Best Trail Shoes - Readers' Choice Awards

Winner and Finalists

Readers voted for the winner and the four finalists for their favorite trail walking shoes. These shoes are built for walking on hiking trails, gravel, and rough paths. They have sturdier construction and rugged soles for good traction. You need trail shoes for those conditions as regular athletic shoes don't provide enough protection from rocks, roots and uneven and slippery surfaces. More: Do You Need Trail Shoes for Natural Trails?

Winner: Kuru Chicane

KURU Chicane
KURU Chicane. KURU ©

Kuru Chicane shoes can take the trail, or be worn for travel or as comfort shoes. They have an integrated heel and removable arch support insole. They come in both men's and women's versions. They have full grain leather uppers or breathable mesh uppers and an asymmetrical, gussetted tongue to keep out the elements. The leather version is water resistant and breathable. They come in a variety of colors to suit your style. They come in regular and wide widths. They were voted Winner of the 2011 Walking Readers' Choice Awards.

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Brooks Cascadia

Brooks Cascadia
Brooks Cascadia. Courtesy of

Brooks Cascadia is a trail running shoe, designed with input from an ultramarathoner. It is lightweight yet has enough grip for the trail  It's built for stability yet is still flexible. But what may really sell you on the Cascadia is that it is frequently named as the best shoe for walking the Camino de Santiago. With many testimonials provided on discussion groups from veterans of this 600-mile trail walk, I bought a pair and wore them on my Camino pilgrimage walk. They performed just as the others said they would. If they can get pilgrims through a month of 14-mile days with constant uphill and downhill on gravel and dirt slopes, they can power your trail walks as well. It comes in men's and women's versions in a variety of colors. Unfortunately, they don't come in wide, although the standard width served me well, and I usually buy wide shoes.

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LOWA Renegade GTX

Lowa Men's Renegade III GTX LO Hiking Shoe
Lowa Men's Renegade III GTX LO Hiking Shoe. Courtesy of

This waterproof hiking shoe is serious enough to tackle wet Northwest trails. The Vibram sole is time tested for durability. It has excellent quality construction and a true seamless lining. It has stood the test of time and is one that the people who love it return to again and again, year after year. It is ruggedly built and comes in both men's and women's versions. If you are going to be out on a wet trail, it can be a good choice.

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New Balance Country Walker

New Balance 969 Country Walker
New Balance 969 Country Walker. Courtesy of

The classic New Balance Country Walker is a waterproof trail shoe. It is not very flexible, but it provides good support. The waterproof leather is seam-sealed and it has a gusseted tongue to keep out trail debris. It's a classic style that New Balance continues to update year after year. If your hiking takes you through puddles and you want good protection, it can be a good choice.

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Vasque Velocity

Vasque Women's Velocity 2.0
Vasque Women's Velocity 2.0. Vasque ©

The Vasque Velocity was nominated for the award and received many votes. However, they have been discontinued by the manufacturer. They were lightweight, fast trail running shoes. They had good traction and support, but use mesh rather than leather. The current model that is most similar is the Vasque Grand Traverse - a performance hiking shoe, available in both men's and women's versions. 

Readers' Choice Awards

These awards were based on nominations selected by an expert panel. Then readers voted from among the finalists to give the award. The prize is bragging rights.

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