Some of the best ways for Brits to spend a weekend – or longer – on home shores are hiking adventures.
It’s easy to pooh-pooh the British countryside. Sure, there are no 8,000m-high mountains or punishingly hot jungles, but the stunning scenery of the Scottish Highlands or Lake District, to take just two examples, leaves no visitor short-changed.
RECOMMENDED: Walking Holidays in the UK and Abroad
To tackle the rolling hills, plunging valleys and muddy, muddy tracks of the UK you’ll need the right footwear. That means a sturdy pair of waterproof walking boots, so amble your way through our top picks, or stride past to our buyer’s guide, then start enjoying the beauty on your doorstep.
The Best Walking Boots
Scarpa Peak GTX
If the fells are your playground you need a boot that can handle the slippery hills, not to mention the drizzle. There’s a lot of drizzle on those fells. With its Gore-Tex waterproof liner, high-cut ankle support and firm-gripping sole, the Scarpa Peak GTX is the ideal boot to tackle the UK’s undulations. It also has a comfortable insole and a reinforced toe-box, both of which will be handy if you’re switching between grassy trails and more rocky ground. At £170, the Scarpa Peak GTX is a substantial investment, but a worthy one if you’re looking for many years of four-season service in the UK. £170, buy on scarpa.co.uk, check price on amazon.co.uk
KEEN Targhee EXP Mid
Depending on how you look at it, the Keen Targhee EXP is either a beefed-up hiking shoe or a stripped-down hiking boot. The Mid version of the Targhee has more ankle support than the standard Targhee, making it an ideal option if your hike involves some rough trails and hills but avoids the truly treacherous terrain that requires a full boot. The Targhee EXP has a breathable waterproof membrane and the insole is designed to provide extra support for the arch of your foot. Thanks to a narrow fit, it’s wise to order half a size up. £114.99, buy on global.keenfootwear.com, check price on amazon.co.uk
Merrell Moab FST Mid Gore-Tex
A lightweight yet supportive and durable boot that’s ideal for hiking the UK’s hills, the Moab has a sticky Vibram MegaGrip sole to ensure you don’t come a cropper on any terrain. A Gore-Tex liner keeps water at bay and there’s an air cushion in the heel to help absorb shocks. £129.99, buy on ellis-brigham.com
Salomon Quest Prime GTX
Salomon seems to have taken some cues from its own impressive line of trail running shoes with this lightweight and comfortable boot, which will help you stride along at pace on any terrain. The split suede/leather upper is durable and comfortable, and naturally there’s a Gore-Tex liner for waterproofing. £140, buy on salomon.com
North Face Hedgehog Hike Mid Gore-Tex
This study boot might require a little breaking in but after a couple of walks it’ll deliver a comfortable and stable platform for all your adventures. The reinforced leather upper has mesh sections to provide both durability and breathability, with a Gore-Tex liner to combat wet conditions. £135, buy on thenorthface.co.uk
Berghaus Hillmaster II GTX
The original Hillmaster, made by Brasher, was one of the most popular walking boots in Britain, and the follow-up does it full justice. Brasher is now owned by Berghaus, which has continued the Hillmaster line with this seriously comfortable, yet hard-wearing and fully waterproof (yes, there’s a Gore-Tex liner) leather boot. £165, buy on berghaus.com, check price on amazon.co.uk
Hi-Tec Altitude V I Waterproof
Those seeking a bargain should look no further than Hi-Tec’s range. The Altitude V has a classic leather design and a firm-gripping sole that will make short work of muddy hills. Shop around and you could well pick up a pair for £50-60, which is excellent value. However, Gore-Tex fans will be disappointed – there is no Gore-Tex liner in this boot. There is a Dri-Tec liner, however, which does the same thing as Gore-Tex. £74.99, buy on hi-tec.co.uk, check price on amazon.co.uk
Walking Boots Buyer’s Guide
As with all important purchases there are a few key questions to ask before you select your walking boots. To help, we asked Max Wallder from Merrell for answers.
What’s the best material for a walking boot upper?
Walking boot uppers are your first line of defence against the elements and provide the support you need when tackling treacherous terrain. A synthetic upper is likely to result in a more comfortable, lightweight boot, while leather is the traditional option and, if treated right, should last for many years.
“Synthetic materials are generally lighter, more breathable and in recent years a very durable option compared with more traditional materials,” says Wallder. “Although leather is widely considered to be the most durable option it is heavier and less breathable.”
What is Gore-Tex and why is it used in so many boots?
As soon as you start investigating walking boots you’ll see the term Gore-Tex crop up with almost every pair you check out. The reason is simple – no-one likes wet feet.
“Gore-Tex is a waterproof, breathable fabric membrane that is microporous by nature so it allows water vapour to pass through while remaining completely waterproof to the outside elements,” says Wallder. “When used in footwear, it helps to keep your feet dry and comfortable.”
Are different outsoles better suited for different terrain?
Once you’ve sorted your upper it’s time to turn your attention to the sole. You’ll want to pick an outsole that’s perfect for the walking you’ll be doing.
“Harder compounds offer increased durability whereas a softer compound offers increased grip,” says Wallder. “The more spaced out and deeper the lugs are, the better they are for cutting through terrain to grip what’s underneath and to shed dirt. The more surface area the greater the durability, particularly on harder terrain.”
How versatile is your boot likely to be?
Boots are often classified by seasons – as in one, two, three or four seasons – indicating how suitable they are for different weather conditions and terrains.
“A one-season product may be a summer-use sandal,” says Wallder, “whereas a four-season product would be a crampon-compatible mountaineering boot that can be used in extreme winter conditions.
“When buying a walking boot, most British customers would choose a three-season boot because it’s the most versatile and it’s suitable for year-round use in the UK. reathable features make it good for the spring and summer, while advanced gripping systems and support mean that they can also manage in the winter.”
Yes, you read that right. For a walking boot that can handle all four seasons in the UK, plump for a three-season boot.
For all the latest releases from Merrell, head to merrell.com/uk