More protective and robust than trail-running shoes and far lighter and less bulky than hiking boots, the best walking shoes for men are perfect for everything from easy strolls with the dog to long days on the trails. But there are so many on the market that making a decision as to which pair to buy can be a mind-boggling process. That's why we’ve put together this complete list of the best walking shoes to suit all tastes, budgets and types of walking terrain. (We've focused on men's options here – we have a separate guide to the best women's walking shoes.)
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 the majority of our time on the trails exploring quite easy coastal and countryside footpaths, where heavy hiking boots are simply overkill. The best walking shoes are cheaper, lighter and more comfortable to wear.
Today's best walking shoes are designed to lock your foot securely into place, perhaps with one of the many heel stabilising systems on the market, maybe just with a robust lacing system. This prevents blisters and hotspots forming (although we'd always recommend donning a pair of the best walking socks, too). There will also be a lot more protection around the foot too, such as toe and heel protectors and overlays over the instep, all designed to fend off sharp rocks, tree branches and general unpleasantness.
The best walking shoes aren't a cheap investment. Prices vary enormously, but right now it's well worth checking out our guide to the upcoming Black Friday Sales (opens in new tab) to see if you can score yourself a pair of the best shoes for hiking (as listed below) for a bargain price.
Walking shoes often incorporate a stiffer sole unit, perhaps with a plastic shank for lateral stiffness, and potentially with a rockplate to protect the sole of the foot from sharp pebbles underfoot. Finally, and quite importantly for casual rambles involving wet grass, a good walking shoe often incorporates a waterproof membrane to prevent the upper wetting out and beginning to rub uncomfortably.
The best men's walking shoes 2022 ranking
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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. Head to our Salomon X Ultra 4 GTX men's trail shoe review to find out more.
If comfort is your priority, check out the Lowa Innox Pro GTX Lo walking shoe. These vegan-friendly, synthetic shoes are buttery soft, 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 – head to our Lowa Innox Pro GTX walking shoe review for more info.
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 light weight (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 non versions – the former being (of course) waterproof, while the latter is more breathable. Head to our Adidas Terrex Swift R3 Gore-Tex review to find out more about how these hiking shoes performed in our tests.
The styling might be unorthodox, but behind the Hoka One One Anacapa Low's big, bouncy exterior lies and 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 these 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. Head to our Hoka One One Anacapa Low Gore-Tex review to find out more.
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 scrambing 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. Head to our Scarpa Mescalito review for more info.
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 (opens in new tab) 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 adds 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. Head to our full Arc'teryx Aerios FL Mid GTX walking shoe review for more info.
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 Vivobarefoot Primus Trail II FG walking shoe 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, the minimal (4mm) lug height is limited in terms of the grip it can provide.
The brand is very sustainability and ethics-focused, and the Primus Trail II FG shoes are entirely vegan, and made from recycled materials. The 'Bloom Performance' insole is actually created using algae biomass, and is the first sustainable alternative to synthetic and petrochemical EVA foam (it's also used in the brand's Vivobarefoot Ultra Bloom III water shoes). If you're looking for an ultra-comfy alternative to a traditional walking shoe, for casual rambles and use around town, these would be a great pick. Alternatively, for for slightly more protection, check out the Vivobarefoot Magna FG (opens in new tab), which has a knitted collar and a more durable, slightly heavier weight build.
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 Columbia Facet 60 Low Outdry 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.
The Five Ten Guide Tennies were many an outdoor instructor's favourite approach shoe, and while the changes in design have been met with mixed reviews, we think the most recent version from Adidas are still an outstanding choice. They're lightweight, as comfy as your favourite trainers and come with an effective lacing design and heel-hugging fit that keeps them securely locked in place. You might want to size up compared to your usual approach shoe size – there's a wide toe box and these generally fit bigger than approach shoes tend to. A leather upper provides some natural protection from the elements, but there's no waterproof membrane here, so they're better suited to excursions on fine days. In our Five Ten Guide Tennies review, our tester found the grip – which comes via a Stealth S1 rubber outsole with circular pads – impressive in both wet and dry conditions.
Next up in our best men's walking shoe guide are the Adidas Terrex AX4 GTX. They look lo-fi, but they're actually very robust and capable. A surprisingly stiff sole adds protection and confidence on uneven terrain, while the rubber sole provides plenty of sticky grip. The waterproof membrane works reliably well, although they aren't the most breathable shoes we've tested. Another thing to be aware of is that Adidas itself warns that these run small, so you'll want to size up if you're planning on wearing chunky walking socks with these in particular. That slim fit, combined with the generally streamlined design has a big benefit though: in our Adidas Terrex AX4 GTX review, our tester found these really excel when it comes to accurate and precise foot placement.
The Keen NXIS EVO WP follows the trend for taking established hiking shoe designs and adding trail/road running fit and features to create lightweight, fast footwear that are happy on most terrain. The Keen NXIS EVO blends Keen’s broad-foot build and stability with a waterproof, engineered knit upper and solid sole unit to produce a comfortable and robust shoe with a solid pedigree. The rubber outsole’s 4mm multi-directional lugs certainly offer plenty of grip on mixed surfaces, the Keen membrane is well-proven to keep damp at bay, and the TPU overlays add protection and longevity to the breathable mesh upper. The heel capture system is a favourite on Keen shoes and boots, helping lock down the heel and prevent blisters and hotspots, as well as add stability in more precarious situations.
If you're looking for a leather shoe with a traditional look, the Ariat Skyline Low is worth your consideration. This men's walking shoe has a lot going for it; the leather is supple, the rubber soles bouncy, there's good arch support, and the overall build much more lightweight than you might expect. The mesh lining helps wick sweat away, but the heavier leather build is still probably best suited to cooler days. These aren't quite as hardcore as other, more specialised options in our ranking. For example, while the leather is naturally water-resistant, we're not sure these would stand up in a real downpour, and the grip, while great on dry ground, is less reliable on slick wet surfaces. In our Ariat Skyline Low review of the women's version, our tester found these shoes true to size, but other customers report heel slippage, so they're perhaps not the best choice for those with narrow feet.
Berghaus may be best known for its solid and reliable hiking boots, but the Berghaus Explorer FT Active GTX shows that it can also turn its hand to lightweight and agile. Designed to survive in most conditions, these walking shoes feature a Gore-Tex upper that'll see off all but the worst weather while being surprisingly breathable. There's also excellent cushioning underfoot and a Vibram OPTI-STUD sole with just enough stiffness and a rand printed with rubber around the toes, heel and side to give you that bit of extra grip when you need it.
Designed by Berghaus to deliver the comfort of a well-built, traditional walking shoe, packaged with some of the energy of a trail runner, they do an impressive job of combining stamina and agility. You wouldn't want to run in them but you'd feel comfortable setting a rapid pace, however you may find them a little snug; be sure to try them on if you can. Head to our Berghaus Explorer FT Active GoreTex review to find out more. If you decide to buy, make sure you check our Berghaus discount codes page to see if you can lower the cost of your order.
The Haglofs Duality AT2 come with a specific USP that makes them perfect for travel. These walking shoes come with two interchangeable midsoles: one softer pair designed for hard surfaces like city streets, and a stiffer, firmer compound pair for more punishing pursuits and rocky trails. That does mean that there's basically no rigidity in the shoes themselves; there's just a rubber outsole. The midsole and insole are then bonded together to make one extra-deep, swappable unit, and that's where all the structural integrity comes from. That weirdness aside though, you're essentially getting two shoes for the price – or packing space – of one.
We got one of our writers to take these for a spin on city breaks in Brighton and London – read about how we got on with the Haglofs Duality AT2 shoes. Here's the short version though. The sock-style upper means these feel a little like slippers, and they are indeed ultra-comfy, especially with the softer sole unit in place. That softer sole is nice and flexible and delivers plenty of energy return. There are two different types of rubber working together – the forefoot uses an incredibly grippy compound that feels almost like a climbing shoe but we suspect will wear through fairly quickly, while the heel seems to be made from the much harder AHAR Plus (ASICS High Abrasion Resistance Rubber). We found that in this mode, with looser lacing, it was quite easy to roll off the moulded insole and onto the sharp, shaped edge of the sole, so it's worth checking the fit with this in mind before you leave the house. Swapping out for the hiking-focused insole changes the performance of the shoes entirely. These are much firmer, delivering extra support and protection from rocks and pebbles. There's no dedicated waterproof membrane, but the nubuck is water-repellant.
A final tip of the hat to Haglofs for manufacturing these responsibly – the sock and laces are made from recycled polyester, the midsoles incorporate algae-based Bloom Foam, the leather comes from a tannery audited by the Leather Working Group, and the DWR-treatment is fluorocarbon free.
The best men's walking shoes: what to look for
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.
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.
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.