So you’ve decided it’s time to get yourself some good quality walking footwear – perhaps you’re replacing an old pair, or maybe you’re new to the whole rambling game and are taking the plunge for the first time.
You head to your favourite outdoor retailer (Winfields, obviously) to find the pair you want, and then you’re met with something you hadn’t accounted for – the choice between walking boots and walking shoes.
Related: When To Replace Your Walking Boots
For seasoned walkers, there’s a good chance you’ll know the difference between walking boots and walking shoes, but for some it might cause some confusion. Choosing the right walking footwear is incredibly important, so it’s essential you know which type you need.
Here’s what you need to know…
As you might expect just by looking at them, walking shoes are lighter than walking boots. In fact, walking shoes can be about half the weight of a pair of leather boots. Lighter walking shoes also give you a little extra manoeuvrability, so if you like to be a little more fleet of foot and don’t like the feeling of heavier boots, then a lighter option might be preferable.
Support & protection
Having adequate support is incredibly important when it comes to choosing the right walking footwear. Walking boots have much higher ankle support and are usually thicker, which can help guard against ankle twists and sprains, as well as cuts, scrapes and bangs. Boots also generally have stiffer soles that offer a bit more protection and support for the soles of your feet.
With the UK having the delight of such varied weather conditions, it’s vital that your footwear can stand up to whatever’s thrown at it. Most walking boots will have a waterproof, breathable liner that will keep your feet dry when it’s raining and even when crossing streams – as long as the water doesn’t go over the top of the boot, obviously, in which case you’d need to use gaiters.
Walking shoes won’t always have a waterproof lining, and are therefore best suited to drier weather. This also makes them more breathable, which is useful during the summer months. Shoes that do have a waterproof lining will consequently be less breathable unless they feature a breathable membrane, such as GORE-TEX.
It’s always worth adding some water repellant to your boots or shoes to help improve their level of waterproofing.
What type of walking are you doing?
The type of walking you do is one of the key factors that will determine whether you choose walking boots or shoes.
The extra support offered by walking boots makes them more suited to rockier, uneven terrain, while the deeper tread on the sole also makes them a good choice for muddier conditions. Conversely, for flatter terrain that’s easier to walk on, walking shoes should be more than adequate.
For longer walks, you have to weigh up whether you want the extra support of walking boots or the lighter weight of shoes – as well as taking into account waterproofing and other factors.
Should you buy walking shoes or walking boots?
As a general rule, if you’re doing more casual, lightweight walking then a pair of walking shoes should do the trick. However, if you’re doing more intensive, longer distance walking over challenging terrain, then walking boots are certainly the choice we would recommend for the colder months.
But if you can, then our ultimate advice would be to buy both! That way you can wear the appropriate footwear for whatever type of walking you’re doing. Being able to alternate between pairs will also make them last longer – plus walking shoes look better with shorts!
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Last modified: December 6, 2018