First, decide if you are a "boot person" or not. I prefer low-cut light hikers. Being a small person I find any boot too heavy and "beefy" for my needs. Combat boots are designed for relatively big guys who carry heavy loads; if that matches your needs, great! Military boots definitely have to work and they certainly have been well tested.
Lucky are those who have feet that fall within the range of both men and women's sizes, as well as combat boot sizes, and who have average volume feet and standard toe shape. Those of us at either end of sizes or with an odd foot shape have less choices. Even so, for most backpackers there are several brands and types of shoes that are comfortable so it is good to try out different shoes now and then.
Unfortunately, true comfort is only known after you walk the miles. I have had shoes that were perfect out of the box, but ended up horribly uncomfortable at the end of a 10 day trip! Less expensive shoes often come with inadequate (short lasting) insoles, and switching them out for a new one (such as Superfeet) is all that is needed.
Comfort is non-negotiable but other features can be evaluated on a benefit/cost basis. For example, I am willing to sacrifice longevity if costs are similar. If I have to replace $75 shoes every year, so be it. A $150 shoe may last two years, but then the cost is the same and you end up spending more time in a shoe (particularly the sole) long past its peak performance. Also, if you only do one or two trips a year, a boot that is supposed to last 2000 miles, may simply deteriorate in your closet well before you put on those 2000 miles.
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- Wandering Daisy
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