If you’ve read our guide on how to start hiking, or any other of my posts, you’ll see I’m a bit of a gear junkie.
Not the type of gear junkie that spends ridiculous amounts of cash, or regularly replaces my gear for the sake of it.
But, I’ll always aim to buy my kit from reputable brands, and for good reason; it lasts.
In our 2-minute guide to the 13 best hiking boot brands, I’ll list the top brands manufacturing hiking boots today, but also why I’ll choose Merrell next time I replace my boots.
The 13 Best Hiking Boot Brands
Let’s start with a list of the best hiking boot brands on the market.
I’ve had various cheap pairs of hiking boots. For what I do, they just don’t last.
I use my boots for just about anything outdoors.
Camping, hiking, mountaineering and wild camping.
And, there’s a few areas that cheaper boots really lack:
- Long-term durability
I’ve gone through sets of cheap walking boots in a matter of months, yet for the last 6 years, I’ve had just one set; Merrell Outbound GTX’s.
They’ve lasted so long, they don’t even make them anymore – more on that later.
If you want comfort, breathability, good waterproofing and boots that are going to last, you won’t go far wrong with any of the best hiking boot brands I’ve listed below.
Why I Choose Merrell
I can only use my personal experience after trialing (or, trailing!) various boots, and settling on my Merrell Outbound GTX’s.
If you search Google for these boots, you’ll see all stores now list them as “product discontinued” and the last review I could find, was dated 2013.
Yet, they still come with me on every outdoor trip I go on – they are built to last. And trust me, I’ve given them a tough time.
But, throughout all of that, I’ve had exceptional levels of comfort, waterproofing and more importantly; overall value for money.
So, when the time comes to replace them, there’s a good chance I’ll check out Merrell again.
Here they are in all their glory.
Excuse the muck (I’ve not long come back from the trail).
And remember, 72 months is a lot in boot-years!
Choosing The Best Hiking Boots
So, what makes a good hiking boot?
I’m sure there’s one thing putting you off buying boots from the best brands list featured above; price.
And, I’m right with you.
If there’s a tossup between a $50 or $100 product, I’m not the type of person to spend cash on branded products for vanity.
But, I do choose the best brands as they’ve been proven to offer much better value for money long term.
And, the brands above will offer exactly that.
Straight up, you’ll hate cheap walking boots.
I’ve had a couple of pairs. Not to mention them going in the trash within a few decent hikes, is the fact they can be ridiculously uncomfortable.
I got unbearable amounts of rubbing around the ankle area, and blisters on my big toe.
Maybe I’ve just got weird shaped feet.
Either way, with my Merrells, I don’t get rubbing or blisters.
You need good ankle support, even on the easiest of hiking trails. A small slip could result in a broken or sprained ankle.
My Merrell Outbound GTX boots offer enough support that prevents injury, but not so much that they encroach on comfort.
You’ll get that from top hiking boot brands, but not from budget boots. Cheap boots have too much flex in the ankle.
Breathability & Waterproofing
There’s plenty of cheaper brands that offer waterproof boots.
There’s one problem; these brands have to save cash somewhere to sell their boots so cheap.
So, where do they save this cash? Breathability.
Your feet might (or, might not) stay dry from water outside, but they’ll sweat due to lack of breathability.
And, because they’re not breathable, the moisture won’t be able to wick away and dry.
That means one thing besides discomfort; stinky boots!
If you suffer with knee pain like me (or other pain, such as hip or ankle pain), you’ll notice the difference between cheaper and more expensive boots.
Typically, the best hiking boot brands will use a Vibram sole (or their own variation of it).
Essentially, it’s a shock absorption sole.
Even if you’re not jumping from rocks on rough trails, for those going on long hikes, there’s a noticeable difference between a Vibram and non-Vibram sole.
How Much The Best Hiking Boot Brands Cost
I’d expect to budget anywhere from $90-200 for a set of hiking boots from a top brand.
They’ll last for years, and you’ll get a lot more bang for your buck than spending $50 and replacing them annually.
And, the extra comfort and breathability is an added-bonus!
Hopefully, our quick-fire guide to the best hiking boot brands gives you an idea where you need to be investing your cash.
If in doubt, I’d choose anything from Merrell’s range, simply because I’ve had a great experience with my 6-year-old GTX boots so far.
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