Finding hiking boots that fit well and feel good on your feet can be tough. As a result, many people wonder if it’s possible to get custom hiking boots for their adventures in the mountains.
But as you can probably imagine, custom boots for hiking (or any other purpose, for that matter) usually aren’t cheap. Just how much do custom hiking boots cost, you might ask?
Most custom hiking boots cost around $700 to $800, but you can easily pay upwards of $900 or even $1,000 for a pair of custom boots if you select higher-end materials. However, there aren’t many companies that make custom hiking boots these days and each cobbler sets their own prices for their services.
The reality is that custom boots for hiking are expensive and they aren’t right for everyone, though they can make a world of difference if you’ve struggled to find good-fitting shoes in the past. Up next, we’ll take a closer look at everything there is to know about one-of-a-kind hiking boots so you can decide if they’re ideal for your needs.
Who Needs Custom Hiking Boots?
While custom-made boots are generally much more expensive than shoes that you can get off the shelf, they offer some major benefits as far as comfort and fit are concerned since they’re sized specifically for your feet.
It’s worth noting, however, that custom boots are more common among people who need high-quality work boots for everyday use than they are for fashionable or outdoor adventure purposes. Folks with particularly large feet (think US men’s size 15 or bigger) also often order custom boots because they have a hard time getting shoes that fit in outdoor gear stores.
That said, custom boots are becoming more popular among hikers, especially as more people find that regular ol’ factory-made shoes just aren’t that comfortable. Some people also like that made-to-order boots are designed to last for decades, which can be a huge advantage over mass-produced shoes that tend to fall apart after a few seasons.
Custom Hiking Boot Pricing
Every cobbler has their own rate for custom boots, though you can reasonably expect to pay at least $700 to $800 for one-of-a-kind boots that are perfectly tailored to the size and shape of your feet.
Keep in mind that if you want to order truly custom hiking boots in the US, you pretty much have one choice: Peter Limmer & Sons in northern New Hampshire.
Limmer is one of the few companies in the US that produces fully custom-made boots that are specifically for hiking. The price of Limmer boots starts at around $750 and goes up from there depending on the specifics of what you order and the cost of materials at the time that your boot is made.
To be fair, there are a few other custom hiking boot makers in the US, like Baker’s and John Calden. But Baker’s doesn’t specialize in hiking boots and John Calden doesn’t produce as many shoes per year as Limmer.
Of course, if you want to save some cash, you can buy a pair of non-custom Limmer boots for about $500. However, if custom shoes for hiking are what you seek, be prepared to pay well over $700 for your boots.
How Long Does it Take to Make a Custom Pair of Boots?
The turn-around time on a custom pair of boots can vary widely depending on the type of boot you’re buying.
For a hiking boot, you can expect a master cobbler to put around 40 hours of work into a single pair. More decorative boots that have lots of patterns and design features, such as western or cowboy boots, can take upwards of 6 weeks or longer to produce.
Remember that the actual manufacturing time of a custom pair of hiking boots and the wait for your new boots are two very different things. It might only take a skilled cobbler 40 hours of work to make your boots, but that cobbler might have a long waiting list of customers.
At Limmer boots, for instance, the waiting time to have custom boots made is almost always at least 2 years, though it’s been up to 4 years in the past. You often have to pay a deposit well ahead of time to reserve your spot in line for custom boots at Limmer and with other cobblers. Only once you get closer to the front of their waitlist will a cobbler start to work on your custom boots.
How Much Should Good Hiking Boots Cost?
There’s no such thing as a universally good price for hiking boots because every pair is designed with a different kind of hiker in mind.
On average, you’ll probably spend around $150 to $250 on a quality pair of hiking boots, but that price can go up to $300 or even $400, especially if you opt for a full-leather model. For custom hiking boots, your out-of-pocket cost can easily exceed $700.
If those prices are out of your budget, don’t fret—there are cheaper hiking boots out there. You can find plenty of budget-friendly boots and shoes for trekking that retail at around $100 to $150. If you’re a good bargain hunter, you can sometimes find hiking boots on sale for less than $100, too.
Are Custom Hiking Boots Worth It?
Custom hiking boots are a dream come true for many trekkers, especially people who struggle to find other shoes that feel comfortable on their feet. Getting a pair of boots that’s purposefully tailored to the shape of your feet can be a game-changer, so it’s no wonder that many hikers prefer custom boots to ones that you can get in a store.
But there are some major downsides to custom boots, too. These shoes tend to be way more expensive than factory-made models and you often have to wait a really long time before they’re ready for the trail. So at the end of the day, you’re the only one who can decide if the wait and cost of custom boots are worth it for your comfort in the mountains.
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David is an accomplished mountain endurance athlete who has completed over 25 ultra marathon races (follow on Strava). He is most proud of his finish at The Drift 100 – a high elevation, 100 mile winter foot race that zigzags along the Continental Divide in Wyoming. In the future he hopes to compete in the ITI 350 and ultimately the full 1,000 mile Iditarod Trail Invitational that follows the same path as the historic dog sled race.