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These boots were made for walking…

These boots were made for walking…
I cannot begin to tell you how many boots I have trialled over the years, over x number of miles across the Lakeland fells, the Lincolnshire Wolds, the Highlands and lowlands, and in the deep backcountry.

In those early days, I would often return with battered, blistered and bleeding feet, and offer up some positively negative, yet justifiable reviews. As the years have progressed, so has the technology. In terms of manufacturing, boots have become more complex as wearers’ needs have expanded. That is why we have such a plethora of footwear on the market. Choice certainly remains one of the great variables. No longer do we choose a boot purely for its look. Fit, comfort and usability are key, depending on our needs. I am a big fan of boots that offer both lightness and underfoot support. In fact, a general all-rounder which will see me through most seasons and weather patterns. Winter is still reserved for a boot that will take a flexible crampon. What I have detailed below is not an exhaustive list, but rather a range of different types of boot to suit varied terrain. With so much availability of choice, I urge you to take your time in choosing the right boot for you, bearing in mind your foot shape and preferences. Talk to the shop assistant. If they struggle to assist you, then go somewhere else. The last thing I want to hear back from you is that you have had to buy a box of Compeed plasters!

boots

Mammut T Aenergy High GTX is built on the success of the Teton GTX

MAMMUT T AENERGY HIGH GTX

Built on the success of the Teton GTX, the Aenergy is exactly what I like in a boot – comfort, lightness and robustness. Don’t ask me where the name ‘Aenergy’ comes from, because the word baffles me, too, but there you go. To be perfectly honest, I cannot recall complaining about any pairs of Mammut boots that I have tested in the past, and the Aenergy is no exception. A keen mountain boot specifically developed for demanding terrain, it has an excellent fit and comfort straight from the box to the boot of the car. Features include memory foam inserts, protective rubber toe caps and a Gore-Tex Performance Comfort Footwear membrane. Designed for autumnal and wet weather use, the boot has a grippy sole with a scale-like arrangement inspired by the scaly armour of the pangolin. It certainly improves traction on varying surfaces and also offers a smooth, rolling motion. £160, www.mammut.com

Zamberlan 320 is an extremely versatile boot, handcrafted in Italy

ZAMBERLAN 320 NEW TRAIL LITE EVO GTX

What we have here is a classic look with a modern performance. Mix up the ground and the conditions, and you will be pleasantly impressed by the versatility of the New Trail Lite. Handcrafted in Italy, you can count on precision footwear, and this boot does not disappoint, being lightweight and supportive. The single piece upper is made of a single-piece tumbled nubuck leather, whatever ‘tumbled’ means, so you are pretty much guaranteed a reliable performer over the lifetime of the boot, with waterproofness improved by the Hydrobloc treatment and the Gore-Tex Extended Comfort lining. The midsole features EVA, which adds to the lightweight performance of the boot’s construction. Add to that the Vibram Pillow outsole with spaced triangular lugs, and better grip is assured on muddy ground. £169.99, www.zamberlan.com

boots

Berghaus Exp Trek VII is packed with technology and features

BERGHAUS EXP TREK VII GTX TECH

When I first took to the Lakeland fells over 20 years ago, I wore a pair of Berghaus 4-season boots. Oh, how I suffered! It was entirely my fault for, because of my naivety, I did not break them in. We hiked around the western shoreline of Buttermere before making it atop Haystacks and then on and around Fleetwith Pike. Once back at the b&b, I think I might have whimpered somewhat as my ankles sunk into the bath water. Despite all that, I am, and continue to be, a big fan, if not an ambassador, for Berghaus gear, so this is an opportune time to bring into the mix the Explorer Trek Plus, said to be Britain’s most popular waterproof fabric fell walking boot, and far be it for me to argue that point. Packed with technology and features, they offer Gore-Tex waterproof protection and, thankfully,  are comfortable from the word go, with excellent grip, protection and traction. So if you want durability in a lightweight performing boot – and of course you do – then give them a workout. £135, www.berghaus.com

boots

Columbia Peakfreak offers all-day comfort and superb cushioning

COLUMBIA PEAKFREAK VENTURE MID WATERPROOF

I don’t know, these names just get weirder and weirder. ‘Peakfreak’! Does that mean you are a freak if you reach a peak? I can testify to that not being the case with this waterproof mid-rise boot with its thermal-reflecting liners and an extra grippy outsole. I trialled them on a particularly cold day, and found them to be both warm and comfortable. With a waterproof mesh/leather upper and Omni-Heat reflective lining, features include a Techlite lightweight midsole, which explains the all-day comfort and superb cushioning,  The outsole is an Omin-Grip non-marking rubber, so don’t worry about marking the kitchen linoleum. £105, www.columbia.com

boots

Mountain Warehouse Excalibur takes care of the pressure points

MOUNTAIN WAREHOUSE EXCALIBUR

If I was going to put anything to the sword, it would not be the Excalibur, a leather, waterproof boot offering excellent performance over multi terrain. Durability comes via the Vibram outsole and nubuck upper, and your feet are going to stay fresh after a long day on the hill, thanks to the breathable and antibacterial Latex insole. The boot features an Isodry membrane so your feet can breathe and stay dry at the same time. Other features include padding in the tongue and ankle, those pressure points which can often cause discomfort. These will be good as the cold weather progresses and we experience the occasional dump of snow or slithering of ice, as they are crampon compatible. £179.99, www.mountainwarehouse.com

boots

Lowa Bormio is the perfect all-terrain hiking boot

LOWA BORMIO GTX QC ALL TERRAIN

It is easy to find yourself thrown by the styling of this hiking boot, simply because of its clean lines and casual styling. If Lowa were intent on making a fashion statement, then it is encapsulated in the Bormio. But, make no mistake, this is a true all-terrain hiking boot, with its nubuck leather upper and innovative Monowrap midsole construction, which adds sturdiness. Add the Gore-Tex lining and the slip-resistant Lowa Vialta III rubber sole, and multi-functionality springs to mind, being a great boot for hiking, travel and urban use. £150, www.lowa.co.uk

boots

Treksta Guide has been specifically shaped to offer full ankle support

TREKSTA GUIDE X5 GTX

It is rare that a pair of Treksta boots land on my mat, so I am happy to put these into the mix for you to ponder over. Durability comes via the waterproof oily nubuck leather and oily split suede upper construction, with a moulded rubber toecap and heel support. The Gore-Tex membrane is breathable, so you won’t overheat after a long day out on the trail. The profile has been specifically shaped to give the wearer full ankle support. A HyperGrip outsole has been combined with IceLock Technology to provide positive traction and minimise the risk of slipping on ice and wet surfaces. Pressure points within the boots help to distribute load and also help to combat stress and fatigue. Those clever people at Treksta have developed I.S.T (Independent Suspension Technology). Basically, there are sensors on the bottom of the outsole that recognise the curves on the surface and move up and down independently, thereby offering excellent stability and cushioning. So, I think you will agree that you get a lot of boot for your money. £139.99, www.treksta.com

boots

Regatta Bainsford is a classically styled leather boot, popular with walkers

REGATTA BAINSFORD

One of the high street’s most popular outdoor brands, you can almost guarantee that Regatta will produce a boot with practicality, comfort and an attractive price tag. The Bainsford is no exception. Using water shedding Hydropel technology with a waterproof/breathable Isotex membrane, your feet should keep nice and dry. Once on the trail, you can expect the lightweight rubber sole and EVA shock pads to offer underfoot comfort. As for the practicalities, the Bainsford is a classically styled leather boot with a  versatile lacing system and deep padded collar for added support. The boot has been seam sealed with an internal membrane bootee liner and stabilising shank technology for underfoot protection and to help reduce foot fatigue. £100, www.regatta.com

boots

Obox Sawtooth Mid offers style as well as practicality

OBOZ SAWTOOTH MID BDRY

You gotta have style as well as practicality, and the versatile Oboz has it in bucketloads. As soon as you trial a pair, note the outsole shape, which, when traversing smooth ground, helps promote a natural rolling motion. Once you hit upon rugged terrain, the toothy high-friction side lugs come into their own. The nubuck leather upper is waterproof and breathable with a 3D moulded, form hugging heel cup, so you shouldn’t encounter any blister-type moments of anguish. I particularly like the Sawtooth for its wider forefoot and toe box, which suit my shape. The Bdry membrane provides an added barrier against water penetration. £125, www.obozfootwear.com

boots

Aku La Val Plus is a multi-terrain boot with improved foot roll and excellent load distribution

AKU LA VAL PLUS

The environmentally friendly La Val Plus offers both versatility and comfort on easy paths and valleys. It doesn’t end there, though, as the multi-terrain boot will happily tackle mid-mountain height, too, thanks to the exclusive use of AKU’s Elica technology, a marriage of last, insole, midsole and outsole, and boasting improved foot roll and excellent load distribution. AKU’s pursuit of sustainability has to be applauded, and is represented here with an upper constructed of chrome-free nubuck leather, with a soft, zero impact full grain leather lining and a flexible insole made of moisture-regulating bamboo, coconut fibres and latex. The insole is ingeniously inclined inwards or outwards depending on the terrain, thereby supporting either your toe-off or heel strike. I have previously mentioned the design of the outsole, which has been inspired by mountain bike tyres, and you know how chunky they can be. All I can say is you get and awful of innovative technology for your money. £169.95, www.aku.it

boots

Teva Arrowwood Lux oozes style, and will also eat up the miles on the trail, thanks to its featherweight comfort

 TEVA ARROWWOOD LUX WP

I thought it well worthwhile including the low-top Arrowwood, which is outfitted with lux full-grain water-resistant leather upper. And I will tell you why. This adventure-seeking shoe may well be oozing style, but it is also extremely functional. The shoe features a midsole and outsole combination offering featherweight comfort of FloatLite technology. In fact, with Teva’s new foam construction being both ultralight and durable, the Arrowwood happily bridges the gap between everyday footwear and just enough technology to cope with easily maintained walking trails, bearing in mind that the lugs are not as deep as you would expect, nay, demand to see in a full-on technical trail boot. Should you be seeking a stylish, casual shoe, but one raring to hit the trail, then the Arrowwood fits the bill admirably. In fact, I would go so far as to say that I love them. There, how sloppy of me. £110, www.teva.co.uk

About The Author

Mike Cowton

Michael Cowton, an outdoors writer, editor and photographer with a passion for nature-based travel and wildlife. He is a former editor of EcoTravel, Outdoor Pursuits, Camping, Lakeland Walker and Which Motorcaravan magazines, and national newspaper journalist.

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