I switched my Converse for the Helly Hansen Coastal Hiker boots — here’s why I’m not going back

Man wearing the Helly Hansen Coastal Hiker walking boots on a city sidewalk
(Image credit: James Frew / Tom's Guide)

I never used to appreciate a good pair of walking shoes. I spend a lot of time outside but used to wander around in my Converse All-Star high tops — classic shoes, but they’re not designed for long walks. This changed when my partner bought me a pair of Helly Hansen boots as a present.

I’m hypermobile — which means I have flexible joints, especially my knees — and she was concerned that my flat-soled shoes weren’t giving the support I needed. But I’d always stayed clear of hiking boots as I didn’t think they’d be as versatile.

Fortunately, the Helly Hansen Coastal Hiker boots proved me wrong. I thought I’d only wear them on longer walks at the weekend, but found myself choosing them over sneakers and other fashion shoes, eventually walking over 500 miles in them. Here’s what I learned.

Helly Hansen Coastal Hiker Walking Boots: was $170 now $128 @ Helly Hansen

Helly Hansen Coastal Hiker Walking Boots: was $170 now $128 @ Helly Hansen

The Helly Hansen Coastal Hiker walking boots are ideal for city walks and long hikes in the countryside. The water-resistant leather upper protects your feet from the elements, while the cushioned collar and midsole keep you comfortable, even on longer walks. The rubber outsole offers enough traction for uphill hikes, while the metal lacing hooks make it easy to get a good fit.

They’re extremely comfortable

I previously wore Converse high tops as I could loop the laces around my ankle for improved support, but I think I was fooling myself as the laces would frequently slip down leaving my ankle exposed. I had no such issues with the Helly Hansen Coastal Hiker boots.

There’s a padded collar at the top of each shoe to minimize rubbing. Plus, when you do the laces tight, the padding prevents the shoe from digging in. So, even when I wore them for hours at a time, covering many miles, I didn’t feel any discomfort or pain.

This was true of the cushioned midsole, too, which softened the impact of my steps. And, for the first couple of hundred miles, the outsole was grippy and supportive on most surfaces and conditions but gradually wore away, so now I need to take more care on slippery slopes.

I wish I’d taken better care of the leather

Leather is an animal-derived material and it takes a lot of work to make it durable enough for walking shoes. But I wore the boots throughout summer and winter, the leather was exposed to the extremes of U.K. temperatures, dusty conditions, and heavy rain.

However, I’m not usually one to look at care instructions for my clothes or footwear. But if I had, then I’d have found that Helly Hansen recommends regular leather treatments using Grangers Leather Conditioner or Grangers Waterproofing Wax.

As I didn’t follow this advice, the leather on my boots became worn over time. The color faded slightly and the shoes lost some of their waterproofing, so that even walking through damp or dewy grass would make my feet wet.

They’re extremely versatile

Man lacing up the Helly Hansen Coastal Hiker walking boots on a bench outside

(Image credit: James Frew / Tom's Guide)

I live in a big city and find it easier to walk to most places rather than drive, get the bus, or hop on the subway. So my shoes need to deal with city sidewalks, but still look good when I reach my destination, whether that’s the office or a meet-up with friends.

The Coastal Hiker are functional enough to get through these fast-paced walks, but also stylish enough to double up as formal shoes (so long as I keep them clean!). But I also put them to the test during long, often muddy dog walks in the park, and they held up well there too.

Of course, you can’t prevent your shoes from getting dirty, but the Helly Hansen boots were easy to clean after a messy walk. And because the outsole doesn’t have deep groves, you don’t end up dragging around bit clumps of mud.

They’re too hot for the summer

In the warmer weather, I’d still wear the Coastal Hiker boots because they were so comfortable. But, much like my other favorite walking boots — the Hunter Insulated Explorer — the padding, cushioning, and closed design means that your feet get pretty hot.

If you pick up a pair of running shoes, these have breathable materials to help keep your feet cool as you exercise, but waterproof boots like these are specifically designed to protect your feet from the elements, so there’s not a lot you can do about it.

So, during the summer, I tend to switch to the HOKA Transport instead. These are more fashionable sneakers designed for walking around the city. They’re cooler, but definitely not waterproof, so they’re an ideal option for dry, warm days when you want to head outside.

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James Frew
Fitness Editor

James is Tom's Guide's Fitness Editor, covering strength training workouts, cardio exercise, and accessible ways to improve your health and wellbeing. His interest in fitness started after being diagnosed with a chronic illness, and he began focusing on strengthening his core, taking regular walks around the city, and practicing meditation to manage the symptoms. He also invested in fitness trackers, home workout equipment, and yoga mats to find accessible ways to train without the gym. Before joining the team at Tom’s Guide, James was the Fitness Editor at Fit&Well, where he covered beginner-friendly exercise routines, affordable ways to boost your wellbeing, and reviewed weights, rowing machines, and workout headphones. He believes that exercise should be something you enjoy doing, so appreciates the challenge of finding ways to incorporate it into everyday life through short muscle-building sessions, regular meditation, and early morning walks.

  • SpecialSauce13
    admin said:
    The Helly Hansen Coastal Hiker boots are more comfortable, durable, and water resistant than my trusty Converse. But that doesn't mean they're perfect for every walk.

    I switched my Converse for the Helly Hansen Coastal Hiker boots — here’s why I’m not going back : Read more
    I guess it's time to take Tom's guide out of the RSS feed being that it's become like Top Gear writing articles mostly about everything but its core content.
  • friendo
    The boots in the photos are actually Helly Hansen's Montesano boot. Better looking than the Coastal Hiker, but likely discontinued.