The 10 Best Trail Shoes for Walkers to Buy in 2018

The right pair to hit for hitting the great outdoors

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Trail shoes have rugged soles for the traction you need when walking on natural surfaces. They also have protection in the sole and toe area from rocks. They should also provide more stability than road shoes to meet the challenges you'll find on a ​natural trail. In the past, you might have bought hiking boots for this purpose and then had heavy, inflexible footwear. But the trail running shoes now produced are lightweight and flexible, making them suitable for faster paces. Another feature of trail shoes is that they usually have gusseted tongue, which helps keep trail debris out of your shoe. Some of these come in waterproof vesions as well.

1

Best Overall: Brooks Cascadia

Brooks Cascadia
Brooks Cascadia. Courtesy of Amazon.com

The Brooks Cascadia comes in some jazzy colors. But don't be fooled by the flash. This is a top recommendation for walkers on the Camino de Santiago. It can take on rocky hills, up and down, while not weighing you down. An ultramarathoner gave input for the original design when Brooks wanted to create a stable shoe built for going fast on the trail. The mesh upper allows your feet more air, but that also means it may not last as long as leather hiking shoes. It has that in common with the other trail running designs.

2

Best for Long Distance Trekking: Merrell Moab 2 Ventilator

The Moab gets rave reviews from women who wore them to walk the 600-mile, 30-day Camino de Santiago in Spain. That route has constant hills, often with gravel or rocks. You need a shoe that protects your foot and provides support, stability, and traction. If you have a bunion or a wide foot, women with those issues love this shoe.

The molded nylon arch shank provides stability and many praises the arch support. The Vibram sole will last through the miles. The ventilator design helps keep air flowing around your foot to allows sweat to evaporate so you are less likely to get blisters. If you’re more likely to encounter wet conditions, they also make the Moab 2 waterproof version. Guys don’t need to feel left out as they are also available for men and get top ratings from them as well.

3

Best for Tough Trails: Vasque Mantra GTX Waterproof Trail Shoe

Vasque Mantra 2.0 GTX Hiking Shoe
Vasque Mantra 2.0 GTX Hiking Shoe. Courtesy of Amazon.com

This waterproof trail shoe works well for hiking or for walking. It is lighter in weight than many boots, yet sturdy enough for rocky and rooted trails. It is waterproof and built to keep out trail debris. They are very comfortable for a rainy day walk around the suburbs through puddles and street rivulets, but they are also great for the trail. They'll protect your feet and help keep you from slipping. If you want a shoe that is beefier than a trail running shoe but lighter than a boot, it's an excellent choice.

4

Best for Brisk Trail Walking: adidas adiZero XT

adidas adiZero XT Trail Shoe
adidas adiZero XT Trail Shoe. Photo courtesy of Pricegrabber

This is a lightweight shoe that can go from road to trail. It is designed to give good traction on wet or rocky surfaces with a sticky rubber outersole, and users rave about the grip. But it is also narrow in the toe box, so those who need more toe room should try before they buy.

5

Best Minimalist Trail Shoe: New Balance Vazee Summit

New Balance Vazee Summit Trail Shoe
New Balance Vazee Summit Trail Shoe. Courtesy of Amazon

The New Balance Vazee Summit is a lightweight, minimalist trail shoe that is very flexible. They tout the Hydrohesion sole for gripping wet and slippery surfaces, and users agree.  They come in regular and wide widths, which is a big advantage for those who need more room. You can wear them with or without socks.

6

Best for Women Town-to-Trail: Keen Women’s Terradora Hiking Shoe

You may want a trail shoe that will be comfortable for both trail walking and strolling tamer paths in town. The Terradora is lighter in weight than many beefy trail shoes but still provides the support and stability you need for hills and natural surfaces. The Terradora is designed specifically for women and is available in several colors and styles, including leather.  

They look great with your yoga pants as well as with your hiking duds, and are an excellent choice for travel. You can also buy them in a waterproof version if you expect to be walking in the rain, or an Ethos version with open side vents if you do more walking in hot climates. If you want more ankle support, they have Terradora Waterproof Mid boots as well. One caution is that these shoes have a narrower fit and only come in regular width.

7

Best Cushioned Trail Shoe Hoka One One Challenger ATR 4

Hoka One One has made a name for itself with highly cushioned running shoes, so it isn’t unexpected that their trail shoes also receive rave reviews. This shoe has maximum cushioning and is lightweight but supportive. They are rated for light hiking on packed trails. If you wonder whether it’s really right for the trail, women report walking the Camino de Santiago wearing this shoe and recommend it for others taking the month-long trek.

The sole has a slight rocker design that allows you to get a natural roll through your step. The model is available for both women and men.

8

Best Mid-Height Hiking Boot Keen Targhee III Mid WP Hiking Boots

If you need extra ankle stability and support, a mid-height boot can give you extra confidence on the trail. The Targhee has been a favorite through the years for both men and women. With this waterproof boot you can tromp through small streams and have less fear of turning your ankle on rough trails. They trim ounces compared to many other mid-height hiking shoes so they won’t weigh you down. People who bought them report they also work well in the winter and for trekking in showshoes. They are available in both regular and wide. The classic looks will also help you feel at home wearing them in the wilderness.

9

Best Waterproof Lightweight Trail Running Shoe: New Balance 910v4 Trail GTX

For brisk walks on the trail or even around town in rainy weather, the waterproof New Balance 910v4 is a great choice. Trail shoes don’t have to be heavy and clunky to perform well. These shoes are lightweight but supportive and cushioned from the sole to the upper. They are also flexible so you can get a good walking stride with a roll through your step from heel to toe.

When you are on the trail you need protection from rocks, which is provided by a toe cap as well as a rock plate in the sole. You won’t have an excuse to skip your trail walking plans if it is rainy and you won’t fear crossing streams. These shoes even work well in slush and snow. They are available in both regular and wide so you can find your best fit. They come in versions for both women and men.

10

Best Low-Cut Trail Shoe: Brooks Cascadia 12

This trail shoe has performed well for trail walkers for over a decade. At first, you may wonder whether a low-cut trail shoe can really provide stability on the trail, especially if you have weak ankles. This shoe is very stable and it has proven itself with walkers on long-distance treks with lots of hills and rocky trails. An ultramarathoner assisted in the design and the result is a shoe that won’t weigh down your feet or keep you from being nimble. It’s available for both men and women and also comes in a waterproof version. There are some bright colors available if you prefer those for your style.

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