Since I live on a 120-acre property with mixed parts of flat, bushy, rocky and hilly terrain, hiking boots form an essential part of my sustainable wardrobe. I’d been wearing my Mamahuhu boots which has been a welcome change to gumboots, but they’re not really made for off-road terrain and I feel it’s time to move on.
Although these ethically-made boots performed relatively okay, they haven’t stretched as much as I would have liked and paired with heavy thick socks (to protect ankles from bush scrub, midges and mozzies) there’s little room for my toes to move. I’ve also noticed that the leather (animal leather which is the byproduct of the meat industry) tends to get scratched up since the property is filled with dead branches, thorny plants and other native vegetation.
While I’ll still wear these boots because I really do adore them (they look perfect teamed up with my skinny ripped jeans and are great as winter boots), I am now in search for proper hiking boots; boots that are made specifically for rough, hilly, rugged landscapes, like that found on my farm.
In my online travels and search for the ideal pair, I’ve come across some stylish ethical, eco-friendly and vegan hiking boots that I feel need to be shared. Here are the brands in no particular order…
This eco-conscious footwear brand creates innovative, active shoe wear for men and women. The eco-friendly exercise shoes and hiking boots are made from a range of materials such as canvas, made from recycled plastics bottles, leather byproduct from ‘wildly reared’ animals, and ‘Bloom’ made out of algae blooms. Their point of distinction is that their shoes are designed to be flexible, with ultra thin soles allowing for maximum sensory feedback, hence Vivobarefoot.
Aside from functionality, the brand also focusses on durability, materials, environmental footprint and its after life (are the materials recyclable, biodegradable?). It produces a range of vegan and non-vegan hiking boots, and their supply chain and processes are transparent, with factories in China that they claim meet rigorous and where a huge amount of work is still completed by hand. The brand also has a much smaller set up in Portugal making their ‘Hand Cut’ collections. For more info, visit vivobarefoot.com.
Worldwide shipping available.
Don’t be mistaken with the brand name, Vegetarian Shoes actually manufactures vegan footwear and has been doing so since 1990. It manufactures its shoes in factories in Europe, namely in the UK, Portugal, Italy and Spain. The brand also uses a range of vegan-friendly materials including vegetan, vegetan suedes, microfibre made from polyester and polyurethane, polyester substrate with polyurethane ‘skin’, cotton backed polyurethane and nylon synthetic. Many of the shoes and boots are waterproof to withstand icy and wet European winter conditions.
While the brand promises quality boots and footwear without compromising vegan values, it is important to note that some of the materials used are non biodegradable although if you’re vegan or vegetarian, you’re likely aware of the environmental impact of some of these materials already. You can learn more about animal leather alternatives in this post.
To learn more about this brand, visit www.vegetarian-shoes.co.uk.
Worldwide shipping available. All prices in British pound.
Zamberlan ethically manufactures hiking boots and outdoor footwear for men and women. Since 1929, this Italian shoe company has been ethically producing its products in their company-owned facilities located in Pievebelvicino di Torrebelvicino. The business is still family-run and the boots are still handmade by expert craftsmen, some of whom have been with the company for decades. With respect for artisanal craftsmanship, the brand continues to keep knowledge and skills in-house which has also allowed them to maintain high quality standards.
The brand’s commitment to producing items that are built to last is central to its mission. It sources high-quality leather for its shoes and uses other trusted materials sourced from within Italy such as Vibram® soles. Zamberlan also partners with GORE-TEX® to ensure its shoes meet high standards of waterproofness and breathability. The end result is mountaineering, hiking and trekking boots that are high-performance, comfortable, flexible and long-lasting. What’s even better is that 95 percent of Zamberlan® shoes are resolable so customers needn’t purchase new, and the company also sells replacement components. For more information, check out their website www.en.zamberlan.com.
Zamberlan does not produce any vegan styles. The business ships to countries within Europe only.
The key mission for UK-based online business ‘Ethicalwares’ is promoting compassionate consumerism and animal rights. Thus its offerings, from hiking boots to homewares are animal derivative-free and many products also tick the Fair-Trade box. All products have been “carefully sourced to satisfy… worker friendly credentials”. Ethicalwares stocks a range of men’s and women’s hiking boots. While the brand doesn’t specify the materials it uses (not all shoes are made by them, some are stocked from other brands), one can safely assume that the vegan hiking boots are made from synthetic materials such as nylon, microfibre, and other forms of faux leather. To check out their site, visit www.ethicalwares.com.
Worldwide shipping available.
This American shoe company has been producing hiking boots, outdoor footwear and apparel since 2003. Aside from the broad selection of men’s, ladies and kid’s shoes, we love the brand’s commitment to giving back. So far it has donated more than $15 million to nonprofit organisations and causes around the world, including Tsunami relief. The brand is also committed to ethical business practices by focussing on three key initiatives: manufacturing integrity, process transparency and workplace responsibility. This is not just empty words either; the brand has published its supply chain processes outling its auditing processes, certifications and other relevant disclosures here.
“We seek to elevate transparency in our business practices and to innovate within how we manufacture our products. Our goal is to exceed the highest levels of social and environmental standards. While there may not be a clear finish line, we commit ourselves daily to taking steps in the right direction.” – Found on the Keen Footwear website.
And although a work in progress, KEEN is also committed to reducing its environmental impact, by partnering with organisations including The Conservation Alliance, Leave No Trace and Forest Park Conservation to help protect rivers, wild places and forests. It also takes part in regular volunteer clean ups, assesses its own production to reduce waste sent to landfill and even makes one of their collections the ‘American-Built’ line in their Portland factory minimising its carbon footprint whilst offering local manufacturing jobs. To check out their range of hiking boots, visit www.keenfootwear.com.
The brand doesn’t offer vegan hiking boots only vegan sandals. Ships worldwide.
Since 2012 Will’s Vegan Shoes have been producing stylish, animal leather-free shoes and boots for the vegan shopper. A PETA-approved vegan brand, Will’s hiking boots are no less fashionable than its everyday shoe offerings such as stylish heels, flats and sneakers. Its hiking boots are made from faux leather microfibre and are ethically-made in Portugal, and its removable insoles are made from latex (latex can be made from natural rubber and synthetic rubber both of which are found to biodegrade). Check out their vegan boots range here.
Worldwide shipping available including free shipping on first purchase.
The entire range is free of animal products while workers protected by European employment and safety law. Will’s Vegan Shoes really is an animal and human friendly company.” – Will Green, Founder and Shoe Designer of Will’s Vegan Shoes
I haven’t made a decision yet on which I will choose as some of the items I like aren’t in my size as I have teeny tiny feet Aus size 5, EU 35 (some of the boots from Vivobarefoot for example) and as an eco-conscious vegan, am very suss on the materials used in vegan fashion considering most are synthetically derived and many do not biodegrade (plastics we know take up to 1,000 years to break down!) If you’re vegan particularly, I’d like to hear how you’re managing this issue as I haven’t found any great work arounds when it comes to robust, non-synthetic cruelty-free footwear and it’s so difficult to find second hand pairs in my size and that aren’t, you know, icky ha!
Haven’t found what you’re after? Check out these ethical shoe brands as well.
The curated list is based on the writer’s own research and does not fully take into account all ethical considerations that are unique to each individual. Before making a purchase, we encourage you to do your own research paying particular attention to the supply chain and your own particular set of ethics. You can also check out online tools and apps that provide product reviews and comprehensive information here.