Best walking boots for men and women for 2023, tested by experts

FAQ

How should walking boots fit?

When trying boots on, according to our expert Alastair Bramwell, the best test is to walk an “incline ramp”. This mimics walking up and downhill. You can then see if your feet slip and gauge if you need a different size. They may be slim, broad, shallow or high volume. (In Sarah’s case, one foot is bigger than the other).

For wide feet, you should choose a shoe modelled around a broader last (the mold around which the boot is constructed). For problem achilles or arches, Alastair recommends they are fitted by a retailer, rather than bought online.

Italian footwear is slightly slimmer and German footwear a bit broader, Alastair says, the latter suiting the typical British foot better.

What is the difference between walking boots and hiking boots?

There aren’t two separate types of boot – more a range of features, some of which you will need for the most strenuous hikes. To walk in mud, Alastair says, the sole must have a deep tread. For walking in the snow, high sides around the ankle give less chance for the snow to enter. In hot temperatures you want a lining without a waterproof membrane, for maximum breathability.

How to clean walking boots

This is best done with warm water and a stiff brush. You can either do it straight after your walk or – this might be easier – after letting the mud dry for a day so that the worst of it can be scraped off first. Some materials such as leather can be harmed by detergents, so it’s best to just use warm water. 

Remove the laces and any removable insoles to avoid getting them wet. Or take this opportunity to properly wash the insole separately in warm water to prevent smells. Allow it to dry thoroughly before putting it back.

You should never leave walking boots on a radiator or by a fire to dry. This could cause the material – especially leather – to warp or split. Wipe them dry with a rag and then leave to dry naturally. Stuffing them with newspaper will help to draw moisture out and help the boots to keep their shape.


Looking for more ways to improve your fitness? Read our guide to the best fitness trackers, running shoes for men and running shoes for women.

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