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Best Beginner Hiking Boots: What To Put On Your Feet
As A New Hiker

Beginner hikers need a great pair of hiking boots or trail shoes. But how do you find them? Use Hiking For Her recommendations! #hiking #backpacking #hikingboots #hikinggear #hikingtips

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 good hiking boot brands?

And what kind of footwear is best for 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.

Best hiking boot brands

You already know this, but let's state the fact anyway:

Every hiker has a unique set of feet.

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:

  • I'll be careful to tell you why I'm recommending these brands as the sources for best beginner hiking boots.

And because I'm a regular user of these outdoor brands, I have no hesitation in recommending their products.

  • When you purchase through the links I provide here, you pay nothing extra while Hiking For Her receives a modest single digit commission.

Now let's name some of the best beginner hiking boots names!

KEEN hiking boots

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 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!

Women's Targhee II Waterproof Mid


This is the KEEN hiking boot selection I've been wearing for many, many trail miles.

Read my Targhee II mid-cut height KEEN review for all of the details.

Things to notice about this hiking boot:

  • immediate comfort (no break in required)
  • ankle support, yet no heavy tug on your legs
  • waterproof, but don't push this too far as any boot will succumb to soaking wet trail conditions after a time
  • the same inner membrane which gives you the ability to stand up to water also allows for breathability - your feet won't stew in your own juices
  • the footbed is removable, so if you wear custom orthotics or need a different level of arch support, you can insert it into the boot easily
  • leather uppers with a rubber outsole for durability
  • moderate amounts of traction from 4mm multi directional lugs

Heads up!

  • Order up at least one half size, as this boot runs small. This is especially true if you wear two pairs of hiking socks: thin liners + thicker outer socks.
  • The wide toe box on these boots make them uber comfortable for wider feet.


Here's the newest KEEN kid on the trail:

Targhee III.

All of the notable features of the Targhee II model, but some extras, too:

Women's TARGHEE III Waterproof Mid
  • leather mud shield to extend the life of the boot in rough conditions
  • heel-capture system for stability
  • enhanced rubber outsole for gripping traction

Hiking For Her just got a pair of these little beauties, so stay tuned for a link to a full review right here!

Don't need ankle support
and beefy traction?

If you're not ready to spend ~$135 U.S. for a pair of the best beginner 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 as you get started as a hiker.

The women's Targhee EXP trail shoe can get the job done on well maintained trails.


Here's why:

  • a lightweight 13.9 oz to avoid leg fatigue
  • waterproof, breathable membrane stands up to moderate amounts of trail mud or stream crossings
  • leather mud shield
  • heel capture system to hold your heel in place (no slippage for narrow heels)
  • breathable mesh lining to vent perspiration
  • removable EVA footbed for easy replacement or swaps
  • lightweight shank for moderate support
  • decent arch support and tread, too

Salomon best beginner
hiking boots: choices

Another boot brand which has performed well for me over the years and miles is Salomon.

  • Read why this company is on the list of best beginner hiking boots manufacturers here.

This is the Salomon style I prefer for rocky, uneven terrain:

Quest Prime GTX women's hiking boot.

Super lightweight backpacking boot, 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.

Salomon trail shoe recommendations

Their trail shoes are also on the list of best beginner hiking footwear for women, especially this one:

Salomon X Ultra 3 Low Hiking Shoes

If you prefer rocky and uneven terrain, 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:

Are special hiking 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:

  • Don't carry a lot of weight in your backpack, to avoid pounding the arches of your feet.
  • Go easy on the mileage so you can get an idea of how much ankle and arch support you'll need in the future.
  • Pick a flat, clear route and take notes (use your trail journal!) on how your feet feel during and after your hike.
  • No flip flops, no sandals, no cute little Toms - you want to avoid a foot injury that will end your hiking career before it gets started.

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 Shoes | REI Outlet

Heads up:

Because these are on sale at REI Co-op's outlet, this exact pair may not be there when you visit.

  • But there will be lots of other bargains in your quest for inexpensive trail shoes, so be sure to cruise through the REI Garage frequently.

Please realize that as a hiker, you need a different level of ankle support and cushioning than a runner or 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.

Best beginner hiking boots
and shoes:
choices galore!

You now have a solid set of recommendations for what to put on your feet as a beginner hiker.

If a pair of the best beginner hiking boots don't float 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:

  • Socks specific to the rigors of life inside a hiking boot or trail shoe are also part of the comfort equation, so read these tips.

The next big decision you face?

Which day pack is the best choice for you!

Home page > Beginner Hiking Tips >

Best Beginner Hiking Boots and Shoes

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