Walking shoes are intended for all kinds of walking on a variety of different terrains, not just for mountain hikes. Even apparently harmless walks in the city or countryside can put unreasonable pressure and strain on the foot or ankle if the feet are not properly supported and protected by an appropriate pair of shoes or boots. Walking shoes are also often used by non-racing cyclists travelling along difficult or rocky areas, especially if the cyclist needs to dismount often in order to carry the bicycle over obstacles. They are essentially all-round adventure shoes.
It is possible to buy walking shoes intended for a specific sort of walking or hiking, but a great deal of brands produce high-quality all-round walking shoes that cover all possible uses, from walking and hiking to cycling.
Although there are a number of brands of walking shoe that are low-cut, the best walking shoes are the ones that support the ankle with a padded leather collar. The thick, cord-like laces that are standard on all good-quality walking shoes can be used to tighten and loosen the padded collar on ankle-high shoes as required.
That said, the low-cut style of shoe is excellent if you need extra manoeuvrability or ankle flexibility, for example if you will be clambering up rocks or running.
Walking shoes are manufactured using a range of tough and durable materials. The most common variety are made of lightweight leather or synthetic leather, whether polished or suede-effect. Waterproof Gore-tex and mesh are also very popular, as they are both lightweight and flexible. Some styles of shoe use a combination of all these materials. All walking shoes are designed in such a way as to be as aerated as possible, allowing some air in and out of the shoe at the same time as keeping the foot warm and protected from water. The soles are generally made of rubber for traction, and have a good grip on most terrains. The interior of the shoe is cushioned in order to provide comfort and support to the foot and ankle.
Walking shoes are widely available on the internet, whether on sites dedicated to a variety of brands and styles or on sites run by individual suppliers. Do make sure that there is a full and comprehensive description of the shoe before buying, and check that the description matches the accompanying picture and that you will end up with the right pair. Most good shoe shops have a reasonable range of walking shoes for men and women.