What kind of hiking boot do I need?
The type of boot you need will depend largely on what kind of hiking you plan on doing and what sort of comfort needs are your priority. Boots come in different cuts, either low, mid, or high, and whichever you need depends on the kinds of protection desired for your ankle and exposed leg. Boots also come with a variety of upper, midsole, and outsole materials.
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Deciding which you need will depend on comfort, moisture, and the sort of terrain to plan on tackling. Breathability and moisture resistance are two other substantial factors in choosing shoe type. Weight also plays a significant role in finding the ideal boot. Depending on what materials and style types you prefer, you may find the weight more or less for that particular style. Finally, general comfort is critical. As with any shoe, you will want boots that fit and support your arch, foot width, etc. and that can be worn for a long time without discomfort.
What unique features in affordable hiking boots should I be aware of?
Typically, shoes are classified by the following factors: Cut or Type; Upper Material; Midsole Material; Outsole Material or Style; Moisture Resistance or Breathability; and Weight. You should consider what kind of shoe support your feet need and what type of shoe best suits the environment you plan to hike in.
What kind of cuts exist and why are cuts significant?
Hiking boots come in a variety of cuts, i.e., shoe heights. Typically boots are classified as low-cut, mid-cut, or high-cut. Low-cut boots will be below your ankle, with mid-cut covering your ankle. High-cut boots will end much higher on your shin than even the mid-cut boots. These types of cuts are important predominantly for the amount of ankle support you need. A sturdy mid-cut boot, for example, will provide stability and prevent ankle rolls. A low-cut boot does not offer this support, but a low-cut boot might be preferable as a lighter, more refreshing shoe for more simple hikes and camping. Another factor to consider is higher cut boots offer more protection to the body, both from the elements, like rain and cold, but also from thorny brush, insects, and snakes. The material weight and breathability will also impact which boot is the best for you.
How vital is waterproofing and material quality for inexpensive hiking boots?
Lighter, more durable materials tend to come with higher quality boots – also meaning the pricing of these boots might be higher than other styles. Many boots can be waterproofed by spraying them before use with another product; however, if you are concerned about getting your only pair of boots wet on a hike or camping trip, it may be worth investigating styles with better moisture resistance.
Some boots come with upper pieces made out of suede and mesh, allowing for a lot of breathability as you sweat. Other boots may have a waterproof membrane that keeps moisture from penetrating the shoe which might lead to soggy socks for the rest of the day.
Typically, leather comes pre-coated with polyurethane to help prevent the elements from entering the boot. To decide which factors to prioritize, you should consider the kind of hiking you plan on doing and the things most important to your comfort: Are you concerned about wet socks? Heavy shoes? Sweaty feet? Price? It will, in the end, be a trade-off in finding the perfect hiking boot for your needs.
What kind of boots are there for different activities?
As mentioned, there are many kinds of features and styles that can optimize your performance based on your individual needs and your activity of choice. In general, activities you want to choose a boot for will be some trail walking (either kept and easy or less tamed and more rugged), off-trailing hiking, mountaineering, and more technical ascents. Your selection will depend on all of the factors mentioned above, plus you should keep in mind the following advice: For easy trail walking, low- or mid-cut styles are your best option. They provide far more support than regular street shoes, although you may need additional waterproofing protection depending on the shoe itself. For more rugged trails, the story is similar except you may want more ankle support – so a mid-cut is preferable. If going off-trail, aim for something above the ankle and preferably made of leather; this will provide the protection necessary for questionable flora.
Mountaineering will require shoes similar to off-trail styles. In addition, they should fit well with a set of crampons and have good waterproofing capability. Any technical climbing will prefer low cuts or maybe something slightly higher. A close fit and anti-abrasion qualities are essential. If you don’t plan on wearing them as you hike to wherever you are climbing, then the lighter you can find the better. Otherwise, you should consider gaiters or something else more protective for the hike in, wherever that might be.
Once I find the right boot, what can I do to keep them in top condition?
It will be imperative to take care of your boots so they will last a very long time. Using wax or silicone to treat boots for waterproofing will soften any leather parts over time, meaning the boots will become more comfortable – and that they may stretch some as well.
Reconditioning them is important. Storing them so that they air out quickly is key to keeping them clean and functioning. Water damage can not only degrade the quality of leather, but it can also cause boots to experience some shrinkage. Bringing waterproofing materials with you on a very long hike will ensure no damage occurs while actively using the boots. Being active in preserving their condition will mean you benefit from supple materials, not neglected materials that may continue to feel inadequate if treated after the fact.
Hi-Tec Men’s Altitude Lite IHi-Tec Men’s Altitude Lite I Waterproof Hiking Boot
- Ankle-high hiking boot with suede and mesh upper featuring i-Shield…
- Lace front
- Multi-directional traction MDT rubber outsole
- OrthoLite impressions insole
The Hi-Tec Men’s Altitude Lite I boots are a mid-cut style. Their uppers are made of I-shield waterproofed suede as well as mesh and are waterproofed with a Dri-Tec waterproof membrane. The midsole consists of compression-molded EVA and an OrthoLite sock liner. The outsole is a Multi-Directional Traction rubber. The shaft measures about 5″ from the arch with a heel of about 1.5″ and a platform of 1.00″. The lacing on the boot is designed to add additional stabilization. Weighing in at over 3 lbs, which is tending to the lighter side of the middle of the pack.
Overall, this boot is favored by people who just love to walk considerable miles or hike relatively simple grades and trails. Older reviewers have reported it suits them well for their needs in terms of the trails they choose as well as the comfort aspects they need to finish their hikes. That being said, people of all ages have been impressed with these boots’ comfort and waterproofing. They are also considered fairly lightweight for those not wanting a very heavy shoe.
- Suede and mesh provides durability, breathability and comfort while i-shield repels water and dirt and is resistant to stains
- Lightweight, durable ‘fork shank’ ensures flexibility and stability
- Moulded impact-absorbing EVA midsole ensures long lasting cushioning and comfort
- OrthoLite® sockliner delivers superior cushioning while MD-Traction rubber outsole improves grip and provides durability
- The waterproofing is effective for most hikers.
- They provide good comfort and durability for easy hikes and break in well.
- The treads feature a self-cleaning function that reportedly works nicely.
- This boot may fit a little larger than most, meaning sizing might be a challenge.
Columbia Newton Ridge Plus IIColumbia Men’s Newton Ridge Plus II Waterproof Hiking Boot, Breathable, High-Traction Grip
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- DURABILITY: This men’s waterproof hiking boot is lightweight and durable.
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The Columbia Newton Ridge Plus II are constructed from leather and synthetic materials with a rubber sole. The shaft measures about 5″ from the arch with a platform of approximately 0.50″. The soles are made from an Omni-Grip non-marking traction rubber. The uppers are of a coated leather, suede, mesh, as well as metal, all equipped with seams that have been constructed in a waterproof and watertight fashion. The midsole is a Techlite lightweight material which is not only long lasting but comfortable, well cushioned, and of a high energy return quality. These boots are designed to be especially effective for providing stability and traction in the muddiest of situations.
Overall, hikers are impressed with this product. They find it to have good quality, to function well, to have high comfort, and to be true to size. Sometimes the cushioning is less than some of our reviewers preferred, and these shoes are reported as not working well on smooth surfaces. However, they are lightweight and keep feet dry in the rain.
- PU coated leather, suede, mesh and metal hardware Waterproof seam-sealed construction
- A durable and lightweight hiking boot designed for a variety of outdoor activities
- Omni-Grip™ non-marking traction rubber
- Techlite™ lightweight midsole for long lasting comfort, superior cushioning, and high energy return
- These shoes have excellent waterproofing.
- They provide a lot of foot and ankle support.
- They have excellent traction on non-smooth surfaces.
- They may be challenging (and take some time) to break in properly.
Merrell Men’s Phoenix Bluff Mid Waterproof Hiking ShoeMerrell Men’s Phoenix Bluff Mid Waterproof Hiking Shoe
- Mid-high hiking boot featuring waterproof leather and mesh upper with…
- Bellows tongue
- Breathable mesh lining
- Removable insole
- Merrell air cushion in the heel absorbs shock and adds stability
The Merrel Men’s Phoenix Bluff are another mid-cut style shoe. They are specialized to have waterproof properties so that they are safe for use in wet or damp conditions. Ventilation is enhanced by the meshing added to the outside of the shoe. The heel is also shock-absorbent, utilizing an EVA footbed that is removable for replacements. The midsole is EVA as well.
Overall, this shoe gets high reviews for its quality as well as its quality relative to cost. They are comfortable enough to wear on a daily basis as well as to take on more challenging terrains. The design is simple, but the challenge levels of trails these shoes can handle are wide-ranging, with many of our reviewers reporting they can hike steep slopes or rocky trails without difficulty. In our view the best value hiking boots on this list.
- Waterproof suede leather and mesh upper
- Bellows tongue keeps out debris and traditional lacing system
- EVA removable footbed, molded nylon arch shank & EVA midsole to provide cushioning
- Merrell Air cushion in the heel absorbs shock and adds stability
- These shoes provide a lot of good support.
- They are known to last long if cared for well.
- Their waterproofing works well.
- Some report difficulty with the sizing
Timberland White Ledge Men’s Waterproof BootTimberland Men’s White Ledge Mid Waterproof Ankle Boot
- Our White Ledge Men’s Hiking Boots have premium full-grain waterproof…
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These boots are made from full-grain waterproof leather uppers, ideal for durability and resistance to abrasions. The external heel also has an extra covering for protection for the rear of the foot. The textile lining of the boot is designed to wick away moisture, and the padded tongue and collar offer extra comfort. The outsole has a lugged rubber traction that is particularly durable. The footbed is lined with removable dual-density EVA.
Overall, the reviewers find hiking in these boots to be extremely comfortable, with its width being true to size. This boot will be especially comfortable for higher arches, and it is comfortable for everyday use, use in rain or cold, and even for hiking with heavy loads. These shoes are also considered great quality for an affordable investment, and both recreational hikers and professional hikers alike find them exceeding expectations. Although a few people have reported issues with the grommets coming off, the vast majority of people have had no issues with their new boots and wear them every time they go for a hike.
- Premium waterproof leather for comfort, durability and abrasion resistance.
- Padded collar for a comfortable fit & dual-density EVA midsole for lightweight cushioning.
- Bual-density EVA midsole for lightweight cushioning.
- These shoes are considered very comfortable.
- Their water resistance is notable.
- They are sturdy, with good ankle support as well as traction.
- In addition to having difficult laces, these shoes are on the heavier side.
Under Armour Men’s SpeedFit Hike BootsUnder Armour Men’s Speedfit 2.0 Hiking Boot
- Lightweight & breathable synthetic & textile upper
- Anatomically molded upper for enhanced fit
- Welded forefoot overlay for protection
- Molded tongue & vamp for adaptable fit, comfort & breathability
- TPU toe cap for added durability & protection
The Under Armour Speedfit boots are multi-purpose with a 5.5″ height, coming in at 10 oz. per boot. Their uppers are a molded synthetic leather with textile, enabling it to have less weight but considerable comfort. The outsole is made from durable leather, and the insole is a removable OrthoLite. The shoes are treated with DWR water-resistance, and the seams are designed to be watertight as well. The toe cap is made from thermoplastic polyurethane, the forefoot has welded overlays, and the external heel has a counter. The toe is soft, and the tongue is molded. Finally, the shoes consist of an internal stability plate.
Overall, the reviewers enjoy this product for its comfort and lightweight design. Waterproofing was considered adequate by most, although a few people who find trouble lacing this shoe to their foot have found the rain to be a challenge to their hikes. In general, though, the sizing appears to be very accurate, with the exception that wide sizes may not be adequately accommodated by the available products.
- Anatomically molded upper with ultrasonic welded seams & welded forefoot overlay to give you a superior fit
- External heel counter for support & a locked-down fit
- Molded Ortholite® sockliner is designed with a memory foam top & PU base
- Aggressive traction lugs, engineered for unrivaled off-road grip & stability & TPU toe cap for protection
- One reviewer compared wearing this shoe to “walking on air.”
- These are another pair of waterproof shoes.
- The fit is comfortable, and there is no need to break them in.
- These shoes are not available in wide.
Merrell Men’s Moab 2 Vent Mid Hiking Boot
The Merrel Moab 2 boots are of a mid-cut with suede leather and mesh uppers. The insides are lined with a breathable mesh and an air cushion for the heel to absorb shock and add stability. The toe is covered with a protective rubber toe cap, and the sole is made from a Vibram TC5+. The arch shank is of molded nylon. An EVA midsole provides additional stability and comfort – all of this for a weight of 2lbs 2 oz.
Overall, hikers report going far distances for several hikes in a row without any discomfort in these shoes. They are considered as having excellent durability, support, and also breathability, although they may be on the heavier side compared to some other lightweight models. As long as a mid-cut is the level you’re looking for, these boots are versatile for a wide variety of hikes and mountain climbs.
- Performance suede leather and mesh upper
- Bellows, closed-cell foam tongue keeps moisture and debris out & protective rubber toe cap.
- Merrell M Select™ FIT.ECO+ blended EVA contoured footbed with added zonal arch and heel support
- Merrell air cushion in the heel absorbs shock and adds stability
- Molded nylon arch shank & Vibram® TC5+ sole
- The comfort level is rated highly by many hikers.
- The Vibram soles provide high-quality grip.
- The heel is on the thicker size which may be a discomfort for some.