Reasonably priced walking shoes that don't look like trainers?
May 2, 2010 1:46 PM   Subscribe

We're going to Ireland for two weeks in early June, and while its not exactly a walking/hiking tour, I'm sure there's going to be quite a lot of walking through cities. I usually just go to Payless and get something that looks roughly like loafers, and wear them into the ground, but it has occurred to me that I may want something a little more sturdy for this. Any recommendation for shoes that are reasonably priced, comfortable, but don't look like I've just come from the gym? Or can I just by a cheaper pair of shoes and put in some sort of insert? Or any other recommendations? Possibly relevant details: I'm female, late 30s, live in the US, don't wear heels, my feet tend to run a little wide, and tend to wear things either like loafers or flats.
posted by korej to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (23 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
In my opinion you should go for some kind of hiking boot with a good insert. The high ankle will give you support for your knees and back, and you'll be a lot more comfortable. Personally I wear some boy's Buster Browns with a heel cup style insert. I used to work retail and they really saved me. I have small feet on the narrow side, so the shoes I linked to might not work for you. You should be able to get a decent pair of hikers for around $60.
posted by TooFewShoes at 1:52 PM on May 2, 2010

I forgot to say, Boots can be a real help on uneven ground. Mine have saved me from sprained ankles a bunch of times, especially when I step off curbs that are lower than I thought or I step into a hole in the sidewalk. (If you can't tell, I'm kind of a klutz!)
posted by TooFewShoes at 1:57 PM on May 2, 2010

I really like Skechers. I'm really really fussy with my feet, as they tend to hurt a lot after 2 or 3 hours of walking. I first got a pair of Skechers a few years ago and I loved them so much I took them on every "walking" trip I had, from a shopping trip at the mall, to my trip to Alaska (in the summer) and anything in between. Since then, I get a new pair each year.

Just as an example, something like this (but there's something in every color you could want). Except everything on the website seems expensive. I usually buy from a Skechers outlet store or choose from what's on sale at a regular store.

I just got a new pair a few weeks ago in preparation for my two-week trip to Europe, yay!
posted by CrazyLemonade at 2:02 PM on May 2, 2010

I have the feet of a duck and love Merrell Encore Mary Janes. I walk all day in them without any foot fatigue at all. They aren't for rocky off-path hiking but are fine for pavement or dirt paths. The other cool thing is you can throw them into the washing machine and they come out sparkling clean without any sign of wear.
posted by jamaro at 2:04 PM on May 2, 2010

Vaneli are what I wore walking through England and again walking through Italy. They make a broad range of styles, fit wider feet well and last a good long time.
posted by crush-onastick at 2:09 PM on May 2, 2010

The Clarks Wave.Wheel (mine were in Chocolate Nubuck) did very well for me on my recent walking tour. I recommend you find some neutral dark color so you don't feel awkward in the standard-issue tourist white shoes. Zappos is fantastic - if you order with them, you'll have them in a day or two. I'd recommend going to your local nice shoe place and trying them on first, however - it took me a few orders (Zappos, thankfully, has a great return policy as well) to get the size right.
posted by theraflu at 2:21 PM on May 2, 2010

Aerosoles 4 Give are comfy and come in wide.
posted by Honkshu at 2:33 PM on May 2, 2010

Any shoe by Clarks. I've recommended them to quite a few people, and every single one of them have turned into evangelists for that brand. They are just that good.
posted by Houstonian at 2:43 PM on May 2, 2010

Check out Keen. I can't speak for the women's line, but I own a pair of men's Austins and they're amazing for travel. They're waterproof, extremely comfortable, durable, require no break-in period, and look good as well. I'd buy another pair in a heartbeat, but I don't think I'll need to anytime soon.
posted by nitsuj at 2:44 PM on May 2, 2010 [1 favorite]

I also love Keens. You can get great deals on them from Sierra Trading Post. I've worn their boots, shoes, and mary janes and found all of them to be more comfortable than anything else I've ever worn.
posted by hydropsyche at 2:54 PM on May 2, 2010

When I lived in the UK my life got so much better after I switched to waterproof shoes. I have been using men's New Balance waterproof walking shoes since then. Here's some women's waterproof shoes. Available in narrow and wide sizes.
posted by grouse at 3:21 PM on May 2, 2010

I have giant duck feet and have walked all over huge cities in the US & Europe wearing Danskos. They are worth the money, last forever, are comfortable and will not make you look like a stereotypical American. I have 8 pairs of Danskos. The Mary Jane styles even look cute with skirts.
posted by pluckysparrow at 3:34 PM on May 2, 2010

Warning on Clarks: they are fantastic shoes that are classic and comfy, but their shoes tend to run a bit narrow and/or inconsistently sized for this wide-footed person, so a bit of trying and returning may be in order if you're buying online. Zappos is really good for this.
posted by joyceanmachine at 3:42 PM on May 2, 2010

I have a pair of Merrell brand hiking shoes that were a Godsend when I was in South East Asia. If it wasn't for the fact that they are not really my style, I would wear them every day. So much more comfortable than the skate shoes I usually wear.
posted by sacrifix at 3:46 PM on May 2, 2010

Keens, Keens, Keens. I bought a pair of Mary Janes first, because they were cute, later a pair of Newport H2s for travel in a hot climate and then a pair of hiking boots for travel in a colder climate then some more Mary Janes because they are cute. Seriously, the footbed is supportive and cushy and they can take quite a beating. I never travel without a pair of Keens. You can probably try them on at an REI.
posted by Morrigan at 3:46 PM on May 2, 2010 [1 favorite]

If you have no ongoing problems with your feet (I do, so I use orthotics in shoes that meet the requirements outlined by a podiatrist) then your best bet is to look for a sturdier version of shoes you know are comfortable.

Whatever you buy, be sure to break them in before you leave. You don't want to be getting used to new shoes in ireland.

If you have access to a shoe store with staff that can actually fit shoes correclty, it's worth paying extra to buy there. E.g., one of my feet is almost one size smaller than the other (not that unusual). If the guy measuring my feet doesn't catch that, I leave.
posted by justcorbly at 3:53 PM on May 2, 2010

"I'm female, late 30s, live in the US, don't wear heels, my feet tend to run a little wide, and tend to wear things either like loafers or flats."

You are my doppelgänger, apparently. :)

I want to second Sketchers - I think I'm on my 4th pair of the Bikers Step Up model, and HOLY MOLY are they comfortable. My SO jokingly calls them my 'hiking slippers,' but that's pretty much what they are.

I've used them for running around all sorts of places in Morocco (cities, beaches, mountains, deserts, you name it), and they've never let me down. They don't look like I've come from the gym, and they rinse clean easily.
posted by HopperFan at 4:04 PM on May 2, 2010

I am partial to Born, if I want to both walk a great deal and look stylish. I have three different pairs, and I've worn them on vacations, walks, etc. for miles with no problem. My feet run wide as well, and I've never had any trouble with the width. I'm not a heel person either. They are, like many of the other shoe brands people mentioned here, definitely more expensive than what you'd buy at Payless (between $50-$100). However, I think they are worth the investment. In addition to being comfortable, they are durable.
posted by unannihilated at 4:05 PM on May 2, 2010

I spent a year walking all over Dublin in my Wolkys. I put a waterproof coating on them and never had wet feet. Ireland is definitely a no-tennis shoe (or trainers, as they would say) country unless you want to look like a teenager. Have a great time!
posted by dirtmonster at 4:46 PM on May 2, 2010

Ah, on Preview I see you are already familiar with the parlance.. .Cheers!
posted by dirtmonster at 4:47 PM on May 2, 2010

Response by poster: Wow - thanks! Looks like I've got a lot of styles and brands to check out.
posted by korej at 8:51 PM on May 2, 2010

I decided that I needed something just like what you describe for my multi-week visit to New York. I got the Naturalizer Dallen's.

I had no blisters, my feet felt fine even after a whole day of walking over the city and they are very comfortable to wear. They come in at least two different widths (you would probably want wide ones, as the reason I liked them was that I have quite narrow feet and they are well-fitted for me).

Completely recommend them. I thought I would buy a pair of Keen's, but they tend to have a rubber/plastic toe cap that extends up from the sole and makes them look a bit less classy, in my opinion. The Keen's are probably slightly more sporty looking, even when they are supposed to be the more dressy style.
posted by AnnaRat at 9:50 PM on May 2, 2010

I'm partial to Mephisto Allrounders. They are comfortable and sound like there are styles that would fit your tastes. Then tend to be on the pricey side, but places like often have them on sale. My favorite pair has lasted close to 4 years now!
posted by parakeetdog at 1:12 PM on May 3, 2010

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