Running shoe expert Saucony’s first hiking boot delivers a blissfully springy design which blends a precise fit with ultra-light performance

American brand Saucony is the preferred choice of many Olympians, FKT holders and ultra-running champs. So it’s no surprise that the Ultra Ridge GTX – the brand’s inaugural hiking boot – offers a light and luxuriously springy ride, putting it up there with the best hiking boots for men.

Men’s Fitness verdict

A beautifully light and sleek hybrid boot offering precision, protection and propulsion over a wide range of terrain.
  • Luxurious slimline design
  • GORE-TEX waterproofing
  • Waterproofing doesn’t cover ankle
  • Hard to get on and off

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The Saucony’s uppers are waterproof, but not the ankles

From the moment I slid my foot into the sock-soft chassis of the Saucony Ultra Ridge GTX (buy now), it felt like the hybrid hiker-athlete boot I’ve been searching for. I’m a fast-and-light hiker, not a crampon-carrying mountaineer, and with its silky fit and GORE-TEX protection this boot has the blend of supple athleticism and protection I want.  

Saucony Ultra Ridge GTX design and build

Modern trail running shoes provide such a potent blend of cushioning and support that some hikers claim the traditional hiking boot is going the way of the dodo. I disagree: some wild winter hikes have shown me that a high-top boot is a life-saver. But for accessible terrain, trail running shoes are often a better choice.

Saucony markets the Ultra Ridge GTX as a ‘hiking boot replacement’, which blends the light, propulsive tech of its Xodus Ultra running shoe with robust ankle support and GORE-TEX waterproofing. The aim is to tap into the modern trend for fast, athletic hiking, without jettisoning the benefits of hardy high-tops.

Saucony’s running shoe heritage is obvious here, with that streamlined silhouette and vibrant colourway: mine was Dune Orange, but these also come in Aurora Green, Carbon Black and Coast Blue. The shoe blends an athletic shape with a robust sole, elegantly blurring the lines between hiking and running.

The Ultra Ridge GTX has bi-directional 4.5mm lugs and offers impressive grip

Saucony Ultra Ridge GTX performance

These shoes have a slipper-like fit and comfortable cushioning. What makes a good fit is a highly personal alchemy, but I have narrow feet and these have a slimline fit which translates into little side-to-side foot movement, a good natural gait and precise foot placement. But go a half size up if you have wide feet or want extra room for your toe to splay. The bi-directional sole tread, made of 4.5m lugs, was impressive on slimy rocks and leaf-strewn winter trails. I even used the boots for a winter trail run and they felt springy and light.

Annoyingly, the first few walks left me with heel blisters, owing to the awkward ridge where the supported heel of the boot transitions into the soft ankle cuff – a strange oversight. I added heel pads, but the boot loosened up within weeks, and I was able to jettison the pads and enjoy the comfy ride I had expected.

The lacing system adds versatility: you can lace the shoes up just to the top of the foot for a relaxed runner fit, or do them up to the ankle for a grippier hiker fit. The snug fit makes them hard to get on and off though. You’ll need those ankle loops and a shoe horn. But the result is a sturdy ‘locked in’ feel.

Saucony Ultra Ridge GTX features

The GORE-TEX waterproofing is predictably good: I went full Peppa Pig mode on a soggy hike in the Cotswolds, splashing through puddles and streams, and had little seepage. The GORE-TEX doesn’t extend up to the ankle, which is made with a softer knit-like material. This reduces the boot’s waterproofing, but adds flexibility to the ankle area – all part of the ‘hybrid hiker’ compromise.

Above all, at a marketed weight of just 357g per shoe (my size 7 weighed 335g), these featherweight shoes feel as light and comfy as well-worn ballet pumps – albeit with added beef.

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