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The dos and don’ts of hiking boots

The dos and don’ts of hiking boots

Hiking boots used to be the signature style of hippies and history teachers, but you don’t have to be a keen follower of fashion to notice that they’ve become one of 2020’s style statements. In recent years, practical footwear has made its way into the wardrobes of some of the most stylish men in town – just look at David Gandy, if you don’t believe us – and that’s why we reckon you should give the look a go this spring, even if the path you're on is more pavement than dirt.

“The beauty of hiking boots is that they’re designed for function over fashion, with the latter stepping up as a serendipitous bonus,” says stylist Luke McDonald. “Hiking itself has become more trendy as a pastime, so it’s no surprise that clothing designed for the hobby has made its way into the mainstream.” 

You might be picturing the kind of clunky old boots you wore on school trips to the Lake District, but think again. Now, you can find pairs designed by the heavyweights of hiking-wear such as The North Face, Columbia, and Patagonia, that will fit seamlessly into your urban wardrobe, but can still hold their own on rugged coastlines. 

Fleeces, anoraks, utility backpacks – they’ve all secured a place in the everyman’s day-to-day aesthetic – but you don’t need to be fully committed to the outdoor trend to take on a classic pair of hiking boots. In fact, if you’re wearing yours in more urban settings, the key to getting this look right is pairing them with everyday pieces, like smarter trousers or soft, cosy knitwear, rather than kitting yourself out entirely in outdoor gear.

Because even though hiking boots are ideal for both spontaneous country walks and afternoon wanderings around city streets, your overall look shouldn’t veer into the realm of costume. “Keanu Reeves has been rocking his hiking boots with suits at movie premieres since the 1990s, but if you take care to balance the elements of your outfit, you can make a big impact with your hiking footwear,” Luke says. 

And don’t get hung up on authenticity. “It can be easy to get sucked in by the technical features of hiking boots, but keep the details minimal,” Luke says. “Rather than fabrics like leather or Gore-Tex, which are favoured by keen hikers, a modern suede pair with a lighter sole may in fact be more functional for everyday wear.” If you want to add a subtle nod to the traditional hiking look, a pair of contrast laces in simple colours is a shoo-in.

Words: Ella White
Photography: Jack Batchelor
Styling: Luke McDonald