Walking Boots vs Walking Shoes

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?’.

What type of walking are you doing?

The main deciding factor between whether you should opt for a hiking boot or walking shoe is the type of walking you’re doing. So, if you are going off the beaten track and climbing uphill, choose hiking boots. If you are sticking to more established pathways and trails, 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.


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.


As unpredictable as the British weather may be, it is also an essential factor that should be taken into account when choosing your walking boots or 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!

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. 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.


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.


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 ice surfaces whilst you’re out walking.


Walking boots can help to protect your feet and ankles from scratches and bruises that may occur when walking off-trail and coming into contact with spiky branches and jagged rocks. 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 are great for walking long distances uphill and across uneven terrains, although they are noticeably heavier than walking shoes. However, if you are walking for long 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.

Health Conditions

When choosing between walking boots and walking shoes any existing health conditions should also be considered. 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 have more support from walking boots as they will prevent extra strain on your ankles, especially when climbing or hiking over long periods of time.

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.

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