Best Budget Hiking Boots and How To Choose

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Article Categories: Gear | Hiking Tips
Article Tags: Boots | Hiking Gear

Hiking boots (or hiking shoes, hiking sandals, or other hiking footwear) are an important part of the hiking or backpacking. Without safe, comfortable hiking footwear, your legs and feet are at greater risk of injury or discomfort.

Choosing a good hiking boot, however, doesn’t have to be expensive. Price isn’t a guarantee of quality, either– there are some awesome boots out there that won’t break the bank. “Budget” means different things to different people, so we’re going to be looking at boots at two budget levels. We’ll be sharing some of our favorite boots under $100, and some of our favorites in the $100 to $150 price range. 

 

Best Boots Under $100 

 

Merrell Moab 2 Mid Waterproof Hiking Boot

Merrell Moab 2 Mid Waterproof Hiking BootSome hikers swear that “Moab” stands for “Mother of all boots.” Merrell’s Moab 2 is a great budget hiking boot option that’s got a reputation for comfort and stability. There are a few different versions of this boot available. This version is the waterproof version, although water-resistant would probably be a better term. There’s an older version of this boot made with GORE-TEX, which was more waterproof but also extremely hot and heavy. The newer version is far more comfortable and breathable, protecting you from sweaty feet. The soles provide great traction and the boots are strategically padded for the ultimate in comfort.

The Merrell Moab 2s come in a lot of different colors, and some of these are more expensive on Amazon and Merrel’s website. We’ve linked some of the lower-cost options, but note that these boots can sometimes be as much as $145.

 

Timberland White Ledge Mid Waterproof Hiking Boot

Timberland Men's White Ledge Mid Waterproof Hiking Boot

Timberland is probably most famous for their work boots, but they make some seriously nice hiking boots that won’t break the bank. The White Ledge hiking boots are made with premium waterproof leather that’s responsibly sourced and sustainably processed. The lacing hardware is rustproof, and the collar and tongue are padded for your comfort. These boots have a mid-rise so they offer good ankle support without being too stiff.

 

Skechers Trego Alpine Hiking Boot (Women)/Skechers Trego Pacifica Hiking Boot (Men)

Skechers USA Men's Waterproof Boot HikingThese boots from Skechers are lightweight and comfortable, with a relaxed fit that’s great for wider feet. They are very breathable and supportive without being stiff. Skechers is known for making well-designed footwear that fit all kinds of feet comfortably, and these boots are no exception. They have a slightly wider toe box than many other offerings, and there isn’t a lot of rise to the toe itself. The lugging on the soles is great for a variety of terrains without being overly chunky. All in all, this is a good boot design at a good price!

 

Hi-Tec Bandera Waterproof Hiking Boot

Hi-Tec Bandera Mid Waterproof Hiking BootEver since the late 70s, Hi-Tec has been a pioneer in lightweight hiking boot technology. The Logan model represents a good quality entry-level hiking boot that’s comfortable, easy to use, and lightweight. The soft leather and mesh upper means that these boots are easy to wear right out of the box– you don’t have to worry about breaking them in as much as other boots. 

 

NORTIV8 Ankle High Waterproof Hiking Boots

NORTIV 8 Ankle High Waterproof Hiking BootsAs a company, NORTIV8 focuses on high quality and high comfort footwear. These boots feature a thickly padded collar and tongue to support your ankles and protect them from blisters. One notable feature of these boots is their super deep insoles– even deeper than the outer soles! This means that your feet will be cushioned for ultimate comfort. 

Price: $56.99 (men’s); $58.99 (women’s)

Features: 5mm lugged rubber sole, 6mm cushioned insoles, EVA midsoles to reduce foot fatigue, lightweight nylon uppers, rubber toe cap for protection

Weight: 18 ounces per boot

Where To Buy: Buy Men’s on Amazon | Buy Women’s on Amazon | Women’s On Walmart | Men’s On Walmart

 

Best Boots Under $150

 

Timberland Flume Men’s Mid Waterproof Hiking Boot

Timberland Flume Mid Waterproof Hiking BootIf you’re interested in these boots, make sure you get the Flume Hiking Boots– the model also has a work boot variant that isn’t great for hiking. With that out of the way, these might be your new favorite boots. People love the way that they fit– they’re perfectly snug in both their standard and wide sizes, meaning that they don’t tend to rub. That means fewer blisters, even while you’re breaking them in. The only downside is that they don’t make these boots in women’s sizes!

  • Price: $125
  • Features: Full-grain waterproof leather upper, rugged rubber sole, mid-height shaft for ankle support and protection, seam-sealed construction, compression-molded EVA midsole and footbeds, gusseted tongue to keep out debris
  • Weight: 17 ounces per boot
  • Where To Buy: Buy Men’s on Amazon | Buy On Timberland

 

KEEN Tempo Flex Mid Height Lightweight Waterproof Hiking Boot

KEEN Men's Tempo Flex Mid Height Lightweight Waterproof Hiking BootKEEN is known for its great boots and great prices, but we’re featuring the Tempo Flex because of the proprietary Bellows Flex technology that these boots have. Bellows Flex reduces energy in the toe box and allows the toes to bend more than a traditional hiking boot. The toe area is typically where wear and tear happen quickest in the upper because the material creases with each step. These boots have solved that problem because the upper flexes with your foot to eliminate this issue!

  • Price: $125 (men’s); $119.92 (women’s)
  • Features: Breathable textile upper, PU insole and EVA midsole for arch support and comfort, waterproof membrane that lets vapor out without letting water in, high traction grip, stability shank, contoured fit, 4 mm multidirectional lugged sole
  • Weight: 17.5 ounces per boot
  • Where To Buy: Buy Men’s on Amazon | Buy Women’s on Amazon | Men’s On Keen | Women’s On Keen

 

Salomon X Ultra 3 Mid GTX

Salomon X Ultra 3 Mid GTX HikingThe Salomon X Ultra 3s were designed for difficult terrain. Featuring advanced waterproofing and soles designed to make wet descents easy, these boots are extra grippy for the most difficult trails. These boots also feature a protective mudguard around the base of the footbed that protects the sides from muddy trails, and an anti-debris mesh keeps stones, twigs, and other annoyances out of your boot. And this boot does it all without weighing much at all– at 14 ounces per boot, these are the lightest pair on our list. One of our favorite boots of all time is the Salomon Quest 4d GTX 3s, and this is the more affordable, but still awesome version of this boot.

 

KEEN TARGHEE II MID Waterproof Hiking Boot

KEEN Targhee II Mid Waterproof Hiking BootAnother great offering from KEEN, the TARGHEE II features an all-leather outer upper over a nylon mesh bootie to create a waterproof boot that dries quickly if it gets soaked. Another feature that the TARGHEE IIs offer is KEEN’s natural, pesticide-free, probiotic-based technology called Eco Anti-Odor, which helps keep your boots smelling fresh. So these boots are comfortable for you when they’re on your feet and when they’re off!

Price: $131.96

Features: Waterproof nubuck leather upper, rubber toe cap for protection, waterproof membrane, torsion stability external support shank for ankle support and balance on uneven surfaces, contoured heel, 

Weight: 14.2-15 ounces per boot

Where To Buy: Buy Men’s on Amazon | Buy Women’s on Amazon | Men’s On Keen | Women’s On Keen

These boots are just some of the really great budget-friendly offerings out there. No matter what your budget is, there’s a pair of boots for you. We hope our guide can help you find the perfect footwear for your next adventure. Happy trails!

 

What Makes A Good Budget Boot?

There are lots of things to look for in hiking boots. Some elements of hiking boots absolutely cannot be sacrificed or compromised. You can’t compromise on the fit of the boots, the strength of the sole, or the level of protection you need. But some features are luxurious on boots… but maybe not necessary if you’re on a tight budget. Here are some things to consider when you’re looking for boots at various price points. 

 

Outer Material

There are several types of materials that hiking boot outers are made from. These include full-grain and split-grain leather, nubuck leather, and synthetic materials. Synthetic materials can include textile uppers, mesh, and PU leather (also sometimes called vegan leather.) Synthetic materials are often less expensive than leather. Full-grain leather is the most expensive type of leather, and there aren’t really that many differences between full-grain and split-grain leather other than durability. PU leather is often less durable than textile uppers that use materials like nylon that are built for toughness, so keep that in mind when you’re shopping.

Now, if you’re planning on a long season of heavy backpacking, you may want to buy full-grain leather boots for the durability they offer. But many hikers don’t need that level of durability and can save some money (and weight) by looking for less expensive outer material. And there are even full-grain leather options out there that aren’t so expensive if you know where to look! (Don’t worry, we know where to look– keep reading for some full-grain leather offerings at great prices!)

If you need lightweight boots, you likely will elect for a synthetic material. If you need your boots to have extreme durability, you may elect for a leather boot.

Both leather and synthetic boots can be equally waterproof, equally warm, equally good looking, and equally breathable depending upon specific characteristics, so really when it comes down to choosing between leather or synthetic, the most important considerations are durability and weight.

It also may be worth noting that leather boots tend to take longer to break in than synthetic materials.

 

Brand

When you buy boots from a reputable brand, even if they’re a budget or entry-level style, you can often bank on that brand’s reputation. Brands like Keen, Merrell, Timberland and even Columbia have some great inexpensive boots. 

Brands that always have affordable/budget options of high quality: Keen, Merrell, Columbia

Brands that have higher end boots that often come on sale: Salomon, La Sportiva, Oboz

 

Midsoles

Hiking boots have foam midsoles for comfort. Two types of foam are commonly used: EVA and PU. PU is denser and more expensive; EVA is lighter and frequently cheaper. Both are comfortable and provide great protection and stability. EVA midsoles might save you a little bit of money! If you have fallen arches or want better arch support, many boots work well with orthotic inserts, which can be more budget-friendly than looking for a boot that has a ton of built-in arch support. 

 

Waterproofing

You can find waterproof hiking boots at all price levels. You can also find breathable hiking boots at all price levels. This doesn’t make much of a difference, price-wise, so don’t worry about this being much of a determining factor. Instead, look for boots that meet your needs– you’ll be able to find some at your budget level.

 

Weight

Most budget-friendly hiking boots are going to be either lightweight or midweight boots. These weight categories are what many hikers prefer because they offer good support without fatigue. Fatigue based on footwear can be a real problem– a study by the US military estimates that one extra pound on your feet is like carrying five extra pounds on your back. It takes 4.7 to 6.4 times as much energy to move a set distance when the weight is on your feet instead of on your back. That’s a TON of energy! 

And the cost of a heavy boot isn’t just the energy cost– there’s a financial cost as well. Most of the weight of a boot comes from the heavily lugged outer sole, and those super heavy solid rubber soles are expensive to produce. Most budget-friendly boots have a sole that’s got some lugging but isn’t too chunky, keeping the weight of the boots lower. 

 

Warmth And Insulation

Make sure you get a boot for your needs. If you hike in the winter all the time, you may need a boot with 4 season insulation, and if you are always 1, you need to elect for a boot with breathability and insulation. Read our guide on boot insulation to learn what you should be looking for in terms of warmth and insulation.

 

Warning Signs For Cheap Boots

Sometimes a price that looks like a good deal is too good to be true. You will want to do a little legwork and research the brand and read through the reviews. Look at both positive and negative reviews– do all the positives seem to be saying the same thing, or do any reviews mention that they were collected as part of a promotion? This can be a red flag, so if you find boots like this, just make sure to read the reviews and see what people who have used them on the trail are actually saying. Search for reviews that mention durability, and look at reviews that have pictures attached. A picture is worth a thousand words, and if there are lots of pictures that show defects like the soles pulling away from the upper or other types of damage, that boot probably isn’t a good choice.

Also: double-check that the boots you’re looking at are adult boots and not kids’ boots. It’s an easy mistake to make, especially if you’re on a big shopping site like Amazon and are sorting by price. Many kids’ boots look like adult boots, and if you don’t have an idea of the size and scale… Well, you might be surprised when your boots arrive! 

 

How To Find Boots At Any Budget

Part of finding boots on a budget is knowing how to be a smart shopper. It’s not just about knowing what to look for, but where and when to look! Here are some tips for finding boots at surprisingly affordable prices.

 

Look For Last Season’s Or Past Season Boots

One of the best ways to get super high quality gear at lower prices is to get last year’s model. For example, we love Solomon’s GTX 4 boots, but they are pretty expensive. But if you elect for the last model, the GTX 3 version, you’ll save a lot of money, yet still get a great product. Even though it may be missing some features, it is a great way to get a great boot on a budget.

 

Shop Around

The internet has made shopping for gear so much easier than it used to be. When you’re looking for boots online, you can easily save item listings and compare them before you buy. You have many options, and while that can be a little overwhelming, it can also be worth it to put in that effort to save. Amazon and other online retailers can sometimes have better or worse sales than physical retailers, and it is often a great idea to use physical retailers to both look for deals and try on different boots.

 

Seasonal Sales

Memorial Day is the unofficial start of the summer outdoor activity season in the US, and many stores will have sales. Department stores are notable for this– while they might not always carry hiking boots in stores, department stores like Nordstrom do list hiking boots online. Sporting goods stores like Dick’s also have good Memorial Day sales. Nearly all of the big online retailers for outdoor gear will have sales that you should pay attention to. Black Friday can be a great opportunity, but with many outdoor related gear, the winter season (except for winter gear) can be a great time to get summer hiking gear. Often gear goes on substantial sales that beat even black friday, memorial day, or other major deal days.

 

Outlet and Discount Sections

Outlet stores offer brand-name gear at budget prices. Even specialty shops like REI have discount sections– the REI Garage is essentially an outlet store where you can get top-quality products at lower prices. Columbia also has factory stores, and if you look carefully, you can sometimes find high-quality hiking boots at outlet shoe stores. Retailers like Sierra, TJ Maxx, and others also often have discount sections that have a low stock of items, but frequently checking them can lead to amazing deals.

Max DesMarais
Max DesMarais

Max DesMarais is the founder of Hiking & Fishing. He has a passion for the outdoors and making outdoor education and adventure more accessible. Max is a published author for various outdoor and marketing websites. He is an experienced hiker, backpacker, fly fisherman, trail runner, and spends his free time in the outdoors. These adventures allow him to test gear, learn new skills, and experience new places so that he can educate others. You can read more about him here: hikingandfishing/about