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Cheap Hiking Boots
Cheap Hiking Boots Buying Guide
Perhaps the most essential piece of equipment for getting up close and personal with the great outdoors is the right footwear. Few things will do more to dampen the pleasure of a hike than bad boots.
There's no one dominant brand in cheap hiking boots, but some of the better-known names include Merrell, Keen, Columbia, L.L. Bean, and The North Face. We compared footwear from these and other brands, looking for several important features and favorable reviews from consumers and experts. The best cheap hiking boot we found was the Merrell Moab Ventilator (starting at $72, Amazon), which reviewers widely consider comfortable, supportive, and lightweight. It features a breathable mesh upper for ventilation, making it ideal for summer hikes and generally hot climates. Two other top hiking shoes for consumers on a budget are the Keen Alamosa WP (starting at $72, Amazon) and the Salomon Synapse (starting at $60, Amazon). The latter is designed for fast hiking and light trail running, with special heel cushioning, a protective toecap, and a unique shape that allows the foot to roll through each stride. The Keen Alamosa WP is waterproof yet breathable and features multi-directional lugs, or treads, for superior traction.
The terms hiking boots and hiking shoes are often used interchangeably, and for the purposes of this buying guide, we're bowing to common usage and employing "hiking boots" generically. Technically, though, most of our picks -- and most pairs under $100 -- are hiking shoes, a.k.a. light hiking boots. They are best suited for day hikes on easy to moderate terrain, when you're planning to carry only a light bag or backpack. Top hiking shoes generally have the advantage of being lightweight, making them an increasingly popular alternative to heavy hiking boots. Many are also highly breathable, but the tradeoff is they may not be waterproof.
Between $100 and $200 you'll find traditional hiking boots, which tend to be sturdier than hiking shoes and come up higher around the ankle to increase stability. They're designed for steeper inclines, rockier terrain, and muddier paths. They're also built to wear on consecutive days during hikes of up to a week. While the good ones typically fall outside our range, we did find one pair of mid-cut boots worth recommending: L.L. Bean's Waterproof Trail Model Hikers (starting at $90). It's also worth shopping around online, as prices can vary drastically. For example, the very well reviewed Keen Targhee II Mid carries a retail price of $130, but certain sizes and colors start as low as $50 on Amazon. Nevados makes quite a few cheap hiking boots, such as the Boomerang II (starting at $40, Amazon), and some reviewers find them just fine for the price. However, many seem to have bought them for everyday wear, rather than hiking, and we saw a pattern of complaints about poor quality, paper-thin soles, and waterproofing that doesn't work, leading us to question value of the brand as a whole.
At the top end of the market, you'll find expensive off-trail or mountaineering boots. These are designed for more experienced hikers who plan to tackle extreme terrain for days at a time, perhaps in freezing weather, while carrying a heavy backpack. Such rugged boots lie far outside the Cheapism niche.
All the cheap hiking boots we recommend are available for both men and women. As you shop, be on the lookout for several essential features. Experts say a top hiking shoe should have a supportive midsole that cushions the foot and helps keep it from flattening out under the weight of a backpack. The best cheap hiking boots are lightweight and highly breathable or moisture resistant, if not waterproof, because moisture inside the shoe can cause blisters. Traction comes in the form of lugs on the bottom of the boot, a.k.a. the outsole, and provides stable and secure footing, particularly in slippery and rough conditions.
Best Cheap Hiking Boots
Merrell Moab Ventilator
Designed primarily for light hiking in hot weather, the Merrell Moab Ventilator has been recognized for exceptional breathability and comfort with a low price tag. These lightweight hiking shoes come in men's and women's versions and are solidly built from top to bottom. They feature a leather and mesh upper, antimicrobial lining, a compression-molded midsole for support and balance, and thick lugs for traction.Read more »
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Good Cheap Hiking Boots
L.L. Bean Trail Model Hikers
Bean's Waterproof Trail Model Hikers for men and Trail Model Hikers II for women also come in cheaper low-cut versions, but it's the mid-cut boots that most impress us with their value. Comfort and durability are also big draws for the boots' enthusiastic fans. These hiking boots feature a breathable waterproof membrane and reflective trim for safety.Read more »
Available at L.L. Bean.
Keen Alamosa WP
Reviewers marvel at how lightweight and waterproof these hiking shoes are for the price. They're made for both men and women with a combination of water- and abrasion-resistant nubuck leather and a breathable waterproof lining. Wearers say they keep feet dry and comfortable no matter what the elements.Read more »
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These are the best cheap option we found for fast hiking and light trail running for both men and women. These hiking shoes have a specially shaped foot bed that lets wearers roll through their natural stride for miles and miles without discomfort. Numerous users crow that the lightweight, straight-out-of-the-box comfort doesn't hold them back. Many also report exceptional support and traction on rough terrain.Read more »
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Don't Bother Cheap Hiking Boots
Nevados Hiking Boots
Many Nevados hiking shoes and boots are half the price of others we researched, but they garner mixed reviews at best. Users record complaints ranging from poor fit no matter what size they try to insoles and outsoles that wear out fast. Reviews also mention that these might be fine for everyday but too heavy for hiking.Read more »
Nevados Hiking Boots Review
L.L. Bean Trail Model Hikers Review
Keen Alamosa WP Review
Salomon Synapse Review
Merrell Moab Ventilator Review
La Sportiva Exum Pro
Vasque Synergist Gore-Tex Mid Hiking Boot
The North Face Vindicator Mid GTX
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