Considering the amount of hiking I do, I haven’t owned a decent pair of hiking boots for many years. Not since the days of Duke of Edinburgh, in fact, when my eager classmates made our routes through the Lake District far longer and more challenging that was required of us.
Since those school days, I’ve tried to include a few hikes in every trip overseas and my recent stint in South America was the perfect chance to see some incredible scenery. I climbed almost to the top of Cotopaxi Volcano in Ecuador, slogged it out in the heat and humidity to see the Lost City and the otherworldly wax palms of Salento in Colombia, fought off altitude sickness in the Cordillera Blanca on the Santa Cruz trek near Huaraz in Peru, followed in the Incas’ footsteps through the foothills near Machu Picchu, breathed in nothing but dust for a day in order to see the belly of the arid Colca Canyon, and experienced some of the most highly rated treks in the world at Fitz Roy and Puerto Natales in Patagonia.
It was on the W trek in Patagonia that my lightweight, but not particularly high-tech boots finally crumbled. The soles came away, allowing moisture from the grass to seep through and my feet were red raw by the time we returned. Despite their failure to perform, I felt a pang of sadness as I abandoned them in a hostel, my thoughts flickering through the countless adventures we’d shared.
Not having learned my lesson, I replaced my old pair with a discount brand in preparation for my trip to New Zealand and spent the entire six weeks with the insoles of both shoes continually shifting inside each shoe towards my heel, while ankle support was non-existent.
It was time to find a pair of decent hiking shoes that would be comfortable, weather-resistant and protective and, in the run up to my Outback Adventure in Australia’s Northern Territory, I was given the perfect opportunity to review some footwear for Millets. After browsing the extensive selection of hiking shoes on their website, I opted for the Salomon Quest 4D GTX boots because they were a trusted brand and the design looked sturdy and reliable.
When I removed the boots from their packaging, I was initially very impressed. They looked the part and they felt strong yet light. Considering they’d been ordered over the internet, they were also incredibly comfortable. In fact, having now worn them multiple times for hiking on rough terrain, I’m amazed that they haven’t rubbed my feet at all.
Compared with some walking shoes, they are a little on the heavy side, but as good, supportive hiking footwear, they are remarkably lightweight and nimble. They also have a range of impressive features to bring you the best-quality for serious hiking.
The Salomon Quest 4D GTX is made from lightweight, breathable and abrasion-resistant material, with Gore-Tex® technology to ensure that your feet stay dry, while allowing moisture vapour to escape.
There is also a specially designed sock liner made from durable OrthoLite® foam, which creates cool, dry cushioning underfoot and includes an antimicrobial treatment to deter odour. A heel cup also provides support and additional cushioning.
There are some great features to the design of these shoes, including careful construction to ensure that they remain waterproof. Notably, there is a padded gusseted tongue to prevent debris from entering the shoe and to relieve lace pressure.
The ‘4D advanced chassis’ is based on Salomon’s trail-running technology and incorporates thermoplastic urethane midsole supports, which help control flex, reduce ankle strain, enhance stability and protect your feet from rough terrain.
The result is a boot that’s fast and light, but robust enough to deal with tricky terrain and long hikes.
There is a rubber cap in both the toe and the heel to provide protection from bumps and abrasion, and the boots have been designed with a high-cut profile and removable footbeds to support the ankles and the arches of your feet. Contagrip® rubber outsoles make it easy to move over rough surfaces, both wet and dry.
While the boots are available in a variety of colour combinations, none is too obtrusive. They have a clean, modern design, incorporating natural tones.
These boots are compatible with strap-on crampons, which I love, because I’ve previously had to rent boots for this purpose, both for the Cotopaxi climb and glacier hiking on Franz Josef in New Zealand. Footwear can make or break a challenging hiking experience and if you can avoid having to borrow questionable gear from a tour company, you should do so.
The average weight for a pair of Salomon Quest 4D GTX boots is 2 lb, or 9.5 oz.
Men, fear not. There is a Salomon Quest 4D GTX for you too, and it looks just as great.
Having checked out other user reviews online, there appears to be overwhelming support for this product from people with a wide range of experiences, including those who have hiked through ankle-deep snow in the Himalayas to those who have conquered Kilimanjaro.
To put it simply, this product is fantastic. Salomon has managed to design footwear that has a rigid design to protect against ankle strain, while ensuring comfort, regardless of the terrain or weather conditions.
The boots were breathable in the plus 40-degrees of the Australian Outback and remained dry on a recent hike through dripping vegetation and waterfalls in Sydney’s Blue Mountains.
They gripped well on slippery rocks and, despite my clumsy nature, I negotiated roots and crevices without tripping once – something that tends to happen to me when I wear bulkier footwear for the first time in weeks. It’s clear that they’re well made and durable, they look the part and they certainly perform.
There are just two minor negatives, both of which are only really an issue if you intend to take these shoes on an extended trip overseas. The first is that they are larger, less flexible and slightly heavier than some alternative styles of walking shoe, which might make them a bit of a pain to backpack with if you don’t wear them constantly when moving between accommodation. The second is that trying to team them up with the more fashionable clothing in your backpack doesn’t really work. They look great with professional hiking gear, but less good with a pair of flimsy beach shorts. Check out my review of Timberland’s Yellow Boot for a more stylish walking shoe.
If you need comfortable, casual everyday footwear that will suffice for the occasional walk, you might be better off with super lightweight walking shoes, but if you’re looking for a pair of hiking boots that really mean business, they don’t get much better than this. In my opinion, their strong design and comfortable, supportive structure means that you could take on just about any hike worldwide and the Salomon Quest 4D GTX boots would not let you down.