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Best walking and hiking shoes to buy in 2022

With so many walking shoes to choose from, finding the right pair for you can be a challenge. What are the best waterproof walking shoes? Are they supportive and comfortable? To help you out, we've reviewed some of the best hiking shoes on the market, from the traditional leather look to the lightweight and affordable.

Best walking and hiking shoes
Published: April 4th, 2022 at 10:00 am
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Walking shoes are a good alternative to hiking boots, especially in the summer months when traditional boots can feel hot and unnecessarily heavy. But with so many options to choose from, discovering the best walking and hiking shoe for you can seem a little overwhelming.

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You will almost certainly want your shoes to be comfortable and supportive, but there are other things to consider, too. Do you want lightweight walking shoes, or perhaps something a little sturdier? Are you looking for the best waterproof walking shoes for UK hiking? Or perhaps you're searching specifically for summer walking shoes – or winter hiking shoes?

Whether you’re searching for walking shoes for short weekend strolls, easy footpaths and dog walks, or the best hiking shoes for more challenging multi-day adventures, we're on hand to help. Our team of walking experts have put a selection of the best walking shoes available to the test. Looking for walking shoes for children specifically? That's covered in our guide to the best walking and hiking boots for kids.

Nordic walking hiking sport shoes in mountains
Choose the right shoe for your next adventure/Credit: Getty

The best walking shoes reviewed in 2022

Our experts reviewed the best walking and hiking shoes on the market, testing them for support, comfort, affordability, waterproofing, durability and style.

Keen Ridge Flex Low

Our top pick

A star rating of 4 out of 5.

Our verdict: A chunky trail-walking shoe that performs much better than it looks.

The first thing you notice about the Ridge Flex is the big bit of concertinaed plastic on the forefoot, just below the laces. This is the ‘bellow’ feature around which this innovative walking shoe has been designed. Keen’s theory is that most pieces of hiking footwear fail in this area because it’s constantly under stress while the foot inside attempts to bend, while walking up or down hills – which also causes the wearer discomfort and wastes loads of energy. To fix this, they have built in the bellows, which flex extremely easily when you’re walking up and down steep gradients. Keen claim to have tested it a million times on one boot without any sign of material fatigue. It works well on most terrain, but you wouldn’t want to wear these shoes on technical rock or via ferrata (choose an approach shoe for that sort of thing).

These heavy-duty (541g per shoe, men’s size 10.5) shoes are basically boots – similar to the Keen Targhee – with the ankle collars removed. They retain tyre-like soles, armed with 5mm-deep tread, and enormous toecaps – both signature features on Keen footwear. They’re also reliably weatherproof, thanks to Keen’s own breathable and waterproof membrane, and have an excellent heel-lock system, cleverly integrated to the laces for a really secure fit.

All this means they offer more protection, control and support than many other shoes, and they’re made with sustainable and ethical materials and methods. PK

Facts at a glance:

  • RRP: £145
  • Type: walking shoe
  • Weight: 541g per shoe (men’s size 10.5)
  • Outsole: Keen.All-Terrain rubber with 5mm lugs
  • Midsole: EVA
  • Upper: Leather
  • Waterproofing: KEEN.DRY waterproof, breathable membrane

Scarpa Mojito Trail GTX

A star rating of 3.5 out of 5.

Our verdict: Good-looking shoes fit for the mountains but equally at home on less challenging trails.

Scara Mojito trail GTX hiking shoe

A versatile approach-come-hiking shoe recently released by an Italian brand that specialises in footwear for alpine pursuits, the Mojito Trail marries handsome design with high functionality.

Approach shoes are thus called because climbers wear them while walking in to the base of whatever crag or peak they intend to scale, before switching to mountaineering boots or actual climbing shoes (which are extremely tight fitting, and pretty uncomfortable to wear for long periods). Often, however, approach shoes are worn for the entirety of a mountain hike or alpine adventure, especially if it involves scrambling over boulders, edging around rocky sections of trail or climbing sections of via ferrata.

The Mojito Trail is ideal for such escapades, with a reasonably rigid shank, excellent toe and heel protection, a long lace area for close control and a Vibram outsole with excellent grip. Although not especially flexible, they are comfortable and light enough (at 507g in a men’s size 10.5) to wear on much less technical trails and country paths, with decent levels of cushioning in the midsole thanks to a layer of EVA that extends heel to toe. With a Gore-Tex membrane beneath a smart suede upper, they are both waterproof and completely pub appropriate. PK

Facts at a glance:

  • RRP: £165
  • Type: approach shoe
  • Weight: 507 g per shoe (men’s size 10.5)
  • Outsole: Vibram
  • Midsole: EVA
  • Upper: Suede leather
  • Waterproofing: Gore-Tex

Adidas Terrex Swift R3 GTX

A star rating of 3.5 out of 5.

Our verdict: A hardcore technical trail shoe disguised as a pair of runners.

Belying their sporty appearance, the Swift R3 is tooled up go into battle with tough trails. The tyre-like Continental outsole is armed with a savage set of terrain-gripping 4.5mm lugs, smartly arranged to provide push off traction in the toe area and fine-control braking on the tapered heel, which has reverse chevrons.

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There’s a protection plate in the outsole too, to prevent punctures, and a meaty toecap and heel cup, plus a robust rand that encircles the shoe, extend the defences.

They look like a running shoe, but have the rigidity of an approach shoe, thanks to the chunky ‘pro-moderator’ feature in the midfoot, which is intended to add lateral stability and prevent arch fatigue on longer hikes. People will either find this level stiffness and protection useful (if they’re wearing the R3s to hike on technical rocky terrain), or somewhat restrictive (if they’re happier gallivanting around on gentler ground).

The EVA midsole does supply some cushioning, and at 444g per shoe (men’s 10.5) they’re in the midweight category, but the hardcore tech will be overkill for some users expecting a more forgiving ride with more trail feel. PK

Facts at a glance:

  • RRP: £130
  • Type: hiking shoe
  • Weight: 444 g (men’s size 10.5)
  • Outsole: Continental rubber with 4.5mm lugs
  • Midsole: EVA
  • Upper: Gore-Tex textile
  • Waterproofing: Gore-Tex membrane

Salewa Mountain Trainer 2 GTX

A star rating of 3.5 out of 5.

Our verdict: A technically advanced low-cut approach shoe made for high jinx in the mountains.

A classic approach shoe, the aptly named Mountain Trainer offers serious rigidity across its length. It also boasts solid 360-degree protection with a substantial toecap and full-cover rand, making it ideal for tackling technical trails, scrambling routes and edging around rocky outcrops, as well as kicking snow steps to ascend or descend icy slope.

Designed in Montebelluna in Italy, the epicentre of the world’s alpine footwear industry, it has a Gore-Tex lining, which – combined with a protective stretch gaiter beneath the laces to keep groundwater, rain and snow out – supplies superior waterproofing. An intricate climbing-style lacing system grasps your foot tight, and a Vibram outsole gives you great grip on rock and alpine terrain (it even has a special tread zone for clambering up via ferrata), with lugs that shed muck when you’re lower down.

Salewa’s signature 3F system integrates the shoe’s instep area with the sole and heel, providing extra support, and the PU midsole absorbs a lot of the shock of repeated footfall. Despite the deliberate stiffness of this shoe, it remains comfortable to wear, although it is heavy (566g per shoe, men’s size 10.5) and its principle benefits would be lost on more pedestrian paths outside the peaks. PK

Facts at a glance:

  • RRP: £175
  • Type: Approach shoe
  • Weight: 566 g per shoe (men’s size 10.5)
  • Outsole: Vibram
  • Midsole: PU
  • Upper: Suede leather
  • Waterproofing: Gore-Tex membrane

Columbia Facet 30 OutDry Shoe

A star rating of 3 out of 5.

Our verdict: Quirky looking hiking sneakers with in-built bounce.

These ‘hiking sneakers’ have a love-them-or-hate-them appearance, thanks to the angular cut of the mega chunky ‘Fluid Frame’ midsole. Looks are subjective, but the darker designs will obviously show mud much less (our test ones, with the white soles, looked filthy within seconds of hitting the trails, and stayed that way).

This is a lightweight walking shoe (under 400g per shoe, men’s size 10.5) made for moving fast along the path. With the quicklace system they’re even speedy to put on (although, with limited eyelets you can’t pull them as tight as others on test). Despite its lightness, the shoe has lots of padding, including a fairly meaty collar that cradles your lower ankle, providing good support, and there’s a protective rand around the heel and toe area.

Belying its spongy appearance, the Balistic textile OutDry upper is both breathable and waterproof. There’s plenty of bounce in the maximist midsole, which puts an inch on your height, and the heel has a stabiliser to bestow extra confidence.

The outsole has multiple grippy lugs, but they’re so densely arranged they collect mud in gloopy conditions. These are better suited (aesthetically and technically) for wearing on drier, well-maintained paths and urban trails. PK

Facts at a glance:

  • RRP: £125
  • Type: 'Hiking sneaker'
  • Weight: 400g per shoe, men’s size 10.5
  • Outsole: Omni-Grip rubber
  • Midsole: Techlite
  • Upper: Textile
  • Waterproofing: OutDry

Berghaus men’s Explorer FT Active / women’s Expanse FT Active

A star rating of 4 out of 5.

Our verdict: A tidy hiking shoe that quietly delivers on all its promises.

A consummately practical brand, we find Berghaus gear to be consistently reliable rather than flashy or gimmicky, and so it is with these classic walking shoes, which deliver lots in terms of performance and functionality, even if they don’t look super exciting.

They’re actually deceptively loaded with top-level tech, from the waterproof and breathable Gore-Tex lined upper, through the comfortable OrthoLite Multisport footbeds to the Vibram Opti-stud sole, which has forward-facing chevrons at the front for traction, and reversed lugs on the heel to supply maximum control when you are descending steep and tricky terrain.

Protection from sharp sticks and stones comes from the toecap and the rubber rand that extends right around the shoe, and they have an extra lace hole in case you encounter deep mud.

They are a versatile walking shoe, where the degree of flex has been nicely balanced with the level of support they offer. A durable, middle-weight contender (440g per men’s shoe, size 10.5) that sits comfortably in the sweet spot between hiking boot and trail running shoe, you can intermittently trot along in these shoes if the urge takes you, but they don’t make you feel like you should be rushing. PK

Facts at a glance:

  • RRP: £115
  • Type: Hiking shoe
  • Weight: 440g per men’s shoe, size 10.5
  • Outsole: Vibram Opti-stud
  • Midsole: Gore-Tex Extended Comfort Fabric Lining
  • Upper: PU synthetic Nubuck and 3D mesh
  • Waterproofing: Gore-Tex lining

Salomon Outline Prism GTX

A star rating of 3.5 out of 5.

Our verdict: Super sleek shoes for those who want to travel light and complete trails fast.

Coming from Salomon, a fleet-footed French brand that produces high-performing running shoes and apparel, it’s no surprise that the Prism is among the lightest and most athletic waterproof walking shoes in this test.

Weighing in at just 360g per shoe (men’s 10.5), the agile design is perfect for people who want to move fast along the trails – in fact, they feel very much like running shoes, especially as the drop between heel and toe is just 9mm.

They’re flexible, highly breathable and waterproof, with a Gore-Tex membrane sitting below a synthetic mesh outer, and a good level of grip is supplied by fairly aggressive lugs, which are well spaced out across the Contagrip sole to prevent the build up of mud.

There is a substantial toecap in the Prism, and a protective mudguard wraps around the bottom of the shoe to shield the lateral and medial sides of your feet.

Like many Salomon shoes, these are styled quite narrow, so if you have broad feet or bunions, you might find the fit a little tight. The light and breezy feel of these shoes should encourage you to get out more, but we suspect they won’t last quite as long as some other more robust shoes on test. PK

Facts at a glance:

  • RRP: £120
  • Weight: 360g per shoe (men’s size 10.5)
  • Type: Lightweight hike shoe – resembles a trail running shoe
  • Outsole: Rubber
  • Midsole: EnergyCell EVA foam
  • Upper: Synthetic mesh
  • Waterproofing: Gore-Tex membrane

Jack Wolfskin Force Striker Texapore shoes

A star rating of 4 out of 5.

Our verdict: grippy, breathable and waterproof, this shoe gives you confidence even on rough terrain.

Force Striker shoe

This sturdy-looking shoe is great for most terrains. The Vibram Megagrip outsole provides grip and good stability on most surfaces, including rocky pathways.

A waterproof membrane (made of Texapore O2 fabric) keeps your foot dry, while breathable textile uppers allow in cool air. Toughened rubber around the toe and heel protects your feet well on rugged ground, and keeps water out as you splash through shallow puddles. This substantial protection adds a little weight to the Force Striker at 690g (the men’s version weighs about 800g), but this is still one of the lighter shoes on test. The wide fitting gives your toes wiggle room, and a comfortable EVA midsole keeps feet well-cushioned. HC

Facts at a glance:

  • RRP: £130
  • Uppers: Textile and rubber
  • Outsole: Vibram Megagrip rubber
  • Fitting: Wide
  • Waterproofing: Texapore O2 membrane
  • Weight: 690g (size 4; men’s 830g – size 8)

Berghaus Fellmaster Active GTX

A star rating of 4 out of 5.

Our verdict: a stylish walking shoe with a carefully judged balance of comfort, protection and weight.

Berghaus Fellmaster shoe

A lightweight, cushioned walking shoe that quickly moulds to the feet and feels comfortable from the off. Toe and heel caps offer robust protection on rough paths and rocky terrain and the grippy Vibram sole is reassuring in wet weather. Despite these enhancements, the overall weight barely registers, which meant I still had a spring in my step after a full day’s walking. The OrthoLite inner sole offers proven, long-lasting cushioning and – combined with well-made Nubuck uppers – should last years without a serious drop in performance. The sole also claims to wick away foot moisture and thus combat unpleasant foot odours. Coupled with fully breathable uppers, this should be a particular bonus. With all the hot weather, this has been about 90% effective but I wouldn’t want to get the shoe wet inside.

Thanks to the Gore-Tex membrane, the waterproofing is sound but these are shoes for spring and summer walks and would be overwhelmed in a downpour and puddles deeper than 4cm. Even long, dewy grass wet my feet when moisture came over the side of the shoe.

Some may not be thrilled with the subdued grey I tested (the more vibrant brown is shown above) but I liked this serious, classy look, particularly when wildlife watching. Post adventure, they’d be perfectly at home resting under a table in a pub or café. FC

Facts at a glance:

  • RRP: £125
  • Uppers: Nubuck and Gore-Tex
  • Outsole: Opti-stud Vibram sole
  • Waterproofing: Fully waterproof and breathable Gore-Tex
  • Fit: Standard. If you have narrow feet, thick walking socks may be all you need for a snug fit.
  • Weight: 874g, size 9; women’s (Kanga) 752g, size 6
  • Eco: OthoLite inner sole made from partially recycled material

La Sportiva TX5 Low GTX

A star rating of 3 out of 5.

Our verdict: handsome, durable, supremely solid; slightly cumbersome.

La Sportiva TX5 Low GTX

This heavy-duty shoe instantly brings to mind a cut-down hiking boot; and in fact there is a full-height version, which should appeal to backpackers who love mountain treks.

Both formats seem alike from the ankle down: they are extremely well protected, with a chunky heel, a substantial rubber toecap and a beefy rand – the bumper around the bottom of the shoe. This and the lacing system – basically, laces that go most of the way down to the toe – are inspired by climbing shoes. The result is a pair of shoes that can take some serious punishment in rugged, rocky environments – and look as if they should last for years.

The necessary consequence though is that they feel a little hefty … oddly heavier than other shoes of similar weight, which probably has something to do with the distribution of the weight on the foot. On a low-cut shoe, that chunky heel in particular seems a bit out of proportion. This, combined with a the stiff outsole, would no doubt not be an issue on a full-height boot, but on a shoe, the effect is a bit cumbersome. I had to lace them very tightly to keep my heel from slipping.

Despite the shortcomings I have a soft spot for them. They seem likely appear to be very durable. And I do like the way they look. I’m just think that some hikers will find them a little hard work. JP

Facts at a glance:

  • RRP: euro 196.90
  • Uppers: Leather
  • Outsole: Vibram Megagrip
  • Waterproofing: Gore-Tex Extended Comfort lining
  • Fit: Regular
  • Weight: 1100g (men's, size 11.5; women's 760g)

Aku Bellamont III Plus shoes

A star rating of 4 out of 5.

Our verdict: hard-wearing, handsome, low-profile versatile shoes for short to medium length walks on easy to moderate terrain.

Brown walking shoes

The Bellamont III's soft leather uppers mellow with age and repeated waxingIf you are looking for a shoe you can wear on hills and dog walks as well as the high street, pub and work, the Bellemont II Plus is an excellent option.

Aku is based in Montebelluna, just south of the Dolomites National Park in Italy, and sure enough you can imagine these shoes being perfectly suited to the hot, hard trails of Alpine valleys and ridges in summer.

The overall impression is somewhere between a trainer and a climbing shoe, with a lower profile and narrower stance than for example the La Sportiva shoes also on test. They are more stylish than they look – photos don't flatter them somehow.

They are super-comfortable – a good fit on low-volume feet like mine – with fairly well-cushioned EVA midsoles, and the Vibram Predator II outsoles are grippy.

While the leather uppers are soft, my feet felt well protected. The uppers are very water resistant if kept waxed and ready for rain, but this shoe has no waterproof membrane, so if you get into a long stomp wet weather, expect to get damp feet eventually. That said, the lack of a waterproof membrane makes them less sweaty on hot days.

If I was hiking more than around five miles, or over rough ground, I would probably opt for something a bit more stable, but if you are in the habit impromptu walks and wanders, and want something that can step up to something moderately demanding when needed, they are ideal.

They are probably one of the most sustainable shoe choices in this selection, boasting uppers made with a chrome-free tanning process, and are lined with Zero Impact leather, tanned without the use of heavy metals, and for which a tree-planting programme is designed to offset the carbon released in production.

Incidentally Aku supplies the shoe with alternative laces in a burnt-orange colour which I think is much better-looking than the oatmeal colour of the ones in the picture above. JP

Facts at a glance:

  • RRP: £209.90
  • Uppers: Chrome-free Nubuck
  • Outsole: Vibram Predator II
  • Fitting: Regular to narrow; suits low-volume feet
  • Weight: 940g

Keen Women’s Terradora II Low waterproof hiking trainers

A star rating of 4 out of 5.

Our verdict: a good shoe for dry-weather walks on gentle terrain.

KEEN Terradora

These super-lightweight shoes for women feel more like sports footwear than hiking shoes. They have good flexibility and I found them extremely comfortable. Arch support is good, and my heel felt secure, without any movement.

The mesh uppers combine with the Keen Dry membrane to keep your feet breathing on warm days. In wet weather, the membrane is shower proof – but won’t keep moisture out for long – so keep clear of puddles.

The outsole is sturdy and the 4mm lugs provide decent grip on undemanding terrain. I wouldn’t recommend them for scrambling over loose rocks, though, where the grip doesn’t feel strong enough.

Protection is pretty minimal to keep the shoe light but there is some rubber to protect you from stubbing your toes. The fabric colours are attractive and have an interesting design which stands out from the standard hiking shoe choices. HC

Facts at a glance:

  • RRP: £114.99
  • Uppers: Synthetic mesh
  • Outsole: Keen All-terrain rubber with 4mm lugs
  • Fitting: Regular
  • Waterproofing: Keen Dry waterproof membrane
  • Weight: 629g

Hoka One Sky Toa Gore-Tex

A star rating of 5 out of 5.

Our verdict: outstanding comfortable and lightweight boots for strollers, speed-walkers serious hikers alike.

Sky To a GTX shoe
The Sky Toa adds a low-profile ankle cuff for support, but remains lightweight

I’ve broken a rule to allow in a shoe with some ankle protection…. but I thought it was worth including this supremely comfortable and well-balanced shoe... OK, a boot, albeit a low-profile one.

That ankle collar is relatively low but feels supportive, protecting your ankle from twists and sprains on lumpy ground – a bonus if you like to walk with a heavy pack.

Despite the extra storey, the Sky Toa remains very light at well under a kilo for the pair. The fabric uppers are breathable and the shoes feel pleasant in warm weather. All good news if you like to move fast.

A rubberized foam midsole cushions your feet well, feeling comfortable even after miles of pounding the trail, but doesn’t overdo it: the shoe still feels responsive. And thanks to the Vibram Mega-Grip outsoles, I felt remarkably sure-footed over wet and uneven ground.

In spring or summer walks on rugged hills or coast paths, these would be superb. And they are more than capable of dealing with most winter conditions – the waterproofing is a big improvement on previous generations of Hoka shoes, thanks no doubt to the Gore-Tex membranes introduced in 2019. JP

Facts at a glance:

  • RRP: £160
  • Uppers: Breathable, synthetic
  • Outsole: Vibram Megagrip outsole lugs
  • Waterproofing: Gore-Tex membrane
  • Fit: Regular to wide
  • Weight: 856g (men's pair), 718g (women's)

Hanwag Belorado II Low Lady GTX

A star rating of 3 out of 5.

Our verdict: good for gentle terrain.

Hanwag BELORADO Lady
Hanwag's Belorado Lady shoes were comfortable and waterproof, but not always grippy

I tested these during the lockdown during local walks along canals, country tracks, grassland and gravel roads, and found the lightweight feel was perfect for gentle terrain.

The shoe has a fairly shallow tread which is good for level surfaces, but not so effective on areas of loose stone, where they were prone to slip.

They offer decent support, and a durable rubber cap protects the toe. The suede and fabric mix over the rest over the shoe gives it a smart appearance. The waterproof Gore-Tex lining provides good, breathable comfort when wearing. Although, of course, all low-cut shoes are prone to shipping water over the sides, for example when walking through wet grass.

If you have wide feet, you may find the fit a little narrow (though note that a special version is available for people with bunions). HC.

Facts at a glance:

  • RRP: £179.95
  • Uppers: Textile and suede
  • Outsole: Hanwag Multifilm Light
  • Fitting: Standard
  • Waterproofing: Gore-Tex membrane
  • Weight: 710g (men's 870g)
  • Note: Also available in a special version designed to fit feet with bunions.

Altberg Jorvik Trail

A star rating of 4 out of 5.

Our verdict: traditional, durable and comfortable, a good choice for low-level walking in spring and summer.

Altberg Jorvik Trail shoe

The Jorvik Trail is made of a single piece of leather – with fewer seams, the uppers are stronger and less likely to spring a leakWhen I imagine the classic summer walking shoe, I think simple, low-cut and leather. Fitting this vision is the Jorvik Trail, a no-fuss shoe designed and made by Altberg for walking on lower-level footpaths.

Like most of the Yorkshire bootmaker’s footwear, the Jorvik Trail is made from one piece of leather with minimal seams and stitch lines, resulting in a clean, traditional look, and more importantly a shoe that will last.

They are low cut, making them lighter than your average Altberg, and they keep your feet a bit cooler than a full-height boot.

They are of course more susceptible to water leaking in from the top – so not ideal for harsh weather or boggy ground. On tough mountain trails, or when you are carrying a heavy pack, you might prefer a higher boot to support your ankle and protect it from going over.

Even so, the chunky soles can cope with some pretty rugged surfaces, making these shoes a tough and reliable option for dry-weather walks along coast paths and hill paths, provided all you have on your back is a light daypack. The Vibram sole, made from shock-absorbing rubber, has well-defined lugs, which I found to hold well on most terrains, including mud, rock and grass.

The SFit last (‘last’ refers to the shape inside the shoe) has a little less volume with a lower instep than Alberg’s AForme last, with good toe depth and a curved heel. Given the relatively close-fitting nature of the shoe, it’s best to wear them with thin socks.

The supple water-repellent upper, with its waterproof membrane interlayer, is far more forgiving than first impressions suggest, soon loosening to complement the shape of your foot. DG

Facts at a glance:

  • RRP: £184.99
  • Uppers: 1.8mm Nida Hydro full grain soft supple leather
  • Outsole: Vibram Masai, rubber
  • Waterproofing: Soft, supple water-repellent leather. The four-layer lining includes a waterproof membrane.
  • Fit: The SFit last (footshape) is asymmetrical with good toe depth and slightly curved heel, made specifically for shoes. Sizes range from 4 to 14 UK.
  • Weight: 1.198kg (pair).
  • Eco: Resoleable; and Altberg offer repairs. Made to last.

Buyer's guide to walking shoes

Walking shoes or walking boots?

For some it’s an iron law of hiking that on country walks you should wear boots with high sides.

That’s mainly because boots provide ankle support – protecting you from turning or twisting your ankle on rough ground. If you plan to carry a heavy pack, the extra protection might be particularly valuable.

But fans of walking shoes point out that the elaborate architecture of hiking boots is not essential for most walkers. Boots are bulky and weighty. Shoes, obviously, are lighter. If you are not planning to schlep up rocky tracks, or down steep slopes, or to hoik a heavy load around, heavy hiking boots might be unnecessary.

Even on long and technically tricky trails, a good pair of shoes may provide the grip and stability you need. They are inevitably more responsive-feeling than boots, which tend to lock your ankles into position, restricting movement. Shoes are undeniably cooler, too: the low sides allow more air in to hot soothe hot feet. Of course that’s great on warm, dry days.

Boot fans retort that boots are far better at coping with wet conditions. The ankle cuffs built into boots help keep water out, and can be worn with gaiters too.

In contrast, a rainy walk in shoes – through deep puddles or wet grass, for example – will soak your feet, even if your shoes are meant to be waterproof – as the water will come in over the side.

A really persistent champion of shoes will retort that you can solve this by problem simply by wearing waterproof socks.


What to look for in hiking and walking shoes

How to choose the best walking shoes for you, that's the question.

When you're trying to find the best walking shoe for you, it's worth asking yourself a few questions: Do you want traditional leather shoes, or something more lightweight, technical and modern? Do you want your shoes to be waterproof, or is breathability more important? When are you likely to wear your shoes – for light walks in the summer months, or all year round, regardless of the weather?

Once you've addressed all these questions, research shoes online using articles such as this one, or visit a walking shoe retailer. Ultimately, the very best tip for choosing the right shoe for you is to try them on. If they aren't comfortable straight away – too small, too narrow, too heavy, or you don't like the look of them – the chances are they aren't for you. Shoes can be expensive, so it's worth trying on another pair until you find The One.

If you're looking to upgrade your hiking kit, why not check out our other review pages, including the best walking trousers, the best walking gloves, the best lightweight waterproof jackets or the best wellington boots.


Reviews by...

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Pat Kinsella (PK), Hilary Clothier (HC), Fergus Collins (FC), Daniel Graham (DG), Joe Pontin (JP)

Authors

Daniel Graham of COuntryfile magazine on a hike with wet hair and blue coat and hills in background
Daniel GrahamSection editor, BBC Countryfile Magazine

Danny is the Section Editor of BBC Countryfile Magazine, responsible for commissioning, editing and writing articles that offer ideas and inspiration for exploring the UK countryside.

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