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Choosing the right footwear for walking is just as important as shopping foror . Even though walking is a , a good shoe is key to keeping your feet as comfortable as possible. There are a few things to keep in mind when shopping for a walking shoe, such as how much walking you'll be doing as well as what type of gait you have.
As you shop for a shoe that's appropriate for walking, you'll notice these styles are different from those for casual wear. Although a fashionable shoe seems ideal in theory, it's important to make sure you're selecting a walking shoe that's comfy and safe. Luckily there are many selections that can satisfy both your needs and taste.
We tested more than 15 pairs of shoes, taking into account different gait types and styles, and narrowed down the best walking shoes for this list. Keep in mind, everyone's needs are different, so what works for one person may not work for someone else -- below, you can find our expert advice on finding the perfect personal fit for you.
Weight: 9.4 ounces
Heel-to-toe drop: 9.5 mm
Type: Running shoe
Lululemon is known for its activewear, but this past year it added women's footwear to its collection. The Blissfeel Women's Running Shoe quickly became a favorite of mine during testing because it's comfortable yet stylish and doesn't require any breaking in. The neutral shoe comes in various shades and even though it's made for running, it's a solid walking shoe too. The heel feels well supported, but because I'm an overpronator I need a shoe that has more arch support than the Blissfeel offers. Despite that, the insole is removable so you can add in a customized orthotic if necessary.
This shoe is true to size and wide enough in the toe box to give your toes room to spread out. But if you have wide feet, I would recommend sizing up. It's fashionable enough that you can throw them on to go for a walk, to the gym or even running errands. In addition to taking several walks to test these out, I even cross-trained with them, so they're a versatile shoe. The shoe tongue is on the shorter side and could stand to be a little longer, because it tends to shift when you walk.
Since this is a neutral shoe, it's ideal for those who have a neutral gait when walking. Overall, if you're looking for a shoe that's comfortable, good for everyday walking or the gym, then you'll like the Blissfeel.
- Toe box is spacious
- Shoe tongue is on the shorter side
- Lacks enough arch support for some
Weight: 7.7 oz
Heel-to-toe drop: 15 mm
Type: Walking shoe
Allbirds is known for its sustainable and eco-friendly shoes. The Tree Runners are made of Brazilian sugarcane in the midsole, eucalyptus tree fiber in the upper and castor bean in the insoles, which makes it moisture-wicking and odor-reducing. Even the shoelaces are recycled polyester made from plastic bottles. Upon opening up the pair of Tree Runners, I could tell Allbirds takes its renewable materials seriously because they were delivered in a reusable box that serves as both a shipping box and shoe box, made up of 90% recycled cardboard.
The Tree Runners come in a variety of colors, and the exterior is made up of a wool-like fabric that gives it a casual look. I was pleased that they're true to size and lightweight, and the toe box is spacious enough for wide feet. You can wear them with or without socks. They're also comfortable fresh out of the box and ideal for everyday walking. I didn't feel like I needed additional arch support, but if your feet need an extra boost, you can remove the insoles in the shoes to include a custom orthotic.
I took casual walks, commuted and ran errands while wearing the Tree Runners and had no complaints about the fit. I wouldn't recommend these shoes for activities other than walking because I'd worry that the wool exterior would get ruined if it got snagged on something. If you want a walking shoe that's also suitable for an activity like running, Allbirds has running shoes that can be a better alternative. Allbirds shoes are also safe to throw in the washing machine if they get dirty.
And if you have a lightly worn pair of Allbirds, the company has a resale platform called Allbirds ReRun where you can trade in your used shoes for a $20 credit that can be used towards a new pair. Your used pair is then sold at a reduced price through the platform.
- Sustainable company
- Shoes are comfortable and stylish
- True to size
- Machine washable
- Upper material might get snagged on something
- Not ideal for activities other than walking
Weight: 7.16 oz
Heel-to-toe Drop: 8 mm
Type: All-day wear walking shoe
The On Cloud 5 has one of the most unique designs I've seen on a walking shoe. On, a Swiss-based company uses a patented CloudTec cushioning in "zero-gravity foam," which makes the shoe feel lightweight and springy. The sole of the On Cloud 5 has "cloud pods," which look like holes, throughout the outsole that gives it a unique appearance and feel.
On uses sustainable materials in its shoes, with up of 44% recycled content. The Cloud 5 has a fresh and sporty look, which may appeal to those who like a modern style. It has a speed-lacing system which is different from traditional shoelaces. The speed-laces are made up of a bungee cord-like material ,which helps with easy lacing and turns the Cloud 5 into a slip-on shoe. There are also traditional shoe laces included if you don't like the speed-lacing system.
As I tested this shoe, I spent several hours on my feet walking around the city, so I can attest that this is a good walking shoe if you're doing lots of sightseeing. I found these shoes to be true-to-size and well-fitting without crushing my toes, but if you are in between sizes I would recommend sizing up by half a size. I liked that this shoe gives you the option to wear it with or without socks and has removable insoles in case you need more support. The downside to this shoe is that the bottom of the sole shows some wear and tear after only a few uses. This could be due to my gait, but it's something to consider if you want a durable shoe for this price tag.
I also wouldn't use these shoes for other forms of activity because I found the zero-gravity foam to be too bouncy for other exercises. (On has running shoes if you're looking for a dual-purpose walking shoe.) However, if you're planning on taking a trip where you know you'll be on your feet for extended periods of time, then you'll feel comfortable wearing a pair of the On Cloud 5s.
- Zero-gravity foam sole provides even cushioning around shoe
- Speed-lacing system is easy to use
- Has a modern yet sporty look
- Displays some wear and tear quickly
- Not suitable for multiple forms of activity
Weight: 9.1 ounces
Heel- to-toe drop: 11.7 mm
Type: Everyday walking shoe
The Atoms Model 000 shoe box has a creative design: It folds in half like a book and has a compartment for each shoe. I received a gray pair, which is a color that goes with most outfits. The shoes are made of a flexible polyurethane-coated knit yarn and are copper threaded (to eliminate bad odors), and the upper is made of a recyclable yarn. One unique aspect you'll notice when ordering a pair of Atoms is that the brand offers quarter sizes, which is a rarity since normally shoes come in full or half sizes.
The shoelaces are made up of an elastic material that's meant to be tied once. I thought this was a clever feature since they felt more secure than traditional shoelaces. The outsole of the shoe is made of a lightweight rubber, while the midsole is cushioned and made out of EVA foam and rubber, which provides shock absorption as you walk.
I wore these shoes while running errands and taking walks around my neighborhood. They feel like you're walking on clouds, reminding me of a more cushioned Converse sneaker. I liked that the shoes were breathable and my toes felt comfortably spread out and remained cool. The Atoms also felt like the lightest of all the shoes I tested.
These shoes don't require a break-in period, which is another plus, and can be worn with a variety of outfits. Unlike the AllBirds Tree Runners, these go well with jeans, casual dresses, athleisure wear or sweats. Even though I had no issues with discomfort, I could see needing some more support around the arches if I planned on walking for longer periods of time. The upside is you can include your own orthotic insoles if you need that extra support.
- Odor-free technology
- Comes in quarter sizes
- Could use more arch support
- Limited color selection
Weight: 10.8 oz
Heel-to-toe drop: 8 mm
Type: Running shoe
New Balance is known for creating affordable and supportive shoes that come in standard or wide sizes. The Fresh Foam Roav V1 is a good option if you're looking for an affordable walking shoe. It's got cushioning through the midsole and the heel feels snug and locked in. The upper is made up of mesh which allows for proper ventilation during walks, so your feet won't overheat. It has some arch support, but would benefit from having more if you overpronate and plan on walking longer distances. Another thing to keep in mind is that the toe box is narrow so if you have wide feet or need more room, make sure you opt for the wide width or size up.
Although these shoes are categorized as a running sneaker, I think the New Balance 1080 series is a better fit for the purpose of running. Compared to the 1080s, which have more cushioning all around and a wider toe box, the Fresh Foam Roav V1s look and feel more casual because of the design. I tested these out on short walks, errands and at the gym and they held up well for those activities.
I like how New Balance offers shoes at different prices, and this style shows that you can have an affordable yet durable walking shoe. It also comes in various colors so you have plenty to choose from.
- Midsole and heel are well supported
- Lacks arch support
Weight: 7.3 ounces
Heel-to-toe drop: 8mm drop
Type: Running shoe
If you don't mind splurging for style, consider the Athletic Propulsion Labs TechLoom Phantom sneakers. These vegan sneakers are fashionable yet practical for activities like walking. There are many colors to choose from, but I stuck with a neutral shade since I like my shoes to match all of my workout outfits. I found these to be true to size, and the toe box was just the right size for my toes to spread out. The upper of the Phantoms is made up of a 3D stretchy "techloom," which is a flexible material that allows for the shoe to move with you. The design also stands out because it has an intricate grid pattern across the whole shoe.
Another unique aspect of this shoe is the shoelaces. The shoelaces can be tied behind the shoe tongue and are intended to be tucked away to create a clean look. I initially found it impractical since it takes some getting used to, but I understand the appeal. It's also intended to give the shoe a slip on effect without having to untie your laces. However, you do have the option to lace them above the tongue if you prefer that look.
I tested these out by taking walks around my neighborhood, the park and running errands. Even though APL calls the TechLoom a running shoe, I can't picture this being suitable for running for most people. It lacks arch support and it doesn't feel like there is enough cushioning in the heel to toe drop. Another downside is that you can't replace the insole with your own orthotic, so you can't customize it to your needs. Also, the high price tag makes me hesitate using these shoes for high intensity activities, because I wouldn't want to risk the wear and tear. Based on my experience, I'd prefer to use these for casual walks and some cross training. If you have a neutral gait, you may be able to get away with jogging or running short distances.
The APL Techloom Phantoms are a solid walking shoe that will get you from point A to point B in style. I received lots of compliments while wearing these shoes, so you know the designers know a thing or two.
- Hidden shoe lacing creates a clean look
- Upper is breathable and flexible
- Many colors to choose from
- Most expensive shoe on this list
- You can't add your own insole for more support
Weight: 7.44 oz
Heel-to-toe drop: 11 mm
Type: Walking shoe
Although the Ryka Devotion Plus 4 walking shoe isn't the most stylish on the list, it's one of the most comfortable shoes I've tried. It's intended for high-performance walking and designed specifically for women. I immediately noticed that this was one of the few shoes that were roomy, so they're ideal if you have wide feet. You can also order them in a wide width if you need even more space in the toe box.
I wish the shoe had more color selections that were muted, because the styles offered are limited and all have a dual-toned shade. Still, I can overlook this because the Devotion Plus 4 has plenty of good qualities. For one, the arch and heel support is top notch. The shoe is made up of Re-Zorb responsive cushioning for shock absorption, while the outsole has an eight-piece rubber sole for increased traction and durability. This adds to the comfort and security of the foot if you're on your feet all day. You can also add your own insole if you need a more customized fit.
I took the Devotion Plus 4 on several walks of different distances and could tell that these would benefit someone whose occupation requires lots of standing. They can also be worn fresh out of the box since they don't require breaking in. If you have high arches, need a wide toe box or if you're looking for solid arch support because you're on your feet all day, then you'll appreciate the Devotion Plus 4.
- Plenty of cushioning and support
- Wide toe box
- Durable shoe
- Ideal if you're on your feet all day
- Shoe is less stylish than others on this list
- Not ideal if you want a trendy or lifestyle shoe
Weight: 7.9 oz
Heel-to-toe drop: 8mm
Type: Everyday trainer
Asics is known for its running shoes, but some of them can also double as a walking shoe. The Asics GT-1000-11 is a neutral sneaker that's intended for everyday training. The shoe is available in an assortment of colors, is lightweight and is a good option if you plan on using it for multiple activities besides walking. If you have narrow feet and a neutral gait you'll feel at home in these shoes. Likewise, if you overpronate, you'll also benefit from the GT-1000-11 because it has decent stability and Asics traditional Flytefoam cushioning across the underfoot. These shoes run small, so I would recommend going up half a size if you need extra room in the toe box or want to use it for running. If you find that the shoe doesn't offer enough support for your needs, you can insert a custom insole for a better fit.
I tested these shoes out while walking around my neighborhood, commuting, running and even doing some cross-training. The shoe performed well during each of these activities and has plenty of traction, so it holds up as an everyday trainer. I felt comfortable walking around in these shoes and could see them being a good fit if you're going on longer walks. I also think it's fairly priced for a dual-purpose shoe since there are other Asics styles that cost over $100.
A couple of things I thought could use improvement were the length of the shoe tongue and the shoe laces. I had to adjust the laces to accommodate my feet, and I found them to be on the shorter side when tying them. It didn't help that the shoe tongue was shorter than I would've liked so I had to do my best tying the laces over a limited surface. Luckily they didn't shift during activity.
- Lots of stability
- Versatile shoe
- Toe box is narrow
- Shoe tongue and laces are short
Weight: 9 oz
Heel-to-toe drop: 12 mm
Type: Road running shoe
The Brooks Adrenaline GTS 22 is a favorite shoe among runners, but it can serve as a walking shoe as well. It's true to size with plenty of space in the toe box, making it ideal for those with wide feet. Brooks has its own patented Guiderails technology that adds support to your natural stride to prevent too much pronation. The shoe also has cushioning across the midsole, which keeps your foot comfortable and supported as you run or walk. Lastly, the heel-to-toe drop is high, which is great for plantar fasciitis or overpronation.
Plantar fasciitis occurs when the plantar fascia ligaments in the heel of the foot face a lot of wear and tear due to excess pressure. The plantar fascia becomes inflamed and can cause heel pain and stiffness. Having a shoe with plenty of heel support helps take the weight away from the heel and instead shifts it onto the forefoot.
I was impressed by how lightweight and soft this shoe felt, despite it being a heavy-duty running shoe. I took this shoe for several walks and at least one run during testing. As an overpronator, this felt like the most appropriate shoe for training for a race or walking long distances. The shoe tongue is fairly sized and the shoe laces sit snugly up top without being too tight. The Brooks Adrenaline GTS looks like a sporty running sneaker, so I wouldn't recommend it as a casual shoe to throw on with any outfit. However, if you prioritize comfort over fashion, then you'll love the Adrenaline GTS 22.
- Ideal for those with plantar fasciitis
- Has good support
- Cushioning provides a smooth ride
- Good for wide feet
- Style isn't as versatile as other options
- Supinators may prefer a more neutral shoe
Weight: 8.14 oz
Heel-to-toe drop: 9.6 mm
Type: Road running shoe
The Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 39 is a good choice if you supinate when you walk (meaning you put more weight on the outside of your feet), since it's a neutral sneaker. Although these are running shoes, they can also function as a walking shoe. I usually have to size up in Nike sneakers, but I was pleasantly surprised that these fit true to size and have a spacious toe box. Like many Nike sneakers, the shoes come in a variety of colors and in a regular or wide width. You have the option to insert a customized insole as well if you need it. The shoe has decent cushioning in the heel and solid arch support. The Pegasus has dual Zoom Airbags found in the forefoot and the heel, which give it some bounce. I can tell this feature would also benefit those who opt to use this as a running shoe.
I tested these shoes out on several walks and while running errands, and I liked how lightweight, well-supported and stable they felt. I did notice that the space on the shoe tongue where the shoe laces sit made my foot feel a bit sore after a while and I wasn't sure if that was part of the breaking in process or the fit. Based on this, I think this shoe is a better option for shorter or mid-distance walking instead of longer distance walking. This is also something to keep in mind if your feet tend to swell during the warmer months.
If you're looking for a neutral shoe that is appropriate for supination and casual walks, then the Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 39 fits the bill.
- Lightweight and stable
- Dual Zoom Airbags makes it a springy and cushioned ride
- Wide toe box
- Appropriate for supination or neutral pronation
- Can't be worn for long periods of time
Weight: 10 oz
Heel-to-toe drop: 9.4mm
Type: Running shoe
The Adidas UltraBoost 22 is another running shoe that can also be used for walking, and it's a good option if lots of cushioning is something you're looking for. This shoe runs small across the upper and the toe box so you will need to size up by a half size. The upper is made up of recyclable material, specifically a yarn containing 50% Parley Ocean Plastic, Adidas's trademarked upcycled plastic material. In classic Adidas form, there are up to 22 colors of UltraBoosts to choose from. This plush shoe has a cushioned heel and according to Adidas, the UltraBoost is tailored to the female foot so it has a narrow heel and lower instep curve for a snug feeling.
When I tried on these shoes, I noticed that they slip on like a sock so your foot feels properly cradled by the shoe. However, the toe box is overall narrow so I would not recommend these if you have wide feet.
During testing, I took these out for casual walks and for a run. The cushioning in the heel takes some getting used to because the heel-to-toe drop is noticeably different compared to other shoes tested. The design comes down to a personal preference since some people like the Adidas UltraBoost look, while others may want a less pronounced heel. It has some weight to it, but it doesn't feel as heavy as it looks. I personally felt there wasn't enough arch support for my foot and would recommend adding your own insoles if you plan on using these shoes for running in addition to walking. The outsole is made up of continental rubber, which has a good grip to handle all outdoor surfaces.
I was able to experience the purpose of the UltraBoost during a run in which the shoes felt stable yet proved to have a responsive heel. The downside was I paid for the lack of space in the toe box which resulted in some toe blisters. I would stick with these shoes for casual walks as they gave me no issues, but I could see the lack of arch support eventually catching up to me if I were to walk longer distances.
If you're a fan of Adidas and like the sporty and cushioned style of the UltraBoost, then you'll love the Adidas UltraBoost 22.
- Plenty of cushioning
- Adidas fans will appreciate the design
- Can be used for running
- Narrow toe box
- Lacks arch support
- Heel cushioning may be excessive for some people
Other walking shoes tested
Nike React Phantom Run Flyknit 2: These slip-on shoes were too narrow, lacked cushioning despite having good arch support, and were not as supportive as the Nike Air Zoom Pegasus. They serve better as a lifestyle shoe and for limited walking.
New Balance Fresh Foam Cruzv1: This shoe ran small for a New Balance style and had a narrow toe box. The Fresh Foam Roav V1s were a more comfortable and versatile fit.
Athletic Propulsion Labs TechLoom Wave: These shoes were a tight fit on the upper and I also found the laces to be too short and thin.
Kane Revive Shoe: These are considered active recovery shoes and I appreciated their unique style and function, but they serve better in a different shoe category than walking shoes.
Ryka Dauntless Sneaker: These were not the best fit for walking and instead functioned better as a cross trainer. They also were more narrow compared to the Devotion Plus 4.
Rothy's the Original Slip On Sneaker: I wanted to love the Rothy's, but these require some breaking in and caused blisters on the back of my heel when I first wore them. The shoe also doesn't have as much support as I would have liked for a slip-on walking shoe.
How we chose the best walking shoes for women
Comfort: We observed the comfort level of the shoe upon putting them on, walking various distances and during activities like running errands.
Style: We looked at the design of the shoe and whether it'd be stylish enough to wear out.
Gait type: We kept in mind that not everyone has the same gait and judged the shoes based on who it would be most appropriate for.
Functionality: We took into account that some shoes are made for more than walking, and noted their versatility.
How to pick the best walking shoes
It's easy to choose a walking shoe based on the style, but what's more important is knowing how to choose a pair that's right for your feet. "Before buying any specific shoe I would always encourage evaluation by a podiatrist first to prevent any other pain or complications in other joints," said Pooja Shah, who holds a diploma from the American Board of Podiatric Medicine.
Still, Shah told CNET she recommends a neutral shoe to most people. Regardless of your foot type, Shah believes a good shoe should have a deep heel seat and a good heel cushion, because our heel takes a lot of the load while walking. "I would not recommend an extra arch cushion because this can cause more pain than benefit," she said.
Additionally, it's important that the shoes fit true to size. Shah said wearing improper fitting shoes can lead to feeling off balance or cause you to fall. This can also result in blisters by the toes or heels if the shoes are too big or small. Another thing to look at is the heel-to-toe drop. That's the difference between the thickness of the cushioning under the heel and the forefoot. According to Running Warehouse, a high heel-to-toe drop that's over seven millimeters is best for those who land heel first or have issues with their Achilles tendon. Meanwhile, a lower heel-to-toe drop under seven millimeters is best for those who land on the middle or front of the foot.
"A zero millimeter heel drop implies a completely flat shoe which should be avoided for most activities as it will give minimal shock absorption," said Shah. She points out that the actual millimeter of a heel drop varies by brand and manufacturer hence why you should always try on a shoe to make sure there is enough support under the heel to ease the amount of load on the Achilles muscle.
As far as the weight of the shoe goes, Shah said there isn't a specific weight to go by, but she advises against choosing a shoe that's too light and flexible: "Any sneaker that is flexible enough to be bent likely will provide minimal support through your walk or run." When a shoe is too flexible, this can mean that the shoe doesn't provide enough support in the midfoot. On the contrary, too heavy of a shoe may be uncomfortable for higher intensity activity such as running and may affect speed as well. Lastly, look for an upper with mesh fabric to allow for proper ventilation.
The different gait types
You'll notice many shoes market themselves as: overpronator, supinator or neutral. The foot naturally pronates (or rolls inward) when you walk or run, but in some cases too much or little pronation can occur. If you find out that you are a supinator or overpronator, Shah recommends having a custom orthotic made to fit your needs. But first, it's helpful to know what these terms mean in the first place.
Overpronation: Overpronation causes your foot to roll inwards excessively when you walk. This gait causes the arches of your feet to collapse and can lead to flat feet. Shah says, "For those who overpronate, a wide shoe type may be encouraged to accommodate for their arch which may fall during the gait cycle." If you were born with flat feet or developed it over time due to overpronation, shoes that offer arch support are key (unlike for other people).
Underpronation: This gait is also known as supination and happens when your foot doesn't roll inward enough and instead rolls outwards too far when you walk or run. People who supinate tend to have high arches and will feel pressure on the outside of their toes, particularly on their small toes. Shah recommends a shoe with a wide toe box. She says, "these are a good choice because sometimes these people have something called hammer toes as a result of their high arch foot."
Neutral pronation: When the foot rolls inward naturally 15% and helps absorb the shock while keeping your limbs and ankles in line. This is considered "normal" since there is no excessive over or underpronation in this foot strike.
Factors to consider
- Set yourself a budget on how much you're willing to spend on a pair of walking sneakers. It may be worth investing in a pricier pair that will last you awhile, rather than spending less and having to replace them regularly.
- Decide if you want a shoe that's good for more activities than walking. For example, many running shoes can double as a walking shoe.
- Don't pick a shoe only based on style. Choose a comfortable shoe and, if possible, get a gait analysis done by a podiatrist. This will help you pick shoes that offer you the best support to fit your gait and foot type.
- Decide if you plan on wearing walking shoes with socks or without them. Some walking shoes are designed to be worn without socks.
- If you wear custom orthotics, consider shoes that let you slip them in easily to improve your experience.
What are the differences between running and walking shoes?
Running and walking shoes tend to be similar in construct. "Walking shoes may be a bit bulkier than running shoes since speed is needed for running," said Pooja Shah. In terms of cushion, the heel tends to have more cushion in walking while running shoes tend to have more cushion in the forefoot region.
Is it OK to use running shoes for walking?
Yes, you can use running shoes for walking. It could be a good option if you plan on using them for both activities. But be mindful of wear and tear.
How often should you replace walking shoes?
How often you replace your walking shoes will depend on your level of activity. If you see that parts of the sole of the shoe are starting to wear from one side over the other, if the sole is starting to lose its grip or the outer fabric is starting to wear with holes, it's time to replace the shoes.
Ready for your walk?
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The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have about a medical condition or health objectives.