The best bargain walking boots reviewed (2022)

Times are tough for all of us right now, but that shouldn’t curtail your outdoor adventures. If you’re buying kit on a budget, take a look at these eight great value-orientated walking boots.

Hiker climbing wearing Scarpa Manta hiking boots

by Matt Jones |

It can sometimes feel like you’ll need to re-mortgage the house, work extra shifts for the next 12 months or land a nice win on the Premium Bonds to be able to afford the latest outdoor gear. Prices for the newest tech and updated designs are as eye-wateringly steep as Kirk Fell’s nose, and – unless you’re flush with cash – you’ll be forced to hunt around for bargains or end-of-line sales.

This can be a time-consuming task, with the added complication of differentiating between naff products deserving of a low price-tag and those that offer impressive performance despite the low cost. But here we’ve done the hard work for you, picking out five pairs of hiking boots priced around £150.

These days a premium pair of hikers will RRP north of £200, if not closer to £250, but some budget boots will still perform excellently, soaking up the lumps and bumps of the roughest trails and keeping your feet dry in the wettest and muddiest of bogs.

We've tested the latest affordable range of walking boots to find out which are best.

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What to look for in budget hiking boots

Scarpa Maverick gtx on test
©Live For The Outdoors

Ankle cuff: A mid boot has a lower ankle cuff than a high boot, which saves weight and gives a more flexible, trainer-like feel. However, a lower ankle cuff can allow water, mud and debris into the boot. They may also give less ankle support. Either way, look for a boot with a soft and well-padded ankle cuff.

Fit: While we’ve given general notes on the overall fit and volume of each boot, we’d always recommend you try before you buy. There’s really no substitute for a proper boot fitting in a shop, with an experienced fitter.

Heel counter: This is the stiffened cup that encloses the heel, providing protection and support. A firm heel counter helps to lock the foot in place and offers additional stability.

Insole: The insole supports the foot, enhancing comfort and stability. Unfortunately, many boots come with flimsy insoles. You might want to swap them out for specialist aftermarket insoles, particularly if you have longstanding foot problems.

Lacing: Most boots combine metal eyelets or rings with locking lace hooks that allow you to alter the tension across different parts of the foot. It should run smoothly and enable easy, precise adjustment.

Midsole: The midsole provides cushioning and stability. It is usually made from either EVA or PU, two different types of foam rubber. EVA offers lightweight cushioning but gradually compresses over time. PU is heavier but more durable, resulting in a stiffer boot with a firmer feel underfoot.

Outsole: The outsole provides traction via a tread pattern of rubber cleats or lugs. In general, deep and widely-spaced lugs offer greater traction and are less likely to clog. Different rubber compounds are used too. Softer compounds usually offer better grip, but harder compounds tend to wear better. A deep heel breast – the step between the heel and midfoot – adds valuable control on steep descents.

Price: Shop around for savings. Sign up to mailing lists for discounts. Some retailers will price match, or offer discounts for armed forces, Blue Light, NHS or BMC members.

Tongue: A padded tongue is essential for comfort but also look for a gusseted or bellows tongue. This means it is fully attached to the uppers, rather than only sewn in at the bottom of the laces. This prevents water and debris from entering the boot.

Uppers: Boots with leather uppers – especially full-grain leather, but also nubuck and suede – are renowned for being robust and long-lasting. Fabric boots are slightly less durable but are usually lighter, more breathable and more flexible, which is a plus if you’re looking for instant comfort with no break-in period.

Volume: Walkers with wide feet or high arches need more space inside their boots than those with narrow or flat feet. So, when fitting boots, check there’s adequate space around the forefoot. Too little room will cause pinching, but too much allows the boot to roll around your foot on uneven ground. The addition of a thicker insole can reduce the overall volume of a boot.

The best budget walking boots

NOTE: Stated weights as measured per boot (men’s size 12)

Adidas Terrex AX4 Mid

Verdict: Well-priced and remarkably lightweight hiker that combines comfort, performance and style.

Adidas Terrex AX4 Mid

Features 4/5 | Construction 4/5 | Comfort 5/5 | Performance 4/5 | Value 5/5

Overall score: 88%

Pros: Lightweight, comfortable, versatile, broad range of sizes

Cons: Mid cut provides limited support and protection

This is a stylish and modern mid-cut hiker. It’s very lightweight and instantly comfy straight out of the box, with a lightly padded and nicely contoured cutaway ankle cuff.

Admittedly, the upper materials aren’t likely to be as robust as premium leather boots, but the ripstop fabric toe box and synthetic overlays in high-wear areas like the heel and toe cap still promise reasonable durability. It also has a Gore-Tex liner for reliable waterproof-breathable performance, and our feet certainly stayed dry on test – though it’s worth noting that the tongue gusset only extends up to the fifth lace eyelet, so don’t expect to wade through ankle-high puddles.

The dual density EVA midsole offers a good balance of support and cushioning, with plenty of flexibility too. They’re not quite as stiff as other Terrex footwear we’ve tested, like the Skychaser or Swift R3 boots. That might limit performance on very technical terrain but makes for a very easy and natural walking action.

The outsole is made of a pretty tough Continental rubber compound – yep, the tyre people – with well-spaced, sharply angled lugs that deliver good grip on mixed terrain.

All in all, these boots offer versatile performance at a reasonable price. They also come in a very wide range of sizes for men and women.

Weight 677g | Men’s sizes 7-13 | Women’s sizes N/A

Merrell Moab 3 Mid GTX

Verdict: A classic mid-cut hiker, this comfy boot offers a versatile all-round performance and an accommodating fit.

Merrell Moab 3 Mid GTX

Features 4/5 | Construction 4/5 | Comfort 5/5 | Performance 3/5 | Value 5/5

Overall score: 84%

Pros: Comfortable, grippy, accommodating fit

Cons: Low ankle cuff even for a mid, not the lightest

The best-selling Merrell Moab, first released back in 2007, is basically the boot that kicked off the trend for mid-cut hikers. Combining the stability of a boot with the low weight and easy-wearing feel of a trail shoe, the concept proved a huge success. But the Moab is even more trainer-like than most mids thanks to its relatively low ankle cuff. This is perhaps a drawback in terms of protection and support, but a definite plus in terms of flexibility and comfort.

The accommodating fit, wide toe box and plush padded ankle collar also means there’s no break-in time – you can pretty much just lace ’em up and go. But this latest model, the Moab 3, has had a few upgrades too, ensuring they’re more hillready than older versions. The redesigned uppers have smaller mesh panels and robust pigskin leather overlays for enhanced durability, with a waterproof and breathable Gore-Tex liner.

The midsole delivers a good balance of stability and cushioning, with a bit more arch support than most mid boots offer. And underfoot, the new Vibram outsole delivers improved grip, notably downhill, thanks to deeper lugs and a more undercut heel breast.

It’s still not a boot for hardcore hillwalking, and it is slightly heavier than many rivals, but it remains a versatile all-rounder.

Weight 593g | Men’s sizes 6.5-15 | Women’s sizes 4-8

Keen Circadia Mid WP

Verdict: Big and burly, these score highly for protection, cushioning and durability – but are heavy for a mid-cut.

Keen Circadia Mid WP

Features 3/5 | Construction 5/5 | Comfort 4/5 | Performance 4/5 | Value 5/5

Overall score: 84%

Pros: Protective, durable, accommodating fit, eco-friendly

Cons: Wide fit won’t suit everyone, fairly heavy

Some of the new Keen boots we’ve tested recently – like the Flex series – have had a lower-profile, more streamlined look and feel, but the Circadia is a classic Keen boot. Basically, it’s big and chunky with a broad, high volume fit that will best suit those with wider feet. It sometimes feels a bit cumbersome, but on the flipside provides excellent foot protection – you could kick rocks in these things.

That’s down to an oversized toe bumper and a thick heel counter with robust double-stitched leather uppers, sourced from an LWG-certified tannery. So, they score high for durability and sustainability too, particularly since these boots also have a PFC-free finish.

The leather uppers add support and stability, aided by Keen’s heel capture system to pull everything in tight. The ankle cuff is very well padded, with an Achilles cutaway, but it is stiffer than most other mid boots. A dual density ‘LuftCore’ EVA-based midsole provides good cushioning. The sole is still very flexible though.

Traction comes from a tread pattern of 5mm multi-directional lugs. The boot’s chunky design also puts plenty of rubber in contact with the ground. Waterproofing comes from Keen’s own membrane rather than a branded Gore-Tex liner, but it did its job on test, though inevitably these boots feel a little heavier and warmer than fabric alternatives.

Weight 707g | Men’s sizes 6-12 | Women’s sizes 5-9

Scarpa Maverick GTX

Verdict: Blends Scarpa’s mountain expertise with a modern, nimble feel – but fairly expensive for a mid-cut synthetic boot.

Scarpa Maverick GTX

Features 5/5 | Construction 3/5 | Comfort 5/5 | Performance 5/5 | Value 3/5

Overall score: 84%

Pros: Comfortable, supportive, solid traction

Cons: Not quite as durable as leather boots, most expensive option here

The lightweight synthetic Maverick GTX mid boot from Scarpa feels agile and athletic on your feet – ideal for fast and light hill days.

It was actually one of the sturdier and stiffer boots on test, yet also one of the most comfortable, thanks to a super-soft, snug padded tongue and ankle cuff. The fit seems slightly higher volume than some, with a broad and fairly deep toe box.

The uppers are fully synthetic, constructed from a mix of microfibre mesh and Scarpa’s ‘Tech Fabric’, a vegan-friendly alternative to leather. A stiffened rubber heel counter cups the heel nicely, while a rubber toe bumper fends off trail impacts.

The midsole is firmer than some, giving this a more boot-like feel than most trainer-esque mid-cut styles, but this is an advantage when tackling uneven, rocky paths or broken ground.

Though they’re not quite stiff, supportive or protective enough to be classed as a full 3-season boot, they were still the most capable of all the options tested here. We were also impressed with the performance of Scarpa’s Presa Supergum rubber outsole, which has deep, sharply angled and well-spaced lugs. The tread didn’t clog in sticky mud yet felt grippy and controlled in both wet and dry conditions.

Weight 580g | Men’s sizes EU 41-48 | Women’s sizes EU 36-42

Haglöfs Skuta Mid Proof Eco

Verdict: Stylish and well-built mid-cut hiker with great eco credentials. Happiest on easy-to-moderate terrain though.

Haglöfs Skuta Mid Proof Eco

Features 4/5 | Construction 5/5 | Comfort 4/5 | Performance 3/5 | Value 4/5

Overall score: 80%

Pros: Comfortable, well-made, eco-friendly

Cons: Relatively flexible, not the plushest cushioning, limited traction

This stylish and understated boot comes in a variety of muted, natural colourways – ideal for heading from peak to pub.

It’s also extremely comfortable from the get-go, with a supple cutaway ankle and a padded, gusseted tongue. It offers medium width and volume overall, with a slim heel and a streamlined toe box. The upper is largely constructed from premium suede, sourced from a tannery audited by the Leather Working Group (LWG), which endeavours to ensure ethical working practices and supply chains. The midfoot section has a synthetic textile overlay, while the ankle cuff, tongue and vamp are made from breathable, open weave mesh fabric.

The boot is lined with a PFC-free Proof Eco membrane to ensure reliable waterproof performance without the use of harmful chemicals. Cushioning comes from EVA rubber foam with an additional gel insert in the heel. The midsole isn’t the thickest though, especially in the forefoot, so we didn’t find them particularly forgiving for longer hill days.

They held up well in terms of durability and waterproofing though, keeping our feet dry, comfortable and well protected. Our only other gripe was with traction underfoot – the rubber is a hard-wearing compound, but the lugs are relatively shallow and closely spaced, which means they clog easily.

Weight 583g | Men’s sizes 6.5-12.5 | Women’s sizes 3.5-10

Columbia Trailstorm Mid Waterproof

Verdict: These superlight mid boots are great for fast-paced walks on easy to moderate trails but reach their limits in the hills.

Columbia Trailstorm Mid Waterproof

Features 3/5 | Construction 3/5 | Comfort 5/5 | Performance 3/5 | Value 4/5

Overall score: 76%

Pros: Very lightweight, comfortable and well cushioned, broad range of sizes

Cons: Mid cut provides limited support/ protection, grip not great on all surfaces

A mid-cut hiker with casual styling, the Trailstorm is really designed for town to trail use or moderate day hikes rather than mega hill yomps. They’re very light, with a trainerlike feel that is both comfortable and well cushioned, thanks to an EVA midsole and a snug, padded ankle cuff.

They’re still more capable than most trainers too, thanks to an Omni-Tech waterproof-breathable liner that keeps feet dry. The tongue gusset only extends up to the sixth lace eyelet though, so don’t splash through anything higher than your ankle bone. They also outgrip standard trainers thanks to an ‘Adapt Trax’ outsole, which has well-spaced, angled lugs.

They do have their limits though, since the lugs are not that deep, which limits traction on slippery ground and means the tread clogs easily. The lack of a heel breast is also a disadvantage on steeper descents, especially when negotiating grassy hillsides. Still, stick to mostly well-trodden trails and you’ll love their superlight, plush feel.

The fabric uppers prioritise low weight and breathability over foot protection, though a stiffened heel cup and a TPU film toe cap do help a little with impact absorption. We were pleased to find that they also come in an impressive range of sizes for men and women.

Weight 475g | Men’s sizes 6-14 | Women’s sizes 3-10

Highlander Pentland

Verdict: These high-cut boots are as comfy, flexible and lightweight as many of their more expensive rivals, but lack a little structure and cushioning.

Highlander Pentland

Features 3/5 | Construction 3/5 | Comfort 5/5 | Performance 3/5 | Value 4/5

Overall score: 72%

Pros: Lightweight, flexible, comfortable

Cons: Lacks cushioning and support, very flexible, no half sizes

This is a lightweight and flexible trekking boot with uppers made from a mix of leather, synthetic leather and Cordura nylon. It has an unusual toe cap made from a single piece of leather, which looks slightly ungainly but minimises stitching, a plus for durability.

There is a well-padded tongue and an ankle cuff, both providing great out-of-thebox comfort. The EVA foam midsole provides some impact absorption too, but it is quite thin. Cushioning is okay in the heel but feels a bit spartan under the balls of the feet.

The uppers also seem to lack structure, but they do feel cool and breathable while keeping feet dry on test, thanks to a waterproof liner. Traction was good, though we’d have liked more of a heel brake for better control when descending hillsides.

In terms of durability, they showed no signs of wear after a few weeks’ use – though the upper lace hooks are made of thin pressed steel. They’re also riveted straight through the boot, including the lining, which affects waterproofing.

The fit offers medium width and volume overall but is roomy at the toe. There’s no women’s version and no half sizes either, which might make getting the ideal fit tricky.

Weight 677g | Men’s sizes 7-13 | Women’s sizes N/A

Mountain Warehouse Extreme Odyssey WP

Verdict: A sturdy high-cut boot that ticks lots of boxes, though we had some concerns about durability and waterproofing.

Mountain Warehouse Extreme Odyssey WP

Features 3/5 | Construction 3/5 | Comfort 3/5 | Performance 4/5 | Value 3/5

Overall score: 64%

Pros: Good support, stability and traction

Cons: Relatively heavy, some concerns over durability and waterproofing

These look and feel just like old-school leather hillwalking boots, with nubuck leather uppers, a padded tongue and cuff, an IsoDry waterproof membrane and a Vibram Grivola outsole.

The high cut gives good support and protection for the foot and ankle. They’re not the lightest or the most forgiving – expect a few squeaks and maybe one or two hotspots as you break them in – but they did soften up after that initial period.

We’d describe the fit as being medium width and volume overall, with a wider heel. That ensures it doesn’t pinch, but nor does it hug the heel particularly well. Some might find them a bit hot and heavy too, but then that’s the downside of almost every all-leather boot. Slightly disappointingly, our test pair leaked, which wasn’t great, but since it only affected the right boot, this could have been a one-off fault.

The nubuck uppers are only 2mm thick and seemed to wear surprisingly quickly. It’s a shame, since otherwise performance was good, particularly in terms of traction.

The outsole has chunky lugs and an undercut heel brake for reliable grip. The EVA midsole also offers decent cushioning and just the right amount of stiffness for an all-round boot.

Weight 860g | Men’s sizes 6-13 | Women’s sizes 3-9

Caring for your hiking boots

Keen Ridge Flex Waterproof on test

If you expect your boots to take care of you, you have to take care of them in return. This is vital to boot performance and longevity. Some of our favourite gear care products come from Granger's. Its products are both effective and Bluesign approved.

For cleaning any fabric, including leather and suede, use Granger's Footwear + Gear Cleaner; for maintaining water repellency use Granger's Footwear Repel Plus- it works on all fabrics but for full-grain leather, its G-Wax is best for conditioning and waterproofing. An alternative is Nikwax's footwear cleaner and all-fabric proofer (also PFC-free).

Read our in-depth footwear care guide for more.

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