I used to buy a new pair of cheap hiking shoes each season--lightweight ones that I never worried about ruining. But I noticed that each year I felt the soles we're wearing out too fast. I could feel every damn pebble on the trail after a while. That's no fun. So I bought a pair of Merrill's shoes a couple of years ago. I have a few hundred trail miles on them, and they are still going strong. If they last me one more year they will have been cheaper than the cheap shoes I was buying...and I don't feel any pebbles yet!