Walking shoes: the best hiking shoes to buy (and why trainers just won't do)

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The benefits of walking shoes, whether you’re going for a stroll around the park or a mountain hike.  

Pre-lockdown, not many people would have described themselves as avid walkers. But then, back in March, the government told everyone that they could only leave the house for a daily walk or food shop and, suddenly, walking was having a major moment. It was no longer just a means to an end, getting you from A to B. Instead, going on a long walk on a Saturday afternoon became one of the only allowed pastimes. 

Given that this new hobby was sprung on people quite unexpectedly, few actually have the right kit for the job. Instead, you might slip on your favourite pair of flat-soled trainers and head out for hours on end. It’s no wonder searches for shin splints and heel pain are skyrocketing. 

“When walking, your weight rolls from the heel, through the ball and continues to the toe, one foot after the other – with one foot always in contact with the ground. Walking shoes are designed with the specific strike pattern and body mechanics of this motion in mind,” explains product development manager at outdoor brand Berghaus, Glen Calloway. 

Strong Women’s editor Meriam Ahari knows the benefit of getting the right pair of shoes only too well. “I never thought of using special walking shoes when going for hikes. I figured my trainers would do just fine. But when I spent a week hiking in the Lake District, I noticed that every person I ran into was wearing special hiking boots,” she says. 

“So I thought I would give it a try to see if it made a difference. I expected my hard exterior, tall boots to leave me with blisters at the end of the day, but they were so warm and comfortable. My feet didn’t ache at all, even after eight hours of walking. Most importantly, they supported my ankles when walking on slippery and tough terrain.”

Fitness-editor-meriam-ahari-hiking-lake-district
Walking: Fitness editor Meriam Ahari

But you shouldn’t only consider your footwear when going on rambling countryside walks. While you might not think about wearing a proper walking shoe for a stroll around your local park, if you’ll be out on your feet for most of the afternoon, you should consider it. 

“A correct-fitting pair of walking shoes will be a benefit for all types of walking – from everyday walks in the park to longer walks over more challenging terrain, due to the additional comfort and support that they provide,” adds Glen. 

What to look for in a walking shoe 

As with everything, from running trainers to high heels, what works for your foot is individual. “Shoe selection will depend on foot width, arch height, and any predetermined foot conditions, such as bunions,” says Glen. 

However, there are some general pointers when looking for a walking shoe. Firstly, make sure they “have enough room for you to wiggle your toes, as your feet will expand and swell during walking, and wearing shoes that are too small can lead to blisters and discomfort,” says Glen. 

“Walking shoes should also offer a good level of arch support, with comfortable uppers and a flexible sole with a good level of cushioning and support.”

If you’re still not sure where to start, we’ve found some walking shoes that will get you through lockdown walks regardless of where and how far you’re walking. 

  • Berghaus Explorer FT Active Goretex Shoe

    Best walking shoes: Berghaus Explorer FT Active Foretex Shoe

    These waterproof shoes are cushioned for comfort during relaxed strolls or active hikes. The studded rubber sole will stop slips, whether that’s on mountain terrain or rainy pavements. Most importantly, the waterproof coating means that you can get out for your daily exercise no matter what the weather.  

    Shop Berghaus Explorer FT Active Goretex Shoes, £105

  • Adidas Terrex Free Hiker Shoes

    Best walking shoes: Adidas Terrex Free Hiker Shoes

    Featuring Adidas’s famous ‘Boost’ technology, these shoes have extra energy return, which means they give you an added push in each step. The high, sock-like shape provides support to your upper foot and ankle, while the knit fabric is breathable yet structured for lightweight protection. 

    Shop Adidas Terrex Free Hiker Shoes, £170

  • Brooks Addiction Walker 2 Shoes

    Best walking shoes: Brooks Addiction Walker 2 Shoes

    Brooks shoes are specially designed to help you avoid injury. The specially designed arch support keeps your foot well aligned, while unique cushioning adapts to your stride, weight and speed to reduce impact on your joints. A great choice for an afternoon walk that ends up lasting until evening. 

    Shop Brooks Addiction Walker 2 Shoes, £110

  • North Face Oscillate Shoes

    Best walking shoes: North Face Oscillate

    It’s always good news when North Face’s best selling walking shoes are in the sale. Combining the cushion of a trainer with the durability and grip of a walking shoe makes these a favourite. The sturdy midsole keeps you stable on uneven ground while allowing stretch and comfort so you can walk through city grounding until you reach your countryside destination. 

    Shop North Face Oscilate Shoes, £69

  • Berghaus Fellmaster Ridge Goretex Boot

    Best walking shoes: Berghaus Fellmaster Ridge Gortex Boot

    These boots are every inch as sturdy as they look, but they come packed with internal cushioning so your feet stay comfy. The rubber soles feature an anti-mud-clogging system to keep your grip on slippy pathways, and the supportive shape holds your foot in place for comfort and safety.  

    Shop Berghaus Fellmaster Ridge Goretex Boot, £150

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