Multi-activity shoe buyer’s guide
Multi-activity, all-terrain, off-road, approach – whatever you call these shoes, they’re sturdier than a trainer but more flexible and versatile than a walking boot. It’s impossible to expect one shoe to do it all, so make sure you choose a pair that will suit your needs and activities.
■ Good cushioning will add comfort and protect your body from jarring.
■ More padding is ideal for walking and trail-running. But for scrambling about or if you’re after a better ‘feel’ for the ground, a stiffer and thinner shoe might be better.
■ The heel cup is used to hold the heel in place and prevent slippage and blisters.
■ You can feel how supportive it is by pinching it between finger and thumb.
■ This should allow you to get your foot in and out easily, but also offer enough padding to prevent the laces from digging into your foot.
■ A bellows design will help prevent water and dirt creeping in down the sides of the tongue.
■ Thicker uppers may provide long-lasting protection against knocks, but if their breathability is poor your feet may sweat and become wet from the inside.
■ The material and thickness will also affect the flexibility of the shoe. Open weave mesh is lightweight, very breathable and when lined with a waterproof lining ensures dry feet, while leather can be incredibly durable.
■ To test how much lateral rigidity a shoe offers, twist the toe while holding the heel.
■ To check the flex, bend the toe towards the heel.
■ A decent footbed that cushions and supports in
the right places is key.
■ Take it out to see how good it is. If they’re rather flimsy and flat, you could buy inserts – a good option is Superfeet footbeds (www.superfeet.co.uk) – which are far more supportive.
■ Check to see what the tread is like. Shallower grooves and less aggressive patterns will offer less grip on mud and wet grass.
■ However, for activities such as scrambling and walking on rocky terrain, a simpler profile will provide more traction.
■ Toes can take a hammering from rocks and boulders when you’re scampering about on the hills, so some protective stiffening around the end of the shoe is useful.
■ For extra durability, look for a wide rubber rand which will protect the join between the upper and sole.