We’ll admit it’s been a while since we last reviewed any shoes, boots, trainers or even sandals for your outdoor adventures. But after being inundated with emails asking for our expert opinions, we decide that now was the time to choose the best walking boots for 2011.
Looking back at our last Top 5, a lot has changed in the world of walking boots since then, but the needs of casual walkers and hardcore hikers has remained very much the same.
We want our walking boots to look good, be comfortable, supportive, waterproof, breathable and above all, sensibly priced. With so many requirements, it’s no wonder you asked us for our recommendations.
After all, shopping for the right pair of walking boots can be a little overwhelming, especially if you’re limited for choice in your local outdoor store.
But whether it’s a casual stroll with the dog or some long distance walking to improve your health and fitness, it’s important that you wear the right footwear for the job and get some value for your money at the same time.
Walking Boots Essentials
To figure out which walking boots are the best for you, we’ve thought about all the essential features, taken a selection of boots from a variety of outdoor brands at a range of price points and made sure they’re suitably stylish.
We feel that this gives you a good selection to choose from and clearly points out which boots offer the best value for money. After all, a £150 pair of walking boots may host a wealth of technology, but there could be a far more economical choice with all the comfortable support and tenacious grip that you need.
As per our other reviews, we’re going to award 3 prizes from our Top 5 for Best Value, Best Performance and Best Looks. Naturally, all the needs of a walker will be taken into account, because nobody wants a pair of handsome walking boots which fall apart after a day’s walk.
So for now, let’s look at the walking boots in our Top 5, explain why we think they’re so good, why you might want them and if why you should want them depending on what you need them for.
Our Top 5 Walking Boots
Freedom Trail Derwent
If you’re looking for a basic boot and you don’t want to spend much, then you won’t find a more affordable walking boot than a Freedom Trail Derwent. Far better than a sodden pair of old trainers, these are completely waterproof while offering supportive in all the right places as well as plenty of cushioning underfoot. Classically styled with fairly good grips, there’s excellent value to be had here. Although if you’re taking your walking seriously, it’s well worth spending a little more for extra comfort.
For a few notes more, there’s the similarly styled Hi-Tec Scafell waterproof walking boot with a whole host of comfort and performance enhancing features. We’ve always recommended Hi-Tec for people on a budget, because while they tend to focus on just the basics, Hi-Tec has always done the basics ever so very well. These classically styled walking boots are completely waterproof, have a steel shank for a rigid hold and a cushioned EVA insert in the heel to take the impact out of long walks. But most importantly, they have Hi-Tec’s traditional chunky treads for impressive grip on all manner of surfaces. They’re currently in the Fitness Footwear walking boots sale, so they’re a real bargain.
No top 5 walking boots could ever be complete without a pair of Brasher walking boots. But sadly the Brasher Hillmaster doesn’t make it into our top 5 this time. Instead the Brasher Hillwalker GTX waterproof walking boot takes its place as a far more versatile, lightweight and affordable alternative. Like the Hillmaster, they’re made from the finest full grain leather with the waterproof and breathable GORE-TEX membrane, but they’re incredibly light with a shock absorbing EVA midsole and plenty of padding and cushioning to keep your feet comfy on even the longest walks. The treads are excellent too.
Karrimor KSB Tour eVent II
Now we’re starting to get into the serious money with Karrimor’s KSB Tour eVent II waterproof walking boots. But if you’re going to be walking regularly in all kinds of weather conditions, then this is the kind of footwear to really enjoy your outdoors adventures. This is a completely waterproof and breathable walking boot uses the eVent membrane system to keep you comfortable while walking all day. Meanwhile the Vibram sole gives great response, stability and support, providing shock absorption and cushioning for comfier feet and better posture, while the grippy deep tread lets you cope with rougher terrain. Well worth the money.
Salomon Cosmic 4D GTX
Ever since Brian Blessed boomed about these boots on The Gadget Show they’ve held a place in our hearts. But made from ballistic nylon, they’re unbelievably tough, completely waterproof, extremely lightweight and very breathable. Best of all, they feel as comfortable as a pair of your favourite worn in trainers –even straight from the box. Plenty of cushioning underneath, fantastic ankle support without feeling restrictive and the treads offer terrific traction on all kinds of wet, muddy, dry or rocky terrain. Although we strongly recommend buying these in the black, as the red is a bit intense.
Whether you’re a dog walker, a casual stroller or an outdoors expert, each of our five favourite walking boots has something for you.
You’ll already know how far you walk and how regularly, so to make choosing easy, we’ve created three awards to help you prioritise what’s important to you in a walking boot.
Best Value: Hi-Tec Scafell
On sale at just under £40, these are a real steal because they offer all the essentials for a great walking boot. Completely waterproof, classically styled, surprisingly comfortable and hard wearing with a great grip. What more could you ask for? As always, Hi-Tec delivers the basics and delivers them very well with a philosophy of best price for best performance.
Best Performance: Salomon Cosmic 4D GTX
You really can’t fault a walking boot that feels like your favourite trainers for comfort and support. Fortunately the Salomon Cosmic 4D GTX is incredibly hard wearing, offers exceptional grip, waterproof protection and breathability. It’s the full package and while it’s one of the most expensive walking boots on the market, you can really see why when you try a pair on. An expensive, but very worthwhile long term investment if you enjoy walking in the great outdoors.
Best Looks: Brasher Hillwalker GTX
Smartly styled and understated, the Hillwalker GTX will instantly appeal to all fans of classic Brasher boots. Whatever the weather, it’s designed to be breathable, waterproof and lightweight while offering all kinds of cushioning inside the boot. Traditionalists will love it. Anyone looking for a smart, durable walking boot will appreciate it too.
So whatever your budget and wherever your walks may take you, our top 5 walking boots should have something for everyone.