Best Walking Shoes Reviewed & Rated
Whether you walk for work, leisure or sports, the right type of walking shoes will ensure that you remain not just comfortable, but also pain and injury-free. Despite its many positive effects when it comes to promoting cardiovascular and pulmonary health, improving muscle mass and balance, and decreasing the likelihood of developing high blood pressure, walking can also take its toll on your body, especially if you’re someone who tends to overdo it. However, you can avoid most joint, muscle or back pain, as well as more serious issues by choosing the right pair of shoes for walking to wear.
In a Hurry? The test winner after 18 hrs of research
Cushioned Heel & Vamp
Quality Knit Fabric
10 Best Walking Shoes
1. Skechers Flex Appeal 2.0
Cushioned Heel & Vamp
Quality Knit Fabric
Minimal Arch Support
The Skechers Flex Appeal 2.0, is made for those who love to walk a lot. Made from a knit fabric with a rubber sole, it has a lace-up front, seam stitching, and a nice cushioned sole and flexible. They look more casual than your typical athletic shoe so if you're not a fan of athletic wear then you'll love these shoes.
The Flex Appeal 2.0 has flexible rubber outsoles that both support and stabilize your natural walking motion. The soft knit fabric fits your foot nicely, almost making it like you're wearing nothing.
The rubber outsole provides excellent traction on a variety of surfaces you may need to grip, from city streets to slightly more turbulent terrain.
2. Easy Spirit Romy
Padded Collar & Tongue
Ideal for Walking
Minimal Arch Support
Not Very Durable
The Easy Spirit Romy shoes aren’t designed just for walking but their extra cushioning and extremely padded construction make them ideal for the activity. For use in moderate athletic activities like at the gym or at a spin class, they provide the support you need to keep your energy high and your feet feeling fatigue-free. These are the perfect shoe for errand running, long field trips involving lots of sightseeing, and/or meeting up with friends for a speed walk to catch up around your neighborhood. Never feel foot pain from mowing your lawn again!
The Easy Spirit Romy has a rubber sole that’s extra flexible; allowing for a full range of motion from heel to toe. Because the shoe is comprised of leather and mesh fabric uppers, it gently but firmly grips your foot. The extra padded collar and tongue give your ankles even more of that same comfortable stability. It, also, has a cushioned sockliner for extra support.
Because this walking shoe is a hybrid design, it can be used for walking trails; as well as, more involved athletic activities. Its thick rubber sole is ideal for never letting your feet feel the ground beneath you and would, also, be perfect for anything involving a stationary position like cycling or lifting weights at the gym. However, the thicker rubber sole isn’t as dependable for shock absorption and alleviating joint pain.
3. Tiosebon Mesh
Latex Arch Insert
Unsuitable for Wet Conditions
No Wide Sizes Available
The Tiosebon Mesh is made to be lightweight, breathable, and comfortable. Created with 'green' in mind, these shoes are made for those who care about a healthier environment, especially, their feet. Furthermore, these shoes are unique in their aesthetic design and might be the talk of those around you.
The Tiosebon Mesh does comfort like no other model on this list. It utilizes a 'green' approach through implementing a pigskin insole which promotes comfortability. In addition, this insole allows these shoes to remain lighter; thereby, reducing fatigue levels.
A mesh upper promotes breathability thus, allowing your feet to sweat less, remain cool, and stay fresher while you enjoy your walking activity. Furthermore, the mesh upper has a wonderful aesthetic appeal to it. Other advantages of this shoe include the fact that it will easily mold to most foot shapes.
4. Skechers Empire Rock
Considering the fact that Skechers is a reliable brand that makes a wide variety of high quality and comfortable shoes, it comes as no surprise that this list includes at least one of their models. The Empire Rock is a lace-up style made to work as a slip-on, which makes them unique compared to the other models featured. Their lightweight feel and flexibility make them both comfortable and highly maneuverable.
Along with being a great fit, the Sport Empire Rock boast of memory foam inlay midsoles; perfect for being on your feet for extended periods. The slope of the collar is designed to fit just below your ankle bone so as not to rub or chafe. The sole is, also, thick enough to be shock-absorbing, and even provide some durable traction with grooves that flex as your heel strikes the ground and rolls up onto the pads of your feet.
The Sport Empire Rock comes in a variety of colors and stylings. This enables you to wear it with a range of outfits and for different occasions. By giving it a smart, sophisticated shape and slip-on method, it doesn’t telegraph as a fitness shoe.
5. Ryka Devotion
Removable Precision-Return Footbed
RE-ZORB Cushioned Foam Midsole
Grippy Rubber Outsole
One of the more traditional models on this list, the Ryka Devotion brings together all of the features of an athletic shoe with the added cushion and comfort of a pair of shoes made for walking. Like an athletic shoe, it is constructed of a combination of fabric mesh uppers and leather overlays; making it both breathable and durable. Furthermore, it has a padded tongue and collar.
The Ryka Devotion has a shock-absorbing molded RE-ZORB cushioned foam midsole; making them impact-resistant and kind on your joints. Their flexible, rubber outsole allows for a full range of motion while a biomechanical removable orthotic has antibacterial treatments to make sure your feet stay cool, dry, and itch-free.
These walking shoes have a padded tongue and collar as well as a lace-up design and grippy rubber outsole. The addition of the removable precision-return footbed gives you even more comfort and protection.
6. New Balance 877
Walking Strike Path Technology
Padded Tongue & Collar
Minimal Color Variety
The New Balance 877 is just one of the brands many footwear options that go beyond athletic use. Made with a mesh upper, the 877 is highly breathable, providing your feet with a drier environment. Furthermore, they have been created to bring you comfort with a foam-padded collar and tongue. In addition, a rubber outsole is in place which promotes greater traction; thereby, reducing the chance for slipping.
This midsole allows your feet to walk in comfort; providing the right range of both cushioning and shock absorbency. Comfortable feet means you have the chance for less fatigue; thus, allowing you to walk a little further than ever before.
The mesh upper provides breathability. When your feet can breathe, they are less likely to sweat. This promotes greater foot health, as your feet will be less prone to foot odor and bacterium associated with such nuisances.
7. Brooks Addiction Walker
Gel Fluid Cups
Limited Color Options
Brooks is a pretty heavy hitter in the market of comfortable, contemporary everyday walking footwear and the Addiction Walker is no different. A lot of attention to detail and care has gone into the development of this model - everything from eliminating overpronation to including a sock liner and adding a dual-density post for extra arch support along with the midsole.
Brooks has spared no expense in loading its Addiction Walker up with support for low arches, overpronation, and Hydroflow technology that enhances the midsole cushioning. Gel-like fluid units under the heel and forefoot not only give superior shock absorption but, also, give amazing padding and cushion. A full-length MoGo midsole gives you that extra-added support you need for energy recovery, as you’re on your feet for an extended period of time.
Brooks has a patented Extended Progressive Diagonal Rollbar that provides a dual-density post at the medial arch which permits full and progressive pronation control. The MC Pod Configuration sets up your foot in the ideal, ergonomic placement along the midsole and insole. In other words, when your foot rolls through its complete field of motion, it is well-supported from the first heel strike. The outsole is a durable HPR Green construction that is a silica-based and environmental-friendly compound that affords you wet-dry traction for optimal skid resistance.
8. Asics Gel-Venture 6
Stitched Down Toe Box
Treaded Rubber Outsole
The new and improved Gel-Venture 6 comes with a midsole and upper that has been completely redesigned from the previous model. With a terrific shock absorption, you can complete any trail with confidence. The outsole is rugged with multi-directional lugs for traction that'll boost any run you partake in. Also, the toe bumper is stitched down for a smart fit and the durable materials (synthetic) provide protection and comfort.
The sockliner of the Venture 6 is in place to give you a soft fit that conforms to your feet. However, you may need a little more. Therefore, the liner is removable allowing you to use any line of your choosing. Medical orthotics are great to use in the Venture 6. To top it off, it falls on the lower end of pricing which is great for runners on a budget or beginning runners. The features, while very basic, are not low in quality and will give you what you need for a great traction run.
The cushioning system is constructed with a gel and is placed in the rear foot. This helps to reduce and evenly spread any shock received from an impact. You'll have a transition to midstance that is smooth.
9. Ryka Sky
Memory Foam Insole
Lacks Arch Support for Some Users
Don’t let its slick sporty outlines fool you. This is a shoe made for those who love or need to walk; albeit, it may look like shoes for running in appearance. It has all the best features of a powerful athletic shoe. It, also, has good breathability and comfort while not skimping on traction or flexibility, because walking can mean serious business. The Ryka Sky is perfect for those that want to convey to the world that they’re a person of purpose because these shoes will, definitely, get you where you need to go with superior-performance standards.
The Ryka Sky is a very lightweight, breathable shoe. It has fabric mesh construction with thin rubber and leather overlays; making it both highly wearable and durable. Their well-cushioned, molded EVA midsoles give excellent arch support with very little break-in time required. These are the premium choice for when you want a shoe purely for comfort and ease of movement.
Primarily designed with dedicated fitness walkers in mind, the Ryka Sky is easy to slip-on when errands need doing. Even if your socks slip below your ankles, you won’t feel the rub from these shoes because of their excellent padding. The memory foam inlay means that even after walking several miles, your foot fatigue will be almost nonexistent. Furthermore, the grip from the soles is thick enough to not wear down in excess over time.
10. Mephisto Match
D-Ring Lace-Up Front
Caoutchouc Rubber Outsole
No Women’s Options
When it comes to low profile and unassuming walking shoes that you can wear anywhere, the Mephisto Match is one of the best. Like other items on this list, it is a basic lace-up oxford that, because of its streamlined look and simple lines, doesn’t come across as a pair of athletic footwear. You can have all the comfort of an orthopedic piece of footwear while not sacrificing the rest of your look in the process. You’ll look put-together and, because you’re comfortable, feel relaxed and confident.
Soft-Air technology and a Caoutchouc rubber sole provide the wearer comfort and support, while the leather upper gives you durability and a refined aesthetic. Mephisto recommends measuring both your feet, as one is often slightly bigger than the other. They further recommend measuring them at the end of the day, as your feet swell from the first time you put on a pair of shoes until you take them off. Knowing your dimensions can help you get the maximum level of comfort out of your footwear.
The Mephisto Match has a D-ring lace-up front; allowing it to accommodate larger socks if need be and be customized to the wearer’s preference on fit. The Soft-Air technology and Caoutchouc rubber soles make them comparable to other walking shoe features designed to absorb impact and help with joint pain; as well as, provide excellent support and traction.
Criteria Used for Evaluation
Like for all athletic shoes, breathability and ventilation are key components in comfortably leading an active lifestyle. They allow your feet to remain dry, help to regulate temperature and further aid in the prevention of bacteria-spreading moisture. A nylon mesh along the upper will help vent air, while many models on this list have a moisture-wicking liner that helps to prevent bacteria from building up, especially, if you walk a lot and perspire.
The weight of a pair of shoes is important because you don’t want a heavy shoe influencing your ability to move. If you’re walking to get in shape, for instance, you want a lightweight shoes that still has a lot of support. A running shoe is used for linear motion and a quick heel to toe strike, meaning midsoles will be thicker and may affect the weight. Because a walking shoe entails a wearer will be spending more time taking their heel to toe strike (even with fitness walking), a less dense midsole is ideal. The use of orthotic inserts may add some weight to the overall shoe, but they shouldn’t add too much since they’re mostly for comfort and support and made from materials that, generally, aren’t very heavy.
To aid in the prevention of injury and joint pain from walking, walking shoes should have a variety of ways in which they provide shock absorption. These can include roll bars, gel pads, and reinforced padding. Most athletic footwear, like running shoes, will have a molded EVA midsole that is often removable and works to add extra cushioning near the footbed and reduce the impact of walking on hard surfaces. Some brands have air pods along the heel that compress and work to absorb the heel strike, while most simply rely on more cushion and padding.
Just because a shoe is made for athletic activities, doesn’t mean it is an appropriate choice for walking. Often times, athletic footwear is designed the way it is to bend and flex at certain points in its design, suited for particular ways of moving. To ensure your chosen shoe is comfortable and flexible for its intended purpose, it should be designed to support and stabilize your natural walking motion.
Its construction should never interfere with your gait, and it should have a midsole with gel pads or latex foam that helps support your arches. A padded collar and tongue, also, ensures a flexible and soft fit around your ankle, minimizing chafing or rubbing in that area.
The sole of the shoe should be able to be ‘twisted’ in your hands and should not be stiff and unbending. It shouldn’t feel floppy or unstructured, but there shouldn’t be a lot of resistance to its flexibility, because it needs to conform to your foot and your strides.
Finally, walking shoes should have the most padding and cushion at the ball of the foot where the toe box resides, as that is the point of more continuous impact than the heel (as opposed to running). If you want to learn the difference between running and walking shoes read our other article.
Your shoes should fit you securely and not too tightly. Since their aim is to keep you efficiently mobile on a workout, casual walk around the block, or running errands all day, they have to be able to accommodate feet swelling, the particulars of your natural gait, some uneven terrain, and all while giving you support in your stride. A loose fit can cause injury or an accident, but too tight a fit can prevent proper blood circulation. The tip of the shoe should allow for your foot to bend but not an excessive amount forward. It should accommodate a certain degree of stretching over time.
Your toes should never fit snugly against the top of the shoe because that can lead to blisters and chafe. Your heel should never lift too far off from the footbed as you walk up an incline; otherwise, you’re bound to get heel rub and eventual blisters. Wearing footwear that fits you properly ensures comfort and a callus-free/blister-free walking experience.
Expert Interviews & Opinions
Did you know? Competitive walking, or speed walking, is actually an olympic sport! Rules note that a competitors must keep contact with the ground, unlike running, and that the front leg must be straight until it passes under the body.
Some of the fastest walkers can accomplish a pace of 6.5 minutes for a mile distance!
Walking can be one of the easiest exercises to help get you moving, but also to explore new areas, and re-energize your mind. Whether you've been walking for years or just starting, find an area that you'll enjoy the surroundings to refresh you along the way. Parks, cities, and even museums are areas you can log in miles while taking in the surrounding views.
Other Factors to Consider
Depending on how much you walk and at what speed, you may want to invest in a shoe that has a lot of energy return. Look for shoes with design features that specifically focus on that, such as with extra foam or gel pads along the footbed. They are there to help maximize the energy that you put forth and then convert that energy into a more powerful stride by the construction of the shoe. When you walk, the soles of the shoe are compressed, and input energy is then returned during rebound. You want a shoe that returns as much energy as possible to utilize, not one where energy is lost and/or is completely absorbed.
Selecting the best pair of walking shoes for you isn’t as easy as it seems. There are a lot of factors to consider, such as how long you’ll be on your feet, what sorts of environments you’ll be in (e.g. at work, home, outside, etc.), and how much comfort and support you want them to have. Some wearers want help correcting pronated feet, stabilizing their gait, or keeping their feet from sweating all day. Some want arch support and a roomy toe box because they have wide feet. Whatever the reasons you choose a particular pair of walking shoes, it is crucial that the pair you’ve chosen is durable, functional, and comfortable.
Frequently Asked Questions
q: What is the best type of footwear to walk in?
The best type of footwear for this activity is one that will conform to the shape of your foot, follow your natural gait, provide you plenty of cushioned support, and be flexible enough to handle the continuous motion of your perambulation. Ultimately, it all depends on your personal preference, the shape of your feet, and what sort of walking you’ll be engaging in before deciding on the correct pair of shoes.
Speed walking or walking for fitness requires slightly different features, such as those more aligned with a running shoe (i.e. more cushioning and shock absorption towards the heel, as opposed to the ball of the foot).
q: Should my shoes have a thick sole?
A thicker sole can be good for shock absorption, especially if it has air pods or is constructed in such a way that maximizes compression and yields a high energy return. But a thick sole minimizes flexibility which is one of the essential components to walking footwear.
q: How long will my shoes last?
The shoes you use for walking should last at least a year, even if used almost every day. Removable inserts may need to be switched out every six months to keep your shoes feeling like new, but the soles are made to withstand a lot of wear, and the stitching and mesh should be tear and abrasion resistant. Typically, you should always check for wear around the tread, inner lining, and upper part of the shoe, as these can be great early-warning detection indicators.
q: Do I need waterproof footwear?
If you plan to be outdoors and walking when it rains, or possibly around lawns recently watered or walking trails along streams, a waterproof shoe is important. The upper will be waterproof material, and the sole will be a waterproof rubber. Waterproof liners on walking shoes do make them less breathable though and don’t vent air very well. There is always the alternative of waterproofing the shoes yourself, as well.
q: What’s better: lace-up or slip-on shoes?
Some wearers prefer footwear that have no laces at all, such as those made by Skechers because they can be easily taken on and off. Some don’t even have backs to them and fit essentially more like clogs. Laces or Velcro is ideal for being able to customize the fit of your walking shoe and ensure that they adhere to the shape of your foot more. But lace-less shoes are still designed to fit snug against your feet and not slip off as you walk, and offer a stylish, streamlined look.
q: How Important is arch support?
Arch support varies from person to person, depending on how arched their feet are. This will dictate the level of arch support they need in their shoes. There are three types of arches:
Neutral-arched (Natural Pronation) feet mean you don’t have high arches, but your feet aren’t flat. You’re right in the middle. You’ll want shoes with firm midsoles, and soles that slightly curve upwards.
Low-arched (Overpronation) or flat feet mean that you have flat feet and little to no arch, which allows for joint problems and contributes to the stress and tension of your foot and leg muscles. Your soles will need more arch support, and a stabilized feel towards the heel will be best to make your feet feel more secure.
High-arched (Underpronation) feet mean you have arches that are quite high and make for tension on your joints and muscles. Your feet will need less arch support; minimal is better.