The best walking boot
If you spend more time walking or standing than the average person, either at work or during recreational activities, it's time to reexamine your footwear choices. To stay comfortable and protected when you're on your feet, make sure you're wearing walking boots.
Sneakers are comfortable but lack rugged construction, and hiking boots are too bulky for everyday, all-day wear. Walking boots borrow the best features of both styles and transform them into all-purpose footwear. With flexible and supportive features, plus tough construction to traverse various terrain types, walking boots keep you on track to your destination.
Wondering which pair is right for you? Our buying guide to walking boots introduces you to various styles, and we're even including our top recommendations. Our favorite pair, Salomon Men's Quest, has an extended padded shaft to provide a moderate amount of ankle support.
Considerations when choosing walking boots
Walking boots vs. walking sneakers
The main difference between walking boots and walking sneakers is weather resistance. Walking sneakers have mesh panels and breathable materials, but this means your feet can get wet in rainy conditions. Walking boots, on the other hand, are usually waterproof or water-resistant, plus their thicker outsoles are better suited for walking on muddy ground.
Walking boots vs. hiking boots
You'll have to take a closer look to tell the difference between walking boots and hiking boots. The best way to tell these styles apart is to compare outsoles. Hiking boots have rugged, well-defined treads. Those on walking boots have a hybrid sneaker-boot tread, which is part of a more flexible outsole. Walking boots are often more comfortable and lighter than hiking boots as well.
Many walking boots are made of leather since it's durable and long-lasting and gives these styles a traditional boot appearance. Mesh paneling is often present on walking boots to promote ventilation and keep the boots lightweight. Gore-Tex is often used in walking boots, as its membrane is capable of both repelling liquids and allowing air flow through the boot.
One of the main features to compare in walking boots are outsoles, as their design can affect the overall fit and feel of the boot. They should be moderately flexible to support your foot's natural flexion with every stride. Perhaps the most important part of the outsole, the treads, should be well enough defined to provide a moderate amount of grip to the ground.
Walking boots are equipped with various types of lining to suit your needs. Padded linings are ideal if you prefer more support and comfort, while thinner linings are preferred by those who wear thick socks or braces. There are also walking boots lined with shearling, faux shearling, plush, or fleece to keep you warm in colder temperatures.
The vast majority of walking boots are cut above the ankle and higher, with some shafts reaching mid-calf height. This provides ankle support through a flexible design with a moderate amount of rigidity, which aids at keeping sprains at bay. If you need more in the way of cushioning, opt for walking boots with padded shafts.
Decent walking boots that last through a couple seasons cost $50 to $100. Those priced closer to $150 have more rugged construction, and hold up well with regular wear. If you'd like the most in comfort and quality, be prepared to spend $150 to $300 on walking boots.
Q. Can I use walking boots in snow?
A. Not all walking boots are designed to protect your feet in snow, so make sure you invest in a pair with a waterproof shell and a fairly high shaft. It's also a good idea to choose a pair whose outsole has a modest platform, as this will help you trek through snow and uneven ground more easily.
Q. Do I need to treat my walking boots with water-repellent products?
A. Some walking boots are designed with waterproof or water-repellent materials, so it's not necessary. Others may not have these features, in which case it's recommended to treat the boots prior to exposure to wet weather.
Walking boots we recommend
Best of the best: Salomon's Men's Quest
Our take: Comfortable, capable pair with several rugged features.
What we like: Three-level lacing system ensures a proper fit. Contoured outsole promotes natural strides.
What we dislike: Occasional reports of sole and boot separation.
Best bang for your buck: Merrell's Women's Eventyr Bluff
Our take: Budget-friendly option that isn't bulky or heavy by any means.
What we like: 100% leather boot with soft knit heel collar. Well-defined grippy treads.
What we dislike: Some felt the ventilation could be better.
Our take: Lower cut and more casual option than other styles.
What we like: Signature Skechers comfort with air-cooled memory foam insole. Flexible sole.
What we dislike: Runs wide, so not recommended for those with slender feet.
Sian Babish is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money. BestReviews never accepts free products from manufacturers and purchases every product it reviews with its own funds.
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