Mountain boots: function meets fashion

It's probably time you tracked some new winter footwear. Sure, you could buy yet another pair of desert boots (seriously folks, put 'em to rest. They're done).

Or, why not give their hardwearing bigger brother a bash – the mountain boot.

I know what you're thinking – why invest in a pair of shoes made specifically for the perilous trails of Kathmandu when the worst thing you're likely to encounter is an uneven footpath?

(It's worth noting that if we all thought like this, inner city suburbs would be populated with Smart cars and Vespas instead of the ubiquitous Vaucluse/Toorak tractors, and finding a parking spot would be so much easier. Not good for my argument, I'll concede.)

Unfeasible comfort

Aside from the fact that they give your standard jeans and jumper a more relaxed and utilitarian look, they're also unfeasibly comfortable. Plus, a standard boot is designed to withstand any number of elemental catastrophes that could come its way. The thick leather frequently used is likely to be pretty much waterproof, meaning they manage to not only remain looking brand new if you happen to get caught in a downpour, but also your keep feet perfectly warm and dry at the same time.

That makes them great for Friday night football viewing at the pub when, in the heat of the moment, you forget you're still holding your pint as you throw your arms in the air to celebrate a goal/try.

So how does the average bloke pull off the urban mountaineer look without appearing to have gotten lost on the way to Mt Kosciusko base camp?

“The trick is not to take the look too literally,” says Matthew Lennon of menswear store Incu. “Work elements of the trend into an outfit, but don't go overboard with the plaid. Instead, match your boots with smart casual pieces in similar tones.”

Get them dirty

Sydney-based men's stylist Jeff Lack offers some final advice: don't be afraid to get them dirty. These shoes are meant to look weathered and in fact look better when they do.

“Never clean them,” he says. “But do pair them up with a slimmer-line trouser or jeans, rolling the hems up by about an inch to maintain a streamlined look.”

In case you don't have a spare couple of grand lying around to drop on the latest Hermes hiking boots, I've picked out three easy-to-wear styles that, at a tenth of the price, cede nothing in the styles stakes.

Timberland Icon 6” Premium Boot (above)

Think back the early to mid '90s when this look first reared its head, and this is the boot seen attached to the feet of pretty much every rapper. Now, they've been taken up by a whole new generation of fashion-savvy men who are keen to not only keep their feet looking good, but are interested in a shoe that can take a fair beating as they partake in scaling the Everest of life. While the Wheat Nubuck is the classic colour option, this winter the brand has released a Grey and Black option. Available at Hype DC instore and online.

Red Wing

An American label based in Minnesota, Red Wing is known for hard-wearing durability. Originally a working boot, the company has launched a Heritage collection that provides a more relaxed aesthetic. Two good options are the Beckman boot, which is a more conservative and traditional style, and the Work Round Toe, which comes with thick rubber soles in white that make it feel as though you're walking on air. Both styles are available at Incu stores.

Vanishing Elephant Hiking Boot

Known for their imaginative take on the classic brogues and the brand most responsible for "operation desert boot storm" that has gripped style savvy males for the past few years, this is a nice breakaway from its more formal footwear collections. Available in two shades – I personally prefer the navy blue suede – and with durable rubber soles, this option has a more than casual feel. Available from Vanishing Elephant.

Fashion or function: where do you stand on mountain boots?

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