Expert Review: Hanwag Banks Lady GTX Hiking BootsPublished on 08/26/2022 · 6 min readThis review is my honest opinion of the hiking boots, which I purchased with my own money in September of 2019.
All photos courtesy of Hunter Reed
About this Review: This review is my honest opinion of the hiking boots, which I purchased with my own money in September of 2019.
Though on the pricier side, the Hanwag Banks Lady GTX hiking boots are my favorite hiking boots I have ever owned. They are lightweight, durable, have great traction, and keep my feet dry in the wettest conditions
About the boots I own
- Model: Hanwag Banks Lady GTX Hiking Boots
- Size: Women’s 6.5
- Width: Regular
- Fit: Run large
- When I bought these: September 2019
- Days tested: 15
- Terrain: Rocky trails, dirt trails
- Used for: Backpacking
- Where I’ve used it: Summit County, CO; Uinta Mountains, UT
- Seasons I’ve used it in: Fall, spring
- Height: 5’3”
- Weight: 115lbs
- Usual shoe size: Women’s 6.5
- Foot Width: Regular
- Foot Arch: High arch
- Experience: 20+ years of backpacking
How they perform
What I was looking for
I was headed out on a backpacking trip that covered about 40 miles in three days with 15,000 feet of elevation gain. Though it may not sound like a lot to some people, most of my backpacking trips are shorter in length or duration. This was more backpacking than I had done before, so I wanted a hiking boot that would be light, keep my feet warm, and offer ankle support, since this trip was along rocky trails in Colorado.
Why I chose this gear
I decided to buy the Banks GTX because they fit well and I could not believe how light they were while also seeming exceptionally durable. I had tried on the Salomon Quest hiking boots, along with a few others, but the Banks GTX seemed like the highest-quality boots. The low weight combined with the leather covering the whole boot convinced me—despite the fact that they were a bit pricier than the other boots I had tried on.
What I love about it
- Durability:The Vibram rubber sole is exceptionally durable, there is a high-quality leather covering the entirety of the rest of the boot, and after probably 150+ miles they show no wear.
- Break-in period: I did not have much of a break-in period with these boots. This might be partially due to the fit issue I mention later on, but they really do seem like an out-of-the-box-comfortable shoe.
- Comfort: I am pretty averse to wearing hiking boots. I always feel like the ankle support is constricting and that boots are too bulky to walk in. The Hanwag Banks totally changed my mind. They are really comfortable and hardly even feel like I am wearing boots at all.
- Weight: These boots weigh 525g each. Though that is pretty on par with weight of non-leather boots, it is on the light side for leather hiking boots. Leather is generally a bit nicer because it is more durable, waterproof, and offers more protection; it is generally also a bit heavier. These feel really light even after trekking up a lot of elevation.
- Material: The sole of the Banks Lady GTX is a Vibram Endurance Pro rubber, which is really grippy and lasts a long time. The upper part of the boot is a soft, suede leather that also shows almost no wear after 150+ miles. There is also a GORE-TEX membrane inside the boot to provide extra protection against moisture if the trail is wet or muddy. There is also a thick foam midsole that is comfortable to walk on for long stretches of time and provides some shock absorbency.
- Waterproofing: I walked through a few shallow streams with these boots and they did a fantastic job at keeping my feet dry and warm. The last two days of the trip it was raining pretty hard. I was stressed that my socks would get wet and I would get blisters, but my feet stayed very warm and happy.
- Ankle support: The Banks do a great job of providing support yet still feeling light and smooth to walk in. Though I haven’t had any real mishaps while wearing them, it has felt really nice when backpacking over rocky trails to have the extra support in case I were to trip or misstep.
- Toe protection: The toe is partially covered by the Vibram rubber sole and entirely covered by the leather. My toes are super well protected in this boot.
- Backpacking: These boots are my favorite boots to backpack in. They are light enough that they don’t feel like I am slogging along with heavy boots while carrying an already-heavy pack.
Issues I’ve encountered
- Fit: This is my only real issue with these boots. I bought a size 6.5 (the size I normally wear). They felt comfortable at the time of trying them on, but after a few miles it was evident they were too big. My foot was sliding around and I had some gnarly blisters on my heel by the end of my hike. They are otherwise awesome boots and they had felt perfect initially. If I were to buy these boots again I would go down a size and get a six.
- Day hiking: Though I think these boots would do well for day hiking, I personally just don’t use boots for hiking. I prefer a trail running shoe when I’m not carrying a 25+lb pack.
- Insulation: Though this boot is not insulated, whenever I have been headed out on cold trips with them I just wear a thick sock and my feet stay warm.
- Arch support: There is no arch support in this boot. I have high arches and though shorter trips in these have been fine, the third day of my three-day, 40-mile trip I was starting to have a ton of pain related to having hiked for so long without arch support. If I were to do a trip that long again in these boots, I would purchase an insole with support.
Favorite moment with this gear
My favorite moment with these boots was the first trip I ever took them on. It was a trek called the Fjallraven Classic where backpackers from all over the world gather together. This trek seems to be designed for people who are newer to backpacking because there are aid stations with snacks and water every few miles. Every night, all 150 of us would camp together and the event hosts would haul up games, snacks, and basically throw a little party. It was a long trek, especially in boots that didn’t really fit, but it was such a fun community. I would highly recommend it to anyone who wants to go on a backpacking trip but isn’t really sure how to work out the logistics!
Value for the money vs. other options
These boots retail at around $295. Similar options such as the Salomon Quest Boots retail at closer to $230, I think the Hanwag Banks are worth the extra money. Aside from the fit issue, they are perfect for me: durable, light, grippy, and waterproof. Though they are more of an investment, they will last a long time.
The Hanwag Lady Banks GTX are great backpacking boots that really check all the boxes, including weight, durability, traction, and waterproofing. Overall, with the right sizing, these are the perfect boots for me.