5 Of The Best... Trail Shoes reviewed (2019)

A good alternative to boots when hillwalking and trekking on easier paths, trail shoes are also ideal for post-hike activities around the campsite and bar!

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What to look for

Upper

A leather upper made with minimal stitching will last for many years if cared for well, and will probably outlast the grip on the sole. Conversely, an upper that is made from lots of layers of synthetic fabric, mesh and thin strips of suede leather is unlikely to be as durable and can be slow-drying. But mesh and synthetic uppers are lighter and lower in price than leather and may be more comfortable straight from the box. Some newer synthetic uppers also allow bonding and welding techniques that improve durability and flexibility while reducing weight. Rubber rands may be used to increase durability at the toe or all around the upper.

Weight

Trail shoes are often chosen in preference to boots because they are lighter. However, the lighter the shoe the less support it may provide and the less durable it may be. Equally a lighter shoe may lack cushioning or support, making it more tiring to wear on more uneven ground.

Toe Box

To protect the foot from stray boulders a stiffened toe box is important. You can test this by pressing the top of the area where your toes will be in the boot with your thumb, and then judging if it is stiff enough to provide protection.

Heel counter

Pinch the heel of the shoe between thumb and fingers to test how supportive it will be for your foot. Support in this area is important for moving over uneven ground to help stabilise the foot.

Midsole Flex

Grab the shoe by the toe and heel, and bend them together to test longitudinal stiffness then twist the sole to test lateral stiffness. It is a matter of personal choice but generally a more flexible sole is better for comfort on level ground and for moving fast, while a stiffer sole is more comfortable on rockier ground and also allows a more precise use of small footholds when scrambling over rockier ground.

Outsole

Look for lugs that are well-spaced and deep so they can provide a good grip without easily clogging with mud and without wearing away too rapidly. A deep heel breast (the step between the heel and midfoot area of the sole unit) is vital for providing braking power in descents.


Oboz Firebrand II Low Waterproof £125

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  • Men’s 7-13

  • Women’s n/a

  • Weight 1150g (size 11 pair)

It’s good

Oboz has rapidly clawed a foothold into the trail shoe market and the Firebrand, like many of its other shoes, has a very aggressive outsole lug pattern for grip in soft terrain. But importantly it also has great stiffness to resist pressure from jagged rocks underfoot. There is a heel breast for more grip, and good toe-to-heel and lateral stiffness to make scrambling over rocks secure. The upper is a durable design with a stiffened toe box and stiffened heel cup, plus an additional rubber rand for more durability. A BDry waterproof lining keeps feet dry, while the nubuck leather and synthetic textile upper keeps grit at bay. This shoe has a precise and neat fit.

However

There is no direct equivalent of this shoe for women but the Sawtooth (£100) and Bridger Low (£130) both offer ideal female-fit alternatives. The Bridger Low also has less synthetic material on the upper and even deeper sole lugs for better grip. The Firebrand is quite a robust and supportive shoe, so if you want something more flexible then others are better. Also for dedicated scrambling a shoe with a more precise toe design and stiffer sole at the toe would be better. You can get lighter shoes too, of course, and pay less if needed. But this is a great choice for general moorland, fell and hill path walking, and it’s hard to find drawbacks for that type of use.

Verdict

A robust, supportive shoe with a great sole for a wide variety of general path, hill and mountain terrain, but others are still better for specific needs.

  • Features 5/5

  • Fit 4/5

  • Comfort 5/5

  • In use 4/5

  • Value for money 4/5

  • OVERALL SCORE 88%

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Inov-8 Roclite 275 £130

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  • Men’s 6-14

  • Women’s 3-10

  • Weight 672g (size 11)

It’s good

Yes, the weight is correct! These are around half the weight of some other shoes, which means less effort to lift them with every step. They also have a unique sole unit for grip, with not only a set of well-spaced, deep lugs but also the rubber is impregnated with graphene, a superbly hard and therefore durable material that should mean these maintain better grip than other rubbers for longer. The upper has mesh for more breathability, and as bonding techniques are used rather than stitched overlays of materials in many areas there is more durability here than some mesh shoes offer. The toe box and heel are also reinforced. The sole and upper are both very flexible, making them ideal for fast movement and very comfortable on grass or level terrain.

However

While there is lots of flexibility your foot has to work harder when crossing more uneven terrain. Some people will like this flexible design, while others will want a more supportive shoe to limit foot stress. Also this won’t be as durable as other shoes if you do take it onto really rough ground, as the mesh won’t withstand abrasion as well as a non-mesh synthetic or leather material. There is no waterproof lining either, although that does mean once water enters it can quickly be squeezed out and the shoe is faster to dry. The similar Roclite 315 GTX (£145) is a good waterproof version.

Verdict

Lightweight shoe with a studded sole that’s ideal for those wanting to travel super-light, but heavier shoes have benefits.

  • Features 4/5

  • Fit 5/5

  • Comfort 4/5

  • In use 4/5

  • Value for money 4/5

  • OVERALL SCORE 84%


Salomon X Ultra 3 GTX £130

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  • Men’s 6.5-13.5

  • Women’s 3.5-10.5

  • Weight 882g (size 11)

It’s good

This is a well-proven, relatively lightweight all-rounder for general use on the hills. It has a sole unit with deep, well-spaced lugs for grip on mud and grass. There is some good toe-to-heel and lateral stiffness in the sole, so walking on paths of jagged rocks is not too uncomfortable but you also get a good toe flex to allow easier walking. The upper has a stiffened heel cup and stiffened toe box to protect the feet and a rubber toe cap for durability. The main part of the upper is a synthetic ‘Anti Debris’ tight mesh with synthetic textile overlays for durability. Gore-Tex keeps the water out. This shoe offers a good general fit, and feels great for paths and easier rough terrain.

However

As you would expect with any good all-rounder, a more dedicated shoe for some activities will be better in some areas. And yes, this is lightweight, but there are lighter shoes. Also, the sole unit does have great lugs and great stiffness but for lots of rocky ground use others are better still, as they have even stiffer soles and the feel of the rock under the foot is more precise to allow easier scrambling on smaller holds. Then there is the upper, as while it is great for general use on mountain terrain, something with a rubber rand would add even more durability. You can also, of course, spend less money.

Verdict

A great all-round trail shoe for hillgoers with a little bit of everything but without being overly dedicated to rock or fast action.

  • Features 5/5

  • Fit 5/5

  • Comfort 4/5

  • In use 4/5

  • Value for money 4/5

  • OVERALL SCORE 88%


Salewa Mountain Trainer GTX £160

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  • Men’s  6-13

  • Women’s 5-11

  • Weight 1270g (size 11)

It’s good

This is an extremely robust shoe for the roughest of terrain for those who really crave performance on rockier ground. It is built around an exceptionally stiff Vibram Alpine Approach sole unit with a very deep set of lugs and a deep heel breast, so grip on soft or loose ground is great. But also the toe is well-profiled, so you get a very precise feel to make finding and using small footholds easy when scrambling over rock. Use this on rocky paths, scree or via ferrata-style scrambles and it feels great, while its sole lugs are also ideal for mud and grass. The upper is a durable 1.6mm suede leather with a rubber rand and minimal stitching for durability, lots of support and a Gore-Tex waterproof lining.

However

All that support comes at a cost. Firstly this is quite a heavy shoe and all that stiffness means it is just not as comfortable when walking over easy, level paths as a bendy, lighter shoe. Also if you want to move fast, it feels too ‘clumpy’. The fit is quite neat and precise, which is ideal for those with narrow feet and those who need such a fit for scrambling; but you may want a baggier, broader fit for more comfort when walking or backpacking over level paths. Then there is the price tag, as you could buy a pair of boots for this sort of cash and here you are getting a shoe without an ankle cuff – albeit a superb shoe for rockier ground.

Verdict

If you want footwear with the performance of a mountain boot but in a shoe style, then this is it. But for easier terrain, others are better.

  • Features 5/5

  • Fit 5/5

  • Comfort 4/5

  • In use 4/5

  • Value for money 3/5

  • OVERALL SCORE 84%


AKU Tengu Low GTX £170

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  • Men’s 3-13

  • Women’s 3-9

  • Weight 1266g (size 11)

It’s good

This is a superb all-round walking shoe that manages to provide a range of benefits for a range of terrain. Firstly the outsole has deep, widely spaced lugs and a proper heel breast, so grip on mud or loose paths is assured. There is also lots of stiffness toe-to-heel and laterally in the sole, which makes this great for rockier ground. The upper is made from synthetic Air8000 and suede without too much stitching. The upper is stiff to provide foot support on uneven ground and also it’s well-protected with a rubber rand for more durability. On the foot the fit is close but not restrictive at the toe, as there is a little more space in this area to allow for a natural walking action. On most terrain this feels ideal.

However

It is slightly more ‘clumpy’ on the foot than lighter, more flexible shoes, so on a level, smooth forest path it may feel more than you need. And if you want to move fast, it is just not flexible or springy enough underfoot. The toe is not quite as precise as more dedicated climbing or via ferrata shoes, so using this for smaller footholds is not quite the best. The weight is relatively high and the price is more than many shoes. You really need to decide if you need all that performance from the sole on rocky ground, as that is what you are paying for here, and while it’s ideal for rough terrain that may be more than you need for paths.

Verdict

Ideal for muddy paths, rocky walks and easy scrambles, but for fast and light action, easier terrain or technical scrambles, others have benefits.

  • Features 5/5

  • Fit 5/5

  • Comfort 4/5

  • In use 5/5

  • Value for money 3/5

  • OVERALL SCORE 98%

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5 of the best... 3-4 season boots reviewed (2018)

Stiff enough to wear with crampons on snow, yet flexible enough to be comfy below the snowline on scree, rock and mountain paths, 3-4 season boots are the most versatile you can buy. Let’s check out five of the best...


FIT

No boot is worth having if it doesn’t fit your feet properly. The inside of the boot should be around 13-15mm longer than your foot, which you can gauge by putting on the boot without the laces tightened up and then placing your forefinger down the inside of the boot at the heel. The upper should be snug and comfortable across the foot. Better outdoor stores will measure your feet and match you to the correct footwear.

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ANKLE CUFF

The ankle cuff helps prevent mud and grit from entering the boot. It also protects the ankle against scrapes on rocks. Stiffness in the ankle cuff reduces the strain on the ankle on slopes and scrambling by adding extra support, which makes it less tiring to wear on rockier ground or snow. But on easier ground, smooth paths and moorland, ankle support is less important. Some also prefer the freedom and easier ankle movement of boots with lower or softer ankle cuffs.

DURABILITY

If you want your boots to last as long as possible, look for uppers with minimal stitching and a rubber rand at the toe box. For maximum durability look for a rubber rand that encloses the whole boot. Durable designs are most important for those regularly heading out onto rockier ground and ice-covered mountains, but less important if you walk less often in the hills or tend to stick to paths or moorland walks.

CRAMPON COMPATIBILITY

Not all boots are designed to be used with crampons, due to the stiffness of the sole and flexibility of the upper. Crampons are not generally recommended for 3-season boots, but flexible crampons rated as C1 can be fitted to 3-4 season boots, while stiffer crampons rated as C2 can be fitted to 4-season boots.

MIDSOLE STIFFNESS

Grab the boot by the toe and heel and bend the toe towards the heel, then twist the toe while holding the heel stationary. The harder it is to bend the boot in these two directions, the stiffer the midsole is and the better the boot will perform on snow and ice, and be compatible with crampons.

OUTSOLE LUGS

Deep, widely-spaced lugs will bite into soft mud and snow without clogging, while also providing many years of wear before they are too shallow to give a good grip on soft ground. A heel breast between the forefoot lugs and heel of the sole adds valuable braking power on descents.


Asolo Lagazuoi £210

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  • Men’s 6-13

  • Women’s 4-9

  • Weight 1722g (size 11)

It's good

This is a very well-priced boot for what you get, and it’s also lighter than others. The upper is 2.2-2.4mm nubuck leather with a Gore-Tex waterproof lining, and this is protected by a full rubber rand for more durability. Underfoot you get a Vibram sole unit with deep, well- spaced lugs and a deep heel breast for grip in soft terrain. Sole stiffness is also good both laterally and toe-to-heel, so this makes the boot great for scrambles and edging on snow. The ankle cuff is slightly softer than some other boots, so you get slightly more comfort when walking below the snowline than stiffer boots. So all that for less cash and less weight is pretty impressive.

However

Both the upper and ankle cuff are a little softer than on other boots, and this means your foot has to work a little harder on more uneven terrain, but of course this is not a drawback on easier ground. Some boots have a little less stitching on the upper and it is likely that they will be more durable in the long-term, so really hard users may benefit from looking elsewhere. The toe box is quite narrow and shallow, and while this fitted my narrow, pointy feet well, and felt great for scrambling, those with wider feet may feel this is too restrictive.

Verdict

A relatively low-weight and low-priced boot that offers great 3-4 season performance, with only small benefits available to those that spend more.

  • Features

  • Fit

  • Comfort

  • In use

  • Value for money

  • OVERALL SCORE

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Alt-Berg Mallerstang £215

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  • Men’s 5-14, with five width fittings

  • Women’s n/a

  • Weight 1982g (size 11)

It's good

The size range and width fitting options set this boot apart from many, so this is a great option if you are struggling with fit. It’s a classic design using 3mm-thick leather that is virtually stitch-free, so there is little chance of water getting in or abrasion having too much impact. However, you do also get a Sympatex waterproof lining to manage any leaks. The outsole sports an exceptionally deep set of lugs and towering heel breast, making this ideal for getting grip in scree, snow or mud. The sole is well stiffened too, so again it is great on more challenging terrain. To allow easier walking the toe does flex more easily than some.

However

There is no women’s version, although the size range and width options mean there is a good chance this will fit many women. You don’t get a full rubber rand, so really hard users may prefer others for even more durability. Although the weight is similar to others, this does feel a little less precise on the foot when scrambling, and the foot feels further from the holds too, so others are nicer for delicate footwork. That slightly soft toe flex also means this is not quite as good as others for edging on snow or rock steps. A great boot for rough terrain though.

Verdict

The width fitting options and the stable performance on rough ground put this boot a step ahead, but others are better for more precise footwork.

  • Features

  • Fit

  • Comfort

  • In use

  • Value for money

  • OVERALL SCORE


Zamberlan Vioz Plus GTX £240

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  • Men’s 37-49

  • Women’s n/a

  • Weight 2040g (size 46)

It's good

Designed with a wide last, so it should fit those with wider feet better than some other designs. The boot features a very robust Hydrobloc waxed full grain leather upper, which offers plenty of durability and weather protection. You also get a Gore-Tex waterproof lining and a wide rubber rand for even more protection. The outsole is a Vibram unit with very deep and widely-spaced lugs that are great for biting into soft ground. Lateral stiffness of the sole is good, making this great for scrambles, scree and edging on snow. But you also get a little more softness during forward flexing, which will suit those looking for more comfort below the snowline.

However

That softer forward flex means you have to work a little harder on scrambles or snow slopes than slightly stiffer and more supportive boots. Also the forefoot and toe don’t feel quite as precise as some other models, so while good for easier scrambles, others are nicer when the holds need a little more careful foot placement. It is slightly heavier than some boots that are stiffer, and when this is added to the other drawbacks it just feels slightly less precise. There is no women’s version either.

Verdict

A great mountain walking and backpacking boot for rough terrain and easier snow slopes, but others are slightly better on more technical ground.

  • Features

  • Fit

  • Comfort

  • In use

  • Value for money

  • OVERALL SCORE


Scarpa SL Activ £250

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  • Men’s 41-50

  • Women’s n/a

  • Weight 1918g (size 46)

It's good

For its 80th anniversary, Scarpa has produced the ninth version of the SL. This latest makeover brings a closer heel hold and a leather lining inside the ankle cuff, as well as some weight shaving. The weight reduction comes from the use of a new mono-density outsole for more cushioning underfoot. The upper is still a supportive leather design, but with little extra forward flex at the top of the ankle cuff thanks to two fingers of leather rather than a solid panel. Lacing eyelets have been upgraded too. You still get great stiffness and support for years of durability in this boot.

However

Female hillwalkers still have to look for other Scarpa boots to meet their B1 needs, such as the Marmolada Pro at £235, which may favour some users as it does have a waterproof lining, which is something the Scarpa SL cannot claim. However leaks are few, as there is barely a stitch to allow water through and if treated, the thick leather will fend off water easily. The weight has come down but there are still lighter boots, though those generally don’t provide the durability or support of the SL. Others can be yours for less cash, but they don’t always offer the benefits of the SL.

Verdict

The birthday boy gets another welcome makeover, which should ensure the SL maintains its popularity. But still nothing for the girls...

  • Features

  • Fit

  • Comfort

  • In use

  • Value for money

  • OVERALL SCORE

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Salewa Raven 2 £250

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  • Men’s 6-13

  • Women’s 3-9

  • Weight 1866g (size 46)

It's good

This is lighter than other boots with its support, but you still get plenty of stiffness in the sole to allow it to perform really well when scrambling or edging on snow slopes. The ankle cuff is a little more supportive than others too, so again this is great when tackling slopes or scrambling up rock. The very deep lugs are well spaced to bite into softer ground, gravel and scree. The fit is slightly unusual as it is quite broad in the forefoot and very close around the heel and ankle cuff, and then you get a choice of footbeds to refine the volume. The upper has a full rubber rand for protection and a Gore-Tex waterproof lining.

However

The upper has some exposed seams and softer materials. This may be the weak point in the design if this boot is used too much on the kind of rough terrain on which it excels in many other ways. The ankle cuff is also higher than others, which makes it superb for more technical ground but when walking up snowy Munros you may value just a little more freedom of movement in this area. The upper materials tend to bunch up at the lower eyelets and this area may more easily allow grit and abrasion to take their toll. These are all tiny points but at this price point they are worth considering.

Verdict

A lighter 3-4 season boot with a more supportive ankle cuff, though durability of the upper could be a potential drawback for harder users.

  • Features

  • Fit

  • Comfort

  • In use

  • Value for money

  • OVERALL SCORE


For the latest reviews - including extra photos and products that won't appear online - 
pick up a copy of the current issue of Trail magazine!


Test of the Best: 3-Season Walking boots review (2018)


Is it worth paying more for a top quality 3-season boot? We reviewed boots with price tags from £175 to £250 to find what benefits they offer.

Ankle Cuff

To reduce weight and price of footwear the ankle cuff may be cut quite low in some boots. However, this can be a false economy, as a lower ankle cuff more easily allows water, mud and debris to enter the boot while also providing less ankle support to the foot, which means your foot has to work harder on more uneven ground.

Upper

A traditional leather upper, made with minimal stitching, will last for many years if cared for well – and will probably outlast the grip on the sole. Conversely, an upper that is made of lots of synthetic fabric, mesh and thin strips of suede leather is unlikely to be as durable– due to extra stitching – and often tends to be slow drying.

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Midsole Flex

Grab the boot by the toe and heel and bend them together to test longitudinal stiffness, and then twist the sole to test lateral stiffness. A more flexible sole flex is better for comfort on level ground, while a stiffer sole flex is more comfortable on rockier ground and also allows a more precise use of small footholds when scrambling over rockier ground.

Toe Box

To protect the foot from stray boulders, a stiffened toe box is important. You can test this by pressing the top of the area where your toes will be in the boot.

Rand

To enhance durability on rockier ground, a rubber rand may be added at the toe. On the most durable designs, this rubber rand extends around the whole of the boot, between the sole and the upper.

Outsole

Well-spaced deep lugs can bite into soft ground without clogging. A deep heel breast – the step between the heel and midfoot area of the sole unit – is vital for providing braking power in descents.


Salewa Mountain Trainer Mid GTX £190

  • Men’s 7-13
  • Women’s 4-9
  • Weight 1584g (size 11 pair) 

It's good

This boot is lighter than most others in this category and has a little more flexibility in the ankle cuff and sole unit too, which adds up to this being better than many others here for walking. The upper is made from suede leather, with some synthetic materials in the tongue, there’s a Gore-Tex waterproof lining inside and a full rubber rand on the outside to increase durability. Underfoot, you get a very aggressive sole with a good heel breast and deep lugs. On the foot, this feels great as the ankle cuff and softer sole flex all make walking very comfortable. But the sole has good lateral stiffness too, so it scrambles well on easier rocky routes.

However

The Salewa’s upper is quite soft and flexible, so this forces your foot to work a little harder on more uneven terrain – which may take some getting used to. Stray boulders impacting the top of the foot are more noticeable in this boot compared to one with a stiffer upper. The fabric tongue, and the upper in general, may also wear out sooner on rockier ground than boots with leather in this area or with less stitching. So, for me, this boot is probably best used for general trekking here in the UK or abroad, over a range of path types, rather than too much dedicated use on very rocky ground.

Verdict

An interesting mix of a very good sole unit for mixed path use, as well as a softer and more flexible upper for comfort when walking.

  • Features 4/5
  • Fit 5/5
  • Comfort 5/5
  • In use 4/5
  • Value for money 4/5
  • OVERALL SCORE 88%

Asolo Greenwood GV £190

  • Men’s 6-13.5
  • Women’s 3.5-9
  • Weight 1514g (size 11 pair) 

It's good

New for 2018, this boot replaces the popular Asolo Tribe. First, check out the weight, as this boot is lighter than most at this price point. The upper is made from Perwanger leather, with minimal stitching, and there is a Gore-Tex waterproof lining. There is a rubber rand at the toe and good stiffness in the upper for general hill and mountain walking. The outsole is an Asolo Vibram Duo Radiant design with a very deep heel breast and good sole lugs for softer ground. On the foot, this boot feels noticeably lighter and more dexterous than others, and easier to place on small footholds when scrambling. The toe-to-heel flex is good and this feels good for walking.

However

The toe area is slightly narrower than some, which is great when scrambling, but you may want a little more room here. If I was being picky, I would say some higher-priced boots flex slightly more smoothly across the forefoot area, but this is a tiny difference. Higher-priced boots do often have a full rubber rand and the upper on some other boots is softer against the foot, too. So, this boot may lose out on overall comfort, and potentially on durability, but it’s a small drawback when you look at the price and weight benefit. For most British hill and mountain walkers I think this offers an excellent package of benefits. 

Verdict

The weight and performance is very good for general hillwalking. So, at this price point, it is a superb option but pay more and there may be additional benefits.

  • Features 5/5
  • Fit 5/5
  • Comfort 4/5
  • In use 5/5
  • Value for money 4/5
  • OVERALL SCORE 92%
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Mammut Trovat Advanced High GTX £199

  • Men’s 7-12
  • Women’s 4-8.5
  • Weight 1776g (size 11 pair) 

It's good

A well-established boot that for has provided the right goods for hillwalking over rougher terrain for some years. The upper is nubuck leather with a Gore-Tex waterproof lining and this is well stiffened for support and protection on rougher rocky ground. A rubber rand at the toe and heel adds further durability. The outsole is Vibram with a good set of deep lugs and a heel breast. On the foot, this has a closer fit around the toe than others and it feels quite good for scrambling. The ankle cuff is a little stiffer than on other boots too, so it feels more supportive on scree slopes. So a good boot for scree and rougher terrain.

However

Some others are lighter, have a slightly smoother roll when walking and feel a little more dexterous when scrambling, giving this a slightly clumpier feel on the foot by comparison. Also the toe area is offering a slightly closer fit around the foot, so some wider-footed people may prefer those with more space in this area particularly for walking rather than scrambling. Some higher-priced models have a full rubber rand and less stitching on the upper, which may promote even more durability for the hardiest of users. Mammut does offer the excellent Trovat Guide High (£219), with a full rubber rand, but also more sole stiffness. All in all, there’s not a lot wrong here, but there are some small details to consider.

Verdict

Solid performance on rock and scree mountain terrain, but lighter and more flexible boots are available.

  • Features 5/5
  • Fit 5/5
  • Comfort 4/5
  • In use 4/5
  • Value for money 3/5
  • OVERALL SCORE 84%

La Sportiva Trango Trek Leather £200

  • Men’s 41-48
  • Women’s 37-42
  • Weight 1714g (size 11 pair) 

It's good

A unique welded upper construction keeps weight down and, potentially, durability up. There is a Gore-Tex waterproof lining and a rubber rand at the toe for durability. The sole unit is a very stiff Vibram Mulaz unit with very deep lugs and an aggressive heel breast, so this is great for grip in mud and softer terrain. The ankle cuff benefits from an exceptionally soft forward and lateral flex compared to others, which makes walking far more comfortable and scrambling easier. The close-fitting toe area is particularly good for scrambling, as it allows more precise foot placement and, when combined with the stiff sole and easy ankle movement, this is great when used on rocky via ferrata-style terrain.

However

The toe box is a little snug, so broad-footed hillwalkers – or those that just like more wiggle room – may prefer different boots. The outsole is pretty stiff, and while this is great on rockier ground, if you are walking on easier terrain then a more bendy boot will suit you better – with the additional benefit of less weight and a lower price. One slight concern is that the fabric tongue extends to the toe, so this area may be less durable compared to other boots when used on scree and rock regularly. Some people may also prefer a stiffer lateral flex in the ankle area than is offered here. 

Verdict

Superb ankle flex, combined with a welded upper, make this boot ideal for rockier scrambles and via ferrata routes.

  • Features 5/5
  • Fit 5/5
  • Comfort 4/5
  • In use 4/5
  • Value for money 3/5
  • OVERALL SCORE 84%

Zamberlan 996 Vioz GTX £200

  • Men’s 38-49
  • Women’s 36-43
  • Weight 1756g (size 11 pair) 

It's good

This boot is stiffer than many others in this price range, making it particularly suitable for scrambles and rockier walks. The full-grain leather upper has minimal stitching for maximum durability and there is a Gore-Tex waterproof lining. The sole has good, well-spaced lugs for general walking, as well as a good heel breast for grips during descents. This is a stiff boot, but it still feels great when walking on the level, due to a curvature of the sole that allows a reasonably natural roll from heel to toe – while the ankle cuff flexes forward a little, too. This is superb for walking over typically rocky British mountains and ideal for scrambles, as it feels precise on the foot.

However

The toe is a little neater and closer fitting than on some boots, which is great for scrambling. But those who are more walking-oriented will probably prefer boots with a slightly wider toe area. There is no rubber rand, so those who want maximum durability for very regular jaunts onto rocks and scree may prefer others. These boots are slightly heavier than some others too – due to the extra stiffness. Of course, if you are not tackling rockier ground then boots with a softer ankle cuff and softer sole flex are all you need – with the benefit of less weight, a cheaper price tag and more comfort.

Verdict

Excellent boot for scrambling and rockier terrain, but it has no rubber rand and other boots are slightly better away from the rocks.

  • Features 5/5
  • Fit 5/5
  • Comfort 4/5
  • In use 5/5
  • Value for money 4/5
  • OVERALL SCORE 88%

Scarpa Trek GTX £200

  • Men’s 40-48
  • Women’s 36-42
  • Weight 1684g (size 11 pair) 

It's good

Built around a low-volume last for a closer fit, the Trek has a 1.8mm nubuck leather upper with minimal stitching on the outside to improve durability as well as a Gore-Tex waterproof lining inside to maintain dry feet. You get a rubber rand that fully encloses the boot, too. The sole is a Vibram Biometric Fly unit with deep, well-spaced lugs and a good heel breast. The sole flex between toe and heel is good for rockier ground, and the sole also resists pressure from jagged rocks well. We also liked the slightly more precise fit on this boot around the toe – it made scrambling a little easier and neater when placing the foot. 

However

This is not the lightest model around, so if you don’t need all that durability and stiffness you can definitely get lighter boots. Also, if you are not going to be heading onto rocky ground regularly you could choose a boot without a rubber rand, which would be lower in price and lighter. As with any boot that is stiff enough for rocky ground, if you walk on moors or paths then you will find boots with a softer flex more comfortable, of course, until you hit the rocks. So, something like a Scarpa Ranger at £180 may be all you need if you plan on backpacking over paths, rather than regularly clambering over rocks. 

Verdict

An excellent general-purpose hill and mountain trekking, and scrambling, boot that is great for regular use on rockier terrain.

  • Features 5/5
  • Fit 5/5
  • Comfort 5/5
  • In use 5/5
  • Value for money 3/5
  • OVERALL SCORE 92%
 

Alt-Berg Nordkapp £205

  • Men’s 4-14
  • Women’s none
  • Weight 1670g (size 11 pair) 

It's good

This boot has remained the same price for a couple of years now, which is impressive in the current climate. Equally impressive is the weight when you realise what you are getting. This boot has a nubuck leather upper, without much stitching, so durability is good. But you also get a full rubber rand for even more abrasion resistance and, inside, you get a Sympatex waterproof lining to ensure dry feet. The sole is a Vibram Masai unit with good lugs for grip. There is a nice rolling action on the foot, making easier ground comfortable, but also plenty of stiffness for rockier ground. This is great for tackling rockier routes on Lakeland fells, Scottish Munros and Welsh 3000ers. 

However

There is no women’s version,of this boot, but it does come in a good size range, from 4 to 14. While this boot does roll exceptionally well with the foot, from toe to heel, and the toe box is very spacious, it doesn’t feel quite as neat and precise as others might when scrambling over rock. So, if you’re planning to do a lot,of scrambling, these boots may not be,your best bet. While this is a relatively lightweight model, you could go for an,even lighter boot if you don’t really need the impressive stiffness and durability on offer here – and this would save you cash at the checkout, too. 

Verdict

Superb for general mountain walking over rockier ground with an excellent heel to toe rolling action, but others are more precise on scrambles.

  • Features 5/5
  • Fit 4/5
  • Comfort 4/5
  • In use 4/5
  • Value for money 3/5
  • OVERALL SCORE 80%

Meindhl Bhutan £210

  • Men’s 6-14
  • Women’s 3.5-9
  • Weight 1794g (size 11 pair) 

It's good

The Bhutan is a popular boot that replaced the classic Meindl Burma back in 2014. It is a very solid boot with a little more stiffness in the sole than some lower-priced options, making it better for rockier ground. The upper features nubuck leather, with Gore-Tex waterproof protection, and there is lots of padding inside for more comfort against the foot. A full rubber rand provides even more protection on scree and rockier routes. Underfoot, a Vibram sole, with deep lugs, and a good heel breast help keep a decent grip. This is a well-proven and very popular boot for regular trips to rockier British mountains. 

However

This boot is heavier than other others in this category and it also feels a little less precise and neat on the foot – so, when scrambling over rocks, it feels a bit more clumpy, in general, than some of its competitors. There is also slightly more stiffness in the sole than in other boots, here – which is great on rockier ground but, obviously, if you are tramping across moorland or sticking to well-trodden paths for the most part, a boot with a softer flex will provide all your needs. It would also give the benefit of less weight on the foot and be quite a bit cheaper. It’s still a great boot, but there are other models that are starting to show some desirable benefits.

Verdict

A popular boot for regular jaunts over rockier ground – but new trends towards lightness and dexterity are starting to challenge its dominance.

  • Features 5/5
  • Fit 5/5
  • Comfort 4/5
  • In use 4/5
  • Value for money 3/5
  • OVERALL SCORE 84%

Arc'teryx Bora Mid GTX £250

  • Men’s 6.5-13
  • Women’s 3.5-10
  • Weight 1376g (size 11 pair) 

It's good

Boot design is changing rapidly, with lower weights the norm and ankle cuff design becoming more and more flexible. The Bora Mid GTX pushes the term ‘lightweight’ to new levels, with this super-light boot. Inside, your foot sits within a Gore-Tex sock which is fixed to the outer shell, while the outside is made of synthetic PU-coated materials and features a rubber rand. The sole features Vibram for grip and the result is unparalleled forward flex and dexterity underfoot, but with the sort of performance you’d expect from, say, a boot priced at £175 or above. Very impressive. The outer is also very durable as there is no stitching, and the mesh and PU-coated materials feel very durable.

However

The toe box and sole flex are softer than other 3-season boots in this price band – and the sole flexes when standing on jagged rocks, so comfort is not ideal on rock. But the lateral stiffness is good, so it’s useful when scrambling. Compared to other boots, it doesn’t have the deepest sole lugs or most pronounced heel breast. Then there is that Gore-Tex sock liner – it is too early to say how durable it will prove to be, so the jury is out on that for the moment. Water can get between the liner and the shell easily, which feels cold, but it does pump out while walking. The price is painfully high though.

Verdict

The low weight, flexible ankle cuff and durable outer shell are major benefits, but the price and potential durability of the sock liner are concerns.

  • Features 5/5
  • Fit 5/5
  • Comfort 4/5
  • In use 4/5
  • Value for money 2/5
  • OVERALL SCORE 80%

Test of the best: 4-season walking boots

ANKLE CUFF
The ankle cuff helps prevent mud, snow and grit from entering the boot. It also protects the ankle against being scraped by rocks. The stiffness in the ankle cuff reduces the strain on the ankle when traversing slopes, by adding extra support, which makes it less tiring and easier to get a stable foothold, particularly on lower slopes.

MIDSOLE STIFFNESS
Grab the boot by the toe and heel and bend the toe towards the heel, then twist the toe while holding the heel stationary. The harder it is to bend the boot in these two directions, the better the boot will perform on snow and ice and be compatible with crampons. A 4-season boot will be almost totally rigid, a 3-season boot will be very bendy and a 3- 4-season boot will be somewhere between these extremes.

OUTSOLE LUGS
Deep, widely spaced lugs will bite into snow without clogging, while also providing many years of wear before they are too shallow to give a good grip.

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DURABILITY
As these boots are destined for the particularly challenging conditions of winter, they need to be durable, so look for uppers with minimal stitching and a rubber rand at the toe box. For maximum durability, look for a rubber rand that encloses the whole boot.

FIT
No boot is worth having if it does not fit. The inside of the boot should be 13-15mm longer than your foot, which you can gauge by putting on the boot without the laces tightened up and then placing your forefinger down the inside of the boot at the heel. Better outdoor stores will measure your feet. The upper should be snug and comfortable across the foot.

CRAMPON COMPATIBILITY
The 4-season boot is rated as B2, which means it is compatible with a C2 rated crampon (stiffer than a C1 crampon used with 3-4-season boots). To make it easier to fit crampons, 4-season boots may have a ledge at the heel that allows crampons with heel clips to be fitted. These are easier and quicker to fit than strap-on crampons, which is important in very cold conditions.


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Mammut Magic High GTX £230

  • Mens 6.5-13
  • Womens 4-9
  • Weight 1878g (size 11)

IT'S GOOD Compared to other 4-season boots, the price and weight are instantly more appealing. The upper is made with a mix of velour leather and synthetic textiles, with lots of stitching, but there is a full rubber rand for more durability and a Gore-Tex waterproof lining. The outsole is Vibram, with a good set of deep, well-spaced lugs. There is slightly more flex in the sole and ankle cuff than some boots, making this better for easier ground than pure mountaineering designs. The toe area feels reasonably precise for scrambling, but you also get a wider forefoot area, which makes this better for more general use. Better than most at this price.

HOWEVER The complex upper may be less durable than simpler designs with less stitching, although this will only be an issue for the hardest of mountain users. While this has a good weight, it does not feel quite as precise underfoot when scrambling as some heavier boots, which is due to it having more padding and a less precise fit to the upper, compared to others. As there is slightly more flex in the upper and sole than some designs, your foot has to work a little harder when traversing slopes or negotiating scrambles, so again this points this boot more toward general use than high grade mountaineering. 

VERDICT A very good all-round boot with a good weight and price that should be ideal for many, unless you really cannot live without specific benefits.

  • Features: 4/5
  • Fit: 5/5
  • Comfort: 4/5
  • In use: 4/5
  • Value for money: 4/5
  • OVERALL SCORE: 84%

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Asolo Elbrus GV £230

  • Mens 6-13
  • Womens 4.5-9
  • Weight 1802g (size 11)

IT'S GOOD The weight and price set this apart from other 4-season boots, but also you get some important performance benefits. Firstly, the upper does not have too many layers of material, with large panels of suede leather and synthetic Schoeller materials in use, while a full rubber rand adds further durability benefits. There is a Gore-Tex waterproof lining too. The outsole is a very aggressive Vibram unit with deep, widely spaced lugs and a good heel breast. This has a good general fit. The toe is slightly narrowed, to improve performance when scrambling over rock. The ankle cuff gently flexes to allow easier walking but it remains supportive. The outsole has a good rolling action. 

HOWEVER The foot does sit slightly higher from the ground than some higher priced designs, which means this does not feel quite as stable and precise on rockier ground, although this is probably only an issue for those needing the ultimate in performance. The synthetic materials around the ankle cuff may be less durable than other boots. If you want an out-and-out mountaineering design, then others are slightly better, and you can get a lighter mountaineering design if you have more cash. Hard to fault for general mountain walking in winter conditions, though. 

VERDICT Unless you need the absolute best performance, then this is a superbly priced boot for general winter mountain use, which is very difficult to improve upon.

  • Features: 5/5
  • Fit: 5/5
  • Comfort: 5/5
  • In use: 4/5
  • Value for money: 4/5
  • OVERALL SCORE: 92%

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Zamberlan 1000 Baltoro GTX £230

  • Mens 40-48
  • Womens none
  • Weight 1828g (size 11)

IT'S GOOD The weight and the price tag are both great and, for this, you get an upper that is primarily made from Hydrobloc Perwanger leather, with Cordura nylon in the tongue and ankle cuff areas. There is a Gore-Tex waterproof lining inside and a rubber rand at the toe and heel. The Vibram outsole has well-spaced lugs and a good heel breast. On the foot, the upper is noticeably stiffer than some, particularly around the ankle cuff, which is great for more uneven ground when more support is of benefit. The toe box is spacious and good for general mountain use. Overall, a good all-round performance. 

HOWEVER There is no women’s version of this boot. Also, the fit does feel less precise and neat on the foot, compared to higher-priced designs. While the stiffness on the ankle cuff, in particular, is a benefit on really rough ground due to its increased support, there is a less comfortable forward flex in the ankle cuff, which means this is not the best for comfort when walking on level ground. In terms of the sole, the lugs are not as deep as others, so this does not quite have the best grip on soft ground or snow when not wearing crampons. Others with a more narrow toe are also better for more precise climbing or mountaineering. Others get a full rubber rand for harder use. 

VERDICT A good price and weight for a general use mountain boot, but others are better for more natural walking on level ground and for climbing on more technical ground.

  • Features: 4/5
  • Fit: 3/5
  • Comfort: 5/5
  • In use: 4/5
  • Value for money: 4/5
  • OVERALL SCORE: 80%

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Hanwag Ferrata Combi GTX £235

  • Mens 6-13
  • Womens 3.5-9
  • Weight 1852g (size 11)

IT'S GOOD An appealing price tag and weight compared to other 4-season boots. The upper is made from Cordura synthetic textiles with leather overlays and a Gore-Tex waterproof lining as well as a full rubber rand for durability. The outsole is a Vibram Climbing II unit with well-spaced lugs that are slightly more shallow than some designs and there is a smooth climbing zone under the toe. The ankle cuff is slightly softer than some others for more comfort. On the foot this feels slightly more spacious than some designs, so good for general users and also the upper is slightly softer so again great for general use. Walking is reasonably natural in this boot although others have a slightly smooth rolling action from the sole. 

HOWEVER The outsole lugs are not the deepest, making this good for rocky ground, as you get a more precise feel from more shallow lugs, but less good on softer ground or snow, as the grip is not so great without crampons. The upper is softer throughout than others, which is great for use on easier ground, but this means it lacks a little support for more technical ground or traversing slopes. I do find that the tongue area is less well padded, so I had to be a little more careful with the lacing to prevent creating a firm spot on the top of my foot, something I did not have to be so careful about with other boots. 

VERDICT A relatively low priced and relatively low weight boot that is good for general use.

  • Features: 5/5
  • Fit: 5/5
  • Comfort: 4/5
  • In use: 4/5
  • Value for money: 4/5
  • OVERALL SCORE: 88%

Aku Tengu GTX £260

  • Mens 5-12
  • Womens none
  • Weight 1812g (size 11)

IT'S GOOD The upper is stiff and supportive and made from a nylon fabric with some small areas of suede leather and a full rubber rand for extra durability. There is a Gore-Tex waterproof lining on the inside. The outsole is a Vibram Curcuma unit, with deep and widely spaced lugs. This provides a good general fit, being neither too narrow nor too wide. The upper and ankle cuff are stiff and supportive, so again, great for general use. Toe flex is smooth and the ankle cuff flexed forward nicely to allow a reasonably natural walking for this category of boot. It is also pretty lightweight compared to other 4-season boots. The price is slightly less than some too. 

HOWEVER The good overall performance and features of this boot are let down by there not being a women’s specific option, but at least the unisex size range does extend down to size 5, so some women may find this boot does fit them. The upper is made from nylon, rather than a thicker and more durable leather, so really hard users may want to consider other models. While great for general mountain use, others are better for more the precise footwork needed for more technical climbing or scrambling on harder grades of rock. Some boots have a little more padding and softer flex at the ankle cuff for more comfort, if that is your priority. 

VERDICT A great all-round mountain boot with a good weight and price to suit general users, but specific benefits are available in other boots.

  • Features: 4/5
  • Fit: 3/5
  • Comfort: 4/5
  • In use: 5/5
  • Value for money: 4/5
  • OVERALL SCORE: 84%

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Salewa Vulture Gore-Tex £270

  • Mens 6-13
  • Womens none
  • Weight 2012g (size 11)

IT'S GOOD This eye-catching design uses suede leather on the upper, with synthetic materials around the ankle cuff, as well as a Gore-Tex waterproof lining and a full rubber rand. The ankle cuff is lower than others and also more flexible. Underfoot, you get a Vibram sole unit with very deep lugs for biting into soft snow and there is a smooth climbing zone under the big toe for scrambling. To ensure a good fit, this boot comes with a choice of footbeds to manage the volume. On the foot, the toe feels slightly narrow and lower in volume than some, but it widens at the forefoot and the ankle cuff is very flexible in the forward flex when walking, as well as laterally. 

HOWEVER This is not available in a women’s specific size range. The ankle cuff is so flexible that this means your foot has to work harder on more uneven ground, as you are not getting the support from the boot, so this makes this more of a walking than a mountaineering design for me. But then, the narrow toe means it is not quite as comfortable as other more walking-orientated designs, but also it is not the most precise for scrambling either. So, overall this is great for walking over level snow and glaciers, but on ground when you need more support from the ankle cuff, or precision at the toe, it is not quite the best. 

VERDICT An unusual mix of features with the benefit of a more flexible ankle cuff and deep sole lugs that are great for walking over snow-covered mountains.

  • Features: 5/5
  • Fit: 3/5
  • Comfort: 4/5
  • In use: 3/5
  • Value for money: 3/5
  • OVERALL SCORE: 76%

La Sportiva Cube GTX £290

  • Mens 41-48
  • Womens none
  • Weight 1962g (size 11)

IT'S GOOD This is exceptionally lightweight for a 4-season boot, at just 1692g (size 46). It also features a unique seamless upper construction of abrasion-resistant nylon and a thermoplastic covering. Inside, you get Gore-Tex for waterproofness and there is a full rubber rand on the outside. The tongue is a softer and more flexible synthetic material, but overall this upper is very durable in design. The outsole is a unique Vibram Cube unit, with deep, widely spaced lugs, with a smooth climbing zone under the big toe. The fit is narrow and neat and, when combined with the low weight, this boot is ideal for scrambling and more technical ground, as well as walking in general. 

HOWEVER There are no women’s specific fit options here and the size range is relatively small. The fit is narrower than some, too, which may hinder those with wider feet. Also, the ankle cuff is lower and has less forward flex, which means walking is not quite so comfortable. There is also a little less cushioning around the foot in general compared to some, so this does not feel quite as comfortable as others in general. It’s not uncomfortable, it is just that others are more comfy. The price is still quite high compared to some options, but if you want that low weight, then these are the drawbacks you have to consider. 

VERDICT A very lightweight and durable boot, that is ideal for technical ground, but walkers may prefer the extra comfort on offer elsewhere.

  • Features: 5/5
  • Fit: 3/5
  • Comfort: 4/5
  • In use: 4/5
  • Value for money: 3/5
  • OVERALL SCORE: 76%

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Meindl Jorasse GTX £295

  • Mens 6-12
  • Womens 3.5-8
  • Weight 1858g (size 11)

IT'S GOOD The upper is a mix of leather and synthetic materials, with a Gore-Tex waterproof lining on the inside and a high rubber rand on the outside for extra durability. This boot has a double tongue design, for more comfort around the top of the foot and at the top of the ankle cuff a small additional elasticated cuff to lock out debris. The outsole is a Vibram unit with good well-spaced deep lugs and a substantial heelbreast. There is a little more volume around the foot than some others, to suit chunkier feet, and there is also more cushioning around the foot too, particularly under that double tongue. So, in terms of comfort this has a slight edge over some other designs. 

HOWEVER While this has a good weight, it feels slightly less precise on the foot, and slightly clumpy, which is not an issue for general walking, but is noticeable when more precise footwork is needed, such as when walking or scrambling over more uneven rocky ground with crampons. While this has a good weight, you can get even lighter designs and some boots have a lower price tag, but of course those boots may not have the extra comfort and space around the foot offered here. It is possible that boots with less layers of material and less stitching will be more durable on the feet of really hard users. 

VERDICT A great boot for mountain walks if you prefer a more spacious fit and more cushioning but it does feel slightly less precise on rocky steps.

  • Features: 5/5
  • Fit: 5/5
  • Comfort: 4/5
  • In use: 4/5
  • Value for money: 3/5
  • OVERALL SCORE: 88%

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Scarpa Manta Pro GTX £300

  • Mens 40-50
  • Womens 36-42
  • Weight 2074g (size 11)

IT'S GOOD Setting the standard of 4-season boots for British mountain use, the Manta Pro has a Gore-Tex waterproof lining that is protected by a stiff leather upper, with additional synthetic materials and a rubber rand. The ankle cuff is particularly comfortable and allows forward flex to allow easier walking, yet it still maintains lateral support. The Vibram sole has deep well-spaced lugs and a heel breast and, while it is fully stiffened, it also provides a reasonable forward roll for this class of boot, to make walking below the snow possible. The forefoot and toe area is slightly wider than some, more climbing-orientated, designs and this makes it great for general walking over snow and glaciers. 

HOWEVER If you are looking for a boot for mountaineering, where lots of precise toe placement is needed, then others are slightly better, owing to them having a more narrow toe, that allows more accurate placement of this area onto smaller footholds while climbing. In an ideal world, a little fewer layers of material and less stitching may be more durable for really hard users. Other boots are also slightly lighter but of course they may have additional drawbacks. Then there is the price tag, which is more than most but, on the bright side, the price has remained the same over the past couple of years. 

VERDICT For regular mountain walks in snow and ice the Manta Pro GTX remains the first choice but others do have benefits in more climbing focused situations.

  • Features: 5/5
  • Fit: 5/5
  • Comfort: 5/5
  • In use: 5/5
  • Value for money: 3/5
  • OVERALL SCORE: 92%