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How to find the best boots and shoes for walking


A lot of us love to be stylish and wear the latest fashionable item of clothing. While following and setting trends is good, so is comfort. Yes, comfort. The reason why we’re highlighting is, is that when you’re walking, you need to pick clothes based on comfort and practicability, especially when it comes down to finding the best shoes or boots.

Whether you’re walking your daily commute or taking part in a walkathon, you don’t want to put yourself at risk and ruin injuring your feet. Therefore, you need to correctly select footwear, which optimizes your comfort level and protects your feet.

Now before telling you what the best shoes out there are, you need to know the following aspects of what makes a good walking boot or shoe.

1. Features of Good Walking Footwear 

Outsole

You must have a good sole for your shoe when walking, as this allows you to stay on track. The bottom of your walking shoe needs to have a grip that helps wet and dry conditions. 

In particular, if you’re walking in a wet or icy environment, the grip on your tread, i.e., your sole helps you stay upright on your feet. The last thing you want is to slip and break your leg!

Midsole 

Above the outsole, you’ll find the midsole, which you’ll need to know about when purchasing a shoe. The purpose of this is to help absorb your foot, preventing shock and making your walk more comfortable.

If you’re choosing a shoe, it may have a less thick midsole as there’s less cushioning due to providing stability. Whereas if you’re selecting a walking boot, you may want a stiffened heel cup to add to your balance. 

Insole

Depending on your feet, you may want a good insole. This is similar to your sole; however, it goes on the inside of your walking shoe or boot. The purpose of them is to provide you with more comfort, warmth, and a firmer fit. 

If your shoe is a bit bigger, an insole serves as a great way to make up the room and support your foot. Because of this, you’re less prone to getting blisters as your foot as less room to move about in the shoe as it’s firmly in place. 

Moreover, this can improve your walking posture and simply prevent you from experience any difficulties from the arch of your feet. Insoles are available in leather, foam memory foam, gel, and air-cushioned.

Which is the right insole for me? 

Well, first of all, we recommend locating a specific walking shop near you first. Generally, an outdoor store or a running store where a specialist is located. However, to give you a brief idea here are the benefits to each insole:

Leather insoles

These insoles are tough and take a lot to wear them out, they also strongly support the arch of your feet. However, when walking, the leather insoles can get a bit sweaty.

Memory foam insoles

These insoles are made of foam, which molds based on your foot’s shape and forms around it as it moves. This type of sole is very comfortable to place your feet on.

Air-cushioned insoles

If you are looking for extreme comfort and full support, then these may be the soles. This is because these insoles have pressurized air bubbles inside a foam sole, which adds extra life onto your shoes.

Foam insoles

If you’re looking for an insole that is friendly on your budget, you may wish to choose foam insoles. What’s great about foam is that it absorbs your foot’s shock with each move and is dependable. However, foam is the cheapest as this is a sole, which is quick to wear out.

How do I know if I need an insole?

Before you go to see a specialist, it’s essential to know if you need an insole. Similarly, if you’re purchasing a new boot or shoe for walking, we recommend asking the walking expert. However, we recommend reviewing your problems first to see if you require an insole. Such issues could be:

Too much room in your shoe

If you find that your shoes are too big for your feet and your feet are sliding about in your boot/shoe, you most likely require an insole. As what this does is, it covers the room and allows your feet to have more support. We recommend picking an insole that aligns well with your shoe size.

If your heel rubs against your shoes

There’s nothing worse than having a shoe that rubs against your heel when walking. After a time, this can wear the skin away, making it painful and cause lots of blisters or cuts. 

One way to rectify this problem could be getting a gel insole with a heel grip, which will prevent the rubbing or slipping. Similarly, is that does not help, you could try half an insole. The reason we suggest this is that specifically, these insoles focus on the heel of your foot.

If you find the balls of your feet ache or burn

Sometimes, after extended amounts of walking or merely new shoes, the balls of your feet could potentially ache. There are specific insoles that you can get which have a cushion to support providing your feet with relief.

Laces

Here at Walkathon, we hope you know how to tie your shoes, as the secret to an excellent walking shoe relies on great laces! While there are probably velcro shoes or slip ons out there somewhere, we feel the best boots or shoes require laces.

The reason behind it is that laces specifically help keep your shoe firmly in place while walking, and that way, it lowers the chances of injury. Similarly, it also helps your feet to be more comfortable. 

We also suggest seeking advice from a walking specialist as different lacing techniques help shape the boot and secure it in place. This is especially important if you have narrow or wide feet. 

Lining 

It’s essential when purchasing a boot or shoe for walking that you pick good lining. This is a material in your shoe that comes into contact with your whole foot. 

You must have the right lining in your footwear as it helps regulate your foot’s temperature and helps keep your feet healthy by allowing it to breathe. Generally, when getting an excellent walking shoe or boot, you’ll need the following lining:

Waterproof or Goretex Footwear Lining

If you’re walking in a typically wet environment, the last thing you need is water going into your shoes and then wetting your socks/feet. If you get waterproof lining, it may keep water out of your shoe, but could potentially build up a sweat from your feet inside. 

On the other hand, a practical option by keeping out the water, but a more breathable one is Goretex lining. This is a more premium form of lining; however, it keeps your feet more breathable and regulates the temperature inside of your shoe or boot. 

Leather Footwear Lining

If you want durable lining and comfortable lining for your feet, then leather may be right for you to choose for your walks. Over time, the leather molds to the shape of your foot and allows air to flow on the inside of your shoe.

Weight

When looking for a walking shore or boot, we feel the weight is one of the most crucial factors. You will want to make sure that the boot’s weight is particularly light so that your feet don’t require extra energy to lift it when walking. This is specifically important if you plan to walk long distances.

Upper Material

As the name suggests, this part of your walking shoe/boot is not in contact with the ground; however, it is supposed to provide you comfort, warmth, and protection. You must get an upper material that is lightweight and protective. 

Generally, the best upper materials are a mixture of leather and fabric. This helps for optimal ventilation, protection from the weather, flexibility, and excellent regulation of temperature. 

Toe Box

Going into a store, you’ll also want to consider your toe box. This is a section on the footwear which surrounds your toes. You must get a toe box that fits your foot style as otherwise, it can cause injury. The toe box on your shoe needs extra movement to allow you to move your toe when walking.

2. What’s better, walking boots or walking shoes?

When you visit a store, you’ll see a range of different styles and products. It’s most likely you will have questions arise into your mind do I choose a walking boot or a walking shoe? Ultimately, to decide which is the right one for you walking, you need to consider the following factors for your shoe’s purpose.

Terrain

When going into a store to buy your shoe or boot, you need to consider the terrain you’ll be walking on. Will you be walking on a smooth/flat surface? If so it’s best you get a shoe as it’s flexible and light on your feet. 

Perhaps you’re going trekking or walking on more rocky surfaces? If your walkings involve a rougher type of terrain, you’ll need the full support of the walking boot. This is because they offer extra protection and more robust support on your feet and ankles, against harsh surfaces.

Weight

Generally, for all types of walking shoes, we recommend a lightweight shoe as it requires less energy and effort to lift on your feet. However, boots tend to be heavier than shoes. 

If you need a boot for other purposes, we recommend trying several walking boots as they can help you get an idea of its weight. Not every walking boot has the same weight!

Weather

You may not always need the same walking shoes for your walks. When going into the shop, really think about the type of environment you walk in and the climate of that environment. 

Similarly, if you’re planning on participating in a walkathon, you will want to consider the weather and purchase shoes or boots that are best built for a specific type of weather.

Protection

Protection goes hand in hand with terrain, or should we say feet and feet! You want your feet to be protected from the outside; therefore, if you’re walking on a wilder terrain, we suggest getting boots. However, if you’re walking on a flat surface, shoes will be fine, as they are flexible based on your foot movements.

3. How to prepare for trying on walking boots or walking shoes

It’s important to us that you get the best walking boot or shoe for your walking adventures. Which means making you optimize your feet for the shoe or boot. You can do this by:

Seek advice and try on before buying

Instead of purchasing online at first, we wholeheartedly recommend going to a specialist outdoors store and trying on walking shoes or boots before buying. 

As this is when you can get a general feel of the shoe and see if it suits your walking style. Similarly, there are many walking specialists there who can advise you on which is the best shoe or boot for you, based on your requirements.

Wear long thick socks

Often when you’re walking, you’re going to be wearing thicker socks than you would be for your daily wear. By wearing long thick socks, you have a best estimate of how your feet will feel in the shoe or the boot before you purchase.

Get a size larger than your shoe size

As you will be wearing thicker socks when walking, it’s suggested you get a size one up from average. This is because there will be less room for you feet. 

Similarly, when you walk your feet expand and you will need extra room to accommodate your feet in your shoes or boots. A good tip for trying on walking boots or shoes is to try them on in an afternoon as generally, your feet expand then.

Make sure your shoes or boots are not too tight!

You want your shoes or boot to fit nice and secure on your feet while walking. However, if they’re too tight, it could make your feet later prone to blisters or injuring your metatarsals. The best way to make sure your big toe does not touch the inside part of the shoe.

Also, there are outdoor stores with a ramp or a treadmill that allow you to check your gait and balance. By simply stepping on one of these, it serves as an excellent measure to see if your shoes are too tight or not.

The fit must be right the first time around

Unlike other shoes, walking shoes or boots are not something that needs to be broken into. You need to make sure they fit well the first time when trying them on in the store.

4. Good hygiene practice for walking shoes or boots

When you purchase your shoes or boots, it can be great at first. However, to care for your feet, you need to maintain proper hygiene practice by looking after them. Now and again, we recommend to do the following:

Cleaning

If you’re walking in a muddy environment, you will want to clean your shoes or boots. If dirt lingers in the sole of them, you could lose grip in the long term and reduce the waterproof aspect of the shoes. Therefore, to get rid of the dirt, you may want to use a brush with medium bristles and scrape the mud off the bottom.

Drying

Suppose you walk in a wet environment or have sweaty feet from long walks. You will want to dry your shoes or boots out. We don’t recommend drying them by a fire as they can cause your boots to crack. The best way to dry them is to let them air out naturally, and if you stuff newspapers inside of them, this absorbs the moisture.

Removing the odor 

Our feet are all prone to letting off a smelly odor now and again. If you don’t look after them, this can reduce their breathability and waterproofness. After many times of walking in your shoes or boots, it may cause them to smell. To remove the smell, fill them with lukewarm water for up to 12 hours. Then remove the water. 

Coating or Conditioning

Over time, you may need to apply an extra coat or layer onto your boots or shoes. This is not always the case, so we suggest speaking to an outdoors expert on this based on your boot or shoe. If you need to, they will be able to recommend sprays or washes to add an extra protection layer onto your shoe or boot.

You probably clicked on this post expecting the best boots or shoes for walking. Here at Walkathon, we feel the best is entirely subjective based on your walking style and the purpose of your walks. 

Even the top-rated ones out there change each year! However, we hope, based on the steps required of what makes a good boot/shoe, what’s the difference and how to look after them helps you purchase a comfortable yet sturdy one.

Happy walking! 

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