Does anybody know a good brand for durable shoes to walk a lot?
March 3, 2021 7:01 PM   Subscribe

So, I'm having shoe problems. I generally don't like to drive a lot or use public transportation, I like walking like a lot. I thought I had made some good purchases on shoes the last time, but it's been two years now and I'm once again have the same problem: I walk too much and the soles of my shoes get worn out to the point I have holes in my shoes. This is annoying, especially when it rains. I don't suppose anybody knows of some super ultra durable shoes?
posted by Tarsonis10 to Computers & Internet (28 answers total) 15 users marked this as a favorite
This happens to me. I had orthotics made and it’s been a game changer. I don’t drive and thus don’t have a car, so I compared my orthotics expenditure to new winter tires. I walk about 10km/day. YMMV.
posted by nathaole at 7:05 PM on March 3, 2021 [1 favorite]

Do you buy shoes that can be re-soled? That was the traditional way to deal with this problem (well, apart from the traditional way of putting newspaper inside the shoe to cover the hole!) Shoes that are not constructed to be repaired, even if they're expensive to start with, turn out to be more expensive still. Relevant Terry Pratchett.
posted by spacewrench at 7:06 PM on March 3, 2021 [6 favorites]

Shoes are consumables. If you're walking "a lot" in shoes, 2 years is pretty good. If you buy shoes that can be re-soled, you can do so, but the sole will still be a consumable (and realistically, the upper as well, but it'll last longer than 2 years).

If you find a shoe that lasts, unrepaired, for 2 years of high-milage, every-day use, it's probably bad for you for other reasons.
posted by bowbeacon at 7:17 PM on March 3, 2021 [15 favorites]

Are you walking in sort of regular shoes? I have been walking a LOT thanks to COVID times and I just got myself a pair of hiking boots that I use for walking. Better for ankle support and I'm not as tired at he end of the day. However if you really want shoes, the ones I see recommended all the time are Rockports.
posted by jessamyn at 7:17 PM on March 3, 2021 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: P.S. No, I've been walking with are supposed to be hiking shoes, but not even that is enough. Something like this:

Wow, I didn't know this was such a common issue, like I mean I knew people walked, but my distances are usually exaggerated, I spend hours walking around, sometimes like 1-2 km too. I just love doing it.
posted by Tarsonis10 at 7:21 PM on March 3, 2021

You might want to try running shoes that are cushioned, like Hoka.
posted by coffeecat at 8:07 PM on March 3, 2021

I’ve had great luck with various Mephisto styles. They have frequent sales, and offer a “re-build” for their shoes that costs far less than a brand new pair. They are not cheap - at all, but wear like iron. If there is a store near you, watch for their sample sales - there are fantastic bargains to be had!
Also, having 2 pairs of shoes, so you can alternate every other day will make them last more than twice as long.
posted by dbmcd at 8:18 PM on March 3, 2021 [5 favorites]

Figure out if you have a cobbler near you and find out what shoes they think are worth resoling, maybe. Resoleable shoes aren’t the cheap ones, and the total cost of ownership with resoling will be even higher, but at least you get to spend all that time in good shoes. I like my Redwings.

Also - I have known one person who walked a lot and barely wore his shoes out; he was also very quiet. Had done a lot of some martial arts and didn’t drag or scuffle or thud, evidently.
posted by clew at 8:23 PM on March 3, 2021 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Two years is far longer than I’d expect a pair of shoes to last walking a lot.

William Helmreich, who walked every street in NYC (6048 miles) and wrote a book about it, wore SAS Shoes. He went through 9 pairs. 672 miles feels like a pretty long life for a pair of shoes. The book wasn’t specific to the model he wore, but I’d imagine the Work/Duty category might be longer life.
posted by mollymayhem at 8:26 PM on March 3, 2021 [7 favorites]

Best answer: Palladium Boots have very tough soles. They last for a long time.

(I'd avoid the ones with canvas uppers - because the canvas wears out quickly.)
posted by HoraceH at 8:34 PM on March 3, 2021 [1 favorite]

Best answer: You can have a cobbler install heel and toe taps (aka savers) to your current (flat soled?) shoes. These are not for making noise, but they are metal or plastic inserts than slow down the wear on the sole.

Going beyond that, you can get resoleable/recraftable footwear like Red Wings or Danners (but only some models). These are shoes that you can have a cobbler completely replace the soles with new ones, with the same uppers that you've broken in to your feet. These shoes are expensive (because making them repairable is more complicated) and it costs real money for a professional to resole them. These are shoes made in the old style, where people walked much more, kept the same shoes for very long times, and repaired them; now it's cheaper to buy new shoes.

Contrary to popular belief, hiking shoes actually wear out faster than traditional shoes. Hiking shoes are intended to be used on softer ground, so their soles are correspondingly made of softer materials. And most modern hiking shoes are worn by people who hike infrequently, so it's more important that they feel comfortable in the store than have a long lifespan. And the newest hiking trend is to wear lightweight trail running shoes, and regularly buy new ones.
posted by meowzilla at 8:47 PM on March 3, 2021 [12 favorites]

Best answer: I can vouch for ECCO shoes. My current ECCO shoes have crepe soles (and smart suede uppers) and barely show any wear after several years of daily long walks. Previous experiences with their leather shoes and non-crepe soles have been excellent too. Some of their shoes and boots have water-resistant uppers - such as those made of GORE-TEX.
posted by The Patron Saint of Spices at 8:53 PM on March 3, 2021 [5 favorites]

I came to suggest palladium boots too; I wore through shoes about every 6 months before I switched. The canvas does indeed wear out quicker than the sole, but for me that’s about three our four years a pair?

They’re the perfect balance between a sneaker like a chuck taylor and a hiking boot.
posted by furnace.heart at 8:54 PM on March 3, 2021

You should strongly consider getting footwear that is resoleable. If you’re walking a lot every day, there’s no running shoe or hiking shoe that will outlive the two years yours lasted. And since you didn’t mention any particular foot issues, I’ll also point out that ordinary non-athletic shoes and boots can be just as comfortable as trail-runners or sneakers for many people no matter how much they walk.

I average at least a couple miles per day walking to/from the subway and just doing stuff around town. My last pair of full-leather boots (sort of engineer or combat style - not hiking) that I wore every season except the hottest parts of summer lasted almost 10 years with several resolings, so I’d guess I put at least 3000 miles on them. I loved them so much I posted an AskMe about how to find similar ones and received several helpful responses.

Most hiking shoes, running shoes, and sneakers will not have that kind of longevity because they can't be resoled and the uppers are usually made with materials that aren't as durable. Once layers start delaminating and fabrics gets worn or torn, there isn’t much you can do to repair them for the long term.

I’m not saying you need to get boots per se, and you might not use animal products, but in my experience good leather footwear will easily last several years if properly cared for and it can be perfectly comfortable even for long days of walking around town.
posted by theory at 9:11 PM on March 3, 2021 [1 favorite]

I have been surprised at how quickly "running" shoes wear out, but that is an expected thing...guidance is 300-400 miles for a pair of running shoes. I now buy three pairs a year, not an expense I was thinking of when adopting Mr. Dog.

I blew my knee out by using hiking boots (probably not amazing boots) and switched to Hoka One One shoes...but at $150 a pair every three months...hopefully you can find something kind to your feet and durable!
posted by maxwelton at 9:32 PM on March 3, 2021 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Go to a hiking store and get proper hiking boots, those adidas look like trail runners. My Oboz day hikers are two years old, I wear them nearly every day (averaging a couple miles daily, trails, farms, and sidewalks) and they’re barely showing tread wear. I had a pair of Vasques that were also good for years until I soaked them so many times the leather shrank, and neither was more expensive than the shoes you linked.

If you scuff your feet, no shoes will last, though. If you’re getting heavy wear in a particular area, you might want to pay attention to your form.
posted by momus_window at 9:35 PM on March 3, 2021

Shoes are intensely personal and objective objects. What you feel comfortable with is what you go with. WITH THAT SAID, there are shoes designed with different tread patterns. Running shoes are not the same as walking shoes, cross-trainers, industrial shoes, basketball court shoes, golf shoes, etc.

For the near term, either buy another pair just like your old one (same model and size), or get your old one re-soled at a proper shoe-smith, if possible. You can consider adding insoles for comfort as well as elastic laces to help you putting them on or off.

For the long-term, I would, if available, go to a proper shoe-fitter (one of the name brand flagship stores, perhaps) and pay the outrageous full price or whatever discount they have so you get fitted properly. I remember walking into New Balance flagship store one day, sat my butt down, and asked them to fit me. Turns out I've been buying too long and not wide enough (I'm actually 10.5 6E, not 11.5 4E, but not that many makers make shoes in 6E) I also have very "tall" feet so I can't really wear boots or high-tops. The pair they recommended had to be shipped to me, and it was like $220 including tax, but it did last me like 1.5 years of daily wear and tear (I was a delivery driver, so there's a fair bit of walking too) until there's a noticeable wear in the heel that I had to get another pair. But now I know my size, I can order it correctly.
posted by kschang at 11:41 PM on March 3, 2021

In normal times I walk 30-50 miles a week most weeks, mostly on city streets, and I expect to wear through the soles of my shoes in 12-15 months. The last time I replaced a pair, I was able to do a like-for-like replacement (very much not a given with women's shoes, even the unfashionable sensible lace-up flat kind). The shop assistant was horrified to hear how quickly I'd gone through the pair I'd walked in wearing, and told me firmly that if I wanted to prolong the life of my next pair, I should be using good insoles as soon as the shoe's original insole began to wear. The shoes in question were Ecco, and the insoles he recommended were a fancy leather(!) pair from the same brand.

Covid has kept me from being able to test this advice.
posted by ManyLeggedCreature at 1:53 AM on March 4, 2021

Doc Martens have great longevity, but aren't necessarily the most comfortable for long walks.
posted by metasarah at 4:54 AM on March 4, 2021

I've walked holes in 3 pairs of Doc Martens and they're not even my walking shoes.
posted by phunniemee at 5:15 AM on March 4, 2021

If you're wearing the same shoes every day they will also degrade faster than if you had two pairs of the identical shoe and swapped them out every other day. (Even if you wore the alternated shoes for twice as long to make the number of days worn equal.) You want the interior of the footbed to dry out entirely between wears. If the sole really is wearing through first, this may not be an issue for you, but it's definitely a thing I keep in mind when choosing shoes.
posted by deludingmyself at 6:23 AM on March 4, 2021 [5 favorites]

In general, look for shoes with "Vibram" brand soles.

Merrell usually does (but not all models/ styles). Merrell has a huge variety and over the last couple of decades, I've been very happy with their comfort, style, and durability.

They can be a little more expensive than Adidas, but you'll usually end up paying for quality (and I think Merrell has better style) more than for the badge when buying Adidas or other "popular brands."
posted by porpoise at 11:11 AM on March 4, 2021

Definitely seconding that you should replace your shoes every 300-500 miles as a rule. I also really like Keen footwear; they last a long time, they are comfortable for their whole lives, and they *sometimes* look good. I've found that they fit wider feet better, so pay attention to that when considering them.
posted by Snowishberlin at 4:02 PM on March 4, 2021

I have walked 781 km since August in the same part of (already a year old) Blundstone boots and they are holding up great. Shops are in lockdown here, so I haven't been able to buy more suitable hiking shoes.
posted by sindark at 4:02 PM on March 4, 2021

I haven't seen Dansko recommended here, but their professional clogs are my go-to shoes for many-mile walks and they usually last about 3 or more years.

And if you do buy re-soleable shoes, keep in mind that the cost to resole is often relatively expensive, sometimes as much as $150. I am always eager to support my local cobblers, but I've never been super thrilled with the results of any of the resolings I've had done, at least for that price.
posted by luckdragon at 5:03 PM on March 4, 2021

If you're open to hiking boots, the brand that I have been walking 2-3 miles in daily are these from Hi-Tek. They seem to only make "crossover" crap now so I will say I got them to replace a pair of Eccos which were delightful, something more or less like this.
posted by jessamyn at 5:05 PM on March 4, 2021

Best answer: If you're on your feet all day long, almost everyone I know (middle-aged arty-types) wear Blundstones (with an insole). They're not as perfect as they used to be, but they're solid. Rockports were the best walking shoes that I've ever had, a decade of pounding pavement in comfort.
posted by ovvl at 6:28 PM on March 4, 2021

One trend I've noticed among people who walk the Appalachian/Pacific Coast Trails is that the high-ankled hiking boot is no longer the go-to shoe style. Instead, most these days seem to wear/recommend "trail runners" for a good all-around long-distance walking/hiking shoe.
posted by rum-soaked space hobo at 3:54 AM on March 5, 2021

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