The best shoes for walking do not necessarily have to be in boot form. There are a number of benefits that walking 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 are planning.
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 option. Boots are also often the better choice 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.
Our selection of the best walking shoes on test here all range in weight and style. Some of them have waterproof linings and others don’t, and while some of them are made specifically for walking in, there are also some that will have been primarily designed with runners in mind but that will still suit a ‘fast & light’ hiker.
As editor of this site for the past six years, I’ve not only had my finger right on the pulse of the latest outdoor gear news on a daily basis, but I’ve also spent a lot of time out testing products, whether that’s specifically for work or as part of my hobby. I do a lot of long distance hiking and am proud to say I’m a trustee for the Cambrian Way hiking trail and a former president of the Ramblers in Wales. I’m also been on the awards juries for the likes of ISPO, the Outdoor Industries Association and the Scandinavian Outdoor Award.
The Selection Process
I’ve tested the majority of the products in this round up myself. This has mainly been during our Outdoor 100 and Green Gear Guide test trips to places like Snowdonia, the Scottish Highlands and even further afield (we went to Albania last year!) At the very least, I’ve spent a day in the shoes and at the most, I’ve hiked hundreds of miles on a long-distance trail. The boots I haven’t tested myself (usually the women’s models) will have been trialled by one of the members of our Outdoors Magic Test Team who will then have given me their feedback – and I still will have had the products in my hands to ensure the quality is there.