The Best Walking Boots of 2020
Whether you’re roaming the streets of Paris or tackling a leg of the Appalachian Trail, the last thing you want is a pair of boots that leaves your feet sore, soaked, or frozen stiff. Comfy feet are the difference between a great day and a miserable slog. Hard-wearing, good-looking boots that can keep up with you aren’t just a smart investment—they’re a wardrobe essential. From hiking shoes that can handle the 6,100 feet of elevation gain of Mount Whitney to all-around kings of comfort, we’ve sourced the very best walking boots for men and women that can handle anything your travel itinerary throws at them. That’s right, these boots were made for walking.
What to Look For in a Pair of Hiking Boots
When it comes to finding your perfect match, there are a lot of factors to consider: terrain, climate, and your feet’s specific needs. Are you going on a weeklong backcountry trek or exploring the medieval hilltop towns of Tuscany? Are rain and snow likely, or no? For a great all-around hiking shoe, it’s hard to beat a day hiking boot, which rides higher over the ankle to provide you with extra support. Look for options in leather (which will stay sturdy for years to come, though they do add weight) or with a synthetic upper (which are lighter and fast-drying.) Grip is also key—deeper grooves or “lugs” will give you better traction for climbing, while widely spaced ones are ideal for muddy terrain.
What to Avoid in a Pair of Hiking Boots
The most important factor in hiking boot comfort is fit, which means taking how they feel on your feet seriously. No matter how convincingly your sister swears by her favorite boots, if you try the style and it feels a little off—keep looking. Skip pairs that are too flexible in the sole; counterintuitive as it might seem, a stiff midsole helps distribute your weight so the muscles in your feet aren’t constantly trying to grasp for balance. And watch out for cotton in the shoe’s interior. The fabric tends to hold onto moisture, which can lead to friction and blisters.
The Best Walking Boots for Women
Best Hiking Shoes for Women
Lowa Renegade GTX Mid Hiking Boots
Lined with Gore-Tex, a waterproof liner that fends off the effects of surprise puddles, streams, and storms, Lowa’s water-repellant nubuck leather hiking boots have a special lacing design that helps them support a variety of foot shapes and widths. Full-length interior shanks and a firm, polyurethane midsole absorb shock and distribute your weight to make hours of hiking feel like minutes. Hefty rubber outsoles provide plenty of grip for tricky terrains, so you can stay sure-footed over steep slopes, snow patches, and icy trails. The boot’s legions of mega-fans love that they can emerge from a 10-plus-mile hike with no sores or blisters. Best of all? Reviews by the dozen swear there is no break-in time.
Best Waterproof Walking Boots for Women
Sperry Saltwater Quilted Nylon
Inspired by classic duck boots, these waterproof ankle boots by Sperry will keep feet dry whether you’re swabbing the deck or walking home in the rain. The rubber toe teams up with a wave-patterned rubber sole to keep even heavy downpours from reaching your toes and give you plenty of grip on slippery surfaces. And unlike the traditional leather of duck boots, this water-resistant quilted nylon upper offers extra flex, making for a super comfortable boot you never have to break in.
Best Winter Walking Boots for Women
SOREL Tofino II
No snowstorm can stand up to the warm, waterproof power of these serious Sorel boots—as testified by the 160ish positive reviews fans have given them on Zappos. Combining waterproof coated canvas, a waterproof inner membrane, and a rubber shell and outsole, your toes will never feel the slushy cold leaking in. In fact, the only thing they’ll feel is toasty, thanks to fleece lining and extra insulation that keeps the cold out and your body heat locked in.
Best Leather Walking Boots for Women
Stuart Weitzman 5050
Stuart Weitzman’s 5050 boots are icons for a reason: they’re timelessly stylish. It’s easy to see why the stunning statement-makers have been garnering dedicated celebrity fans for more than 25 years. And though they don’t look it, they’re shockingly comfortable. Strolling through the Presidio, dashing through LAX, or window-shopping on Fifth Avenue: these sexy over-the-knees can handle it. Many 5050 loyalists on Zappos report stocking up in every color.
Best Chelsea-Style Boots for Women
Cole Haan Newburg Waterproof Chelsea Boot
When it comes to a wardrobe workhorse, you can’t outdo a classic Chelsea boot. Cole Haan’s beautiful version turns up the volume on everything we already love about the Chelsea style by using waterproof leather and a sturdy rubber sole that’s built for traction. The result? A go-to shoe that not only goes with everything, but goes in any weather, too. Add in the low heel, which helps put your foot into better alignment and take pressure off your arch, and the real trick will be convincing yourself to wear any other shoes.
Best Booties for Women
Born has made a name for themselves for creating astonishingly comfortable shoes, and these fawn-colored suede booties are no exception. Their almond toe won’t scrunch your feet the way pointed-toed boots can, and the 1.25-inch heel gives a little boost that still leaves your weight even distributed around your foot. Extra style points for the braid detail.
Best Ankle Boot for Women
Diane von Furstenberg Dakota Lace-Up Bootie
A high lace-up shaft and delicate almond-shaped toe make legs look incredibly long in these on-trend, Western-inspired ankle boots. At 2.5 inches, the stacked heel adds just the right amount of height without putting pressure on the ball of the foot, and its sturdy shape won’t leave you teetering.
Best Bang-for-Your-Buck Boots for Women
Dr. Scholl’s Rate Bootie
Finding boots that are attractive, affordable, and in no way agonizing to wear is something of a tall order. At a price point well below $100, these geometric-patterned suede booties by Dr. Scholl’s more than fit the bill. Their slight heel dresses up casual looks but isn’t so high that your feet start to ache, and their built-in cooling memory-foam insoles feel like a dream.
Best Overall Walking Boots for Women
Frye Sabrina 6G Lace Up
Rugged enough for a walk in the woods and stylish enough for hitting the streets, these classic Frye boots are our favorite all-around option for your wherever your day’s travels take you. Soft, durable leather with a traction-filled rubber sole make them great for more adventurous treks, while the stylish lace-up look and built-in platform pair with everything from jeans and tees to dresses and tights.
The Best Walking Boots for Men
Best Hiking Shoes for Men
Zamberlan Vioz GTX Backpacking Boots
Tough terrain is no match for these heavy-duty boots: their uppers are made from specially treated leather that blocks water from seeping in around seams, and lined with Gore-Tex for extra dryness insurance. The rubber outsoles offer deep, spaced-out treads for maximum grip, and a firm polyurethane midsole and interior shanks help take pressure off your feet. The padded tongue distributes the pressure of your laces evenly across the top of the foot and keeps pebbles, burrs, and other trail debris from sneaking in.
Best Waterproof Walking Boots for Men
Bean Boot by L.L.Bean, 8″ Gore-Tex/Thinsulate
The classic rubber-bottomed Bean Boot are widely considered best in class by outdoor lovers, and for good reason. Lined with waterproof Gore-Tex and warming Thinsulate, this upgraded version doubles down on the comfort. Interior steel shanks sound barbaric but actually provide gobs of comfy support, while the chain-patterned rubber soles (an L.L.Bean signature) work like snow chains for your feet, keeping you steady in any forecast.
Best Winter Walking Boots for Men
No matter how frightful the weather gets, these (shockingly affordable) leather and ballistic nylon snow boots will keep your feet feeling delightful. Lined with Thinsulate and soled with patented high-traction rubber, these duck-boot-style snow-busters have earned raves from Zappos reviewers from Boston to Chicago to Alaska for their warmth and comfort in below-zero temps.
Best Leather Walking Boots for Men
UGG Dalvin Boot
Say hello your new everyday boot. Combining smooth leather, soft suede, and sheepskin, these cocoa ankle boots are sleek enough for the office, cool enough for a night out, and laid-back enough for afternoon errands. And since that versatility means plenty of use, it’s a good thing they come with built-in sweat-wicking cushioning and arch support.
Best Chelsea-Style Boots for Men
For do-it-all style, it’s hard to beat a Chelsea boot, and the nearly 200 positive Zappos reviews prove this particular pair’s fan following. The sturdy BL558 earns the devotion with its chic-yet-rugged look, plus sleek leather uppers and elastic side panes that hug feet perfectly. Weatherproof lug soles are built for traction and the boot’s shock dispersal system takes some of the pressure of walking off your feet.
Best Desert Boots for Men
Clarks Originals Men’s Desert Boot
Clarks desert boot is inspired by the suede ankle boots commissioned by British soldiers at the Cairo bazaar during World War II. Sixty-odd years later, the suede and crepe-soled chukka remains at the top of the “dress casual” category for many men.
Best Ankle Boots for Men
Florsheim Midtown Zip Boot
Forget pinching dress shoes. These elegant ankle boots are just the wake-up call your wardrobe needs. Wear with jeans and a leather jacket, and you’ve got your weekend look on lock. Or when you need to go more formal, their glossy leather looks just right with suits or slacks.
Best Bang-for-the-Buck Boots for Men
Steve Madden Jabber Cap Toe Boot
A pair of comfortable men’s boots under $100 is not a style unicorn, and these vintage-inspired lace-ups are the proof. The toe squares off ever so slightly toward the tip, giving you plenty of toe room while the padded footbed and subtle stacked heel work to put your feet in perfect alignment for a day on the go.
Best Overall Walking Boots for Men
Timberland Six Inch Classic Waterproof Boots
It takes a lot to get guys raving about a pair of boots, which makes the 3,000-plus Nordstrom reviews giving these classic Timberland boots the thumbs up all the more impressive. The waterproof leather is seam-sealed to keep out unwanted water while added insulation works like climate control for your toes. Both the padded ankle and the added midsole support ensure that every part of your foot is getting the reinforcement it needs plus plenty of traction for walking, working, or hanging out.
- The Best Waterproof Boots for Rain or Snow—Plus 3 Items to Waterproof Your Current Boots
- The Best Travel Shoes for Men and Women on Zappos
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