Gear Riding

7 Trail-Tough Boots for Horseback Riding and Hiking

Hiking Boots
mm
Written by Kelsey W.

Boots That Do Double Duty

There are many reasons to purchase dual-purpose footwear. When looking for riding boots, it’s natural to want to consider something that is also comfortable for spending hours on your feet across uneven terrain.

Thanks to innovative new materials and higher demand for sturdy, comfortable boots, there are many choices available. Keep reading for seven spectacular options that offer both comfort and versatility in a hybrid boot.

When I went off to summer camp, the first boots I looked for were ones that I could both ride in safely and hike in comfortably. We were headed out to the Wenatchee National Forest in Eastern Washington and needed sturdy shoes that would last through a week of hard riding, hiking, archery, games and overnight stays in the backcountry.

Boot Price point Category Key Features
Ariat Terrain H2O Boots $$ Most Options Available in different leathers and prints, lightweight
Ovation Heels Down Riding Sneakers $$ Lightest Synthetic leather, available in brown and black, sneaker-like comfort
Ariat Ladies Anthem Lacer H2O $$$ Classic Look Shock absorbing sole, waterproofed leather, mesh lining
Shires Moretta Ottavia Lacer Boots $$ Cold Weather Fleece lined, quick drying, impact support to reduce concussive forces
Roper Mens Horseshoe Kiltie boot $$ Mens boot Short profile, multiple lace up options, spur ledge on heel
Dublin Ladies Tilly Boot $$ Quickest on and off Zipper boot, lightweight, narrow fit
Dublin Ladies River Boot III $$$ Tall Boot Wide breathable calf, fashionable and durable with riding safe heels

Purchase Considerations

When looking for a riding boot that you can hike in you’ll want to make sure that you have at least a ½ inch heel and that the sole is not overly treaded or grippy. You’ll also want to think about the kind of climate you’ll be recreating in.

Some boot options are better suited for dry climates, others are designed for wet and muddy use.

Riding boot

Photo Cred: Canva

Similarities—Can One Boot Do Both?

Bringing both riding and hiking boot features into a single boot isn’t too difficult because they have quite a bit of design overlap. By swapping out higher quality leather for synthetic materials, designers can increase durability.

The sole in a hybrid boot is likely to be a little bit thicker than your average riding boot but thinner than most hiking boots.

Be sure to look for:

  • Leather, suede, or synthetic materials on the uppers
  • Lace up (preferred) or side/back zipper designs
  • At least a ½ inch heel to keep your foot in the stirrup
  • Rubber soles for grip on hiking trails

As an added benefit, many designs are compatible with both english and western type spurs.

Differences & Drawbacks

If you’re trying to convert a hiking boot into a riding boot, be sure the heel is at least ½” or more. You’ll also want to avoid shoes with wide, grippy tread. Both of these features can create a safety issue in the saddle.

You don’t want your foot to get caught in the stirrup if you fall off, so a narrower design with a heel is critical.

If you are riding in a saddle that scratches easily, you’ll want to be aware of zipper locations or other metal to prevent scratches or damage to your tack. Many hiking boot types have metal hooks for your laces that might take a chunk out of your expensive saddle!

Cons to Dual Purpose Footwear:

  • Thick soles with a chunky tread can be a safety issue!
  • Not show-ring ready
  • Less ankle support than traditional hiking boots because the ankle needs to be flexible for riding purpose
  • More hardware on these boots can scratch leather or other tack
  • If the boots are leather they still need to be oiled! I see a lot of people with leather hiking-style boots not taking care of them. They end up with holes in high wear areas that could otherwise be avoided.
horse rookie guide to jumping

Boot Recommendations

Ariat Terrain H20 Boots

This was my very first riding boot! These sturdy little ankle boots saw me through countless hours in the saddle, backpacking, and in the barn. I loved how comfortable they were and how I didn’t really have to break them in at all, I could put them on and go.

I have continually returned to these boots throughout my life and definitely recommend them for the casual outdoorsman or trail rider.

H20 Terrain Ariat Boot

Click to see it at Amazon

PROS:

  • Available in Men’s and Women’s sizes
  • Variety of styles and price points in this line
  • Leather upper
  • Comfortable and easy to break in
  • Breathable
  • Waterproof
  • Lightweight

CONS:

  • Require regular cleaning and oiling
  • Some folks have trouble getting their spurs to fit over the heels of the boot
  • Wide feet? These might not work for you – reviews say a lot of folks struggled with the width
  • Hard users report these wearing out within 6 months to a year

See it at Amazon

Ovation Heels Down Riding Sneakers

This lightweight pair looks like a hug for your feet. The synthetic upper appears to be well padded and supportive without going too high on the ankle for freedom of movement while you’re walking.

With a waterproof treatment, many reviewers say they rely on these boots both for hiking trails and for post-ride bath time, along with barn chores in snowy, muddy, or wet weather.

ovation heels down sneakers

Click to see it at Amazon

PROS:

  • Synthetic material
  • Lightweight
  • Waterproof
  • Comfortable
  • Easy to clean

CONS:

  • “Clunky” compared to normal riding boots
  • Not as flexible at the ankle
  • Narrow fit

See it at Amazon

Ariat Ladies Anthem Lacer H20

I love the look of a classic ranch boot! These boots definitely fall more on the riding side of a hybrid boot, but they have a lot of the same features we want in a hiking boot, too. The leather uppers, padded ankles, and special slip-resistant sole from Ariat, make this boot really appealing.

Reviewers range from veterinarians and ranchers to casual riders—just about all said that the boots were comfortable and reliable.

ariat anthem

Click to see it at State Line Tack

PROS:

  • Durable
  • Roper style look
  • Leather and suede upper
  • Padded ankles
  • Slip resistant sole

CONS:

  • Narrow fit
  • No spur stops
  • Some say it’s a bit long in the toe

See it at State Line Tack

Shires Moretta Ladies Ottavia Lacer Boots

A fashionable and comfortable option for the rider hitting the trails in cooler weather. These brown leather boots are insulated and purchasers say that they keep their toes nice and warm, but take a bit of breaking in to get comfortable.

shires moretta

Click to see it at Amazon

PROS:

  • Leather upper
  • Fleece lined
  • Quick drying
  • Riding-safe sole

CONS:

  • Stiff and takes some time to break in
  • Lace up only, cold fingers might make these tough to take off!
  • Shoelaces come undone easily

See it at Amazon

horse rookie guide to jumping

Roper Mens Horseshoe Kiltie Boot

Looking for a rugged option? This is your boot. The reviews are riddled with repeat buyers, some of which are on their 3rd pair and counting! With a shorter ankle profile, this boot fits more like a sneaker without losing the look of a roper-style riding boot.

It has a small riding heel, riding safe sole and fringed top detail.

roper boot

Click to see it at Amazon

PROS:

  • Very hardy, made for all day wear
  • Repeat customers
  • Leather
  • Roper style
  • Works well with spurs

CONS:

  • No high top versions
  • Interior wears faster than the exterior of the shoe
  • Potential color variance

See it at Amazon

Dublin Ladies Tilly Boots

Dublin put out a great looking boot with this paddock boot-style hybrid boot. My favorite feature on this pair is the zipper for easy on and off—I hate tying my laces!

Dublin also boasts that these have superior moisture wicking properties and heel/arch support to get you through the most active parts of your day in comfort.

dublin tilly boots

Click to see it at Amazon

PROS:

  • Zip and lace closure
  • Heel and Arch support
  • Rubber sole
  • Leather upper
  • Paddock boot-style

CONS:

  • Nylon interior
  • Runs small and narrow
  • Color variances in the leather

See it at Amazon

Dublin Ladies River Boots III

The Dublin River Boots are incredibly popular across a wide variety of disciplines and rider types. They are a long lasting tall boot, and our only tall boot to make the list. These are widely used by equestrians who are on their feet all day and need a tall riding boot.

If you tend to deal with deep water or mud, I would not recommend these because the waterproofing only goes about as high as the ankle.

dublin river boot

Click to see it at State Line Tack

PROS:

  • Pull on design
  • Tall boot style
  • Heel and arch support
  • Highly reviewed with most satisfied with the longevity, design and comfort
  • All day wearability

CONS:

  • Only waterproof up to the ankle
  • Higher price tag
  • Calf runs large
  • Color variances in the leather

See it at State Line Tack

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Can I wear hiking boots for horseback riding?

It’s not recommended that you wear hiking boots horseback riding unless there is a minimum of a ½ inch heel and no bulky or overly grippy tread that could get your foot stuck in a stirrup. Looking for a hybrid boot that considers these dangers is a safer bet.

horse rookie guide to jumping

Q: Are Blundstones good for horseback riding?

Some Blundstones can be good for riding! You’ll want to be careful if you have shorter legs, as the ankle opening of a blundstone can get trapped under the fender of your saddle and mess with your leg position. It might be best to use these with half chaps to avoid that problem.

Q: Are Frye boots good for horseback riding?

Frye boots nowadays are mostly a fashion statement. They do technically have a heel and you could ride in them, but I would trust the durability and construction of a true riding boot or hybrid over a fashion shoe every time!

Q: Are riding boots comfortable for walking?

Most riding boots are comfortable no matter when you’re wearing them. Some boots are notoriously difficult to break in, such as patent leather tall dress boots, but most hybrid riding and hiking boots should be comfortable for you in and out of the saddle.

Check out our article about the 12 most comfortable cowboy boots for walking.

Q: What are the best boots for trail riding?

A pair that is durable, waterproof, has a heel and is made with a flexible but comfortably supported sole and footbed. You never know what you might come across on the trail—you might need to hand walk your horse through an obstacle. It’s best to have shoes that you can wear for a long time both in and out of the saddle.

Q: What are the best boots for endurance riding?

I would find the most lightweight and quick-drying pair that is safe to ride in. A synthetic shoe is likely a good option here.

horse rookie guide to jumping

Parting Thoughts

Be sure to prioritize your own comfort over any one boot specification. It doesn’t matter how lightweight or durable a shoe is if it gives you blisters! A hybrid riding and hiking boot is a great way to get more use out of one shoe. There are a lot of quality options available today.

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Sources

https://www.blundstone.com/equestrian-paddock-boots

 
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About the author

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Kelsey W.

Kelsey loves hippology and judging horses from 4-H through national levels. She achieved national qualifications in the Arabian Horse Association atop a horse she brought along herself, and she's now working with her 6 yo rescue Thoroughbred.