How Much Should You Spend on Hiking Boots?

How Much Should You Spend on HIking Boots

Hiking boots can cost as little as $30 for a cheap pair, to more than $200 for a high-end waterproof pair.  

So when shopping for a pair of hiking boots, it can seem a bit overwhelming, when trying to figure out how much to spend on a pair of hiking boots?

As there are literally hundreds of different hiking boots for sale from dozens of different brands and manufacturers.  

But how much you should spend on hiking boots, largely depends on the type of hiking you plan on doing.

As beginning hikers going on short day hikes should spend between $50 and $100 for a quality pair of basic hiking boots.  While thru-hikers going on rugged multi-day hikes should spend between $100 and $200 for a more rugged and upgraded pair of hiking boots. 

But if you’re looking for more than just a general price range to shop in and want specific examples of popular hiking boots and their cost, keep reading.     

As we separate the most popular hiking boots today based on the type of hiker they’re best suited for.

So no matter what type of hiker you are, you will know exactly how much you should spend on a pair of hiking boots, as well as the most popular choices.  


How Much Should You Spend On Hiking Boots?

The main reason why you see so many different types of hiking boots and hiking shoes for sale is due to all the different types of hikers out there.

As each type of hiker requires different hiking footwear, based on the type of hiking they do and their preferred hiking style.

For example, the hiking footwear a day hiker wears will usually look quite a bit different compared to the hiking footwear a seasoned trail runner wears.  

There are five main categories or types of hikers including the day hiker, the overnight or weekend hiker, the lightweight or speed hiker, the trailer runner, and the thru-hiker.  

The Day Hiker

The day hiker is the category that most hikers fall into and can include everyone from beginner hikers all the way up to seasoned hikers.

But the commonality that all day-hikers share is the length of time it takes to complete their hike, which is always less than a day and usually just a few hours.

Also, day-hikers usually choose to hike for one of three reasons which include relaxation, exercise, or a way to enjoy nature.

But don’t make the mistake of thinking that day hikers are just beginner hikers, because day hikers can cover some serious ground in a day, often hiking as much as 10 miles in a single day.  

The type of hiking boot best suited for day-hikers is a pair of standard hiking boots in the medium price range between $50 and $100.

Which are rugged enough to handle some miles but not so rugged that they feel cumbersome on shorter hikes.  

Popular Hiking Boots for Day Hikers

The Overnight or Weekend Hiker

The overnight or weekend hiker is the next step up beyond the day hiker, as these hikers will often cover many miles over a multi-day camping and hiking trip.

And because of this, the overnight hiker will often need a more robust and preferably waterproof hiking boot, although many of the popular day hiking boots would also be fine for the overnight or weekend hiker.

When picking hiking boots for overnight or weekend hiking, you should focus on the upper-middle price range and look at hiking boots between $75 and $100.  

Popular Hiking Boots for the Overnight or Weekend Hiker

Lightweight Hiker

Lightweight or Speed Hikers

For the lightweight or speed hiker, it’s all about weight reduction and keeping their hiking gear as streamlined and minimal as possible.

So for these types of hikers, they will typically avoid the often bulky and heavy standard hiking boot and opt for lighter and more minimalist hiking footwear like the hiking shoe.

Because while hiking shoes don’t typically offer as much ankle support or cushioning, they are usually quite a bit lighter and much more streamlined compared to traditional hiking boots.

Allowing the lightweight or speed hiker to really burn up the miles while on the trails.  

Popular Hiking Shoes for Lightweight and Speed Hikers

Trailer Runners

Even though the lightweight or speed hiker will typically hike at a faster pace when compared to a typical day hiker, their hiking style is consistent with what would be considered hiking.

However, the trail runner is a whole other animal, as these types of hikers will actually run the trails as opposed to hiking them.  

And because of this trailer runners need a fast and extremely lightweight hiking shoe that can handle the rigors and stresses of the hiking trail.

Luckily for the trailer runner though manufacturers make a wide range of trailer runner hiking shoes that look a lot like regular running shoes but offer a lot more protection compared to the standard running shoe.  

Popular Hiking Shoes for Trailer Runners

Thru Hiker


The thru-hiker is the most hardcore type of hiker there is.

For these hikers, hiking is a way of life, as they are always either on a hiking trail or thinking about being on a hiking trailer.

Thru-hikers will typically log more hiking miles than any other type of hiker, as it’s not uncommon for a thru-hiker to do a week-long hiking trip on the Appalachian Trail or Pacific Crest Trail, where they might hike 100 miles or more.

And because the thru-hiker hikes for such long distances over some of the roughest terrain you can find while hiking, they typically opt for a very sturdy and robust hiking boot from a premium brand that is fully waterproof.  

So if your looking for a thru-hiking caliber hiking boot be prepared to spend between $100 and $200.  

Popular Hiking Boots for Thru-Hikers

Are Expensive Hiking Boots Worth It?

Whether expensive hiking boots are worth it depends largely on the type of hiking you plan on doing.  

If you plan to occasionally hike for a few miles at your local state park, it would be extreme overkill to purchase an expensive pair of hiking boots.

As you would never be able to get enough value out of a premium pair of hiking boots.  

If however, you plan on logging a lot of hiking miles over multi-day hiking trips, then opting for a more expensive pair of hiking boots that offers metal plates to make the boot more rigid and full waterproofing to keep your feet dry even in wet weather would definitely be worth it.  

Should I Buy Hiking Shoes or Boots?

Whether you should buy hiking shoes or boots has been hotly debated in the hiking world for years.  

As some hikers swear by hiking shoes, as they offer a much lighter alternative compared to standard hiking boots, allowing them to hike for much longer distances without becoming tired or fatigued.  

While other hikers couldn’t imagine hiking in anything other than hiking boots, because they need and want the full ankle and foot support that a more traditional hiking boot provides.  

So the answer to whether you should buy hiking shoes or hiking boots really just comes down to personal preference.

But to help you decide between the two main types of hiking footwear options, we have compiled a list of the pros as well as the cons of both the hiking shoe as well as the hiking boot.  

So you have all the information you need to make the right decision for your particular hiking needs.  

Hiking Shoe Pros

  • Light and Nimble
  • Dry Faster
  • Easier to Pack
  • More Flexible and Allows for Easier Rock Crawling
  • Doesn’t Require as Much Breaking In

Hiking Shoe Cons

  • Little to No Ankle Support
  • Not as Durable
  • Offers Less Cushioning and Support

Hiking Boot Pros

  • Offers Full Ankle Support
  • Provides Better Protection Over Rough Terrian
  • More Robust and Durable
  • Provides Superior Stability and Support While Carrying Heavier Loads

Hiking Boot Cons

  • Much Heavier Which Can Lead to Faster Fatigue
  • Takes Longer to Dry Out
  • Takes Much Longer to Break-In
  • Harder to Pack

Jason Kidd

Jason is an avid lover of camping, hiking, and well just about anything outdoors. He is both a writer and editor for Outside Pulse and has been camping and hiking for over 20 years.

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