Contrary to what some fancy Italian bootmakers want you to think, you don’t actually need a $500 pair of deluxe trekking boots in order to enjoy a good long hike in the wilderness. With recent advances in both design and materials technology, the best hiking boots of 2023 are now more affordable than ever.
The key to choosing a new pair of hiking boots is keeping your eye on the three most important aspects of hiking boot technology:
We’ve analyzed over 60 of the best hiking boots under 100$ you can buy in 2023 before buying 9 for detailed side-by-side tests.
To make things easier for everybody, we’ve rounded up the 10 Best Hiking Boots that are Under $100, and we are going to examine each one of them through the lens of these three aspects. Stick around after the review where we are going to explain just what factors determine how well a hiking boot is going to perform on the trail.
Best Waterproof Boot
|Leather/Textile||Modled Rubber||4 pounds||Yes||
Best Leather Boots
Most Budget Boots
|Leather/Synthetic||Modled Rubber||4.5 pounds||Yes||
Best Heel Support Boot
Accentor Mid Vent
|Leather/Suede||Modled Rubber||1.19 pounds||Yes||
Best Winter under $100
|Suede||Modled Rubber||2 pounds||Yes||
Best for Desert Trekking
|Leather/Textile||Modled Rubber||2 pounds||Yes||
Best Fitting Hiking Boots
Men’s Keele Ridge
|Mesh||Modled Rubber||2 pounds||Yes||
Best Tactical Combat
Tactical Ankle Boots
|Leather/Mesh||Modled Rubber||2 pounds||No||
Best Mid-Cut Waterproof Hiking Boot – Hi-Tec Men’s BANDERA MID Waterproof Hiking Boot
|MAERIALS||LEATHER / TEXTILE|
|BEST FEATURE||STEEL SHANK FOR ADDED STABILITY|
The folks over at HI-TEC have been making quality outdoor gear for over forty years, so it perhaps should be no great surprise that they have become one of the most popular brands of hiking shoes and hiking boots. One of the reasons that they have achieved this level of popularity is no doubt due to their continued dedication to providing a sturdy product for a reasonable price. As far as budget hiking boots go, there is perhaps no better company to start with than HIH-TEC.
The BANDERA MID could possibly be described as their flagship hiking boot, and it seems to be performing that role quite well. This is a stylish and sturdy boot that offers a good deal more arch rigidity than many of the other products in the price range.
The steel shank could be responsible for this. Each boot has one steel shank inserted near the arch to make sure that the foot remains stable, even on the most uncertain or uneven of terrains. This is quite possibly the best feature of the boot, though we are slightly more inclined to give that honor to the great price.
The problem with this particular pair of boots is that the eyelets are constructed of relatively poor-quality metal, and we had one break on us within the first few days of using them.
Best Leather Backpacking Boots – Northside Men’s SNOHOMISH Leather Waterproof Mid
|MAERIALS||LEATHER / NYLON / SUEDE|
|BEST FEATURE||PVC TOE GUARD|
Although they are relative newcomers to the American budget hiking gear market, NORTHSIDE has not let that get in their way as they set out to carve a piece of that market for themselves. With some pairs of boots going for as low as 30 bucks, they have certainly managed to execute their goals.
The SNOHOMISH is a mid-cut hiking boot with a synthetic sole and a smooth, dynamic lacing system. Although we can’t speak too highly of the laces that come included. We recommend adding some high-quality laces to your shopping basket if you are thinking of going with a pair of Northside Boots.
We can’t say that we are big fans of the synthetic sole. While it is remarkably comfortable at first, it seems to wear down significantly faster than rubber soles do. In addition, we have experienced some slight tearing across the bottom of the sole after some longer hikes. The downward pressure on the synthetic material seems to be causing too much stress, and the sole has split as a result. These aren’t really the results you are looking for when you are out in the wilderness.
Our favorite part? Probably the breathability. It’s another reason that this is such a comfortable boot, at least for the first few hikes, but serious backpackers wouldn’t be able to put more than 100 miles in these puppies.
Most Comfortable Budget Hiking Boots – NORTIV 8 Men’s Ankle High Waterproof Backpacking Boots
These are easily among the most comfortable hiking boots that we have ever worn. When you put them on for the first time, they offer an immediate and welcoming cushion, and the body of the boot has enough inherent flex to it that even on the first wear, they won’t be nearly as stiff or uncomfortable as most hiking boots. They feel somewhat broken in from the start, and that can be a considerable boon to anyone like me who hates breaking in new hiking boots.
One of the consequences of this flexibility and comfort is that the boot itself does not offer as much structural support as a boot of this size should offer. The lack of support isn’t much of an issue at the beginning when the nylon is more stiff, but once they have been around the block a few times, they will start to lose their support. If this gets out of hand, it could lead to serious ankle injury up on the mountain. With a 4” shaft these are actually somewhere in between a MID cut boot and a HIGH cut boot, and that balance is kind of nice. They ride a bit higher than the Mid-cuts but aren’t as constricting as a full-fledged high-cut backpacking boot.
Best Hiking Boots for Rough Terrain – GOMNEAR Men’s Hiking Boots High Top Outdoor Trekking Shoes
|MAERIALS||LEATHER / SYNTHETIC|
|BEST FEATURE||EFFECTIVE ANTI-SKID GRIP|
For anyone looking for a boot that is slightly burlier in both design and construction, then they should perhaps look no further than GOMNEAR’s mid-cut trekking boots. There is a thicker sole on these boots that almost any other boot on our list, and the foot frame is remarkably solid for a budget boot.
Another think about the sole is how well-crafted the non-skid design is. These boots are going to offer you a serious amount of grip on a number of different unstable terrains. Personally, I can see these being a great pair of shoes for climbing around on rocks. That’s precisely when something like anti-skid technology comes into play.
The ankle support leaves a little something to be desired. It holds up well enough at first, however with continued use the heel section begins to wear down, and it can get to the point where the heel actually feels like it is “spilling over” the sole. This isn’t an issue with the sole so much as it is with the heel housing. It is simply not a tight enough fit to ensure that the heel won’t be slipping around and wearing down different parts of the boot.
This is another pair of boots that come with laces many would consider to be sub-par. We recommend grabbing a pair of nicer laces while you’re shopping to make up for it. You’ll quite possibly be glad that you did.
Best Heel Support on a Budget Hiking Boot – MERRELL Men’s ACCENTOR MID Vent Waterproof Hiking Boot
|MAERIALS||LEATHER / TEXTILE / SUEDE|
|BEST FEATURE||HEEL-MOUNTED AIR CUSHION|
MERRELL is not one of the hiking boot manufacturers that you would expect to see on a list of budget hiking gear, however, it seems that the reputable outdoor company saw the value in releasing a boot that was a bit more affordable. This is a big win for us consumers, who get to take advantage of the great price while simultaneously benefitting from the signature quality that has become a part of the brand’s identity.
The ACCENTORS are hands-down one of the most popular hiking boots in the world due to this toe-line balance of quality and affordability. Take the MERRELL Rubber sole, for instance. While most other shoe manufacturers have no problem simply buying their soles from a third party, MERRELL skillfully makes their own, and we are glad to say that they are some of the most durable rubber soles out there.
Let’s talk waterproofing. We can’t confirm that the ACCENTOR MIDs are actually 100% waterproof. The truth is, if you were to submerge this boot up to the ankle (with your foot in it), there would be some water getting through within the first thirty seconds. What the shoe does do quite well, however, is repelling water. So protection for a brief dip in a puddle, or if you’re hiking in a rainstorm.
They can get a bit sweaty if we’re being honest, but they’re still more breathable than some pairs out there.
Best Winter Hiking Boots Under $100 – XIANG GUAN Men’s Outdoor High-Top Waterproof Winter Snow / Hiking Boots
|MAERIALS||SYNTHETIC / SUEDE|
|BEST FEATURE||HIGH-TOP ANKLE PROTECTION|
Well we can honestly say that we have never before tried out a product from the Chinese manufacturer XIANG GUAN, but after seeing how fast these boots were flying off the digital shelves, we decided to take a closer look at this cool-looking boot to see if there was more than simply met the eye.
First off, this is one of the only High-Cut or High-Top style hiking boots on our lists. The extra shaft height is an immediate boost to ankle support, making these some pretty effective boots for long distance backpacking. It also makes it possible to use these as stream waders, preventing water from pouring in over the top of the shoes.
The biggest drawback to this particular pair is most certainly the lack of breathability. While the waterproofing is quite effective, it is done in such a way that doesn’t allow for a whole lot of heat or moisture to pass through the boot. The plus side of this is that they are remarkably warm. The down side is that your foot will most likely start to sweat.
The soles have a subtle but effective grip pattern. However it doesn’t feel like these would be super effective against black ice, so take caution if hiking in the winter times.
Best Hiking Boots for Desert Trekking – XPETI Men’s Thermator Mid-Rise Waterproof Hiking / Trekking Outdoor Boots
|STYLE||HIGH-CUT (NOT MID)|
|MAERIALS||LEATHER / TEXTILE|
|BEST FEATURE||STYLISH JET-BLACK DESIGN|
We are not sure if it is a mistake, or if XPETI actually thinks that a hiking boot with a shaft measuring 8” from the arch is anything but a high-cut boot, however, they are advertising it curiously as a mid-cut, or a “mid-rise”. For our purposes, we are going to go ahead and classify it as a high-cut boot, and analyze it as such.
So how effective is all that added ankle support, anyway? It’s certainly not bad, but we can’t help but believe that it could be a bit more supportive, even after you factor in the super-affordable price. The extra shaft length does help keep dirt, rocks, & moisture out of the actual foot area, which is absolutely invaluable for backpackers who can’t be stopping every ten minutes to pull a rock out of their shoe.
We noticed some slight degradation of the glue that holds the rubber toe cap in place. Even after only a few dozen miles of hiking it is possible to see some certain spots failing, leading the rubber toe cap to start slowly peeling back. It’s hard to estimate how long it will take before the toe cap is fully exposed to the elements. It’s possible that the glue has a better hold further down in the toe-cap.
The other big problem with XPETI is that they do not offer extra wide shoes, which immediately cuts them off from a high number of hikers and backpackers with exceptionally wide feet.
Most Comfortable Budget Hiking Boots – XPETI Men’s Dimo Mid Waterproof Hiking Outdoor Boot
|MAERIALS||NYLON / SYNTHETIC|
|BEST FEATURE||VERY COMFORTABLE|
Unlike the THERMATOR High-cut boots, the DIMO Outdoor Boot is shorter, thinner, and lighter, making it XPETI’s go-to shoe for lightweight hiking and backpacking. These are semi-soft in construction, meaning that you will not likely experience much break-in time.
What we like about XPETI shows is the breathability and overall lightweight nature of their boots and shoes. They avoid hard leather likely for cost reasons, however, the result is a shoe or hiking boot that is more comfortable from the get-go, so you don’t have to spend days with painful blisters before the shoe finally breaks in. What we don’t like about XPETI is that they don’t seem to have a really firm grasp on exactly how to shape or size their soles. With both the Thermator and Dimo models, we were able to trace the outline of the sole with our toe inside of the boot, which is an immediate indicator that the sole is undersized and should be a bit bigger. This makes us think that XPETI likely doesn’t make the soles at all but rather sources them from someone else, which might explain the dissonance in size between the sole and the rest of the shoe.
Best Fitting Hiking Boots Under $100 – TIMBERLAND Men’s KEELE RIDGE Waterproof Hiking Boot
|MAERIALS||FULL-GRAIN LEATHER / MESH|
|BEST FEATURE||STRONG, FLAT LACES & GREAT EYELETS|
Finally, a hiking boot manufacturer that knows how to make a pair of shoelaces, and furthermore, knows a thing or two about how to build the eyelets in such a way that doesn’t damage the lace, causing an eventual SNAP which is most likely going to happen at the most inconvenient time.
Here’s what we’re talking about: the KEELE RIDGE hiking boots utilize small metal eyelets with swinging brass half-circles. What this does is reduce the amount of friction on the lace by a considerable amount, which will not only significantly extend their life span, but it also allows you to get a more perfect fit.
There is a superior shoe design in play with the KEELE RIDGE boots. The heel cavity is firm and there isn’t any extra space, so your heel is help pretty firmly in place once the boots are all tied up. The arch is firm, and the tongue is wide and features waterproof interior linings that keep any water or dust from getting out. If there is anything at all wrong with these boots, it might be that they are a bit stiff right out of the box, and take more than a few miles to get fully broken in. Also, they are at the upper limit of our $100 price range for today’s article, which means that they are more than twice as expensive as some of the other boots that we looked at.
Best Tactical Combat Boots for Hiking and Backpacking – FREE SOLDIER Men’s Outdoor Military Tactical Hiking Boots
|STYLE||HIGH CUT / MILITARY STYLE BOOT|
|MAERIALS||LEATHER / mesh|
|BEST FEATURE||OIL & SLIP RESISTANT RUBBER SOLE|
And now a hiking boot for the tactically inclined. The FREE SOLDIER men’s hiking boots are some of the most beastly-looking boots that we have ever seen. Once you get your hands on them it becomes obvious that this is a serious boot for serious individuals, and high performance can be expected as a result.
The fact that the industrial-grade tactical sole is both oil and water resistant make these one of the safest boots available, but when you pair in the protective hell and toe-cap (PVC, not steel) it makes the FREE SOLDIERS just as comfortable on a construction site as they are in a combat zone. This amazing versatility has earned these boots the designation of go-to end of the world combat boots.
One weakness that could be improved on these boots is the upper set of hook-style ringlets. They appear to be made of a low-strength metal, because they have a tendency to bend at the stress of the tied strings. The result is that your boots might come untied on their own, which is just super annoying. If they could just replace these metal hooks with a stronger metal, then they might earn themselves an additional star.
Wherever you go in life, it’s your feet that are going to take you there. So whether your destination is a high-altitude Rocky Mountain lake or a deep-canyon river-bend, you want to make sure your feet are properly equipped for the job.
So what’s the best budget hiking boot in 2023? As is often the case, the answer is not so black & white. While the TIMBERLAND KEELE RIDGE hiking boots featured some of the finest construction on any hiking boot in this price range, we are more only slightly more inclined to select the MERRELL ACCENTOR MID hiking boots, as they are a better representation of the kind of balance between price and performance that we were aiming to examine in today’s article.
An Unbiased User Guide to Budget Hiking Boots
As we mentioned in the introduction, selecting your next pair of hiking boots is all about keeping a close eye on three important factors: performance, fit, & construction. We are going to take the next few paragraphs to explain to you exactly what we’re talking about.
Hiking Boot Performance
The way a hiking boot performs is incredibly important, and can mean the difference between a great day on the mountain or a miserable march towards death. So what exactly do we mean by performance? We are talking about things like:
- Ease of lace-up
- Tightness of heel hold
- Durability of arch support
- Re-enforced toe-guard
- How fast it takes to “break in”
When shopping for your next pair of hiking boots, you want to think about all of these things. Imagine you are wearing the boots in a number of different extreme scenarios, and think about how they would do in those situations.
Hiking Boot Fit
This could arguably be the most important factor in hiking boot selection, considering that a poorly fitting boot can ruin your day even before you get to the trailhead. Poorly fitting boots will also likely have to be sent back for an exchange in size, or in worse scenarios, a different pair of boots altogether.
Sizing is the biggest factor in a hiking boot’s overall fit. Unfortunately, the boots on our list are made all over the world, so it is very rare that two companies will follow the same sizing guidelines for their products. For this reason we highly recommend looking around the manufacturer’s website for a brand-specific sizing chart
that can help you determine what the best size will be for you.
Hiking Boot Construction
It might go without saying, but the stuff that a hiking boot is made out of is going to play a fairly important part in how well the boot does its job, which is to carry you to your destination in both comfort and style. There are three distinct areas to pay attention to when looking at hiking boot construction materials:
Hiking Boot Sole Material
Seeing as how the sole of the boot is what is going to be separating your foot from the ground, we can safely say that this is perhaps the most important part. Molded rubber soles tend to be the most durable and offer the greatest traction. Synthetic Soles can be quite plush and also more affordable, but are not nearly as durable as rubber and can suffer from splitting
if too much stress is applied.
Hiking Boot Body material
The rest of the boot is usually made with Leather, Nylon, Gore-Tex, or other Synthetic Materials, all of which share the same basic purpose of repelling water and sand while serving as the principal shape & structure of the shoe. For this reason these materials are often thick and somewhat stiff compared to what you see in sneakers or sports shoes.
Boot Laces, Hooks, & Eyelets
We cannot stress enough how important a good pair of laces are. Poorly made laces are prone to snapping at inconvenient times, and even worse, they have a tendency to become untied which can be a problem when you have a 50 pound backpack on and hardly any energy to even take it off.
Hooks & Eyelets are usually made of metal, but the quality of this metal can vary wildly. Poor quality metals can lead to bending, while poorly shaped metals can have a grinding effect on the lace, degrading the fibers with each tightening and reducing the lifespan of your laces.
Good eyelets are hard metals with smooth surfaces that the laces can get through cleanly, and rust-proof if at all possible.
High-Top vs. Low-Top: Does Shaft Length Matter?
Some hikers swear by the extra ankle support that is provided by a greater shaft height. Others believe that the restricted movement is the cause of avoidable foot fatigue.
While multiple studies have examined the effect of high-top vs. low-top shoes on ankle health, no specific consensus has arisen on the matter. The most important thing is that you get a pair of boots that works great for you.
Frequently Asked Questions
Yes; all of the boots that we featured on this user review have removable insoles. It is in fact a standard feature in today’s hiking boots, considering how dirty and sweaty that part of the boot can get. In addition, it is not unusual to see hiking enthusiasts change out their insoles multiple times before replacing the boot itself.
Most of the boots that we looked at would perform fine in snow, however, there are very few pairs that feature the 100% waterproofing that you would need for sustained snow travel without getting wet.
While almost all of these boots advertise themselves as being waterproof, most of them are simply water resistant, so prolonged contact with wet (warmer) snow would get your feet soaked pretty quickly.
Before you decide to throw your new hiking boots in the washing machine, be sure to check the product specifications to see if they are designed to sustain that kind of stress. For instances some fabrics and materials, like leather & suede, may not fare so well in a long hot cycle.
Our personal recommendation is to use warm water and a hard-bristled boot brush to keep your boots looking clean. For leather and suede surfaces, specialty cleaning products may be required to maintain peak performance, look, & texture
Some of these boots are far more breathable than others. Usually this comes down to what kinds of materials are being used for the upper portion of the boot. Some synthetic materials like nylon and mesh are great at letting heat and moisture escape, while other materials like leather and rubber can cause a greater buildup of heat over the course of a good long hike. So what’s the solution? We recommend sticking your feed in every river you find. You never know when you’ll get your next chance to cool off the dogs, so to speak.