5 best tried & tested pairs, according to a health editor

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  • On the hunt for the best hiking boots but don’t want to spend lots of £££ on a pair that’ll rub, get your feet wet, or have you slipping all over the place?

    Lucky for you, I’m a Health Editor who sweat tests fit kit for a living and this month, I’ve been working my way through hiking boots. Why? Because summer is just around the corner and, just like the rest of you (thanks, lockdown), I spent the last two years walking the coasts of Devon and Cornwall for my summer holiday.

    Spoiler alert: while I thought I’d begrudge the lack of sunshine and frozen cocktails, quite the opposite happened, and as my guides to the best UK hikes and the benefits of walking show, l fell in love with the great outdoors. For our first week following the South West Coastal Path in 2020, it rained for the whole week, yet thanks to my superior kit, I stayed warm and dry. There was something quite atmospheric about that moody grey week hiking along the coast and I’ll never forget it – but I’ve also never been more grateful for a waterproof rain coat, moisture-wicking gym leggings, and sturdy hiking boots, too.

    So, without further ado, scroll my round up of the best hiking boots. The boots that supported me through the trip are included in this very roundup and you’ll likely be amazed to hear that they cost just under £20. Yup.

    What did I look for when testing?

    Good grip, adequate ankle support, 100% waterproof material and design, and comfort, too – I have quite sensitive feet so haven’t included the boots that caused an achy ankle or ball of foot, blisters, or chafing.

    5 best hiking boots to buy now, according to a health editor

    1. FP Movement x Danner Adrika in Perfect Navy – £153.14, Danner

    First things first – just look at the design of these boots. When I saw the limited-edition collaboration between Free People – a sister company of Urban Outfitters and one of the oldest (and coolest) athleisurewear brands – and Danner – the best hiking boot brand, I couldn’t wait to try.

    Taking these boots out of the box, I immediately noticed how gorgeous both the colour and design are. They’re soft to the touch, eye-catching, and the quality feels superior. While the colour combination makes me think of sunset hikes and long weekend breaks, when taking them for a spin around a rather muddy Bushy Park, I found these boots really functional, too. They didn’t rub or cause blisters, the grip stopped me from faceplanting any mud, and they stayed waterproof, despite the rain.

    Top tip: go up half a size, as they run small, and be prepared to break them in over shorter distances, if you’re prone to aching on the balls of your feet, like me. Hurry, though – they’re limited edition.  – Ally Head, Health Editor, @allyyhead

    FP Movement Adrika in Perfect Navy – £153.14 | Danner

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    2. Timberloop Trekker Hiking Boot for Women – £160 | Timberland 

    You’ll all have heard of Timberland boots, but they were an iconic 90’s fashion statement, above all else, right? Wrong – as these hiking boots proved.

    More of a city boot than a hardcore hiking option (I wouldn’t recommend them for, say, Kilimanjaro training, but would recommend them for weekend loops of your local parks or dog walks), I found the soles to be cushioned and comfortable – they didn’t rub and they felt breathable, too. These also have pretty impressive sustainability credentials – just launched and specifically designed for circularity, they have what they call a “unique sole construction” which means all elements of the shoe can be easily taken apart and put into the relevant recycling streams. Neat.

    Cons: They don’t offer much ankle support, stopping lower than the other alternatives in this roundup, and they got dirty pretty quickly (not the best for jumping through muddy puddles). That said, I was surprised at how easily the mud did rub off once cleaned. I’d also recommend treating with a balm pre-using, which I didn’t do. – Ally Head, Health Editor, @allyyhead

    Timberloop Trekker Hiking Boot for Women – £160 | Timberland 

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    3. Sweaty Betty x Merrell Moab Speed GORE-TEX® – £125 | Merrell

    Ok, ok, so technically not a hiking boot, but I really rated these Sweaty Betty x Merrell hiking shoes. They had the best grip, waterproof material, and breathability of all of the designs I tested, plus I found them seriously comfortable.

    I was also pleasantly surprised by how light they are, while still offering good arch support in-shoe. If you’re someone who doesn’t like seriously chunky or heavy boots or likes travelling lightly, I’d go for these. Similarly, if you’re prone to injury, they’re a win, win, as they’re light – so won’t cause you to overpronate or overcompensate – while also offering advanced support and functionality.

    I wore them for a hike around Epping Forest and really rated them. – Ally Head, Health Editor, @allyyhead

    Women’s Moab Speed GORE-TEX® – £125.00 | Sweaty Betty x Merrell

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    4. Women’s Walking Boots – £19.99 | Decathlon

    Spoiler alert: these are the walking boots I mentioned above, that have supported me through the Three Peaks, hikes in both the Lake and Peak District and walking the South West Coastal Path in torrential rain, too.

    While their support isn’t as good as, say, the SB x Merrell shoes above, I’ve had them for years now and have never had any complaints. I’m sure they’ll fall apart soon, but up until now, they’ve been a sound investment that have supported me through 100+ miles plus.

    Main pros: They’re affordable for all price points, and I found them comfortable, soft on my heels and supportive of my arch. I also thought they were especially easy to do up and impressively waterproof – I’ve never experienced any leaks.

    That said, at just £20, they’re not the highest price point or quality and are definitely starting to get a little smelly over time. Nonetheless, they’ve seen me through many a holiday and I would buy again. – Ally Head, Health Editor, @allyyhead

    Women’s Walking Boots – £19.99 | Decathlon 

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    5. Women’s Trailstorm™ Mid Waterproof Walking Shoe – £100.00, Columbia

    I am very much a beginner when it comes to hiking and probably would only use walking boots once every few years. So when I was invited on a walking holiday to the Isle of Skye this year, my main priority was to select a hiking boot that wasn’t far off a trainer or shoe I’d normally wear that didn’t require a long breaking-in period.

    I opted for the Columbia Trailstorm mid women’s walking boot and they didn’t disappoint. I found them to be breathable, lightweight and with a stable high collar fit, not to mention easy to wear and extremely comfortable, featuring a zero break-in period (which for me was actually the biggest selling point).

    As someone who suffers from rheumatoid nodules on my ankles, it was really important to find a boot that had a lightweight and flexible sole and good ankle support so as not to exacerbate it. Spoiler alert: I came back from Skye with zero pain, so for me, the Columbia Trailstorm boots were a success.

    They held up well across the many terrains we encountered – rocks, hills, seaweed, and so on, and I can personally testify for them being impermeable (I accidentally put my whole foot in a bog during our hike and it came out dry, so you get the picture).

    The only drawbacks? I noticed a lack of grip on slippery surfaces, minimal arch support and a very narrow fit. NB: Definitely opt for the size up with these hiking boots. I went for my size and found the fit a bit too snug.

    I would definitely recommend these hiking boots – if only for the comfortable ankle support and the luxury of not having to break them in. – Jenny Proudfoot, Features Editor, @jenny_proudfoot

    Women’s Trailstorm™ Mid Waterproof Walking Shoe – £100.00 | Columbia

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    Happy hiking.

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