Choosing your walking boots
The Belle France round up of walking boots for your next trip
On a walking or hiking holiday it makes perfect sense to be equipped with decent footwear that is up to the job. Badly fitting boots, or even footwear that has not been broken in sufficiently, can result in a painful experience.
The choice can be bewildering, and downright confusing, so take time to do some research and try on a number of boots and styles. First up you need support, comfort and durability – without these basics you are not walking very far.
For a Belle France holiday, assuming pleasant weather and easy going, fairly flat terrain, a light boot with a flexible sole is a good start. For the easiest of trails a walking shoe would do the job. Many boots feature a waterproof Gore-Tex liner which has obvious benefits but can limit breathability, especially important in hot weather. There’s no point keeping the wet out but not letting enough moisture escape.
Below we have a round up of walking boots that have caught our attention. All are suitable for year-round walking (bear in mind you don’t want to be wearing boots designed for snow and ice while on a leisurely ramble along the Loire in May). If thinking ahead, only you know what kind of usage you plan to get from the boots after your Belle France holiday.
All models below come in men’s and women’s versions and we have aimed for a modest budget (most Belle France customers do not go on to become Alpine trekking specialists in need of high spec footwear). That said, we have avoided the very cheapest on the basis that you generally get what you pay for, and you don’t want to be ruing a false economy while on holiday.
Whichever model you go for, be sure to try them out before you depart!
TIP It’s worth investing in comfortable walking socks with decent padding and wicking (to draw moisture away from the skin) to enhance the comfort of your footwear.
1. THE ALL WEATHER
Perfect for all weather hiking and rambling, these boots have a waterproof leather and mesh upper with a Gore-Tex lining, as well as an Aegis antimicrobial solution. The boots also have a moulded EVA footframe with an Air Cushion heel for shock absorption and a Vibram Multi-Sport sole which provides grip and toughness on a variety of terrains.
2. THE ALL ROUNDER
£69 (RRP £125), Cotswold Outdoor
A light, versatile boot, well suited as an all-rounder, from easy going walks to general travelling. Flexible enough to be worn all day but with enough support to give stability on broken ground, the boots are built on a well-regarded Salomon Contagrip sole unit. The breathable boots are lined with waterproof Gore-Tex, while the reinforced heel and toe sections offer protection against the occasional bumps and bashes of the trail.
3. THE TRADITIONAL
£135.50 (RRP £140), Go Outdoors
These hard working leather boots are ideal companions on a hiking holiday or your weekend rambles. They boast a grippy, cushioned and durable Vibram rubber sole and reassuring comfort straight from the box (they apparently need minimal breaking in), with the oiled full grain leather uppers providing gentle support. Fully waterproof, these boots are Gore-Tex lined and any moisture simply escapes.
4. THE SERIOUS WALKER
£115 (previously £130), Millets
The Berghaus Explorer Trek walking boot offers plenty of grip, while a special Gore-Tex membrane keeps your feet dry and fresh. Robust and rugged, this boot is more than able to provide both comfort and protection on more arduous trails. There is a quality feel, thanks to high grade materials, with mesh, suede, EVA midsole for shock absorption and an OPTI-STUD outsole for outstanding grip.
5. THE CLASSIC
Coming from an outdoor brand of real pedigree, these boots are a sound investment for longer-term use. The premium leather uppers are durable and rugged, built on a footbed with excellent cushioning and a quality Vibram outsole. The boots have a high degree of technical excellence, with a waterproof E-Vent membrane system. Thus water is kept out while still allow perspiration moisture to escape.
All prices given are correct at time of publication.