Tried and Tested – walking boots
Walking is one of the best ways to exercise and as the weather warms up, our beautiful British countryside beckons. But a good, brisk walk is only as good as your walking boots, so we put leading brands through their paces – over hills and dales, in rain, mud and even snow!
Best for hill walking – Anatom V2 Lomond, RRP £120, anatomfootwear.co.uk
Designed specifically for the female foot, this is a sturdy, supportive boot for those who do a lot of hill walking or hiking over rugged terrain. The fit is excellent – being neither too narrow nor overly wide, they are roomy enough to accommodate thick socks without pinching. The ankle cuff is high, and the heel fit is snug so both offer good support over uneven ground. The sole has excellent thick lugs (the ridges providing grip) and is notably less flexible than other boots tried. However, this is to provide stability on rough terrain, which it definitely does. The Tri-aria® waterproof insole and high-quality outer materials mean feet stay dry no matter what the weather or ground conditions. A reliable, durable boot that comes with an unusual lifetime guarantee.
In breathable full-grain leather, these look stylish enough for everyday wear. The leather is quite soft too, so didn’t need ‘breaking in’. It took a couple of goes of lacing up to get the fit our tester felt was correct, but each time they were worn this became easier to achieve. They looked and felt great when worn for a day around town, and feet stayed both cool and comfortable. They stood up to the test when out on the trail too – uphill, downhill and in very muddy conditions. They bore a few battle scars afterwards, and required quite a bit of TLC to get them back to their best.
Best lightweight Regatta Women’s Kota Mid Black Rosebud, Regatta, RRP £90
Despite the relatively high ankle collar, these were easy to put on – with three lace holders to facilitate lacing up. They felt immediately comfortable and were lightweight. Neat enough for everyday wear, yet sturdy enough for all-round walking. On a lengthy, muddy walk, the waterproof/breathable ISOTEX membrane kept feet dry inside and out. The rubber outsole provided great grip on slippery paths, steps and stiles. They remained comfortable throughout, though our tester (a size 6) did note the sensation of her toes touching the front of the boot, so if purchasing, you may require half a size bigger than usual for these boots.
Best everyday – Keen Women’s Terradora Waterproof Mid Boots, keenfootwear.com, £109.99
These boots, a ‘hybrid for urban or off-road adventures’, are stylish and comfy enough to wear on a daily basis. They’re sleek and modern, and look good with casual jeans or leggings. Easy to put on these boots are specifically designed for women. They have a reduced instep volume and are narrower through the heel with extra cushioning, so are ideal for those with narrow feet. On a five-mile walk they remained comfortable and supportive throughout, and feet stayed dry and blister-free, and stayed cool to boot
It’s common for Salomon boots to fit best in half a size larger than usual and these were no exception. Despite feeling a little roomy, they were extremely comfortable from the outset, and when worn over a whole day, remained so. Over a long, five-mile hilly walk in snow they stood up to the elements, and feet remained warm, dry and blister-free. Despite the wet conditions, they felt secure and gripped extremely well. Our tester has a knee problem and usually finds walking downhill painful, but with the special Descent Control technology in these boots it was less so. They were also very easy to clean – a quick rinse and they came up as new.
Despite their nubuck upper, these boots were comfortable from the offset, the arch of the foot felt well supported and the mid-rise collar gave good support to the ankle. The tongue did seem a little bunched up, though it didn’t cause any discomfort. On a day running errands feet stayed cool but they looked and felt best on a long walk, where feet remained both warm and dry – thanks to the Dri-Tec Breathable membrane. Also, they are coated in an invisible i-shield technology that repels water and dirt so despite the wet and muddy conditions of the walk it took only a quick wipe with a damp cloth and they looked as good as new.