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Waterproof hiking shoe with rigid sole for wide feet?

I'm looking for shoes (not boots) with a boot-like stiff sole. They need to be waterproof, since my normal walking involved morning dew and travel includes places like Scotland. They also need to be available in wide width. A large toe box is needed since I've developed some peripheral neuropathy in my old age. The podiatrist doesn't think there's much to do besides messing with insoles. Since I live in the boondocks, trying on shoes doesn't work without the hassle of shipping, returns etc. Our dogs need about 5 miles of trail walking per day to stay sane.

I have Keen Targhee III's on right now, but after only two months, the rigidity in the soles has evaporated. So much so that Keen has given me a full credit. I don't know if mine were defective or if that's what a replacement pair would do. When new, I thought I'd struck gold.

I'd try the Ecco Track 25 but they don't come in wide.

I'm tempted by the Merrill Moab 2, so I'd like some feedback about the rigidity.

If you google stiff or rigid soles, you get all sorts of shoes with just arch support, or vague claims about rigidity. Obaz makes several shoes that sound good on paper.

I'm also tempted by carbon fiber insoles, but they cost as much as the shoes, and are an expensive experiment, at least without some feedback.

Advice appreciated!

Posted by
552 posts

I have two pairs of Obozs and really like them. Both are low rise. One has a rigid sole and the other does not. The rigid sole is the sawtooth II. If you want waterproof (that is what I have), make sure it's the "b-dry" version. There's a lower cost version which lacks the waterproof membrane. I have a fairly narrow heel but need a wide toe box and the Oboz have worked great for me. They come with their own insole which acts much like "superfeet" insoles. However, since those insoles are fitted to the shoe and not your feet they may not work if the arch doesn't hit you in the right spot. REI carries Oboz and their anniversary sale starts on Friday. I hope you find something that works.

Edit: Changed the sale day to Friday. It starts on May 21.

Posted by
97 posts

Coastal range of S. Oregon. I'm about 75 miles from a very small REI and 13W seems to be a difficult size. The ECCO outlet, which is about 200 miles doesn't carry the Track 25. I think I'm stuck with online.

I have the Sawtooth B-dry bookmarked already as being in the competition.

Posted by
714 posts

Try looking for what are described as ‘approach shoes’. They tend to be more aggressive and rigidly soled than the likes of Merrell and Keen. Alpinetrek, who seem to be based in Germany, or at least the parent company is, have a large selection, mainly of ‘Euro brands’ such Garmont, Scarpa, La Sportiva, Aku, Dachstein, etc. which may fit the bill. You’d also need to check if they mail to the USA. There’s the occasional bargain to be had, but usually, you gets what you pays for, and the more ‘bombproof’ the footwear is, the more it costs.

Posted by
97 posts

From what I can Google, approach shoes are generally less stiff and not usually waterproof. The multitude of choices and crossovers doesn't make selection any easier.

Posted by
1790 posts

I wouldn't make waterproof a priority as it really limits your choices for negligible gain. It doesn't sound like you will be in water all day and I'd rather have something that breathes to let out perspiration. Change socks midday if your feet got wet in the morning. Comfort is the most important and break them in before your trip.

Posted by
714 posts

jj - I’m not sure what results you are getting from Google but have a look here:

https://www.alpinetrek.co.uk/approach-shoes/

and see the type of shoe I’m talking about. Maybe search the manufacturer of the sort of shoe you think you need for a US distributor rather than go via Alpinetrek’s British web site?

Posted by
12205 posts

I too thought approach shoes should have a stiffer sole than regular hiking shoes. The stiffness is needed for edging and bouldering.

But if you really want a rigid sole, take a look at mountain bike shoes, the ones made for flat pedals (not with cleats that attach to the pedal clip). They are not as stiff as road bike shoes, as mountain bikers often need to do some walking with their bike. But they are stiffer in the sole than any hiking shoes; the rigidity helps transfer power to the pedal.

Five Ten makes the mountain bike shoe that gets the most high ratings for “flat pedal” type shoes. You might check them out. (Not waterproof but you can add that with Nikwax).

https://www.switchbacktravel.com/best-mountain-bike-shoes

Five Ten also makes highly-rated approach shoes if you want to explore those. The discontinued Five Ten Camp 4 approach shoe came up when I googled for rigid soles. apparently it is a good fit for wide feet as well. Maybe they have a replacement for the Camp 4 that is similar.

Posted by
4368 posts

I have a pair of Merrill Moab 2, they fit my reasonably wide feet quite well and the sole is relatively firm however not as firm as my Bestard Boston GTX shoes are. They're a Mallorcan company who developed their footwear from hiking in the Tramuntana mountains so they're really designed for heavy duty hiking. I use them for dog walking/hill walking so they're a bit of an overkill but I've yet to slip over in them!

I buy a lot of my footwear and walking clothing from sportpursuit.com. They have heavy discounts and an ever changing stock. They also deliver to the US but I don't know what package costs are.

Posted by
2515 posts

if you are looking for a stiff sole, then looks for makes that do Vibram soles, lots out there.I have had boots and walking shoes from a diverse range of companies including Hi Tec ,Mountain warehouse North Peak and Tresspass (all mainly UK companies) but all have had Vibram soles, they all do version with various other styles of sole with various names but for me Vibram are the stiffest and hardest wearing

Posted by
336 posts

Not sure if they come in wide widths, but I have a pair of Vasque hiking shoes that are seriously waterproof and have good thick, stiff soles. (I disagree with an earlier response that you don't need waterproof shoes. If you spend even a few minutes walking through wet grass or on a drizzly day, you'll be glad you're wearing waterproof shoes.) The Vasques are still breathable. GoreTex uppers and Vibram soles.

Good luck with your search. It's become easier to mail order shoes and return them for free, so hopefully that will help you. You really do need to try shoes on.

Posted by
97 posts

Waterproof, rigid, and wide are all requirements. Please don't recommend shoes that miss any of those. Most of the shoes I've looked at include Vibram soles, and that doesn't necessarily corelate with stiff, since that has more to do with the internal shank.

Posted by
371 posts

I also wanted a stiff walking shoe and have been happy with the Oboz Women's Sapphire Low B-Dry Waterproof Hiking Shoe.

Of note, I don’t normally need a wide width but I did in these, so they might not be wide enough for you. I hope you find what you are looking for!

Posted by
4368 posts

Vibram soles do feature on many of the stiffest soled boots I've researched including those that are designed for climbing with crampons. There are clearly varying levels of stiffness with Vibram soles, my Merrell Moab's have a Vibram sole which is less stiff than my Bestard's Vibram sole but my experience has been that if a stiff sole is what you're looking for then Vibram offers the best option. However, when comparing long distance walking the Merrells are more comfortable than the Bestards simply because they're less stiff. You might also want to look at Dachstein, they come highly recommended and often top comparison reviews. I'm looking at a pair to replace my winter walking boots.

The problem with seeking such specific advice is that you're going to be met with personal recommendations from people that have a limited experience. After all, how many walking shoes does the average person own? I have six currently, a mixture of boots and shoes for different environments and seasons and what determines how much credence you place on my opinion over someone elses? Your best bet is to visit a specialist shop and try on a variety of shoes, only then will you be able to determine what is suitable or not.

Posted by
714 posts

JC - Judging by our respective boot/shoe racks, I think we may have been separated at birth!

Posted by
1629 posts

Just in the last 6 months, I've been buying OrthoFeet shoes online. I have bunions and a hammer toe has evolved. They have a 60 day wear test period. Free shipping and free returns. Check out their website. I'm very happy with my shoes.

Posted by
12383 posts

Be careful, your feet in a waterproof shoe can not breathe, just sweat.

Posted by
12205 posts

Given your specific and absolute requirements, I will join JC in suggesting your best option is to visit a specialty shoe store.. Maybe a large REI, or a Walking Company store. You need to try on the shoes for width and get advice on options for rigidity of soles and waterproof shoes.

People here can make all the suggestions they want, but as you have found, few if any will meet all 3 of your absolute requirements. And one person's "wide" shoe may not be your idea of "wide". Same with the rigid sole.

So it would be worth the investment of time to drive somewhere and get expert advice, and actually try on the shoes for fit and comfort. Otherwise you will be wasting a lot of time ordering shoes online, finding out the size is wrong or the sole not as rigid as you need, and then sending them all back.

Posted by
4368 posts

JC - Judging by our respective boot/shoe racks, I think we may have been separated at birth!

Haha.

I think I have a bit of an obsession with hiking shoes/boots. I've just bought a new pair of Dachstein's as a result of this thread, I know I should steer clear of online footwear stores!

Posted by
714 posts

JC - “I've just bought a new pair of Dachstein's as a result of this thread, I know I should steer clear of online footwear stores!”

Yeah, I’ve been trawling Sport Pursuit et al for a new pair of hiking shoes as my Merrells and Zamberlans are getting long in the tooth and a bit worse for wear! As soon as I can walk round the block following a recent hip replacement, I’m scouring the net for walking shoes - go figure!

Posted by
1850 posts

As soon as I can walk round the block following a recent hip replacement, I’m scouring the net for walking shoes

Could try altberg just down the road in Richmond

https://www.altberg.co.uk/

The most comfortable boots I've had were a pair of Kayland Contacts

sadly, Kayland no longer have a UK distributor at present so you don't see them in the shops these days https://www.kayland.com/en