Summer is finally here – don’t we know it? – which signals barbies in the garden, holidays in the sun and walks in the countryside (for some).
For those who like to get outside, the season offers less mud, clear skies and warm temperatures. Even better, fall is soon on the horizon, which many consider a hiker’s sweet spot—not the scorching heat of summer, but not the cold and rain of winter. Best of all, it’s completely and utterly free. During a cost of living crisis, we can all do with an activity that doesn’t cost the earth, right?
But what should you wear on your feet to ensure you don’t limp in pain before the first hill? Conversation in the summer (too flimsy and absorbent) and Hunters in the winter (too clunky and warm) just won’t do. It’s the humble hiking shoe that finally has a chance to shine.
Lightweight, water-resistant and robust, they offer functionality and comfort in equal measure, although they’ve never been known for their style credentials. Good news, then, that top brands have begun to focus on the aesthetics of said shoes, combining cutting-edge technology with forward-thinking looks to appeal to a wider, younger demographic of potential hikers. During the pandemic, many of us took to our feet to pass the time and burn the calories, so it’s a smart move for the manufacturers and producers to be one step ahead.
Selim Say, vice president of footwear for outdoor clothing retailer Jack Wolfskin, says: “It’s an exciting time to start walking! Although the outdoor industry has made great strides in function, weight reduction and material innovation over the years, there always seemed to be little new insight and overly rigid beliefs about what kind of shoes should be worn and how much protection and stability a hiking shoe should offer.
After the pandemic, there has been an influx of new hikers who bring a whole new set of needs. Never before have there been so many light, versatile, ergonomically well-developed hiking shoes and boots on offer. Traditional brands that have practiced their craft for decades are now being challenged and must dust off their concepts to think outside the box.”
Here we ask 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’s GORE-TEX Waterproof Walking Boots
Haglöfs Duality is one of the most stylish mountain boots by a mile, doing what Swedish brands do best, seamlessly blending aesthetics with technology. While they certainly don’t come cheap, they’re proof that you get what you pay for with replaceable midsoles to navigate 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 MQM 3 GORE-TEX for men
The MQMs – which apparently stand for ‘move fast in the mountains’ – are stable enough to walk in, flexible enough to run in and durable enough for light climbing. What stands out is of course the GORE-TEX® membrane, which offers exceptional breathability and waterproof performance. We rather like them in orange for a pop of color against rugged nature.
Buy Now £120.00, Merrell
Hoka One Anacapa Nubuck-trimmed GORE-TEX hiking shoe
Could these fabulous boots from athletic French footwear brand Hoka® be any more fashion forward?
Despite looking better for the runway than the mountains – there’s more than a whiff of Weezy about them, let’s be honest – they’re ready for rough terrain, thanks to breathable and waterproof GORE-TEX® technology and a distinctive ergonomic shape designed to handle nature’s undulating contours.
Buy Now £160.00 Mr Porter
Timberland Timberloop Trekker hiking boots
Standing out among nature in their signature yellow, there’s no doubt that the Timberloop™ hiking boots are a stylish choice for a hike – made from sustainably sourced premium, no less – but their functionality is pretty good too. They come with a light and breathable footbed for comfort; while the compression molded sole provides cushioning. Like walking on air – heavenly.
Buy Now £170.00, Timberland
Jack Wolfskin Force Striker Texapore Mid M waterproof hiking boots
Modern, athletic and – dare we say it – more than a little sexy, the Force Strikers from Jack Wolfskin are designed for intensive day trips or multi-day trips in the hills and mountains. So basically you are covered. They offer stability, comfort and support, and have an innovative sole that saves energy for uphills, while being waterproof and breathable.
Buy Now £145.00 Jack Wolfskin
Lowa Trek Evo GTX Mid
A modern take on traditional trekking boots, the Evos not only look like 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 saves energy at the same time, while lightweight materials mean you’ll keep going and going.
Buy Now £188.99, Sports Shoes
Bottega Veneta mountain boots in nylon leather
Ridiculous? Maybe. Necessary? Absolutely. These outrageously colorful 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 durable nylon and trimmed with leather for extra reinforcement, they come with padded cuffs and colorful 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 deliver the goods when it comes to heading out into the great outdoors.
Aside from an excellent name, the Peakfreaks come in an ocean-inspired turquoise, while features include a cushioned midsole and waterproof construction for wet-weather performance.
Lightweight and robust – what’s not to love?
Buy now £60.94, Amazon
Craghoppers Men’s Adflex Boots
As trail shoes designed for warm-weather travel, the Adflex boots are designed to minimize weight without compromising on durability or performance, meaning they’re comfortable and tough. Interestingly, their open lacing is designed to reduce blood pressure at the top of the foot, while an anti-insect treatment is built into the fabric. Mozzies, started! Plump for them in khaki for jungle vibes.
Buy Now £150.00, Craghoppers
Canada Goose Journey hiking boots in rubber and nubuck-trimmed suede
There’s a lot to love about these beautiful boots from none other than Canada Goose – the renowned manufacturer of winter clothing – including the limited edition box they come in which is styled like a suitcase. Freebies aside, they’re crafted in Italy from soft and sumptuous suede, and feature grippy 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 Men’s Vertex Extreme Vibram Boots
From long rides to tough hikes, Vertex Vibrams from stalwart Mountain Warehouse are waterproof and breathable, made with an IsoDry membrane and a phylon midsole for shock absorption. Plus, rubber toe bumpers and deep lugs add stability and longevity, meaning they’ll be your companions for a while.
Buy Now £129.99, Mountain Warehouse
Quechua Men’s Lightweight Hiking 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. Ultralight, they are equipped for all trails, including moving quickly and freely in the mountains.
Buy now £59.99, Decathlon
Regatta Tebay waterproof low walking shoes for men
Waterproof, durable and cushioned – what more could you want from your hiking boots?
With advanced Isotex and Hydropel technology, these bad boys won’t let rain or splash through, meaning they’re just as ready for elegant country rides as they are for rough and tough terrain. A deep padded collar and tongue provide superior comfort while a navy blue suede finish adds style,
Buy Now £95.00, Regatta
Off-White C/O Virgil Abloh arrow embroidered suede and hiking boots
The late Ghanaian-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 so well, featuring laces and a striking silhouette.
Buy Now £585.00, Selfridges
Men’s Dare 2b Ridgeback Winter III Waterproof Walking Boots
At the budget end of the scale, there’s absolutely no price tag on these walking boots from activewear retailer Dare 2b, which are both waterproof and lightweight. With a woven textile upper and nylon shaft, the boots are durable and comfortable, providing a winning combination for long walks.
Buy Now £49.95, Dare 2b