Finding the right hiking shoe at the right price can be an adventure all its own. To help you conquer this seemingly insurmountable task, we have brought together the top 6 hiking shoes for the money on the trail today.
Lightweight Trail Runners
As packs get lighter and ultralight hiking becomes more popular, footwear is getting lighter too. It is more and more common to see hikers choosing lightweight trail runners and even sandals over the traditional hiking boot. A common consideration for trail runners is the size of their “drop,” which is how much the heel is raised above the toes when the shoe is flat on the ground. Some trail runners and hikers prefer a lower drop for a more natural stride.
Salomon X Ultra 3
Loved for being lightweight, comfortable, and stable, the Salomon X Ultra 3s have been a best seller for a long time now. Their Descent Control technology provides enhanced traction and stability especially on downhill situations. And at 1.6 pounds per pair with an 11 mm drop, you’ll barely notice them going uphill, except for how well they keep you on the trail.
Brooks Cascadia 12
It’s said that these shoes became so popular on the Appalachian Trail that hikers were using their unique tread design as trail markers to stay on course. Weighing in at 1.5 pounds per pair with a drop of 10 mm, the Cascadia 12s are one of the best lightweight hiking shoes you can find, and they’ll keep you eating up the trail miles. The newer Cascadia 13s are now available and worth checking out too.
Altra Lone Peak 4.5
Altra set out to create the most natural feeling shoe while providing serious functionality and protection, and they did just that with the popular Lone Peak 4.5. These are the lightest shoes on our list at a mere 1.3 pounds per pair and they have a 0 mm drop, meaning your heel and toe are level when the shoe is flat to the ground. With these shoes, you’ll feel like you’re barefoot, but gain the protection of sturdy shoes.
If you prefer more cushion on your shoe, and don’t mind a little added bulk, look into the Lone Peak’s big brother, the Altra Olympus 4. Only 1.45 pounds per pair, the weight gain is minimal compared to the added comfort for long distances on the trail.
Sturdy Hiking Shoes
The trade-off with trail runners as hiking shoes is that you tend to get less mileage out of them than you would with a standard hiking boot. Enter the hiking shoe as the compromise between trail runners and hiking boots. In many cases, these shoes are just low-top versions of the boot by the same name, so they’ll give you the same level of cushion, support, and durability but with a little less weight and more breathability.
Merrell Moab 2 Low
Possibly the best all-around hiking shoe, the Merrell Moab 2 Low is favored for its grippy, comfortable fit. At 2.4 pounds per pair, it’s not the lightest hiking shoe, but the added heel padding and arch support make this a very stable shoe. While it doesn’t win in any one category, the Moab 2 does everything sufficiently well at an incredibly affordable price, making it one of the best hiking shoes for the money.
Oboz Sawtooth Low
These hiking shoes weigh in at just less than 2 pounds per pair, which is surprising considering how rugged they are. Their knobby outsoles and dual-density EVA midsole guard your feet against pesky rocks, while the O Fit Insole provides a custom fit for each shoe. If the Oboz Sawtooth Low errs in any way, it might feel a bit too stiff on those extra-long hikes. A cool added feature is the map of the namesake Sawtooth Mountains of south-central Idaho molded onto the bottom of the outsoles.
Keen Targhee III Low
The unique design of the Keen Targhee III helps it stand out on the trail. This update to the popular Targhee II Low is more flexible than its predecessor and weighs slightly less at 2.26 pounds per pair (the Targhee II Low’s weigh 2.4 pounds per pair). It also features improved waterproofing with its raised leather upper. Still, it maintains the large toe box that Keens are known for as well as the eye-catching toe guard. The Keen Targhee III Low is an updated version of a classic favorite.
It can seem like there’s a different shoe for every foot that needs one, especially when considering the varied terrain and climates that hikers encounter. Finding the best hiking shoe at the right price for you is going to come down to a very personal choice on fit, performance, and price. But the search is worth it as the right shoe can make all the difference out on the trail.