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The best hiking shoes: for day walks and backcountry hikes

best hiking shoes: hikers on a trail
hiking shoes are perfect for day hikes (Image credit: Getty)

The key differences between the best hiking shoes and their boot equivalents are their weight, size and the amount of protection they give you. A quality hiking shoe is designed to give you many of the benefits of a fully featured boot while still allowing you to be fast and light on your feet.

This makes the best hiking shoes ideal for casual country walks and day hikes in the mountains. You can expect grippy outsoles armed with aggressive lugs, protective rands around the midsole and toes to shield against rock abrasion and lacing systems designed to hold everything comfortably together. Many of the best hiking shoes are also waterproof.

best hiking shoes

Hikers wearing Salewa's Dropline GTX hiking shoes in rough mountain terrain (Image credit: Salewa)

Hiking shoes can't compete with the best hiking boots when it comes to ankle protection, which is why boots are preferable when you are carrying a heavy backpack over technical terrain. However, the best hiking shoes are often available with low and mid height options. If you're more of a mountain scrambler than a trail walker, it may be worth considering the additional protection of a mid height shoe.

With summer around the corner, you might be eyeing up a pair for beach vacations or for coasteering and canyoning adventures. If this sounds like you, a pair of the best water shoes might be better suited to your amphibious requirements, as some models perform equally well on the trail as they do in the water.

The best hiking shoes for sustainability

best hiking shoes: Inov-8 Roclite Recycled 310s

(Image credit: inov-8)

Inov-8 Roclite Recycled 310s

Super comfortable trail hiking shoes, made with mostly recycled materials

Specifications

RRP: $150 (US) / £130 (UK)
Gender specificity: Men’s / Women’s
Materials: Knitted 100% recycled rPET yarn upper; Bloom foam midsole (10% algae biomass); natural gum rubber undyed outsole
Weight (per shoe): 310g / 10.9oz
Colors: Green & gum / Navy & grey
Compatibility: Hiking and fastpacking in warmer conditions

Reasons to buy

+
Largely recycled 
+
Super comfortable
+
Lightweight and breathable
+
Good grip

Reasons to avoid

-
Not waterproof
-
Low level of foot protection
-
Expensive

British brand inov-8 have been leading the way recently with the durability of their shoes – and specifically the toughness of their Graphene-based outsoles – but this hiking shoe indicates they’re making positive steps in the direction of sustainability too. Made from 90% recycled materials – mainly previously discarded plastic bottles – the Roclite Recycled 310s have a pleasingly light environmental footprint. Even the laces are recycled, and the midsole features foam that’s 10% algae biomass (which contributes positively to the environment when harvested. Pitched towards walkers who want to stay nimble and quick, they’re extremely lightweight and easy to wear, and the relatively small heel-to-toe drop (8mm) keeps your centre of gravity nice and low. 

However, they are not especially supportive or well-armed for providing foot protection – there’s no waterproof membrane (although this does mean they breath nicely and dry quickly), and while there is a rand of sorts around the mostly mesh upper, it’s not going to put up much of a fight against sharp stones and sticks. There’s no Graphene in the studs of these shoes, but the 6mm lugs on the natural gum outsole are very grippy, and the design doesn’t collect too much mud when you’re on mucky trails. The Metaflex feature means they move dynamically with your feet, providing decent levels of trail feedback and making them slipper-level comfortable. The look and colors used is all quite understated, but this fits well with the excellent eco-conscious approach of these shoes.

best hiking shoes: Hi-Tec V-Lite Psych Low WP walking shoes

(Image credit: Hi-Tec)

Hi-Tec V-Lite Psych Low WP walking shoes

Down to earth walking shoes made from recycled bottles

Specifications

RRP: £80 (UK) / €93 (EU)
Weight (per boot): 160g / 5.6oz
Materials: Upper made mostly from recycled polyester (71.9%); Dri-Tec membrane; compression moulded EVA midsole; V-Lite rubber outsole
Compatibility: 3-season hiking on most sub alpine routes
Colors: Black & grey / Blue & black

Reasons to buy

+
Uppers made with majority-recycled material
+
Vegan friendly
+
Good price
+
Waterproof

Reasons to avoid

-
Slightly bulky 
-
Tread collects dirt

The new V-Lite Psych WP range of hiking boots and walking shoes recently launched by Hi-Tec feature chassis made mostly from recycled plastic. We have been trail testing the V-Lite Psych WP Lows, which have a collar that site beneath the ankle and have textile uppers manufactured from 100% responsibly sourced, 100% recycled polyester manufactured from 2.35 pieces of a full 380ml recycled plastic bottle. As such they are both vegan friendly and kind to the environment. The upper is lined with the brand’s Dri-Tec waterproof and breathable membrane technology, which keeps trail juice out. 

Other features include a protective toecap, and pull tab to help you them on, and a rear heel cap for a secure fit. A compression-molded EVA midsole supplies some bounce, the ESS lightweight shank provides torsional stability, and the lightweight V-Lite Rubber outsoles with 5mm-plus lugs dish up grip and traction. They are unlikely to win any style and grace awards, but these are functional and durable walking shoes capable of tramping many miles in all sorts of conditions, and the sustainable ethos behind the construction deserves applause. The price is pretty decent too.

The best hiking shoes for comfort

best hiking shoes: Danner Trail 2650 Campo GTX

(Image credit: Danner)
These breathable, waterproof hiking shoes boast a comfortable, sock-like fit and keep you surprisingly sure-footed on slick, rocky hikes

Specifications

RRP: $200 (US) / £180 (UK)
Gender specificity: Men’s / Women’s
Materials: Leather and textile upper, Gore-Tex membrane, Vibram Megagrip sole, open-cell Polyurethane footbed
Weight (per shoe): 340g/12oz
Colors: Brown & meadow green / Blue & orange / Black & red
Compatibility: Hiking

Reasons to buy

+
Waterproof and breathable
+
Vibram Megagrip soles
+
Removable OrthoLite Footbed
+
Comfortable, sock-like fit
+
Leather and abrasion resistant fabric uppers offer decent protection
+
Wide sizes available

Reasons to avoid

-
Difficult to pull on with high arches
-
Non insulated, might not be enough for frigid temps
-
Pricey

The Danner Trail 2650 GTX looks and in some ways acts like a trail running shoe, but is surprisingly robust for hiking in wet weather and over uneven, rocky terrain. This sock-like style of shoe is designed with a heel tab to pull them on while the laces serve just for a little tightening. They can take a little effort to pull on if you have high arches, but once they’re on they feel fantastic with a snug, comfortable fit, lots of flex and three layers of removable, breathable cushioning.

With uppers made from durable leather, abrasion resistant and a Gore-Tex membrane plus chunky Vibram Megarip soles, these shoes are sturdy and suitable for long hikes and give loads of stability on rough trails. 

These hiking shoes are high priced, but they are built to last.

best hiking shoes: Keen NXIS EVO Waterproof

(Image credit: Keen)

Keen NXIS EVO Waterproof

Keen's brand new waterproof hikers boast a innovative heel-lock system and dashing good looks

Specifications

RRP: $190 (US) / £135 (UK)
Gender specificity: Men’s / Women’s
Materials: Performance mesh upper with TPU overlays; KEEN.DRY waterproof, breathable membrane; EVA midsole; KEEN.ALL-TERRAIN rubber outsole; Removable PU insole
Weight (per shoe): 381g/13.4oz
Colors: Dark Olive/Black Olive
Compatibility: Hiking trails

Reasons to buy

+
Innovative heel-lock system
+
Great toe protection
+
Supportive and comfortable
+
Waterproof
+
Good looks
+
Outsole not overly aggressive

Reasons to avoid

-
Laces prone to coming undone
-
Hard to clean

Brand new from Keen, the NXIS Evo feature a fantastic and clever heel-lock system, which integrates with the laces to provide a really secure grip right around the entire heel and forefoot area, providing complete confidence on even the most technical trails, because your feet do not more around at all within the shoe. Except, that is, when the laces come undone, which has happened on test a few times – user error? Maybe, but the thick, round laces used, while tough, to tend to work their way undone. 

Elsewhere, these good-looking hiking shoes have a really robust toe bumper, as all Keen footwear does, although they have pared things back a little bit with the NXIS, giving them a split-toe look to cut down on a bit of weight (don’t worry, your pinkies are still well protected). The mesh upper is light and has an effective waterproof membrane, but it is a tad tricky to clean if/when it gets splattered mud, filth and trail gunk. The insoles and midsoles combine to deliver a comfortable ride, and the outsole isn’t so aggressive that it kills all trail feel (some people might prefer more aggressive lugs, but we think these 4mm multidirectional teeth re just right for a walking shoe).

best hiking shoes: Hoka Anacapa Low Gore-Tex walking shoe

(Image credit: Hoka)

Hoka Anacapa Low Gore-Tex walking shoe

Full suspension hiking shoe for comfortable trail walking across all sorts of terrain

Specifications

RRP: $155 (US) / £135 (UK)
Materials: Nubuck leather and Gore-Tex upper, molded PU sockliner (50% soybean oil), compression-molded EVA midsole, Vibram Megagrip rubber outsole with 5mm lugs
Drop: 6mm
Weight (per shoe): 397g
Colors: Men’s: Black / Tiger’s eye and black; Women’s: Black / Cherry Mahogany & hot sauce / Tiger’s eye and black
Compatibility: Three-season hiking on a wide variety of landscapes and terrain types

Reasons to buy

+
Rocker to improve stride efficiency 
+
Lots of cushioning in the midsole
+
Comfortable ride
+
Top quality componentry used (Gore-Tex / Vibram)
+
Recycled polyester used in the collar, mesh and laces

Reasons to avoid

-
No trail feel
-
Chunky look not for everyone
-
Run a little warm in mid summer

Hoka footwear is recognizable from 100 metres away on a mist-shrouded trail, and the brand’s distinctive super-sized midsole shoes are somewhat divisive – you either love them or laugh at people wearing them. 

They offer levels of cushioning in the midsole that elicit all sorts of superlatives, and for good reason – no matter what you think of the look, they are very comfortable and the extra suspension they provide means your knees will thank you for wearing them at the end of a long trail day. The downside of all this padding is that there’s zero trail feel.

Despite the large size of the maxi midsoles, the heel-to-toe drop is a modest – minimalist even – 6mm, but also feature a rocker, meaning the bottom of the shoe is shaped slightly like the hull of boat or a very elongated ‘U’, so all the heel strikers out there can still efficiently push off on each new stride from the front of the foot. This is great, but can take some getting used to.  

The uppers are very robust, being made with nubuck leather with a Gore-Tex membrane, to supply effective waterproofing. This means they can run a little hot mid summer, but they’re excellent throughout most of the year. There is an extra lace hole (for use in deep mud, to avoid losing a shoe) and the integrated heel cup and pull loop is both practical and comfortable.  

The best hiking shoes for fastpacking

best hiking shoes: Adidas Terrex Swift R3 GTX

(Image credit: Adidas)

Adidas Terrex Swift R3 GTX

Lavishly featured hiking shoes with the funky look and lightweight feel of trail runners

Specifications

RRP: $150 (US) / £130 (UK)
Gender specificity: Men’s / Women’s
Materials: Gore-Tex textile upper; Water-resistant and breathable lightstrike EVA midsole; textile lining; moulded sockliner; Continental rubber outsole
Weight (per shoe): 440g/15.5oz
Colors: Core black, grey three & solar red / Core black, grey one & solar yellow / Signal green, acid mint & solar yellow / Beige tone, pulse yellow & core black / Legend ink, orbit violet & bold blue / Focus olive, core black & grey five
Compatibility: Best for tackling trails fast

Reasons to buy

+
Technically capable
+
Great grip
+
Sleek look
+
Lots of color options

Reasons to avoid

-
Over-featured and too rigid for casual walkers

If you’re looking for a high-performing hiking shoe that looks more like a sporty trainer, then the Swift R3s have got your name written all over them. Available in six different colorways, ranging from the frankly lurid acid mint and solar yellow option through to the far more discreet and street-friendly black version, these shoes are armed with a formidable set of features that make them very trail capable while still having the appearance of shoe you could happily kick a football around in.   

The Continental outsole has a set of terrain-hugging 4.5mm lugs, cleverly designed and positioned to provide push-off traction from the toe and braking capability on the tapered heel when you’re descending, with reverse chevrons dishing up good levels of control. Despite their sleek appearance, there is a substantial toecap and heel cup, and a rand that encircles the shoe. They also have a protection plate in the outsole, to stop sharp sticks and stones sticking through and hurting your feet. 

The EVA midsole supply cushioning but the Swift R3s are surprisingly rigid, courtesy of the chunky ‘pro-moderator’ feature in the midfoot, designed to improve lateral stability and prevent arch fatigue on bigger walks. Some hikers will love this feature, especially those who tend to do longer walks and tackle rocky and sometimes technical terrain, while those who do more casual walks might prefer more flex. 

best hiking shoes - Salewa Dropline GTX

(Image credit: Salewa)
A low cut trail shoe for fastpacking and thru hikes

Specifications

RRP: $160 (US) / £160 (UK)
Materials: Exa Shell Over Injected 3D Cage upper with Stretchable Air Mesh and Tpu film; Gore-Tex waterproof lining; Ortholite footbed; EVA midsole; Pomoca Dropline outsole
Weight (per shoe): 294 g / 10.4 oz
Colors: Men’s: Black / Blue & dark denim / Green, black & blue Danube; Women’s: Ocena / Canal Blue / Ombre Blue & Virtual Pink
Compatibility: Backpacking, thru hiking, fast packing, general walking

Reasons to buy

+
Rockered
+
Stable
+
Light
+
Lace cover keeps debris out

Reasons to avoid

-
Laces come untied easily

Thru hikers are notorious for choosing hiking shoes instead of boots because they’re lighter, cooler, and quicker to dry. Many hiking shoes are made too stiff to provide stability. Or they’re sneaker soft, and their midsole’s break down before you have racked up the miles. The Dropline, however – a winner in Advnture’s inaugural Hiking Awards thanks to its exceptional performance on test – has plenty of stability, but it feels more like a sneaker on steroids than a hiking boot. Just cut shorter.

The confidence this shoe offers is great – an anti-rock heel cup and lacing that ties into the heel and the sole of the shoe is all part of Salewa’s secret recipe, with the brand claiming that the heel-to-toe transition saves energy. The Gore-Tex lining provides breathable waterproofing, but the Dropline is also available in a non-waterproof version. The rounded, low-profile Pomoca outsole has a lot of lugs, but they’re not deep, and can get clogged in muddy conditions. The mesh covering over the tongue and under the laces kept dirt and debris out, however, and an extra beefy toe rand shows that Salewa expects this hiking shoe to be used hard. 

Best hiking shoes for lightweight day walks

best hiking shoes - Merrell MQM Flex 2 GTX

(Image credit: Merrell)

Merrell MQM Flex 2 GTX

A versatile hiking shoe that's as agile as most trail running shoes

Specifications

RRP: $140 (US) / £120 (UK)
Materials: Waterproof mesh upper, Gore-Tex membrane, Quantum Grip rubber outsole
Weight per shoe (men's): 350g/12oz
Weight per shoe (women’s): 290g/10oz
Colors (men's): Burnt granite / Black / Black & grey / Black & orange / Black & white / Moonbeam raven / Orange / White
Colors (women's): Black HV / Dragonfly /Black / Black & White / Granite wave / Lichen
Compatibility: All trails in all but the worst conditions

Reasons to buy

+
Very comfortable
+
Excellent grip
+
Vegan-friendly 

Reasons to avoid

-
Not as durable as some on test
-
Grit can get between tongue and chassis

A versatile shoe, the second generation Merrell MQM leans more towards a robust trail running shoe than it does a traditional hiking boot, with features such as a rockplate offering protection against sharp flints and sticks, doing the job of a thick midsole at a fraction of the weight. As such, you can move along even pretty technical trails at pace in these shoes, and they feel agile – but they probably won’t last as long as a chunkier shoe. 

Merrell’s mountain-grade Quantum Grip rubber outsole features strategically placed 5mm lugs that grip hold of most terrain excellently and provide plenty of confidence. There’s air cushioning in the heel, which supplies some bounce and shock protection (especially for the heel strikers out there), and the Flexconnect functionality in the midsole is good for balance and trail feel. The Gore-Tex lining keeps trail juice at bay, but grit can get down between the tongue and the shoe. The extra connection between the laces and the body of the shoe, via an integrated strap across the forefoot, feels largely cosmetic, although it does enable you to do the laces up nice and tight if you’re heading into gloopy boggy terrain, and there’s an extra lace hole to help with this too.

Best hiking shoes for value

best hiking shoes: Columbia Men’s Trailstorm

(Image credit: Columbia)

Columbia Men’s Trailstorm

A well-featured waterproof walking shoe available for a good price

Specifications

RRP: $100 (US) / £90 (UK)
Gender specificity: Men’s / Women’s
Materials: Mesh upper; Techlite+ foam midsole; Adapt Trax Outsole
Weight (per shoe): Men’s: 319g / 11.25oz; Women’s: 269g / 9.5oz
Colors: Men’s: Dark mountain & steam / Deep marine & bold orange / Black & solar / Dark grey and Bright gold; Women’s Cirrus grey & sandalwood pink / Black & bright marigold / Graphite & dolphin
Compatibility: Hiking and trekking in all kids of conditions

Reasons to buy

+
Excellent value
+
Waterproof
+
Well cushioned

Reasons to avoid

-
Low trail feel
-
No recycled material

Impressively specced for their price point, the Trailstorms are fully waterproof and offer wild walkers good levels of protection for their feet, with a supportive heel cup and reinforced toe cap. The 4mm lugs on the outsole look a little bit tame at first, but they are artfully angled and positioned to provide traction and braking control on all sorts of terrain without causing any discomfort when you’re walking on concrete or hard-packed surfaces, and they pick up virtually no mud, even in gloopy conditions. 

The ghillie lacing system, which runs through securely stitched cord eyelets and employs a pair of wings across the top of the foot, provides a really secure hold an prevents any unwanted movement within the chassis of the shoe. There’s plenty of cushioning in the chunky Techlite+ foam midsole, but trail feedback is next to non-existent. They also run a little warm on hotter days, thanks to the waterproof membrane, but do allow feet to breath reasonably well.

best hiking shoes

(Image credit: Quechua)

Quechua waterproof MH100 walking shoe

A budget-friendly walking shoe with a retro look and high levels of cushioning for street or trail walking

Specifications

RRP: $55 (US) / £35 (UK)
Materials: Poly and leather upper, waterproof and breathable membrane lining, EVA midsole, non-slip rubber outsole
Weight per shoe (men's): 405g/14oz
Weight per shoe (women's): 337g/12oz
Colors (men's): Carbon grey and cherry red / Dark petrol blue and lime green
Colors (women's): Caribbean blue / Green-grey / purple-storm / dark petrol blue
Compatibility: Half-day sojourns into the foothills

Reasons to buy

+
Great value
+
Comfortable upper 
+
In-sole cushioning
+
Specific performance ratings

Reasons to avoid

-
Too cushioned
-
Run hot

The look of this shoe is rather retro, which you will either love… or not. Decathlon report that the MH100 waterproof shoe was “designed at the foot of Mont Blanc for occasional mountain hikes of three to four hours’ duration and up to 700 metres.” They are very specific about this, and it is useful information – setting the boundaries of what this shoe’s comfort zone is, which we largely agree with. The sole of the MH100s is semi-flexible, and the grippy outer has been created with non-slip rubber, with 5mm studs to bite into slippery terrain. The uppers feature stone-guard protection, and beneath the leather-synthetic mix of materials, an own-brand waterproof and breathable membrane lining keeps out water. The shoe has full-length foot cushioning, thanks to an EVA midsole, and well-cushioned heel and tongue areas. If anything, the in-sole cushioning could be a little too much for some people. (If there is too much give in a sole it can zap your energy and making the process of walking less responsive.)

Hiking shoes comparison table
Hiking shoeRRPWeightBest use
Inov-8 Roclite Recycled 310s$150 (US) / £130 (UK)310g / 10.9ozHiking and fastpacking in warmer conditions
Hi-Tec V-Lite Psych Low WP walking shoes£80 (UK) / €93 (EU)160g / 5.6oz3-season hiking on most sub alpine routes
Danner Trail 2650 Campo GTX$200 (US) / £180 (UK)340g / 12ozHiking and fast packing in dry or wet conditions
Keen NXIS EVO Waterproof$190 (US) / £135 (UK)381g / 13.4ozHiking and fast packing in dry or wet conditions
Hoka Anacapa Low Gore-Tex walking shoe$155 (US) / £135 (UK)397g / 14 ozThree-season hiking on a wide variety of landscapes and terrain types
Adidas Terrex Swift R3 GTX$150 (US) / £130 (UK)440g / 15.5ozBest for tackling trails fast
Salewa Dropline GTX$160 (US) / £160 (UK)294 g / 10.4 ozBackpacking, thru hiking, fast packing, general walking
Merrell MQM Flex 2 GTX$140 (US) / £120 (UK)350g / 12oz (men's) / 290g / 10oz (women's)All trails in all but the worst conditions
Columbia Men’s Trailstorm$100 (US) / £90 (UK)319g / 11.25oz (men's) / 269g / 9.5oz (women's)Hiking and trekking in all kids of conditions
Quechua waterproof MH100 walking shoe$55 (US) / £35 (UK)405g / 14oz (men's) / 337g / 12oz (women's)Half-day sojourns into the foothills

Choosing the best hiking shoes for you

What are the best hiking shoes for you? To answer that you have to think about the kind of walking you do most often. Requirements vary, depending on the terrain being traversed, the quality of the trail, prevailing conditions and the amount of kit you typically carry. There are even fully vegan footwear options out there, ready for the trail.

Following are some important considerations you should factor in to your decision-making process.

best hiking shoes - Salewa Dropline GTX

For lightweight summer rambles, a hiking shoe is ideal (Image credit: Salewa)

Seasons

Walking shoes are best suited to fairer conditions in general, but the lighter weight models made of fabric are particularly vulnerable to bad weather, and if you do a lot of walking in challenging conditions, you should opt for a more robust shoe made with hardy materials. Even some of the best full on hiking boots are not suitable for winter conditions, so if you're a winter walker you will need a pair of the best winter hiking boots, specifically designed with snow, ice and crampon compatibility in mind. 

Waterproofing is such a selling point that many manufacturers will even include it in the name of their hiking shoes, so look out for that.

Terrain

The terrain will dictate the type of shoe – and sole – that you choose. Even the best hiking shoe in the world won’t provide the same ankle support as a boot, but some are sturdier than others, and offer more protection. If you regularly hike on rough terrain, choose a shoe with a stiff sole, grippy outsole and aggressive lugs for good grip, and look for a substantial rand and a good toe cap. A pair of trekking poles can help share the burden on steep terrain.

Some of the products we featured are named as approach shoes, which are a hybrid of climbing and hiking shoes designed for rocky scrambles and technical approaches to climber's crags. Increasingly, approach shoes are being designed to tackle longer distances and offer durability to rival the most fortified hiking shoe. If long days out on technical scrambling terrain sounds like your bag, then approach shoes might be the optimum choice.

If you plan to be in and out of water all day, some of the best water shoes blend the features of hiking shoes with a design that's appropriate for hours spent in the drink. They feature specialised grip that gives you confidence on the wet rock you're likely to meet when coasteering or ghyll scrambling.

best hiking shoes - Salewa Dropline GTX

Hiking shoes complemented by trekking poles make rocky terrain more manageable (Image credit: Salewa)

Cushioning

A stiff sole will offer great energy output, while a cushioned sole and in-sole will generally absorb energy. It depends on what you are looking for personally, though, because high cushioning protects joints and gives a more comfortable on-the-ground feel, while a stiffer and less cushioned sole offers greater stability and traction, as well as less energy absorption. Try out contrasting pairs to get a feel for this and don't forget to wear your hiking socks when you do.

Some runners and hikers prefer to be able to feel the trail beneath their feet – this is  known as 'trail feel' or 'ground feel'. With this in mind, barefoot running shoes and hiking shoes are becoming increasingly popular. Of course, this means less cushioning but does allow you to connect to the landscape more intimately.

Width

We all have different shaped feet and the difference between male and female feet can be significant. The shoes in our reviews are rated for width and keep an eye out for designs specifically tailored for women.

Weight

Hiking shoes are usually lighter in weight than walking boots but heavier than a running shoe. The weight of footwear can cause fatigue over longer distances but some shoes are heavier because they have features such as stiffer soles and more robust uppers.

Heel to toe drop

Running footwear usually includes a heel-to-toe drop dimension. A neutral drop shoe, for example, will be zero and then the size increases up to 10mm and more. Few boot brands give these details out, so it is important to try them on before buying to see if the shoe suits your walking style and gait.

best hiking shoe - Salewa Dropline GTX

For fast and light adventures, hiking shoes are ideal (Image credit: Salewa)

Materials

Walking shoes can be made of leather, nubuck leather, suede and synthetic fabrics, or a mix of these. Leather is likely to be harder wearing but your feet are more likely to become hot and sweaty. Fabric is more breathable, but less durable. A rubber rand around the shoe, where the upper joins the sole, can be useful for reducing abrasion from rocks, stones and vegetation. Look for shoes with extra rubber at the toe and heel, too.

Waterproofing

Many shoes are designed with a waterproof and breathable membrane lining. The aim is to make fabric waterproof and water resistant. Gore-Tex is the best known waterproof membrane brand and it is used by many of the best hiking shoe and boot brands. Other companies use their own-brand membrane, which work to a greater or lesser degree. It is useful to have a rubber rand fully around the shoe to stop water ingress from puddles and mud, but remember, once the water level exceeds ankle height, you’re going to get wet feet if you’re wearing shoes, no matter how waterproof they are.

Writer, editor and enthusiast of anything involving boots, bikes, boats, beers and bruises, Pat has spent 20 years pursuing adventure stories. En route he’s canoed Canada’s Yukon River, climbed Mont Blanc and Kilimanjaro, skied and mountain biked through the Norwegian Alps, run an ultra across the roof of Mauritius, and set short-lived records for trail-running Australia’s highest peaks and New Zealand’s Great Walks. He’s authored walking guides to Devon and Dorset, and once wrote a whole book about Toilets for Lonely Planet. Follow Pat’s escapades here.