3 Best Cheap Hiking Boots in 2024

Paul Ronto
Paul Ronto on
3 Best Cheap Hiking Boots in 2024
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They say in the realm of hiking footwear, dependable boots equal costliness. We go against that notion in this article by featuring the finest hikers that don’t break the bank.

We’ve collected and tested over 50 pairs of inexpensive hiking boots just to bring you this enticing selection. So, whether you need a three-season all-rounder, a pair that can beat the cold or a boot that can satisfy the speedster in you, you are in the right budget-friendly place.

How we test hiking boots

Coming up with a comprehensive array of the finest affordable hiking boots is a process we take seriously. Here is how we do it:

  • We purchase budget-friendly hiking boots using our own funds. We do not tolerate brand loyalty or any unfair judgement while doing our comprehensive reviews.
  • We test these kicks by hiking in them both on and off the trail. We devote our precious time to wearing the pairs regularly on treks to fully assess their capabilities, as well as their inefficiencies. Plus, we expose them to various weather conditions.
  • We crack the shoes open and we measure and evaluate their parts and parameters. This includes the outsole's durability. We do not only subject it to Dremel or durability test (along with the shoe's sock liner and upper), we also measure its thickness using our calliper and hardness using our durometer. 

Best cheap hiking boots overall

What makes it the best?

We loved the KEEN Voyageur Mid for its versatility, excellent ankle support, and great outdoor performance. Whether we were out for a quick jaunt in nature or a more ambitious thru-hike, the Voyageur Mid kept us steady, upright, and comfy. Our biggest issue; we were discontented with the shoe's underperforming sole unit.

Pros

  • Accommodating fit
  • No need to break in
  • Excellent traction
  • Lightweight
  • Sufficient ankle support
  • Laudable breathability
  • Quick drying
  • Versatile

Cons

  • Sole started peeling off
  • Questionable construction quality
  • Too wide for narrow feet
Full review of KEEN Voyageur Mid

Best cheap insulated hiking boots

What makes it the best?

Whether wading through snowdrifts in the wilderness or shoveling snow on the driveway, the Columbia Bugaboot III has you covered. It has all the features to keep our feet warm in sub-zero temperatures, and durability of the multi-layered upper is as good as it gets. At the jaw-dropping price of £120, £70 less than the average winter boot, the Columbia Bugaboot III is undoubtedly the best cheap, insulated hiking boot.

When we cut the Bugaboot III into pieces in the lab, we found the 200g insulation well-packed all around the foot. Along with a 7-inch shaft which keeps the snow out (and warm air in!), our feet were cozy well into the minus temperatures. The boot has a very chunky midsole, measuring 46.9 mm at the heel – a whopping 1 cm thicker than average! On cold days, it keeps our feel beautifully insulated from the frozen ground.

Our Dremel was no match for the Bugaboot III’s heavily layered upper. We applied the Dremel at a force of 3.2N and 5K RPM to the rubber toe box, and it barely left a scratch! We had no choice but to award it a 5/5 - the most durable rating. Out hiking, this boot defies wear and tear. We fully expect many happy miles together with these boots!

All good things must come to an end – and in the case of the Bugaboot III’s glowing review, it’s at the scales. There is nothing lightweight about these boots, and they tipped the scales at 26 oz (737g) each – that’s 6.6 oz (187g) heavier than average. We don’t recommend them to hikers looking for a lightweight winter boot for long hikes.

Pros

  • Jaw-dropping comfort
  • Remarkable insulation
  • Watertight upper
  • Excellent durability
  • Plenty of cushioning
  • High level of support
  • Reliable grip
  • Affordable for its kind

Cons

  • Restrictive toebox
  • Heavier than average
Full review of Columbia Bugaboot III

Best cheap boots for urban hiking

What makes it the best?

For a pair of quality urban hiking boots that don't break the bank, look no further than the Timberland Euro Hiker. It performed exceptionally in our lab investigations and on test hikes, proving to us that it is supportive, and has a durable outsole that will go the distance, even on asphalt.

Consistently coming in at around £30 less than its closest competitors, the Timberland Euro Hiker is great value for money, without compromising on quality.

The Timberland Euro Hiker is surely a stiff boot, and we noticed the extra support it offered while we were hiking on rough trails. In the lab, we bent it to 90° with a force gauge, measuring 84.7N. For reference, the average is 42.8N! The good news is that the stiffness translates to superior support, and we felt extremely stable hiking on technical terrain. Hikers with weak ankles can relax, knowing that twisted ankles are a thing of the past!

In our lab tests, we found the outsole is 4% softer than average, making it grippy on smoother surfaces such as cement and asphalt. It also boasts a layer of rubber that is an astonishing 30% thicker than average, so we have many more miles to hike before this outsole wears out!

Our lab tests showed that the lugs measure 3.4 mm, quite a reduction compared to the average of 4.4 mm. This makes them less able to grip in thick mud, so we don’t recommend the Timberland Euro Hiker to hikers who will be regularly walking in muddy environments.

Pros

  • Amazing in-shoe comfort
  • Insanely lightweight
  • Supportive arch
  • Lasting construction
  • Above-average traction
  • Recycled rubber used
  • Attractive design
  • Affordable

Cons

  • Subpar ventilation
  • Unruly laces
Full review of Timberland Euro Hiker

How to choose cheap hiking boots

Taking on a new hobby can be expensive, especially one like hiking where there are so many expensive options when it comes to equipment. But hiking doesn't have to hurt your wallet, there are plenty of amazing affordable boots on the market that can perfectly suit your needs.

Here’s how to find the best cheap hiking boots.

Key features of the best cheap hiking boots

Regardless of what you're planning to spend, the top hiking boots still aim to provide the same base experience as more expensive boots.

When you're looking for your next pair of boots keep an eye on:

  • Durability
  • Comfort
  • Traction
  • Waterproofing
  • Breathability
  • Weight

Durable uppers and soles

Look for boots with a good rubber sole and strong uppers that can withstand tough terrain. A well-constructed upper will make sure that your feet are properly supported, which is essential when you’re trekking long distances. You'll find the most durable materials on more expensive boots, but the best cheap hiking boots also have durable uppers that can withstand regular use out on the trail.

Added cushioning for comfort

If you plan to take on longer hikes, make sure the pair of boots you choose provides as much comfort as possible and as much cushioning as needed. Look for features like padded collars, EVA midsoles, and breathable materials to keep your feet comfortable during those longer hikes. Comfort is not one of the corners that you want to cut when you're trying to save some money.

Traction in slippery conditions

The last thing you want is your boots slipping on wet surfaces or rocky terrain. Make sure the pair of boots you choose has a good grip with solid tread on the soles to keep you secure and balanced. Very cheap boots often don’t have the best grip, but there are affordable boots on the market that are well suited to technical terrain.

Waterproofing to stay dry

If you plan to hike in wetter climates, look for boots that have waterproof materials such as Gore-tex or leather uppers to keep your feet dry and comfortable. The best cheap hiking boots will have some waterproofing, but it is one of the features that really drives up the cost. So if you don’t need waterproofing, it’s a good idea to leave this off the wish list.

Breathability to keep cool

Look for materials like mesh that are lightweight, breathable and quick-drying. This will help keep your feet cool and comfortable while you’re trekking. The best cheap hiking boots will all focus on keeping your feet feeling as good as possible and this is one of the best ways to do it.

Lightweight for easy hiking

Look for a pair of boots that is lightweight but still provides solid support. This can help you feel energised and reduce fatigue on longer treks. This is one way where its quite easy to see the difference between cheap hiking boots and premium ones. Expensive boots are made with materials that perform very well and don’t weigh a lot, while cheaper boots use materials that perform well, but come with a weight penalty.

How to prioritise hiking boot features

Ok so with cheap hiking boots you’ll likely have to compromise somewhere, but which features are the most important?

This is a personal choice for each person but here is my ranking with my explanation below.

  1. Comfort
  2. Durability
  3. Breathability
  4. Waterproofing
  5. Traction

When it comes to prioritising features in hiking boots, the most important quality is comfort. Make sure you choose a pair of boots that provide adequate cushioning and support for your feet. Durability should be the second priority since you want a boot that can withstand tough terrain and any weather conditions. Breathability and weight are also important for a comfortable trek, so make sure you choose a pair of boots with these features as well. After that, traction and waterproofing are key if you plan to hike in wet climates.

The pros and cons of cheap hiking boots

There is no perfect boot that is the best in every situation for every hiker, each category of boots have its own pros and cons. Here’s a look at the advantages and disadvantages of the best cheap hiking boots on the market.

Pros

  • Savings on cost: Cheap hiking boots are a great way to save money when you don’t need the highest quality gear.
  • Variety of styles: Cheap hiking boots come in a variety of styles and colours so you can find something that fits your look.
  • Durable materials: Even though they are cheap, some models feature strong and durable materials that can last for many, many hikes.

Cons

  • Less support: Cheap hiking boots may not provide the same level of support as more expensive models.
  • Limited waterproofing: Cheaper models are often not waterproof, so you’ll have to be careful when trekking in wet conditions.
  • Fewer features: You won’t find as many features on the best cheap hiking boots compared to more expensive models.

Different types of cheap hiking boots

Even if you don’t have a lot to spend, you still have a huge choice when it comes to finding the best cheap hiking boots. There are boots out there in each of the different categories, so you don’t have to spend a lot to do the particular type of hiking that you want.

Cheap lightweight hiking boots

Cheap lightweight hiking boots are an excellent choice for those looking for a light and comfortable option to take on the trail. They are typically more affordable than other types of hiking boots and offer good cushioning and support.

Key features of lightweight hiking boots

Look for features such as EVA midsoles and padded collars to provide extra comfort while trekking. They can be made from materials like synthetic leather and mesh which are lightweight, breathable, and quick-drying. Lightweight hiking boots are perfect for day hikes or light backpacking trips where you don’t need the extra support of a midweight or heavyweight boot.

Cheap winter hiking boots

Cheap winter hiking boots are designed to keep your feet warm in cold weather and provide extra traction for slippery surfaces. Look for a pair of boots with waterproof materials and insulation, to keep your feet dry and comfortable.

Key features of cheap winter hiking boots

Winter hiking boots also typically feature thicker outsoles to provide better insulation from the cold ground. Cushioning and support are also important features to look for in a winter hiking boot. Choose boots with EVA or PU midsoles and padded collars for extra comfort and protection.

Cheap three-season hiking boots

Cheap three-season hiking boots are a great choice for year-round trekking, as they offer the best combination of breathability, insulation and comfort.

Key features of cheap three-season hiking boots

They are typically lightweight but still provide solid support and durability. Look for boots with waterproof membranes to keep your feet dry in wet climates, as well as cushioning and padding for added comfort. Quality materials like synthetic leather and mesh make for a lightweight yet durable boot, but this may drive the cost up. Three-season hiking boots are perfect for hikers looking for a versatile boot that can take them from spring to fall.

Cheap mountaineering boots

Cheap mountaineering boots are designed for the most extreme outdoor excursions and provide superior protection, stability, and support on the toughest terrain.

Key features of cheap mountaineering boots

Look for features like stiff leather uppers with a waterproof membrane, reinforced toe caps, cushioning midsoles, and Vibram soles for maximum grip in slippery conditions. Cheap mountaineering boots are still quite expensive compared to other hiking boots, but still offer the same features as higher-end models. Make sure to choose a pair that is designed for your type of terrain and climate to ensure you get the most out of your purchase.

Cheap backpacking boots

Cheap backpacking hiking boots are designed to provide maximum support and cushioning for extended trips on the trail. They typically have a more rugged design and are made with thicker, sturdier materials.

Key features of cheap backpacking hiking boots

Look for features such as waterproof membranes, protective toe caps, cushioned midsoles, and stability shanks to keep your feet comfortable and supported over long distances. Backpacking hiking boots usually have a higher price tag than other types of hiking boots, but you can still find good quality options at an affordable price.

How do cheap hiking boots perform?

So now that we know that there are plenty of options out there, we need to know if cheap boots actually perform well or if we’re better off spending a bit more and going with a fancier pair.

Cheap hiking boots versus hiking boots

Cheap hiking boots can provide great value for outdoor enthusiasts looking to explore the outdoors without breaking the bank. However, they may lack some features that are found on more expensive models such as dependable waterproofing and extra cushioning.

Where hiking boots win

They also tend to be less durable than higher-end models and may need to be replaced sooner in order to maintain optimum performance, which can, over time, make them more expensive. However, with the right materials and features, you can find a pair of cheap hiking boots that will provide adequate protection, comfort, and support for your adventures.

Where cheap hiking boots win

When compared to more expensive models, cheap hiking boots can offer an excellent balance between quality and affordability. They may not be as feature-packed or durable as higher-end models, but for those on a budget looking for good quality and performance, cheap hiking boots can be an excellent choice.

Overall, there is no clear-cut answer when it comes to deciding between cheap hiking boots and more expensive models. Each type of boot has its own advantages and disadvantages and keep in mind the ‘cost per wear’ approach too. If you hike lots, it might be a better idea to go for a more expensive pair of boots.

Cheap hiking boots vs. hiking shoes

Hiking boots and hiking shoes both offer important benefits for outdoor adventurers. While the decision ultimately depends on your personal preference, there are some key differences between them to consider when making a purchase.

Where cheap hiking boots win

Hiking boots provide more support and protection than hiking shoes do. They provide more ankle support and have a tougher sole to protect against sharp rocks and other debris. Hiking boots are also typically more waterproof, making them a better choice for wet or muddy terrain.

Where hiking shoes win

On the other hand, hiking shoes are lighter and offer more flexibility than hiking boots. This makes them ideal for shorter hikes when you don’t need as much support and protection. They also tend to be less expensive than hiking boots, making them a great option for budget-minded hikers.

When choosing between the two options, it’s important to consider what type of terrain you’ll be tackling and how much support and protection you need. If you’re going to be on technical terrain, go with a hiking boot - your ankles will thank you.

Cheap hiking boots vs. trail runners

Trail runners are designed for speed and agility, while hiking boots provide more protection and support.

Where trail runners win

Trail runners are lighter than hiking boots, making them ideal for long-distance hikes or running on technical terrain. They usually have a low-profile design with a lightweight upper material and flexible sole which helps you move quickly over the trail. Trail runners also often feature a more breathable upper material to keep your feet cool and dry during hot weather.

Where cheap hiking boots win

Hiking boots, on the other hand, offer more protection than trail runners. They usually have thicker materials with added features like waterproof membranes and protective toe caps to protect against sharp rocks and other debris. This makes them ideal for backpacking and carrying heavier loads over longer distances.

What brand is best for cheap hiking boots

When it comes to finding a good pair of cheap hiking boots, there are several brands that offer reliable performance for an affordable price. Some of the most popular options include Merrell, Salomon, and Columbia.

Merrell

Merrell is a well-known brand that offers a variety of hiking boots at an affordable price. Their boots offer a combination of waterproof protection, breathability, and durability. The Moab 2 Ventilator is one of their most popular models, with excellent comfort and performance, and can sometimes be found for less than £110.

Salomon

Salomon is another great option when it comes to finding affordable hiking boots. They have several different models that are designed for versatility in a variety of conditions. The X Ultra 3 is one of their most popular, which has a fantastic combination of stability and protection for around £110.

Columbia

Columbia makes a great line of cheap hiking boots that offer reliable performance and comfort. The Newton Ridge Plus II Waterproof Boot is one of their most popular models, offering waterproof protection and traction without spending lots of money.

Whether you’re looking for a lightweight trail runner or a more supportive hiking boot, there are plenty of affordable options available from these brands. With the right pair of boots, you can tackle any terrain and enjoy the outdoors without breaking the bank.

So take your time to research different models and brands, get the right fit and enjoy the great outdoors with confidence. Happy trails!

Author
Paul Ronto
Paul Ronto
Over the past 20 years, Paul has climbed, hiked, and run all over the world. He has summited peaks throughout the Americas, trekked through Africa, and tested his endurance in 24-hour trail races as well as 6 marathons. On average, he runs 30-50 miles a week in the foothills of Northern Colorado. His research is regularly cited in The New York Times, Washington Post, National Geographic, etc. On top of this, Paul is leading the running shoe lab where he cuts shoes apart and analyses every detail of the shoes that you might buy.