The Best Walking Shoes for You: Here's How to Find Them – Sports Illustrated

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Walking your way to better health is a great idea, but doing so in a way that causes foot, leg or back pain can feel like trading one problem for another. The key to keeping it comfortable day after day, mile after mile, is to invest in the right footwear. The best walking shoes offer stability, cushioning and comfort from mile one to mile 10. Ahead we’ve pulled together a list of the best walking shoes to help you across the miles.
Comfortable enough for all-day high mileage, Allbirds Tree Runners are lightweight and breathable and they offer plenty of cushioning —so basically, it’s the trifecta for a good walking shoe.
Under the tongue, the Tree Runner features the brand’s “SweetFoam midsole” (so named because it’s made from Brazilian sugarcane), a Merino wool insole that’s infused with castor bean oil and Allbirds proprietary knit made from eucalyptus tree fiber. Altogether, you have a cushioned, moisture-wicking shoe with plenty of bounce and one that’s perfect for warm weather courtesy of a thermoregulating knit upper.
For those concerned about their carbon footprint, Allbirds Tree Runners are sustainably made with eco-friendly materials, including responsibly sourced eucalyptus fiber. In case you were wondering what happened to that water bottle you recycled, one plastic bottle becomes one pair of shoelaces.
Buy Allbirds Tree Runners
The adidas Supernova + features special “Boost technology” that earned the title “best cushioned walking shoe”. As the brainchild of the adidas Innovation Team (AIT) and German chemists BASF, Boost technology “brings together the formerly contradictory benefits of soft and responsive cushioning.” Boost is made from thermoplastic polyurethane particles that are expanded into closed cells that contain tiny pockets of air. The result is a durable and flexible walking shoe with exceptional cushioning underfoot. Moreover, you have an all-season shoe that expertly traverses the sun, snow, wind and rain while working to prevent you from a misstep or experiencing discomfort while you walk.
All told, the adidas Supernova + offers users a smooth ride with plenty of cushioning that can go the distance.
Buy adidas Supernova +
If you know anything about shoes and insoles, then you probably know that the “OrthoLite insoles” in the Hoka Bondi 8 are why these shoes hit our list as the best walking shoes with arch support.
OrthoLite insoles are highly coveted in footwear because their compression set (or how much it does not rebound) is less than 5% over time. That means that with every wear, day after day, month after month, the cushioning, fit and support never changes.
In this case, the Hoka Bondi 8 features an “Ortholite hybrid sockliner”—an OrthoLite insole that’s made from a combination of recycled rubber, waste foam and OrthoLite’s open-cell foam—less impact on your stride and less impact on the environment.
Engineered mesh construction for breathability, a memory foam collar that cradles your ankles and lightweight, resilient foam for a smooth and bouncy ride round out the list of great features on the Hoka Bondi 8.
Buy Hoka Bondi 8
A good walking shoe doesn’t have to bust the budget and at $60, Reebok’s Walkawhile Women’s shoes prove just that. While many options on this list are at least $100, Reebok offers a shoe at a fraction of the price—without skimping on the features and materials typically found in more expensive models. A cushioned EVA midsole keeps your feet happy whether you’re walking two miles or 12 and a sock-like knit upper hugs your foot for an almost customized fit.
Looking at reviews on the Reebok website, plenty of reviewers have noted that the Walkawhile’s are lightweight, comfortable and great for walking long distances. They’re a solid option for a more budget-conscious shopper or someone new to walking shoes.
Buy Reebok Walkawhile Women’s Shoes
If your plantar fasciitis tends to flare up when you’re out and about, you might consider the Cloudgo from On.
Equipped with “CloudTec cushioning technology” and a TPU Speedboard®, Cloudgo is a lightweight shoe with plush cushioning and support that promises soft landings and superior impact absorption.
Breaking it down just a bit, CloudTec technology offers exceptional cushioning when you need it most—on the landing and the “Speedboard” (a liquid-injected plate of thermoplastic polymer) offers a strong energy return in your step. This dynamic duo comes together in the Cloudgo for a lightweight shoe with plush cushioning and support that promises soft landings and incredible impact absorption.
Buy On Running Cloudgo
The Skechers Go Walk Massage Fit boasts a “Massage Fit” wave midsole that (as its name implies) is designed to massage your feet with every step, but that’s not all there is to its exceptional performance on city streets.
With the brand’s “HYPER BURST” construction, you get a lightweight, resilient foam midsole with spherically-shaped cells that compress and rebound beautifully with every step. Translation: it’s highly responsive and offers plenty of cushioning underfoot. Pair that with the padded breathable insole for even more cushioning and soft, flexible mesh upper and you have what we think is the best walking shoe for your adventures on New York city streets or any other concrete jungle.
Digging through the reviews on the Skechers site, multiple reviewers noted that the Skechers Go Walk Massage Fit is great for walking on pavement, asphalt and gravel. And for a little perk that you don’t often find with shoes, these are machine washable.
Buy Skechers Go Walk Massage Fit
While Brooks’ Adrenaline GTS wasn’t designed with flat-footed people in mind, it was designed to help runners remain in their natural stride without overcorrection. Over the years, it became the shoe that works for different types of walkers and strides.
The Adrenaline shoe features “GuideRail” technology in the midsole that does the heavy lifting to keep your foot in proper stride and alignment. And in the 22nd iteration of this Brooks legend, wearers will find the brand’s “DNA LOFT” cushioning technology (a unique combination of EVA foam, rubber and air) that offers a smooth, light and more responsive ride.
The Brooks Adrenaline is our top pick for flat feet and there’s no shortage of Amazon reviewers who agree. One review with flat feet noted that these shoes were so great that they now own three of them.
Buy Brooks Adrenaline
With a nice selection of wide-width sizes, the Gel Odyssey by Asics hits our list as the best for well, wide feet. Beyond its wide width accommodations, the Gel Odyssey is equipped with a host of design features, including the brand’s “SPEVA” foam midsole that offers exceptional shock absorption and better rebound. It’s also constructed with supportive layers that prevent over-pronation and create added stability.
If that weren’t enough, a removable sock liner gives your comfort level even more of a boost plus, it effectively manages the heat and moisture around your foot, making it a great walking shoe for the better part of the year. And finally, a rubber outsole keeps wear and tear to a minimum.
Buy Asics Gel Odyssey
While walking may demand a little less from your feet than running or hiking, comfort is still crucial, especially if your pedometer is regularly logging a couple thousand steps per day.
Remember that your shoes bear the weight of your entire body. Couple that with a few miles in your day and it will take a palpable toll on your feet, legs and back.
The TLDR: If you do a lot of walking on any given day, you’ll probably want to invest in a pair of walking shoes to mitigate the pain and discomfort you’ll feel without them.
Stability is crucial for a walking shoe. Ultimately, you’re looking for a shoe that feels balanced and secure through the range of motion in your step.
The purpose of cushioning in a shoe is to absorb the force of the impact of your step. And if you’re taking anywhere near the recommended 10,000 steps per day, you can see where cushioning becomes incredibly important for a walking shoe. Ideally, walking shoes should have a uniform level of cushioning throughout the footbed.
Like anything else in life, the cost will also be a determining factor when purchasing a pair of walking shoes. Most high quality walking shoes will run you around $100, but if you’re just starting to increase your step-count or are shopping on a budget, consider more cost-effective options like the $60 Reebok Walkawhiles. 
Walking shoes and running shoes are not the same. A good walking shoe Is designed with body mechanics and stride path in mind. When you’re walking, your foot will typically strike the ground heel first and then roll through the step. To account for those mechanics, walking shoes are designed to allow a greater range of motion through the forefoot with more flexibility through the ball of the foot. Moreover, walking shoes typically have better arch support to protect your foot on impact.
On the other hand, running shoes often have less protection through the ball of the foot and more cushioning in the heel, which is typically the point of impact. Moreover, running shoes are often lighter and designed with breathable mesh uppers intended to keep your feet cool while performing an activity that typically generates a lot of heat. Running shoes are more likely to have more ankle support as well.
The life of a walking shoe ultimately depends on how much you use them. A good rule of thumb, however, is that most shoes will last anywhere from 300 to 500 miles. If you’re not sure where you are in terms of mileage, regular use should have you ready for a replacement every three to six months or so.
Signs that it’s time to replace your walking shoes include:
It’s very important that you choose walking shoes that don’t feel overly tight—in fact, yes, you might even consider sizing up. The reason for this is that after just half an hour of walking, your feet will swell. If you’re in your regular-size shoes, you can expect some pain and discomfort to follow thereafter.
To minimize the likelihood of hobbling through your final miles, think about getting fitted for a walking shoe. If your introverted nature tends to get the best of you, a good alternative would be to shop for (and try on) walking shoes at the end of your day when your feet are already swollen.
Whether you’re on your feet all day for work or your local wanderlust tends to get the best of you, a good walking shoe is never a bad investment. Walking shoes are designed to work with your body’s mechanics to protect your feet and your body. A good walking shoe offers stability, cushioning and all-day comfort. 
Prices are accurate and items in stock as of publish time.
Sharon is an award-winning editorial writer and contributor. Learn more here.This author is writing sponsored content paid for by Pillar4 and not affiliated with Sports Illustrated. 


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