Good hiking boots can make or break a long hike. You want your feet to be protected at all times, and the shoes you wear definitely need to be comfortable. If they aren't, you hiking trip can quickly turn from a fun adventure, into a painful ordeal. There's a huge selection of hiking boots out there, both the old school heavy ones, and the more light-weight modern boots. Finding a good pair of boots on a budget is not an easy task, and everyone will tell you that you shouldn't cheap out on hiking footwear, but it's definitely not impossible. We have found five hiking boots that will do a great job at keeping your feet protected and comfortable, without costing you your month's paycheck.
Currently one of the best affordable hiking boots you can find on the market, Vasque St. Elias GTX delivers comfort, stability and great traction. These are suitable for serious hiking, all while keeping your feet protected and dry. It's a full leather upper design that is lightweight and requires almost no breaking in. At this price, Vasque St. Elias GTX is the best hiking boot you can get.
If you want a pair of boots that you can put on right after purchase, and go for a hike, KEEN Targhee II Mid is what you are looking for. These boots are extremely comfortable and offer loads of support and stability. Traction is great for a proprietary sole, which performs really well in muddy terrain. Waterproofing is not the best, but if you shouldn't have any problems if you avoid submerging your feet.
While it's not the best choice of a hiking boot on the market, Hi-Tec Altitude V hiking boot gives you a decent balance of price and performance. These boots are suitable for cold weather use, and will keep your feet warm during longer hikes. Hi-Tec Altitude V hiking boots are comfortable to a degree, and the collar padding combined with a decent lacing system will keep them snug against your feet.
Salomon X Ultra Mid 2 GTX is a design that combines the best features of trail shoes and hiking boots. You get the comfort and insole style of a trail shoe, along with added stability and more support that is usually found in a hiking boot. They are made from leather and synthetics, and use Gore-Tex membrane to keep your feet dry. These boots are low cut, meaning that they offer limited ankle stability and support.
An affordable, decent entry level hiking boots that are more geared towards work outside and general use. Timberland White Ledge are comfortable enough, but might prove to be problematic on longer hikes. There is no waterproofing although the full leather upper keeps the water out surprisingly well. The rubber sole is soft and offers limited traction, especially in wet conditions.
The options for hiking boots in this price range are fairly limited, but still available. You will have to use your intended use as a guide for finding the best option for you. We've selected several models that we think offer the best combination of price and performance, and ranked them from accordingly. Our top choice is going to be the Vasque St. Elias GTX for a number of reasons.
It delivers the best performance and quality of all the models we've mentioned, and is versatile enough to be used in any kind of application. Vasque St. Elias GTX is comfortable and stable boot that offers good ankle support and great traction. For the money, you won't find a better choice.
The overall design of most of these hiking boots is quite similar, except for the Salomon X Ultra Mid 2 GTX which sports a more modern look with its synthetic elements. The rest of the models feature a full leather upper of various qualities with Vasuque St. Elias GTX taking the first place. KEEN Targhee II Mid are in the second place with a decent quality leather upper. Next is Hi-Tec Altitude V and Salomon X Ultra Mid 2 GTX, while the last place belongs to Timberland White Ledge due to their low quality choice of leather.
When it comes to comfort, KEEN Targhee II Mid has proven to be the best choice. These boots don't require any breaking in, and just feel great on your feet even after a long hike. Vasque St. Elias GTX are a bit less comfortable, but they offer the best stability and support of all the boots on this list. Hi-Tec Altitude V is a comfortable boot that comes with a lot of padding around the collar, while the stability is above average, reducing fatigue during longer hikes.
Salomon X Ultra Mid 2 GTX is a model that is naturally comfortable due to its trail shoe design, but it doesn't shine when it comes to stability. This is mainly because it uses synthetics in and around the collar, while it features a lower cut. Timberland White Ledge offer good stability due to their full leather upper and collar, but they lack comfort necessary for longer hikes.
Overall, Vasque St. Elias GTX delivers the best combination of durability, comfort and stability. They are not the cheapest boots from the bunch, but are more than worth their price for what they offer. One could argue that KEEN Targhee II Mid is a better choice if comfort is your number one concern, and you would probably be right. However, looking at a complete package, Vasque St. Elias GTX is a better choice by all means.