Whether you’re trekking up a mountain or going for a relaxed country ramble, a great pair of hiking boots are a must to keep you walking in comfort.

If you need a reliable new pair, it’s worth spending a good amount of money on something that will keep your feet dry and cool, mile after mile, and looking after your boots properly – a quality pair should last you for years.

Our 13 top-rated pairs of hiking boots may vary in price and style, but all have been tested on tough terrain in all weathers.

The first decision to make is whether you’d rather choose leather or fabric hiking boots. Leather is warmer and is naturally waterproof, but tends to be stiffer and heavier, and may need breaking in. Fabric boots are lighter and are usually comfortable straight out of the box but can be less warm.

If you can afford to, it’s a good idea to own a sturdy pair of leather boots for colder weather and a pair of fabric boots for spring and summer walking and for travelling.

The key features to look out for in a great pair of hiking boots are good waterproofing, good breathability and good grip.

Your boots need to be waterproof if you’re planning to wear them in bad weather – look for a branded waterproofing technology such as Gore-Tex (sometimes written as GTX) or an own-brand technology, and make sure the boots you buy are labelled “waterproof” rather than just “water-resistant”.

Your boots should also have a built-in breathable membrane to wick away sweat and keep your feet cool in warmer weather.

Finally, take a good look at the soles of potential boots – pick a pair with thick rubber soles and deep lugs (the indentations in the sole that help with grip). Many boots use Vibram brand soles, which are good quality choice.

Try your hiking boots on in person if possible, ideally with thick hiking socks. Check there is plenty of room to wiggle your toes and no rubbing anywhere, especially around the ankles.

If you have wide or narrow feet, look for a boot designed specifically to fit you. Hiking boots come in different ankle heights (usually low, mid and high) – high-cut boots offer better support for your ankles on uneven terrain, and low-cut boots and trainer-style hiking shoes are a good choice in summer. Happy hiking.

You can trust our independent reviews. We may earn commission from some of the retailers, but we never allow this to influence selections, which are formed from real-world testing and expert advice. This revenue helps us to fund journalism across The Independent.

The verdict: Women's walking boots

Our best on test is Ariat’s handsome and high-performing skyline summit. If you’re after a lightweight fabric boot, the Keen terradora II are a great option. On a budget? Go for the Salomon bekken.

IndyBest product reviews are unbiased, independent advice you can trust. On some occasions, we earn revenue if you click the links and buy the products, but we never allow this to bias our coverage. The reviews are compiled through a mix of expert opinion and real-world testing.