As a runner, it feels a little strange to be reviewing a walking shoe – I mean, walking? That’s only for the times I’m injured or accompanying my husband during his attempts to get fit! However, the opportunity arose to give these shoes a spin, and coincidentally a slight health problem pushed me into giving running a miss for a few weeks, so the time seemed perfect to get some serious miles in, wearing a pair of purpose designed, sturdy, waterproof Vibram Swallows – here are my thoughts.
Being used to brightly coloured running shoes, these predominantly brown shoes looked a little drab to my eyes on first sight. However, the background beige mesh, brown suede effect panels and black toe and heel sections were lifted by the fuchsia coloured interior which gave just a suggestion of colour around the tongue and ankle area. The sole of the shoe had a deeply engraved tread, with the trademark Vibram yellow octagon providing a bright splash of colour on the instep.
The shoes are very well padded around the heel area, and are cut higher up on the ankle bone than trainers, to provide more support on rough ground. There is a bit of arch support provided by the sturdy insole – the insole is easily removable to allow an orthotic insole to be inserted instead if required. An initial six mile walk in these shoes was very pleasant and didn’t result in any blisters or rubbing, despite only wearing a pair of normal running socks.
These shoes were tested out on a variety of terrains, from tarmac to earthen paths, and hardcore trails to grass and mud. On the rougher surfaces I felt they gripped well, and I strode confidently up and down rocky uneven paths and muddy slopes, although strangely I did feel slightly less sure footed on smooth wet tarmac. Despite the shoes being coated in a thick layer of gooey mud, my socks remained clean and dry, and the synthetic materials made the shoes easy to clean up afterwards, with a quick drying time and no shrinkage being plus points too. I suppose my only gripe about these shoes would be that the laces are a little long, and had to be double knotted – this is obviously a very minor detail and easily remedied anyway by changing the laces if it bothers you!
I don’t claim to have tested these walking shoes to extreme – I haven’t been fell walking in them, I haven’t been up any mountains and I didn’t stray far from home at all, but then again they’re walking shoes not hiking boots. I have tried them in some challenging conditions locally, and they’ve coped with mud, rocks, hills and water. Perhaps more importantly, my feet have escaped unscathed, with no blisters or chafing, so that has to be a good thing! All in all, I can confidently recommend these as well built walking shoes which should serve you well for many miles – happy trails!
*Disclaimer: This was a collaborative post with Mountain Warehouse and I was given the shoes in order to give an honest review. All words and opinions are my own.