Multi-activity shoes reviewed (Wanderlust)
Review 16 April

Traveller's guide to: Multi-activity Shoes

From walking to cycling, scrambling to kayaking and running to sightseeing around town, a pair of these all-rounders can be worn for a variety of outdoor pursuits – we review the best available

Key features to look for when choosing multi-activity shoes

1) Purpose

Though ‘multi-activity’ suggests these shoes should be good for everything, specific models may have a bias towards a particular activity. Some may have drain holes, making them better for watersports; others might feature a more rigid sole for cycling; those with better toe protection suit walks on rocky terrain. Think about the activities you do most before buying.

2) Toe

A stiffer toebox will offer better protection from knocks – push down on it to check how firm it is. Also look for a rubber rand (the bit that covers the upper with the sole) – the larger it is the better protection and durability it offers.

3) Upper

The most common fabric is a synthetic mesh (keeps weight down and is very breathable), often mixed with suede or leather panels.

4) Cushioning

How much cushioning you need is a personal choice, but for longer and very active days you may want to opt for more rather than less. Cushioning is often what gets cut down in order to make them lighter.

5) Flexibility

The midsole is responsible for how bendy the sole is. A stiffer sole is better for cycling, scrambling on rocks and long days walking on tough terrain, as it will stop your feet getting tired. A flexible sole is often preferred for low-level walks and running.

6) Tongue

Look for a cushioned tongue, ideally with bellows (connecting it to the sides of the shoe), which stop water and stones from getting in.

7) Weight

Light shoes are not only good for your luggage allowance, but make your legs less tired when you’re wearing them. However, for a light weight you may sacrifice some comfort – there may be less cushioning and a thinner sole, meaning that on rough ground you’ll feel every bump.

8) Outsole

Check the lugs – deeper ones will take longer to wear and will grip better on muddy surfaces.

9) Sole

This part of the shoe really supports your foot so look for something firm that grips well. Check its rigidity by squeezing the heel before you put it on.

Anatom V1 Trail £60

THE TEST: Made from a breathable fabric, these sturdy shoes are ideal if you’re heading somewhere warm and dry to do some walking – they’ll help preveznt your feet getting too sweaty. The firm heel will hold your foot in place and a fairly solid toebox will help protect you from small stones and rocks. A large rubber rand helps with durability and a bellows tongue stops debris from getting inside. There’s a good amount of cushioning underfoot as well as around the ankles. The outsole features an aggressive set of lugs in differing sizes to help stop mud build-up.

There’s a good balance of rigidity and flex, meaning these shoes could happily be worn on the plane and for walking around town as well as for tackling more rocky terrain and trails. The stiffness would also help stop your feet getting really tired while cycling. The only downside is the weight – at 825g for the pair (Euro size 39) they are the heaviest on test; on longer walks you may start to feel it. But considering the comfort and the price, that’s a small sacrifice to make.

THE VERDICT: A heavier weight, but a well-designed shoe with great versatility for travellers, at a very reasonable price.

IN BRIEF
Features: ★★★★★
Design: ★★★★★
Comfort: ★★★★✩
Versatility: ★★★★★
Value: ★★★★★
Overall: ★★★★★

www.anatom.co.uk

Berghaus Augury II £70

THE TEST: For an extra £10 there’s a dramatic drop in weight. The Augury II hits the scales at just 542g a pair (UK size 5.5) and you can instantly feel the difference when you put them on. With weight loss there has to be a sacrifice somewhere – what this shoe lacks is a bellows tongue, which could mean getting small stones in your shoe or water leaking in if you walk through puddles/boggy ground. There is a firm heel to hold your foot well, but the toebox and rand is fairly soft, offering less protection on rough terrain.

These feel less cushioned than the Anatoms but because of the light weight you feel there is more of a spring in your step. Underfoot the outsole boasts a good set of lugs, which are great on muddy terrain. The sole is fairly flexible, which some people may prefer, though on long walks and long cycles your feet may get tired. However, if you plan to do shorter periods of activities, want a comfy shoe for city strolling and need to save on weight, these are the ones for you.

THE VERDICT: Despite lacking a bellows tongue this is a well-designed shoe that will be perfect for shorter, fast and light adventures.

IN BRIEF
Features: ★★★★✩
Design: ★★★★★
Comfort: ★★★★✩
Versatility: ★★★★✩
Value: ★★★★★
Overall: ★★★★✩

www.berghaus.com

Regatta Carbon Low X-LT £80

THE TEST: Throw another £10 in the mix and the Regatta Carbon Lows offer a waterproof membrane that is breathable too. If you plan on frequent walking across wet ground these will be good – but do bear in mind that with shoes (as opposed to boots) water can always get in the top fairly easily.

Weight-wise these are the second heaviest on test (749g a pair, UK size 6). The toebox is fairly soft but the rubber rand does help give it some structure. There is a good heel to hold your foot in place. The tongue has bellows, though unfortunately I found the fold rubbed a bit, which was uncomfortable – try them on to make sure your foot shape doesn’t give you the same problem. The lugs on the outsole are well spaced but not as deep as some on test. Despite appearances the sole is actually very flexible, which may be fine on short walks but less comfy on longer ones and cycling trips. It’s got a good amount of cushioning though, which helps on rougher tracks.

THE VERDICT: On wet ground these shoes will come into their own, but a very bendy sole could mean that comfort is an issue when doing activities for a long time.

IN BRIEF
Features: ★★★★★
Design: ★★★★✩
Comfort: ★★★✩✩
Versatility: ★★★★✩
Value: ★★★★✩
Overall: ★★★★✩

www.regatta.com

Merrell Grassbow £80

THE TEST: Merrell produces two versions of this shoe: one with a Gore-Tex waterproof outer (which will set you back an extra £20) and this one, without; aside from the waterproofing, they are made to the same spec. Much like the Berghaus model this shoe is all about the light weight – at 577g for a pair (UK 5.5), it is the second-lightest on test. The heel is not as firm as others featured here but does hold your foot in place. The toebox is fairly soft, though a small rand does help with this a little. There’s a bellows tongue too.

The weight has been saved on the outside, where the panels are not stitched but rather sealed to the shoe; this means that inside there is a good amount of cushioning. Underneath there’s a collection of wellspaced lugs for added grip and to help stop debris build up. These shoes are designed for light hiking so the sole is very flexible; however, the high amount of cushioning inside helps with comfort on uneven and rockier terrain.

THE VERDICT: For those wanting to use multi-activity shoes for light hiking and trail running these are a reasonably priced light-weight option.

IN BRIEF
Features: ★★★★★
Design: ★★★★✩
Comfort: ★★★★✩
Versatility: ★★★★✩
Value: ★★★★✩
Overall: ★★★★✩

www.merrell.com

SalomonEllipse / Eskape GTX £100

THE TEST: For another £20 you get a waterproof and breathable Gore-Tex outer that, unlike the Regatta model, does not compromise the weight too much: these weigh in at 652g a pair (size UK5.5) – the joint third-lightest on test. There’s a fairly firm heel and a bellows tongue. One great feature is the laces – they run down close to the toe, so when you tie them up you get a close, snug fit; this is especially good for those with narrow feet.

The toebox is a little softer than some, though a large rubber rand makes it stiffer. Comfort-wise there is adequate cushioning – but some of the other shoes offer more. The outer sole features a smattering of evenly spaced lugs for good grip. The sole is quite flexible, so these will be better for lightweight hiking and shorter active excursions rather than cycling or longer distance walks. They are one of the highest priced options here: their value for money depends on whether you think the waterproofing is worth the extra.

THE VERDICT: If you want a waterproof shoe that is still lightweight, and you plan to do mainly short walks, this is a good option, though the price might deter some.

IN BRIEF
Features: ★★★★★
Design: ★★★★★
Comfort: ★★★★✩
Versatility: ★★★★✩
Value: ★★★★✩
Overall: ★★★★✩

www.salomon.com

Scarpa Crux £100

THE TEST: Renowned for producing great hiking boots and climbing shoes, Scarpa has taken the technology from both to create a hybrid that’s good for walking and scrambling on rough terrain. This bias towards rock is clear: the heel is firm and the laces, as on climbing shoes, begin at the toe for a secure and comfy fit. The toebox is superb, offering the best protection on test. Also, a generous rubber rand helps guard against knocks and adds durability. All this comes in at the same weight as the Salomons (652g a pair, UK size 5.5).

The tongue isn’t bellows, so water and debris could get in. Inside there’s cushioning, though not as much as some of the others on test. The sole offers a great range of lugs as well as a firm ledge at the toe – good on rock and if trying via ferrata. Of all the shoes on test this has the most rigid sole; there’s some flex, but this shoes is designed to help your foot balance on uneven surfaces. This makes them a great choice for cycling and short walks, as well as smart enough to wear around town.

THE VERDICT: Though lacking a bellows tongue, these are versatile, well-designed and great for tackling more rocky terrain or cycle rides – if you can spare the cash.

IN BRIEF
Features: ★★★★✩
Design: ★★★★★
Comfort: ★★★★★
Versatility: ★★★★★
Value: ★★★★✩
Overall: ★★★★✩

www.scarpa.co.uk

How we did the test…

We asked gear manufacturers to submit multi-activity shoes that they felt were most suitable for travellers: shoes that are lightweight, comfortable, versatile and under £100. From the ten pairs we were sent our editor, Phoebe Smith, took them out on the road to see which performed best. The six here are all ‘Wanderlust Approved’, with a Value Buy and Best in Test (the overall best buy) indicated. All are available in men- and women-specific fits, with the different names indicated if applicable.

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