Best men’s walking shoes 2020: stay sure-footed in any weather and on all trails

We run down the best men's walking shoes, offering protection and support without the bulk of boots

Best men's walking shoes: brown Danner walking shoes
(Image credit: Danner)

Welcome to T3's guide to the best men's walking shoes. Not all outdoor occasions call for boots. Indeed, there’s a huge range of trekking, trail and footpath action that is much more comfortable in a quality pair of walking shoes.

The best walking shoes hit an almost exact midpoint between the more robust and heavy hiking boots, and the street shoe or trainer (if you're not sure what you're after, you might also want to check out our pick of the best hiking boots and the best running shoes). They’ll provide support and comfort, but are also lightweight, flexible, usually waterproof, and often with an enhanced lacing system of some kind to lock the shoes into place. 

That increased support is essential for longer days and rougher terrain, where street or fashion shoes might just give up and die, while the improved cushioning should fend off the effects of sharp stones and other debris. 

If in doubt about the severity of a route then boots are usually the safest bet, and also bear in mind that serious mud and flood water can really only be defeated with a classic pair of the best wellies – however, for everything else, grab a pair of the best walking shoes and you'll be ready to hit the trail.

How to pick the best men's walking shoes

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.

The best men's walking shoes to buy now

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best men's walking shoes: KEEN Venture Vent

(Image credit: Keen)
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best men's walking shoes: KEEN Venture Vent

(Image credit: Keen)

1. Keen Venture Vent Walking Shoe

The best men’s walking shoes for summer adventure

Best for: All round
Material: Mesh upper with TPU overlay
Waterproof: No
Reasons to buy
+Super-breathable+Lots of traction+Fast and light

In many ways the Keen Venture Vent walking shoes are based on a simple idea: take a very breathable mesh upper, add in some midsole cushion, finish with massive 4mm lugs for traction. The result is more than the sum of these parts though, delivering enormous breathability for those warm summer days, but with a rugged underfoot platform that inspires confidence.

There’s a neat interlocking heel-capture system that does what it says on the tin – minimising heel lift – while still allowing a relatively stiff stability shank for support. Meanwhile a dual-density footbed treated with KEEN’s Eco Anti-Odor system emphasises comfort – both your own and your co-adventurers' – and finally a non-marking sole leaves no trace. A simple, yet well-executed summer trail specialist. 

2. Columbia Vitesse OutDry Shoe

The ultimate stealth walking shoe

Best for: City saunters
Material: Mesh
Waterproof: Outdry membrane
Reasons to buy
+Waterproof+Fast and light

The Columbia Vitesse OutDry Shoe is the ultimate stealth walking shoe. It may look more like a big-brand fashion trainer than a serious bit of outdoor kit, but appearances can be misleading – this ‘multi-sport’ sneaker has plenty of plus-points.

There’s a breathable mesh upper to keep you cool in the summer months, an Ultralight Midsole with enormous cushioning for all-day comfort, and a grippy Omni-Grip sole for plenty of traction. Crucially for an outdoor shoe, the Columbia Vitesse OutDry has an Outdry waterproof membrane built in to keep dampness at bay. A capable all-rounder that belies its look. 

Best men's walking shoes: Arc’teryx Aerios FL GTX

3. Arc’teryx Aerios FL GTX

The best men’s walking shoes for feeling like you’re walking on air

Best for: Trail to pub
Material: Cordura mesh
Waterproof: Gore-Tex membrane
Reasons to buy
+Waterproof+Superb stability+Fast and light

The T3 Award-winning Arcteryx Aerios FL GTX sports a seamless, smooth flow of upper that could grace anything from a mountain pass to a conference room, making them the best men’s walking shoes for a huge range of environments.

That cordura outer is not only rugged, it’s breathable too, enabling your toes to breathe. That should keep sweaty feet and odour to a minimum, which is especially important during the warmer months. An internal Gore-Tex membrane keeps water out if you’re exploring in wet weather.

The Aerios FL GTX Shoe has some key features inspired by high-end trail running shoes, including a protective compressed EVA midsole and integrated TPU shank. Not only do these shoes give you enhanced grip (via a Vibram Megagrip outsole) on uneven surfaces, they reduce shock impact and foot fatigue, so you can walk for longer in sheer comfort.

Check out more of this year's award winners on our main T3 Awards 2019 page.

Best men's walking shoes: Adidas Five Ten Five Tennie Men's Approach Shoe

(Image credit: Adidas)

4. Adidas Five Ten Five Tennie Men's Approach Shoe

The best men’s walking shoes for hiking and climbing

Best for: Longer walks, climbing
Material: Leather upper
Waterproof: None
Reasons to buy
+Sticky Stealth rubber+Retro appeal+Fast and light

The Five Ten Tennie is a controversial beast. Once the undisputed king of approach shoes, thanks to robust construction and incredibly sticky Stealth soles (used for technical climbing shoes), then fallen on harder times and failed redesigns. Now resuscitated by Adidas, will the new Five Tennie cut it? 

In a word, yes! The new retro-color scheme is avoided with more muted black/grey/green versions if it all jars too much for traditionalists, and the Stealth rubber is as sticky as ever. There’s enough flex in the shoe to use the huge toe welt for smearing, and enough stiffness in the midfoot to walk as many miles as you need to.

This best men’s walking shoe contender has the addition of a sock-like knit inner provides support, and gives confidence in the fit when the laces are tightened. For scrambling and on up, these are excellent foot-soldiers. 

Best men's walking shoes: Jack Wolfskin Scrambler XT Texapore Low

(Image credit: Jack Wolfskin)

5. Jack Wolfskin Scrambler XT Texapore Low

The best men’s walking shoes for when trekking is on the cards

Best for: Lightweight trekking
Material: : leather upper
Waterproof: : Texapore O2 membrane
Reasons to buy
+Allround capabilities+Waterproof+Durable

The Jack Wolfskin Scrambler XT men’s walking shoe offers something for every man. There’s a ‘rock zone’ of stickier rubber in the toe for climbing and scrambling, a cushioned midsole for day-long treks, waterproof membrane for those damper moments, and a leather upper for extra trad points. 

A simple but effective lacing system is highly unlikely to go wrong in the hills (and is easily repaired if needed), and the Vibram sole has a deep tread to tackle all types of terrain with ease. 

Best men's walking shoes: Mammut Alnasca Knit Low

(Image credit: Mammut)

6. Mammut Alnasca Knit Low

Technical mountain shoes for the brave

Best for: Mountain walking, scrambling
Material: Vent mesh, 3D knitted
Waterproof: None
Reasons to buy
+All-round mountain tool+Technical spec+Bright colourways

The Mammut Alnasca Knit is no wallflower in the looks or spec departments. A 3D-knitted sock gives a snug fit to all foot shapes, provides impressive breathability, and the knit is reinforced on the outer sides to shrug off abrasion. 

The SOFtech EVA wedge in the heel of these men’s walking shoes is designed to give a smooth ride over rough trails and paths, while the Michelin Rock Tech sole boasts grippy OCX rubber for solid traction. That traction also aided by a deep lug profile, and accompanied by a ‘climbing zone’ up front for when things get more vertical. A worthy contender for our best men’s walking shoes guide.

(Image credit: Merrell)

7. Merrell Zion GTX

The best men’s walking shoes for hitting the streets and trails

Best for: Urban chic
Material: Ballistic mesh & durable leather upper
Waterproof: Gore-Tex membrane
Reasons to buy
+Waterproof+Trail tech-powered+Excellent grip

The Merrell Zion GTX means business from the ground up, gripping the terrain with a 5mm lugged Vibram Megagrip sole that gives away this shoe’s trail running heritage. That’s no bad thing for walking shoes, giving you support but flexibility, lightness and strength in a package that oozes outdoorsy-urban-crossover cool without overstepping any boundaries.

Indeed, that trail-ready design delivers helpful elements in plentiful abandon, from a bellows-tongue that repels debris, durable metal eyelets and a FlexPlate torsion bar embedded in the sole unit, through to the inevitable but useful Gore-Tex membrane. 

Finally there’s a fair amount of waterproof full grain leather as well as breathable mesh in the upper, providing strength, durability as well as comfort and a certain amount of style. Overall, if you’re looking for walking shoes that won’t embarrass if you wear them to work, but still deliver on the trail, these are among the best out there.

(Image credit: Vivobarefoot)

6. Vivobarefoot Magna Trail

The best men’s walking shoes for feeling the ground beneath your toes

Best for: Barefoot wandering
Material: Cordura mesh
Waterproof: Water-resist
Reasons to buy
+Sensory delight+Grippy+Foldable
Reasons to avoid
-Not for everyone

The Vivobarefoot Magna trail gtxis a somewhat different beast, looking more akin to a dive bootie than a walking shoe, but outward appearances can be deceptive. Vivobarefoot (as the name implies) are keen advocates of the barefoot movement, which in this case has resulted in a super-thin but very puncture proof sole material. 

Transferring this into a walking shoe has quite a few benefits, as you can really ‘feel’ the ground beneath your toes, improving grip and balance. This is helped out by multi-directional 3mm lugs, which do a good job of gripping in the wet and mud. Meanwhile a seamless stretch ECO neoprene ankle sock does an excellent job of sealing out trail-related debris, and a thermal insole ups usability in the colder months. 

If that wasn’t enough, there’s an eco card to play too - the webbing and laces are made out of 50% recycled PET, and the heel counter lining is recycled microfibre. Sometimes, different is good…

Best men's walking shoes: Keen Venture in electric blue

7. Keen Venture

The best men’s walking shoes for exploring on and off-road

Best for: Fuss-free walking and trekking
Material: Lightweight performance mesh upper
Waterproof: KEEN.Dry waterproof
Reasons to buy
+Versatile performer+Odour control+Waterproof

The Keen Venture is equally at home whether you are tackling rough trails and steep slopes or strolling down the road with the dog. It's an excellent multipurpose walking shoe, which benefits from a stability shank, 4mm lugs on the sole and a combination of waterproof membrane and breathable mesh, which keep your feet dry.

TPU overlays provide protection from abrasion, while an injection molded EVA midsole supports without adding too much weight.

The result? A strong best men’s walking shoe contender that’s seriously worth your attention. There are some nice additional touches too, like Cleansport NXT technology for natural odour control – a must for hot feet on summer walks.

We’re also digging the KonnectFit interlocking heel-capture system, preventing friction and heel-lift when the going gets tough. The streamlined design is easy to wear, and the orange and electric blue colourways make a nice change in the usual sea of black and grey walking shoes.

Best men's walking shoes: Arc’teryx Norvan VT 2 Shoe

(Image credit: Arc’teryx )

8. Arc’teryx Norvan VT 2 Shoe

The best men’s walking shoes when you feel the need for speed

Best for: fast and light walking and scrambling
Material: Evertex open mesh with TPU overlays
Waterproof: None
Reasons to buy
+Fast and light+Superb stability+Breathable

Fast and light might almost be a destination in itself, but the Norvan VT2 will certainly get you there quickest and in perfect shape. The revamped trail shoe from Arc’teryx is a couple of steps up from a pure-play trail running shoe, adding in better protection, more comfort for long days and better rock traction. 

Key additions include a TPU plate for rock protection, a forefoot climbing zone, and super-aggressive Vibram Megagrip rubber to take care of general trail mud, wet grass and the like. The super-breathable upper should help keep your cool when the going gets tough.

Best men's walking shoes: Asics Gel Odessy in black

(Image credit: Asics)

9. Asics Gel-Odyssey

These men’s walking shoes feel as comfy as your favourite slippers

Best for: : Recreational walking
Material: Oiled Nubuck Leather Upper
Waterproof: None
Reasons to buy
+Comfortable+Personalised fit+Lightweight

A slightly left-field choice, the Asics Gel-Odyssey are all about the cushion factor, which is no bad thing at all as these shoes are specifically made for walking comfort. All the tech has been pumped into the midsole area, with Solyte giving a plush but lightweight ride, backed up by a DuoMax dual-density system that enhances support and stability. 

There’s more to come with these men’s walking shoes, too, with memory foam in the heel that moulds to your foot, creating a personalised fit, whatever your foot architecture. In short, these might not win mountain challenges, but they’ll see you out and about in true comfort.

Best men's walking shoes: Danner Trail 2650 Mid

(Image credit: Danner)

10. Danner Trail 2650 Mid

The best men’s walking shoes for when you need to look stylish

Best for: hiking and trekking
Material: leather and textile
Waterproof: None
Reasons to buy
+Stylish+Mile-eating machine+Breathable

The Danner Trail 2650 is named after the vast 2,650 mile Pacific Crest Trail in the US, which is certainly a statement of intent if nothing else. Luckily the Trail 2650 has plenty else going for it too, with a range of colourways to suit every taste, and some robust build quality along for the ride. 

There’s serious design under the skin too, with a Trailguard TPU shank and an EXO Heel System adding strength, stability and long-distance durability to the shoe. The leather and textile upper is breathable, as well as hardwearing, making these highly likely to last the distance… even if your next hiking adventure falls a little short of 2,650 miles.

Best men's walking shoes: Helly Hansen Vanir Canter HT in Blue

11. Helly Hansen Vanir Canter HT

Trek like a Viking god with these light and flexible men's walking shoes

Best for: Lightweight, airy feel
Material: Engineered knit upper
Waterproof: HellyTech Performance Waterproof membrane
Reasons to buy
+Enormous grip+Lightweight and flexible+Waterproof+Town-to-pub ready

The Norse-god inspired Vanir Canter HT hi-tops are a world away from your traditional walking shoes, not only packing a sleek upper, but also high-tech protection and sticky rubber for off-road walking.

Massive tread on the outsole keeps your feet firmly planted, while a three-density midsole is there to lavish your feet with comfort, cushioning and spring in the toe. 

Helly Hansen has created these men’s walking shoes with a waterproof membrane. And with a design that looks like a cross between a kayaking shoe and a space-welly, you’ll be golden wearing these for wintery beach walks too.

Worried about your toes getting bashed by rocks and debris? Fear not, as that ruggedised upper, although an engineered knit, also sports built-in HellyWear Protection built in to protect your toes.

Best men's walking shoes: Hoka One One Sky Arkali

(Image credit: Hoka)

12. Hoka One One Sky Arkali

Enjoy max protection with these Kevlar-infused men’s walking shoes

Best for: Hiking
Material: MATRYX upper, lightweight weave with Kevlar
Waterproof: None
Reasons to buy
+Protective Kevlar upper+Rugged to the max

The Arkali draws on Hoka One One’s trail racing pedigree, resulting in a lightweight but extremely robust men’s walking shoe. An EVA top midsole in a running shoe style, allied with a PROFLY midsole, both contribute plenty to cushioning needs, without adding much in terms of weight. 

That said, there’s are without questions the chunkiest offering in our best men’s walking shoes buyer’s guide. Just letting you know so that you’re not blindsided by the size when you break these out of the box!

There’s also plenty of mountain heritage on show here, from a high-abrasion toe cap to massive 5mm (!) multi-directional Vibram Megagrip rubber lugs on the sole.

The MATRYX upper is where the real tech is baked in, being a fairly familiar lightweight weave, but with Kevlar strands threaded in for a particularly hard-wearing fabric that’s also mercifully breathable. 

Another unusual feature is a pair of ankle and heel straps, there to deliver improved stability on uneven terrain. Ultimately, if you want maximum protection for your feet when walking, and you don't want proper hiking boots, you’ll be safe in these.

The best men's walking shoes: AKU Tenga Low GTX

13. AKU Tengu Low GTX

A great technical walking shoe for all types of weather

Best for: Technical performance
Material: Full Grain Leather
Waterproof: Gore-Tex
Reasons to buy
+Brilliant quality+Reliable choice for all situations

AKU's Tengu Low takes the firm's popular Tengu GTX boot and shrinks it into a shoe format, meaning you get much of the benefit of the Tengu GTX's award-winning design in a more compact package.

Of particular note is the enormous protective rand, as well as a super-stiff 4-2mm nylon and die cut EVA last. The upper is a mix of suede and ‘air 8000’, for ace breathability, while a Gore-Tex elastic sock takes care of water ingress and egress.

The best men's walking shoes: Adidas Terrex Voyager

14. Adidas Terrex Climacool Voyager

The best men’s walking shoes for wet weather conditions

Best for: Breathability on humid walks
Material: Synthetic
Reasons to buy
+Stealthy design+Impressive grip

Adidas' shoe-based answer to an amphibious landing craft, the Voyager is designed for extremely wet conditions, such as gorge walking or coasteering. The big sell is a quick-drying Climacool upper and a built-in drainage system through the sidewalls to shift serious levels of water. 

There are other reasons to put these on your shopping list... Including the Stealth rubber outsole, widely used in performance climbing shoes because of its stickiness.

That paired with a massive tread should give you solid grip when walking off-road outdoors. A baked-in Polygiene treatment on the liners should keep end-of-day pong to a minimum, too.

The final word:

The best men's walking shoes boost your comfort outdoors, and, depending on their design, keep your feet dry during rainy spells. In order to find the ideal pair for you, keep in mind what kind of walking you'll be doing the most. 

The reason we say that is because if you're just looking for walking shoes to wear on the school run or while walking the dog, you won't need all the tech found in something like the Hoka One One Sky Arkali. In that case, you'd be better off with the all-rounder Arc’teryx Aerios FL GTX or the pure comfort of the Asics Gel-Odyssey.

Going off-road? Pick up the pace with the Arc'teryx Norvan VT 2, or take on all terrain (and the pub too) with the Adidas Five Ten Tennie.

About the author...

Mark Mayne is an outdoors journalist who specialises in camping, hiking, and diving.