If you’ve recently taken up Nordic walking, selecting the best shoes for your hiking trips is to key to ensure you don’t incur unnecessary strain and remain firmly supported while out on the trail. Finding the right shoes for Nordic walking is essential, not only to help increase your exercise performance but to make sure your feet have the right support for your arch and foot shape.
First, we’re going to dive into how to pick out the best shoes for Nordic walking. Next, we’ll discuss our top 5 shoes for Nordic walking that will make a valuable addition to any outdoor enthusiast’s gear. Keep reading to the end to discover our chosen winner from the top 5!
The top 5 nordic walking shoes we recommend for 2023:
Our Review of the Top 5 Best Shoes for Nordic Walking
Here are the top 5 shoes for Nordic walking.
Merrell All Out Blaze 2 Waterproof
- Great for wilderness treks
- Comfortable and sturdy design
- Offers fantastic shock absorption
- Rubber soles for good gripping
- Removable insoles and midsoles
- The sizing might be a bit narrow for some feet
- A heavier option than some
Our first choice are the Merrell All Out Blaze 2 Waterproof shoes, perfect for hiking in rugged, wilderness terrain. When you’re going to be Nordic walking on uneven surfaces, it’s essential to ensure that your shoes reduce the shock of impact and prevent your ankles from rolling inward.
We love these shoes because they do both these things and more, offering reinforcement for your foot and reducing the likelihood of injury. The Merrell All Out Blaze 2 Waterproof Shoes feature a functional, durable dual mesh and leather design, that offers plenty of stability and quality support. We also love that these shoes are 100% waterproof to keep your feet dry if you run into any damp conditions,
The shoe sports mesh lining for enhanced ventilation and breathability, while featuring removable midsoles and insoles. So, you can wash/dry the midsoles and insoles in between each excursion to keep your shoes smelling nice and fresh. The shoes are also super comfortable and have a sturdy build with rubber soles, so you can rely on them for both even and off the grid areas.
New Balance Men's 779v1 Neutral Cushioning Trail Walking Shoe
- Shock absorbent midsole
- Durable rubber sole
- Lugged outsole
- Water resistant mid-cut upper
- Designed for varied, rough terrain
- The uppers aren’t as durable as some
- Lacing grommet can come undone with prolonged wear and tear
The New Balance Men’s 779v1 shoe made it to our list for its incredible shock absorbent midsole and durable rubber sole that offers exactly the support you need whether you are trekking on or off the grid. We liked the lugged outsole with the extra cushioned midsole to support a variety of foot arches.
One feature that stood out to us was the mid-cut upper, sporting water-resistant elements to keep your feet warm and dry in rainy conditions. The shoe is designed for use in a wide range of terrain types, so it will serve you well on familiar paths as well as rugged, wilderness terrain. These shoes for Nordic walking offer a quality fit, so you’ll have enough room to move around without so much space that your toes start to slip.
The New Balance Men’s 779v1 also provides fantastic traction, so if you’re going to be Nordic walking on slippery surfaces such as snowy mountaintops, you’re good to go. They are also pretty breathable too, with quality ventilation to keep your feet warm and dry in the winter and cool in the warmer months.
New Balance Men's MW840v2 Walking Shoe
- Very comfortable and sturdy
- Perfect for wider feet
- Works on a range of terrain types
- Removable insert for arch support
- Leather design
- Doesn’t hold up as well in damp conditions
- Not as much traction as some, which is why it’s not ideal for wilderness terrain
Our next pick is another product by New Balance, the Men’s MW840v2 Walking Shoe. The shock absorbent shoe features a genuine leather design with rubber soles made for optimal wearer comfort. We liked the easy lace-up features, plus the shoe comes in 3 different colors so you can decide which one you like best.
These shoes are specifically designed for wider feet, so if you find that regular walking shoes are too narrow for you, the New Balance Men’s MW840v2 might be just the ticket. You can select the shoe in a range of lengths and widths to find the fit that is perfect for your feet. These Nordic walking shoes are also compatible with an array of terrain types, although probably not ideal for very rugged wilderness terrain.
STEVEN by Steve Madden Mens Konrad Walking Shoe
- Functional yet stylish options
- Durable rubber soles that offer great traction
- Spacious toe box
- Leather upper
- Perforated elements for breathability and quality ventilation
- Not designed for off the grid areas or rough terrain
- Not as lightweight as some other shoes
The STEVEN by Steve Madden shoes are designed from comfortable leather materials, while still being very stylish and aesthetically pleasing as well. These shoes are not designed for rough or off the grid terrain but are a good choice if you are new to Nordic walking and like to go for walks on familiar paths with even surface areas.
The cushioned shoe sports some very functional, durable features, with rubber soles that provide excellent traction and stability as you navigate your poles. We also liked the spacious toe box, so if you have wider feet you won’t have to worry about your toes getting squeezed and pinched. We also liked the quality leather upper and perforated elements that offer exceptional ventilation qualities. The shoe is also very affordable, which is always a bonus.
Asics Men's GEL-Tech Walker Neo 4 Walking Shoe
- Very lightweight and heavily cushioned
- Great for frequent Nordic walkers
- Fantastic rubber soles with quality traction
- Removable insoles
- Good ventilation
- Not ideal for super wide feet
- The sole can wear out with very frequent use
Our final pick is the Asics Men’s Gel-Tech Walker Neo 4 Walking Shoe, designed to be very stabilizing while still being incredibly lightweight to wear. If you are looking for a lightweight shoe to support you on hikes without weighing you down, these shoes could be your ideal match. The shoe is made exactly for individuals who engage in heavy, frequent walking exercise.
You can purchase these shoes in a wide range of sizes to align with your foot type and 2 colors as you prefer. We were impressed with the quality, synthetic design of the Asics Men’s Gel-Tech Walker Shoe sporting a rubber sole that offers just the amount of traction you need to complement your pole strides.
We also liked the mesh fabric that offers superb ventilation and increases airflow so you won’t go back home or get to camp with sweaty, smelly feet. The collar and tongue are padded, which offers additional comfort to the wearer. Because these shoes are so light, you can move quickly and with ease without feeling weighed down in any way.
The Definitive Guide to Choosing Your Shoes for Nordic Walking
Here’s what you need to know to select the right shoes for Nordic walking for your next outdoor excursion.
What Exactly is Nordic Walking Anyway?
If you’re a little rusty on the concept of Nordic walking, here’s a quick rundown. Nordic walking has been a very popular form of exercise in Europe for decades but migrated over to North America in recent years. Nordic walking is simply a form of exercise involving cross country walking while using long poles, that look very much like ski poles.
Nordic walking is a fantastic form of exercise because it doesn’t just engage your legs like regular walking, but also engages your core muscles and upper extremities too. Nordic walking is a fantastic choice to build your stamina and increase lean muscle mass.
Besides picking the right Nordic walking poles for your cross country trek, picking out shoes for Nordic walking is going to have a huge impact on both your comfort and ultimate performance. Nordic walking involves many hours spent on your feet, so you need to have the right pair of shoes that fit you well and offer you the proper arch support.
There isn’t a one size fits all type of shoe when it comes to picking out your Nordic walking shoes, but you will need to make sure the shoe you select has plenty of cushioning for lengthy outdoor treks. If you are brand new to Nordic walking, you’ll probably start out on even terrain to get used to maneuvering the poles and exercising those core and upper extremity muscles in new ways.
However, once you become accustomed to the style of Nordic walking and move on to more challenging terrain, you need to make sure the shoes make the transition with ease and are just as dependable on rough surfaces as they were on even ones.
Nordic walking shoes with good sole support are ideal. If you have any foot conditions such as overpronated feet or weak ankles, keep an eye out for shoes that provide extra support and cushioning in those areas to ensure you receive the stability you need.
Features to Know
There are some primary features you’ll need to look for when hunting for your shoes for Nordic walking, particularly if you have any preexisting foot conditions. As we mentioned, stability and plenty of cushioning are key when picking shoes for Nordic walking. So, it’s critical to understand the key elements most walking shoes have to offer.
Look for shoes that offer an Achilles tendon protector, thereby lowering strain on that area by securing the shoes around your heel. Heel collars support your ankle and offer the right fit, while uppers secure the shoe onto your feet. Uppers are typically designed from synthetic, mesh, or leather materials. Mesh is the best option if you want extra ventilation without feeling weighed down by your shoe.
The insole of the shoe offers cushioning and primary support for your foot. Many shoes feature removable insoles that you can wash and dry between hikes, so unwelcome smells don’t linger. Not all of the shoes have this feature, but keep an eye out for gel, air, or foam midsoles that negate the impact your feet experience each time they hit the ground.
Your shoe’s outsole is the portion that connects with the ground, so outsoles sporting treads or grooves are going to offer enhanced stability while you navigate your poles. A walking shoe’s toe box secure your toes in place, but it should be spacious and round enough to give you freedom of movement without you having to worry about calluses forming.
Picking Your Nordic Walking Shoes for Your Foot Type
A good Nordic walking shoes should fit your foot type and provide you with the support you need. You’ll definitely need to consider the width and length of any shoes you’re looking at before making your selection. You don’t want a shoe that is so narrow it starts to pinch your feet, but you don’t want the shoes to be so wide that your feet are slipping around rendering you unstable.
The toe box needs to be elevated enough that your toes have sufficient room and you don’t have to worry about bunions forming.
The way your muscles, bones, tendons, and ligaments are aligned determines the way your arches are formed. When you walk, those arches distribute the weight of your body on your feet. If you don’t have the right support and the weight is not evenly distributed, you could risk grave discomfort and even injury.
If you have neutral arched feet that aren’t particularly flat or arched, look for shoes with very firm midsoles and straight or partially curved soles providing quality support for the rear of your foot.
If you have low arches or flat feet, you will be at greater risk of muscular strain and joint issues. So, you’ll want to pick a walking shoe with a straight sole and footprint that stabilizes your feet and helps reduce the shock of impact.
If you have high arches, your feet will be prone to feeling the shock impact more than they otherwise wood, so you’ll need to select your shoes for Nordic walking with extra firm arch support. A curved sole that conforms to your arch is also a key feature to look for.
For us, one selection from our review stood out above the rest, making our unequivocal top pick the Merrell All Out Blaze 2 Waterproof Shoes. We love the fact that you can rely on these for Nordic walking adventures on uneven, rugged surfaces without having to worry about a lack of support or stability. These shoes are shock absorbent and keep your ankles from rolling inward, which was a significant factor in our final decision.
We really liked the dual mesh and leather design that is 100% waterproof and offers quality foot reinforcement whether you’re Nordic walking on or off the grid. The mesh lining for excellent ventilation, plus removable insoles and midsoles really sealed the deal. For optimal comfort, a sturdy build, quality support, and excellent traction, the Merrell All Out Blaze 2 Waterproof Shoes are reigning champion of the best shoes for Nordic walking.