be hell, as will attempting the likes of Indicator Wall in Converse. Overall, you’re looking for ankle support from a boot – which in the hills can be vital when a stone shifts underfoot – but also a comfortable fit. 

A snug (not tight) fit minimises heel lift, as well as assorted blisters at ‘hot spots’ like heels and toes. When seeking out winter boots (B1+) this is particularly important, as a loose fit will see your toes smash into the toe box when using crampons, and the stiffer sole will also exaggerate heel lift unless the heel pocket fits just right.  

The accepted wisdom is to try on hiking boots in the afternoons, once your feet have expanded, and take a range of socks to try them on with. Thin office socks are helpful to show up any obvious shape mismatches and pressure points, before moving on to your preferred walking sock. 

Do experiment with sock fit as well as boot fit, as even the most expensive socks are cheap compared to boots, and some of the more specialised socks can make a real difference to your hiking comfort. 

Hiking boots come in different weights. Generally speaking, any weighing 400-500g and under are best suited to speed hiking, trail running (some types, not all) or day to day offroad use. Dog walkers and fairweather hikers, you'll like these ones.

Hiking boots that are tough enough to withstand multi-day hikes, where you might be carrying a heavy load on your back, are usually heavier. The trade-off for that extra weight is that these types of technical boots are much more supportive.

Hanwag Tatra Light

(Image credit: Future)

What are hiking boots made of?

Construction-wise, old-school full leather hiking boots are rare beasts these days, not only because of cost but also because they need months of ‘breaking in’ before extended use. Modern boots use a range of synthetic materials in addition to leather panels, so are much softer out of the box. 

Indeed, the latest thermo-fitted/NestFit models are pretty much ready to rock straight off the shop floor, although wearing around the house or to and from work is always a good idea before leaving on a major expedition.

In short, the golden rule is to buy what fits, and a model that suits your main use. In terms of brands, at the more robust end of the spectrum La Sportiva, Scarpa, Mammut, Lowa and Aku all build boots that will shame a tank, while at the lighter, summery end Teva, Keen and Salomon bring considerable expertise to the table.