Best Hiking Gear On A Budget

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For those of us who love hiking, there's nothing quite like getting immersed in the simplicity and grandeur of nature. As you step into the great outdoors, it's important never to underestimate the power of nature, which means making sure you're ready for anything you'll face on the road less traveled. Having the right gear to get you from point A to point B safely can mean the difference between a magical memory and a life-threatening emergency. At the same time, knowing that all of that gear can leave a serious dent in your wallet can make choosing the best and safest hiking equipment challenging.

We wanted to know if it's possible to pick up performance hiking gear without breaking your budget. To find out what the pros recommend, we scoured the internet, consulting some of the best hiking gear reviewers in the industry, including Gear Junkie, Outdoor Life, Field & Stream, and GearLab, for the most affordable, high-quality hiking gear. Because options are everything, we're sharing two of the best budget gear recommendations for each category.

Best budget hiking pack

Decathlon Forclaz MT500 Air 50+10 - $139 on Decathlon

This sturdy hiking pack offers plenty of room for all your gear, making it a great option if you're into thru-hiking or prefer to have everything you need on hand while you're out for the day. Recommended by GearLab, the Forclaz pack is tailored for its wearer's gender morphology, with a 50-liter capacity recommended for men and a 45-liter capacity for women. Its large volume makes it ideal for multi-week hikes. An adjustable space at the top of the bag adds an additional 10 liters if needed. The Forclaz includes a water bottle holder, a spot for a water bladder, a space to stash your hiking poles, eight pockets, and a rain cover. It also features innovative AIR concept back ventilation with a mesh cover and a 10-year warranty.

The North Face Terra 55 - $169 on The North Face

In terms of a high-capacity women's backpack with stellar reviews, the North Face Terra 55 soars. GearLab concludes, "This backpacking pack has everything you'd find in a premium women's pack at a fraction of the price." This sleek and attractive hiking pack increases the cargo capacity while conforming to women's body morphology via The North Face's proprietary OPTIFIT system. This adjustable suspension design is meant to distribute the weight load evenly and increase ventilation for a more comfortable hike that doesn't require you to leave anything at home. It also comes with a lifetime guarantee.

Best budget hiking footwear for men

Xero Shoes Men's DayLite Hiker Fusion Boot - $107.99 on

If you're looking for a minimalist hiking shoe, Field & Stream recommends Xero's fusion collection. Xero's claim to fame is providing shoes with the most natural fit, feel, and motion you can get without bare feet. The Daylite Hiker Fusion features an intensely grippy chevron tread and light overall weight. There's a roomy toe box to maximize your toe comfort, and the sole is flexible and agile without compromising posture.

Salomon X Ultra Mid 4 Gore-Tex  – $175 on Salomon

Finding a perfect hiking boot that meets your needs without weighing you down can be a challenge. The New York Times' Wirecutter calls Saloman's mid-height X Ultra Mid 4 hiking boots "versatile boots" with "trustworthy traction, top-notch cushioning, and the widest toe box of any boots we tested." These agile boots are more stable on mixed trails and going up and down inclines thanks to the ActiveSupport straps that help keep the shoe securely in place around your foot.

‌Best budget hiking footwear for women

Salomon X Ultra 4 Mid GORE-TEX Hiking Boots - $175 on Salomon

The most budget-friendly of its top seven hiking boots for 2023, Hiking for Her praised the women's X-Ultra, concluding, "I gave the bottoms of these Salomon women's hiking boots a very close inspection, and decided that not only would they serve well on the trail but the tread would last for at least two hiking seasons." Synthetic uppers help keep the pricing down, and Gore-Tex protection offers waterproof performance.

Merrell Moab 3 Mid Waterproof - $150 on Merrell

Merrell is known for its comfortable shoes, and its hiking boots don't disappoint. An update to Merrell's popular Moab 2 series, Gear Junkie voted the Moab 3 Mid Waterproof their "Best Budget Hiking Boot for Women" in 2023. Tested over stream crossings and across fields, its waterproof design combines durable leather and a waterproof membrane so your feet stay dry no matter what crosses your path. It's designed to more comfortably adapt to the anatomy of a woman's foot and features a lighter weight than its predecessor. 

Best budget moisture-wicking socks

REI Co-op Merino Wool Ultralight Crew Hiking Socks - $17.95 on REI

If you're planning to hike in warm or shoulder weather, REI's Co-op Merino Wool Ultralight socks are one of the most affordable, high-performance options — which is why they made Field & Stream's top hiking socks list for 2023 as the best budget item. The dense, moisture-wicking wool blend is warm without being cumbersome, and there's plenty of cushion to minimize blisters and provide a more comfortable hike overall.

Wigwam Hiking Outdoor Pro - $19 on Wigwam

If you'd prefer a synthetic blend, WigWam is one of the most durable and breathable synthetic hiking socks on the market. Not only are they budget-friendly, but they'll last for years, maximizing their value. And there's something delightfully nostalgic about them. In a review of these fan favorites, Alex Gulsby of 99 Boulders mused, "Wigwam socks are old-school, reminiscent of what your grandparents might have worn when thru-hiking with metal frame packs."

Best budget women's windbreaker

Patagonia Houdini - $109 on Patagonia

GearLab calls the Patagonia Houdini a "true featherweight model that continues to impress, combining excellent performance with great value." 100% recycled nylon construction and Patagonia's Fair Trade factory make it one of the more sustainable options out there. It's available in a wide range of colors, including the colorful Fitz Roy Patchwork: Night Plum, and it's lightweight enough to easily fit in your pack without taking up a lot of space.

Rab Vital Hooded Jacket - $95 on Rab

Another great lightweight option, the Rab Vital Hooded Jacket is incredibly budget-friendly and comfortable enough to wear all day long. GearLab voted it their Best Buy award winner, emphasizing its bonus features in a world where minimalism is often the rule. The hood is fitted and features a stiffened brim that GearLab's pros found helped it "perform better in harsh weather conditions and during high-output activities." Roomy pockets, increased wind resistance, and excellent waterproofing round out its features.

Best budget men's windbreaker

Outdoor Research Helium Wind Hoodie $129

The Helium Wind Hoodie owes its ability to remain ultralight while providing incredibly durable wind resistance to its Pertex Diamond Fuse engineering, which uses diamond-shaped filaments in its fabric to create a more abrasion-resistant textile. This means it will hold up well to everything you put it through on the trail, and it will stand up to years of washing and use. GearLab's review concluded, "Despite its flashy appearance, this is a technical windbreaker and is further reinforced with abrasion-resistant fabric."

Rab Vital Hooded Jacket - $95 on Rab

Like the women's Rab Vital, GearLab found the men's version to be one of the best budget windbreakers for hikers, praising its "lightweight, versatile, DWR-coated nylon shell, all at an affordable price." The hood also boasts the same stiffened brim, making it easier to stay dry on your hike. Five crisp-looking colors and an overall comfortable design make it one of the best affordable windbreakers around.

Best budget compass

TurnOnSport Orienteering Compass - $9.99 on Amazon

At less than ten bucks, Gear Junkie's pick for their best budget compass is so affordable it's almost worth picking one up as a spare to keep around long after you've upgraded to a spendier model. With its basic features and spare design, Gear Junkie calls it "a simple and inexpensive option on which you can learn the basics." And it's surprisingly sturdy with its acrylic baseplate and adjustable bearing. The TurnOnSport compass also comes with a compass ruler and magnifying glass.

Brunton TruArc 3 - $23.95 on Brunton

A solid, durable compass obtainable at under $25, Brunton's TruArc 3 is Field & Stream's top pick for a budget compass that doesn't feel like you're working with a lower-tier model. As they put it, while hikers can spend much more on a compass, most of those fancy features aren't useful for someone who is still building their compass and navigational skills. This U.S.-manufactured compass is also easy to use, small enough to easily carry around, and stands up well to magnetic interference, making it a solid pick that gets the job done at a wallet-friendly price point.

Best budget GPS or personal locator

Garmin eTrex 32x – $299.99 from Garmin

With many quality portable GPS models suitable for hiking pricing at more than $500, the lower-priced eTrex 32x gives hikers a chance to experience the quality of GPS industry leader Garmin before moving on to a higher-priced investment. Hiking Guy's review concluded that while this minimalist GPS tracker isn't for everyone, "Most importantly, it's a solid, rugged and reliable handheld GPS that simply works well."

Bushnell BackTrack Mini GPS - $99.99 from Bushnell

If you're fine with a stripped-down handheld GPS that gets the job done, check out Gear Junkie's pick for best budget model. It's adventure-ready thanks to its durable rubber exoskeleton and waterproofing. The black-and-white device is navigated using only four buttons and does not include detailed maps or trails. What it does is allow users to drop waypoints as they travel so they can navigate to where they came from. It also includes a barometer, elevation display, compass, and displays for time and temperature.

Best budget first aid kit

Adventure Medical Kits Mountain Series Backpacker - $46.95 on REI

Another solid budget pick from GearLab, Adventure Medical Kits' Mountain Series Backpacker kit comes equipped with hospital-quality wound care, first aid manual, trauma supplies, and blister supplies and prevention for one to two hikers on a four-day trip. It also features a range of medications for hiking through the backcountry, including multiple doses of allergy meds, stomach ache meds, and treatments for pain and fever management. It also includes an external map of the kit and clear labeling to make finding what you need easy when you need it fast.

Surviveware Comprehensive Premium First Aid Kit – $34.95 on Amazon

GearLab's Editor's Choice for the best overall hiking and camping first aid kit, the Surviveware Small medical kit is a 100-piece set that doesn't include medications but does include all the basics for many first aid scenarios. GearLab cites the kit's low weight as one of its advantages, making it a good pick for hikers who don't have a lot of room to spare. As the reviewer noted, "This is one of the most rugged kits we tested, containing enough supplies for a group on a short trip."

Best budget protective sunglasses

Goodr OG sunglasses – $25 on Goodr

Goodr has built a loyal fan base in its young life thanks to the company's goal of manufacturing budget-friendly sunglasses for running that look great and perform every bit as well as their spendier counterparts. Each pair of Goodr glasses features scratch-resistant mirrored and polarized lenses with glare reduction, and a portion of every purchase goes toward preserving the U.S. national park system. Grip-coated frames help reduce slipping even when you're working up a sweat. There are loads of vibrant colors to choose from, including candy-colored Flamingos on a Booze Cruise and Falkor's Fever Dream, and at only $25 a pop, we can totally understand if you want to make collecting them all your new obsession.

Goodr Everglades sunglasses - $30 on Goodr

With all of Goodr's great features and a fun, Everglades-inspired look, it's easy to see why their Everglades model is Outdoor Life's pick for Best Budget hiking sunglasses. Manufactured in the popular OG design, these limited edition shades will have you dreaming of sunny Florida. If the Everglades isn't your thing, choose from one of Goodr's other park-inspired designs, including Glacier National Park, Yellowstone National Park, Yosemite National Park, and Great Smoky Mountains National Park. 

Best budget firestarter

Light My Fire Tinder on a Rope – $4 from Light My Fire

Simple, functional, small, reliable, and, best of all, affordable, Light My Fire Tinder-on-a-Rope is Gear Junkie's Best Budget Firestarter pick. Each pine firestarter stick has a lifespan of up to 10 flames and can be used with any type of ignition source, from flint to lighters. If you end up stranded and surrounded by wet wood, this is a product you'll be grateful to find in your pack. The only downside is that you will need to carry some type of ignition device.

FireFlame Quick Instant Fire Starter – $14.99 from Amazon

Another affordable solution for starting fires in difficult conditions, Fire Flame was Outdoor Life's top pick for survival. It's made of natural materials, waterproof, and fits easily in your survival kit or backpack. The sealed sachets are also safe and easy to light with a separate ignition system.

Best budget water bottle or flask

Iron Flask Insulated - $24.95 on Amazon

If you're looking for a quality water bottle that will get you by until you're ready to make a long-term investment, GearLab says Iron Flash Insulated is your best bet. It isn't dishwasher safe and lacks some of the bells and whistles of its spendier counterparts. But according to GearLab, "It's sleek, attractive, and easy to use, and at nearly half the price of the top insulated bottle, it will be appealing to those for whom cost is a factor."

Hydro Flask Wide Mouth with Straw – $44.95 on Hydro Flask

If you're looking at budget in terms of long-term savings, you can't go wrong with a Hydro Flask. GearLab has tested dozens of water bottles, so the fact that Hydro Flask was crowned their Best Overall Water Bottle is impressive, to say the least. While it is initially something of an investment, the bottle is compatible with most backcountry water filters and is durable enough to withstand anything your adventures will bring its way — which means you will save on replacement water bottles through the years. As if that wasn't enough, Hydro Flash products come with a warranty. 

Best budget water purifier

LifeStraw Personal – $19.95 from LifeStraw

"We love this filter for daily adventures and as a backup filter method on longer trips," Gear Junkie raves about the LifeStraw. While you can't use it to filter large quantities of water into bottles, it is a reliable water filtration system that works well if you're near a water source. It's also the lightest water filtration system you can buy, making it a great option if you're traveling light.

Sawyer Squeeze Water Filtration System – $29.95 from Amazon

Gear Junkie chose the Sawyer Squeeze as its best overall backpacking water filter for 2023, and it continues to be a popular choice among hikers. It's lightweight and filters down to 0.1 microns, making it even more effective than many of its counterparts. It also comes with a reusable BPA-free collapsible pouch and boasts a limited lifetime warranty from the manufacturer.

Best budget multi-tool

Leatherman Skeletool CX – $89.95 from Leatherman

An ultralight multi-tool so handy it has amassed its own Facebook fan group, the Skeletool CX is a full-sized seven-in-one tool that features a premium steel knife blade sturdy enough for many an emergency situation. It looks fantastic and features needle-nose pliers, regular pliers, two different wire cutters, a carabiner/bottle opener, a large bit driver, and a 154 CM knife. GearLab praised its ergonomic design and portability, making it a solid budget bet for your hiking pack.

Gerber Suspension NXT – $50 from Gerber

Another reliable multi-tool with a budget price tag, the Suspension NXT features 15 tools, a slim design, and a pocket clip that makes it easy to tack onto your belt or pack. GearLab's reviewers found the Suspension to be a "solid, successful tool," adding, "They are up against stiff, established competition in this category, and deliver a great product."

Best thru-hiking shelter

Durston X-Mid 1P Gen 2 – $280 from Durston

Proving that ultralight hikers don't have to spend a pretty penny to get a quality tent, Durston's X-Mid 1P Gen 2 is a comfy one-person tent with a price tag that doesn't cut too deep. In their review of the X-Mid, SectionHiker praised the tent's livability, easy setup, and high-performance no-stretch rain fly, emphasizing, "I sleep really well in the X-Mid 1, which I attribute to the color and density of the rain fly." It's also surprisingly spacious and designed to stand up well against snow and rain.

REI Co-op Trail Hut 2 Tent with Footprint - $199 from REI

Chosen as Gear Junkie's best budget backpacking tent, REI's Co-op Trail Hut is a slightly heavier tent for hikers who prize comfort on the trail. "It boasts one of the lowest price tags on this roundup, and given its broad feature set, sturdy construction, and thoughtful design, we think it punches well above its weight," Gear Junkie raves. It fits two people and features two large doors that make coming and going easy. Perks like internal pockets and a fly door that works as an awning cover seal the deal.