The Best Lightweight Walking Shoes in 2023
How to choose your perfect pair
Jen and Sim Benson have been testing walking gear on behalf of the Ramblers since 2019. With a wealth of outdoor and walking experience they have tested all kinds of walking related kit, from boots and poles to jackets and wellies.
Walking shoes generally fit into one of two main categories. The first are those whose design is based on traditional hiking boots. These feature sturdy, inflexible sole units combined with hardwearing, protective uppers made from waterproof leather, suede or a similar weight synthetic fabric. The second are those evolved from trail running shoes, with a lighter and more flexible sole, breathable upper and often a more tapered shape for precise foot placements.
Which type you choose depends on personal preference and the terrain and conditions you’ll encounter. Regardless of its style, the most important factor in choosing the right shoes is that they fit your feet perfectly, so it’s well worth trying on a few before making the final decision.
La Sportiva Mutant RRP £125
Designed for superb grip and protection on long runs over varying terrain, La Sportiva’s Mutants are also a great choice for those looking for a high-performing lightweight walking shoe. The footbed is very supportive, particularly through the arch. Combined with wraparound lacing the result is a snug, foot-hugging fit that doesn’t feel restrictive. The ride is smooth and cushioned, with plenty of protection from rocky ground and yet enough ground feel for secure and precise foot placements. The tongue acts as an integrated gaiter to prevent debris entering the shoe. The outsole is made from a sticky rubber with aggressive tread for excellent grip.
Salomon Predict Hike GTX RRP £150
These smart-looking, lightweight walking shoes offer a slightly sturdier feel than a shoe designed for running, with noticeably less cushioning under the foot. Instead, the ride is firm but protective, well suited to sharp, stony ground. ‘Predict’ grooves have been cut into the sole to allow more freedom of movement, so they don’t feel overly stiff to walk in. While walking shoes will never offer as much protection as a higher boot, the Gore-Tex membrane works perfectly to keep your feet dry in wet grass and shallower puddles. The fit is a little small, so you may need half a size larger than usual.
Scarpa Rush GTX RRP £160
These Gore-Tex lined waterproof walking shoes combine the light weight and agile feel of a running shoe with the support and protection of a hiking boot. Designed for full days moving fast-and-light on the trails, the rocker in the sole works well to reduce the foot fatigue associated with walking long distances. The reinforced toe box protects your feet and should add durability to the shoe. A snug fit, good amount of cushioning and plenty of underfoot protection from stony ground means they’re comfortable to wear all day long. The sticky rubber soles offer great traction across a variety of conditions.
Zamberlan 335 Circe GTX walking shoe RRP £169.95
Named after the Greek enchantress who, according to the Odyssey, walked the world for a hundred generations, Zamberlan’s Circe hiking shoe is designed by women specifically for the female foot. Like many of the similar lightweight walking shoes on the market, the Circe draws on trail running shoe technology. It combines, nimbleness and precision with a slightly sturdier and more protective frame to cope with the demands of long-distance walking. The suede-effect upper looks great, with a reinforced toe and heel for protection and durability. A Vibram Megagrip outsole offers a good combination of flex, support and grip. A Gore-Tex membrane and slightly higher cut at the ankle help to keep your feet dry.
Scarpa Spin Infinity RRP £145
Designed for long distance trail running we think the low weight, cushioned sole and good grip translate well into a lightweight walking shoe. They aren’t waterproof but this makes them more breathable, so best suited for walking on surfaced trails and general summer use. The fit is snug and supportive around the foot with a roomy toe box. A sock like inner avoids rubbing. The upper is light and supportive with TPU overlays to increase durability. Our test pair has done over 600km so far and are still going strong. The Vibram Megagrip outsole is grippy on trails, but the depth of the tread mean it struggles in deeper mud. Made with no animal products, they are suitable for vegans.
Salewa Mountain Trainer Lite GTX RRP £150
A technical walking shoe that’s ideal for handling mountain terrain, it’s also stylish and comfortable for everyday use and easier trails. These shoes are light, comfortable, supportive and grippy, with good all round foot protection. Salewa’s own Pomoca outsole has a deep and tough tread which works well on all surfaces. We tested the Gore-Tex waterproof version which are protective and probably most versatile for UK use but this lightweight walking shoe is also available without GTX (at RRP £130) for increased breathability. The upper is very tough with a to-the-toe lacing and heel support system to ensure a precise fit.
AKU Rocket DFS GTX RRP £169.99
A tough fast hiking shoe with a very supportive feel that’s suitable for technical mountain terrain and scrambling. The dual fit lacing system (DFS) allows you to lace them comfortably for normal walking and then use the quick lace system to create a more precise climbing fit. Vibram Megagrip rubber is very grippy on rock and trails.the traction lug tread pattern with a pronounced heel works well in mud and on grass. They have a firmer ride and less cushioning than some of the trail running inspired shoes but still offer good underfoot protection and comfort. The upper is tough and supportive with a deep heel that holds the foot well. A Gore-Tex membrane keeps you dry.
Inov-8 Roclite Ultra G 320 RRP £170
Lake District based Inov-8 have a trail and fell running heritage. Their shoes are lightweight, protective, grippy and durable and we think this model is a great walking shoe. The 6mm tread grips well in all but the sloppiest mud and the rubber is enhanced by Graphene to increase its durability. The deep midsole offers lots of underfoot cushioning. This combines with a flexible rock plate to provide a very comfortable and protective sole unit. Graphene is also added to the foam to increase its longevity and stop the shoes losing their bounce. To match the durability of the sole unit Inov-8 use a tough synthetic upper material including a toe bumper. The fit is secure and cushioned with a slightly wider toe box and snug heel.
* Recommended retail prices correct at the time of writing. Please refer to manufacturer or retailer websites for the very latest pricing information.
Our gear testers, Sim & Jen Benson have a wealth of outdoor and walking experience. They provide regular gear reviews and kit advice in Walk magazine, the Ramblers quarterly magazine that forms part of your Ramblers membership benefits. Join today from only £3.21 per month.
Ramblers Members also receive a 15% discount at Cotswold Outdoor, home to many of the outdoor brands featured in this article and a great place to get expert advice on walking gear. When this discount is used a percentage of the purchase price is returned to the Ramblers to help us look after the places you love to explore.
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