A pair of the best walking shoes for men can be the perfect footwear choice for everything from walking the dog to tackling a local footpath or two, commuting into town or holiday travel. 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 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.)
There are plenty of reasons why walking shoes do a great job for a variety of outdoor tasks, mainly as they’re built much better than your standard street trainer. Today's best men's walking shoes will be 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.
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.
With all this tech packed into them, it’s easy to imagine that walking shoes offer invincibility in the outdoors. This isn’t quite the case. If you’re venturing off the path and into more hilly and unpredictable terrain, you'd be better off consulting our best hiking boot or best women's hiking boot guides, as these will provide that all-important ankle support.
The best men's walking shoes 2022 ranking
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.
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.
The updated Arc’teryx Norvan SL 2 has a lot to recommend it, especially for the gram conscious. Weighing in at a featherlight 170 grams per foot, these won’t wear you down when toting them around – there are heavier flip flops out there. That weight cut is in part down to the adoption of Vibram’s LiteBase technology, which cuts the outsole weight by 30% by halving the thickness, but without durability penalty, according to Vibram. The Arc’teryx Norvan SL 2 is built around the Arc’teryx trail running platform, which means there’s plenty of protection for the speed hiker, and serious grip on tap too. That TPU mesh upper might not be waterproofed, but it’ll breathe incredibly well in all conditions, offsetting those damper moments. The collar has been tweaked to prevent debris entry too. Overall, when you want lightweight performance, this is a walking shoe to rule them all.
Merrell has gone all out with the MQM Flex 2, throwing a kitchen sink of tech and innovation into creating a technical and competent shoe. In spite of the name, the MQM is simply a great fast and light hiking shoe, especially at the business end, the outsole. That outsole is made from Merrell's 'mountain-grade' Quantum Grip rubber, and packs deep 5mm lugs arranged in a trail running-style format that really do grip well in most conditions. There’s an essential rock plate built in as well as a highly flexible midsole, which results in stiffness where you need it, but enough flex to get on with enjoying the trail.
While the bellows tongue does a decent job at keeping bits of the trail out of your boots, there are walking shoes that provide better protection against trail debris. It sits low enough to not impact adjustability, as well as allowing a wide opening for your size 11s. The beefy lacing system looks the part, incorporating an extra band across the arch of the foot, which helps capture the foot and hold it snugly on longer rambles. There are useful smaller touches too, such as the generous finger pull on the heel, and the TPU toe cap extends to protect much of the front of the shoe from abrasion. Finally, there’s a Gore-Tex membrane underneath the mesh to prevent rain stopping play without hindering breathability. It's a compelling package if speed is your priority – head to our Merrell MQM Flex 2 review for more info, or check out our Merrell Agility Peak 4 vs Inov-8 Roclite 280 comparison to see how it matches up against another speedy shoe.
New for AW21, 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.
The North Face Vectiv Escape is a hiking shoe that packs a huge amount of tech into the midsole and outsole, which is good news for hikers. The two-tone SurfaceCTRL Grip bristling with 3.5mm lugs does what it says on the tin, and that theme of duality continues into the dual-density 3D TPU plate that aims to provide stability and forward propulsion. A rocker midsole also contributes to energy return yield, a 3D-moulded heel counter adds support and prevents heel-lift. While the OrthoLite footbed may be more familiar technology, it does work, adding extra plushness to an already very springy shoe. Weighing in at a mere 334g per foot, The North Face Vectiv Escape is certainly lightweight enough for long days on the trail or sightseeing around town, whichever your day brings.
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 Jack Wolfskin Woodland Texapore is a real-all-rounder hiking shoe, offering a little bit of everything in a compact and lightweight package. JW’s own-brand waterproof membrane will keep casual dampness from wet grass or drizzle firmly at bay, while the sure-grip rubber outsole offers cushioning on harder surfaces, as well as enough grip for tackling well-maintained paths. That cushioning is enhanced further by a soft midsole sculpted from Reflex Foam, which provides a touch more energy return than a standard shoe. The Jack Wolfskin Woodland Texapore is aimed firmly at the everyday outdoor market, so isn’t enormously stiff, offering more all-day comfort across a range of surfaces and environments; a valley shoe for all activities, from sightseeing to hiking and cycling.
There’s a lot to be said for getting closer to nature, whether just listening to birdsong during your commute, or getting out into the countryside at the weekend for a long ramble. The Vivobarefoot Magna FG not only provides practical assistance in the latter, but also allows you to literally feel the earth through the soles of your feet. This is a key plank of Vivobarefoots credo, and involves relatively thin sole units that allow a natural gait, but are protective and enormously flexible into the bargain (our Vivobarefoot Tracker II hiking boot review will give you some idea of what to expect).
The Vivobarefoot Magna FG adds in a Woolmark knitted collar, adding flexibility to an upper made from free-roaming cattle leather. Internal wool lofting is comfortable, breathable and naturally anti-microbial to boot, while the Firm Ground outsole bristles with 4mm lugs designed for traction in all conditions – from around town to woodland walks, trails to trains, the Magna FG will take them on in style…
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.
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 Roclite 280 means business, being based on Inov-8's well-regarded trail running shoe platform, and looks it too. A robust rand protects your toes and the sides of the shoe from sharp rocks and the like, while an internal rockplate will fend off similar obstacles from below. The big noise, though, is the sole unit, boasting massive 6mm deep lugs, which will grip on just about anything. Inov-8 has tweaked the drop to a more hiking-friendly 8mm, as well as adding an External Heel Counter (EHC) for extra stability and support.
Weighing in at a featherweight 280g, there's no weight here at all to blame your tired legs on, in part due to the mesh upper. There's no waterproof membrane either, which gives the ultimate in breathability, although does mean that water runs both ways. Overall, if you're in the market for an incredibly lightweight, faff-free trail blaster that'll munch through whatever terrain you throw at it, this is a strong contender.
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 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 most recent Five Tennie cut it? In a word, yes! We're fans of the retro stylings, but if you prefer something more traditional there are more muted black/grey/green versions too, 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.
If you're tackling mountain approaches, take a look at the Arc'teryx Konseal LT. As well as delivering the streamlined silhouette we've come to expect from Arc'teryx, this latest iteration of the Konseal approach shoe has gone for the essentials first – it's very light, very durable and grippy. The latter is down to a super-sticky Vibram Megagrip outsole, while the lugs are specifically designed to add forefoot friction for better grip on smooth surfaces.
The toe cap and extensive sidewalls will fend off plenty of rough stuff, while a subtle squared heel adds improved braking ability in descents. A hidden but particularly ingenious feature is that the heel section is designed to fold flat, making them into camp clogs, also a very handy feature in belay shoes for the dedicated climber. Arc'teryx has finished the inner with barefoot comfort in mind too, making these ideal for summer camping trips, alpine adventures, and fast and light scrambles.
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.