Although it might seem simple enough to buy a pair of walking shoes, there’s a lot of choice out there, so finding your ideal pair isn’t necessarily straightforward. It’s important then to consider what you need from your shoes. Here are a few factors to consider:
- The type of terrain you’ll be walking in — city streets, unpaved flat paths, rocking trails.
- The climate — do you need your shoe to be waterproof, or have traction for slippery conditions?
- Your foot’s individual needs — do you need a wide shoe? One with extra ankle support?
If you’ll mostly be walking on gentle countryside tracks or carefully-groomed forest trails then an all-round walking shoe like the Adidas Terrex AX4 will suit you well. Those of you looking for a speedier hike will appreciate the support and cushioning from more trail running-focused models like the Allbirds Trailer Runner SWT or New Balance Fresh Foam Hierro.
If you’re planning on hitting more rocky or loose terrain then it’s worth considering whether a shoe is right for you — the additional ankle support of a boot could give you a more steady-footing and put you less at risk of falling. A happy medium could be a mid-height shoe like the Columbia Facet 60 or Salewa Dropline Mid, which are essentially still shose, but with a bit more ankle support.
If you’re likely to be hiking in wet conditions then look out for either Gore-Tex linings, or other ‘own-brand’ waterproof linings that the manufacturer might use. Keep in mind that “waterproof” in boots rarely means ‘submersible’ so don’t expect to stand in a river all day doing some fishing, expecting to keep the water out.
Finally, make sure you have the right fit. While most shoes are built to fit a ‘standard’ shoe shape, if you’ve got a particularly wide foot and struggled to find shoes to fit then look out for models that offer wider sizing. Most manufacturers tend to offer sizing guidance (“Fits true to size” or “Fits small”) on their websites, so keep that in mind when considering the fit.