By Stacey Zable
Put your best foot forward on National Walking Day, April 7, 2021. The first step on your walking or hiking adventure? Purchasing the right shoe. Here are our top picks based on recommendations from experts who know their shoes!
Dr. Alan Bass, a board-certified podiatrist practicing in Manalapan, New Jersey, and a spokesman for the American Podiatric Medical Association (APMA), says a walking shoe should “provide good support and stability” and a toe box that is “high enough to accommodate the toes.” If hiking is the focus of your feet this spring, look for additional features such as a more durable shoe, a rubber sole, and good tread for walking on trails, says Bass. “Some other things that need to be considered are the terrain and does the shoe need to be waterproof/resistant,” he adds.
High or Low?
There are differences between high and low hiking shoes, according to Dr. Diane Koshimune, DPM, FACFAS, at Kaiser Permanente in San Jose, California, and another spokesperson for APMA. “Some hiking sneakers are low top with a stiffer sole and tread pattern which will allow for a mixture of walking and running potentially,” she says. “The high top variety may be cumbersome and limit ankle range of motion for comfortable running. A high top might be better for instances where you are walking off of the beaten path where the terrain can be rocky or uneven.”
Don’t just jump into long walks or hikes if purchasing shoes for an upcoming trip. Koshimune offers this advice instead: “If you are anticipating a walk or hike while you travel, be sure to work your way up to the distance and intensity of the hike prior to departing on your trip. You will also want to test out your walking shoes to make sure your feet will be as comfortable as possible while you trek around your travel destination.”
Both Bass and Koshimune agree that the key to finding your best shoe is quite simple: Put them on your feet. “People need to try on the shoes and walk around to see if the overall cut, width and size fit their specific needs,” says Koshimune.
Whether you’re strolling around town, trekking along local trails or hiking to the summit, kickstart your spring walking or hiking routine with these suggested stylish walking and low hiking shoes.
The company that produces the popular Dansko clogs has launched a new fitness/walking shoe. The lightweight Pace features Dansko’s new “Natural Arch Plus” technology for arch support and heel stability, plus a heel shock absorption pad, odor control shield and mesh uppers with 3M Scotchgard for stain resistance. Another option from Dansko is the sturdy Paisley for walking/trail walking with slip-resistance on snow and dry surfaces and waterproof uppers. Both available in women’s sizes only. MSRP: $140 and $145 respectively.
A road running shoe that can easily be used for walking, the Clifton 7 is the seventh iteration of this popular HOKA model. The light comfortable shoe has a plush collar and a full-compression EVA midsole for HOKA’s signature cushioning. If you are looking for an all-around trail running shoe, Challenger ATR 6 easily goes from one surface to another with all-terrain traction.The Gore-Tex model adds waterproof protection.. MSRP: Starting at $130.
A new evolution of Merrell’s popular Moab hiking boot launched last month with two new low shoes for heading out on the trail. The Moab Speed light hybrid hiker feels and looks like a sturdier sneaker but with more in terms of trail features for traction and stability. It also has a padded collar and protective toe cap.
The Moab Flight is a cushioned trail running shoe for tackling multiple conditions. MSRP: $120 and $110 respectively.
Two new trail shoes are available from Salomon. The waterproof low Cross Hike Gore-Tex offers more grip for varied terrain and movement and an “optimized heel brake” for stability when heading downhill. The low X Ultra 4 Gore-Tex is also waterproof and features all-terrain grip and greater stability and mobility on the trail. The woman’s version is designed just for them with specs that include softer material around the collar and heel. MSRP: $160 and $150 respectively.