The 5 Best Trail Shoes for Walkers of 2023

Explore the great outdoors with the Merrell Moab 2 Vent Hiking Shoes

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Best Trail Shoes for Walkers

Verywell / Sabrina Jiang

Trail walking offers different challenges than walking on flat, even surfaces like a track, sidewalk, or treadmill. Trails are uneven, rocky, and bumpy. Wearing proper trail shoes can keep your feet dry (many are waterproof), provide good traction for walking over rocks, and offer thick cushioning to protect your feet.

Find trail shoes that fit your walking needs, are comfortable, provide good traction, are flexible, and fit your feet well. Some offer a wider foot. Look for a rubber toe to protect you from stubbing your toes on tree roots or other trail obstacles. We reviewed trail shoes for our list based on the traction and weatherproofing they provide, cushioning, durability, and cost. We also had a certified running coach from our Review Board review the claims in this article for accuracy around trail shoes for walkers and how to evaluate their different features.

Here, our picks for the best trail shoes for walkers.

In This Article

Best Overall

Merrell Women's Moab 2 Vent Hiking Shoes

Merrell Women's Moab 2 Vent Hiking Shoes


The Moab gets rave reviews from women who wore them to walk the 600-mile, 30-day Camino de Santiago trail 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 which is why we chose the Moab as our top pick. 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 praise the arch support. The Vibram sole will last through the miles. The ventilator design helps keep air flowing around your foot to allow 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.

Price at time of publication: $100 in castle rock

Merrell Moab 2 Mid Ventilator

Verywell Fit / Justin Park 

Best for Brisk Trail Walking

Adidas Terrex Two Ultra Parley Trail Running Shoes

Adidas Terrex Two Ultra Parley Trail Running Shoes


This is a lightweight shoe that can go from road to trail, or even from trail to treadmill desk. It is designed to give good traction on wet or rocky surfaces with a sticky rubber outer sole, which provides excellent grip on various surfaces.

Price at time of publication: $180

Best Minimalist Trail Shoe

New Balance Women's Vazee Summit V2 Running Shoes

New Balance Women's Vazee Summit V2 Running Shoes


The New Balance Vazee Summit is a lightweight, minimalist trail shoe that is very flexible. The company touts the hydro-hesion sole for gripping wet and slippery surfaces, and users agree. They come in regular and wide widths, which is a significant advantage for those who need more room, especially to accommodate inserts like insoles for flat feet.

Price at time of publication: $67 for deep porcelain blue/reflection in 5 b US

Best Mid-Height Hiking Boot

KEEN Men's Mid Height Waterproof Hiking Boots

KEEN Men's Mid Height Waterproof 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 throughout 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're lightweight and breathable compared to many other mid-height hiking shoes so they won’t weigh you down. People who bought them report that, like shoes for walking on ice, they also work well in the winter and for trekking in snowshoes. They are available in both regular and wide. The classic looks will also help you feel at home wearing them in the wilderness.

Price at time of publication: $175 for black olive/golden brown in 8 regular

Best Waterproof Lightweight Trail Running Shoe

New Balance Women's 910 V4 Running Shoes

New Balance Women's 910 V4 Running Shoes


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 provided by a toe cap and 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 work well against all the elements. They are available in both regular and wide, so that you can find your best fit. They come in versions for both women and men.

What to Look for in Trail Shoes for Walkers


Trails are uneven and slippery, and good trail shoes should provide good traction to prevent slips, falls, and ankle injuries. The bottom should be made of sticky rubber and have cleats. Bigger cleats usually provide better traction.


Many trail shoes have been treated so they are waterproof. These keep your feet dry should you be outside when it starts raining or you have to run through a stream or two. Look for the GTX label for waterproof shoes.


You should feel a bounce when walking in your trail shoes. That's the cushioning providing some support and shock absorption. Those with joint pain may need more cushioning. Look for a lightweight cushion in trail shoes.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Can you use trail shoes on the road?

    Trail shoes are made for bumpy, rough terrain, whereas road shoes are made for hard, flat surfaces. However, trail shoes can provide better traction when the roads are wet. Avoid wearing trail shoes on tracks.

  • Are trail shoes good for everyday use?

    You can wear trail shoes casually, but there are some downsides. Trail shoes are thicker, which may not be ideal in hot climates. They are thicker than road shoes, which may slow you down a bit.

  • What are the benefits of trail shoes?

    Trail shoes provide stability and traction to help prevent ankle injuries and slips. They are specifically made for running on the uneven terrain of trails. Most are waterproof, keeping your feet dry in wet conditions.

  • How do you clean trail shoes?

    Trail shoes collect sweat, dirt, debris, fungus, and bacteria. Cleaning properly can prevent bacterial and fungal foot infections. A putty compound called Cyberclean for shoes significantly reduced the bacteria and fungus on shoes.

    You can also wash trail shoes in a washing machine. First, remove dirt and debris with a soft brush, and remove the laces. Put the laces and shoes in a pillowcase. Run on a delicate cycle with cold water. Allow to air-dry indoors. If shoes are stained, use a water and laundry detergent mix, brush, and cloth to tackle stains.

  • How often should trail shoes be replaced?

    Trail shoes need to be replaced every 400 to 500 miles, depending on trail conditions and shoe quality. You'll know they should be replaced when they have obvious signs of wear and tear or the cushioning is no longer springy and supportive.

2 Sources
Verywell Fit uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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  2. Adidas. How to clean running shoes.