Hiking on a mountain or another natural terrain can be a very exciting form of exploring the nature of our planet. It can be easy and relaxing, but it can be also difficult and challenging. The more challenging is it, the more experience and special gear it requires. And one of the most important parts of this gear is your shoes. There are various kinds of shoes for such kind of adventure, but now we will focus on the three-season hiking boots. Below is the guide to this kind of boots, their main features, and the 10 best three-season hiking boots for 2021.
What kind of boots are these
The purpose of these boots is to hike the mountains on easy, moderate to difficult routes during the snowless seasons. You can hike wearing them even in winter, on a snowy trail (wearing gaiters), but for such conditions, they are not so comfortable, mainly because their sole is soft. That’s why they remain three-season hiking boots.
These boots are higher than the walking (summer hiking) shoes. This feature gives some warmth, but the main purpose of their height is to provide stability. With them, you can bring a heavy backpack on difficult terrain with a much lower risk of spraining your foot. At the same time, they are not proper for slippery places where you would need crampons, just because crampons require hard soles.
The main features of the good three-season hiking boots
So, this is how these boots look like- a bit higher, with a softer sole (comparing to the winter mountaineering boots). In general, they are designed for both men and women, and the difference is mainly in their color. And when you are looking for good three-season hiking boots, you have to look for several criteria. Today, many brands are producing excellent boots that reach the best of the standards, but as with every kind of travel equipment, these are no perfect boots. Let’s see what is the most important when you make your choice.
Of course, you can find every size for your feet, but you have to be careful. The most important thing is that your toes should not touch the front of the boots. I can say it from my experience (and not only I but every hiker)- when you hike descending on a slope, your toes slide a bit and push the front part of the boots. And if there is a small distance between your toes and the boot inside, you only touch it a bit. But if there is no distance, your toes “thrust” into the boots and it will be painful.
Hiking on a mountain trail is not always easy like in a park, on a paved alley. The wild trails pass on difficult terrain, and they can be muddy, with puddles, especially after rain. Sometimes you have to cross mountain streams. In other cases, you have to walk on high wet dewy grass on a sunny morning.
No matter where you walk, you don’t want to get wet. So, the good three-season hiking boots have a good waterproof feature. However, have in mind that even the best boot is not waterproofed forever. After a certain time (a year or two), its waterproof feature inevitably started weakening. To keep a constant waterproof, it has to be made by gum, which means no breathability.
But there is a solution for this too- today, there are various kinds of sprays that you can sprinkle and grease on your boots. In this way, you can extend their waterproof feature for a longer time.
This is something that many people don’t pay too much attention, or just don’t know too much about. But it is crucial for the boot’s strength and durability. In general, the less sewing is applied, the stronger the boot is. Boots with more sewing can more easily rip apart.
Today, good brands pay attention to this problem and try to minimize the sewing between the main parts of the boot. Also, they try to connect the parts in a higher place above the foot, to prevent damage from protruding pegs and sharp stones. So, when you choose your boots, pay attention to this too.
Now, let’s take a look at the best three-season hiking boots in detail.
The 10 best three-season hiking boots for 2021
Below is a table where you can see these boots at a glance:
La Sportiva Trango TRK Leather GTX
Trango TRK Leather GTX is made with Idro-Perwanger waterproof leather, which provides excellent waterproof features, at the same time preserving its lightweight. Another good feature is its breathability, so your feet remain dry and comfortable.
With these outstanding features, you can hike various kinds of mountain terrain, from wet meadows to rocky steep slopes, from wild forests to endless grasslands. At the same time, you would not have any problem bringing a heavy backpack since these boots provide good protection.
Pros: great waterproof and breathability, stability for the feet
Cons: expensive, a bit heavy
Salomon Quest 4D 3 GTX
This one is another almost perfect model for hiking on various kinds of terrain. Salomon Quest 4D 3 GTX has many pros, and maybe the best ones are their comfort and stability. For example, you can descend on rugged trails, and your forefoot not only can’t feel pain but also you can easily control your speed.
The other features of Quest 4D 3 GTX are again quite well-present. Using Gore-Tex, the boots remain dry, no matter how long you walk in wet, muddy, or dewy places. At the same time, they have good breathability. Another good thing is their lacing system, so you can get used to hiking with these boots quickly after you buy them.
The only thing that is not so good is their weight- they are a bit heavy. Besides, they are not so comfortable in too hot weather.
Pros: great stability, comfort, waterproof.
Cons: a bit heavy, uncomfortable in hot weather.
Grisport is the brand offering the best quality-price rate products. Their boots are cheaper than most of the other brand’s boots, at the same time, quality is not lower than them. They offer several good three-season hiking boots models, all of them with excellent features.
In general, they have all the important features presented- durability, strength, waterproof, lacing system, and comfort. Their sewing is one of the best in the world, and their Sympatex membrane is invisibly sewn between the outer material and the lining. The time for break-in is relatively short, and the soft insole provides nice comfort. Maybe their biggest weakness is the waterproof- as I mentioned, it is perfect, but for not so long time.
Pros: Cheap, excellent sewing, comfortable.
Cons: Waterproof is not too long.
For men and women:
Zamberlan 1030 Sella NW GTX
Some people call Zamberlan 1030 Sella NW GTX “Ferrari of the boots”. And indeed, they are one of the best three-season hiking boots in the world, with a specific “Italian taste”. Again, this boot is excellent in everything.
It is made to provide good ankle protection by Waxed Tuscan leather. Its waterproof and breathability are well-arranged by Gore-Tex Performance membranes. The Vibram NorTrack sole is attached to the rest of the boot by Norwegian Welted construction. The whole design of the boot is made to provide stability and comfort, especially for the toe. All of this allows you to use Zamberlan 1030 Sella NW GTX in all kinds of terrain, and you can enjoy it for many years if care properly.
Pros: great durability, stability, the best of the leather design
Cons: longer break-in period, expensive
Lowa Tibet GTX
Like all of the other best three-season hiking boots, this one has excellent features. It is durable, waterproof, and breathable. But two things distinguish it from the other boots. First- it is its lacing system. It is designed to separate the tension between the ankle and the top of the foot. And second- it is one of the best boots in the world that almost doesn’t have a break-in period. In other words- you buy it, and you can use it without problem almost immediately.
Among other features of Tibet GTX, I would also mention its solid traction, provided by its Vibram rubber outsoles. The only thing that makes it not so perfect is its weight- it is a bit heavy.
Pros: unique lacing system, almost no break-in period.
Cons: a bit heavy.
Scarpa Delta GTX
This brown boot looks a bit simple and not so “adventurous”. But it is another great tool for hiking on the most difficult terrain. The main feature to present is its unique last with enough volume for cushioning, its Vibram Biometric sole, providing anatomical comfort. In other words, it is one of the most comfortable boots in the world. And again, it doesn’t lack the other important features- waterproof, breathability, ankle support, and a good lacing system.
Another good thing about this boot is its heel tension system. It highly increases the stability of your foot on steep slopes. Also, it has memory foam padding, providing self-molding of the foot.
Pros: comfortable, foot adjustable.
Cons: a bit heavy, expensive.
Zamberlan 1006 Vioz Plus GTX
This is another great Zamberlan boot. The most important about it is the combination of the old, traditional design with new, modern improvements and comfort. Again, its waterproof and breathability are excellent, as well as its lacing system and ankle support.
But there is more. This boot provides better control by its Vibram 3D outsole. And its Flex System junction helps for better foot rolling while walking. The boot is a bit heavy, but in this case, it contributes to stability, especially on rugged terrains.
Anyway, if you are looking for what is not ok, probably the biggest problem is the long break-in period. But if you endure it, it is worth the patience.
Pros: stability, advanced ankle control.
Cons: long break-in period.
La Sportiva TX5 GTX
These boots are specially designed to combine features from other kinds of shoes- for running, climbing, and mountaineering. The designers add a bit of these features to the basic hiking role of the boots. As a result, they are great for various kinds of terrain and activity, thus proper for explorers on an expedition.
TX5 is perfectly waterproof and breathable, thanks to its Gore-Tex lining. It is also supplied with an “Impact Brake System”, for better grip and traction and ground impact absorption, especially while you descend. The boot is supplied with a rubber rand and toe cap. Also, it has a 3D Flex system, providing flexible movement, at the same time keeping stability and control.
Pros: multifunctional with features of other kinds of boots, flexible, excellent stability.
Cons: not so perfect comfort.
Salomon X Ultra 3 MID GTX SARGASSO
This is another Salomon masterpiece. Its main strength is the perfect control while you descend, even on slippery slopes, thanks to its Descend Control technology. It features advanced chassis, mud protection edge, debris protection tongue, and screen printed toe cap and heel. Also, it is designed with a straight cut for free movement.
Like the other good boots, Salomon X Ultra 3 MID GTC Sargasso is waterproof and breathable. To provide the stability in various kinds of terrain, it is made with a Contagrip sole for better traction. For better comfort, its middle sole is injected with EVA foam. The boots are available in a wider version for wider feet.
Pros: excellent foot control while descending, comfortable, lightweight.
Cons: not enough breathable, traction not enough on smooth rocks.
Now, let’s see the last shoe. Yes, it is just a shoe, not a boot. But currently, maybe it is the closest short shoe to the higher hiking boots, that’s why I include it along with them.
Salomon XA PRO 3D V8
This shoe protects you dry in wet conditions, with a perfect balance between comfort and security. The new geometry of the 3D chassis supplies you with softness and stability while hiking. It is designed with Contagrip sole which is proper for all kinds of terrain, as well as in the city. The shoes are very stable for long slopes, especially while you descend, thanks to the new foot system that protects you from slipping even in wet conditions.
If you need a light and stable waterproof shoe, for shorter or longer (but easier) hikes with enough support for your ankle and foot, this is the shoe! It is not proper for heavy backpacks, but for light or moderate luggage is perfect, especially for trained hikers.
It has a wide sole for better control on the terrain, especially for descending, but also with a good zone for ascending. The shoe is durable, beautiful with the best rate of weight, insulation, and waterproof. Maybe it is not as strong as the heavier leather shoes, but with enough good test results.
Pros: light, stable, especially for descending.
Cons: not enough strong, not proper for heavy backpacks.
These are the 10 best three-season hiking boots (and a shoe) for 2021. There are many other brands and models, most of which are also very good, but in such a competitive environment, the 10 of the above are winners. Again, there is nothing absolutely perfect. And the boots are only one part of your special travel gear, in this case- for hiking. But the good boots with good hiking abilities, especially when the other important accessories are good too can provide a safe, comfortable and unforgettable experience in the wild nature.
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