Walking Shoes 2011
Walking shoes are an ideal lightweight alternative to the traditional walking boots, and because the sun is out we thought it was time for a new Top 5 Walking Shoes article for 2011.
But before we start talking about which walking shoes are the best and why, let’s quickly discuss why you’d want a lightweight walking shoe instead of a modern walking boot.
You’ll have no doubt noticed that many walking shoes seem to be low cut, low profile versions of modern walking boots. Or that some walking boots look like built up versions of walking shoes. And on both accounts you’d be right.
The difference is the reduction in weight and the added control by freeing up the foot in taking away the ankle support. So a good pair of walking shoes will be perfectly fine for long walks or casual strolls so long as you’re not carrying a heavy rucksack.
But overall, a good walking shoe will be comfortable, supportive, light, breathable, waterproof or water resistant and suitably stylish, all whilst offering excellent grip and shock absorption so that stony paths, muddy fields and even water should be the last of your worries.
Our Top 5 Walking Shoes for 2011
Once again, we’ve drawn on our personal experiences to give you a clear, concise and honest overview of our top 5 walking shoes. We stuck to a £100 budget, because we can’t really justify spending over £100 on a pair of shoes that are going to get trashed. Spending over £100 on a great pair of walking boots is something different though.
We’ve also chosen a selection of shoes from a variety of brands and price points to give you plenty of choice and there are ladies walking shoes for all the products mentioned below (in much prettier colours of course).
So without further ado, let’s talk you through our top 5:
As always, Hi-Tec delivers the essentials and delivers them well. These Hi-Tec Quadra Life trail shoes are ideal for the outdoors with their hard wearing design, plenty of ventilation, comfortable fit and great grip. They also look suitably rugged for outdoor use and everyday wear and are so reasonably priced we can guarantee that you won’t find anything better for less.
Salomon footwear has developed a reputation for outstanding performance over the years and these new Salomon Vega GTX walking shoes are no exception. Light, tough, breathable and completely waterproof with Gore-Tex a suitably aggressive grip – they’re perfect for crossing any terrain in all weather conditions. There’s also plenty of cushioning and support for serious outdoor enthusiasts too.
With a good, snug fit, plenty of protection, ventilation, grip and underfoot cushioning these Merrell Intercept outdoor trainers are a pleasure to wear. Although with Merrell’s reputation for comfort, we’d be disappointed if they didn’t. The protective toe is the kind you’d expect to find on serious hiking boots while the all round fit and foot support offers a sense of complete control across any terrain. There is also a rare Gore-Tex model available, because while these are highly (and we do mean highly!) water resistant, they are not 100% waterproof. Finally, with their rugged good looks, they make excellent casual trainers which are exceptionally hard wearing as well.
Awesome in thick, wet mud, the North Face Hedgehog boasts unrivalled levels of grip while being relatively light, breathable and completely waterproof thanks to its Gore-Tex XCR mesh construction. And as you’d expect from anything with The North Face printed on it, it looks equally stunning, which makes it a popular choice as a casual trainer too. But despite being mostly made of mesh, it’s an incredibly tough trail shoe for both walking and off road running. However, while these trail shoes are great on soft surfaces, they can feel a bit hard after hours spent walking along rocky paths.
Scarpa Vortex XCR
For a walking shoe with all the premium features combined with comfort, style and terrific grip, it has to be the Scarpa Vortex XCR. These smartly styled shoes look great with a pair of jeans while being suitably hard wearing for the trail. Mostly made of Gore-Tex XCR mesh with extra layers of nubuck leather, these walking trainers are completely waterproof and highly breathable while offering extensive toe protection and ankle support for maximum comfort whatever the weather and wherever your adventure takes you.
The modern walking shoe is more like a trainer than a traditional shoe, offering all the comfort and support of a classic running trainer, but with the hard wearing materials and extra features normally associated with walking boots.
It’s interesting to see that despite the addition of two new walking shoes to the market, our top 5 is still dominated by older products like the Quadra, Hedgehog and Intercept. While the more recent walking shoes are obvious improvements on the products that have gone before, they’ve still got a long way to go before they can make yesteryear’s best sellers obsolete.
So whether you’re looking for a rugged trainer for all occasions, a tough and supportive shoe for your outdoor adventures or a serious trekking shoe for backpacking far and wide across the countryside, our Top 5 walking shoes will have something for you in 2011 –even if some designs are a few years old!
Best Value: Hi-Tec Quadra Life
On sale at just under £40, these are a real steal because they offer all the essentials for a great walking boot. Completely waterproof, classically styled, surprisingly comfortable and hard wearing with a great grip. What more could you ask for? As always, Hi-Tec delivers the basics and delivers them very well with a philosophy of best price for best performance.
Best Performance: Merrell Intercept
Incredibly comfortable with a snug fit while offering full underfoot support, plenty of toe protection and versatile grip, the Merrell Intercept offers the best performance considering its price. The built in Ortholite insole also takes the impact out of heel strikes. They’re so good, we’re confident that they’ll become your favourite trainers for all occasions. However, if you have wide feet, we’d recommend the Merrell Chameleon Wrap Slam instead, which is very similar shoe with an expanded toe area.
Best Looks: The North Face Hedgehog
Instantly recognisable as a North Face product, these Hedgehog trainers look fantastic, but they’re much more than just a pretty outdoor trainer. With complete waterproof protection, breathability and a grip that’s unrivalled on mud, they have a large following in both fashion and trail running markets.
So there you have it. Our best 5 walking shoes for 2011 for all budgets, all needs and all styles. We’ve worn many of these ourselves and had particularly good use out of the Merrell Intercepts and North Face Hedgehogs, both of which we highly recommend.