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Why Are Hiking Boots So Expensive? (The Truth)

Compared to normal boots, there is no doubt that hiking boots generally cost more money. On the surface, they may not appear to be too different. This can leave many beginner hikers wondering why hiking boots are so expensive.

Hiking boots are so expensive because of the materials used in their production. Necessary features, like waterproofing and strong support, require high quality materials. These materials tend to be more expensive, leading to a higher cost for hiking boots versus normal boots.

Not all hiking boots are considered generally expensive. However, it is best to know what you are getting for the price and what aspects you should look for. We go more into detail about the overall cost of hiking boots and why they’re so expensive below.

Why Are Hiking Shoes So Expensive?

Hiking shoes are expensive because they are designed for a specific purpose. They require specific materials and structures, which are usually expensive to make. These shoes are not like those you wear for casual reasons where the emphasis is more on appearance rather than practicality.

Hiking shoes are very practical. They need to be to accommodate the terrain and conditions you may encounter. The fact that you never know what you may come across while hiking means that your shoes should be prepared to handle anything.

This means manufacturers try to cover as many bases as possible. This then leads to various materials and technologies being introduced in production. Without these aspects, the boots would prove useless in several areas.

Compare It To Clothing

If you wanted to purchase a waterproof jacket, for example, then you would find more expensive options contain material such as Gore-Tex. Cheaper waterproof jackets will tend to make you sweat as they are manufactured from inferior materials that draw the sweat out of you, rather than being breathable.

More expensive waterproof jackets are more comfortable. They tend to fit better and handle the conditions better than cheaper alternatives. Expensive materials usually offer more comfort, and the same concept applies to hiking boots.

Better Materials Means Better Protection

The more you spend on hiking boots, the better the quality of materials likely used in their production. You may find that a better-quality leather was used. The soles may be stronger and more robust, so they can contend with rougher terrain.

Some boots also have Gore-Tex incorporated into them, which is often missing in cheaper boots. These boots can tolerate very tough conditions. Stronger materials may provide more reliable protection than cheaper alternatives.

Better Support

With hiking boots, a lot of effort has gone into developing the sole and the support they offer. Normal boots offer little support in areas such as the arch and instep. If you wear normal boots and walk for long periods on rough terrain, it may cause pain or discomfort.

Hiking boots incorporate technology into the soles to provide more cushioning. This requires additional materials to be used in production that are designed for a specific purpose. The additional material raises the cost of the boots.

You may rarely be walking on a perfectly flat and smooth path, so you want to have boots that support you in any circumstance. It is therefore essential that your hiking boots offer additional support.

It is the combination of complex and expensive materials and structures that makes hiking boots so expensive. Hiking boots are practical and are designed to do a particular job. Normal boots would be unlikely to withstand the various obstacles you encounter while hiking.

Are Expensive Hiking Boots Worth It?

Expensive hiking boots are worth it if you are serious about hiking as a hobby. For avid hikers, it is often considered worth it to invest in a pair of high-quality boots. Whether this is all worth it can also depend on when and where you plan on hiking, and in what conditions you prefer to hike.

The Extent Of Your Hiking Is Key

Hiking boots are particularly useful for extensive, difficult hikes. If you only plan on going out hiking every once in a while and only on easy hikes, then investing in expensive hiking boots may not be worth it. If you want to be able to go hiking rain or shine, and on longer, rougher trails, more expensive hiking boots may be worth it for you.

Wearing poorly built boots on these types of trails could increase your chances of injury. Your feet may hurt and could affect your ability to enjoy your hike. That is why it is better for those serious about hiking to invest in some high-quality hiking boots that are comfortable and well-fitted to assist you in your hikes.

If you don’t think you’ll spend much time hiking on rough terrain or in adverse conditions, you may consider purchasing a standard pair of hiking boots at a lower cost. You likely won’t require all the extra support or thicker insulation to keep your feet warm, so that will bring the cost down. However, dedicated hiking boots will still likely be worth it to provide some support and comfort.

The length and the frequency of your hikes play a key role in deciding if expensive hiking boots are best for you. Be honest with how often you may wear them to help you make your decision.

How Much Should You Spend On Hiking Boots?

How much you should spend on hiking boots depends on how you plan to use your boots and how often. It will also depend on which features you desire in a pair of boots. For more casual hiking boots, less than $100 can suffice. For more specialized hiking boots, it can cost several hundred dollars.

Starting Out

If you are just starting out with hiking, and you primarily take shorter walks on easier trails, then boots costing between $50-100 should suffice. Now, that is still quite a wide price range, but you should be able to find boots to suit most beginners’ needs within that range.

The key here is to focus on getting something with adequate traction for easy trails, and enough comfort so that your feet don’t hurt. Cheaper boots are usually made of cheaper materials, so do not expect the waterproofing to be as good as that of more expensive versions.

Most beginners will start with standard, relatively low-cost hiking boots. They will be fairly rugged, but not to the point where you feel weighed down by them on a short hike. They are not designed for the roughest terrain out there, but they will be suitable for easy trails.

Longer Hikes Or Weekend Long Hikes

If you start hiking for 10 miles or more, or go for long weekend hikes, then you need to start looking at more expensive boots. They need to be capable of handling tougher conditions, so they need to be more durable than basic boots.

For this, you should be looking at boots anywhere from $75 up to around $125. These boots are usually made from better materials and will usually offer more support than the standard hiking boot.

Thru-Hikers

If you plan on hiking long trails, such as the Appalachian Trail, then this is where you need to be willing to spend a minimum of $100 up to over $200 for a pair of high-quality hiking boots.

These boots should be manufactured from the best possible materials. They need to be very robust, offer excellent support, and include the best waterproof material possible. All of this costs money, so you likely will not be able to get a pair of these boots for under $100.

Specialist Boots

Specialist boots include those for speed hiking. You can easily pick up a pair of lightweight hiking boots for speed hiking for around $60. Anything that costs more than that will tend to be too heavy and cumbersome. That will certainly affect your ability to speed hike.

If you also plan on going out on winter hikes, then you will be looking at boots somewhere between $100 and $250. That’s because of the special materials designed to keep your feet warm and dry in even the worst conditions, and you may even consider snow boots, which will also be on the expensive side.

What To Look For In A Pair Of Hiking Boots

Comfort

The first key area to consider is comfort. You will probably be planning on hiking for miles in these boots, so they should be comfortable for long periods of time. You do not want them to crush or hurt your feet in any way. You can get blisters if you have boots that are the wrong size or poorly made.

Waterproofing

You probably want your hiking boots to be waterproof. However, not all waterproofing is made equal. Unless you plan on only ever hiking in bone-dry conditions, then try to purchase a pair of boots with substantial waterproofing qualities. Gore-Tex is one of the best options, but it comes at a higher price point, so it’s about balancing your budget with what you need from your boots.

Support

Support is another important factor to consider with hiking boots. You want to own a pair that offers substantial support to both the arch and instep. The sole should be capable of acting like a shock absorber to minimize problems that could arise from the rough terrain you will be hiking on.

Look for names such as Vibram when it comes to the soles. Vibram is an additional feature used by several hiking boot brands, and it contains specific technology that offers extra support.

Toe Room

Make sure the boots in question give you adequate toe room. You want to have a bit more space than you usually would with normal boots. This accommodates thicker socks you might be wearing and foot swelling that can occur during a hike.

Your feet may swell as you hike, and if you start off with your boots already quite tight, then you could very well end up in pain. You will probably be wearing hiking socks, which are thicker than your average socks, so they need some extra space too.

Final Thoughts

Hiking boots are expensive due to the high-quality materials used in their production. Hiking boots need to be able to withstand rough conditions for long periods of time, which naturally requires some strong materials. How expensive your hiking boots should be depends on the hiking you plan to do.