Durable walking shoes? (male)
November 30, 2015 12:23 PM   Subscribe

I walk on asphalt most days for about a mile. I'm usually wearing sneakers/athletic shoes on these walks. The soles wear out in less than a year. Can I get a better walking shoe for less than $100?

I've been buying a new pair of $30 sneakers every year, which works OK, but is kind of annoying. Last round we found a pair of somewhat nicer athletic shoes on sale and I hoped they'd last a little longer. Nope, those thicker soles wore through just as fast.

Almost all the wear and tear is from walking on asphalt. I wouldn't mind switching to another type of shoe if it was more durable and still fairly comfortable for walking a mile or three. Not tall boots, but maybe short boots or some other kind of walking shoe. I suspect I want something with a harder sole that is still meant for walking around, but I'm not sure what it's called, or if there are several options along these lines. I just don't know much about shoes.

I'm hoping to find an alternative for $100 or less. I am vaguely aware that regular folks pay a lot more than this for shoes these days, but much higher than $100 and I'm spending (for me) a lot of money on something I don't understand yet and might not like.

Thanks for any advices.
posted by mattu to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (9 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
Clarks, just the basic chukkas/desert boots. I've bought every pair i had lightly used at thrift stores and they've lasted ~2 years. The last pair would have gone even longer but i stepped on a sharp rock(they are NOT hiking boots). I walk to work every day, by the way. Three jobs in a row now. It's just my thing.

They're regularly on sale for under $100, sometimes even less than $70 if you get a weird sharkskin grey or something. They can also be waterproofed with something like obenaufs successfully.

Sketchers makes a clone of them that lasts just as long in my experience(and looks 95%~ the same) which is waterproof out of the box. You want the one with a slight heel, not the sneaker-soled one. Their low top "work boots" are also great for this. I have a pair that i wore for middle school and high school in regular rotation that my dad now wears. They're still not worn out. They're pretty much exactly these.

This is normally a space in which i'd recommend doc martens, but there is now an ABRUPT dropoff in quality on any of their stuff that's less than maybe $150. My partner got some there that fell apart in about six months with barely any wear on the sole and they're just like ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ about it. If you can get in on one of their 50% off promos, buy the "for life" ones. I didn't, because i'm cheap, and i sort of regret it.

On preview, these are the clarks i mean, and i meant sales like this which happen just about once a month(there's been more recent ones, i just didn't want to play with the search a lot). I can't seem to find the same sketchers(they all have dress-shoe like soles now which don't last at all), but i'd keep an eye on that.

I'd also look in to like, chippewa's and wolverines on sale. Those will last several years or more and have both had deals multiple times under $100.

Previewier, i have size ~13 feet. There's probably some good recommendations out there that simply do not come in my size i never would have heard of or considered. This isn't the be-all-end-all obviously.

For sneakers, these outlast all others. There is no competition. I've bought essentially every popular or "cool" sneaker. I wore a pair of those every single day mopping floors with bleachy water in a fast food place and drywalling all summer. It took an exploding can of this satanic substance to do them in. I wore another pair of them to burning man and ran them through an industrial washing machine on the bleach rags cycle and they're still fine. One stitch popped out on the top edge and i'm still wearing them an entire year later.

The chukkas are more comfortable to walk in though. My favorite walking shoes are the clarks, by far. I'm about to replace the pair i stabbed a hole in. The adidas are nice because you can use them for cycling and stuff, but the clarks cushion and protect your feet more and seem to sit at a more natural angle for standing.
posted by emptythought at 1:25 PM on November 30, 2015 [2 favorites]

Every pair of Merrell that I've ever had, I wore out the uppers long before the soles ever showed any signs of wearing down.

posted by humboldt32 at 1:25 PM on November 30, 2015 [2 favorites]

In my experience, a year is about the lifespan of a pair of non-dressy shoes for everyday wear. The pair currently on my feet is pushing 15 months, but the soles have worn pretty much all the way through. I buy nice-ish running shoes (New Balance, Asics, etc) in the $75-100 range. The only way I've ever gotten a pair to last more than a year and a half is if I wore them to absolute tatters.
posted by kevinbelt at 1:29 PM on November 30, 2015 [3 favorites]

Honestly, walking ~300+ miles a year is going to wear out the lifespan of most shoes. That is a LOT of walking! (For reference, even expensive running shoes should be replaced about every 3-4 months, and those are shoes that *made* to take a beating.)

One thing that might help you is to get two identical pairs of the same shoes. I know it's an investment up front, but shoes need some time to rest after each wear, especially if they get sweaty on the inside or wet on the outside. Having two pairs of shoes and alternating every day will dramatically increase the lifespan of your shoes.

Depending on what shoes you buy, you can also invest in regular shoe shines and re-sole-ings to increase the lifespan even more. Even if you buy a pair with cheap soles that wear out quickly, you can take them to a cobbler and get more durable soles put on them.
posted by Brittanie at 1:51 PM on November 30, 2015 [6 favorites]

I have a pair of Columbia hiking shoes (not boots) that I bought to hike but now use as my non-working shoes. They are great. Light, super comfortable and waterproof (or at least they were until I cut the uppers up hiking over some sharpish rocks). The soles have lasted for a year but I don't think I have walked in them as much as you would.
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 2:14 PM on November 30, 2015 [1 favorite]

I had a pair of Nike Air running walking shoes, with 1500 miles on them. The soles were still good and yeah. Look for post christmas sales.
posted by Oyéah at 3:05 PM on November 30, 2015 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thanks everyone. Looks like brand name is the key idea, and watching for sales. (And not excessive expectations.) I'll give that a shot.
posted by mattu at 6:33 PM on November 30, 2015

I do a lot of walking too and have had foot issues like plantar fasciitis that make me especially sensitive to wear. Regular running shoes and most $80 to $150 department store dress shoes (e.g. Born) have never lasted long for me. I've had better luck with Ecco oxfords, many of which can be found on the internet for under $100, and with Chaco sandals for recreation, worn year-round with socks in the winter (not a hit with my spouse or officemates). I get a pair of the latter every two years or so on REI outlet.

I've also found that I'll get a bit more mileage out of any shoe by using a stabilizing insole like Superfeet from when they are new.
posted by M.C. Lo-Carb! at 7:02 PM on November 30, 2015

i actually had some success with adidas not so long ago, but then the latest pair have worn down in less than a year. for what it's worth, i think that the more "retro" styles from adidas with a simple rubber sole that's clearly separate from the more foamy part of the sole seem to last better (the latest style that is available as both a shoe and boot, where the sole is moulded and curved, has worn quickly).

also, marmot were expensive and wore quickly - a real disappointment.
posted by andrewcooke at 4:19 AM on December 1, 2015

« Older Let's Watch   |   For a successful marriage, marry your second... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.