Right now were seeing some of our classic footwear go on a diet. The New Balance 2002R have been chopped down to mules, the Vans Sk8-Hi got a trim to Sk8-Mids, and Balenciaga emaciated a pair of Adidas Stan Smiths. Now hiking boots are getting in on the less-is-more mindset: behold, the low-top hiking boot.
Plenty of modern Yosemite-ready boots—you know, the kind slathered in mesh panels and GoreTex membranes—are available in crew-cut models, but that’s not what were talking about. The low-top hikers we’re feeling started life heavily inspired by archival alpine boots. They’re extremely Gorp 1.0: old-fashioned D-ring and hook eyelets, lugged soles, simple shapes, and almost 100 percent suede or leather from heel to toe. Everyone’s in on the fun, from legendary outdoor brands like Merrell to the posh fashion minds at Burberry.
The attraction is obvious: all the crunchy, chunky retro hiker style, now in an easy-wearing, lighter-weight body. Back in the ’70s, maybe you’d have used its bigger brothers to scale the Alps, but here in 2023, the low-top hiker is built for scaling your walk-up’s stairs or hiking to the next vintage shop. The shortstack silhouette isn’t trying to get you through a blizzard or 7.9 miles of bear country. It’s more honest, in that way: fully functional, but free of #vanlife cosplay accusations.
The point is, low top hikers look cool as hell, and they’ll add something fresh to a potentially stale fall/winter footwear rotation. That’s the sell! And if you find yourself in need of some real-deal hiking boots, you can always lace these up and walk into to your local REI.