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Expert Shopper Shoes

5 brands that consistently make great shoes

Great shoes are durable and comfortable. And, of course, they have to match our planned activities: no flip-flops for rock climbing and no clogs for ballroom dancing. You can take a shortcut to buying with confidence by choosing a well-known, established brand. These brands use high-quality materials and assemble products with care. They also provide great customer service, offering free returns and exchanges as needed.

These five brands have built reputations over decades, so you will likely recognize the names.

In this article: Skechers Men's Go Walk Max-Athletic Air Mesh Slip on Walking ShoeTimberland Men's Ankle Boot, Wheat Nubuck and Merrell Women's Siren Edge Hiker.


Founded in 1992 in Manhattan Beach, California, this brand has grown quickly on the popularity of its signature slip-on sneakers. Skechers products prioritize comfort and have a laid-back style similar to the beach and surf culture of its origin. 


When the the Abington Shoe Company moved to New Hampshire in the 1950s, it found in the cold, wet weather motivation to invent a completely new waterproof boot. To do this, it created injection-molding technology that is now common across the industry. In 1973, it launched the first Timberland boots, which found favor among hikers and outdoorsmen. In the '90s, hip-hop musicians decided they were just as good for rapping as they were for fishing.


Two former executives of the Rossignol ski company and custom boot maker Randy Merrell founded this company in 1981 with a goal of making high-performance boots at an affordable price. Merrell experimented with lightweight shoes for trail running before creating its signature Jungle Moc shoe, which took off in popularity in the early 2000s.

Doc Martens

Inspired by a recently broken ankle, German doctor Klaus Martens was determined to craft a more comfortable boot with better protection of the ankle. He chose soft leather for the upper and, in a brilliant innovation, made an air-cushioned outsole that absorbs impact and has a deep tread. In 1959, English manufacturer R. Griggs Group bought the rights to sell these boots in England. An immediate hit with letter carriers and laborers, these tough shoes eventually became a fashion statement for punks and remain popular today.

Kenneth Cole

In 1982, designer Kenneth Cole teamed up with Sam Edelman to launch Kenneth Cole Productions Inc. to market Cole's footwear creations. The company focuses on luxurious versions of classic Oxfords, loafers and ankle boots. It frequently uses socially conscious themes in its advertising and was an early advocate of same-sex marriage and the fight against HIV/AIDS. Over time Kenneth Cole has expanded considerably to offer clothing, accessories, luggage and the modestly priced Kenneth Cole Reaction brand.

Best Skechers shoes

Skechers Men's Go Walk Max-Athletic Air Mesh Slip on Walking Shoe

With a lightweight build and a breathable mesh upper, these shoes seem to meld with your feet. They feature a fat 5GEN outsole that makes walking feel like stepping on a mattress. You can choose from a wide variety of understated color combinations.

Sold by Amazon

Skechers for Work Men's Flex Advantage Mcallen Food Service Shoe

This offers the comfort synonymous with the Skechers brand plus extra support for people who work on their feet. Nonslip soles and reinforced stitching with a memory-foam insole make for a serviceable work shoe that's lightweight and easy on your feet.

Sold by Amazon

Best Timberland boots

Timberland Men's Ankle Boot, Wheat Nubuck

Instantly recognizable, this is the classic product that established Timberland as a maker of quality boots. A premium leather upper and a solid rubber sole with a half-inch height define the boot. The boot features seam-sealed construction that keeps moisture outside.

Sold by Amazon and Dick's Sporting Goods

Timberland Women's Nellie Double Waterproof Ankle Boot

A trimmed-down version of the brand's signature boot, this women's boot offers similar durability and quality with a reduced upper. A rubber outsole with a 1-inch heel and removable footbeds make for a hard-working boot. Their lower profile makes them suitable for casual activities, but their solid construction means you could spend your free time logging or working construction.

Sold by Amazon

Best Merrell shoes

Merrell Men's Jungle Moc Slip-On Shoe

Slip into these comfortable, versatile shoes and embark on all manner of adventures. These shoes combine nubuck leather with synthetic materials to make a stylish, waterproof shoe with desirable boot-like features, including a rubber sole with large 3-millimeter lugs. 

Sold by Amazon

Merrell Women's Siren Edge Hiker

A variation on Merrell's famous Moc with a lace closure, this shoe has a mesh upper for excellent breathability. Active feet will appreciate this shoe's contoured ethylene-vinyl acetate footbed that hugs the shape of the foot. Great for trail running and hiking, these shoes will happily accompany you almost anywhere.

Sold by Dick's Sporting Goods and Amazon

Best Doc Martens boots

Dr. Martens Unisex 1460 Smooth Leather Boot

This leather boot offers the brand's air-cushioned rubber sole, distinctive yellow stitching and Goodyear welt design. The 1460 comes in a variety of finishes and colors.

Sold by Amazon

Dr. Martens Unisex Combs Washed Canvas Combat Boot

Made of synthetic leather and nylon with a synthetic sole and a 1.5-inch heel, this retains the essential design elements of the 1460 but swaps in lightweight canvas for the upper. Black laces and eyelets make this an understated choice that is great for strolling.

Sold by Amazon

Best Kenneth Cole shoes

Kenneth Cole New York Men's Merge Oxford

This classic leather Oxford shoe for men features a thick, flexible rubber outsole and a lace closure. Blind eyelets for the laces complete its refined, serious style.

Sold by Amazon

Kenneth Cole Reaction Women's Side Way Ankle Boot

These low-rise boots offer a suede upper, almond-shaped toes and a polyurethane lining. These fashionable shoes have a 1.18-inch heel and a zipper closure at the back.

Sold by Amazon


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Robin Allday writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers.

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