Rick is a former news reporter who decided that the corporate world wasn't for him and took off to travel the world. He's been to every continent (yes, even Antarctica!) and has tried out a multitude of outdoor gear along the way. From tents to hiking boots, he's probably tested it all. Now, he's one of our full-time product testers and experts.
Bryan is one of our leading experts since he's got a vast expertise in practically everything connected to the outdoors. He's been hiking since he was a young boy, was an organizer of kayaking tours which later led to another passion of his - kayak fishing. Now, he's a part-time expert consultant involved in our multiple product tests and topic research.
Last updated: April 04, 2022
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Hiking is one of the best ways to explore the outdoors. Whether you enjoy high, snowy mountain trails or dirt paths through the woods, hiking offers something for people of all ages and experience levels. But nothing can ruin a hiking trip like a poor choice in footwear. That’s why it’s so important to choose the right boots. The best hiking boots under 100 offer grip, durability, and style while staying within a reasonable budget.
We looked at a few different features when putting together this review. First, material. Nothing determines how durable a pair of boots is like the material, especially if you’re looking for something waterproof. We also considered the outsole. This is what determines what kind of terrain your boots can handle and there are plenty of options available that work in the mud, rain, and snow. Weight is important, too. If your boots are too heavy, you’ll tire out much faster. Finally, we considered the warranty. Some hikers work their boots pretty hard so it’s important to find a pair that are going to last as long as possible.
We spent hours putting together this guide, researching manufacturers’ information, expert opinions, and reviews from people who use these boots every day. First, you’ll find a table that puts all of our picks side by side so it’s easy to compare. Next up are detailed reviews of each of our picks followed by an in-depth buying guide designed to help you choose the best hiking boots under 100 for you.
More features: Vibram sole, molded nylon arch shank, blended EVA contoured footbed
As far as hiking boots go, the Merrell Men’s Moab 2 Vent Mid Hiking Boots are quite an impressive pair. It comes with a Vibram outsole that’s both high performance and durable. This sole is designed with 5mm lugs which are a lot like the treads on off-road tires. This allows for additional grip and an easier time walking, even on slippery surfaces.
The boots’ design also incorporates molded nylon arch shanks. These provide just as much support as regular steel shoe shanks without the downside of being cold. They’re also lightweight and a bit more flexible than their steel counterparts.
The blended EVA contoured footbed is another positive. The contours and your foot’s natural curvature match up perfectly, making the boot comfortable to walk in for extended periods. This is aided by the Merrel air cushion included in each shoe that offers impact absorption every time your heel strikes the ground. This component also helps keep your heel in the best position as you walk.
Regarding the top parts of the boot, you find a combination of suede leather and mesh. Even the closed-cell foam component of the tongue is covered in the mesh. Consequently, while it’s breathable, it still manages to keep moisture out of your shoes during use.
Lastly, these boots come in typical thin shoe configurations and wider variations, so you won’t have to purchase a larger option if your feet are wide.
More features: waterproof, mesh uppers, Techlite™ midsoles
If you’re looking for a great women’s hiking boot, check out the Columbia Women’s Dakota Drifter. These boots are not only practical, but they’re stylish, too. The combination of different materials like suede, leather, and mesh add interesting texture while different shades of gray add depth.
These boots are breathable and waterproof, suitable for any kind of weather. The mid-height style provides additional support around the ankles and a mesh tongue adds just a bit of padding. All you have to do is adjust the lace-up closure to get a snug fit. Inside, the midsole has superior cushioning and high-energy return to keep your feet comfortable on any kind of terrain.
Something really great about these boots is the omni-grip system which uses specially formulated compounds that work in different environments. There’s even a dual-zone winter tread pattern that provides solid footing on snow and ice. That’s not all, even though they’re rugged, they’re still so lightweight that you can wear them comfortably all day.
Most users commented that these boots didn’t have a break-in period and were comfortable right out of the box. That said, some users felt that the heel and ankle were a little stiff in the beginning. They should wear in over time. One more thing, these shoes tend to run a little small so you should order a size up if you’re planning to wear them with thick socks.
What are our favorite features?
Stylish and practical combination of suede, leather, and mesh
Mid-height style adds ankle support
Dual-zone winter tread pattern
Minimal break-in period
What could be better?
Some users found the heel and ankle were too stiff initially
More features: 1.5’’ heel height, full-length cushion sock lining, toe and heel reflective piping
The Harley-Davidson Men’s Chase is a good pick for hikers who prefer a low hiking boot style. They’re really stylish and resemble more or a rugged sneaker than a boot but don’t be deceived, this a great shoe for basic hiking or just walking around town running errands.
The uppers are made of strong leather and nylon mesh which supports your foot while letting it breathe. Tighten the lace-up closure as needed to get the right fit. These boots have a rubber outsole is great for basic trail hiking. The rugged lugs are abrasion, oil, and slip resistant and the cement construction is tough enough to handle a lot of wear and tear.
Inside, a full-length cushion sock lining supports your foot from heel to toe. While this adds padding and a little support, these shoes aren’t as supportive as some of the heavier duty hiking boots. In fact, one thing that some users mentioned is that these boots aren’t as supportive as they thought they would be.
Some users felt that these boots ran a bit small and narrow so you may want to think about ordering up a half or whole size, especially if you like to wear thick socks. Several people felt that they were a bit uncomfortable at first but they do stretch and become more comfortable over time.
More features: padded tongue and collar, collar pool loop, textile lining
The Timberland Back Road Hiking Boot is a great choice for boys who want to get in on exploring the outdoors. They’re a full-height hiker that not only provides durable heel and toe protection but also has appropriate ankle support.
These boots feature 100% leather uppers and with a lace-up closure and padded collar so you can adjust the fit and keep your little guy’s feet comfortable at the same time. A pull-on loop at the back makes them easy to get on and the textile lining is nice and comfortable. Not only is this boot water resistant but the hardware is rustproof, too, so you don’t have to worry about light rain or water splashes.
A lot of people who bought these shoes for their kids have commented on how durable they are. In fact, it’s entirely possible that your kid will outgrow them before they wear out! Believe it or not, a lot of women with small feet rave about these boots, too. They tend to be roomier than women’s hiking boots and at a fraction of the price.
One thing that a lot of users commented on is that the laces frayed and broke pretty easily, sometimes after only a few uses. They can also be a little uncomfortable at first but wear in pretty quickly.
More features: waterproof, lace-up closure, mesh tongue, textile upper lining
For a great pair of hiking boots on a budget, check out the Columbia Granite Ridge. It features a full-grain leather and suede bootie that’s completely waterproof. They’re breathable, too, so your feet stay comfortable even on hot days.
These boots feature a pull-on loop at the back and an adjustable lace-up closure so they’re easy to get into and adjust to the right fit. Inside, the signature midsole support combines high-energy return with superior cushioning to keep you comfortable during long days out on the trail. That said, one of the downsides to these boots is they don’t have a lot of arch support.
Another great thing about these boots is their grip. The sole is made using specially formulated compounds and treads that work in a range of different environments and terrain. There’s even a dual-zone winter pattern that’s effective on ice and snow.
These shoes are available in two different colors. Choose from dark gray with golden yellow accents or a taupe-like shade called mud with rust colored accents.
A lot of users commented that these boots were comfortable right from the start and didn’t require much of a break-in period. People were also pretty impressed with how effective the water-proofing is. Some people commented that these boots ran a bit small and were pretty narrow, especially in the toe area.
More features: Velcro closure, Techlite cushioned midsole, waterproof
Finally, we have our pick for best girl’s hiking boot, the Columbia Peakfreak. The textile and synthetic upper is stylish and comfortable and comes just about the ankle to give your little explorer the ankle support she needs to explore all day long.
Rather than a lace-up closure, these boots feature two large hook-and-loop straps that can be easily adjusted for a proper fit. Inside, a Techlite cushioned midsole gives the proper support for hiking on any trail.
The rubber sole features Omni-Grip tread that’s specially designed to work on a variety of different terrain. That’s not all, these boots are waterproof, too, and are great for rain, snow, streams, or even jumping in puddles. The waterproof Omni-TECH membrane keeps water out and her feet warm and dry.
If you’re looking for a pair of hiking boots for a young girl, these are a great choice. The light and dark gray colors look great together and the bright pink accents really pop. There’s also a black and dark gray option available with red accents if she wants to change it up.
People didn’t have a lot of complaints about these shoes. They hold up well, are truly waterproof, and comfortable enough to wear for long stretches of time.
What makes it stand out?
Stylish textile and synthetic upper
Two durable hook-and-loop straps
Good grip even in snow and ice
Two color options available
Which disadvantages must you keep in mind?
Users had few complaints about these boots
Things to Consider
Finding a great pair of hiking boots for under $100 is easy if you know what to look for. Here’s everything you need to know when shopping for a pair of your own.
What to expect of budget hiking boots?
A lot of things affect the price of hiking boots and the prices can vary quite a bit. The brand, quality of the materials, and a lot of other factors go into determining the cost. It’s important to keep in mind that branding has a lot to do with it. Popular brands are going to be more expensive but that doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re any better in quality.
One of the great things about shopping online is how many options are available. If you know what to look for, you can find a great pair of boots for under $100.
That said, it’s still important to get a proper pair of shoes. You might be tempted to wear your favorite sneakers or work boots but a decent pair of hiking boots is really important. Spend a day on the trail in a pair of shoes that aren’t up to the challenge and you’ll soon realize why.
Walk the way – why should you purchase hiking shoes?
Wearing the wrong shoes or boots when hiking can cause you a lot of discomfort. They might feel okay at the beginning but after a while, you’ll really start to feel it. Not to mention they can even be dangerous. Hiking requires a particular kind of traction so you have the grip you need to cross different types of terrain.
Hiking boots support your feet and ankles so that you have the support you need to cover soft ground, hard rock, and even slippery surfaces. Plus, they provide superior traction and grip so there’s less a chance of injury.
Not all boots are durable enough to handle the conditions you’ll come across when you’re exploring the trails. Because hiking boots are specifically designed for hiking, they’re extremely durable and last a really long time. Not to mention, they’re designed to keep you comfortable when you’re on your feet for an extended period of time.
How to fit your hiking boots?
Getting the right fit for hiking boots is a little tricky. They should be tight but not too tight and leave you enough room to wiggle your toes. It’s a good idea to try them on after you’ve been on your feet all day.
If you’re planning to wear thick socks, that that into consideration as well. You may want to order a half-size or size larger than you normally wear. If you wear any special orthotics or have an insert that you like to use, account for that when choosing a size as well.
You might be surprised to find out that the way you lace and tie your boots actually has a lot to do with how well they fit. In fact, the right tension in the laces makes a huge difference in how they fit.
If you want to be as precise as possible when choosing your hiking boots, it’s a good idea to actually measure your foot rather than go by your normal shoe size. You can actually have you foot volume measured by a specialist if needed.
Hiking tips for all wanderers
Whether you’re heading out on the trail for the first time or are an avid explorer, there are some things you should keep in mind when heading out on your next excursion.
Choose the right trail. If you’re just starting out, choose a hike that’s a little shorter than the distance you usually walk on a level surface. The elevation changes make the trip a little more difficult. After you’ve been out a few times, you’ll get a better idea of how far you can go and how long it will take.
Don’t choose a trail blindly. There are a lot of resources online that can tell you if there are any intersecting trails so you can avoid making a wrong turn. You’ll also learn whether the trail loops back or if you’ll have to turn around and hike back to your car.
Check and re-check the weather. Take a look at the forecast when you’re planning your hike but make sure you check it again before you head out. Things can change quickly and it’s important to make sure you don’t run into any weather surprises when it’s too late to turn back.
Take the right supplies. In addition to the right pair of boots, you should also take a compass, map, sunscreen, flashlight, extra clothing for warmth, first-aid supplies, matches or a lighter, emergency shelter, and enough food and water for overnight, just in case.
Make sure someone knows where you’re going. It’s also a good idea to set a time limit. For example, tell someone the exact route you’ll be following and let them know when you expect to be back. If you’re late, then someone knows to check on you.
Wear the right clothes. Cotton isn’t a good choice because it soaks up water and takes a long time to dry. Wear layers to adjust for temperature changes and bring along something warm.
Don’t overpack. Remember, you have to carry all of this with you.
Features to consider while buying the best hiking boots
When searching for the perfect pair of hiking boots, here are the main things to look for:
Men and women – difference at sight
Both men’s and women’s hiking boots offer the same functionality and performance but often differ in style. Men’s boots tend to come in more neutral colors and often look a little bulkier. Women’s boots, like the Columbia Women’s Dakota Drifter, are usually a little more stylish. Of course, you can buy whatever boots you want, just make sure you order the correct size.
Hiking boots type
Not all hiking boots are the same. There are different types and each serves a different purpose.
Hiking shoes like the Harley-Davidson Men’s Chase have all the same features as boots but are low-cut. They usually have flexible midsoles and are lighter than standard boots. While these aren’t the best choice for rugged hikes in rough terrain, they’re ideal for shorter treks on well-established trails that aren’t as challenging.
Day hiking boots are mid to high-cut. They flex easily and don’t take too long to break in. As the name suggests, they’re perfect for day hikes. They provide more support than hiking shoes but less than boots designed for long backpacking trips.
If you’re looking for something for a longer trip with a lot of gear, backpacking boots are the way to go. They’re typically high-cut with a lot of ankle support. The stiffer midsoles provide the support you need for hikes that take several days and are ideal for a variety of terrain.
Material is important for a few reasons. For one thing, high-quality materials last longer and withstand a lot more wear and tear.
You should also consider water resistance because you never know what kind of weather you’ll be facing out on the trail. Even if you plan well and only head out on sunny days, you’ll still come in contact with streams, puddles, and mud. Water resistance not only keeps your feet dry but it also makes the boots really easy to clean.
Leather is probably the best material for hiking boots but there are a few different kinds of leather to consider. Full-grain leather is a good choice for long trips and rugged terrain. It’s water resistant and extremely durable but it doesn’t really let your feet breathe. Boots made of leather are also pretty heavy.
Nubuck leather is also a popular choice. It’s made from full-grain leather that’s been treated so it looks more like suede. It’s durable, flexible, and water-resistant but can take a while to break in.
Inexpensive hiking boots are often made of synthetic materials which are breathable and really lightweight. That said, they don’t last nearly as long as leather.
Feet need to breathe, too
Some boots are more breathable than others. As we mentioned, leather boots don’t really let your feet breathe much. Boots that breathe keep your feet from getting too hot and sweaty but be careful that it’s not at the expense of water-resistance, support, or durability. Sometimes, it’s a fine line.
When choosing your boots, you should always consider the type of trail you’ll be hiking. On a well-established trail, low-cut boots that are made of breathable materials are ideal. These boots aren’t usually waterproof, though, so make sure you bring along the proper socks.
For rough trails, ankle high boots are essential. They’re usually waterproof and some even let your foot breathe a little. They flex a bit for comfort and are lightweight to keep you comfortable on longer trips.
If you’re planning to go off the trail, you should invest in a pair of full-grain leather boots that come above the ankle. The soles give you the stability you need to handle longer trips and provide a lot of protection for your feet. Plus, they’re made to withstand a lot of miles and last a really long time.
While arch support is important, it’s not necessarily a deal breaker when it comes to hiking boots. Arch support is actually provided by the insole, not the boot itself. So, if you find a pair of boots that you absolutely love and they don’t have the arch support you need, you can always add an insert or orthotic that’s more suitable.
Outsoles are what give your boots grip so they’re really important to consider. Most hiking boots have rubber outsoles and deep, thick lugs. The bigger the lugs, the more traction the boot has.
Laces are important because they really affect the way to boot fits. Tightening the laces the right way makes all the difference and you need a pair that can handle the tension. That said, laces are easily replaceable. Braided nylon is the best material but if your boots don’t have them, you can always buy a new pair.
Hiking boots generally don’t have a lot of padding except in the tongue and collar. A padded tongue helps protect your foot from the tension of the laces while collar padding keeps your ankles from chafing.
Warranties are always important, especially when bargain shopping. If you’re looking for an inexpensive pair of boots, getting a pair with a decent warranty gives you more confidence in your purchase. Read the warranty information carefully, though. It’s very important to know what’s covered and what isn’t, just in case.
Cleaning your boots properly is important because it’s one way to make sure they last as long as possible. You’ll need a boot brush as well as mild dishwashing soap and water. Remove the laces and dry brush the boots first to get off any dry dirt and debris. Then, hold the boots under running water and use the soap and water mixture to clean more thoroughly. Brush the soles aggressively to get out any dried mud and dirt. Never put your hiking boots in the washing machine or dryer. Doing so can cause a lot of damage.
First, make sure your boots are clean. They need to dry a bit before you can waterproof them but it’s best to leave the leather a little damp to help the waterproofing penetrate as deeply as possible. There are a few different products available and each works best with a different material. Waxes and oils are ideal for full-grain leather while sprays work best for suede or nubuck leather. Allow the boots to dry completely before wearing them on a hike. Waterproofing your boots properly can add years to their lifespan because it keeps the material conditioned in addition to protecting it from water damage. Repeat this process every few months.
The Merrell Men’s Moab 2 are our top pick for a couple of reasons. The materials they incorporated, for instance, are mostly high-quality and durable, including the leather Vibram soles shanks. Additionally, some components perform well where the comfort levels are concerned, and they provide the breathability needed for longer use scenarios.
The Columbia Women’s Dakota Drifter is a great choice if you’re looking for the best hiking boot under 100 for women. These stylish boots are waterproof, breathable, and provide superior cushioning and high-energy return. The tread is great for ice and snow and they’re pretty comfortable right out of the box.
Finally, if you’re looking for a great pair of low hiking boots, check out the Harley-Davidson Men’s Chase. These rugged shoes fit like sneakers and have lugs that are resistant to abrasions and oil and are slip resistant and the cement construction handles a lot of tough use.