Group Test: 3-4 Season Boots
Need a boot for year-round use? We test out eight of the best models vying for your money…
It’s not possible to have one boot that’s perfect for every occasion, but a 3-4 season boot is probably as close you can get. Offering as much support and protection as you’ll ever need, they will even take you onto snow at a push, with a sole stiff enough to take C1 crampons, yet still be flexible enough to remain comfortable after hours of walking or trekking. Within this category there are also several distinct types of boot e.g. do you want a traditional full-grain leather boot beloved of so many British hillwalkers, or perhaps a slightly lighter composite boot that would perhaps be a good bet for a range of treks worldwide. How to decide? Well there’s no substitute for trying out boots yourself, so get yourself down your local outdoors retailer and let your feet decide!
WHAT TO LOOK FOR
FIT: It doesn’t matter what features a boot has, if it doesn’t offer you the right fit, then it’s not for you. Some are wider or roomier than others that offer a more snug fit, but the key is to try different brands on in a shop to find the fit that suits you. UPPERS: Almost always leather – either nu-buck or full grain – the upper should give you support and protection from the elements as well as knocks from rocks. A rubber rand (a band between upper and sole) offers extra protection for the boot and your feet. LINING: Look for a Gore-Tex or other brand waterproof lining which will help keep your feet dry even if water gets through the leather outer. OUTSOLE: The outsole will be pretty stiff on this type of boot – good for scrambling and using crampons – but will still offer some flex to aid comfort when walking. Tread patterns will vary in depth but should help grip in the mud as well as on rock. ANKLE CUFFS: In theory the higher the cuff the more support it will give your ankles, however you may prefer a mid cut for increased dexterity and comfort on extended hikes and treks. CRAMPON COMPATIBILITY: Though not intended for mountaineering in winter conditions, 3-4 season boots generally are able to take strap-on C1 crampons, for short periods of walking in snow.
Meindl Himalaya MFS £185
Weight: 900g each (size 9) Upper: Sil-Nubuck leather Lining: Gore-Tex
Sole: Meindl Multigriff Crampon compatible: B1
The Himalayas look the part as soon you take them out of the box, the massive rubber rand showing they mean business. The nu-buck upper is sumptuous and features a minimum of stitching. The outer sole is pretty rigid while the medium depth tread will work well on both mud and on rock. From the box, these are one of the most comfortable boots you will find, aided by Meindl’s memory foam system (hence the MFS in the name). The high ankle collar gives as much support as you could ever want. Although it’s the most expensive boot in our test, the Himalaya is a top quality product that is man enough for the toughest walks or treks.
Verdict:Bombproof boot for year-round trekking and hillwalking 9/10
Mammut Pacific Crest £170
Weight: 850g each Upper: Waxed Nubuck leather Lining: Gore-Tex
Sole: Vibram MT-Tractio II sole Crampon compatible: B1
These boots are incredibly comfortable right out of the box and are also one of the best-looking boots too. In many ways they could be considered a ‘lite’ version of the Meindls; they weigh a bit less, have a slightly less stiff sole, have a lower ankle cuff, have a less pronounced rand and so on. They generally feel less bulky than the Meindls though you could argue that that’s at the expense of a bit of support. The fit is not as snug as some of the other boots here, but whether this suits you or not depends on your own preference. Though not offering quite as much protection as some, this was definitely one of our favouries.
Verdict: Superbly comfortable boot and nice-looking too 8/10
Berghaus Tarazed GTX £170
Weight: 750g Upper: Nubuck, mesh and rubber Lining: Gore-Tex
Sole: Vibram with Opti-Stud lugs Crampon compatible: B0
This boot is considerably cheaper than most of the others in this test, but has plenty to commend it. The Opti-Stud tread pattern is intended to get a grip in the mud as well as prevent clogging, while the high ankle cuff will give you plenty of support on rocky trekking trails for example. The fit is roomier than some of the other boots we tested, and whether this suits you depends on your feet shape and whether you like a more ‘precise’ feel when walking. We think it’s best suited to general walking and trekking, rather than scrambling for example, but at this price it’s a great buy.
Verdict: Great value trekking and walking boot 7/10
Alt-Berg Mallerstang £180
Weight: 800g Upper: Full grain European leather Lining: Sympatex waterproof membrane
Sole: Vibram PU/rubber ice trak sole Crampon compatible: B1
Another classic-looking boot and British-made too, the Mallerstang 2 is most comparable to the Zamberlan and the Scarpa in what it offers. Where it differs from other brands is that it’s available in
five different width fittings, and this is just the start, as the company also offers custom fitting and made-to-measure boots if required – you can visit the factory for assessment and fitting. Despite specifying our width fitting, we found the pair we received a little too cosy, however they provide a
great deal of support and the deep tread is perfect for the
Verdict: Quality British-made boot available in range of width fittings 8/10
Brasher Ahklun GTX £140
Weight: 760g Upper: Suede and fabric Lining: Goretex
Sole: Vibram Foura Crampon compatible: B1
This is the odd one out in this test in that its upper is a combination of suede and fabric, rather than leather.It’s a good-looking boot, the orange stitching around the lace eyelets set off by the green
suede. In practice we found the fit a little too roomy for our liking, and despite having a high ankle cuff the Ahklun didn’t provide as much support as we’d expect from a true 3-4 season boot. The choice of upper material is an odd one, as it doesn’t save a significant amount of weight compared to the others, yet gives less protection from knocks from rocks for example. On the plus side, we found it more breathable than the others, which is no surprise.
Verdict: Not enough support or protection for a 3-4 season boot 6/10
The North Face Jannu II £139
Weight: 775g Upper: Full grain leather Lining: Gore-Tex
Sole: Vibram Crampon compatible: B1
In many ways comparable to the Berghaus, the Jannu II again has a slightly roomier fit and is also one of the lightest boots on test here. If differs from the Tarazed in that the ankle cuffs are lower and overall it feels slightly less bulky. It’s possibly the most flexible of the boots tested, though the sole is still stiff enough to take a crampon if necessary. In use we found the boot comfortable without
offering the luxuriousness of say the Mammut or Meindl. Lacing up is a little hampered by the overly tight upper eyelets. Protection and support is very good though, and again this is an excellent value boot for the money. Ideal all-rounder for trekking and walking.
Verdict: Light and flexible for a range of conditions 8/10
Zamberlan Vioz GT £165
Weight: 790g Upper: Hydrobloc full grain leather Lining: Gore-Tex
Outsole: Zamberlan Vibram 3D Crampon compatible: B1
This is a beautifully-made boot combining a classic-looking full grain leather upper with quite a hi-tech looking sole with an articulated arch. The ankle cuff is well-padded and at a height we like (i.e. not too high) tapering towards the back. The boot oozes quality, and its upper feels almost like a single piece of leather that’ll seal out the elements. Backed up by its Gore-Tex lining it should do
exactly that. In use the Vioz feels very supportive and precise, ‘rolling’ nicely as you walk and offering a balance of stiffness and flex that makes it a pleasure to wear both when walking or scrambling.
Verdict: High quality boot offering comfort, support and feel 9/10
Scarpa SL M3 £149
Weight: 875g Upper: Sherpa calf leather Lining: Taibrelle/velvatine
Sole: Vibram M3 Crampon compatible: B1
The SL M3 is the archetypal walking boot for British hillwalkers, and has recently been updated with
improvements in weight and comfort. A deep tread and the minimum of stitching make the Scarpa ideal for coping with horrid British weather, while the padded anke cuff is at a good height, offering support, but still allowing movement which higher cuffs can sometimes inhibit. In use we found the
SL M3 took a while to wear in, rather than offering the out-of the-box comfort that something like the Meindl or Mammut give you. Its stiff sole is great for rock though and overall it’s a boot that makes you feel well protected.
Verdict: Tried and tested design now improved further 7/10