How I Bought Hiking Boots Inexpensively and Responsibly

How I Bought Hiking Boots Inexpensively and Responsibly

When is it okay to loosen the purse strings? I grapple with this daily. 

Having this big, fat goal of eliminating my student loans quickly means each purchase must be scrutinized and, considering the cost of a pair of hiking boots, I wasn’t ready to take the plunge for a long time.

The average pair of hiking boots is around $150, but can be much more depending on the brand. Spending a $100 or more on hiking boots meant I would be putting that much less toward my loans that month. Yet, I was getting to a point where I (almost) needed them. I say almost because, of course, I didn’t really need them. We need food, water, and shelter. I can live quite easily without hiking boots, millions of people do every day. 

But I was regularly engaging in activities that was making it very uncomfortable to be without them. 

As my life is spent very much outdoors while walking the dog, hiking, playing disc golf, and camping I was reaching a breaking point. We’ve been very outdoorsy for years, and all these years I’ve been using my sneakers for all these activities, but the same problems keep arising over and over again.

We hiked up this incline at Red River Gorge in KY

Problems with not having hiking boots

Dangerous

hiking in gym shoes is not the best idea. You need grippy soles for navigating rocks, especially ones covered in slippery moss in creek beds, or when scaling up a steep incline, likewise for going down on the other side. Sneakers do not offer the same traction and stability of a hiking boot.

Ruining my gym shoes

My gym shoes were spending their lives in a perpetual state of being wet and muddy. Winter and Spring in Ohio are long, damp seasons, and any time spent outside means deep, claggy mud sucking at your shoes and caking them irreparably. Since I was completing my final training for the half-marathon in April, I was running long distances three times a week and needed my gym shoes to be clean, dry, and wear-ready all the time. 

Wet shoes

Ok, I’ll admit this was the big thing. My gym shoes were not water resistant in the least. Each time I stepped in water, from an inch to a sizable puddle, my socks and feet would immediately feel that tell-tale squelch, and I’d spend the rest of my time with soaked feet. Annoying in the summer, downright dangerous in the colder months.  

Hiking Shoes Last longer

I’ve gone through several pairs of gym shoes in the last few years simply because I’m hard on them. Hiking shoes are often more expensive because they are made with heartier materials and are meant to be put under more stress than a stroll through the neighborhood. 

A rainy hike on Mt. LeConte

How I bought them as responsibly as possible

I read reviews and recommendations

The particular pair of boots I bought come highly recommended. My husband has the brand and swears by them, I’m also part of an online disc golf group where I saw this brand recommended by over a hundred people for outdoor activity. I’d never make a big ticket purchase without reading reviews and hearing feedback about the product. 

I waited. And I waited. And, I waited some more

I wanted to make sure this wasn’t an impulse buy.

Yes, I’ve been thinking about buying hiking boots for years! I’ve gone to REI and other hiking stores in our area to try on different versions. Low top, high top, mid top. Light weight and heavier. Hiking boots need to be broken in but trying them on at the store at least gave me an idea of what I liked. I kept my eyes out for sales both at brick and mortar stores and online. I really paid attention around the holidays, hoping I’d find a black Friday deal, but no cigar. 

I continued to wait some more, but the boots were something I kept thinking about, going back to, and had a good reason to buy. It wasn’t a silly purchase that I knew would end up at the back of my closet or in the donation pile. With the amount of time I spend outside I knew I’d wear them every day, and that they would have a useful, positive impact on my life. It sounds silly to say about a pair of shoes, but it ended up being true! 

My patience paid off, and I finally found a single seller on Ebay, who was selling the pair I wanted for $69.43!

Because I had made the purchase so thoughtfully, when the sale came up, I was ready to buy!

I was right in my decision to finally purchase them as their merits are many 

Keep my feet toasty and dry

The importance of this when you are outside for hours at a time cannot be understated. The first time I wore them I stepped in all the mud and puddles with glee. No more did I have to do this frenetic hopping dance around marshy, wet land just to preserve my feet for the day. Now I was tromping through streams and over mud with satisfaction. 

The boots are basically self-cleaning

Despite the fact that I am in water and mud quite a bit, they never seem to be dirty! The waterproof material (part of why hiking shoes are so costly) means that the fabric of the shoe is never really penetrated by the elements the way it is with sneakers. 

Safer

I feel much safer on all terrain with shoes that were meant to handle that terrain! A nice unexpected benefit is that while I could feel every root and pebble beneath the sole of my sneakers, my boots offer a much comfier track over these little annoyances. 

I can and do wear them almost everywhere!

Other than running, I love to wear my hiking boots anytime. I keep them buy the door and slip them on anytime I walk Ranger, grocery shop, or run a few quick errands. The lining and the weight of them somehow makes them feel much cozier than my sneakers. 

Durability

I’ve now had them for well over a month and they show no signs of distress. Not a thread or fray to be seen. 

I have no regrets about this sensible purchase. It’s a stuff that I use every day, and I went about buying it pragmatically. 10/10 would do it again!

Resting for a moment at the Gorge
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