Buying walking shoes may seem easy, but there are so many options out there that finding the ideal shoe isn't always easy. The key here is to think about what you need from your shoes. There are several factors to consider.
- Types of terrain you'll be walking on – city streets, flat dirt roads, rocky trails.
- Climate — Do the shoes need to be waterproof, or do they need traction in slippery conditions?
- Your feet's individual needs — Do you need wider shoes? Do they come with additional ankle support?
If you mostly walk on rolling roads in the countryside or carefully manicured forest paths, an all-round walking shoe like the Adidas Terrex AX4 is a great choice. Those looking for a more speedy hike will appreciate the support and cushioning of trail running-focused models like the Allbirds Trailer Runner SWT and New Balance Fresh Foam Hierro.
If you plan on venturing into rocky or loose terrain, it's worth considering whether the shoes are suitable for you. Boots with increased ankle support provide more stable footing and reduce the risk of falls. A happy medium is a mid-height shoe like the Columbia Facet 60 or Salewa Dropline Mid, which is basically still a shoe but with a little more ankle support.
If you're likely to be hiking in wet conditions, look for a Gore-Tex lining or other “proprietary brand” waterproof lining that the manufacturer may use. “Waterproof” in a boot almost never means “submersible,” so don't expect to stand in a river fishing all day hoping that water won't get in.
Finally, make sure you have a proper fit. Most shoes are made to fit a “standard” shoe shape, but if you have particularly wide feet and are having trouble finding shoes that fit, models that offer a wider size are available. Please look for. Most manufacturers tend to provide sizing guidance ('fits true to size' or 'fits small') on their websites, so keep that in mind when considering fit.