Over the past few years my love of walking has grown immensely. I love nothing more than taking myself off for a few hours, getting lost in the forest, with just myself and the dog for company. It is my happy place. My place to escape the world for a bit, to breathe more slowly, and to get my body moving.
Recently my love for walking has ramped up a gear and I have ventured into the world of hiking. This year alone I have covered most of the South Downs Way, have been on a 3 day hike in the Italian Alps, and I am keen to start planning more trips for next year. When you do as much walking as me, it is absolutely essential you get the right footwear, as those poor feet don’t half get a good old pounding when you’re doing the extra miles. And so it’s important to make sure you get yourself a pair of comfortable walking shoes. Now, I’m not going to lie, this can take a while. It is a proper trial and error experiment, one that may see your feet get a bit of a battering during the process of trying to find the perfect pair.
My size 8 feet are prone to blisters, they’ve spread out as I’ve got older, and I’m prone to the odd black toenail every now and again (apologies, I know you can now no longer unsee that ghastly image!). My feet requirements are enough that I can’t just buy the first pair of walking shoes I come across. I need to do my research, I need certain features, and I definitely need to wear them in a whole lot before taking them on any longer outings. The good news for you lot is that I’ve done all this and now I’ve got a secret to share with you. You see, I have found the most comfortable pair of walking shoes EVER! No honestly, these bad boys have the comfort level of slippers combined with the practicality level of decent hiking shoes. They are beyond epic.
So, come with me as I reveal the shoes that I think are the most comfortable walking shoes ever!
Walking Shoes And Me
I’ve been an adidas blogger for about 2 years now, and not gonna lie it’s a great gig. I get to review lots of fab products and write about them. It is the literal dream. Up until recently however, I’ll admit that I had this completely unjustified preconception about adidas shoes. That whilst they are without doubt fashionable, comfortable, versatile, and I love the look of them, in terms of performance capability I had my doubts. And I have no idea why I had this opinion, I was literally basing it on nothing other than a preconceived judgement.
The perfect opportunity came up for me to try out a pair of outdoor boots for myself, as I had a few longer hikes scheduled in for the UK followed by the 3 day mountain hike in Italy. But this opinion that I had was still there. I didn’t want to risk wearing the new adidas hiking boots I’d only just received on the first big hike I’d be doing. So instead, I wore a pair of sturdy walking boots I’d bought from an outdoor pursuits shop, thinking they must be far superior because that’s what ‘real’ hikers wore. Two days hiking 54 miles of the South Downs Way and my feet were in bits. Not just afterwards, but during. In fact halfway into day one I took my boots off to take a look and there was already a nasty blister on one foot and a hot spot on the other. By the end of day one I had blisters on my blisters. And come the end of the hike, my feet were so bad that when I got home and went to take the blister plasters off in the bath, I couldn’t tell what was plaster and what was skin. It was all manner of disgusting!
There was no way I could bring myself to wear them again for my next hike. So, I started wearing the adidas ones on dog walks to see what they felt like and all was fine. Granted, these were only distances of say 3 to 4 miles, so nothing major, but they felt good. Based on that and knowing I absolutely could not and would not be putting my feet back in the boots of torture, I decided I’d wear the adidas hiking shoes on my next hike. This time it was another section of the South Downs Way, but this was just one day walking from Winchester to Buriton, roughly 25 miles. And what a day I chose to do it. It was absolutely bucketing it down. All day. I got wet, like stupidly wet. My feet, despite these being Gore-Tex shoes, were soaked through. But christ, if you saw the rain, I could have wrapped my feet in damp proof course and they would still have been soaked. So yeah, the conditions for my feet weren’t exactly looking good – wet, long distance, sweat, feet that had only really just recovered from the last lot of blisters. It could have been carnage. But guess what? Not one single blister. Not even the tiniest bit of rubbing, red patch, broken skin, nothing, zip, nada. These were the shoes for me!
Of course they came to Italy with me. 3 days of crazy mountain elevation, all the miles and yet again….. no blisters. Now, I’m sorry but if that’s not recommendation enough for a pair of comfortable, high performing hiking shoes I honestly do not know what is. If it is possible to fall in love with a pair of shoes, then consider me well and truly head over heels.
Let me reveal the most comfortable walking shoes ever:
Adidas Terrex Free Hiker Range
The blue boots above are the original adidas Terrex Free Hiker Gore-Tex 2. The ones that have done all the hikes with me. The ones that completely changed my opinion of adidas footwear. They are the OG, if you like. And they look like high top trainers, right? You wouldn’t actually believe they’d be capable of walking long distances, let alone scaling the Alps, but they did. Yes, these adidas Terrex Free Hiker Gore-Tex 2 are deceptively brilliant.
So, when adidas got in touch and offered me a new pair from their Terrex Free Hiker range, never have I ever tapped an email response faster!
The new Terrex Free Hiker 2.0 Low Gore-Tex hiking shoes are a low rise version of the ones I already have. Other than that, they are almost identical in design, but are available in different colours to the originals. The ones I’ve been sent are in Wonder Beige/Core Black/Semi Impact Orange, but you can also get them in two other colourways; Core Black/Grey Four/Cloud White and Core Black/Core Black/Grey Six.
The adidas Terrex Free Hiker range is aimed at people like me. People who like to get out and explore the great outdoors and immerse themselves in nature. For people who want to walk in comfort and style. For people who don’t really want the faff of having to wear shoes in, they just want to tie up the laces and go. It is for people who just want a walking shoe to do what they expect a walking shoe to do. Well, these my friends are those shoes.
Here’s what I love about Terrex Free Hikers:
- Lightweight – They are more similar in weight to a trail running trainer than a bulky hiking shoe, which is great news if you’re going to be spending a long time on your feet. Trust me, after a fair few miles of walking across tricky terrain, the weight of what’s on your feet can really make a difference.
- Stability – The support these walking shoes give your feet is insane and it’s all down to the EVA frame. EVA (ethyl vinyl acetate) is a type of plastic that is used in orthotic frames to give support to the foot. It also has shock absorption technology built within it meaning every time your foot strikes the ground when you walk, you can be confident that your foot is being well looked after.
- Gore-Tex – The Gore-Tex membrane helps keep your feet dry when you’re walking across wet terrain. Aside from being waterproof, it is also breathable meaning when your feet sweat, which they will, your feet can at least still breathe in there.
- Mesh Upper – An abrasion-resistant mesh upper with seamless overlays decreases the risk of rubbing, which also means less chance of blisters, which I can 100% vouch for!
- Loops – I’m not really sure how else to describe these other than each shoe has a loop at the top of the heel and attached to the tongue. These loops are beyond helpful when it comes to helping you take your shoes off after a long walk. Your feet are likely to be hot and sweaty and they will almost certainly have swelled, so taking your shoes off isn’t always the easiest thing after a hike. Gripping onto these loops makes the getting off soooo much easier.
High Vs Low
OK, so I’ve revealed what I consider to be the most comfortable walking shoes ever, and as it happens there’s a whole range of them, which is even better news. The next big question is, how to know whether you’ll get on better with a high top boot style walking trainer or a low top walking shoe?
It is basically personal preference, however there are a couple of things to consider…
- Terrain – If you know you’re going to be walking across very rocky, uneven terrain I would personally recommend going for the high top hiking boot as it offers more support around the ankle.
- Mileage – If those miles are racking up, you want lightweight shoes. And whilst both models are incredibly lightweight, certainly when compared to other brands of walking shoes, the low top shoes are ever so slightly less cumbersome.
- Comfort – Both the low and high top versions of the Terrex Free Hikers are comfortable, however it is worth thinking about the likelihood of debris getting into your shoes when you’re walking. This does depend somewhat again on the terrain you might be walking on, for example could you be walking in forests, or on sandy beaches etc? If you are, or if the terrain is mixed I would advise choosing the high top model as the stretchy sock-like collar fits snugly to your ankle preventing any dirt or debris from getting down into your shoe, which could cause blisters and will certainly cause discomfort.
As a general rule, I would say that hiking boots are better for longer distances and walking shoes are better for shorter distances. Both work brilliantly across all terrains, but boots just have that slightly more advanced level of support that your feet will thank you for if you’re really covering those miles.
I cannot rave about these shoes enough. They are hands down the most comfortable walking shoes I have ever had the pleasure of putting on my feet. And if there is one thing I can gift to you in this world, it is the knowledge that these are the hiking shoes you need in your life. The versatility they offer, the comfort, their appearance, how lightweight they are, all of these factors contribute to an elite level walking shoe that even if the rest of your body feels the effects of walking lots of miles, your feet will still feel absolutely fine.
*adidas products gifted for review