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Looking to head to the hills this summer? With UK travel in full swing, what better time than to purchase a new pair of walking shoes for the wide variety of amazing terrain this country has to offer.
Why walking shoes, not hiking boots?
Walking shoes differ in a number of key ways from boots - they’re more lightweight, less clumpy, often more comfortable and easy to transport.
They also work better in terms of dual usage - we would be very comfortable putting on a pair of walking shoes to go into town or to the shops, for instance. They can be breathable, very comfortable and easy to walk in.
Walking boots however, not so much - everyday usage of more clumpy, higher boot options can be tiring, hot and blister-inducing. Summer’s a great time to invest in more breathable shoes like the ones we’ve listed here.
Why walking shoes and not running trainers?
They may look like trainers but make no mistake, these shoes mean business. If you’re frustrated by the poor performance of everyday trainers or sports shoes (and in some circumstances, taking these kinds of shoes out and about on certain terrain can be downright dangerous), then these options will make traipsing around in the muddy woods or trails a piece of cake.
What do I need in a good pair of hiking shoes?
Look for good ankle support, as these shoes are lower than standard hiking boots, so you’ll need some extra padding there to make sure you don’t injure yourself.
An easily cleanable upper material will work to your advantage too - leather or a wipe clean or easily machine washable material works the best here (if you use them right, you’ll definitely get them muddy!)
Look for good laces that do up well and nice and securely, and be sure to pay close attention to width - too narrow a shoe and your walking experience is likely to be rather less than optimum, indeed highly uncomfortable.
Here are eight of our favourite hiking shoes for men on the market at the moment.
Berghaus Fellmaster Active
Best for: a long-lasting shoe
Berghaus don’t really need any introduction - they’ve been making top-quality outdoor wear for decades and almost every outdoor fan has owned a pair of their boots or a coat of theirs in the past.
We liked the Fellmaster Active’s because they have a focus on being robust and readily reusable.
The fact they’ll keep going for years wins them awards in the sustainability stakes and we found the comfort in terms of cushioning very welcome.
No nonsense, and a shoe you’ll keep coming back to. Highly recommended.
Craghoppers Kiwi Lite Low
Best for: feet prone to injury
We liked this option as it’s a really classic, traditional style, still providing a good degree of comfort when out and about on some of the country’s more challenging terrain.
A Vibram outsole provides grip and stability and the full grain leather upper offers a classic look well suited to all styles.
If you often have pain on the top of your foot when walking, we also liked the padded tongue which we found to be very comfortable in this area.
Keen Tempo Flex Hiking Trainers
Best for: comfort
We’ve always found Keen’s footwear to be very comfortable, and this is a lightweight-orientated model with a good degree of flexibility and support for all manner of hiking conditions.
We like the ‘Keen Dry’ system, which allows a lightweight, durable mesh membrane upper to breathe and provides cooling, suppleness and stability to the shoe.
Keen says this is one of their highest performing shoes, and we think it’s a worthy addition to this list.
Giesswein Wool Knit
Best for: breathability
It may seem an odd concept, but the reality of Merino Wool trainers really works, and although you wouldn’t walk through puddles with them, their performance on slippery ground means they’re up there with some of the best walking shoes we tried.
Admittedly, they’re thin on features, but that’s one of their strengths - they’re so well-built, breathable and comfortable that this option, alongside the more sturdy Wool Cross X options, are a no-brainer.
If they get muddy, an added benefit is that you can just pop them in the washing machine and they dry super quickly.
Inov8 Roclite G135 GTX
Best for: fast walkers
On the slightly pricier side of the list we’ve compiled here, but an optimal ‘fast hike’ walking shoe option packed with superb tech and GORE-TEX product technology.
The ‘G-GRIP’ outsole is one of the key selling points - it offers innovative and excellent traction across a large range of surfaces and multiple terrains across one hike.
Merrell Moab Speed
Best for: wet weather
The Moab is a long-standing walking shoe for Merrell that performs well in the modern era.
Comfortable, padded and stable in wet weather and unsettled terrain, as the name suggests this shoe also focuses on speed and traction on difficult surfaces.
Happily it performs well - we’d recommend this as a really good option for a good everyday shoe equally happy on the trail as it is around the home or in the city.
Salomon X Ultra 4 GTX
Best for: all-round performance
One of our overall favourites on this list, the Salomon X Ultra 4 GTX takes Salomon’s pedigree in terms of running shoes and applies that to a sturdier, more flexible and lightweight, walking-orientated shoe.
That means it’s light, speedy, technical and waterproof whilst not compromising on ability and stability - we especially liked the slightly extra ankle support this shoe provides - a really key feature when out and about on unstable terrain.