by Fletcher McDonald

The Trailhead is a multipart series on hiking from beginner to intermediate and focuses on preparation, sharing experiences, and enjoying the outdoors. 

See the other articles below:
#1: Starting Somehow, Somewhere
#2: Beginning to Intermediate
#3: Buying Hiking Boots
#4: Going the Distance
#5: 14,000 Feet Above the Sea

Spend enough time hiking in your sneakers and you’ll wear them out. Lucky for you, hiking boots are designed for the wear and tear they must endure. There is a large market and it can be tough to pick the right boot.  I usually look at the variety of features offered, from sheer durability to waterproofing or thermal insulation for those intrepid, winter-loving adventurers among us.

As a sidenote, if you’ve been hiking your entire life or you start hiking frequently, you might find that a lightweight, breathable pair of trail-running shoes works better than a heavy pair of Goretex-lined boots; but if you’re traveling over rough terrain, the ankle support can save you a sprained ankle and in cold conditions, that Goretex or other insulation is invaluable. As a new hiker, you may want to buy a pair of boots so that you don’t mess up your workout shoes.

I have a very specific take on buying equipment, based on the relevantly-named “boots economic theory”. The short version is that paying for quality pays off over the long run, and I’m here for the long run. When it comes to boots, however, here are my best picks:

Most Durable: The Timberland Men’s Chocura Trail Mid Hiking Boot.

I’ve had several pairs of these boots over the years. They’re affordable. The mid profile on these boots allows for a bit of ankle flexibility when hiking over rough terrain, and the waterproofed leather and Gortex lining keeps your feet dry. I haven’t had a pair of these boots wear out yet – the leather is thick and good quality, and will keep for years.

Best Waterproofing: The Timberland Heston Waterproof Boot.

Another Timberland boot, this is both waterproof and features a classic look that will never go out of style and doubles as a winter boot. The high top profile works well with urban styles and keeps snow out of the boot itself.

Winter Hiking Boots: The KEEN Men’s Durand Polar Hiking Boot.

KEEN has been around a while as well, and this durable, insulated, and utilitarian boot will keep your feet warm for long periods of time in almost any temperature. They might be overkill in Colorado’s increasingly warm winters but if comfort and quality are your priorities, this is the boot for you.

Price:

Price is always a factor. Here’s a pick of the highest quality and one of the most affordable boots out there.

Affordable: The Columbia Men’s Newton Ridge Plus Waterproof Hiking Boot.

You may be noticing a theme here with the waterproofing; regardless, Columbia is a long-running outdoor brand with quality and affordable products.  This is one of the highest rated boots on Amazon – 900+ 5 star reviews indicate that this is a great boot. It is a Amazon Choice product as well.

Quality: The Danner Men’s Portland Select Mountain Light Cascade Clovis Hiking Boot.

Leather. 100% waterproof leather. Vibram Soles. Gore-tex lining. Made in the US, by craftsmen dedicated to their craft and it shows. This is a boot that will last years, and you won’t buy another brand after wearing a Danner boot.

Conclusion:

You can’t go wrong with a dedicated hiking boot but for increased price you get increasingly good quality. Again, I’d mention the boots economic theory, and last, I’d note that you’re protecting your feet and investing in your long-term health and enjoyment of the wide outdoors.

Regardless of what you choose, it’ll be worth the investment.

Happy Travels,
Fletch

The Trailhead is a multipart series on hiking from beginner to intermediate and focuses on preparation, sharing experiences, and enjoying the outdoors. 

See the other articles below:
#1: Starting Somehow, Somewhere
#2: Beginning to Intermediate
#3: Buying Hiking Boots
#4: Going the Distance
#5: 14,000 Feet Above the Sea

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