Best Waterproof Hiking Boots
Is there anything worse than bad hiking boots? Picture this, you’ve spent weeks looking forward to an epic hiking trip with your friends. You plan on spending 3 days hiking along the South West Coast Path, wild camping every night.
You take your boots out from under the stairs and examine them. They’re old and stained with mud. Ignoring the alarm bells, you head to the trail and meet your friends on a rainy departure day. Within an hour, you start to feel that cold patch spreading in your sock.
This is a scenario no one wants to find themselves in. Knowing your feet will be wet, cold, and uncomfortable for the next few days is an awful realisation. In this guide, you will learn how to avoid this situation. Here are some top tips for finding the best waterproof hiking boots.
Importance of Waterproof Hiking Boots
People often think that all hiking boots are waterproof. The reality is that leather boots are naturally waterproof, but synthetic boots are not. Synthetic/fabric boots actually have to be treated with a waterproof layer or impregnated with a waterproof membrane (think Gore-Tex).
In both cases, this waterproof layering wears out and boots need to be carefully maintained to stay water repellent. Without waterproof hiking boots, you can have a very uncomfortable trip. As the old hiker’s saying goes, look after your feet, and they’ll look after you.
Budget Waterproof Hiking Boots
Naturally, the cheapest hiking boots will have the lowest ability to repel water. Waterproofing in footwear doesn’t come cheap and many of the lower-end hiking boots will be water-resistant rather than water repellent.
Still, if you are on a budget, there are some options for you to make use of. The first option is to buy a standard pair of hiking boots from an outdoor store. Shops such as Cotswold Outdoor, Go Outdoors, Decathalon, and Millets all have cheap options.
You can then apply your own waterproofing treatment to the shoes after purchase to increase their water-repellent layer. find out more about waterproofing for hiking boots here.
Sports Direct, Clarks, Schuh, and other stores specialising in footwear may also have a good selection of budget hiking boots.
The Columbia Newton Ridge Plus Ii are a great pair of waterproof hiking boots. They’re spacious with a good grip and a reasonable waterproof layer. However, they can be a little clunky over certain surfaces and blisters are possible. RRP is anywhere from £60-100.
The Merrell Men’s Moab 2 LTR Mid GTX High Rise is another option for budget waterproof hiking boots. It is a lightweight and comfortable shoe ideal for trail hikers. There are two versions available, the shoe with a waterproof membrane, and a more expensive Gore-Tex version. RRP is £80-100.
Mid-Range Waterproof Hiking Boots
You can find mid-range waterproof hiking boots at many of these similar stores. Alternatively, you can go directly to specialist outdoor brands such as Scarpa, Salomon, Merrell, Timberland, and Berghaus.
You’ll notice that as well as offering better waterproofing to their budget alternatives, these shoes will also feel lighter and more comfortable. For many hikers, this is a worthwhile investment. The price increase from budget to mid-range hiking boots is not astronomical but the added benefits of comfort are considerable.
Check out the Salomon Men’s X Ultra Pioneer for a great pair of waterproof hiking boots. They are very lightweight with a waterproof layering. Cost is anywhere from £120-150
The Timberland White Ledge Mid Ankle Boot is another one of the most popular waterproof hiking boots on the market. They are surprisingly lightweight and offer great support for hikers. They are made of high-quality natural leather and cost £100-110. The Lowa Renegade GTX Mid is another good choice. A light and comfortable shoe with another strong waterproof layer. RRP is £140-150.
Expensive Waterproof Hiking Boots
There comes a point when hiking boots become very technical. If you are in search of a mountaineering or specialist trekking boot, you may have to spend some extra cash. These will of course be waterproof hiking boots, but they will again have greater quality and functionality than the budget or mid-range boots.
However, it’s worth considering that you may also be paying for style and branding. The top-range hiking shoes won’t be worlds apart from the mid-range boot so think carefully before you invest in an expensive pair.
The Zamberlan Vioz GTX is a classic Italian leather hiking boot with a beautiful finish and a Gore-Tex layer. It is a tried and tested shoe with an extremely sturdy and comfortable design. However, it is heavy which may become tiresome to wear on long hiking days. RRP is £250-300.
The Scarpa Zodiac Plus GTX is a specialist shoe for tough environments. This is a mountaineering boot ideal for hiking in the wilds of Patagonia. It has the grip of an approach shoe over rocky terrain combined with the lightweight durability of a mountaineering boot. It has a strong water-repellent layer which will keep your toes warm in alpine conditions. RRP is £250-280.
Resist the temptation to buy shoes online. It is incredible how different hiking boots can feel from regular shoes. You might select your exact shoe size through an online store, but when you finally try it on, the boots will feel like they’re for a completely different foot size!
Keep an eye out for sales. Shoe shops often have sales, and this can be a great way to maximise savings when buying waterproof hiking boots. Sometimes, online retailers such as Amazon have cheaper options than what’s in-store. If you know the exact brand and size of shoe you want – having previously tested it in-store – you could scan online shops in search of the same product on sale.
Finding a good pair of waterproof hiking boots takes time. Your tastes and requirements may change over the years as you find the perfect shoe for you. Focus on comfort and waterproofing when buying your shoes and it’s hard to go wrong in the long run!