In this article we are going to be taking a look at the best walking shoes available in the UK.
Walking is one of the best forms of exercise going for anybody looking to improve or maintain their overall health, wellbeing and cardiovascular capability. Half an hour of walking per day represents a very manageable way of increasing cardiovascular fitness, improving bone strength, reducing excess bodyfat levels and improving muscular endurance.
In addition, it is a great way to boost feelings of wellness and improving mental health. It has been linked to greater positivity, decreased incidents and severity of depression, lower stress levels and improved mindfulness, all of which can lead to overall long term enhanced wellbeing.
Walking has also been linked to a reduced risk of developing certain chronic conditions, such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, osteoporosis and some forms of cancer.
For these benefits alone, walking should form a cornerstone of any healthy, active lifestyle. However, it is also a superior form of exercise compared to many other, more vigorous styles for a few reasons. Mostly, these boil down to accessibility. You can go for a walk with minimal equipment (though, as we will see, appropriate footwear is something of a must!) It is low impact, can be done anytime, anywhere (though sunny daytime walks in pretty parks may be preferred for obvious reasons) and it takes no specialist knowledge, instruction or training.
Because it is low impact and easy to regulate in terms of intensity, walking is perfect for anybody who is overweight and looking to slim down, for the elderly, whose joints may not be able to deal with larger stimuli, and for those who are just getting into – or back into – exercise.
It is low cost, effective, and brings a great many rich rewards. However, walking’s positives can be somewhat undercut by the wrong footwear – the only investment you will really need to make, besides time.
The wrong type of footwear can bring a great many discomforts and injuries, ranging from blisters, cramp and shin splints all the way to soft tissue or metatarsal damage. You should always ensure that your shoes are comfortable, have appropriate arch and heel support, and don’t pinch or rub.
Beyond this, there are certain types of shoes that are best for walking – that are designed for walking. Investing in a good pair of walking shoes or trail shoes will help you to avoid any nasty side effects of consistent walking, whilst keeping your pace light and easy.
Walking shoes will be different to walking boots. They are lighter and are cut off below the ankle. This means that they offer less support. If you have weak or injured ankles, or habitually walk over uneven or rocky ground, boots may be the better option. They are also often a lot more weatherproof – or, rather, terrain proof. Hikes in bogs, mud, sand, deep snow or scree will probably be made more comfortable with boots. Your feet will stay cleaner and drier.
However, walking shoes have their own distinct advantages over walking boots. Their light weight is a plus, in most cases. They will average around half a kilo less than boots, meaning that you don’t have to clomp around dragging your feet. They also give you greater sensation a lot of the time, making you more nimble and agile. If conditions allow and if you have no need to be overly protective over your ankles, they are the better choice.
What Are The Different Types of Walking Shoe?
Whilst you can separate walking shoes into different types and categories – and manufacturers undoubtedly have dozens of them – in practical terms, it makes more sense to talk of walking shoes in terms of a continuum or spectrum.
At one end of the spectrum, you have incredibly strong, durable, membrane-lined waterproof shoes that don’t have much give but will keep your feet stable and dry. They are more akin to walking boots – they simply cut off before the ankle rather than above. These are probably the best reconciliation going between the sturdiness of boots and comfort and usability of shoes.
At the other end of the spectrum, you have incredibly lightweight trail running shoes. They allow for a lot of manoeuvrability, a lot of gripping power from your feet’s natural flexibility, and can be fantastic for those looking for a more athletic walk, jog or run. There is a much smaller burden involved with them and much more control.
And, of course, you have everything in-between. As I said, it’s a continuum.
Nor do your needs need to be too definitive. If you like hiking rather than running, and often take long walks in the rain and adverse conditions, you may still prefer trail shoes. You’re likely to get wet feet at some point, anyway, so you may as well limit the weight on your feet and retain some athletic agility. These kinds of trail shoes will also serve you when it’s hot and dry, keeping you cool and comfortable, so you could see it as a win-win.
If you like to feel supported and aren’t overly bothered by weight or heat, on the other hand, sturdy walking shoes could be better. They could be more comfortable and could keep you safer in the long run.
There are a few main things that all types of walking shoe should hold in common. They should have good grip, especially off-road. You should be able to walk on the ice, in mud, on shingle, and worse, confident that you’ll remain upright with a good stride. They should also have some degree of heel and arch support and should at least be water resistant.
We have a full range of the best walking shoes in our list below.
7 Of The Best Walking Shoes Tried & Tested
The following seven sets of outdoor walking shoes are amongst the best on today’s market.
We have a range of prices included, from a couple of hundred pounds all the way down to around fifty (though, of course, without ever sacrificing quality!) They are all well-supported, all with good grip, all well made, all comfortable, and all good value for money. They will give you what you need, year after year, mile after mile.
Danner Men’s Trail 2650
US made Danner Men’s Trail 2650s are perfect for long-distance hiking and lightweight backpacking. In fact, they are named for the 2650 miles of the Pacific Crest Trail, which gives you an idea of what they’re for – think long, long distance!
They are light, very comfortable and pretty stylish looking (not always guaranteed with walking shoes). Danner have designed them with long distance walkers in mind, and, as such, they have incredible padding through the sole. There are layers of varying density in the sole, including EVA foam and a removable ortholite insole, meaning that you should stay comfortable no matter how many miles you tread.
Danner’s heel support – what they refer to as their EXO Heel System – also works very well. They will both cushion and secure your heel, so that it won’t slide about and won’t suffer too much impact as you walk.
Danner Trail 2650s also come equipped with a Vibram Megagrip sole, meaning that adverse conditions shouldn’t be too much of an issue. It incorporates multi-directional lugs for a bit of extra grip on dusty or slippery routes. You should be able to confidently wear them in most conditions without fear of going over or losing momentum.
You can order 2650s in women’s versions, with EVA footbeds, with waterproofing options, with mesh lining, and with an 8mm heel-toe drop. Whatever you’re looking for, they should have you covered.
They are not the cheapest item on this list, but neither are they too ruinous, and they represent a fantastic investment for serious walkers.
Adidas Terrex Free Hikers
Adidas’ Terrex Free Hikers are amongst the most expensive shoes on this list, with a pair giving you very little change from a couple of hundred pounds. However, they are also some of the smartest shoes.
First off, they are very lightweight. However, this isn’t because they are skimpy. They are incredibly well cushioned. In fact, they feature Adidas’ trademark running technology – Boost. Boost is a foam-based midsole that offers a good amount of cushioning with a springy feeling while you walk, without being bulky or weighty at all. This level of comfort will keep you comfortable as you travel through the miles. This level of shock absorption will keep you safe, giving your ankles, knees and hips a much better shot at longevity.
You also get a Continental rubber outsole with 5mm lugs. These add to the comfort and shock absorption whilst making them feel more like a running shoe. If you tend to jog or run your trails as well as going hiking, the Terrex Free Hikers will make for a good catch-all – between the weight and the shock absorption, you will feel in control and incredibly fleet footed.
You can get them for both men and women, with sizes ranging from 5-14, and the Terrex Free Hikers come with addition of a Primeknit upper with abrasion-resistant weldings and a heel cap for stability.
They are about the best reconciliation between sturdy support and lightweight nimbleness that can be found.
Black Diamond Technician Approach Shoes
They are also very lightweight.
However, they are an incredibly serious, well-designed, well-made set of shoes, ideal for scrambling and climbing. If you like to go off road with your hiking, they are worth looking into. They are good for precise edging, with a toe bumper shaped to give a clear line of sight for precise foot placement, without being so specialised that you can’t use them for anything else – they will also offer great underfoot protection for scrambling, as well as decent enough cushioning for walking on rockier routes.
The Technician Approach owe their lightweight nature to its thin upper, which is made from what Black Diamond call EnduraKnit. This is durable and hard-wearing, and will give you decent protection as you climb, but is incredibly thin and light. You also get a solid toe bumper and PU strap to keep you safe and to lend these shoes a decent amount of longevity.
Don’t go for these if you like to run marathons or walk for days on end. Get them if you like it rough. If your routes tend to include a lot of climbing and scrambling, a lot of hopping from rock to rock, and/or a lot of tougher, jagged surfaces and steep inclines, these are the ones for you.
You can get them for both men and women, sizes 3-13, they come with a single piece EnduroKint upp, BlackLabel-Mountain rubber outsole, hard wearing rubber toe protection, EVA midsole for stiffness and comfort, and a lightweight, moulded TPU midfoot strap and lace lock.
You’ll be able to climb any mountain in them.
Mountain Warehouse Voyage Mens Waterproof Shoes
Mountain Warehouse are known for good products at reasonable prices. This is certainly what you get with their Voyage Men’s Waterproof Shoes. They come in at around half the average price of the items on this list and can stand toe to toe (pun intended) with any one of them.
They are super cheap for what you get.
A suede upper with an IsoDry membrane, flexible rubber outsole and comfortable EVA midsole make for a fantastic amount of cushioning and a long-lasting finish. It also makes them perfect wet weather shoes. I live and hike in Scotland – trust me, weather proofing for even more reasonably priced shoes is very much appreciated.
The IsoDry membrane allows your feet to breathe whilst keeping them dry and the EVA midsole provides extra comfort and cushioning. The impact of step after step, mile after mile, is not easily felt in these. Your knees and hips will thank you at the ten mile mark.
Their rubber insole is flexible whilst being good and grippy, which makes off-roading with the Voyages easy and fun. Most terrain types are easily navigated with them.
These shoes are not made to the same standard as some of the other offerings on this list. They are not made from the same kinds of advanced materials that can be found on some of the pricier models, and they are not so cleverly designed. However, they are well-made, sturdy, comfortable and waterproof. They are a very good pair of shoes that will serve you well whilst keeping your wallet happy.
Merrell Men’s Moab 2 Vent Low Rise Hiking Boots
Merrel’s Men’s Moab 2 hiking boots are pretty tremendous and will give you a decent amount of change from a hundred pounds. They sort of smashed it out the park with their original Moab shoes and have carried this on with the mark 2.
They will take a lot of wear and tear. If you use them, you will not. They are not very athletic, but that’s what they’re designed for. They are designed to give you mile after mile without wearing out and without you getting overly fatigued or injured in any way. They do so incredibly well.
The Moab 2s have a nice, wide base. They are incredibly comfortable, no matter how long you wear them or how far you walk. You get a cushioned collar and tongue, a very supportive footbed, and, despite the support, you will still find enough flexibility to maintain control and agility, even straight out of the box. They also breathe well, despite being on the clunkier side, so you can wear them in hot weather without worrying.
The Moab 2s have a more refined insole than their older brothers. They come with decent arch support and a moulded heel cup with extra padding and an air cushion that keeps the backs of your feet and Achilles’ tendons safe and holds them in place.
If you tend to go on longer, tougher walks, these are the ones for you. You can throw pretty much anything at them and survive to tell the tail.
The boots themselves are made from suede leather with mesh uppers, textile inners and gum rubber soles. They lace up, with a decent tongue that keeps out dust and rocks and a protective toe cap. They look and feel solid. They look and sound unrefined and old school, but don’t let this fool you. Moab 2s are amongst the most well-designed walking shoes going.
Columbia Men’s Woodburn II Waterproof Shoes
Columbia Men’s Woodburn II Waterproof Shoes do not look like walking shoes. In fact, they look more like trainers or sneakers, like you would wear them for a kick about at the park rather than on a serious long-haul hike.
However, they use some pretty interesting materials that allow them to perform incredibly well on rough, rural terrain, all whilst keeping you comfortable, looking pretty snazzy and withstanding quite a lot of longer-term punishment.
The deception comes courtesy of a hidden element within the shoes – a bootie the shoe that is an Omni-tech membrane that provides both breathability and waterproofing. It changes them from run-of-the-mill trainers to epic hiking shoes. They will keep you cool in the heat and warm in the cold, dry at all times, and comfortable throughout. In addition, the midsole is very well cushioned, meaning that the bottoms of your feet won’t bruise or suffer any kind of adverse impact on a long walk.
The leather uppers are also very lightweight whilst being pretty durable, further adding to the comfort and allowing you to perform for longer without overheating.
The outsole is strong and grippy, able to cope with most bad conditions and rough terrain routes. Though the low rise makes them less than ideal for harsher conditions, this is countered by the increased agility afforded by this kind of shoe – this is on display throughout the list, but seems somehow more pronounced with the Columbia Men’s Woodburn II Waterproof Shoes.
However, if you’re looking for something that performs like a walking shoe without looking like one, look no further. This is the one for you.
Karrimor Supa 5 Trekking & Hiking Shoes
Karrimor are another company known for their reasonable prices and well-made products. Their Supa 5 Trekking and Hiking Shoes deliver on this. Karrimor are also known for combining comfort, style and practicality. Once more, the Supa 5s deliver.
In the Supa 5, Karrimor have created an affordable hiking shoe that is incredibly well suited to any kind of outdoor activity – they will serve you well doing most things outdoors. They will also work well at the purpose for which they were always intended, giving you a comfortable, well-padded, firm tread as you pass the miles on a trek or hike.
They aren’t all economical simplicity, either. You get a suede and mesh shoe that features 3D moulded toe protection, a wicking mesh lining and dynagrip outsole. This dynagrip outsole is made from a superior rubber compound that delivers traction across multi-surface terrain. They will keep you cool and sweat free, dry and rain free, comfortable and protected, and upright.
They also come with a standard yet very serviceable foam footbed that adds to the comfort and support. This can also be removed and machine washed if required, which is a small plus that I find overwhelmingly endearing – it can be very useful for those rare occasions on which the wicking mesh lining can’t quite keep up with you.
They are leather, with rubber soles, a medium shoe width and grey, black or brown colour scheme.
No fuss, no nonsense, just a decent, affordable shoe.