The best 4-season walking boots

Vital for comfortable and safe winter treks, we've rounded up and recommended the best 4-season winter hiking boots.

Walking in Scotland during snowy cold weather

by Chris Williams |
Updated on

Four season walking boots are tough, gnarly, mountain stomping über-boots that’ll keep you climbing and keep you safe. They’re more or less essential for winter walking and there’s no substitute if you’re heading off on scrambling, rocky or snow paths.

There are a number of unique features found on 4-season boots which operate to keep you moving, including deep lugs, crampon compatibility and stiffened ankles. What’s most important of these is up to you and your planned trekking routes. We've recommended the best 4-seasons walking boots available, and included a buying advice section below.

If you’re just looking for some all-purpose walking boots to serve you in all but the harshest of climes, why not check out our rundown and test of the best 3-season boots?

The best 4-season walking boots

Editoru2019s pick

Sizes men's EU 40-50, womenu2019s sizes EU 36-42 | Weight per boot 919g (menu2019s EU 43)

The Scarpa Manta Tech GTX boots are rather iconic as far as winter hiking boots go. The Manta has been around in one form or another for many years and are our top pick because they are strong, tough, comfortable, and fantastically designed.

While comfortable, they are quite heavy and therefore don't feel as delicate as the lighter summer boots you're perhaps used to wearing. But in return, you get a stiff B2 boot that is C2 crampon-compatible and very adept at dealing with ice and rugged terrain, thanks to the Vibram Mulaz S outsoles.

The Scarpa Manta Tech GTX is just flexible and padded enough to make climbing very comfortable. This boot is also a wider fit in order to accommodate winter socks.

Best for durability

Unisex sizes EU 38-48 | Weight per boot 961g (EU 43)

With durability almost inevitably comes heft and expense. Such is the case here. The Karakorum HC GTX boot is wonderfully robust with its single-leather upper, wraparound rand and basically invincible toe box.

Like the Scarpa Manta Tech GTX, this boot manages to offer a decent level of comfort and flex while remaining quite stiff and compatible with C2 crampons. The Vibram Impact Brake System outsole is brilliant for climbing and descents.

Only those who will match this boot's ability with appropriately tough terrain will see a decent return on their investment because this is an expensive boot.

Best for climbing

Unisex sizes 4.5-12 | Weight per boot 740g (7)

The Aku Tengu GTX is more focused on excelling at climbing than the La Sportiva and Scarpa boots above. It has a more precise fit and therefore improves feel and footing on rugged terrain and snow or ice.

But it doesn't suffer from a lack of durability. It is still a stiff boot thanks to its dual-density PU midsole with a carbon fibre shank. The synthetic-suede mixed upper is tough, and it has a strong toe box, wraparound rand and rigid heel.

To top it off, the high-ankle cuff, internal gaiter and padded tongue prevent the intrusion of ingress. It's not a general walking boot but rather a more focused mountain climber.

Best for general walking

Sizes men's EU 39.5-48.5, women's EU 36-43 | Weight per boot 762g (menu2019s EU 42.5)

Despite being considerably lighter than the boots above, the Ferratta II GTX is still a versatile 4-season boot.

Because this is a relatively light boot, it's a good general walking boot that is nimble enough for climbs too - about as nimble as it gets for a B2 boot. The trade-off is that it isn't as heavy-duty or as warm as the Scarpa and La Sportiva boots.

However, if it's a versatile 4-season waking boot you want, this is certainly one of your best options.

Best value
Salewa Rapace GTX
Price: $297.99

Sizes men's 6-13, women's 3-9 | Weight per boot 777g (menu2019s 8u00bd)

This boot grabs the 'best value' award but it's also a contender for most comfortable too. This is due to its relative lightness and a kind of shoe-style design to give a better underfoot feel.

In addition to great feel, there is lots of traction too, provided by the Vibram WTC outsole.

Where the heavier boots above are ideal for technical terrain and a bit of general walking, this boot is ideal for a bit of technical terrain and more general walking. Thus, it's not as tough or durable as those heavier boots but its ideal use may well match up to yours.

4-season walking boot buying advice

Fit: No boot is worth having if it doesn’t fit. The inside of the boot should be 13-15mm longer than your foot, which you can gauge by putting on the boot without the laces tightened up and then placing your forefinger down the inside of the boot at the heel. The upper should be snug and comfortable across the foot. Better outdoor stores will measure your feet.

Durability: As these boots are designed for the particularly challenging conditions of winter, they need to be durable, so look for uppers with minimal stitching and a rubber rand at the toe box. For maximum durability, look for a rubber rand that encloses the whole boot.

Crampon compatibility: The 4-season boot is rated as B2, which means it is compatible with a C2 rated crampon (stiffer than a C1 crampon used with 3-4-season boots). To make it easier to fit crampons, 4-season boots may have a ledge at the heel that allows crampons with heel clips to be fitted. These are easier and quicker to fit than strap-on crampons, which is important in very cold conditions.

Outsole lugs: Deep, widely spaced lugs will bite into snow without clogging, while also providing many years of wear before they are too shallow to offer a good grip.

Midsole stiffness: Grab the boot by the toe and heel and bend the toe towards the heel, then twist the toe while holding the heel stationary. The harder it is to bend the boot in these two directions, the better the boot will perform on snow and ice and be compatible with crampons. A 4-season boot will be almost totally rigid, a 3-season boot will be very bendy and a 3- 4-season boot will be somewhere between these extremes.

Ankle cuff: The ankle cuff helps prevent mud, snow and grit from entering the boot, and protects the ankle against being scraped by rocks. The stiffness in the ankle cuff reduces the strain on the ankle when traversing slopes by adding extra support, which makes it less tiring and easier to get a stable foothold, particularly on lower slopes.

Hiking boot care

Don't forget about boot care and cleaning. This is vital to boot performance and longevity. Some of our favourite gear care products come from Grangers. Its products are effective, PFC-free and Bluesign approved.

For cleaning any fabric, including leather and suede, use Grangers Footwear Car Kit; for maintaining water repellency use Grangers Footwear Repel - it works on all fabrics but for full-grain leather, its Waterproof Wax is best for conditioning and waterproofing.

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Chris Williams is a Commercial Content Writer for What's The Best. He also writes for CAR, Parkers, and Live For The Outdoors.

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