Having the right pair of shoes for your environment or activity can be the difference between staying on your feet all day and developing painful blisters. While it is often said that the "clothes make the man," the real truth is in the shoes. Some people require more padding, while others need a stiff design that prevents twisted ankles. It can also depend on your lifestyle, since many people only need walking shoes to walk down to the corner coffee shop, while others need technical features that can stand up to rugged terrain and the elements.
Motion Control Shoes
The movement of the joints, known as pronation, can sometimes go too far, causing muscle tears, twisted ankles and other injuries. Motion control shoes are designed for those who tend to over-pronate their feet. Motion control shoes counter joints flexing too far by keeping the foot rigid. The shoes are designed to bind the ankle tightly by having higher walls and stiffer construction. Motion control shoes work well for heavier people and those with flat feet, both of whom are more likely to suffer ankle injuries while walking.
For those likely to suffer discomfort, but less inclined to pronation and ankle injuries, often a flexible but padded sole is all that is needed. Cushioned shoes can increase comfort, but are bad for walkers with flat feet, who would be more comfortable in motion control shoes. Often those with high arches benefit most from additional cushioning.
Designed for athletic pursuits in rugged conditions, trail shoes are typically lightweight, but durable. They aren't designed for bearing loads, but they can guard your ankles against injury while scrabbling over rocks and down hilly trails. The focus is on providing lightweight grip and protection while also guarding your feet from the elements. Trails shoes typically have specialized soles designed to stick to surfaces, either through tread design or special varieties of rubber. The soles of trail shoes are also more durable, ensuring that treads do not wear down as slowly as in normal walking shoes. Often trails shoes are made of breathable fabrics designed to wick moisture away from your feet, providing comfort from sweat and drying quickly after rain.
For the most rugged and outdoorsy variety of walking, hiking boots can serve in the woods or in urban environments. Their primary function is durability under pressure, bearing loads that other walking shoes can't handle. If you are going to be carrying any weight, you'll likely want a pair of hiking boots.