Summer is finally here – don’t we know it? – which signals barbies in the garden, holidays in the sun, and hikes in the country (for some).
For those who like to get out and about, the season offers less mud, clear skies and warm temperatures. Better still, autumn will soon be on the horizon, which many consider the sweet spot for hikers – not the searing heat of summer, but not the cold and rain of winter. The best bit about the whole thing is that it’s completely and utterly free. During a cost-of-living crisis, we could all do with an activity that doesn’t cost the earth, right?
But what to wear on your feet to ensure you’re not hobbling in pain before the first hill? Converse in summer (too flimsy and absorbent) and Hunters in winter (too clunky and hot) just won’t do. It’s the humble hiking shoe that finally has a chance to shine.
Lightweight, water-resistant and sturdy, they offer functionality and comfort in equal measure, although they’ve never been known for their style credentials. Good news, then, that the best brands have started to focus on the aesthetics of said shoe, combining cutting-edge tech with forward-thinking looks to appeal to a broader, younger demographic of would-be walkers. During the pandemic, many of us took to our feet to while away the time and burn the calories, so it’s a smart move for the makers and manufacturers who are one step ahead.
Selim Say, Vice President Footwear for outdoor apparel retailer Jack Wolfskin, says: “It’s an exciting time to start hiking! Although the outdoor industry has made great strides in function, weight reduction and material innovation for years, there always seemed to be little new insight and overly rigid views about what kind of shoes should be worn, and how much protection and stability a hiking boot should offer.
Post-pandemic, there’s been an influx of new hikers that bring a whole new set of needs. Never have there been so many lightweight, versatile, ergonomically well-developed hiking shoes and boots on offer. Traditional brands that have been practising their craft for decades are now being challenged and need to dust off their concepts to think outside of the box.”
Here, we implore you to follow in our footsteps, and try one of these inspiring brands for your next big hike.
Trust us – we’ve done the legwork.
Haglöfs Duality AT1 GT Men GORE-TEX Waterproof Walking Boots
One of the most stylish hiking boots by a country mile, the Haglöfs Duality do what Swedish brands do best, and seamlessly blend aesthetics with technology. While they certainly don’t come cheap, they’re proof that you get what you pay for with interchangeable midsoles for navigating multiple terrains – green for rocky trails and red for more relaxed ones. As you’d expect, a GORE-TEX® membrane keeps you bone-dry, whatever the weather.
Buy now £240.00, John Lewis
Merrell Men’s MQM 3 GORE-TEX
The MQMs – standing for ‘moving quickly in the mountains’, apparently – are stable enough to hike in, agile enough to run in, and durable enough for light scrambling. The stand-out feature is, of course, the GORE-TEX® membrane, offering exceptional breathability and waterproof performance. We rather like them in orange for a pop of colour against rugged scenery.
Buy now £120.00, Merrell
Hoka One Anacapa Nubuck-Trimmed GORE-TEX Hiking Boots
Could these fabulous boots from athletic French shoe brand Hoka® be any more fashion-forward?
Despite the fact they look better suited to the runway than the mountains – there’s more than a whiff of Weezy about them, let’s be honest – they’re rugged-terrain ready, thanks to breathable and waterproof GORE-TEX® technology and a distinctive ergonomic shape designed to handle the undulating contours of nature.
Buy now £160.00, Mr Porter
The North Face Men’s Vectiv Exploris Futurelight Hiking Boots
You can’t talk about outdoor action and not mention The North Face. A stalwart in the category for more than 50 years, the iconic brand naturally has a nose for decent shoes, and the Vectiv™ Exploris Futurelight™ boots are a brilliant buy; ultra-light and breathable, they feature reinforced protection for rocky trails, sure to help you go the distance. The military olive and black pair certainly mean business.
Buy now £155.00, The North Face
Timberland Timberloop Trekker Hiking Boots
Standing out amongst nature in their signature yellow, there’s no denying that the Timberloop™ Hiking Boots are a stylish choice for a ramble – made from sustainably-sourced premium, no less – but their functionality is pretty damn good, too. They come with a lightweight and breathable footbed for comfort; while the compression-moulded sole provides cushioning. Like walking on air – heavenly.
Buy now £170.00, Timberland
Jack Wolfskin Force Striker Texapore Mid M Waterproof Hiking Shoes
Modern, athletic, and – dare we say it – more than a little bit sexy, the Force Strikers from Jack Wolfskin are designed for intensive day hikes or multi-day hikes in the hills and mountains. So basically, you’re covered. Offering stability, comfort and support, they feature an innovative sole that saves your energy for uphill slogs, while they’re waterproof and breathable to boot.
Buy now £145.00, Jack Wolfskin
Lowa Trek Evo GTX Mid
A modern take on traditional trekking boots, the Evos don’t only look the part in a charcoal black and acid-green vegan leather, but they mean business in the wilderness, too. There’s a flexible midsole, which provides superb cushioning and conserves energy at the same time, while lightweight materials means you’ll go on and on.
Buy now £188.99, Sports Shoes
Bottega Veneta Leather-Trimmed Nylon Hiking Boots
Ridiculous? Perhaps. Necessary? Absolutely. These outrageously colourful hiking boots from Bottega Veneta will get attention on the mountain for all the right reasons with chunky soles that are more Kanye West than Bear Grylls. Made in Italy from heard-wearing nylon and trimmed with leather for added reinforcement, they come with padded cuffs and colourful laces. A sight for sore eyes – in all the right ways.
Buy now £820.00, Mr Porter
Columbia Men's Peakfreak X2 OutDry™ Shoe
You can always count on American sportswear brand Columbia to come up with the goods when it comes to heading out into the great outdoors.
Excellent name aside, the Peakfreaks come in an ocean-inspired turquoise, while features include a cushioned midsole and waterproof construction for wet-weather performance.
Lightweight and rugged – what’s not to love?
Buy now £60.94, Amazon
Craghoppers Men’s Adflex Boots
As trail shoes designed for hot-weather travel, the Adflex Boots are made to minimise weight without compromising on durability or performance, meaning they’re comfortable and tough. Interestingly, their open-lacing is designed to reduce blood pressure on the top of the foot, while an anti-insect treatment is built into the fabric. Mozzies, begone! Plump for them in khaki for jungle vibes.
Buy now £150.00, Craghoppers
Canada Goose Journey Rubber & Nubuck-Trimmed Suede Hiking Boots
There’s plenty to love about these beautiful boots from none other than Canada Goose – the renowned winter clothing manufacturer – including the limited-edition box they come with that’s styled like a suitcase. Freebies aside, they’re crafted in Italy from a soft and sumptuous suede, and feature gripped rubber soles for traction and tonal nubuck trim for style. Laced to the top, it’s easy to put your best foot forward.
Buy now £650.00, Mr Porter
Mountain Warehouse Vertex Men’s Extreme Vibram Boots
From long walks to tough hikes, the Vertex Vibrams from trusty Mountain Warehouse are waterproof and breathable, made with an IsoDry membrane and a phylon midsole for impact cushioning. What’s more, rubber toe bumpers and deep lugs add stability and longevity, meaning they’ll be your companions for quite some time.
Buy now £129.99, Mountain Warehouse
Quechua Men’s Fast Hiking Ultraweight Lightweight Boots
At the affordable end of the scale, these boots were conceived at the foot of Mont Blanc by the designers at Decathlon – true story – and offer remarkable grip and quick lacing. Ultra-lightweight, they’re equipped for all trails, including moving fast and free in the mountains.
Buy now £59.99, Decathlon
Regatta Men’s Tebay Waterproof Low Walking Shoes
Waterproof, hardwearing and cushioned – what more could you possibly want from your hiking shoes?
Featuring advanced Isotex and Hydropel technology, no rain or splashes are getting through these bad boys, meaning they’re as ready for genteel walks in the country as they are rough and tough terrain. A deep padded collar and tongue provide superior comfort while a suede finish in navy blue adds style,
Buy now £95.00, Regatta
Off-White C/O Virgil Abloh Arrow-Embroidered Suede & Leather Hiking Boots
The late Ghanian-American fashion designer may be gone, but he’s certainly not forgotten with these statement boots, beautifully crafted from arrow-embroidered suede and leather. Made in Italy, they balance form and function oh-so well, and feature a lace-up fastening and a striking silhouette.
Buy now £585.00, Selfridges
Dare 2b Men’s Ridgeback Winter III Waterproof Walking Boots
At the budget end of the scale, there’s certainly no price hike on these walking boots from activewear retailer Dare 2b, which are both waterproof and lightweight. With a woven textile upper and nylon shank, the boots are durable and comfortable, providing a winning combination for lengthy walks.
Buy now £49.95, Dare 2b