Ideal for when you aren't going too high or too far and without too much weight on your back. Whether its a quick circuit round Blea Tarn or a walking holiday on Sicily, the lightweight support and comfort of a walking shoe is ideal over less serious terrain or for those who simply find the weight and bulk of a boot too restrictive.
Many of our Women's Walking Shoes have a waterproof liner of some kind, this keeps the worst of the weather and unexpected puddles at bay but can reduce breathability. A waterproof liner is ideal if you plan on using your shoes for winter valley walks, around town or in particularly wet conditions. Though the waterproof liner is guaranteed to keep you dry, it is worth bearing in mind that a lower cut will make the shoe more vulnerable to water going in and over the top, making a shoe less suitable for truly wet outings, through wet grass or flooded paths!
Walking shoes are often more flexible than boots or approach shoes, giving a more forgiving fit, with lightweight material uppers and soft EVA midsoles. This can mean they are less suited to rocky, loose or unstable terrain.
Leather - Many people swear by it and just as many swear at it. Traditionally the preserve of the red woolly sock brigade, intent on massacring their feet; leather has come on a long way. With new cutting and construction technology, leather shoes are lighter, softer and better made than ever before. They still tend to be heavier than fabric alternatives and the leather can add a stiffness to the uppers, which some people like as it lends extra support. Leather is naturally waterproof and traditionally has never required any extra waterproof layers but brands increasingly use membranes such as Gore-tex for added protection against potential leaking through seams and wear points. This can mean a less breathable boot than some fabric or mixed material options. Leather, if looked after, tends to last longer than lighter materials and so, though often initially more expensive, they can represent a more economical choice.
Fabric - Fabric shoes tend to be lighter, softer, more breathable and with a greater scope for funky styling but they also tend to be less durable when compared to leather alternatives. With extra stitching across the uppers, cleaning fabric boots can be tricky but unlike leather, they don't require the same level of conditioning and moisturising.
Sole Unit - The majority of our brands use some form of rubber sole and for most that means Vibram. There are many different types of Vibram sole, with many manufacturers looking to use different combinations of rubber compounds to reach a balance between durability and traction on a range of surfaces. For muddy and wet conditions, look for deep, wide-set lugs. For drier, rockier conditions, a flatter, more uniform sole with shallower lugs allows greater surface contact and traction.
Waterproofing - Most shoes use a waterproof membrane (be it Gore-tex or proprietary alternative) that works to keep water out and transport moisture away from the foot. The average foot sweats half a pint of water a day...that's a lot of moisture to shift so breathability is very important.
Last - The last refers to the shape around which a shoe is made. Each brand and range uses a certain last to get the desired fit. Some lasts suit some people better than others with variations in length, volume, arch, width and depth.
As a rule, in order of width from narrow to wide, our brands are as follows: Scarpa, Meindl, Five Ten, Keen - though this is a very rough guide.
Stiffness - The degree of required stiffness in the sole and from the upper depends on your intended use, past footwear choices, pack size and terrain. From soft and sloppy shoes on high street pavements and very easy clear paths with no pack or steep slopes to stiffer shoes that offer greater support and stability on longer excursions. Most walking shoes have a degree of stiffness to provide a stable platform for the foot when covering loose, uneven and slippery ground.
Lacing - Some shoes have lacing that extends further down the length of the shoe, this gives a greater degree of support to the foot for scrambling and rocky ground.
Rand - This is the rubber 'bumper' that shoes have around the toe-box and sometimes along the length of the shoe. This protects the material from the trail and provides friction against rock on any scrambly sections.
Caring for your Walking Shoes is easy, just rinse them off with fresh water (ideally after each walk) and occassionally use a specialist cleaner such as Grangers 30o Wash and apply a footwear proofer (again, Grangers Universal Proofer is ideal). Its also a good idea to remove the insole and rinse out the inside of the shoe, which can suffer from a build up of dirt, salt, oils and general nastiness. This will not only help to improve the breathability of the footwear but also prolong the life of your shoes/stop them smelling. Dry your Walking Shoes naturally, if they dry too quickly it can damage the uppers.