Reviews

The Best Walking Shoes

The Best Walking Shoes

By RFD Staff

January 22, 2021

When shopping for a pair of walking shoes, it's important to be able to understand the difference between what makes a good walking shoe, compared to a running shoe. Picture yourself walking: the first part of your foot that hits the ground is your heel, followed by the rolling of your foot, then the push off your toes.

When running, the midsole of your foot is what strikes the ground. So, for a supportive running shoe, a thick wide heel will help stabilize and soften the impact, while a good walking shoe will have a supportive heel counter, a flexible and supportive midsole, with a flexible roomy toe box. If you feel like we just spoke in another language, don’t worry, scroll down to the bottom of the article for a breakdown of a walking shoe and the different types of recommended supports depending on your unique foot shape.

Bottom line is, when buying walking shoes, there are three things you should keep in mind: Does this shoe have stability? Is it flexible? And is it comfortable, which in walking shoe terms translates to snug support around the heel and midsole, with about ½ inch of wiggle room around the toes. This guide will show you all three types and the specs that will make them stand out above the rest. Let's go!

1. Editor's Pick: Best Lightweight Walking Shoe: Skechers Performance Men's Go Walk 3 Slip-On

ProsCons
  • Flexible and breathable
  • Supportive and cushioned midsole
  • Large range of shoe sizes including wide & x-wide
  • Less heel support when orthotic/insole inserted

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These lightweight slip-on shoes are made by the leaders in walking shoe technology and are decked out with top of the line features. From a breathable mesh upper, to memory foam-padded back and high rebound cushioning, this shoe provides breathability and flexibility to allow for a comfortable, memory fit shoe.

2. Best Casual Walking Shoe: Skechers Men's Avillo Slip-on Loafers

ProsCons
  • Relaxed fit, roomier design
  • Air-foam memory provides breathability and comfort
  • Large range of shoe sizes including wide & x-wide
  • Larger sizes can be hard to find
  • No laces for secure fit

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These loafers are great for those who are looking for a comfortable yet casual walking shoe, and aren’t on the market for shoes that need them to carry them through daily 5K walks. These Skechers provide all day comfort, and are built with a moisture-wicking insole, layered on top of a gel-infused, high-rebound air-foam memory midsole that provides pressure relief, comfort and breathability.

3. Best Walking Shoe for Versatility: New Balance Men's MW411 V2 Walking Shoes

ProsCons
  • Good for long distances
  • Large range of shoe sizes including wide & x-wide
  • Limited breathability

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If you’ve ever purchased a pair of walking shoes, odds are you're familiar with New Balance. They’re not exactly known for being the most stylish shoes out there - chances are you’ve probably heard them referred to as “dad shoes”. Nevertheless, this brand remains popular due to their reliability in making shoes like the MW411’s by providing comfortable support, a cushioned midsole with a comfort collar, and a heel pillow insert to keep your feet supported and at its best for all your walking needs.

4. Best Walking Shoe for Stability: Under Armour Men's Charged Assert 8 Running Shoe

ProsCons
  • Includes sockliner
  • Breathable mesh
  • Large range of shoe sizes including wide & x-wide
  • High heel counter

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This is a great example of a running shoe that can also function as a walking shoe - especially for those who are in need of a shoe with more stability and motion control. Great for those with wide or extra wide feet, these lightweight shoes combine flexibility, cushioning and the use of compression molding foam to provide durable shoes.

5. Best Walking Shoe for Durability: Rockport Men's Chranson

ProsCons
  • 100% Leather
  • True to size
  • Large range of shoe sizes including wide & x-wide
  • Limited colour options

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This athletic walking shoe has a sleek design that provides comfort and stability without having the bulk of a durable shoe. With a part suede-part mesh upper, a full length insole and premium insert, these shoes are great for day-to-day walking, and have removable insoles that are great if you're looking for a shoe to insert orthotics!

6. Best Walking Shoe for Hiking/Trails: ASICS Women's Gel-Venture 5-m

ProsCons
  • Large range of shoe sizes including wide & x-wide
  • Removable sockliner to allow for orthotics
  • Limited colour options

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This outdoor ready shoe is 100% synthetic and equipped with mesh to allow for breathability, and has a trail specific rubber outsole with reversed traction lugs to ensure your shoe is durable and ready for whatever terrain you put in its way. With Rearfoot GEL cushioning, the GEL-Venture 5 offers comfort and a great fit to ensure your foot is well supported.

7. Best Walking Shoe for Travelling: Skechers Women's GO Walk Joy Shoes

ProsCons
  • Multiple colour options
  • Lightweight
  • Difficult to find smaller sizes
  • No laces for secure fit

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These comfortable, lightweight, slip on shoes are ideal for those who can't be bothered to tie their laces. Their athletic air mesh provides breathability as well as flexibility without sacrificing a cushioned midsole. If you travel a lot, these quick and easy on-again-off-again shoes are great when heading through airport security. This sleek, lightweight shoe is a wonderful addition to your closet.

8. Best Walking Shoe for Seniors: Saucony Women's ProGrid Integrity ST2 Walking Shoe

ProsCons
  • Lightweight
  • Good stability and support
  • Large range of shoe sizes including wide & x-wide
  • Fits most insoles
  • Hard to find larger sizes

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Saucony’s ProGrid walking shoe features their popular forefoot stretch zone, allowing your toes lots of wiggle room, and their Walk-Trac comfort outsole provides responsive cushioning. With a sturdy heel and a high toe box, this roomy shoe is great for seniors who need to add orthotics or struggle with other feet related issues like bunions.

What Does Motion Control Mean in Shoes?

Motion control refers to shoes that help control excessive foot motions by reducing the extent of pronation; this helps to improve your stability and minimize the amount of pronation.

What Does Pronation and Supination Mean?

Both terms refer to how your weight is distributed on your feet while you walk. Pronation refers to the inward rolling of your foot after making impact with the ground, while supination refers to the outward rolling of your foot.

4 Areas of Walking Shoes

Heel counter: This refers to the area of the shoe that sits against the back of your heel, just below the achilles tendon. It should be snug, but not tight. A good heel counter helps to prevent pronation and supination.

Midsole: Midsole is the area between the tread and cloth upper of the shoe. This is the most important part of a walking shoe. Made out of a variety of different materials like gel, foam and air, this section is what provides the shoe with cushion, support and flexibility.

Insole: The part where the sole of your foot makes contact with the shoe is called the insole. This part should contour naturally with your foot and can be removed to dry after long walking sessions.

Toe Box: Unsurprisingly, the toe box is, you guessed it, the part that surrounds the toes. This is the section where the wiggle test comes into play. Your toes should have enough room to move and bend at the knuckle, or you should be able to fit about half to the full width of your thumb between the longest part of your toe and the end of the toe box.

Walking Shoe FAQs

Check out some of the frequently asked questions and facts from our forums and readers when it comes to walking shoes.

  • 1. Neutral - Firm midsoles, straight to semi curved lasts (the shape of the sole), moderate rear foot stability.

  • 2. Low Arched/Flat - Straight lasts, motion control support

  • 3. High Arched - Curved lasts, shoes with good cushioning

Tips for Finding the Perfect Walking Shoes

  • Find the best athletic stores near you; specifically ones that offer foot analyses

  • Get your gait analyzed; depending on your level of pronation you may need orthotics

  • Twist test: the shoes should twist laterally and be flexible at the ball of the foot, not the arch

  • Poke test: the toes should come slightly off the ground, and rock slightly when poked

Tips for Measuring the Perfect Walking Shoes

  • Look at the heel: there should be no flare, with the thickness being no more than an inch higher than the sole at the ball of the foot

  • Make sure to get measurements of both your feet while standing and take them again at the end of the day (your feet swell during the day)

  • Remember to wear regular socks when trying on shoes

  • NEVER buy shoes that are too tight; elderly people should aim for shoes that fit looser to compensate for arthritis, bunions or other foot pains

  • If one foot is larger, go with the larger shoe size

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