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Which? reveals the best walking boots

Which hiking boots are best buys?


There’s no need to pay top dollar to get durable, comfortable, high-performing walking boots, according to the latest test reviews from Which?.

Whether you’re planning a hiking holiday or just going for a half-day ramble, it’s important to invest some time and money in finding the right walking boots. But the Which? Test Lab has found that the best-performing models cost £100 or less, while those costing up to £160 scored less well.

Boot tests – the Which? way

Which? tested 11 of the bestselling hiking boots in the UK. The models tested were three-season men’s boots, though each model has a female equivalent. At the Test Lab, soles were ripped off, worn down, flexed on a revolving belt and dunked in water tanks – testing them to industry standards.

Meanwhile, to test how comfortable they were, six hiking experts ensured the same boot models pounded at least 36 miles over the rocky and muddy terrain of the Lake District.

Best buy hiking boots

Berghaus Explorer Light

Berghaus Explorer Light

The table below shows the test results for all 11 models. Lightweight boots fared well overall and the top scorer was the Berghaus Explorer Light, a favourite of the expert walkers, with good grip and a better resistance to wearing down of the sole than the other boots.

The all-leather Hi-Tec V-Lite Altitude Ultra Luxe also scored highly for comfort, and its use of Ion-Mask nano technology ensured that it let in no water in the waterproof test.

Launched in 2009, the well-cushioned Brasher Lithium GTX also kept out water in Which? tests and walkers found the boot snug and supportive, yet flexible.

The lightweight Salomon 3D Fastpacker Mid GTX proved to be durable, very flexible, waterproof and breathable in the lab tests, though the walking experts were less impressed, saying they would want better ankle support, grip and cushioning.

Results of our lab and user tests

Walking boots reviewed
Model Price Waterproof levels Breathability Grip Shock Absorption Expert user trial assessment Adhesion and abrasion Total score
Berghaus Explorer Lighta (Best Buy) £100 satisfactory poor good satisfactory excellent excellent 72%
Hi-Tec V-Lite Altitude Ultra Luxeb (Best Buy) £100 excellent poor good good excellent satisfactory 71%
Brasher Lithium GTXc (Best Buy) £90 excellent poor satisfactory good good good 70%
Salomon 3D Fastpacker Mid GTXd (Best Buy) £115 excellent good good good satisfactory excellent 70%
Brasher Hillmaster GTX £125 excellent poor satisfactory very poor excellent good 68%
Mammut Mt Trail GTX £160 excellent satisfactory poor satisfactory good satisfactory 63%
Meindl Softline Ultra GTX £145 excellent excellent excellent satisfactory satisfactory satisfactory 63%
Hi-Tec V-Lite Fasthike Mid WP £50 good poor satisfactory good excellent poor 61%
Scarpa ZG65 XCR £125 satisfactory poor good satisfactory satisfactory good 59%
Karrimor Penrith eVent £75 excellent satisfactory satisfactory satisfactory satisfactory satisfactory 56%
Scarpa Ranger £140 excellent satisfactory good satisfactory poor satisfactory 53%

Full features table

Table notes

  1. Available at Blacks, Millets, Oswald Bailey
  2. Available at Cotswold Outdoor, Go Outdoors, Millets, Tiso, Yeomans
  3. Available at Blacks, Field & Trek
  4. Available at Blacks, Field and Trek, Go Outdoors

Star ratings are out of five.

Price Prices given are for the lowest, widely available high street price we found at time of writing, including sale prices.
Waterproof levels How resistant the boots were to ingress of water when partially immersed in a water tank for seven and a half hours and flexed. Five-star rating means no water entered the boot.
Breathability How well the uppers (and any waterproof lining) allowed perspiration to escape (a process known as wicking), and how well the insoles absorbed moisture and then dried out.
Grip How well the boots resisted slipping on sandstone at the heel going uphill and front of the sole going uphill and downhill, in wet and dry conditions.
Shock absorption How well the boots absorbed impact at the front of the sole and on the heel.
Expert assessment This overall user trial rating is based mainly on comfort, but also on the boots’ grip, support and build.
Durability Our abrasion tests measured how well the soles resisted wear, while the adhesion tests involved seeing how securely the various boot materials were attached to each other.
Score Ignores price and is based on:
Lab performance 45% Expert assessment 35% Durability 20% 

Which? Holiday

Which?Holiday April 2010

A full report on the tests we carried out is published in the April 2010 issue of Which? Holiday magazine. 

With four issues a year, the magazine provides comprehensive, unbiased advice on booking and going on holidays and short breaks. Members can also call the Which? Legal Service for free to discuss any holiday-related problem.

In April’s issue, we also offer 10 tips for UK days out, suggest how to have a money-saving city break in Rome, and take to the great outdoors with reports on cycling holidays, lakes and mountains and the USA Canyons. 

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