Are Doc Martens Good for Hiking? (Pros, Cons & Tips)

Doc Martens have been used as work boots, for gardening, urban wear, and fashion statements. Nowadays, these boots aren’t associated with rugged outdoor activities, mostly because people choose to invest in traditional hiking boots.

However, Doc Marten boots were originally designed to be used solely as field boots. That said, there are some features that the Doc Martens share with a proper hiking boot that makes them ideal for some hikes, such as the leather uppers.

So, are Doc Martens good for trail hiking? Below, we’ll take a closer look at this brand and some associated footwear, and find out whether or not these are really trail-worthy products.

Quick Summary 

  • Doc Martens are leather footwear that was designed in the 1940s by a German doctor as a new kind of work boot.
  • The Dr. Martens 2976 Chelsea and Smooth Leather Jadon Platform boots are popular products with a sleek and minimalist appearance. They sport a stylish design best suited for casual settings.
  • The comfort, breathability, and weight of Doc Marten boots are some features that play into the advantages and disadvantages of wearing them for hiking.

What are Doc Marten Boots?

good pair of doc martens with rubber soles

Doc Martens are leather boots that were manufactured in the 1940s as a way to make working more comfortable for the feet.

The very first product, the Doc Marten 1460, was designed with an air-cushioned rubber sole, a smooth leather upper, yellow stitching around the boot, and a high ankle collar that extends to the lower portion of the calf.

The 1460 is an important model to take note of not only because it’s the very first Doc Marten product, but because it serves as the template for every other boot in the brand’s line of footwear.

Can you Hike in Doc Martens?

While you can hike in Doc Martens, it’s not ideal. However, if you do end up using these boots for hiking, it’s best to limit yourself to easy and flat trails.

Even though Doc Martens have durable leather uppers and collars that extend above the ankles and offer protection and ankle support, they lack the comfort, breathability, and traction to be used on a real hiking trail.

Since these shoes were made for urban wear, they have nearly no features that would make them reliable on dry or slippery rocks, stepping over branches, or even climbing.

Additionally, their weight makes them a little heavier than regular hiking shoes. On average, a pair of size 9 Doc Martens weighs around 3 lbs. This is significant compared to the Salomon X Ultra 4 Mid GTX, a shoe that weighs 1lb. 14. oz. at the same size.

This is even more eye-opening when you remember that the X Ultra 4 is made specifically for hiking while boasting even more features.

What are the Most Popular Doc Martens Hiking Boots?

Dr. Martens 2976 Chelsea Boots

Dr. Martens 2976 Chelsea Boots

Dr. Martens 2976 Chelsea boots are sleek footwear designed with durable leather and elastic gussets.

Even though the uppers have a soft sheen, they’re still a little stiff, which gives a brand new pair of 2976 Chelsea boots a bit of a break-in time before the leather starts to move naturally with your foot.

However, since the ankle collar stretches so well, the 2976 Chelsea boots are easy to slip on and off.

Not only is the leather sewn together with a single seam, but the sole is also sealed with heat treatment, making the boots more resistant to premature wear and tear.

Overall, these boots are reliable in casual settings, despite their rigid build.

Dr. Martens Smooth Leather Jadon Platform Boots

Dr. Martens Smooth Leather Jadon Platform Boots

The Dr. Martens Smooth Leather Jadon Platform is a footwear made with an 8-eye silhouette and 2-inch platforms.

Like all Dr. Marten products, it retains the signature yellow stitching and heel loop.

The Jadon Platform also has the original air-cushioned sole, which is squishy enough to provide comfort for the feet when standing for long periods.

The smooth leather gives the boots a polished look, adding style to nearly all appearances.

Like the 2976 Chelsea Boots, these fit more in urban settings than they do in outdoor settings, but can still handle traveling on flat trails. 

Advantages of Using Doc Martens Boots for Hiking


tread and traction

Doc Martens have a soft rubber outsole to manage wet and oily surfaces, like what you’d encounter in a working factory.

As far as hiking goes, these would do fairly well in dry climates, but even more so in rainy conditions thanks to the slip-resistant tread.


They were made to be rugged and tough enough to stand up to demanding work conditions. The leather can handle being scuffed without wearing down the quality of the boot, and its toughness protects the feet.

This is a feature that might improve the lifespan of Doc Martens on some trails.

While hiking in Doc Martens may possibly have a few advantages, let’s see why you should avoid walking long distances with a Doc Marten boot.

Disadvantages of Using Doc Martens Boots for Hiking


black leather shoes

The leather uppers Doc Martens are made with aren’t well-ventilated like regular hiking boots.

Most people aren’t wearing Doc Martens long enough to have sweat and overheating become a problem.

However, if worn on a hiking trail and used for a couple of hours, it will become apparent how little ventilation these boots actually have.  


When wearing these boots as a stylish complement to an outfit, the weight may not be much of a problem. However, as mentioned previously, Doc Martens on average weigh close to 3 lbs a pair. Good hiking boots, hiking shoes, and trail running shoes are half that weight.

If you try to wear Doc Martens on a hiking trail, you’ll have too much bulk pulling on your legs and feet. This is worsened by the fact that Dr. Martens don’t have any stabilizing features or soft padding to compensate.


While Doc Martens have an air-cushioned sole, which makes them comfortable to stand in without causing too much discomfort, the smooth leather is incredibly stiff. As we indicated before, there’s a significant break-in period for this brand’s boots.

Consequently, this rigidness makes the boot inflexible, which is a significant issue when on a trail that requires your hiking footwear to bend to your movements. This also means that it’s easier for you to end up with pain and blistering if they’re worn for too long.

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Do We Recommend Doc Martens for Hiking?

In the end, no, we do not recommend hiking in Doc Martens. While Doc Martens are high-quality boots, they’re not made for the outdoors. The tough leather does a good job of protecting your feet from foreign objects, but that’s all about it.

However, if you have to hike in Doc Marterns, make sure you use some thick socks made out of breathable fabric.

Even after they’ve been broken in and the leather feels more comfortable, they just don’t have the cushioning, weatherproofing, and stability necessary to navigate rugged terrain or rocky terrain. These are footwear designed exclusively for fashion and utility in urban settings.

You’re better off checking out another brand that sells hiking boots specifically for what you need. That said, if you’re interested in other products, then check the best hiking boots we recommend for 2023.


Are Doc Martens Good for Hiking in the Snow?

Doc Martens are generally not good for hiking in the snow. The traction on the sole isn’t grippy enough to manage conditions like that, nor is the leather waterproof enough to seal out that much moisture.

How Comfortable Are Doc Marten Boots?

Doc Marten boots are comfortable enough to walk around in on flatlands and city streets. The stiff leather uppers begin to make them uncomfortable to wear after prolonged use.

Are Doc Marten Boots Strong?

Doc Marten boots are strong. Since they were originally designed for factory workers to withstand harsh work conditions, these boots don’t damage easily. The leather can be scuffed and scraped without significantly reducing the boots’ lifespan.

Which Doc Martens Are Best for Hiking?

The best Doc Martens for hiking is the Dr. Martens 2976 Chelsea Boots. However, these are only the best option if you have no other choice of hiking footwear.

Catalin Geangos

Catalin Geangos

Catalin is a writer and outdoor specialist who has been traveling in over 35 countries so far. He loves spending time in nature, enjoying mountains and nature adventures, and ultimately inspiring people to travel more. In his time off, he is testing, analyzes, and reviews hiking and other outdoor gear and accessories.

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