Fashion has swallowed up outdoor aesthetics in the past few years, putting them on a collision course with luxury contingency. Nowadays, the best walking shoes and outdoor hiking boots have never been more fashionable nor more relevant than they currently are.
But achieving peak rambunctiousness and style is an art, and there are a few key things you need to know before investing in comfortable shoes that are made for walking…
What should men’s walking shoes be made from?
To ensure you don’t slip on slippery surfaces or slide down steep slopes, walking shoes need a lot of traction on their soles. They need to be sturdy and able to withstand knocks and bumps. Usually, that means having a chunky foam sole, lots of cushioning, shock absorbers, and energy return (much similar to trail running shoes). These shoes are made from waterproof materials and have extra support around the ankles. They also feature a comprehensive lacing system for a comfortable fit. With modern materials such as breathable meshes, this isn’t necessary anymore. With increasingly lightweight shoes now available to choose, you don’t need to worry about it. A good walking shoe strikes a balance between lightness, comfort, toughness, and grip.
Can’t you just wear running shoes?
Running shoes are similar to walking boots in that they’re designed to protect your feet from the rigours of a fast pace. However, runners tend to be engineered to withstand a faster pace. That said, they’re not usually as generous with traction as dedicated hiking shoes, so you’d be best off with something designed for trail running, which is designed for pace on more variable terrain with added ankle support and waterproofing. A good pair of comfortable walking shoes that fit well can also help prevent blisters and bunioned feet on long hikes.
What are the best walking shoes for men?
Whether it’s purely for aesthetics or you really are planning on sprinting up Scafell Pike, here we’ve collected a fantastic range of relevant, rugged shoes for your consideration.
The Cloud is Swiss fashion house On’s most famous shoe and one of the reasons for this is its signature CloudTec pod which offers soft cushioning underfoot and makes them a good fit for walking to the shops or breaking out of a brisker pace. It has breathable, anti-microbial mesh in the comfortable upper and the speed lace means it’s easy to slip them on and take them off.
ALLBIRDS WOOL RUNNER-UP MIZZLES
Allbirds’ Mizzle keeps the rain out by applying a water repellent layer on top to fend off any moisture. It has a natural rubber outsole for excellent traction on uneven surfaces, a combination of a castors bean insole and a middle layer made from a mixture of latex and polyurethane foam for a more comfortable feel with each step, and an EVA sockliner for added cushioning.
MERRELL CHAMELON 8 STRETCH
The hiking-friendly Chameleon® 8 Stretch™ wraps your feet with a durable, tough leather featuring a tongue that repels any debris you might encounter on your hikes. Merrell uses EVAs (EVA-based) midsole foam to offer lots of cushioning and to last for a long time on their shoes, plus they have large 5mm lugs on their outsoles to ensure they won’t slip on uneven, muddy terrain
ON RUNNING CLOUD HI EDGE
As one of the latest performance brands gaining the attention of fashion crowds around the world, Swiss running label On has been making shoes that stand out from the crowd. Available in a range of eye-catching yet comfortable colourways, these trainers from Adidas are designed to keep you primed for adventure, whether you’re exploring the city or just taking a stroll.
ADIDAS TERREX SWIFT R3
The R3 is designed for more adventurous off-roading conditions, with a Gore-tex lining keeping your feet dry, and Adidas bolstering support at the midfoot and arch. There’s a Continental rubber outsole to provide plenty of grip and Adidas has kept the Lightstrike EVA cushioned midsole from its running shoes to keep you comfortable even if you increase your walking speed.
INOV-8 BARE-XF 210 V3
Innov-8 goes minimalist, keeping your feet closely grounded for that increasingly sought after barefoot experience. Mesh uppers ensure things are breathable while TPU toe protectors and lacing systems make sure your feet are protected against debris. Innovative, Inov-8 has also made sure that their shoes are equipped with 1.5mm lug soles so that they can be used by people who need to be agile on their feet.
NIKE PEGASUS 38
The Pegasus is an iconic symbol in Nike’s line of running shoes. Nike’s React foam and Zoom Air cushions provide responsive, nicely cushioned foot support and the mesh upper with padding at the tongue keeps the fit snugly. There’s no shortage in the number of different ways you can wear the Nike running shoe and Nike walking shoe.
ALLBIRDS TREE RUNNERS
Allbirds’ Runners definitely channel serious “walk around town” vibes. There are plenty of colourways available and they’re made from a variety of natural materials. The midsole foam has been made from sugar cane, the upper from eucalyptus tree fibre, and the insole from castor bean. The result is a really comfortable shoe that helps you get more steps in every day and do good things for our planet at the same time!
COLUMBIA MEN’S SH/FT AURORA OUTDRY
This shoe looks like it has a cross between a trainer shoe and a high top with Columbia’s OutDry technology providing a barrier against water, and an outsole that performs well on both dry and wet surfaces. Columbia’s midsole has a dual density foam construction offering plenty of cushioning for off-roading and there’s an additional toe cap up front and a mudguard to provide protection from debris. They’re a hiking shoe designed for flat surfaces, but they can be used on more stable ground.
SALOMON PREDICT HIKE MID
With a boot-style look, Salomon‘s hiking shoe packs a waterproof, traction-enhancing rubber sole that works on both wet and dry surfaces. The combination of materials used in midsole foam provide some enjoyable bounce while the orthoLITE sock liner provides comfortable and airy surroundings for when you plan on trudging marathon-esque distances in these shoes.