Choosing your outdoor footwear is a minefield of options - we get it. With so many styles and features it can be hard to understand what it all means, but we're here to help. Here's our step-by-step guide to choosing your outdoor footwear.
First things first - the reasons you'd choose a walking shoe or a walking boot. Perhaps obviously, the main difference is the level of ankle support, which means the two styles are designed to perform in different conditions. Walking shoes (often called approach shoes) are designed to be nimbler and more flexible for low-level trails or for moving faster, when extra ankle support would slow you down and be too heavy. On the flip side, walking boots are best for uneven terrain or ascents and descents, when ankle aupport and a more durable shoe are going to make you more comfortable and prevent injury. Ultimately, though, you should choose what's going to make you feel the most comfortable.
The composition of a boot doesn't necessarily make as big a difference as it once did, as brands improve their products to combat the potential problems with both leather and non-leather shoes. However, leather shoes or boots still tend to be more durable and guaranteed waterproofing with the drawbacks of being harder to break in and needing more care, while synthetic shoes are lighter in weight and more comfortable straight out of the box. When choosing your shoes, though, always just go for the pair that fit the best.
Most boots are lined with a waterproof membrane, which not only weatherproofs your boots but lets you cross streams and walk through puddles without the dreaded wet feet. But you don’t just want to keep the wet out; you need to let it out too - in other words, your boots need to breathe. So it's always best to go for a waterproof, breathable pair of shoes, wherever you plan to take them.
GORE-TEX® walking footwear is particularly good at allowing sweat vapour to escape, but plenty of different and effective waterproof membranes are available to suit everyone.
Another thing you can do to keep the wet out is to use a gaiter: a waterproof cuff that goes over the top of your boot and fastens around the lower leg.
In short, sure. It's your adventure after all. It's important to remember, though, that very few trail running shoes are truly waterproof, because this will have been sacrified in favour of extra breathability while you're running. So whilst they might be as comfortable and grippy as walking shoes, if you're at all likely to be wearing them in wet conditions, we recommend saving those for your runs and investing in some purposely-designed walking footwear instead.