The best shoes for walking do not necessarily have to be in boot form. There are a number of benefits that walking in boots can bring but in some cases a walking shoe, or trail shoe – when the cut is below the ankle – can be the better option for the hike you’re planning.
Consider the nature of your trek and the type of terrain you’ll be crossing.
The main benefit of hiking in boots over shoes is that they bring superior stability, so if you’re walking over extremely uneven terrain, or if you have weak ankles, boots might be your best bet. Boots are also often the better option if you are hiking in deep snow or brush, or in bog, mud, sand or scree, and want to keep your feet clean, dry or free from any niggling debris.
The advantage that walking shoes or trail shoes have over boots tends to be their lighter weight. The average weight of a pair of walking shoes is around 750g whereas the average weight of a pair of boots is around 1200g, and carrying less on your feet can really make a difference over long distances, in the end meaning less exertion and more energy saved.
The Different Types of Walking Shoe
When it comes to the different types of walking shoes, at one end of the scale there are waterproof membrane-lined, strong and durable shoes that are essentially hiking boots without the ankle, then at the other end of the scale you have what might actually be specifically classed as a trail running shoe.
“Our selection of the best walking shoes on test here all range in weight and style. Some of them have waterproof linings and other don’t…”
It is not uncommon for hikers to opt for a non-waterproof, trail running shoe when the landscape isn’t too technical and/or when it’s dry and hot.
Somer hikers will even opt for a trail running-type shoe when the conditions are extremely wet and inevitable that moisture will enter the shoe at some point in a day. This is because once water gets into a membrane-lined shoe, it tends to linger there for a long time, whereas non-waterproof shoes will be able to drain easily and ultimately dry faster when the conditions improve.
What different types of walking shoe should all have in common, albeit to varying degrees, is their grip off-road. Shoes for hiking, like walking boots, need to offer good traction and should be able to give the wearer confidence that they will not slip.