Gear

9 Best Budget-Friendly Hiking Boots & Shoes for 2021

by Arthur McMahon
Updated August 08, 2021

best budget hiking boots

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A proper pair of hiking boots or shoes is as necessary to a great hike as the trail itself.

We’ve all worn the wrong footwear on a hike at some point in our adventurous lives. Many of us know all too well the pain of blisters, the resulting soggy bottom following a slip on a muddy slope, and the sense of defeat when we’ve saturated our sneakers to the point of no return.

We live and we learn. When wearing the proper footwear, most of this on-trail anguish will become a thing of the past.

High quality hiking boots and shoes can get expensive, though, which is a fair reason as to why someone may put off purchasing a pair. Who wants to spend hundreds of dollars on a pair of mountain crushers when all you need is a bit of extra protection and grip?

The list of budget-friendly hiking boots and shoes below is chock full of high quality footwear that won’t break the bank. Many of these options will also work well as daily shoes, providing you with more bang for your buck.

Related: The Keen Ridge Flex Boot: Cool Tech at a Great Price

The Best Budget-Friendly Hiking Boots and Shoes

While considering which boots and shoes to feature on this list, we considered factors such as durability, comfort, and foot protection in choosing our picks. Price was a factor too, and as of the time of this writing all of the footwear here is priced at or below $125 — and you’ll even find some of these hiking boots for under $100.

Our Top Pick

Merrell Moab 2 Ventilator

Ventilated Mid Hiking Boot

The most well-rounded budget hiking boot on the market.

Check REI Price

See both women’s and men’s versions.

Time-tested and hiker-approved, the Merrell Moab 2 Ventilator is among the most well known and revered hiking boots. More than 20 million pairs of these boots have hit the trails since their inception.

From the bottom up, each layer of these boots have been forged with high quality materials. The Vibram TC5+ soles provide excellent traction across a variety of terrains. EVA midsoles provide industry standard stability and comfort that is enhanced by air cushions in the heels.

The exterior features a breathable suede and mesh upper that is protected by top-tier gold-rated leather. It’s burly, yet lightweight. This isn’t a waterproof boot — although some of the other options on this list are. Also check out the Moab 2 Ventilator in the low-top shoe version for both men and women.

Best Waterproof Hiking Boot

Timberland Earthkeepers Mt. Maddsen

Waterproof Mid Hiking Boot

Comprised of stylish and impenetrable full-grain leather, these boots are sure to keep your feet protected from the elements.

Check REI Price

See both women’s and men’s versions.

Whether you’re stomping through streams or traversing a snowy trail, you want to keep your feet dry — full stop. There’s few things more frustrating on trail than cold, wet feet and the squish that comes with each soggy step.

That’s why these Timberland Earthkeepers Mt. Maddsen boots are a top buy. The leather uppers are reinforced with a waterproof membrane, and the fully gusseted tongue will keep debris out as well.

Best Ultralight Hiking Shoe

Altra Lone Peak

Trail Running Shoe

A zero drop trail runner frequently seen on the feet of long-distance thru-hikers.

Check REI Price

See both women’s and men’s versions.

Weighing in at a remarkably light 12 ounces per shoe, the Altra Lone Peaks will feel like feathers on your feet, at least when compared to everything else on this list. There are even lighter hiking shoes out there, but these have the durability, traction, and comfort required for long days on rugged trails.

They’re a zero drop shoe, which means there is no slope from heel to toe. This provides a natural foot stance rather than the elevated heel seen in most boots and shoes.

The Lone Peaks also have an extra wide toe box which helps reduce blisters and gives your toes a chance to spread out which is especially helpful when traversing rocks and other uneven surfaces.

Best Hiking Shoe for Kids

Merrell Trail Chaser

Unisex Youth Hiking Shoe

Adaptable and durable shoes for children that slip on with ease and strap on tight.

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These Merrell Trail Chasers contain all of the elements of a great hiking shoe. They provide excellent grip and traction, have a comfortable yet supportive EVA footbed, and the suede and mesh uppers are both durable and breathable. All of it has simply been made pint-sized.

And your kids will love them. The velcro closure is an easy-to-use lashing system that replaces laces— providing a snug fit while making it a breeze to slide the shoes on or off. They’re available in a variety of colors and come in sizes to fit children from ages four to twelve.

Best Casual Hiking Boot

Lems Boulder Boot

Minimalist Hiking Boot

Lightweight, casual boots that’ll travel well from the workplace to a local trail.

Check Backcountry Price

See both women’s and men’s versions.

Following in the footsteps of Altra and other shoemakers that have propelled the zero drop movement, the Lems Boulder Boots are a “natural foot-shaped boot” designed to allow your foot to move naturally as if you were barefoot. The result is a flat and malleable sole that molds to the terrain as you tread on it, providing excellent grip and a balanced step.

The uppers are made of nylon and leather. There are both waterproof and breathable water-resistant versions. Whichever style you choose, you’ll find these boots to be exceptionally comfortable, surprisingly lightweight, and more durable than you may expect.

Best Foot Ventilation

KEEN Arroyo II

Open Hiking Shoe

One part KEEN sandal, one part hiking boot — some will consider this hybrid to be the best outdoor shoe of all time.

Check Backcountry Price

See both women’s and men’s versions.

Hiking sandals are extremely popular in certain outdoor communities, but not everyone is convinced of their benefits. The KEEN Arroyo II hiking shoes are the bridge between worlds, so to speak. They combine the unhindered ventilation of a sandal with the robust support and protection of a traditional hiking boot.

One reason many outdoor enthusiasts have fallen in love with hiking sandals is for their multi-sport versatility, and these KEEN hiking shoes have turned that adaptability up to eleven. From the beach to the river to the trail, these shoes have got your feet covered.

Most Versatile Hiking Boot

Columbia Newton Ridge Plus

Waterproof Mid Hiking Boot

Understated waterproof hiking boots that’ll wear well in a wide range of outdoor and indoor settings.

Check Amazon Price

See both women’s and men’s versions.

The Columbia Newton Ridge Plus boots have the styling and feature set of classic hiking boots. They’re waterproof, durable, and comfortable, and their timeless design will look appropriate everywhere from the trail to the mall. This is a hiking boot that will excel in many different situations.

Columbia’s TECHLITE midsole has a highly responsive cushion that, while soft, is exceptionally springy. This absorbs the energy of your step and rebounds it when you go to lift your foot, reducing fatigue. The Omni-Grip outsole has multi-directional lugs that’ll grip will in dirt, gravel mud, and snow.

Best for Rocky Terrain

Oboz Sawtooth II Shoe

Waterproof Hiking Shoe

Low-profile hiking shoes with bite to match the bark.

Check REI Price

See both women’s and men’s versions.

The Sawtooth line of hiking shoes and boots are Oboz’s best-selling collection, and they’re renowned for their multi-layered soles. The Oboz Sawtooth II are no exception.

The proprietary O FIT Insole and Sawtooth Midsole together create a dual-density cushion and support system that remains unmatched by other brands. The Sawtooth Outsole, meanwhile, is as rugged as they come, and has been designed with the strength and flexibility required to tackle gnarly trails.

Best for Sensitive Feet

Teva Gateway

Low Profile Hiking Shoes

Designed for superior foot comfort from the ground up. Blisters, begone!

Check REI Price

See both women’s and men’s versions.

The Teva Gateway shoes are a fantastic daily shoe that can handle easy to moderate day hikes without a cinch. They’ve been engineered for excellent ventilation, plush comfort, and non-slip traction all while maintaining a light overall weight and light footprint.

Each component of these shoes is either fully or partially made of recyclable materials. They’ve also been treated with an antimicrobial agent to reduce odors so that you don’t have to worry about wearing them after your hike is done.

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