5.36.3 How to Choose the Best Walking Shoes | Next UK Click here to use our accessible website
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Choosing the best walking shoes for you

Here in the UK, walking is a national pastime, and whether you’re an occasional stroller or die-hard hiker, the right walking boots are a must-have. This guide is here to help you find the perfect walking shoes to accompany every adventure.

 


Why do I need walking boots?

 

1. To reduce the chance of injury 

2. For ankle and knee support 

3. For better grip on rough, uneven terrain 

4. To promote good posture 

5. To keep feet warm and dry


Should I choose walking boots or walking shoes?


Which footwear you need will depend on the type of activity you are planning to do. As a general rule, if you are taking a casual walk, a pair of walking shoes should offer the support you need. For longer-distance trails over more challenging terrain, walking boots are recommended. Walking shoes offer support with a lighter weight that can be more comfortable and provide easier movement. But walking boots are more suited to rocky terrain with deeper treads that make walking safer and easier while offering extra support for ankles.


How are walking boots made?


Walking boots can be made with a range of materials, including suede, leather or mesh fabric. Which one you choose often comes down to personal preference. Fabric boots will often be lighter in weight and require less breaking in, but leather boots provide tougher protection from the elements and can last longer if well cared for.


From heel to toe


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Upper
This is the material that makes up the outer of the shoe. This is often made with leather, suede or a mesh fabric. 

Liner 
The lining inside the boots is often padded for comfort and can even be waterproof to keep toes dry. This should also be made with a breathable fabric to prevent excess sweating.

Midsole
Sitting between the lining and outsole, a midsole provides a shock absorbing layer that protects your feet from sharp objects and makes boots extra comfortable. 

Outsole 
Where the boot meets the ground. Often made with rubber, a good outsole is durable and provides resistance to keep you steady even on uneven terrain.

Are walking boots waterproof?


You might be surprised to hear that not all walking boots are waterproof. Choosing which is right for you often comes down to preference – waterproof footwear provides ultimate protection against the elements and prevents uncomfortable wet feet. While non-waterproof options offer unparalleled breathability and a lighter weight feel.


Which socks should I wear with walking boots?


Choosing the right socks depends on your planned activity and chosen footwear. Walking boots are often built to accommodate thick, wool socks for extra insulation and protection, while walking shoes are designed with a narrower fit better for moisture-wicking polyester or cotton socks.

How to fit new walking boots?


Your new walking boots may be packed with features, but without the right fit they can't support your feet as they should (and could potentially even cause more damage). To ensure your boots fit, follow these top tips:


Check the time of day

Your feet swell slightly as the day goes on, so bear this in mind if you’re trying new boots on. You might even need to take into account the time of year, as your feet will swell more in summer than they will in winter.


Wear suitable socks

It’s very important that you wear your normal walking socks when trying on a pair of new boots. If you don’t then you won’t get a true feel of how well they fit and how they’ll feel when you’re out on the hill.


Lace them up properly

If the boots aren’t properly laced up then you won’t get an accurate feel for how well they fit. Make sure the tongue is central and firmly lace the boots up, using all the eyelets. However, be careful not to lace them too tight or the boots will be uncomfortable.


Leave enough room at the end of the boot

Just like when you used to get new shoes, leave enough room at the end of the boot. This is particularly important with hiking boots because when walking up or downhill, your feet will need room to move depending on the angle of your feet.


Take a walk in them

If you really want to know what the boots feel like, then have a walk around in them. If possible, try and walk on different gradients to see how your feet feel in them going uphill and downhill.

How do I break in walking boots?


It is important to break in your boots before taking them on a long hike. Even the perfect fitting boots will need time to get used to your feet. Start by wearing your boots inside the house with the socks and insoles you’re going to pair them with. Take walks around town, ensuring they feel good at each stage before upping the distance. As you begin to hit the trail, your boots will gradually continue to sync with your feet so you can enjoy many comfortable miles in your new shoes.

Why do my walking boots cause blisters?


Low quality or ill-fitting footwear can often cause blisters. Prevent blisters by ensuring your boots are the perfect fit, choosing the right socks and breaking in your footwear slowly.

Cleaning your walking boots


After a long walk, your boots will be nice and muddy. To ensure they stay fresh for longer, cleaning your boots after each walk or hike is essential. Remove mud and dirt with a soft brush and allow them to air dry. This doesn't just help with appearance, but will also mean the upper will last for longer.

Caring for your boots


Effective aftercare is an essential step in ensuring your new walking boots last for longer. We've put together a simple guide on how to care for your boots here.

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