If you’re like me, you usually do not use a walking shoe for walking – whether on vacation or for exercise or even at work. Why? Because most walking shoes are too stiff, especially in the forefoot, and they’re generally too heavy; the latter makes walking feel more like a chore than a pleasure, especially when one’s feet are already sore and achy.
I’ve often wondered why athletic shoe manufacturers do not make a lightweight and extremely flexible walking shoe. Well, it seems that a Korean company, PROSPECS, may have done just that. PROSPECS has been in business in South Korea since 1981, producing athletic equipment, clothing, football shoes, running shoes, tennis shoes and what they call “sport walking” shoes. The PROSPECStors at the company’s USA headquarters at Incline Village, Nevada, provided a pair of new walking shoes for me to test.
The PROSPECS Cool Walk 405 shoes weigh just 7.7 ounces in a size 7 and come with an 8.5mm heel-to-toe drop. The men’s version comes in a cool color scheme of near-denim blue, accentuated with neon green and white. They’re more than a bit reminiscent of the Nike Air Pegasus+ 28 running shoe (the version prior to the current model), which is a plus based on positive comments about the appearance of the Pegasus. However, the Cool Walk has a much straighter form than the Pegasus running shoe. Like the Pegasus, it runs narrow. I was able to fit my narrow feet into the Cool Walk a half-size larger than my normal walking shoe size. Some individuals may have to try a full size larger.
These shoes are clearly well designed and manufactured. No apparent flaws were visible. In use, it holds its own as an all-terrain shoe. On concrete, I felt as if I was wearing a pair of late ’80s to early ’90s racing flats from Nike or Asics. This translates into an almost “barefoot” feel, something that was a stated goal for PROSPECS. The comfort level increases when walking on a natural trail, and the walk feels surprisingly comfortable on asphalt. If I had to walk a long distance on asphalt, I’d choose these shoes instead of a pair of running shoes.
The Cool Walk is highly flexible, especially in the forefoot area. This feature is good for those with relatively inflexible feet. While the shoe features a unique Walking Straight Line sole intended to support a straight-ahead walking style, it also offers good side-to-side movement. The latter is essential when one’s walking on uneven surfaces and trails, and there’s enough cushioning (three levels worth, including a rubbery Flubber 360 upper midsole) so that you do not feel the rocks you may step on.
I was initially concerned that the sock liner was overly built up and protective, so after a few miles I substituted a thinner insole. When I subsequently elected to place the supplied sock liner back into the shoe, it was a relief to find that the insole conformed to my feet within a matter of miles; it then seemed to almost disappear.
There’s excellent heel support in the Cool Walk, as the shoe comes with both external and internal high impact pads. The internal blue rubber pad at the heel, attached to the underside of the sock liner, is like those found on some expensive men’s business-class walking shoes.
What happens if you take a trip and forget to take your running shoes with you? I tested the Cool Walk’s ability to protect the feet for a few miles of low-to-the-ground jogging and it passed just fine.
For a list price of just below $100 ($99), the Cool Walk is a good value. That’s cheaper than most running shoes these days, and this walking shoe seems to blend comfort with durability. The PROSPECS Cool Walk 405 is a lightweight, flexible, shock-absorbing shoe that should provide its users with hundreds of pleasurable, comfortable walking miles.