Walking Boots vs Walking shoes: Which is right for you?
The main difference between walking boots and walking shoes are firstly the style, with walking boots being sturdier, often with a thicker sole and a higher collar for added protection. Walking shoes are generally lighter weight, and may not always have some of the technical features found on walking boots, such as waterproof linings or reinforced soles. The key difference between walking boots vs walking shoes are the types of terrain and walks you will be able to do in them.
If you are a well seasoned hiker or trail walker, it’s likely you’ll be confident in knowing what is the right footwear when it comes to choosing walking boots or walking shoes. But if you are unsure which walking footwear to buy for your outdoor pursuits, we’ve picked out a few key factors you should consider when you are deciding ‘should I wear walking boots or walking shoes?’.
We will cover the following questions to help you decide:
- What type of walking are you doing?
- What are the weather conditions?
- How long will I be walking for?
- How do I choose the right boot or shoe for protection?
What type of walking are you doing?
The main deciding factor between whether you should opt for a hiking boot or a walking shoe is the type of walking you’re doing. So, if you are going off the beaten track and climbing uphill, or covering rocky uneven terrain that will require extra support then choose hiking boots. If you are sticking to more established pathways and trails, low level routes and consistent ground then walking shoes would be a better choice.
Long Distance Walking
Both walking boots and walking shoes are great for long distance walking, but which is best depends on the nature of your walk. Walking boots are better for uphill walking across more treacherous uneven terrain, as most of them offer waterproof protection, ankle support and grip, whereas walking shoes are lighter shoes and more comfortable to walk in for lengthy distances on a flatter and more even ground.
Not only that, but they also make light work of bouldering and climbing due to being less restrictive around the ankle than walking boots. The lighter weight your walking shoes are the further you will be able to go, providing it is on the right type of ground.
When venturing out on a hike it’s important that your feet are fully supported and prepared for the long walk ahead with a good pair of appropriate hiking footwear. Many hikers will know hikes tend to be made up of rockier terrains, and walking boots provide that support and protection for your feet and ankles.
Short Daily Walks
For shorter, less strenuous walks, walking shoes are a much more comfortable and appropriate option. They aren’t as restrictive as walking boots and for short daily walks they require less protection and support in comparison to longer more challenging walks.
What are the weather conditions?
As unpredictable as the British weather may be, it is also an essential factor that should be taken into account when choosing walking boots vs walking shoes. So before setting off on a hike or long distance walk it’s wise to check the weather forecast so you can make an informed decision of your footwear!
Walking boots can have many features that walking shoes don’t provide, which can help you against the various weather conditions, even if you’re experiencing more than one weather front during your walk – always the case in Britain!
Also, if there has been a recent downpour before your walk, there are high chances that you will be in wet conditions and the ground will be muddy and more chance of wet feet therefore walking boots will do a better job of preventing any falls in the slippy conditions. This would be the last thing you want on your hiking trip – pun intended!
Walking boots are more durable and offer more waterproof protection than walking shoes, yet remain breathable. The waterproof lining many walking boots provide keep your feet warm and dry, and you’ll be thankful for the insulation that walking boots offer in the colder months. You’ll want to ensure that you use a waterproofing treatment on your boots before setting off on any hike or long walk to ensure your walking boots last longer in good condition.
For the warmer, brighter summer days, when your feet are likely to get hot when out walking, walking shoes are your best friend. The lighter shoes will allow your feet to stay cooler as there is less material around your ankle, and therefore allow your feet to breathe without the extra weight. You’ll be able to walk further for longer with the flexibility that walking shoes can provide compared to heavier more robust walking boots.
Delving into the colder, harsher winter months, you’ll want to opt for a pair of walking boots, as they’ll help to keep your feet warm and dry. The grip and support or walking boots will also help you tackle icy surfaces whilst you’re out walking.
Choosing the Right Shoe for Protection
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Walking boots can help to protect your feet in ways that walking shoes can’t due to the extra support and material. The higher collar that covers your ankles protects not only from scratches and bruises that may occur when walking off-trail and coming into contact with spiky branches and jagged rocks, but also on uneven ground where you are less likely to pick up an injury.
The thicker ankle covering of walking boots also helps prevent twists or sprains from occurring so boots may be a good option if you have uneven footing on your trail. Walking boots tend to have thicker and reinforced soles with extra grip, which cushions your feet better. Walking shoes offer lighter soles that on more level and consistent terrain are useful for longer distance, especially in warmer conditions to allow for more ventilation.
Consider the Distance
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Walking boots are great for walking long distances uphill and across uneven terrains, although they are noticeably heavier than walking shoes. This is necessary for mountain hiking, or off the beaten track trails where the path underfoot is likely to keep changing.
However, if you are walking for longer distances and you don’t need the extra support and protection of walking boots, you’ll likely want to choose walking shoes due to them being more lightweight and comfortable over longer distances. The lighter the walking shoe the less energy you need to lift and keep putting one foot in front of the other, and preserving energy in this way means you’ll be able to go further.
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When choosing between walking boots and walking shoes any existing health conditions should also be considered in your decision. If you have bad knee joints, the lightweight nature of walking shoes will allow your knees to move more freely without the added weight of boots.
Equally, if you have weak ankles you will get more support from walking boots as they hold firm around your ankle joint and prevent extra strain on your ankles, especially when climbing or hiking over long periods of time. Loose terrain could cause you to go over on your ankle a well, so hiking boots provide added protection against this.
If your feet are prone to sweating, then a well ventilated walking shoe may be more beneficial for you to allow the air to circulate around your feet. Sweaty feet are one of the main causes of blisters or sores which can be comfortable and cause pain, so reducing the chances of this will play a part in whether you choose a walking shoe vs walking boots.
So, which should I buy?
Our advice would be to buy both if you are able to. This allows you to have the correct footwear for whatever outdoor walking activities you have planned. You’ll be able to alternate these and therefore make each of them last a longer period of time. Whatever you choose, Grisport will have you covered.
Could we list some walking boots and walking shoes products from Grisport here?
Grisport Walking Boots for Men & Women:
Grisport have a vast range of walking boots for men and women which come with all of the features mentioned to ensure you get the most out of them – waterproof lining, as lightweight as possible, and sturdy but comfortable soles.
The Everest boots are a hi-cut walking boot with a vibram sole and a waxed Italian upper. They have a breathable lining and a padded ankle collar for extra comfort and support.
Aztec walking boots are ‘wide-fitting’ and the broadest walking boots in the Grisport collection. The Vibram sole has broad lugs for maximum stability, the PU midsole gives fantastic shock absorbing capabilities and the leather padded collar adds to the comfort of this boot.
Lady Glide are our best selling women’s walking boots, they’re lightweight and have padded toe joints, collar and tongue for extra comfort. With a blue trim they’re also waterproof and breathable.
Walking Shoes for Men & Women
The Dartmoor walking shoes are the low cut version of the Everest walking boots, and they’ve been a best seller from Grisport for over 10 years. This is down to their excellent walking features such as waterproof and breathable lining, and the padded collar.
The Lady Olympus walking shoes is ideal for low land walking and uneven terrain, due to the vibram sole. The waterproof lining will also keep your feet warm and dry, and the breathable lining will prevent your feet getting too hot.