Low cut vs mid-cut hiking boots, which shall you choose? It’s understandable to not actually know what’s best for your needs.
When I went to Everest base camp I wasn’t sure what was best and just went with mid cut and thankfully that was the best decision.
Since coming back and doing some local hikes I started to wonder if low cut might be better so I did some research to find out.
So what’s the difference between low cut & mid cut hiking boots?
Low-cut models tend to be more lightweight and breathable which make them an excellent choice for short hikes with well-maintained trails. Mid-cut hiking boots tend to be more sturdy and offer better ankle support making them a good option for longer hikes with a more rocky trail.
Each boot has its advantages and disadvantages depending on its main use.
In this article, I will help you fully understand the difference between low-cut and mid-cut so you can get the best pair for your needs.
Key Differences Between Low Cut And Mid-Cut Hiking Boots
So let’s cover a few key difference between the two types of hiking boots.
- More breathable which helps keep the feet drier
- Lightweight, good for moving faster.
- Versatile, good for different occasions
- Stays cooler (better for hot weather hikes)
- More sturdy making them good for rocky trails.
- Goes above the ankle which offers better ankle support
- Keeps feet warmer, so good for cold weather hikes
- Long lasting and hard wearing.
What Are Low Cut Hiking Boots Best For?
Low cut boots would be best for your average day hike. Great if you are walking on well-maintained trails.
These wouldn’t be good on more rocky trails as they don’t support the ankle as well. You are much more likely to roll your ankle if you hike on a rocky path with these type of boots.
Low cut hiking boots can also be used for simple light backpacking trips.
Some people still prefer these types of boots even on the rockier unstable ground as they are easy to hop and jump about in.
When I did Everest base camp I still saw people using low cut hiking boots but they are definitely not ideal for that type of trek.
If you are covering a lot of ground over the day and you’re moving quite fast then the low cut will be the better option as they are more lightweight and easier to move in.
What Are Mid-Cut Hiking Boots Best For?
Mid-cut hiking boots would be better for long hikes where you may be carrying some heavier backpacks.
On rocky of the beaten track trails, these boots would be more suitable.
The Everest base camp trek for example, mid-cut hiking boots would be the best type for that terrain.
Also if you are hiking through snow or sloppy areas then mid-cut hiking boots would be a good option as they can keep the warmth in quite well.
Mid-cut hiking boots usually have 1 or 2 lacing hooks at the ankle for extra support which make them a good option when you are on uneven rocky paths.
The higher cut also helps stop things like twigs and stones getting in your shoes.
If you are prone to rolling your ankle then these will be these should be your go-to on most hikes as it’s nearly impossible to roll your ankle with boots that fasten above the ankle.
The only thing I don’t like about wearing these types of boots is they can feel quite heavy and clunky. Some people might feel more comfortable knowing they have extra support and durability.
The good thing is, in today’s age we have much more advanced boots that are still durable yet lightweight.
For example, synthetic material boots are much lighter than the leather version.
Most comfortable hiking boots
Are there lightweight weight mid-cut hiking boots?
Best Hiking Boot Style To Prevent Ankle Injury
If you want to make sure you keep your ankles safe from injury then you should opt for the mid-cut hiking boots as they will offer the most support for your ankle.
It’s worth getting these whatever the type of trail you are hiking as you will feel more comfortable if you are prone to twisting or rolling your ankle.
Even though mid cut doesn’t feel as light on the feet it makes up for it by the strength of the support around the ankle.
Price Difference Between Low-cut And Mid-cut Hiking Boots
So you’d think the low cut would cost less but it turns out there’s not a crazy difference in price.
There are definitely some much more expensive mid-cut hiking boots but on the whole, they are pretty similar in price.
A good mid-range pair will cost you around $80 -$150 whether they are low or mid cut.
You can still get the budget option in both styles for around $50.
So money shouldn’t be the deciding factor in which boots you go for as they are both similar in price.
The only real difference is if you are going for a more high-end mid-cut hiking boot then they will set you back a little bit more than the low cuts.
Can You Get Waterproof Low or Mid-cut Hiking Boots?
If you want waterproof hiking boots then that is possible with both styles of boots.
As long as you are not wading through knee-high water then there are some high-quality boots that are waterproof.
I would still say waterproof with caution though as I’m sure some would get through if your feet were submerged long enough.
My hiking boots were said to be waterproof and I can honestly say after walking through a lot of wet and muddy areas the water has never got through.
The hiking boots I used are the Men’s Quest 4D 3 GTX.
The Gore-Tex Performance Footwear lining offers excellent wet weather protection which I found is also breathable.
There are other brands so if you need something that will keep your feet dry then there are options available.
For the best water protection then I would say the mid cut will offer the best resistance against water as they go higher than the ankle.
Lower cut boots you risk the water getting in at the ankle.
Pros and Cons Of Low Cut Hiking Boots
Like anything, there’s going to be different pros and cons depending on the choice you make.
Below I’ve listed the benefits and negatives for each type of boot starting with low cut.
Benefits Of Low Cut Hiking Boots
- Lightweight – Perfect if you are going on a day trek on well-maintained pathways. Also good if you want to jump across any small rivers or rocks etc.
- Smaller – Takes up less space in your bag compared to the bigger mid-cut boots.
- Versatile – Can be used for hikes but also for walking around town or going to a BBQ.
- Cooler – These feel cooler as your ankles can breathe. Perfect if you are hiking in warm or hot weather.
- Less break-in time – These usually take less time to break in compared to mid-cuts. Put them on and you’re good to go.
Negatives of Low Cut Hiking boots
- Less support – Less support for your ankles when hiking. If you have weaker ankles, hiking with heavy backpacks or trekking across rocky trails then these won’t support you very well giving you more risk of an ankle injury.
Pros And Cons Of Mid Cut Hiking Boots
Same as before I’ll list the benefits and negatives of this style of boot.
Benefits Of Mid Cut Hiking Boots
- Good support – Great if you are prone to rolling an ankle. Also great if you walking on rocky or even surfaces. If you’re are hiking of the beaten track then these would be a good option.
- Warmth – If you’re hiking in colder conditions then these boots will be great at keeping the warmth in.
- Durable – These should last you a lot longer as they are usually really well built and can withstand a good old beating on the trails.
Negatives of Mid Cut Hiking boots
- Heavier – Because they are bigger and sturdier they are usually heavier. It is still possible to get reasonably lightweight mids though.
- Larger – Making them take up more space in your bag if you need to carry them with you.
Where To Buy?
There are many places to buy your hiking boots.
You can try your local outdoor store if you have one near you.
You may have a Rei, U.S. Outdoor or something similar which is a good place to get hiking boots.
Amazon is a great online option as they have some competitive pricing and many options available.
I find it good to go to your local store to look in person and check what each boot feels like on your feet. That way you can get a good feel if a certain boot is right for you.
Sometimes it’s worth trying on in a store then checking on Amazon to see if you can get it cheaper which you normally can.
If you don’t have the luxury of a good local outdoor store then you can always order a pair or two online and send back any that aren’t right and keep the pair you like.
So to summarise the low cut vs mid cut hiking boot debate here’s what boots you need for what situations:
You want a low height hiking shoe when:
- You’re hiking more on well-maintained trails
- You’re going on day treks
- You have good ankle strength and foot placement
- You’re are only carrying lightweight (not heavy backpacks)
- You need to pack something smaller in your bag
You want a mid height boot when:
- You’re hiking off trail (rocky and un-maintained trails)
- You’re carrying a heavy backpack
- Added ankle support would be more beneficial
- You’re prone to rolling your ankle
- You are hiking in cold weather like snow
How long should hiking boots last?
Generally, a good pair of hiking boots should last about 500 to 1000 miles (805 to 1610 km’s).
There are a few variables which will affect that estimate, including boot quality, the terrain they are used on most, the weight being carried on them, and the weather (wet, snowy etc).
But you can expect to get 500+ miles out of your boots.
Should you get a bigger size hiking boot than normal?
Some people like to get half to a full size bigger than they normally would to accommodate thinker socks plus any swelling of the feet due to the heat or extended hikes.
The boots need to feel snug but not too tight. The best thing to do is to try your boots on with thick thermal socks and see how it feels.
Try a half or whole size up and if all feels well then go for that size. If it feels too loose or too tight then choose a new size accordingly.