Whether you’re a day hiker or a serious backpacker, hiking boots are a critical part of your comfort and performance on the trail. This used to mean spending lots of money on stiff, clunky boots that weighed you down, but not anymore. If you’re looking for hiking boots or shoes that are durable, lightweight, waterproof, and budget-friendly, you’ve come to the right place.
There are a ton of reviews out there on the best hiking boots. Undoubtedly, they are full of outstanding products, but most of them are expensive. If you’re a budget hiker, traveler, or backpacker with a limited budget for gear, this is your guide to buying the best affordable hiking boots in 2021.
Hiking Boots Vs. Hiking Shoes
Before we dive into our list, let’s clarify something that’s a common source of confusion when shopping for hiking footwear. Hiking footwear is categorized into boots and shoes. While both are designed for the same purpose, there are a few differences.
Hiking shoes are usually lighter than boots and are made to be soft and flexible. If you primarily hike in dry weather or on flat, gentle terrain, hiking shoes are a great choice. Hiking shoes are popular for people who want a comfortable, everyday shoe that doubles as recreational hiking gear.
Hiking boots, on the other hand, are made for navigating much more rugged terrain. They offer more ankle support and reinforced protection for your feet. Although they are heavier than hiking shoes, most people choose boots because of their greater level of protection while navigating rough terrain. The soles are built to give you a greater amount of traction in wet, snowy, or muddy conditions. Boots are also built for durability and last longer if you’re a serious all-weather hiker.
Things To Look For In Hiking Boots
There are a few key areas to consider when you shop for hiking boots. These areas are the metrics used to assess boots in this list, and help you find your new favorite pair. These include comfort, stability, traction, waterproofing, weight, breathability, protection, and durability. We have outlined each of these factors on every pair of boots reviewed.
The Best Budget-Friendly Hiking Boots
Weight: One pound
Waterproof: Waterproof leather and gusseted tongue
- 100% waterproof leather uppers with full seam sealing
- Rustproof lacing hardware with hooks on upper boot
- Solid rubber sole with lugs for traction
- Compression-molded EVA footbeds for superior cushioning
Whether you are shopping for men, women, or kids, Timberland is a popular brand of hiking boots with collections for all hiking levels. What’s great about these boots is that they offer features that are usually reserved for premium boots at a budget-friendly price under $100.
The stiff construction of this boot protects your feet from rocks, and the 100% waterproof leather will keep your feet dry in any condition. This boot is also compatible with snowshoes and mountaineering.
Weight: Two pounds
Waterproof: KEEN.DRY waterproof membrane
- Waterproof leather and mesh uppers
- Removable EVA footbed for cushioning and support
- KEEN.DRY waterproof, breathable membrane for ultimate foot dryness
- Mid-height to protect from ankle injuries
- Rubber toe guards offer protection from impact and abrasion
KEEN boots are designed with strong outsoles to stand up to any terrain while maintaining cushioned insoles for comfort.
The lacing system on these boots is particularly unique. The webbing eyelets are designed to secure the heel of the boot by cinching it down every time you lace up—the KEEN.DRY system keeps the boot 100% waterproof while allowing your foot to breathe and stay cool at the same time.
The KEEN Targhee boots are wider than the average hiking boot, making them an optimum choice for people with wide feet.
Weight: Two pounds
- Leather coated for rugged terrain
- Omni-grip non-marking rubber soles
- Lightweight midsoles for comfort
- Mesh and suede upper boot for breathable ventilation
As one of the most trusted brands in the shoe industry, Columbia offers high-quality hiking footwear at an affordable price. Omni-tech soles provide high traction in any terrain to prevent slipping.
The Newton Ridge boot is fully waterproof with a breathable shell to keep your feet cool, even on hot summer days.
Weight: 2.82 pounds
Waterproof: Merrel Select Dry
- Adaptive for wet or dry terrain
- Full-grain leather and suede
- Merrell Kinetic Fit Base contoured footbed with flexible heel support
- Compression-molded EVA midsole
- Specially designed soles for superior traction
While this boot is on the heavier side compared to others on this list, it offers superior waterproofing and comfort at a very low price.
The Moab boot line was launched by Merrell several years ago, but the Moab 2 has improved foot cushioning, higher arch support, and better waterproof construction than the original. Users report that these boots keep your feet dry even after treading through water.
The shock absorbers built into the outsole offer traction on any terrain level, but it doesn’t stand up on steep, rocky climbs. For day hiking or general backpacking, however, this boot is a great choice.
Weight: 1.5 pounds
- Padded collars and a gusseted tongue to prevent debris from entering the boot
- Waterproof leather uppers
- Lace-up front with rustproof speed laces
- Shock-absorbing midsoles
- Memory foam footbed for comfort
- Solid outsole with multi-directional lugs for traction
This boot was made for challenging wilderness terrain. Despite its chunky look, it remains rather lightweight and provides significant warmth for hiking in cold weather, making it a great winter boot option.
The reviews are mixed on this boot’s traction quality on wet surfaces, so it may not be great on slippery terrain.
Weight: 1.38 pounds
- 100% leather and seam-sealed
- Ankle height for comfort and stability
- Optimized ground grip
- Memory foam insole
- Shock absorbing midsole
- Mesh fabric collar for breathability
If you’re looking for comfort, style, and functionality at an affordable price, the Skechers Relment Pelmo boot has it all. It’s fully waterproof and a little shorter than most hiking boots, which maximizes comfort for everyday wearers. The memory foam insole grants even greater levels of comfort, while the ruggedly designed outsole offers superior traction on different types of terrain.
Weight: 1.01 pounds
Waterproof: Omni-tech waterproof membrane
- Suede leather, mesh, and webbing combination
- Advanced Omni-grip traction
- Extra footbed cushioning
- Wrapped sidewalls and rubber foot overlays for terrain adaptability
If you prefer a low-profile hiking shoe to a clunky boot, the Redmond V2 provides a budget-friendly option.
As a lightweight, everyday shoe that’s more than durable enough for casual day hikes, this shoe has 4mm lugs for trudging through deep mud and loose ground. While it’s not adequate for steep, rocky trails or long backpacking trips, it’s more than sufficient for recreational hikers.
Weight: 2 pounds
- Balanced weight and stability
- Waterproof suede and mesh uppers
- Cushioned EVA midsole for support
- Fabric lining and cushioned footbed
- Rustproof lacing hardware
- Multi-directional traction rubber outsole
Most outdoor lovers will appreciate this hiking boot that is comfortable enough for daily wear. It’s surprisingly lightweight for its features and is lined with a breathable membrane to regulate the in-shoe temperature.
It is equipped with a gusseted tongue to keep dirt and debris out of the boot; it also contains compression-molding technology for ultimate foot comfort. The deep lugs contained in the outsole provide superior traction in any conditions to prevent falls.
Weight: 3.04 pounds
- Fully waterproof uppers
- Durable and breathable
- Cushioned footbed
- Hill and toe bumpers for extra foot protection
- Deep lugs for traction and stability
As far as affordable hiking boots go, this model from Mountain Warehouse will keep your feet warm and dry all day. While they’re on the heavier side, these boots will stand up in wet and rocky terrain and are comfortable enough to wear every day.
Weight: 3.1 pounds
- Waterproof oiled leather uppers
- Well-built arch support reduces foot fatigue
- Superior cushioning for all-day comfort
- Maximum traction and wear resistance
This boot is one of the best affordable hiking boots available. If quality and durability are priorities for you, this boot has what you need.
It’s constructed of fully waterproofed leather and seam-sealed to prevent leaking. While Ariat is best-known for equestrian boots, they’ve done a great job of incorporating their ATS technology for foot stability into a hiking boot.
As an added bonus, these boots have a moisture-wicking lining that takes care of foot hygiene and prevents smells.
If you’re an avid hiker, it’s worth making the investment into a good pair of boots, but this shouldn’t break the bank. If you’re working with a limited gear budget, any of the ten hiking boots or shoes above are sure to meet your needs at an affordable price.