Are Doc Martens good for hiking? (2023)

If you like a good pair of boots or you're in the music scene, you're probably familiar with Dr. Martens boots or Docs very familiar. These boots are no longer just a choice for punks and misfits. If you live in a city, chances are you'll see at least a couple of couples if you go out for a day.

Where I live I often see at least 3 or 4 pairs of them walking a bit down the street. The classic black boots are an iconic image associated with music, streetwear and style, but you may be wondering if your Docs can be used beyond casual or daily use.

The iconic boot's workwear roots make it a durable choice for everyday wear or urban adventures, but are Doc Martens good for hiking? You might want to read on before you take them on the trail.

The short answer is: Doc Martens are not good walking shoes. HowBlundsteine, they are better used in the city or in quieter environments. If you don't have anything else they can't hurt you on some easy trails, but serious hiking in Docs won't be a good experience.

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Can you hike in Doc Martens?

The boots are designed for comfort, but that doesn't make them suitable for hiking.

Originally designed as work boots, Docs can withstand short adventures like one5 mile hike, but you'll probably still face some discomfort.

On longer hikes, you will most likely encounter pain and begin to notice the lack of features appropriate for hiking.

(Video) (Top 4) Dr. Martens 1460 Boots - [LEATHER REVIEW] - "doc marten"

I won't generally focus on any specific shoe that Doc Marten makes as none of them are specifically engineered for hiking or outdoor use.

While Doc Marten used to make boots inspired by hiking styles, that too was primarily a fashion choice.

TheSanto Grizzly-ModellDoc Marten came this close to creating a hiking shoe, but even the description of the product made it clear that they were only inspired by hiking shoes, not really for hiking.

Disclosure: Links to products may beAffiliate-LinksThis is how we earn a small commission at no additional cost to you.

Are Doc Martens good for hiking? (2)

The Grizzly was the only product that came close to being a hiking boot and is no longer made. I am referring to the 1460 model as this is the classic style of boot that Dr. Martens is best known.

Many documents have similar functions, so the information applies to almost every model they carry.

It's still ideal to research any model you're considering for hiking use, but the statement stands that, as hiking shoes in general, they should be avoided!

dr Marten's story

WhileMarderBeginning comes from Munich, after World War II. Former soldier Dr. Klaus Martens has developed a new boot to heal his broken foot.

Traditional boots had a solid leather sole, and in 1945 Marten developed an air-cushioned sole. He brought a prototype to an engineer friend from university.

dr Herbert Funk and Marten become partners. Formal production began soon after, and in 1959 they wanted to advertise abroad. In England, the Griggs Company became aware of the product and acquired a license for it.

Shortly thereafter, the boots were changed and we see the earliest version of the legendary Doc Marten. The yellow stitching, the overall shape, the yellow heel-loop and they came out as the "Airwair".

Are Doc Martens good for hiking? (3)

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Docs were originally work boots used by British workers. In the '70s and '80s, Docs were worn by anti-establishment British and youth culture groups, and musicians began wearing them on stage.

With their punk history, Docs exploded with the grunge scene in the '90s but faltered in the early 2000s. Docs were used in fashion and once again gained popularity.

Doc Martens are fashionable boots now, not for work or hiking, but they're still an amazing product with a rich history.

Why Doc are not good walking shoes?

Despite Docs' roots as a work boot, they lack the qualities to be a proper hiking shoe.

Below is a list of the characteristics that walking shoes have in general:

  • traction
  • ankle support
  • durability
  • protective properties
  • Kompfort
  • Waterproof or water-repellent
  • Reasonable weight (varies in heavier and lighter models)

Many of the problems Docs face on the trail are related to the lack of these traits.

While I'm not saying a pair of Docs will fall apart, leak, slip, or cause pain on every trail, they're not like hiking shoes.

You won't have any major problems on some casual hikes, but once you start serious hiking or the conditions are bad, you're out of luck.

The soles aren't made to have much traction, they lack significant ankle support, and large amounts of water will likely make your feet soggy.

As far as protection goes, your feet are generally protected from scrapes or jagged rocks, but you're likely to develop blisters or foot soreness over a few miles or a gentle day hiking outside.

Some Doc Martens can be heavy for long walks, but that varies by model. See their platform boots for an example of heavier styles.

Doctor MartenPlateaustiefelare essentially the same product with a much thicker sole. If you own a pair of Plateau Docs, you should avoid hiking as they are the least hiking option compared to the traditional models.

The simple fact is that Docs are not made for this purpose. As amazing as they are, you're going to have trouble using them on the trail. Docs are much better suited to streets and sidewalks, music venues, or even a relaxed work environment.

(Video) Are Doc Martens 1460 good for Snow?

Pros and cons of Doc Martens


  • Full grain leather for durability
  • Features of the non-slip outsole (still not comparable to the traction of hiking shoes)
  • Lace-up boots prevent slipping or slipping of the boots on your feet
  • The cushioned insole helps keep your feet comfortable, but you'll still feel some soreness due to the lack of hiking-specific comfort features
  • An interesting brand history is a bonus, but won't help you once you're out the door
  • Many models to choose from
  • Pretty breathable
  • Fashionable good looking product


  • No significant ankle support
  • Traction is not competitive compared to hiking shoes
  • Though durable, Docs will struggle to keep up with the rigors of trails and long hikes
  • The waterproofing isn't designed to keep up with inclement weather conditions on outdoor trails
  • Some Doc models are heavier than ideal for a hiking shoe, especially for long hikes or backpacking
  • Easy potential for bubbles
  • If your boots aren't broken, they're probably going to hurt your feet quite a bit
  • A fashion choice doesn't make it a versatile choice

How to make Docs better for hiking?

If you can't go without a nice hike or your friends drop you last-minute plans, you might be worried about wearing your Doc Martens on an adventure.

When you are in an emergency, there are a few things you can do to make the best of the situation.

Many Docs couples are known to have a difficult adjustment period. If your boots aren't fully broken in, it's not a good idea to hike in them, especially if they're not too short.

Are Doc Martens good for hiking? (4)

Wearing a pair of pair of tall hiking socks can also help as you will reduce movement and hopefully minimize your chances of blisters. Properly tying your boots can be of great help.

(Video) HUGE Mistakes Beginners Make With Dr Martens

If they fit a bit poorly, there are many hiking boot tying techniques available online to prevent slippage or fit issues in multiple areas of your foot. Although Docs are water resistant, they are not as waterproof as most hiking boots.

To increase their water resistance, you can purchase waterproofing treatments to ensure they can withstand snow or rain. I also recommend choosing an easy, well-maintained trail with little elevation gain.

What can Doc Martens handle?

Even if Docs are not a good hiking shoe, they still hold up to everyday wear. The boots became iconic for a reason, and if you're looking for a good city boot that will stand up to rain, snow and hard use, they're a wonderful choice.

Docs are also known as festival wear or a great choice for concerts or shows. After their evolution away from a work boot, Docs are much better than casual choices.

A benefit of their history as a choice for factory workers, postmen, and so forth is that most Docs have some work boot style cues. It's not entirely fair to put Docs in a pair of hiking boots as that's just not their intended purpose.

After the tough break-in period, crowds of people stand by for their comfort. This boot has become a fashion icon, but it just lacks construction for tough outdoor use. When you buy Doc Martens you have a great product that will last, just don't bring them out on the trail.

What features does Doc Martens have?

I'm going to focus on the Doc Marten 1460 in this roundup as that's their classic model that you're probably familiar with. Features of the 1460 are also fairly common to most Doc Marten models.

The 1460 features a cushioned footbed, oil and slip resistant rubber outsole, lace-up style, rounded toe and mesh lining in addition to full-grain leather construction. Most of these features aren't helpful for hiking shoes, but the full-grain leather and non-slip sole will come in handy on a trail.

It's good to keep in mind that the slip properties are designed for everyday wear or work boots, not necessarily hiking boots. Full-grain leather is one of the qualities that really helps when hiking, as it resists potential damage, scratches, etc.


dr Martens boots are popular, iconic footwear for a reason. They are known to be a great investment that will last when used for everyday/leisure or as an urban boot. People all over the world adore Docs as their boot of choice and their reputation has made them a consistently used product.

Once you venture out on hard trails, rough terrain, and outdoor adventures, they stop working. As harsh as that sounds, that's not their intended use. If you love a good pair of boots they are worth trying.

If you want to wear a boot when you're not in nature, Docs are a great choice. It's always important to remember what a product was designed for and to know that if you use something outside of its reach, it will suffer and you probably will too.

If you don't have anything else, they'll be fine on last-minute hikes with your friends, but when you have the opportunity to plan your next adventure, another boot is your best bet.

For more detailed guides and references, check out my other posts:

  • Are Timberlands good for hiking?
  • How long should hiking shoes last?
  • Are lumberjack boots good for hiking?

About the author

Are Doc Martens good for hiking? (5)

Hussain is a passionate hiker and traveler who loves the outdoors and enjoys what nature has to offer. Whenever he can, he loves to write and provide tips and honest reviews to help others get out there and just search for more memorable experiences

(Video) Why Doc Martens Are So Expensive | So Expensive


Can I use my Doc Martens for hiking? ›

The short answer is that Doc Martens are okay for hiking, but they're not ideal. Docs are relatively durable, but the leather on Doc Martens is stiff, so it can cause blisters and discomfort on the trail. Docs are also heavy and they don't breathe well as you hike.

Why are Doc Marten boots so uncomfortable? ›

If the boot feels uncomfortable when you try it on, especially in the width, then it is too small. Docs will soften and stretch as you wear them in - You can check out our size guide for more information.

Why is it so hard to walk in Doc Martens? ›

The inner lining of Doc Martens is made of an abrasive material that rubs against the foot and creates blisters. Removing the insole takes some of the friction away and helps prevent blisters. It's still best to wear thick socks to prevent blisters around the ankle.

Are Doc Martens good for hiking in snow? ›

Doc Martens aren't the best boots for snow. Because the leather is thin and the boot isn't insulated, your feet will likely get cold if you spend more than an hour outside. The grip on the sole is decent, but not suitable for ice. If you choose to wear Doc Martens in the snow, also wear a pair of thick wool socks.

Are Doc Martens OK in water? ›

No, Doc Martens are not fully waterproof. For that, you might consider a rubber boot or duck boot, which has a vulcanized rubber sole. Doc Martens are however quite weather-resistant, meaning the iconic gum rubber sole is highly durable and can stand up to harsh weather conditions.

Do Doc Martens get ruined in the rain? ›

As you can tell by these materials, your Doc Martens—while not being overtly waterproof—are typically going to be water-resistant. This means that, unless you're buying suede, even without any leather sprays, you shouldn't have to worry about light rains, a bit of moisture, or walking through puddles.

Should my toes touch the end of my Doc Martens? ›

So, no, your toes should not touch the end of your shoes. More specifically, you should leave at least half an inch between your toes and the end of the shoe.

How long does it take for Doc Martens to break in? ›

How long does it take to fully break in Doc Martens? On average, it takes 3-6 weeks to fully break in your docs. It can be sped up by using heat techniques or wearing them with socks to increase the break in period. However, while they may be wearable, the full break in period will come at around 3 weeks.

Do Doc Martens eventually get comfortable? ›

Over a time of breaking in the DMs, the leather, whether that be vegan or real, should stretch to fit your feet. However, if they are still not feeling quite right and a bit too tight after a time, it is possible to remove the inner sole to give yourself a bit more room.

Why do Doc Martens have yellow stitching? ›

In order to defend themselves against copycats, Airwair, the company behind Dr. Martens, registered a special trademark: a so-called position mark. A position mark protects the specific way in which the trademark is applied to the product. In this case yellow stitching on the edge of the shoe.

Do Doc Martens hurt at first? ›

Breaking in a new pair of Dr. Martens (DM) boots may be excruciatingly painful for anybody who has worn them for the first time. There is no other way to describe them except as the absolute worst. You may not be able to go back home if you wear your first pair of DMs without first breaking them in.

Should I size up or down Doc Martens? ›

In general, remember, Dr. Martens boots and shoes run true to size (probably half a size down from your sneakers) and aren't as big as you may imagine. The exception is the 1460s, Jadons, and Chelseas, which need to be sized down about a whole size from your sneaker.

What shoes to hike in? ›

You need to wear sturdy shoes, and they should provide your foot with support and protection from rocks, as well as give you traction on dry and wet surfaces. Available options are backpacking boots, hiking shoes, trail running shoes, and sandals. If you're going for multi-day hiking, hiking boots are the way to go.

Can you hike in Timberlands? ›

While classic Timberland boots may not be ideal for hiking, you may be pleasantly surprised at their capabilities. We would recommend investing in a hiking specific boot from Timberland or another brand instead of hiking in your classics. That being said, if it is all you got, it's going to work!

How do you make Doc Martens waterproof? ›

Even the most rugged DM's boots need a little love and care from time to time. Our Dubbin Wax rejuvenates and protects your shoes and boots to keep them kicking. Use it on waxed or oiled leathers to provide a water-resistant coating. Please note Dubbin is a non-vegan product and is not suitable for use on vegan Docs.

Are Doc Martens good in winter? ›

DM's water-resistant, fur-lined, and slip-resistant boots are reconstructed to handle whatever the weather throws at you. From insulated fleece and faux-fur lining to superior traction—our winter boots are made to keep up.

Who wears Doc Martens? ›

The boots were popular among workers such as postmen, police officers and factory workers. By the later 1960s, skinheads started to wear them, "Docs" or "DMs" being the usual naming, and by the late 1970s, they were popular among scooter riders, punks, some new wave musicians, and members of other youth subcultures.

Are Doc Martens too small or too big? ›

Doc Martens tend to run true to size, but try them on anyway to make sure you buy the right size. Boots in the right size should feel tight, but not uncomfortable. Doc Martens only come in whole sizes. The official website recommends sizing down if you normally take a half size.

What is the best way to look after Doc Martens? ›

How do I look after my Docs?
  1. Put in the groundwork. Before you start, we recommend putting some newspaper down on the floor to avoid any unwanted black marks. ...
  2. Remove the dirt. Your boots will most likely need a bit of a clean before you start polishing. ...
  3. Apply shoe polish. ...
  4. Buff to shine. ...
  5. Apply the finishing touches.

Should there be room in Doc Martens? ›

Dr. Martens fit true to size, and they are great for wide feet. If you do have narrow feet, you may want to consider sizing down. If you are struggling with wearing them whilst you break them in, stick a sanitary pad around the heel to avoid getting blisters.

Why are Doc Martens so popular? ›

Despite the drop, Doc Martens have been able to gain more traction onto consumers because of famous celebrities wearing the iconic shoes for a different reason than originally intended, fashion. An additional factor to their recent success is their new vegan line that uses 100 percent non-animal origin materials.

How do you soften Doc Martens quickly? ›

Massaging your footwear with your hands will simulate the effect your feet have on the leather when you first start stomping around. The more you work it, the more the leather will soften.

Why do my Doc Martens hurt the top of my foot? ›

Inside your Doc Martens, there's an extra inner liner. If yours feel a bit tight over the top of your foot, removing the liner will alter the fit slightly and should give your feet the extra bit of space they need.

Which is better 1460 or Pascal? ›

The answer is pretty simple and lies mostly in the leather uppers. The classic Dr. Martens 1460 8-eye boots are crafted from a thicker, smooth leather. This leather gives the boot a little more structure than the softer Virginia leather used on the Pascal boots.

Are Doc Martens good as an everyday shoe? ›

Their super comfortable cushioned soles make them easy to wear all day. They feature a chunky tread for excellent grip when walking whilst on shift, making them ideal work boots. Docs were designed to be sturdy and comfortable work boots. The original Doc Martens sole is resistant to petrol, fat, oil, alkali and acid.

What do the bouncing soles on Doc Martens mean? ›

The Dr Martens soles were christened AirWair soles way back at their launch in the 1960s. Referring to the air bubbles in the soles, using air pockets to give them bounce, comfort and durability, AirWair is the was coined to describe the feature.

What were Doc Martens originally made for? ›

Dr. Martens' origins date to 1945, when Dr. Klaus Maertens, a 25-year-old soldier and medical doctor at the time, created a unique air-cushioned sole (rather than the traditional hard leather sole) to aid his recovery from a broken foot.

Are Doc Martens out of style? ›

And as much as Docs fit snugly into the 2014 soft grunge revival, the truth is that the iconic English footwear brand will never go out of style, which is why you should know how to wear Dr. Martens for every occasion.

Should I go up a half size in Doc Martens? ›

If you are a half size, we recommend going down to the nearest size.

Do Doc Martens look good on big feet? ›

Yes. Yes, I am. Doc Martens definitely lean more towards the BIG, CLUNKY category in footwear. I think we can all agree on that.

Do Doc Martens 1460 run big or small? ›

Do Doc Martens 1460s run big? Yes, the 1460s run slightly large. If you're a half size, size down, but if you're a full size, stick to your regular number. If the extra room bothers you, you can stuff the boots with insoles.

What is best to wear for hiking? ›

Wear light layers against your body (shorts, pants, and a short-sleeve top in the summer, and baselayers in cold conditions). Unless you're hiking somewhere that nighttime temperatures are consistently above 70, always wear or carry a midlayer, such as a fleece or wool hoodie.

What can I wear instead of hiking shoes? ›

If you don't have any special hiking footwear, go with your most comfortable sneakers. Some people swear by hiking sandlals in hot weather. I used to use Chacos and they're great, but switching to a breathable trail runner eliminated the need for sandals. If you get a leather hiking boot, you will need to break it in.

Can I hike with normal shoes? ›

If it's a paved nature trail, even a pair of city sneakers can handle it. If you expect to hike in cold, wet conditions, you might prefer the warmth and protection of a sturdy boot with a waterproof membrane, but you can find waterproof trail-running shoes as well.

What pants go best with hiking boots? ›

The best way to wear hiking boots, trail runners, backpacking boots, and hiking footwear is with skinny jeans because the boots fit right over the top of the boot.

Are Uggs good to hike in? ›

Uggs are not hiking boots; they are designed for style and comfort. Because they do not offer sturdy support or a hard exterior, hiking in Ugg boots for a long period of time can be harmful for your feet as well as for the Ugg boots.

Can I wear running shoes for hiking? ›

Is it ok to go hiking in running shoes? Short answer: Totally. Long answer: Totally, but there are some things you might want to keep in mind. We're firm believers in the philosophy of “you do you.” Whatever shoe keeps your feet happy and gets you out on the trail is the right shoe for you!

How often should you wax your docs? ›

To give your Docs the longest life possible, clean and condition them every three months. To keep them looking as new as possible, polish them every time you clean and condition them.

Are work boots OK to hike in? ›

If you're thinking about going on a hike and you only have a pair of work boots, you'll be fine. Yes, your feet may be a little extra sore at the end because of the added weight and lack of flexibility. But if you'd like to go on a few hikes throughout the year, picking up a pair of hiking boots is worthwhile.

Can I wear leather boots for hiking? ›

Leather uppers are the go-to option, particularly for sturdy hiking boots and mountain boots. Footwear made of a high proportion of fabric is ahead in terms of weight and often price too. However, leather can often compensate for these factors because it lasts so long.

Can I use Doc Martens as riding boots? ›

Can you use Doc Martens as motorcycle boots? Almost any boot is better than a sneaker but no, Doc Martens boots are not suitable for motorcycling. They lack the necessary ankle protection and sole reinforcement and neither the leather or stitching is designed to withstand a slide down the tarmac.

Can you wear Doc Martens with everything? ›

Can You Wear Doc Martens With Anything? Yes! As we've mentioned, Docs are versatile shoes. You can wear them with almost anything, but how you wear them is also important.

How do you tell if boots are good for hiking? ›

Hiking boots should fit snug everywhere, tight nowhere and offer room to wiggle your toes. Try them on at the end of the day (after feet swell) and with the socks you plan to wear. Know your size. It's best to have your foot's length, width and arch length measured on a specially calibrated fit device at REI.

Should your toes touch the front of hiking boots? ›

If your toes are crammed into a boot too tightly, that will cause blisters. Nobody wants their new boots to give them blisters. You should have at least an inch of space between your big toe and the tip of your boots. More room for your toes will be more comfortable on longer hikes as your feet swell.

Are hiking boots obsolete? ›

As lightweight gear gains popularity among outdoor enthusiasts, above-the-ankle hiking boots are quickly becoming obsolete. For a major bump in comfort and weight savings, hikers and backpackers are now opting for lightweight hiking shoes and trail runners for everything but the most demanding terrain.

What should I wear if I don't have hiking boots? ›

If you don't have any special hiking footwear, go with your most comfortable sneakers. Some people swear by hiking sandlals in hot weather. I used to use Chacos and they're great, but switching to a breathable trail runner eliminated the need for sandals. If you get a leather hiking boot, you will need to break it in.

What boots to wear for hiking? ›

Our Team's Hiking Boot Picks
  • Best Overall Hiking Boot: Salomon X Ultra 4 Mid GTX.
  • Best Budget Hiking Boot: Merrell Moab 3 Mid WP.
  • Best Backpacking Boot for Rough Terrain: Salomon Quest 4 GTX.
  • Best Max-Cushioned Hiking Boot: Hoka Anacapa Mid GTX.
  • Best for Fast-and-Light Mountain Adventures: La Sportiva Ultra Raptor II.
Feb 17, 2023

Should you buy hiking shoes a size bigger? ›

Feet tend to swell a bit during hiking, so erring on the side of larger hiking shoes or boots is advisable. In general, aim to buy your hiking boots a half size larger than you think you need.

Why do Doc Marten boots look smaller than others? ›

As a UK company, Dr. Martens uses British sizes, which tend to be one whole size smaller than US sizes. Your true size is probably smaller than your sneaker size. Personally, my sneakers tend to be a 12, my true size is an 11.5, most American boots are an 11, but most UK and Australian boots are 10.5.

Why are Dr. Martens boots so popular? ›

Despite the drop, Doc Martens have been able to gain more traction onto consumers because of famous celebrities wearing the iconic shoes for a different reason than originally intended, fashion. An additional factor to their recent success is their new vegan line that uses 100 percent non-animal origin materials.

What are Doc Marten boots known for? ›

1460 Slip-Resistant Leather Lace-Up Boots

The 1460 is the iconic Dr. Martens silhouette and the shoe that started it all. The 1460 boots have been seen on everyone from rock stars to rappers, and the distinctive lace-up eyelets, leather construction and chunky sole remain an instantly recognizable status symbol.

Do you need to wear socks with Doc Martens? ›

You do not need specifically branded Doc Martens socks to go with your Doc Marten boots, however, having a pair of socks that offer good support when you are wearing them makes the process of breaking them in and wearing them frequently more enjoyable.

How long do Doc Martens last? ›

Dr Marten's boots are famous for their durability and many of its wearers attest to their boots lasting for up to 20 years and even longer. When properly cared for, Dr Martens boots can last a lifetime as they're made from the highest quality leather or vegan equivalent, rigorously tested to ensure their strength.


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