Join Date: Mar 2012
Location: Some where in the midwest, mostly
• Horses: 0
I've had good luck with Vasque, lasting 2 yrs each pair. I wear my hiking boots all the time, I don't wear other shoes unless need dictates.
My latest pair are Lowa, according to the manufacturer they should last more than 6 years, I bought them through REI so I can exchange/return them any time they get wear on them. Other than the insole wearing out on the first pair they've held up really well.
Both brands have really good traction, nice foot bed to keep thorns and such from reaching your feet (we have black locust on our property, 3" thorns didn't ruin the boots). They had gore-tex so never stayed wet for long.
The way I found the Lowa's was by doing a product comparison and reading product reviews on REI's website (incidentally I live 4 hrs from any store). I loved my old Vasque, but on reading the reviews last year they apparently had suffered in quality, and on trying on a pair in the store in March found the new ones had a base that felt wobbley.
REI, and probably a great many sites will let you look at a group of boots at one time and see their specs. Look for ankle heights that will feel comfortable to you, and if you plan on walking on hard trails (rock) then you need a tougher sole than if you are hiking on dirt trails. I tend to look for Vibram soles, they wear like iron.
I'd recommend looking at product reviews by people who had bought the one's you are looking at. Especially the con's list, if a topic comes up more than 2x it may be a real problem. Then go find a place that has the one's you like and see how it feels. If the boots don't meet what you find comfortable on first fitting, they won't feel good on a hike, they wont break into be more comfortable, just looser.