As you’ve probably already found out, hiking boots can be quite expensive. If you don’t feel like spending $300 on footwear, you’ve come to the right place. I’ve made a list of the best hiking boots under $100.
Understanding the hiking boots features
In this section of the article, I’ll explain hiking boots features and which ones are the most important. I’ll also clarify which type of hiking boots are the best for you, depending on your personal situation. If you don’t feel like reading this, click here to jump to the reviews.
There’s nothing worse than having wet feet during a summer hike. That’s why a shoe its breathability is quite important.
Moisture Vapour Control (MPC) is what makes a shoe breathable. With the help of MPC, we are able to make micro-holes in fabrics. These very small holes are not large enough to let water pass, but steam can escape. Because of this, sweat is able to pass through.
However, this system also has its flaws and doesn’t work as well as many people think. I’ll explain it to you in the following subtitle.
Breathability also plays a big role if you plan on backpacking in freezing temperatures. Leather, rubber or plastic shoes are not very breathable and not good at wicking away sweat. Your socks may get sweaty because you’re hiking a demanding trail. Over time, your sweat will freeze and eventually your boots will freeze too.
Are waterproof boots a must-have? To answer this question, we must understand the balance between waterproof and breathability.
If your boots are waterproof, they won’t be very breathable. And if they’re breathable, they won’t be fully waterproof. To attain completely watertight boots, you need to sacrifice all your breathability.
So if waterproof boots are a must-have comes down to personal preference and the environment. In most cases, waterproof boots are great in rainy and snowy conditions. In hot environments, you may want to wear breathable and fast-drying shoes.
Many so-called waterproof boots are only fully watertight for a short period of time. After that, they become non-breathable and non-waterproof boots. Some remain waterproof, but only to a certain extent. You can still use a water-repellent spray to make them completely waterproof.
If you experience heavy rainfall, your feet will get wet anyway. That’s because the water slides from your legs into your boots.
I’m not trying to hate on ‘waterproof’ boots, I just want to be honest with you. I had bought ‘waterproof’ hiking boots myself and after a few months, they let water through. I was pretty upset because I bought them mainly for the ‘waterproof’ feature. I want to make sure you don’t make the same mistake.
This article elaborates on why waterproof boots are often not the best choice.
You’ll do great distances in your hiking boots so the fit is one of the most important things. You want to check the width and the amount of room for your toes at the end of your day. Your feet tend to swell during the day and will be at their largest in the afternoon.
A good way to know if they are wide enough is the one-finger test. Try putting a finger in your shoe next to your foot. If that’s easy, you know the width is good.
If you have to wear special soles, make sure you check the shoe-fit with those in it.
You might want to test their fit with winter socks on as well with summer socks. Maybe even with multiple socks if you’re planning to use them in very cold areas.
If you feel like they’re too narrow, send them back and order them a little bigger. I know it’s tempting to think they’ll widen and often they do, but not enough.
Height and terrain or weather use
There are three types of hiking boots. High-ankle, mid-cut and low-cut boots, with each their pros and cons.
Low-cut boots come with the greatest movement range and are therefore easier to move around with. The downside is that they don’t have ankle support. That makes it easier for you to sprain your ankle. These boots are great for you if you’re planning to use them on flat trails, during a hot day. They’re also very light and thus it’ll be less tiring to hike with them.
Mid-cut boots offer more support. They rise just above the ankle. This ensures more ankle and weather protection. Rain and snow will not enter so easily as with low-cut boots. This is often a great choice for people who value flexibility, but also some ankle protection.
High-ankle boots provide the most ankle support. They are meant for snowy, muddy and rough trails. If you expect warm weather, you may be better off with more breathable shoes that dry faster. They are commonly made out of leather and rubber. High-ankle boots are in general a good choice for people who are not as flexible or are new to hiking.
Personally, I like low-cut boots because they’re flexible, dry fast and provide more speed. Even in rocky surroundings, I like to use these. But this is something you have to decide for yourself. If you sprain your ankle easily, you may be better off with the mid-cut boots.
In cold or snowy conditions, I like to use my high-ankle boots as they keep most of the rain and snow out.
If you’re not sure yet and want to be informed even more, I suggest you check out this page. It’s an entire article about the pros and cons of the three types of boots.
How your weight distribution affects your shoe’s wear and tear
While I was going through the reviews, I saw a lot of contradiction. Many people spoke about the divine quality of their boots, and others almost wrote a hate review.
This reminded me of my friend Steve in high school. Every 2-4 weeks, he had to buy new shoes because they would fall apart. And he bought expensive, quality ones.
So I started researching and learned something new. The way you distribute your weight affects the wear and tear of your shoe.
There are three types of weight distributions: neutral, over-pronation and supination.
Over-pronation causes you to put more pressure on the inner edge of your shoes.
Supination is the opposite, you apply more pressure on the outer edge.
This is unhealthy for you and your footwear. It can cause pain, and your shoes will wear out unevenly and much faster.
If you want to learn more about pronation, I recommend this article. They also write about wear patterns. This way you can find out whether you are experiencing over-pronation or supination.
The 5 best hiking boots under $100
The Timberland’s White Ledge
- The footbed and midsole are made of a foam-like material, which makes this boot durable, light and comfortable.
- Waterproof to a high degree.
- They fit very comfortably and don’t hurt after a few hours of hiking.
- Their lightness makes them very pleasant to walk with.
- A wide version is available for people with larger feet.
- The ankle support provides a great deal of sturdiness and stability.
- They already fit comfortably after a few days of use.
- Many people find these boots stylish.
- Leather boots need to be taken care of, this guide shows you how.
- Not fully waterproof, and if they get soaking wet, you need to treat them properly. Check out this article for more information.
- These boots are not breathable and shouldn’t be used in hot weather.
- They are undersized so you may want to buy them ½ or 1 size bigger.
Best for: people who need boots to hike muddy and rainy trails in cold conditions.
Columbia Newton Ridge Plus
- They fit comfortably right out of the box, no break-in time is needed.
- The omni-grip feature provides an excellent grip on rock, loose dirt and gravel.
- Their casual look makes them suitable for everyday use.
- Very light and easy to hike with.
- These boots score very high in waterproofing and will keep your feet dry in most conditions.
- The insoles come out without any problems. You can easily clean them or replace them with orthotic ones.
- Plenty of cushioning makes sure your feet are protected from impact and harsh ground.
- Leather boots require maintenance.
- Leather and suede are not very breathable. These boots are therefore only interesting for autumn/winter hikes.
- You may want to consider other boots if you have wide feet, because even the ‘wide’ version may still be too narrow for some people.
Best for: people with narrow feet who need boots for autumn/winter hikes.
Skechers Men’s Relment-Pelmo
Skechers has grown in the past few years and has become one of the most popular shoe brands. In the beginning, Skechers was often seen as a cheap tennis shoe brand, but times have changed. They now make excellent and durable shoes, in many different categories.
- Memory foam insoles make these boots soft and comfortable to hike with.
- They keep your feet dry in moderate rain. You can increase their waterproofing by using a water-repellent spray.
- The grip on these boots is great. You don’t have to worry about slipping.
- Their cushioning makes them comfortable, even after a whole day of hiking.
- They provide both ankle support and a wide range of motion, making it easier to perform awkward foot movements.
- These boots don’t require a break-in period and are comfortable to hike with from day one.
- These boots are made of suede rather than leather, which is a good thing. You don’t have to treat them with special products or wax.
- They’re not very breathable, which makes them unsuitable for hiking in hot weather.
- The soles are glued in, which makes it harder to replace them with orthotic ones.
- Non-removable insoles are not so easy to clean. You can find more information in this article.
- Some people complained about the durability of the laces. So you might need to replace them after some time.
Best for: people who want the most comfortable walking shoe and are not so much focused on the best waterproofing.
Merrell Yokota 2 – Hiking Shoe
The Yokota 2 is actually categorized as a hiking shoe. I wanted to include them because you may prefer shoes due to their breathability and flexibility. They are a far better choice than hiking boots in the summer and spring.
- They dry quickly and are very breathable, making them useful for hiking in summer rains.
- These shoes are popular with people who have wide feet. The large toe box lets your toes breathe and move around.
- The Yokota 2 may be the perfect hiking shoe for people with high arches. They provide great arch support, so orthotic insoles may not be necessary.
- Their grip and flexibility make them reliable shoes that are suitable for rough hikes.
- The ankle area is padded, which makes them feel nice and comfortable.
- After very little breaking in they’re ready to hike all day with.
- The removable sole gives you the option to use your orthotic insoles if you need to.
- They don’t protect your feet from rain and cold, making them unsuitable for winter/autumn hikes.
- Their cushioning is not great, which makes them sensitive to impact and harsh grounds.
- These boots are undersized, so you may want to buy them ½ or 1 size bigger than you’re used to.
Best for: people who are looking for a hiking shoe that can be used on rainy summer days.
Merrell Moab 2 Ventilator – Hiking Shoe
- High-quality Vibram soles make them very durable and suitable for extensive use.
- The soles offer a great grip in rough terrain and keep you steady in descents.
- Performs well in sturdy hikes.
- A wide range of motion and flexibility makes them comfortable to hike with.
- The large amount of cushioning makes them suitable for hiking on harsh surfaces.
- The insoles can easily be replaced.
- They dry quickly and are breathable, making them a great choice for summer hikes.
- They’re very light, which makes you less tired after a day of walking.
- These shoes are easy to break in.
- Not suitable for people with wide feet
- The insoles are pretty thin.
- Not waterproof.
Best for: people who are looking for the most qualitative hiking shoes for rainy summer hikes.
The best hiking boot for you depends on your personal situation.
If you need a winter hiking boot, I would definitely suggest the Columbia Newton Ridge Plus (men / women). They have the best ankle support of all three winter boots. Their waterproofing is also better and they are lighter. However, if you have wide feet, I suggest the Skechers or Timberlands (only available for men).
If you are sensitive to rough soils and impact, you might want to consider the Skechers Men’s Relment-Pelmo. Their cushioning is great and they feature memory foam insoles.
I hope this article was useful to you. If you still need help with anything, please contact me through this page. I’ll be happy to help you.
Stay safe and keep exploring!