It’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the amount of gear required when you start hiking. Finding the right boots is usually the most important part, but can also be the most difficult.
The wide range of footwear on the market can make life confusing. Each pair of boots offers a range of benefits that make them suited to specific type of hiker.
In this guide, we aim to make your decision easier by listing the best hiking boots for beginners. By reviewing and comparing the most suitable products on the market, we are sure to find you some footwear that will create a spring in your step.
Ranking The Best Hiking Boots For Beginners
- Oboz Sawtooth II Mid B-Dry
- Merrell Moab II Ventilator Mid
- Keen Ridge Flex Mid
- Columbia Newton Ridge Plus II
- Keen Targhee III Low
Best Hiking Boots For Beginners Comparison
Incredibly comfortable hiking boots that can support your feet in any weather
Popular summer hiking boots with great breathability and comfort in hot weather
Warm and supportive winter hiking boots with excellent waterproofing
Great water-resistance and comfort that's ideal for budget wary beginners
Soft and flexible hiking shoe that provides comfort and waterproofing
Waterproof, durable, comfortable, supportive, decent breathability, well cushioned
Breathable, comfortable, ventilated, time-tested reliability, cushioned, light feel
Waterproof, warm, comfortable, supportive, stable, durable, flexible
Comfortable, waterproof, seam-sealed, cheap, good padding, versatile, lightweight
Comfortable, flexible, durable, waterproof, versitile, quite stable for a shoe
Too narrow for some, slightly hot in summer
Long term durability issues
Run narrow, not very breathable
Limited support, lack breathability
Not the best traction, heavy
Nubuck Leather, Mesh
Suede Leather, Mesh
Leather, Suede, Mesh
2lbs. 6oz (1077g)
2lbs. 2oz (964g)
2lbs. 4oz (1021g)
2lbs. 0oz (907g)
2lbs. 6oz (1077g)
Why Do I Need The Best Hiking Boots For Beginners?
If you’re new to hiking; getting the right boots is key. You need to find a pair that suit your foot shape, hiking style and budget.
In addition, you require boots that are capable of putting up with the weather you will frequently face. If your feet are cold, wet or overheated; it’s often a recipe for disaster.
The best hiking boots for beginners are all designed to offer comfort and reliability without breaking the bank. The products listed in this review have time-tested durability that will leave you without worry during your first steps on the trail.
In order to make your life easier, we have categorized our choices. Each option is best suited to a different environment, allowing you to find the one that’s right for you.
How To Choose The Best Hiking Boots For Beginners
Type of Hiking Boots
Hiking boots come in various different types. Each one provides a varying level of support and is best suited to a specific type of terrain.
Hiking shoes use a design that closely resembles sneakers. The cut is usually just below your ankle bone, providing full range of motion for your feet.
Hiking shoes are great for travelling at speed across well-trodden paths. Despite their inherent lack of ankle support, they provide supreme comfort and can be incredibly lightweight.
New hikers that want to cross the most basic trails in dry conditions will be satisfied with hiking shoes. However, they are not always sufficient for uneven terrain or multi-day trips.
Regular hiking boots are the most common choice for beginners. Using a mid-cut design, the shaft sits just above your ankle to provide a basic level of support.
Hiking boots are well designed for most marked hiking trails. They are usually relatively lightweight, but still have the capacity to protect your ankles.
Some hiking boots are purpose built for winter, while others are adapted for ventilation. Be sure to find the right product for your chosen adventure.
Anyone heading on long treks across unstable terrain should be wearing backpacking boots. By using a high-cut design, they provide maximum ankle support and foot protection.
Backpacking boots are the most ‘heavy-duty’ option available. The support, durability and weather-resistance they provide is supreme. However, they can also be heavy and expensive.
Most hiking beginners don’t require backpacking boots. Unless you’re embarking on a thru-hiking expedition or alpine adventure, they’re probably overkill.
Hiking boots will generally offer 3 levels of water defence: Waterproof, water-resistant or ventilated. Each one will perform best in specific weather or terrain.
Waterproof Hiking Boots
Anyone that’s serious about winter hiking will want waterproof boots. Keeping your feet dry is crucial to having a positive outdoor experience.
Manufacturers achieve waterproofing by using an inner membrane that provides a seal between your feet and the outside elements. Using a Gore-Tex membrane is popular among high end products, although many brands also have their own version.
The downside of waterproof boots is their lack of breathability. Beware that they could leave your feet feeling sweaty during the summer, so we advise to skip waterproofing if you love heading out in the hot weather.
Water-Resistant Hiking Boots
If you’re looking for a year-round hiking boot; water-resistant might be your answer. They use an outer material that is naturally resistant to light rain, but not fully waterproof.
The benefit of water-resistant boots is their ability to provide moderate protection from rain while remaining relatively breathable. It’s sometimes the best choice for 3 season beginner hikers looking for a ‘one boot fits all’ solution that won’t cost a fortune.
Some boots also apply a DWR (Durable Water Resistant) outer coating that helps water to bead up and roll away without penetrating the outer material. Although still not full waterproofing, it’s a useful addition that can cope well with light rainfall.
Ventilated Hiking Boots
Those looking to hike exclusively during the summer will benefit from ventilated hiking boots. Despite lacking protection from water, they will allow your feet to breath in the hottest weather.
Some boots are designed with mesh vents for desert conditions, while others may use a naturally breathable fabric. Both are capable of allowing hot air and perspiration to escape so you can avoid getting hot and bothered.
If you live in a hot climate, we can’t stress enough the importance of ventilated boots. However, those looking to hike in wet weather or ‘all seasons’ will need to look elsewhere.
The importance of comfortable hiking boots should never be overlooked. Walking in pain is never fun and will surely detract from your outdoor experience.
- Flexible hiking boots often require little break-in time and can provide supreme comfort on marked trails. However, they often lack the robust support and durability that tougher designs provide.
- Stiff hiking boots use strong materials that can provide superb support for backpackers. However, they often take a significant break-in period before they become comfortable.
It’s usually best for beginners start with a moderately flexible hiking that can support you on trails of reasonable difficulty. Although it might not be strong enough for backpacking, you will be comfortable during the average day-hike or weekender.
Keep in mind that different brands also provide various fit shapes. In general; North American brands are suited to wider feet, while European products can be narrower.
Be sure to check previous customer reviews to see how the boot fits feet of different shapes and sizes. If in doubt, it’s always best to choose a boot that’s slightly wider if you want to prioritize comfort.
Best Overall Hiking Boots For Beginners
The American brand Oboz have made a name for themselves by producing comfortable footwear that performs well on the trail. The Sawtooth II Mid B-dry is a perfect example, while also providing reliable durability that will keep hiking beginners happy.
Built using a combination of nubuck leather and mesh; these boots provide enough flexibility for comfort without sacrificing durability. The rugged design uses Oboz’s classic ‘B-Dry’ membrane that ensures superb waterproofing in winter weather.
The soft insole and cushioned EVA midsole provide a perfect base for most feet, with ample protection from roots and rocks. The boots also offer a decent level of support that can more than satisfy beginners attempting weekend hikes with moderate loads.
Hiking beginners require a boot that’s comfortable, stable, time-tested and not too expensive. The Oboz Sawtooth II Mid B-Dry ticks all of these boxes and is our clear overall winner.
- Supreme comfort
- Fully waterproof
- Offers some breathability
- Time-tested reliability
- Good underfoot cushioning
- Some will find it slightly narrow
- Still not breathable enough for desert
- Feels a bit cumbersome at times
Best Summer Hiking Boots For Beginners
Merrell are another US based brand that are known for providing quality hiking footwear that won’t break the bank. One of their top performers is the Moab II Ventilator Mid, which we found provided the perfect base for hiking beginners to enjoy summer trails.
As the name suggests; these boots provide excellent breathability through the use of mesh ventilation built into the upper material. The remaining outer fabric has been constructed from suede leather, which provides enough flexibility and strength to satisfy most new hikers.
The overall feel of the boots is super comfortable and cushioned. The Vibram outsoles also add a sense of security by providing great traction on steep ascents and dusty trails.
Recommending the Merrell Moab II Ventilator Mid for summer loving beginners was an easy decision thanks to its superb breathability and comfort. Despite lacking an element of support, it’s perfectly capable of traversing across marked trails in hot weather.
- Great ventilation
- Very comfortable
- Feels light underfoot
- Good cushioning
- Value for money price
- Perfect fit for most feet
- No break-in time required
- Lacking an element of support
- Can start to deteriorate over time
- Not recommended for wet weather
Best Winter Hiking Boots For Beginners
Winter hiking beginners require a comfortable boot that can provide warmth, waterproofing and support on muddy trails. Thankfully, the Keen Ridge Flex Mid has all of these attributes for a price that won’t break the bank.
Keen are another US brand that are known for their comfort. The Ridge Flex uses a soft leather and mesh upper that allows for a free and easy stride without sacrificing support.
The leather design is also fully waterproof thanks to a ‘Keen Dry’ inner membrane and seam-sealed stitching. In addition, we found the Ridge Flex provided reliable traction on slippery slopes and underfoot stability that will save your ankles.
If you predominantly hike in wet weather or face cold climates, we undoubtably recommend the Keen Ridge Flex Mid. It’s warm, waterproof, stable and supportive enough for hiking beginners to enjoy winter trails.
- Fully waterproof
- Good stability
- Grippy traction
- Not breathable enough for hot weather use
- Fit runs a bit narrow for some
Best Budget Hiking Boots For Beginners
If you’re new to the hiking world, you probably don’t want to fork out a fortune on footwear. That’s where the Newton Ridge Plus II comes in, providing decent outdoor performance for a sensible price.
The leather, suede and mesh design provides durability that’s well above their price tag. In addition, the boots are fully waterproof and seam-sealed for maximum protection.
A padded interior and cushioned midsole gives these boots a comfortable feel on most terrain types. We also think they have a casual look and feel that works great on and off the trail.
Anyone looking for a budget pair of hiking boots with great versatility will be impressed by the Columbia Newton Ridge Plus II. The durable and waterproof design is comfortable enough for heavy outdoor usage or walking around the town.
- Fully waterproof
- Good durability
- Bargain price
- Soft padded interior
- Good cushioning
- Lightweight feel
- Versatile enough for off-trail use
- Not very supportive
- Lack breathability
Best Hiking Shoes For Beginners
Hiking shoes are often a great choice for beginners due to the comfort they provide on basic terrain. The Keen Targhee II is a great example, coming with a soft and flexible feel that can support your feet when trekking across marked trails.
The full-grain leather design of these shoes makes them an incredibly durable choice. An inner membrane has also been used to make sure your feet are sealed from wet weather.
The shoes are surprisingly soft and flexible considering their heavy-duty design. You will feel every ounce of Keen’s heralded comfort right out of the box, while the cushioning and stability offered by the midsole was also a standout feature.
If you’re a new hiker that’s looking for a comfortable shoe, the Keen Targhee III Low is a great choice. It’s designed with quality and comfort that’s well above its sensible price tag.
- Fully waterproof
- Durable upper material
- Well cushioned
- Stable for a shoe
- Feels flexible
- Versatile enough for off trail use
- Superb comfort
- Very heavy
- Traction is not the best
- Not very breathable
Anyone new to the trail will see great benefit in getting the right boots. Comfort, durability and reliability are vital if you’re taking your first steps into the hiking world.
By listing the best hiking boots for beginners, we aim to greatly improve your experience. Having footwear that you love wearing can give you a spring in your step that will make sure you enjoy the outdoors.
We have separated the products into categories that will allow you to easily find the one that’s right for you. Take the time to read all the information and make an informed decision so you can get out and hike with confidence.
James is the founder of SnowSunSee. He started skiing when he was five years old and has been a qualified ski instructor for 8 years. He has taught skiing in many countries, including UK, Europe, Japan, China and Malaysia. When he’s not on the slopes, James spends his time travelling the world one trail at a time.