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11 November 2021

Best walking boots 2021 – and the ones to choose if you’re on a budget

Our readers rate various footwear brands from Timberland to Merrell and Berghaus to Mountain Warehouse
LB
Lauren Bell

Whether you’re heading out for a country stroll or a mountainous hike, a pair of sturdy walking boots will protect ankles from sprains, provide grip on all terrains and keep feet dry.

A great pair of walking boots will keep you comfy and go the distance, too. However, not all brands are up to the challenge. We asked Which? members to rate walking boots they’d owned and 3,118 of you responded. 

According to the survey results, some of the most famous brands didn’t live up to their names. Several scored just two or three stars out of five for comfort, flexibility and even water resistance – and nobody wants a soggy shoe. Meanwhile some lesser-known labels climbed the ranks.

In other words, opting for popular brands doesn’t always ensure you’ll get a brilliant set of boots – and neither does splashing out, it seems. While two of the more expensive boot brands did find themselves at the head of the table, several cheaper options weren’t too far behind. 

So whether you’ve got a big budget and are keen to make a long-term investment, or you’re hoping to pick up boots at a price that won’t dent your bank balance too heavily, we’ve outlined the best options below, plus the ones to steer clear of, according to Which? readers. 

We’ve linked to the homepages of all decently rated brands in the top 12, or to a well-rated shop that sells its products. Read more about best and worst shops .

Best and worst walking boots 

Walking boot brandCustomer score
Average price paidBreathabilityComfortDurabilityFitShock absorptionFlexibilityGripWater resistanceValue for money
Zamberlan90%
£142
Altberg89%
£170
Grisport85%
£88-
-
---
Scarpa85%
£132
Meindl84%
£149
Timberland84%
£97
Berghaus82%
£105

Using the table

  • Survey (conducted in March and April 2021) is based on data from 3,118 Which? members who own walking boots bought since 2016. 
  • A ‘-’ = there isn’t enough data. 
  • Average price paid is based on the mean amount members paid for their footwear. 
  • Customer score is based on satisfaction and whether members would recommend the brand.

Best walking boot brands

Zamberlan

Zamberlan topped our walking boots survey. The brand was founded near the Piccole Dolomiti (Little Dolomites) mountain range in northern Italy and, according to its customers, its boots would stand up to alpine terrain. Zamberlan’s boots, including many made from Italian leather, get the full five stars for comfort, durability, fit and water resistance. 

According to one Zamberlan customer, the boots are ‘perfect for extreme weather’. You can normally buy them on the Zamberlan website, but the brand has temporarily suspended shipping to the UK. Meanwhile, you can find them via specialist retailers or Which? Recommended Provider: Cotswold Outdoor.

Verdict: Not cheap, but seemingly indestructible. You won’t find better walking boots than these.

Shop Zamberlan boots at Cotswold Outdoor

Browse Zamberlan walking boots on the Zamberlan website

Altberg 

Altberg is another top-scoring boot brand from our survey. Its roots were laid in Richmond, North Yorkshire, in 1989 and its factory is still there today – as well as a second in Italy. The boots are handmade and the fit is something members seemed to like, awarding Altberg the full five stars in this category. Survey respondents loved that they could buy boots in half sizes, as well as various widths - suiting those with both wide and narrow feet. 

It doesn’t just perform well in this area though. Altberg gained four or five stars in every category, from comfort to breathability and water resistance. It even scored four out of five for value for money, which considering the price point (an average of £170 per pair), is impressive.

Verdict: Expensive boots that are worth every penny

You cannot buy these boots direct, but you can find stockists via Altberg's website 


Looking for a decent waterproof jacket for your next hike too? Take a look at the results from our best waterproof jackets survey to find a well-rated one


Best cheap walking boots

walking boots

Grisport

If your budget rules out Zamberlan and Altberg, Grisport is an excellent alternative. Like Zamberlan, the brand is based at the foot of the Dolomites, where robust footwear is essential. The brand gets four stars for comfort, flexibility and fit, so you needn’t worry about hobbling home with blistered feet. It only gets three stars for shock absorption, however, so there are better options for hardcore mountaineering. 

Verdict: Another fine Italian choice

Shop Grisport walking boots direct

Timberland

Timberland boots are worth checking out if you’re on a two-figure budget. The brand gets the maximum five-star rating for durability, so they shouldn’t wear out easily. Several survey respondents commented on how comfortable Timberland boots are too. One said: ‘Very comfortable and about as light as you could get with real support.’ 

Verdict: Budget-friendly boots that won’t weigh you down

Shop Timberland walking boots direct

Shop Timberland walking boots at John Lewis


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Best cheap walking boots under £70

Clarks

Survey respondents praised Clarks’ walking boots highly, awarding them four stars in various areas, including water resistance, fit and breathability. On average, members paid £69 for their footwear – so it’s no wonder the brand was also well-rated in the value-for-money category. When asked what they liked about their boots, most commented on how comfy they are, and the brand scored four stars in this area.. The high street store did gain just three out of five in areas such as shock absorption and durability however, so for more serious hikers, you may want to shop around.

Verdict: Great value for money

Shop Clarks walking boots direct 

Shop Clarks walking boots at John Lewis

Other walking boot brands that performed well in score order

person wearing walking boots

Brands to avoid

Cotton Traders

Cotton Traders performed least well of all boot brands featured in our survey and left our members unimpressed. It scored just two out of five stars in every category (where enough data was collected), except value for money, where it gained an extra star. At £37 on average per pair – the cheapest in our survey – this seems to be a case of ‘you get what you pay for’.

Verdict: Very cheap, but not quite so cheerful

Mountain Warehouse

According to our survey, Mountain Warehouse boots are a poor choice even for walking over gentle lowlands, never mind treacherous mountain terrain. Awarded just two stars for water resistance, readers think you can’t count on Mountain Warehouse boots to stop your toes from getting damp. And with three stars in most other categories, its boots could still spoil your stroll on a dry day. 

Verdict: With poor water resistance and fit, Mountain Warehouse walking boots should be avoided

Choosing the best walking boots: what to consider

Laces

Don’t let fiddly laces or ones that constantly come undone put you off an otherwise good pair of walking boots. Most retailers that sell walking boots will also stock spare laces, which you might prefer to the ones that come with the boots. You can also get spares online.

Ankle support

Walking boots should protect you from sprains. When trying on a pair, you should gently flex your ankle to test the support – the best boots are neither too rigid nor too loose.

Fit

Walking boots are harder to break in than walking shoes. Don’t assume that they will eventually adapt to your feet; the fit should be right before you leave the shop.

Weight

Walking boots can be heavy, and will get even heavier when wet. So it’s essential to think about this when trying them on; especially if you’re planning on wearing them over long distances.