I prefer walks and walking in lowland countryside, low hills, forests and sometimes venture out on easy to access mountains that require a small degree of scrambling up and down the rocks rather than a full on climb. So the type of walking boots you need for the types of walk you want to do does need expert advice and plenty of research. I would advise going in to an outdoor clothing shop and asking for their advice and then shopping online for the best deals available. You can find a list of retailers and their websites on my shop page here: Outdoor Clothing Retailers
The number one rule is to never underestimate the interchangeable weather when walking in the UK. Although you have to be comfortable in your shoes and boots, it is always worth packing more things than you need; blister plasters, extra socks, emergency pair of lightweight trainers etc. Even if the weather is warm and sunny there is always a muddy path somewhere to catch you out!
I tend to wear the same boots for all walks (unless it is a road walk); a lace up classic technical hiking boot. Full grain, one-piece leather with Gore-Tex waterproof protection and breathability with a rubber toecap and the sure-footed stickiness of a Vibram sole will keep you upright and dry. Plenty of ankle support is also recommended to make sure you avoid any strains or twists. Boots are increasingly available to suit different sorts of feet, in narrow and wide, and men’s and women’s fittings and most decent shops will help you choose the right boot for your feet.
The North Face Jannu II GTX has been my preferred choice as the best all round walking boots. More recently I chose the Scarpa SL and you can read my full reviews here The North Face Walking Boots review and my Top 5 Walking Boots Review and another review of the super lightweight Teva Chair 5 Mens Trail Walking Boots.
I found The North Face Men’s Hedgehog 2 Gore-Tex XCR Walking Shoes to be the best walking shoes available at the moment. These walking shoes are lightweight, waterproof, quick drying and highly breathable, making them ideal for year-round walking but as I don’t want to get them dirty I just keep them for when the ground is dry or if I am mainly walking on roads, coastal sea walls or country lanes. They are very good for trekking and sport use when you want to “up the pace” and you can jog and run in them over farmland, forest and woodland trails. You can read my review of The North Face Walking Shoes here: The North Face Walking Shoes review.
Technically I’m not an “Off-road athlete who wants dependable support without distracting bulk” but I do have bulk and found these The North Face Double-Track trail running shoes really comfortable. They were available from Cotswold Outdoor for only £65.
Never underestimate the importance of your sock combinations!
Socks have been a constant pain as I went through thin socks, thick socks, expensive socks, cheap socks until I finally found a winning combination of thin socks with really good quality walking socks. I think it’s important that your feet are still able to move around within the boot so a thin pair of synthetic fabric walking socks next to the skin with a good quality cotton walking sock, with extra padding around the toes and heels, does seem to help to prevent any blisters. Zinc Oxide tape is also an essential walking accessory to help prevent blisters.
Here are the walking boots and shoes I own and thoroughly recommend:
1. The North Face Jannu II GTX