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European Walking Shoes

Last night I was listening to a Rick Steves program on the radio and there was a woman promoting hiking trails in Europe. She talked about wearing "European Walking Shoes". When I google that I just find links to Keel Sandals, and other brands we Americans are familiar with, but no brand of European walking Shoes. She made it sound like that was a brand. Anyone know anything about these shoes?
I hike a lot in the Columbia Gorge and will need some new shoes soon.

Thanks

Posted by
20792 posts

Interesting question. At first thought I do not think that is a specific brand for walking shoes. Probably a generic term. I use an ECCO shoe that is called an Urban Hiker/walker or something like that. It is a decent looking oxford shoe with a heavy lugged sole. For years my wife wore a small size male shoe of the same model. It is my primary shoe for all trips and I use it locally when we do dry, day hikes. It seems to me to a low cut, dressed up hiking shoe.

Posted by
3 posts

Thanks, Frank. I thought it was generic, too until Rick asked her later on again what was the name and she repeated "European Walking Shoes". I would have thought she'd explained it was a generic term (she was an American) and then name some specific brands. She did name specific brands of socks she liked. Hmm. Maybe someone else will chime in.

Posted by
617 posts

I second the Ecco recommendation. Very comfortable, with super-heavy-duty soles that smooth out cobblestones and, I would imagine, rocks and such while hiking. Wife and I average about 9-10 walking miles per day in Europe, and these have pretty much eliminated sore feet.

Posted by
5298 posts

I listened to the show, and I heard her refer to it as a "type" - a cross between a shoe and a boot. Maybe that's just the generic term, because they are more common in Europe than here. She made no reference to any special features that would matter, other than they pass for street shoes. Shoes (unlike socks) are so so subjective, because it's all about the fit, so I think all brand recommendations are to be taken with a grain of salt.

But I know the Ecco shoes that Frank is talking about, and also have a pair. I think they exactly fit the description of a cross. But I wouldn't wear them for serious hiking like the gorge.

Posted by
7732 posts

I am big fan of Meindl, they make wonderful, leather hiking boots, hiking shoes and non-leather trail runners.

Posted by
893 posts

Mephisto shoes are a French answer to walking shoes. Personally, although they look good, the last used in making the shoes doesn't conform to my feet, so I have reluctantly given them away and now prefer New Balance trail running shoes in neon colors, with a stylish boot for dressier times.

Posted by
549 posts

I just happen to have her book, I believe (Explore Europe on Foot by Cassandra Overby). She refers to "European-style walking shoes". Based on her comments, I think of low-rise hiking boots; I have a pair from Oboz that I got at REI and love them. She does go on to say "I really like Naturalizer, Aragon and Merrell."

Posted by
5572 posts

In the old days shoes were pretty basic and simple. I remember those days as Keds vs Converse shoes with the richer kids wearing Converse. Way before the Michael Jordan signature shoes.

The Nike invented the waffle iron running shoes. Now we have shoes for every occasion - runners, walkers, cross trainers. And trail running shoes vs. hiking shoes, hiking shoes vs hiking boots and so on.

Dignity Health has a useful discussion differentiating running and walking shoes with a comment that "Walking shoes, which didn’t even exist until 1986...."
https://www.dignityhealth.org/articles/the-difference-between-running-shoes-and-walking-shoes

And hiking vs; trail running:
https://www.rei.com/learn/expert-advice/hiking-boots-vs-trail-runners-the-great-debate.html

I suspect "walking shoes" are basically a form follows function shoe design rather than fashion at the expense of function.

Posted by
3145 posts

I am unfamiliar with “European“ walking shoes but I certainly know what Manhattan walking shoes are! I’m accustomed to walking 4-5miles on weekdays on city sidewalks and double that on weekends before the coronavirus infested us all. The most comfortable city walking shoes I have come across recently are made by Skechers.

Posted by
866 posts

I guess she talks about hiking boots... that's what you would use on a hiking trail. In this case:

Meindl
Lowa
Salewa
Hanwag
Dachstein
Haglöfs

Posted by
2127 posts

Come to think of it, my most comfortable walking shoes are European brands--Pikolino from Spain makes my super comfy Vicar boots, Ecco is Danish and I love their leather sneaker/oxfords and finally, the Austrian brand that saved my trip to Austria & Hungary, Legero. Lightweight but incredibly supportive leather sneakers from the Humanic shoe store came to the rescue when I developed blisters upon arrival in Vienna--I love them so much in taupe/grey that when I found another Humanic store a few years later in Pecs, Hungary I bought them in a midnight navy. Another super comfy but really expensive brand is Finn Comfort--they all have replaceable insoles and are quite well made, though I have only really liked their Soho and Ikebukuro sneakers.

Posted by
790 posts

christa, I love those Vicar boots - hadn’t noticed that brand and style before.

Posted by
1150 posts

Continental, I have a pair of sketcher mary Jane's that have a curve from front to back that annoys me. It that common w all sketchers?

Posted by
2127 posts

Travelmom--I bought them in black on a whim off the Nordstrom website and they were like walking on clouds, wore them every day of a 2 week trip to the Baltics last year and then bought the caramel and burgundy from ebay and Amazon. The other Pikolinos styles don't really grab me but I got lucky with this one!

Posted by
198 posts

For hiking, I swear by my Lowa's. My first pair lasted 18 years and had a lot of use! They just fit me perfectly right out of the box. We do a lot of hiking here in WA and OR, including the gorge, and for me these are ideal.

For European trips that are not in the summer, I take my Dromedaris boots. Mine are red and again, super comfy! I took a brand new pair to Europe a few years ago and wore then for 13 of the 14 days there, and we walked a minimum of 10 miles each day. They were plenty warm in Iceland and Norway as well. They were the only shoe I took on our trip in January to Germany and Prague.

Posted by
3145 posts

Doric8, I don’t wear mary janes because they do not provide the support I need for my extensive daily walking. So I can’t comment on your experience with them.

When I go shoe shopping at Skechers, I know instantly if the shoe fits like a dream with ideal cushioning and arch support.