As a running magazine, we often tout the health benefits of our sport, but honestly, walking is pretty great, too. In fact, research shows that—just like runners—people who walk at a moderate intensity regularly have a lower risk of high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and type 2 diabetes. Turns out the most important thing is that you’re getting miles in, wherever and at whatever pace you can. And what you put on your feet (supportive, cushy sneakers!) can either make or break that mission. But don’t worry—we’re here to help.
We review hundreds of shoes every year and test the latest foams and materials at our shoe lab. Many of those same technologies are used in these pairs, which gives us unique insight into how they’ll perform and hold up over the long haul. Whether you’re a high-mileage walker, a runner recovering from an injury, or someone who simply wants to squeeze as many steps into your schedule as possible, we’ve found a pair of shoes for you.
Best Walking Shoes
- Lightweight Cushioning: Skechers GoWalk Hyperburst
- Best Cushioning: Hoka Bondi 7
- Best Run/Walk Hybrid Shoe: New Balance 1080v11
- Best All-Weather Shoe: Teva Gateway Low
- Best Female-Specific Fit: Ryka fEmpower Perform Walking Shoe
- Best Post-Run Shoe: Topo Rekovr 2
- Best for Wide Feet: Under Armour Essential Sportstyle Shoes
- Best Travel Shoe: Allbirds Wool Runner Mizzles
- Best Arch Support: Dansko Pace
- Best Around the House: Chaco Ramble Puff Linear
- Best for Trails: Danner Trail 2650 Campo GTX
- Best Slip-On Shoe: Kane Revive
- Zero-Drop Shoe: Altra Escalante 2.5
Comfort Is Everything
Walking shoes are built for comfort, first and foremost. This has traditionally meant that they’re not always the most sexy (or cute even), but we’ve noticed some style strides being made in the category. Brands realize that more and more people are looking for sneakers that are both fun and functional. No matter what they look like, these duds will undoubtedly keep your feet and body happy. Most walking-specific shoes are designed to give you miles of cloud-like cushioning, with support and breathability so you can wear them all day. People with wide feet will be able to find shoes all the way up to 4E in most brands. And it’s worth noting, several classic running shoes can truly work well for both activities.
These Shoes Are Made for Walking (and Standing)
Walking shoe designs favor support, stability, and, as we mentioned already, comfort (with added breathability). They often have a beveled heel to help propel you forward, a cushier footbed, and an easy entry/exit system, like slip-on styles. All these features make them ideal for walking on rail trails, hitting the gym, or wearing when you’re on your feet all day. Built-in support will keep your feet and joints better protected against impact and fatigue. For people whose feet need more lightweight, flexible shoes, we’ve got options for you, too.
How We Evaluated
We went straight to the source, asking big brands what styles they recommended most for walkers based on their most popular walking shoes. We also slipped on samples, wearing them while hiking on easy trails, power walking through neighborhoods (often with kids and dogs in tow), and plodding up and down stairs at home. We took notes on how each shoe fared along the way. (And with more than 14 years of professional wear-testing experience, we have to admit, we take pretty good notes.) These are just some of our favorites, but we recognize that everyone and every foot is different. There is no such thing as the perfect shoe for everyone—only the perfect shoe for you. We hope this round-up helps you find it.
Skechers GoWalk Hyperburst
Weight: 9.2 oz (M), 8 oz (W)
Drop: 11.5 mm
Some shoes, like this one, are designed to put an actual pep in your step. Skechers’ Hyper Burst midsole is a lightweight, resilient foam with spherical cells that compress and rebound as you step. That means the Go Walk Hyper Burst offers next level cushioning while you stride. And it doesn’t stop there—the slightly padded, breathable insole provides even more bounce underfoot. Combined with the soft, flexible mesh and synthetic slip-on upper, and you’re all but guaranteed to be feeling good for miles on end.
Hoka Bondi 7
Weight: 10.7 oz (M), 8.9 oz (W)
Drop: 4 mm
If you’re after a cloud-like feel, your search ends with the Bondi 7. Maximum cushioning comes courtesy the beefy EVA midsole that accounts for much of the 27 millimeter stack height in the forefoot (29 millimeters in the men’s version). That’s several millimeters taller than similar shoes, and chances are you’ll notice that extra height only after you feel the plushness underfoot. New in the seventh generation Bondi is a memory foam heel collar that secures the foot and surrounds the Achilles with soft padding. Despite the ventilated mesh upper, testers reported the thicker material wasn’t fully breathable. But at a moderate walking pace, you might not notice. For a workplace-ready shoe that can deliver all-day comfort, opt for the Bondi SR, which comes with water-resistant, full-grain leather upper and a slip-resistant rubber outsole.
—BEST RUN/WALK HYBRID SHOE—
New Balance 1080v11
Weight: 9.3 oz (M), 8.1 oz (W)
Drop: 8 mm
There’s a reason New Balance lists the Fresh Foam 1080v11 in both its running shoe and walking shoe categories. Although the lightweight, super-cushioned shoe is technically cut out for hitting the road pretty hard, it is also incredibly comfortable for cruising along with a good podcast (or friend). With an 8-millimeter drop from heel to toe and a bouncy foam midsole, the shoe offers plenty of support regardless of your pace. And the soft, bootie-like construction hugs your foot for a secure fit.
—BEST ALL-WEATHER SHOE—
Teva Gateway Low
Weight: 7.3 oz (M), 6.1 oz (W)
Drop: 12 mm (M), 9.5 mm (W)
Less bulky than a traditional hiking shoe but with many of the same high-tech features, the Gateway is great for when your walks take you on both roads and trails. Its lightweight, water-resistant upper kept our feet dry during rainy treks in the Pacific Northwest. The durable rubber outsole provides smart traction for varying terrains, and a thick EVA foam midsole gives you the just-right combination of cushioning, stability, and off-road protection. We also appreciate that this shoe was designed with sustainability in mind—the upper, sock liner, and laces are made with partially (55 to 100 percent) recycled materials and all of its leather components are sourced responsibly. For greater ankle stability off-trail, choose the mid-height boot instead.
—BEST FEMALE-SPECIFIC FIT—
Ryka fEmpower Perform Walking Shoe
Weight: 8.9 oz
Drop: 8 mm
Built specifically to provide women premium support while they stride, the Perform fully lives up to its name. It offers an anatomically correct insole, with a slightly narrow heel (more secure fit!), a roomy toe box (greater stability!) and super-responsive cushioning (joint-protecting shock absorption!)—all while comfortably cradling your arch and heel. An engineered mesh upper is flexible and breathable, and the strategic tread pattern on the durable, compression-molded outsole helps keep you steady on your feet, no matter how fast you’re moving forward.
—BEST POST-RUN SHOE—
Topo Rekovr 2
Weight: 8 oz (M), 6.5 oz (W)
Drop: 3 mm
Slipping these shoes on after a long run feels akin to falling back onto a luxuriously soft mattress after a long day of travel. The cushy Ortholite footbed features a wave pattern that feels like a gentle massage underfoot, and a padded heel gives your ankle the support it needs to relax with every step. But the best part is the durable Vibram outsole that gives you solid traction to tackle just about any surface, so you can safely and comfortably sport this lightweight clog style wherever (and whenever!) you want. Winter walking bonus: The antimicrobial blended-wool upper keeps your feet warm and dry without overheating.
—BEST FOR WIDE FEET—
Under Armour Essential Sportstyle Shoes
Weight: 9.9 oz (M), 7.6 oz (W)
Drop: 8 mm
With wide sizes available, this simple, go-anywhere sneaker is built to make the miles more comfortable for everyone. The lightweight shoe features a breathable, mesh upper; a well-cushioned EVA foam midsole; a sock liner that contours specifically to your foot; and a durable rubber outsole that offers plenty of traction for all your daily treks.
—BEST TRAVEL SHOE—
Allbirds Wool Runner Mizzles
Weight: 11.3 oz (M), 9.9 oz (W)
Drop: 10 mm
The Mizzles gives you all the eco-friendly perks of Allbirds’s popular Wool Runners—a soft, breathable Merino wool–lined foam insole, a flexible sugarcane foam outsole, and non-slip natural rubber treads—with the added benefit of a water-repellent technology, called Puddle Guard, applied to the fabric upper. So your feet are guaranteed to stay comfortable, warm, dry, and well-grounded while you run—er, walk—around town, no matter how much rain is in the forecast or how many errands (or tourist spots!) are on your to-do list. They’re also available in a cool high-top style (the Runner-up Mizzles) and a run-friendly one (the Dasher).
—BEST ARCH SUPPORT—
Weight: 10 oz
Drop: 10 mm
You’ll notice yourself standing a little taller and walking a little softer while wearing this shoe. Despite its height, the women’s-only Pace is not too heavy, with a well-cushioned EVA foam midsole and a plush, padded heel and tongue that are guaranteed not to rub you the wrong way as you move. A strategically designed footbed provides extra arch support and shock absorption at the heel. Plus, both the shoe’s structure and the tread on its durable rubber outsole are shaped to help propel you forward with every step. Bonus: Its fabric is lined with anti-odor technology, so goodbye, stinky feet.
—BEST AROUND THE HOUSE—
Chaco Ramble Puff Linear
Weight: 13 oz (M)
Drop: 7 mm (M), 6 mm (W)
Warning: Once you try on a pair of the boldly designed Ramble Puff, you absolutely will not want to take them off. But thanks to the water-resistant ripstop nylon upper and durable, lugged outsole, the good news is that you really don’t ever have to. Wear them at home, for brief trips to the mailbox, or even at camp around the firepit. A soft fleece lining makes you forget you’re not technically wearing slippers, a mid-ankle cinching strap allows you to adjust the shoe for the perfect foot-hugging fit, and built-in arch support keeps you comfortable all day.
—BEST FOR TRAILS—
Danner Trail 2650 Campo GTX
Weight: 12 oz (M), 9.5 oz (W)
Drop: 8 mm
The first thing you’ll notice about the Campo is how streamlined and lightweight it is for a shoe that is still packed with so many smart, trail-specific technologies. Danner adds Gore-Tex Invisible Fit technology—a bonded waterproof membrane that’s still breathable and flexible—to this new model’s leather and textile upper to create all-weather protection. Its lightweight EVA foam midsole and a removable OrthoLite footbed made with multi-density foam offer you a dialed-in amount of cushioning, while the TPU shank and heel counter lend stability on the trail. A Vibram outsole provides the grip you need to tackle any (wet or dry!) terrain, and dust-gaiter compatibility preps you for desert excursions. Last, but definitely not least, the sock-like construction of this hiking shoe means it fits snug and comfortably on your foot.
—BEST SLIP-ON SHOE—
Weight: 8.8 oz
Drop: 10 mm
Not to be confusing, but this green shoe isactually green. The unisex Revive is an active recovery shoe made from renewable materials, so it’s good for your feet and the planet. It’s built with a proprietary foam derived from sustainably harvested Brazilian sugarcane and other eco-sustainable materials (like the recycled plastic in its cinching string). Then you add in the fact that it’s also an incredibly comfortable, breathable, and supportive shoe to walk around in, and well, slipping the Revive on after a long, hard run becomes almost a no-brainer.
Altra Escalante 2.5
Weight: 8.5 oz (M), 6.9 oz (W)
Drop: 0 mm
The Altra Escalante 2.5 is a road-running shoe designed to push the pace, but we found this low-profile design is also ideal for walkers who want both a natural feel underfoot and a cushioned ride. For minimalists: a wide toe box and sock-like upper allow the toes to splay, a zero-drop heel design (heel and toe are at the same height) levels the foot, and a segmented rubber outsole and hyper-flexible midsole easily allows the foot full freedom to bend. For minimalists with sensitive joints: Altra’s lightweight, thin(ish) Altra Ego midsole offers significantly more cushion than a true minimalist shoe, but with a feeling that’s less like marshmallowy EVA foam and more like bouncy gum rubber. The updated woven upper is the softest and most pliable we tested, which wasn’t constricting but did sacrifice some stability. (For locked-in lateral support, check out Altra’s Torin 4.5 Plush.) The Escalante’s strengths show up specifically when you walk by providing cushioned and surefooted ground contact.