Walking shoes

Our new kit tester Jen and Sim Benson review the best footwear for easy trails, fast-and-light adventures, scrambles and everyday wear.

A woman sitting on a rock, beside the sea and a sunset

Women's picks

Scarpa Mescalito 
£160 scarpa.co.uk

+ These approach-style shoes feature a Vibram Megagrip outsole for safe and secure footing on any terrain. The durable suede upper and full-length lacing wrap around the foot to create a snug, secure fit. A rubbarised toe gives protection, while cushioning means they’re comfortable to wear all day.

- The heel is quite narrow, which, while ensuring a really snug fit, might irritate 
a sensitive Achilles tendon.

VERDICT: Technical features and a secure fit make these approach-style shoes a great choice for long summer days in 
the mountains, with grip suited to anything from easy trails to ridges 
and scrambles.


Asolo Nucleon GV
£146 www.asolo.com

+ Designed for hiking on varying terrain, these shoes have a supple yet durable one-piece suede upper and a Gore-Tex waterproof membrane. The full-length lacing ensures a precise fit throughout the foot. The dual density Vibram Megagrip outsole combines a harder-wearing central section with softer, grippier edges, while rubber guards protect the 
toe and heel areas.

- The lugs aren’t particularly deep, so aren’t as suitable as some for muddy conditions.

VERDICT: A superb technical hiking shoe with outstanding grip, precision and comfort. Ideal for rocky mountain trails when trusting your feet is key.


Salomon Outline GTX *Great value
£90 www.salwea.com

+ Based on a running shoe but with more protection and greater control through the mid foot, this lightweight shoe is comfortable all day long and ideal for easier trails, fast-and-light adventures and everyday wear. Gore-Tex keeps your feet dry and Salomon’s Contragrip sole 
is great on most surfaces.

- The Contragrip outsole loses traction on wet rock and pavement. 

VERDICT: A trainer-style walking shoe with excellent comfort and performance, particularly good for less technical trails in dry weather.



Zamberlan 104 Hike Lite Gtx
£135 en.zamerlan.com

+ With its casual looks yet ability to handle technical terrain, this shoe combines a comfortable suede upper with precision lacing for a great fit throughout the shoe. The Vibram Pillow sole provides excellent grip in wet or dry conditions.

- The upper was uncomfortable at the flex point during initial wears but softens with time.

VERDICT: A smart-looking, waterproof shoe designed for easy trekking and daily use but with plenty of grip and protection for tackling trickier terrain.

La Sportiva TX4 *Best in test
£155 lasportiva.com

+ A great-looking shoe with a supple suede upper for superb comfort and durability. The Vibram Megagrip outsole has a varied tread pattern for outstanding traction and cushioning on all terrains in wet and dry conditions. Longer lacing gives a precise, foot-hugging fit.

- May not suit wider feet.

VERDICT: Designed for those spending prolonged periods walking on technical mountain terrain, these shoes offer a near-perfect balance of comfort, grip, structure and precision.

Hanwag Belorado II 

£155-165 hanwag.com

+ Available in a standard or bunion-accommodating fit, these shoes feature a comfortable suede/synthetic-mix upper with Gore-Tex waterproofing. The low-profile replaceable 
sole feels responsive and has a good grip.

- The cushioning is a little on the firm side and the insole doesn’t contour around the foot, so the fit doesn’t feel as snug as some models.

VERDICT: This is a great option for those looking for shoes with a bunion-accommodating fit. A different, more foot-shaped choice of insole would probably improve the fit.

Women’s lightweight walking socks

Buyer’s tips

Socks provide protection, cushioning, insulation and moisture management. They should fit perfectly: too small and they’ll restrict your toes, while too big and they’ll ruck up, causing discomfort. Look for different knits and fibres: merino wool is naturally antimicrobial and temperature regulating, while synthetics like nylon add durability. Always try socks on with your favourite walking boots or shoes to check the combination works well. 

Thorlo Ultra Light Hiking 
£13.95 thorlo.com

+ These light, breathable socks are made in the US from Thor Wick Cool, a moisture-management fabric. They have padding for comfort and are a good fit.

- The toe seam is quite prominent and the socks don’t feel particularly durable.

VERDICT: A good-value, light and breathable synthetic sock. Fits well but may be best-suited to shorter walks.


Smartwool Hike LT Summer Nights
£18.99 www.smartwool.com

+ Made in the US from a mix of soft, responsibly sourced merino wool for comfort and nylon for durability, with a little elastane for stretch, these half-cushion socks feature a supportive arch and flat-knit toe seam. They look great in 
a 360-degree adventure print 
and a choice of colours.

- None

VERDICT: Smartwool socks look and feel great and last forever. The new prints add a touch of creativity to your sock drawer.


Bridgedale Hike Lightweight
£17.50 www.brigdedale.com

+ Made in the UK, these socks are a blend of polyester, cotton and nylon. The light cushioning is placed in zones where it’s needed, leaving the rest of the sock highly breathable, and there’s a supportive arch. Covered by a lifetime guarantee.

- The toe seams bunch up at either end of the seam, which can get uncomfortable. They also felt a little synthetic. 

VERDICT: A cooler-feeling sock than those containing wool, these boot-length socks would be well-suited to warm-weather walks.


Men's picks

Salewa Mountain Trainer GTX 
£160 salewa.com

+ A supportive and protective waterproof approach shoe with a deep-treaded grippy sole and a tough upper. A comfortably wide 
toe box works well with the deep heel and full-length lacing to offer a secure, boot-like fit. Available without Gore-Tex for £150.

- The heaviest on test.

VERDICT: A really great mountain walking, scrambling or approach shoe, but these features may mean some find it a little heavy and stiff for general use.


Mammut Alnasca Knit Low GTX
£149 uk.mamut.com

+ A lightweight, waterproof approach shoe with a soft and comfortable yet supportive upper and a Michelin rubber sole that grips very well on rock. The rubberised toe adds protection, and the full-length lacing and supportive heel cup ensures a good fit. 

- The tread pattern is shallow so struggles with mud or steep grass.

VERDICT: Light and comfortable, this shoe excels on the rocky terrain found in mountainous areas but struggles a bit with mud.


Keen Venture Low
£120 keenfootwear.com

+ These funky-looking shoes are available in bright colours or more subtle options. The soft and light waterproof forefoot is matched to a supportive heel cradle with a KonnectFit lacing system that holds the foot securely.

- Although grippy on rock, the sole struggles in mud, and the light upper isn’t very protective. 

VERDICT: The lightweight upper and secure lacing system hold the foot well. Comfortable but best for lower-level paths due to the lack of protection.



Alt-Berg Jorvic Trail 
£174.99 altberg.co.uk

+ Alt-Berg has a long history of making high-quality boots in Yorkshire and Italy. The Jorvic Trail, with its deep-treaded Vibram sole, PFC-free waterproof Sympatex lining and one-piece Italian leather upper, combines a timeless design with the ability to last a lifetime. A broader forefoot and a narrower heel give a perfect fit.

- Expensive and quite heavy.

VERDICT: A comfortable walking shoe with the typical Alt-Berg qualities of great fit, beautiful workmanship and durability.

Columbia Peakfreak XCRSN II XCEL Low *Great Value
£95 columbiasportswear.co.uk

+ The lightest and softest shoe in this test, these are really comfortable straight from the box and ideal for lower-level walking or fastpacking. The uppers are seamless for comfort and feature Columbia’s OutDry external waterproofing.

- Soft and light equals less support, and they can’t be as durable as suede or full-grain leather.

VERDICT: They are good-value, comfortable and lightweight trail shoes, perfect as a companion to some boots that you use when you need extra support. 

Scarpa Mojito Trail GTX * Best in test
£160 scarpa.co.uk

+ A walking shoe with stylish approach shoe looks, full-length lacing, a good-grip Vibram sole and a waterproof lining. It’s light enough for all-day comfort but stiff and supportive enough for more technical walking, and the sole has enough tread depth to cope with any footpath. 

- Quite pricey.

VERDICT: A brilliant modern walking shoe that combines the ability to cope with any terrain with stylish looks, durability and a comfortable fit.

Men’s lightweight walking socks

Buyer’s tips

Socks provide protection, cushioning, insulation and moisture management. They should fit perfectly: too small and they’ll restrict your toes, while too big and they’ll ruck up, causing discomfort. Look for different knits and fibres: merino wool is naturally antimicrobial and temperature regulating, while synthetics like nylon add durability. Always try socks on with your favourite walking boots or shoes to check the combination works well. 

Darn Tough Hiker Micro Crew Light Cushion  
£20 darntough.com

+ Darn Tough socks are made in Vermont, US, and come with a lifetime guarantee. This model blends nylon for durability, responsibly sourced merino wool for comfort, thermo-regulation and odour resistance and Spandex for stretch. They are nicely cushioned underfoot.

- High price.

VERDICT: Well made, durable and comfortable, with a superb fit. 


Rohan Hot & Temperate 
£13 rohan.co.uk

+ Made in the UK from a blend of merino wool, nylon and elastane, these socks are designed for warmer conditions. They feel soft, light and breathable, and have a lighter weave on the top to keep the foot cool. Under the foot is lightly cushioned, with reinforced panels at the heel and toe.

- None at this price.

VERDICT: Breathable, supportive and comfortable, a great summer walking sock that’s also 
good value.



1,000 Mile Approach Socks
£12.99 1000mile.co.uk

+ These twin-skin socks help to reduce friction between foot and shoe. The inner is a wicking Tactel nylon fabric, while the outer is padded, with merino wool for comfort, thermo-regulation and odour-control.

- Having a fully synthetic inner reduces the benefits of wool against the skin.  

VERDICT: They come with 1,000 Mile’s blister-free guarantee for miles of comfortable walking.