During the last few years, I have spent time with more and more vegetarians and also a few vegans. I myself am a meat eater. But I try to keep my meat consumption to a minimum and always free-range. So I love hanging out with non meat-eaters. There are always loads of new recipes to try and issues to chat about. However on a recent discussion with my vegan friend, the topic of clothing and footwear came up. In my blinkered idea of how easily I could transition to a vegetarian lifestyle without too much change, I hadn’t considered the issues surrounding anything other than consumables. It got me thinking about what I could live without, or compromise on and one of the main things was my beloved pair of Meindl leather hiking boots. So I decided to do some investigating to see what my options would be if I decided to ditch my leathers and step up to the challenge of a vegetarian or vegan existence. As it turns out, it wouldn’t be such a huge compromise after all. Some major outdoor brands have the vegan hiking boot market covered, and have done for years. Yes, vegan hiking boots are a thing! Here are some options:
|Merrell Capra Mid Sport||Fast and light hiking||Lightweight and comfortable||Not that durable for their price||$$$|
|Wills Mens Walking Boots||Hill walking||Comfortable and ethically produced||Not waterproof||$|
|La Sportiva Trango Cube GTX||Mountaineering||Lightweight and comfortable||Not as warm as other mountaineering boots||$$$$$|
|Veggie Trekker MK 5||Day hikes||Durable and very well made||Not waterproof||$$$|
|Mammut T Aenergy GTX||Backpacking and trekking||Great support and comfort||Grip could be better||$$$|
|Eco Vegan All Terrain Pro Waterproof Hiker||Day hikes and hill walking||Waterproof and environmentally friendly||No vibram sole||$$|
|Altra Lone Peak 30 Neoshell Mid Hiking Boots||Fast and light trekking and trail running||Ultra lightweight||Not as durable as stiff boots||$$|
|TrekSta Evolution Mid GTX||4-season hiking||Excellent fit and comfort||Not as durable as heavier boots||$$|
|Zamberlan SH Crosser Plus GTX RR||Backpacking and trekking||Lightweight and stable||Grip could be better||$$|
|Adidas Outdoor Terrex Swift R Mid||Backpacking and trekking||Excellent grip||Problematic speed lacing system||$$|
There are a thousand reasons why people choose a vegetarian or vegan lifestyle. Too many to even touch upon here. But my research into the world of vegan footwear has opened my eyes to what options are out there; if you are considering making some changes as a consumer, small or big, you don’t really need to compromise quality and performance quite as much as you may think. If at all.
How to choose vegan hiking boots
The first and most obvious thing to look for is the materials the boots are made from. There are loads of synthetic and non-leather hiking boots out there. Many of which perform equally well, if not better, than leather hiking boots. This depends on what you are looking for in a hiking boot, but for many hikers, choosing synthetic hiking boots is preferable whether they are vegan or not.
Secondly, and much less obviously, the glue that holds your boots together should be looked at a little more closely. Many synthetic hiking boots and shoes aren’t advertised as vegan because many manufacturers use glue that contains animal products. Or unknown ingredients. This immediately makes things tricky for vegans and vegetarians and much more care is needed in choosing vegan hiking boots.
Some brands clearly state when their products are vegan, but others are a little ambiguous – especially when it comes to the contents of the glues used on their shoes and boots. So if you are unsure, then the best course of action is to contact the companies and brands directly to put your mind at ease. This resource from Vegan8 is also really useful as a quick reference on vegan footwear brands.
When buying a new pair of vegan hiking boots, you also need to consider all the usual things that one needs in a pair of great boots; comfort, fit, support, good value etc. Take a read of these suggestions on what to look for when choosing new hiking boots.
So from my research into what I would choose if I were to buy vegan hiking boots, I have discovered some really great options that I would definitely consider regardless of my vegan/vegetarian values:
10 vegan hiking boots
These Merrell vegan hiking boots are an excellent option for fast and light hikers. With out of box comfort and shock absorption from the Merrell air cushion in the heel, it would be easy to mistake this mid-height hiking boot for a walking trainer or running shoe. The balance of rigidity through the midsole and heel, and good flexibility and traction of the Vibram outsole makes the Capra ideal for scrambling and off-roading without compromising on support through the ankle and heel. Although their thin synthetic upper may not provide enough warmth in snowy conditions, the breathable Gore-Tex membrane will at least keep the water out if the conditions and terrain are more on the wet side.Mens version also available.
Pros: Lightweight and very comfortable
Cons: Not as durable as they should be for their price
These classic-looking vegan hiking boots have English gent written all over them, but without a trace of the associated tradition. The faux leather micro-fibre upper is so convincing that one could easily be fooled into assuming the worst about its origins. But these wide fit PETA approved vegan walking boots couldn’t be more ethical. Wills also claim that their European factory workers are provided with “a pleasant, safe and enjoyable work environment.” As gentlemanly as they appear!
These synthetic boots may not have the shelf life of leather boots, but they certainly do a great job at providing water resistant protection for casual hikers in three season conditions.
Pros: Good cushioning and ethically produced. A good everyday boot
Cons: The lack of Gore-Tex membrane makes them only water resistant
These ultralight mountaineering boots may not be designed for the pedestrian hiker, but on winter alpine expeditions these are the top choice for the vegan mountaineer. La Sportiva have reached new heights when it comes to maximising out of box comfort; the seamless upper and direct-inject lacing system resists abrasion and also reduces weight. And the Gore-Tex lining ensures waterproof protection in even the most challenging winter conditions. As one of the lightest mountaineering boots on the market, these vegan winter boots make for an excellent choice for alpine hikers and ice climbers alike. Compatible with hybrid crampons and supported by Vibram soles, you will struggle to find a more comfortable boot of this grade.
Womens version is also available.
Pros: Lightweight and super comfortable
Cons: Not as warm as other mountaineering boots due to their lightweight nature
The Veggie Trekker MK 5 does a very good job of looking the part, and for the most part performs up to its great expectations too. It is a very well made vegan hiking boot that is sturdy and robust and will deal with tough long days of trekking very nicely. The Vibram outsole has deep and chunky lugs that supports the breathable micro-fibre uppers and will take on challenging terrain for most of the year. These boots are superbly well made and will go the distance from that point of view. However what lets them down is their lack of a Gore-Tex membrane, which you would expect in a boot of this price. The Wind-Tex breathable lining provides water resistance at best, but will not hold out any significant volumes of water.
Pros: Very durable and well made
Cons: Not waterproof
If you’re looking for a pair of vegan hiking boots that offer good protection, are super supportive and are highly comfortable, then look no further. Mammut have done a great job of creating an all synthetic boot that provides excellent support for the wearer without going overboard on stiffness, even when lugging around a big and heavy pack. Memo Foam cushioning keeps your feet happy for days of backpacking by returning to its original shape after wear. And the Mammut Rolling Concept also contributes to the comfort levels and reduces fatigue by supporting the natural roll of the foot. The Gore-Tex membrane nicely rounds off this high quality boot that is ideal for long distance backpackers looking for a good combination of protection and comfort.
Womens version is also available.
Pros: Great support and comfort
Cons: Not very deep lugs in the sole
Eco Vegan Shoes are one of the few vegan shoe companies that can boast a fully waterproof walking boot. They have adopted Schoeller’s Ecorepel system that acts in a similar way to the feathers of waterfowl. Ecorepel is also flurocarbon free, compared with other water repellant finishes; a big tick from an environmental viewpoint. In addition to this, the breathable micro-fibre and Advanced Swiss Fabric, also from Schoeller, helps to provide all round good levels of protection from the elements either out in the wild or about town. The lightweight and durable sole adds to the comfort and good quality that will step up to lengthy day hikes and hill walks.
Pros: Environmentally friendly and waterproof
Cons: No Vibram sole
A first glance at these unusual looking vegan hiking boots and you will immediately connect them to Altra’s usual line of footwear, the trail runner. But Altra have branched out into the hiking world with this debut boot that has taken all the best parts of lightweight running shoes and made them fit for the mountains. The result is an ultra lightweight mid-height boot that is barely much heavier than a regular running shoe, but with stability and robustness that can easily handle the alpine environment. Altra use Polartec Neoshell to provide a waterproof layer on the outside of the boot, and have gaiter attachment points for when things get really wet. With a wide toe box and all the comfort of a running shoe, these boots are made for fast and light hikers or trail runners wanting an extra bit of support when carrying a load.
Womens version is also available.
Pros: Ultra lightweight
Cons: Not as durable as stiff walking boots
This 4-season vegan hiking boot is made to make feet happy. TrekSta tested and measured over 20,000 feet to create the perfect shape that better fits the natural curves of your feet and toe box – now that’s what I call evolution in boot design! But their NestFIT technology isn’t the only thing that leads to hiking happiness. The Gore-Tex waterproof membrane, lightweight design, excellent arch support from a triple-density EVA insole, and IceLock sole all contribute to the general high quality and great value that this boot offers. Their lightweight nature make them less durable than other boots in this category but if it’s a low weight 4-season hiking boot that you are after, with the bonus of that custom fit feel, then these are the vegan hiking boots for you.
Womens version also available.
Pros: Excellent comfort and fit
Cons:Their lightweight nature make them less durable than other boots in this category
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Don’t be put off by the Amazon description that these vegan hiking boots are made of leather. They are not! Kevlar and Cordura are the synthetic components of the Zamberlan uppers. Cordura is renowned for tear and abrasion resistance whilst maintaining breathability – not usually associated with leather uppers. And with a Vibram rubber outsole, enhanced with thermoplastic urethane stabilizers, there is not a scrap of leather to be found. What these mid-height boots do offer though is excellent stability and support for those trekking with a heavy load. Much like the Mammut T Aenergy boots, they are the lightweight solution to stiff trekking boots, without compromising on quality and toughness. The Gore-Tex membrane (also not made of leather!) adds to their versatility and the flexible outsole will keep you skipping along happily on most surfaces.
Pros: Super lightweight and stable
Cons: Grip could be better due to shallow lugs
With the feel of a running shoe but the performance of a boot, it’s no wonder that the Terrex Swifts have been getting consistently great reviews for so many years. The Adiprene shock absorbent foam midsole contributes to the overall comfortable feel of these lightweight boots. And although the lugs of the Traxion rubber outsole are relatively shallow, they do a great job at getting to grips with almost every type of hike you can throw at them. Better suited to narrow feet, the Swifts also run a little bigger than your usual foot size, so it’s worth ordering a couple of pairs, or trying before you buy.
These boots compete fiercely with Mammut and Zamberlan for a stable, waterproof and super lightweight boot that will support hiking with a load in varied hiking conditions.
Mens version are available.
If you prefer a lower cut, then Adidas have also developed vegan hiking shoes in the Swift range.
Pros: Great grip
Cons: Problematic speed lacing system
Whether you are vegan, vegetarian or a fully fledged carnivore, this excellent selection of vegan hiking boots is guaranteed to have something for you. And if having a fully synthetic walking boot is non-negotiable, then there really is no need to compromise on top class hiking footwear any longer. Happy feet all round!