by Diane Spicer
Choosing the best beginner hiking boots or trail shoes for your feet is one of the most important decisions you can make as you start your hiking career.
But how do you spot the best hiking boot brands?
How do you choose lightweight hiking boots that will go the distance?
And what kind of footwear is best for your chosen style of hiking?
Let's answer your questions quickly, so you can get started on the right foot (hiking pun advisory now in effect) as a beginner hiker.
You already know this, but let's state the plain fact anyway:
I've been on the trail for five decades, and have some current hiking boot preferences to share with you.
What works for me might not work for you, but:
And because I'm a regular user of these outdoor brands, I have no hesitation in recommending their products.
Now let's name some of the best beginner hiking boots names.
KEEN trail footwear stands solidly at the top of my list for many reasons.
But the one which matters most to you is that I've put them through their paces (literally) on many different types of long distance hiking trails over the past eight years, and they have never given me a problem.
I can't really say that about a lot of other hiking boot brands!
This is the KEEN hiking boot selection I've been wearing for many, many trail miles.
Things to notice about these KEEN hiking boots:
Here's the newest KEEN kid on the trail:
Targhee III Mid WP hiking boots.
All of the notable features of the Targhee II model, but some extras, too:
Consider these for a backpacking trip when you're going fast and light.
Hiking For Her just got a pair of these little beauties.
If you're not ready to spend ~$135 U.S. for a pair of the best beginner lightweight waterproof hiking boots with all of the bells and whistles noted above, then you should check out KEEN trail shoes.
You'll have less support but a lower price point (depending on sales and discounts) as you get started as a hiker.
The women's Targhee EXP Low waterproof trail shoe can get the job done on well maintained trails.
Another boot brand which has performed well for me over the years and miles is Salomon.
This is the Salomon style I prefer for rocky, uneven terrain:
Quest Prime GTX women's hiking boot.
Super lightweight backpacking boots, with over-the-ankle support - but also breathable and flexible.
Great traction on rocky footing and slick wet vegetation.
Reasonable waterproofing protection for moderate conditions.
But what are your choices if you don't want a large hiking boot?
Their trail shoes are also on the list of best women's hiking shoes for beginners, especially this one: X Ultra 3 Low Hiking Shoes.
Things to note:
If you face variable and uneven terrain as a hiker or trail runner, these are the trail shoes for you.
Their outsole pattern is designed for stability, and uses two different types of rubber to enhance your grip.
Their single pull lacing system makes it easy to adjust the shoes to your sock thickness and preferred snugness.
And the amount of cushioning in the midsoles is quite remarkable for a low cut shoe like this one.
Now here's a reasonable question you might be thinking as you look at these trail shoes:
For your first few hikes on well maintained hiking trails, go ahead and wear the athletic shoes you already have for working out, running, or running errands.
A few caveats, though:
If you don't want to invest in a technical hiking shoe just yet, here's an inexpensive choice that will give you some support and comfort on the trail:
Salomon Ellipse 2 Aero Hiking Shoe
Because these are on sale at REI Co-op's outlet, this exact pair may not be there when you visit.
Please realize that as a hiker, you need a different level of ankle support and cushioning than a trail runner or a gym rat.
Throw in the need for breathability, waterproofing and arch support when carrying a backpack, and you'll see why a "special" pair of shoes, designed for hiking, makes a sensible investment.
You now have a solid set of recommendations for what to put on your feet as a beginner hiker.
You are well equipped to locate and purchase the best beginner hiking boots on the planet!
Of course, if a pair of these hiking boots don't f
loat your boat lift your pack, you can choose a great pair of less expensive trail shoes to get yourself out there and hiking.
How will you know when a hiking boot fits your feet properly?
One more small piece of advice before you go:
The next big decision you face?
Which day pack is the best choice for you!
Best Beginner Hiking Boots and Shoes
About the author
Diane is the founder of Hiking For Her.
She's been on a hiking trail somewhere in the world for 5+ decades & loves to share her best hiking tips right here.
All rights reserved.
Photo credits: All photos on this website were taken by David Midkiff or Diane Spicer except where noted.
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