A Shortcut Guide to the Best Budget Hiking Boots

When April showers start pouring down and the snow starts melting on the ground, it’s time to put those snowshoes and ski boots in storage and pull out your hiking boots. If you have a pair of hiking boots that just don’t cut it, then you could end up with a muddy backside, blistered feet, and wet socks. You could also buy a cheap pair of hiking shoes that actually work. Let’s look at some reliable mid-range hiking shoes for under $100.

Let’s look at the top four picks for best budget hiking boots, and they all come in women’s and men’s versions.

The Salomon Synapse boot, coming at a $60 starting price, which is well within the budget of most consumers, is specifically designed for trail running, or for getting over a lot of ground quickly. The midsole has a downward tilted design, toward the toe, to move the wearer forward quickly. A record holder who finished the fastest hike of the Appalachian Trail wore these cheap shoes to accomplish her feat, pun intended. Amateurs, too, have found these shoes to be supremely comfortable and durable.

The mid-cut L.L. Bean Waterproof Tail Model Hikers, coming at a slightly higher price of $90, are traditional hiking boots that rise up a little more on the ankle to offer more protection and support. The mid-cut design alone is usually enough to put a shoe over the $100 mark, and this low-priced pair is waterproof as well. Moreover, several reviewers talk about how effective the waterproof lining is.

The Keen Alamosa WP, coming in at a price of $72, is meant for hikers who want a waterproof shoe. It’s not enough that a hiking boot be comfortable and hold up over rough terrain, it has to be waterproof to boot, pun intended. You never know what kind of watery or wintry weather you’re going to get out on the trail. You have to ensure that your feet stay protected, no matter what. If you’re out on a trail, and you have no way of returning home without a lot of hiking, your feet could end up sore, wet, and blistered if you have to hike back with wet feet. In this price range, the term “waterproof” is often used pretty loosely, but reviewers attest to how well the waterproof membrane that lines the shoe holds up and stops water from seeping through. They also mention the extremely lightweight, yet sturdy, construction, including suede-like, durable nubuck leather and a rubber toe bumper.

The Merrell Moab Ventilator, coming in at just $72, has been called an excellent value in many side-by-side comparisons by hiking experts. This is a hiking shoe that is incredibly supportive, and it grips the trail with deep treads, or lugs, yet it’s very comfortable and lightweight, according to reviews published online. Even though the Ventilator is not waterproof, it has a very breathable mesh upper that let dry out quickly in warm weather. The signature ventilation also helps stop blisters by airing out sweaty, hot feet.

Light hiking boots reign supreme at the cheaper end of the market, and they have become a very popular alternative to heavy-duty boots for backpacking. A several-day trip with a heavy pack over tough, unsteady terrtain calls for a big boot with a heftier price tag. However, if you’re just going after day hikes that don’t veer too far from the trail, a lot of hikers prefer footwear that is a lot more nimble. That can mean a low-cut shoe, but a lot of mid-cut boots offer a similar low cost and light weight.

Another signature of this kind of boot is a sole that’s supportive without necessarily being too stiff. All four pairs listed in the review above seem to walk that line, pun intended. They have foot beds made out of cushy EVA. However, there’s not a single thing that can make a boot feel comfortable if it doesn’t fit right.

If you’re consider investing in some heavy-duty hiking gear this spring, you don’t have to spend several hundred dollars on a pair of hiking shoes, at least. While you may overspend in other areas, you will at least be able to say that you were too well-informed to spend a lot on hiking boots after having read this article.

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