Which hiking boots would you recommend to a casual traveler?

I’m in the market for my first pair of hiking boots after clomping along with Dr Martens for some time. They’re fine, but lacking in real support that I might need to go on some more serious hikes during travels. I’m finally making the upgrade, but I’m not sure where to start!

Do you have entry-level hiking boots that you’d recommend to a traveler?

Bonus points if you can wear those boots out afterwards to a dinner.

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I’ve only ever worn Merrell boots and trainers / sneakers for years and they have held up pretty well for field work and all kinds of other things.

They look alright too , so I dont think they would invite any sort of “OMG what is she wearing” type looks or comments.

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The best advice I can share is to go to a store where they specialize in hiking boots. You’re looking for an experienced hiker/salesperson who will ask several questions about your needs and have an idea what boots best fit your foot shape, low arch, high arch? Also it’s important that your toes don’t bump into the end of the boot if you encounter steep descents. Best if they have something you can stand on resembling a large rock so you can feel how it is going up or down.
Also they can inform about changing up lacing patterns to suit your need for the day, more flexible or really laced up tight for ankle protection. You’ll pay about the same as anywhere else but the advice will be worth more than the boots if you finish a long hike with comfort instead of blisters and bruises.

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Seconding @Monsieur_Mictlan’s love for Merrell! I love their hiking boots so much. Also seconding @KenJ’s recommendation to head to a store to try them on. The REI in Manhattan has a rock-like thing you can tromp around on to get a feel for how a pair of boots will feel out in the wild.

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Merrell or Keens in this family. Definitely try them on. Socks make a difference.

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Give a good look at Ecco’s if you can find some in your area.
My dad sold them for years and I killed a pair of my own back in the 90s. While traveling in Iceland last summer I rapidly found out that my sneakers were inadequate for the hiking we were doing. I found a store there and was highly impressed with the features and quality of construction they were still doing. I’d put them well above Merrells and Keens which I’ve owned as well. They’re likely going to cost more, but the expression “You get what you pay for” was never more true than in hiking boots.

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I just got my first pair of hiking boots this year, too, and they’re also Merrell’s! Very comfortable. Pretty grippy. Water resistant.

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Echo the advice to go to a specialist shop - they will have entry level boots as well as the specialist. A good pair of boots can last 50 years if looked after so don’t skimp. Also think about what type of walking you are going to do. Mainly grass allows a different type of boot to scrambling over rock. Look for decent ankle support. They do, in my experience, take a while to break in - DMs too though. Also the weight of the boot can be startling and my pair have a shaped sole so more rock to walk which can be sore on inner thigh if not worn for a while. Wear them about house and town before wearing for a serious hike. And get decent socks - leather hiking boots can be a lot warmer than normal shoes so natural fibre socks help a lot.

Agree. I’ve tried them all and found what works best for my particular feet and walking style…one person’s great fit might be awful for someone else. I’d suggest a good specialty store like REI. In general, though, quality also varies. Even normally great options like Merrell, Salomon and Vasque have some models that many have commented on for poor build or materials lately.

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Going to second @rbikr and suggest Ecco’s for the casual traveler. :smiley: I’ve been wearing an amazing pair of waterproof hikers for everything for the past 6 months and I hesitate to wear other shoes now because I don’t own anything more comfortable. They are the most dinner-appropriate hiking boots I’ve owned and I’ve had no access issues so far at nice places.

I got Ecco’s so I could continue to take only one pair of shoes when traveling but feel more appropriate at events and dinners than I did in Merrell’s. I was pleasantly surprised to be comfortable on my feet for many more miles in Ecco’s. They also don’t get as smelly inside as my waterproof Merrell’s did, although both have had their days.

That said, I’d still wear Merrell’s for anything challenging because they are the grippiest boots I’ve found — dinner be damned.

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I have Merrells that I have worn all over the southwest. Grand Canyon, Zion etc. They are very comfy! Not sure they would make it to a 4 star restaurant, but they can go most places. Definitely go to a store that specializes in hiking gear to get the best fit.

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I love my Keen hiking boots. Wore they hiking in South Africa and Costa Rica, as well as local hikes. I would agree with shopping for hiking boots someplace where they know what they are doing, and you can try on the boot (not order on-line). I buy my hiking boots, walking shoes, and other off-sidewalk footwear at REI. Is there one close to you?

While Merrells and Keens may be great for some, they have never fit me well. I suggest that you try on lots and lots and when you find that most comfortable, most supportive pair buy them and don’t worry about recommendations. What fits some feet won’t fit others. You have have to go with whats best for you.

Thank you for all the recommendations to go in-store, I had previously been quite frustrated by the limited selections that I had been finding, but it seems like a smart way to go. I’ll particularly look out for Merrells, Eccos and Keens!

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I have a pair of Soloman boots that have lasted many years. I now call them my 3 continent boots, hope to rename them in a year or so but I still wear them out working in the woods or what ever. Once you find a good fit you may eventually want to resole them, so that’s an option to keep in mind. Ask your salesperson if they have any information on people qualified to repair them.

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