The best walking shoes for men are more protective and robust than trail-running shoes and far lighter and less bulky than hiking boots. Hiking shoes are ideal for everything from leisurely strolls with the dog to long days on the trails, but there are so many on the market that deciding which pair to buy can be a mind-boggling process. That's why we've compiled this complete list of the best walking shoes to suit all tastes, budgets and types of walking terrain.
Unless you're planning on carrying a heavy pack across technical terrain or tackling high alpine trails outside of the summer months – in which case you should consider a pair of the best hiking boots that offer ankle support, plus increased stability and protection – walking shoes are ideal for most foot-based adventures. Most of us spend our time on the trails exploring easy coastal and countryside footpaths, where heavy hiking boots are too much.
The best walking shoes are cheaper, lighter and more comfortable to wear. Below are T3's top walking shoes recommendations for men. (FYI: We have a separate guide to the best women's walking shoes.) Add a pair of the best walking trousers, the best walking socks and a good waterproof jacket for a comfy and versatile outdoor outfit.
Best walking shoes for men to buy right now
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If innovative and unorthodox design is your bag, then you’ll love the Keen WK400, a shoe which combines a mile-munching design that propels the wearer forward with some tidy aesthetics. At the heart of these new walking shoes is the KEEN:CURVE technology - the result, apparently, of three years and 10,000 hours of R&D and 5,000 miles of walking. This gives the shoe a structure and shape designed to provide the wearer with the feeling of forward momentum. It's a combination of a curved plate to create a rolling movement and a high-energy midsole that cushions any rebound and gently propels the wearer forward.
What is immediately noticeable when you start wearing these shoes is the excellent arch support, which is an inevitable consequence of such a beefy midsole. The forward motion created by the KEEN:CURVE tech works best on flat ground where there's a feeling of one step rolling into another. It's a slightly odd sensation at first, but you soon get used to it. The upper part of the shoe is constructed with an ultra-lightweight mesh, which is breathable, but also water-resistant (note – not waterproof). However, the most notable aesthetic decision is offset lacing, designed to relieve pressure on the top of your feet.
Read our full Keen WK400 review
The Salomon Ultra 4 GTX combines the lightweight build and cushioned comfort of a trail runner with the added protection and sturdiness of a dedicated walking shoe. Given that the vast majority of hiking injuries are ankle sprains, the attention given over to ankle stability is a welcome innovation. It might not match the support you'll find in the best men's hiking boots, but the addition of an ADV-C Chassis in the X Ultra 4 GTX does deliver extra stability without limiting mobility too much. A roomier toe box helps avoid hotspots, although may not suit those with very narrow feet. The upper includes Activesupport 'wings' connecting the lacing system to the chassis, again to boost stability without adding too much weight, and the Quicklace fastening system is speedy and efficient.
Read our full Salomon X Ultra 4 GTX review
If comfort is your priority, check out the Lowa Innox Pro GTX Lo walking shoe. These vegan-friendly, synthetic shoes are buttery soft and lightweight and offer plenty of cushioned comfort to prevent fatigue during long days on your feet. Gore-Tex provides reliable waterproofing to keep your toes dry in wet weather. The soles use Lowa's own 'Multi Trac' technology, and while it's great on established terrain, it doesn't provide enough grip for really gnarly mountain terrain. If you're planning on spending a lot of time on groomed trails from spring through to autumn, these would be an excellent pick. (We've tested out the women's version of this shoe.)
Read our full Lowa Innox Pro GTX Lo review
A summer 2021 update to the classic Adidas Terrex Swift R2, the Adidas Terrex Swift R3 Gore-Tex Hiking Shoe comes absolutely packed with tech and is surprisingly robust and secure feeling for the relatively lightweight (just 395g). There's a near-solid 'promoderator' midfoot to add stiffness to the sole – in fact, you might even feel a little heel lift initially – along with a rock protection plate in the forefoot. This stiffer sole provides a great platform for use on sloping terrain, and a cushioned midsole keeps things comfortable. A deep heel cup offers extra ankle support, and the Continental rubber outsole with 4.5mm lugs delivers excellent grip on all but the slipperiest surfaces. You can choose between Gore-Tex and standard versions – the former being (of course) waterproof, while the latter is more breathable.
Read our full Adidas Terrex Swift R3 Gore-Tex review
The styling might be unorthodox, but behind the Hoka One One Anacapa Low's big, bouncy exterior lies an actually very competent walking shoe. Where they particularly shine is on the comfort front: the deep sole unit, coupled with a flexible, lightweight nubuck and recycled polyester upper, makes this super-plush and deadly comfy straight out of the box.
While the aggressive tread pattern provides plenty of grip, note that the Vibram Megagrip doesn't extend across the whole sole, leaving the soft EVA midsole exposed under the foot arch – which could be potentially problematic in the long run if you're tackling abrasive surfaces on the regular.
The additional heel insert locks the foot in place and provides extra cushioning around the achilles. One word of warning, though – while the extended heel is far, far less dramatic than you'll find on the Hoka One One Ten Nine Hike, it's bulky enough to require extra care on rocky downhill stretches... and stairs, for that matter.
Read our full Hoka One One Anacapa Low Gore-Tex review
The Danner Trail 2650 Campo GTX conceals a sizeable roll-call of technology in a relatively lightweight and sleek package. Weighing in at a mere 340g per shoe, they're designed for long-distance hiking on reasonable surfaces, such as the epically long 2650-mile Pacific Crest Trail, after which these shoes are named. The upper blends old-school robust leather with textile panels, augmented with an all-new Gore-Tex membrane that’s bonded to the inside (dubbed Invisible Fit technology).
This aims to combine breathability with water resistance and toughness, with a side helping of comfort, thanks to the sock-like fit and membrane bonding. A TPU shank adds stiffness and stability – essential for long days on the trail, while that Vibram Megagrip sole will be grippy on most trekking surfaces, as well as around town if needed.
For tricky trails that involve technical scrambling or even bits of rock climbing, it might be better to don a pair of approach shoes, and our favourites are the Scarpa Mescalito. The Vibram MegaGrip sole delivers outstanding grip, and there's an extra rubber section over the toes to ramp up grip and protection further. Vibram Dynamis technology keeps weight down (around 780g per pair), while a bi-density midsole adds cushioning, making these comfortable over longer distances – not true of all approach shoes.
The breathable suede upper moulds to the foot over time (it's water-resistant rather than waterproof, but there is a heavier Gore-Tex version of these in the range). Note that it's not easy to get clean if you do end up encountering a particularly muddy match. If you’re staying on the flat, then you'll want to pick a less stiff shoe from our list, but if it's approach shoes you're after, this is our pick of the bunch.
Read our full Scarpa Mescalito review
The Arc'teryx Aerios FL Mid GTX are slightly higher cut than your average walking shoe, with a heel cuff that provides a little more protection and support around your ankles but dips to almost shoe height at the back (if you don't want the higher cut, the Arc'teryx Aerios FL GTX shoe is the same design but without the heel cuff). As you'd expect from Arc'teryx, these are minimalist, stylish and streamlined.
The sole is ultra-flexible, and the sticky Vibram Megagrip outsole delivers when it comes to grip, making these a great choice for situations where you want complete freedom of movement (for long hikes, we'd probably recommend something sturdier and more rigid, although in that case, you should really be opting for a boot in any case). They're great for warm weather excursions thanks to the breathable canvas upper and lightweight build.
While the toe bumper and heel cuff do add some protection from rough terrain, there are probably more robust options in this guide if you need something you can really bash about. Note also that while there is a Gore-Tex liner, some other reviewers have noted issues with waterproofing.
Read our full Arc'teryx Aerios FL Mid GTX review
It's not for every situation, but those who are interested in the barefoot movement should check out the Vivobarefoot Primus Trail II FG. If you haven't heard of Vivobarefoot, this brand's remit is footwear with very thin, flexible sole units and minimal outers for a natural gait, and a wide profile that allows your toes to spread out. Sounds a bit hippie, but we've never met anyone who'd tried Vivobarefoot and didn't love it.
To make these trail-friendly, the brand has used a sticky rubber compound that is designed to suit wet or dry, rocky or firm terrain, and added a textured arch for 'zonal grip'. In our review, our tester found these ultra-comfortable and commented that it's easy to forget you're wearing them. Of course, there are downsides to going for such a minimal shoe style – there's not much protection, and the minimal (4mm) lug height is limited in terms of the grip it can provide.
Read our full Vivobarefoot Primus Trail II FG review
These Columbia walking shoes are much more capable than their quirky looks would have you believe. They're certainly comfy, with a midsole that's cushioned without ever feeling wallowy, as well as delivering enough support and rigidity for most outdoor scenarios. Given their relative bulk (and weight – these aren't the lightest shoes in our roundup), they're also surprisingly dextrous. While the 'Navic Fit', which is designed to tighten over your mid-foot navicular bone to boost stability, isn't quite as unique as Columbia would have you believe, these certainly lock your foot in place very effectively.
The brand says these are for 'walking and running on diverse terrains’, but the tester in our review found that while they provide good grip on urban surfaces, manage fine on structured paths, and are also surprisingly effective on rock, these can't cope with deeper mud or scree. Be aware also that most of the protection here is coming via the chunky midsole because the mesh upper is pretty minimalist, and there's little in the way of a toecap. Overall though, a solid recommendation for urban explorers and footpath trekkers looking for something a little different.
Read our full Columbia Facet 60 Low Outdry review
How to choose the best men's walking shoes for you
So what do you need to consider when figuring out which pair for buy? The key is to pick a comfortable fit, as well as considering the terrain you'll be covering. The best men's walking shoes offer a reinforced sole (usually TPU) to fend off stones underfoot, a robust rand to protect the sides, and an aggressive, grippy sole.
Many walking shoes will have a waterproof membrane built in, which can be useful in wet grass, for example, but can also limit breathability if you’re really gunning it, so if you're thinking of picking up a pair of these, it's worth considering how you’ll mainly be using your shoes.
Unlike boots, rain resistance in walking shoes is a bit of a red herring, as without the closed calf of the boot your feet will be soaked in heavy rain, waterproofing or not.
Others have made their lightness and flexibility around the ankle more of a benefit by incorporating sticky rubber and protective high rands to deliver a hybrid approach/scrambling shoe that can cope with pretty much anything in the hills.
More aggressive tread patterns are ideal for muddy conditions, but handle rocky smearing poorly, while stickier rubber will wear out faster and can be slippy in muddy conditions.
Although spec is important, getting the right size is absolutely essential. It's a good idea to try on a few pairs to get a good idea of any potential issues. Also, keep in mind that if you are planning high-energy walking pursuits, you might want to size up as you would for running shoes, because your feet will swell over longer stretches.
How we test the best men's walking shoes
To put together this ranking of the best men's walking shoes, we call the shoes in (or hand them over to outdoors gear experts) and take them out to put them through their paces. We'll try them out on a range of different kinds of terrain and weather conditions, to get a good overview of how they hold up in various circumstances, and review them based on things like comfort, grip, waterproofing, weight, and support. To get a rounded view, we'll also look at reviews from other customers, and see if there are any downsides we've missed. We'll also use our knowledge of the wider market to gauge how these weigh up against the competition.
Sometimes, we'll have tried the women's version instead of the men's, but in these cases it'll be clear in the product blurb. Very occasionally, we might not have been able to get hold of a product, but feel it's worthy of inclusion. In those situations, we research what other customers and reviewers have said, and combine that with what we know about the specs and brand to put together an informed blurb for you to base your decision off. Find out more about how we test at T3 here.
Do I need a pair of dedicated walking shoes?
The reasons for getting a good pair of shoes for walking are many and varied. The best options will improve performance by making your hiking easier and more comfortable. Plus, once you're done you'll be able to pop your muddy shoes in the boot and drive off in a fresh pair.
Proper walking shoes are ideal for lighter hikes, short approaches and summer rambles, as well as faster and lighter mountain expeditions. Although you'd be best off with the extra support of boots for the really rough stuff, some of our best men's walking shoes do offer a ‘mid’ style, providing some support akin to a boot but with more ankle movement.
Unsure which type of footwear is right for you? Take a look at our walking boots vs walking shoes guide to discover the key differences.
There's also a whole sub-category of walking shoes dubbed ‘approach shoes’, which build in more scrambling and rock climbing orientated traits, like sticky rubber and extended lacing to grip the entire foot tightly.