When it comes to finding the perfect walking shoes, there are a plethora of options available for women. From the best value to the most lightweight options, we've got you covered. But with so many choices, how can you pick the right pair? In this article, we'll delve into what factors to consider when shopping for walking shoes and provide a list of the top picks in various categories. So whether you're searching for the best shoes for supination, pronation, bunions, or simply want a breathable and sustainable option, we've got the ultimate guide for you. Ready to take a stroll? Let's dive in!
Top-Notch Value Walking Shoe
Well-Ventilated, Cushioned And Budget-Friendly Women’s Walking SneakersWeight: 7.26 ounces | Lacing system: Conventional | Heel drop: 7.3 mm | Size range: 5-12 | Colors: Various, 11 colors available upon publication.
These shoes are also on sale at Amazon starting from $38.
- Individuals who engage in casual standing or walking rather than intense workouts
- If you have broad feet, bunions, or desire spacious footwear
- Individuals seeking affordable walking shoes that prioritize comfort
- You require a highly stable shoe for more active days
- You prefer a shoe with exceptional grip on slippery surfaces
In addition to its attractive price, this shoe boasts numerous features. Comfort consistently receives high praise in customer reviews, and in my tests, the Sportstyle certainly lived up to the hype. The cushioned heel ensures a pleasantly supportive experience, complemented by a 7.3mm heel drop and a 4.75cm heel stack, making it an ideal choice for walkers who land on their heels or have Achilles tendon issues. Although this additional support slightly increases the weight, with the shoe weighing 7.26 ounces, it remained unobtrusive thanks to the mesh upper and soft sockliner, which create a light and airy sensation.
The Sportstyle model also emerged as the top walking shoe for individuals with wide feet based on my evaluations. It boasted the widest insole among all the shoes I tested, preventing any discomfort caused by lateral rubbing against the sides of the foot. Whether you have bunions or spend long hours on your feet—such as during travels or extended sports events—the Sportstyle shoes are my recommendation. The generous width and roomy toe box of these sneakers allow the feet to comfortably expand, giving your toes space to spread out and breathe.
The UA Essential Sportstyle shoes offer the widest insole of any shoes in my testing, making them the perfect choice if you have wide feet or prefer a more spacious fit.
Kari MolvarCompared to traditional walking shoes, this pick offers a less structured design; when subjected to my pinch test, the heel counter displayed a flexible rather than firm rating. I would not recommend these shoes for intense walking on uneven or gravelly terrain, as they may allow slight foot movement. The outsole lacks extensive traction—it is not intended for intense walking excursions. However, during my tests, the shoes performed admirably on paved streets and indoor surfaces. Overall, the Sportstyle is an excellent option for a lifestyle walking shoe that cradles your feet throughout the day without causing discomfort. At under , the value of this pair is unparalleled.
Supreme Lightweight Walking Shoe
Airy, Flexible And Chic FootwearWeight: 6.9 ounces | Lacing system: Speed laces with knotted cord; traditional laces included| Heel drop: 2.5mm | Size range: 5-11 | Colors: 14 shades
- Individuals in search of a lightweight, responsive shoe suitable for all terrains
- Walkers with slightly narrow to medium-width feet
- Those who require a stylish option for workouts and everyday activities
- You have wide feet
- You prefer extra cushioning or require a shoe with a higher heel drop for heel issues
On, a Swiss brand established in 2010, has garnered a loyal following thanks to its innovative midsole. The midsole features perforations that facilitate vertical and lateral compression of the shoe upon landing. This design aims to cushion your feet, reducing strain on your muscles, while also resulting in a smooth toe-off for effortless movement. I filmed slow-motion videos comparing my gait cycle in this shoe with others and noticed a subtle lift at the end of each stride. In fact, Annabelle Lemes, a trainer I consulted, named this pair as her top choice. "I'm constantly on my feet, and On shoes are always my first preference."
With a minimal heel drop of 2.5mm and a highly resilient insole, the On Cloud 5 shoes are perfect ... [ ] for individuals who desire swift and confident movement over rugged trails, cobblestone streets, or changing terrains.
Kari MolvarThe Cloud boasts a mere 2.5mm heel drop and a remarkably sturdy insole, making it an excellent option for individuals with balance issues or those who prioritize swift yet secure walking across rugged trails, cobblestone streets, or unstable terrains. The heel counter also earned a moderate firm rating. These shoes securely held my foot, providing a level of support comparable to the Brooks brand, with an ankle collar that did not extend over my bone or cause any discomfort. The breathable mesh upper is adorned with thin reflective bands, adding a stylish touch while enhancing safety during nighttime walks.
The Cloud 5 is also available in a waterproof version, although I do not recommend it. The waterproof edition features an anhydrous membrane that tightens the fit compared to the regular version (the manufacturer suggests going up a half-size). Nonetheless, even the standard Cloud 5 has a slim fit. During my insole test, my foot extended slightly beyond the sides by approximately 0.5 inch. This did not cause discomfort for me, as I have medium to narrow feet, but it may be a concern for individuals with wider feet. Another potential drawback is the speed-lacing system. These On shoes come with pre-laced thin cords knotted at both ends—the concept being that you slide your feet into the shoe and tighten the cord to secure them. I discovered that the cord gradually loosened over time. The design feature may not appeal to everyone, which is why On includes a set of traditional laces with each pair.
The On Cloud 5 seamlessly transitions from athletic wear to stylish everyday outfits.
Kari MolvarFrom a fashion perspective, the Cloud 5 thoroughly impressed me. This Swiss shoe brand is sleek and minimalistic, effortlessly complementing skirts and conveying a deliberate fashion choice rather than a mere comfort-driven option. My only quibble was that the color I desired—Glacier White—was sold out (although On has assured me it will be restocked in October). As an excellent alternative, I highly recommend Surf Cobble, the metallic greenish-silver shade I tested.
Choosing the Right Walking ShoeDiscovering the ideal walking shoes is a personal journey. To assist you in selecting from the finest available options, here's what the experts recommend you consider:
Cushioning: The level of cushioning ultimately depends on personal preference. Most walkers prefer shoes with uniform cushioning rather than exaggerated heels for all-day wear. Evenly cushioned soles diminish the risk of tripping or catching your heel on carpets.
Heel drop: Heel drop closely relates to cushioning and refers to the difference in height between the midsole at your heel and the balls of your feet. "The best walking sneakers have a 4 to 8mm heel-to-toe drop," as stated by New York podiatrist Nelya Lobkova, DPM. This reduces stress on the Achilles tendon and promotes efficient energy transfer during the walking cycle, from heel lift to toe-off.
In contrast, running shoes have a higher 10 to 13mm heel-to-toe drop to enhance shock absorption, as running is a higher impact activity than walking. Yet, Dr. Lobkova cautions against completely flat designs. She warns that shoes with a "zero-drop" structure can render feet susceptible to muscle and bone injuries when walking distances beyond your local coffee shop.
Sole: The outsole, or sole, of a shoe is its point of contact with the ground. It is crucial in determining the shoe's stability, according to Dr. Lobkova. "A sneaker should not be easily bendable or twistable," she emphasizes. Instead, the sole needs to offer adequate rigidity and midfoot cushioning to prevent heel impact and walking-related injuries like plantar fasciitis.
Anne Holland Johnson, M.D., a foot and ankle surgeon at the Hospital for Special Surgery in Manhattan, favors a rocker-sole. While Hoka popularized this type of sole, other brands are now following suit. Dr. Johnson explains that a rocker bottom-type sole lessens the need for excessive ankle and foot flexing and bending during walking, allowing the shoe to absorb more force. To identify a rocker heel, examine the shoe from the side—it should exhibit a slight upward curve in the toe and heel areas, facilitating a more fluid stride and reducing foot strain through an increased rolling motion. However, rocker soles may be less stable, so individuals requiring greater stability should opt for a traditional flat sole.
Size: Each brand varies slightly in its sizing, so start with your usual shoe size as a reference but be prepared to adjust up or down to find the perfect fit. Feet tend to expand when walking, so it's best to try on shoes in the late afternoon when your feet are slightly swollen from the day's activities. Ensure your toes can comfortably extend into the toe box, the uppermost part of the shoe, without feeling overly spacious. Conduct a classic shoe-fitting test by leaving approximately half to a full thumb's width of space between your toes and the front end of the toe box.
Lastly, secure a snug fit around the heel counter, which wraps around the back of the shoe. "This minimizes abnormal stretching of the plantar fascia, reduces pain and inflammation in the heel and arch of the foot," states Dr. Lobkova. It also prevents the foot from moving excessively up and down while striking the ground, thereby minimizing the risk of blisters.
Arch support: The insole reveals the level of arch support provided by a shoe. "Most sneakers feature removable insoles that you can examine," notes Dr. Lobkova. Arch support appears as a raised area or curve around the midfoot on the insole. It serves as a buttress for the foot's arch. While the Brooks Ghost 14 boasts this feature, not all sneakers possess it. In such cases, Dr. Lobkova suggests utilizing custom or prefabricated insoles or orthotics for additional support.
Dr. Johnson highlights the significance of arch support in preventing common foot conditions. She advises individuals with flat or fallen arches to opt for stability-type sneakers that incorporate arch support within the insole. Meanwhile, individuals with arthritis in the midfoot or forefoot benefit from rocker-soled shoes, which provide optimal shock absorption and a comfortable stride. Consult your doctor if customized insoles or orthotics are necessary.
Comfort: The perfect fit, construction, and design of a shoe differ for each individual, depending on their foot type. Nonetheless, comfort remains a crucial factor for all wearers. "A walking sneaker should provide immediate comfort upon wearing, without requiring a 'breaking-in' period," states Dr. Johnson. When you find the right shoes, they should make you completely forget about your feet.
Return policy: Most companies allow returns and exchanges for unworn shoes in their original packaging; however, the duration for returns may vary. Brooks offers a 90-day return policy, while Under Armour allows 60 days, with On limiting it to 30 days.
Factors to Consider When Shopping for Walking Footwear
Walking is an activity that has low impact, putting less strain on your joints and muscles compared to high-impact exercises such as running. However, don't underestimate the workout your feet and legs experience from daily walking or exercise walking. That's why it's important to find well-fitting walking shoes that provide adequate support.
Most walking shoes feature thick midsoles and ample shock-absorbing foam for optimal cushioning. Many models, like the Dansko Pace and Hoka Clifton mentioned below, employ ethylene vinyl acetate (EVA) foam, a common material found in modern running shoes. If you prefer a soft and plush feel while walking, EVA foam is an excellent characteristic to look for.
Some walking shoes derived from running shoes, such as the Saucony Tempus, utilize newer cushioning materials that are lighter and more responsive than EVA. The Tempus, for instance, integrates Saucony's lightweight polyether block amide (PEBA)-based "Pwrrun PB" foam, which provides a bouncy and propulsive sensation. If you're exercising or if you desire a shoe that gives you an energetic boost, search for walking shoes with advanced cushioning foams. You might even want to try running shoes.
A good walking shoe should provide stability without any sense of wobbling. Opt for shoes with wide soles, especially in the forefoot area. The extra space allows your toes to spread with each step, creating a more stable platform for your feet. Both the Rykä Devotion X and Saucony Tempus have wide and stable sole designs.
If you have overpronation or specific foot issues like plantar fasciitis, look for shoes that offer enhanced support features like a medial post. A medial post is an additional layer of firmer foam located on the inside edge of the shoe, helping to align your foot as you walk. Another option is to choose shoes with an arch support footbed, designed to match the shape of your foot's arch and provide reinforcement. The Aetrex Chase is a notable example of a stability-focused walking shoe.
You can also seek out shoes that have earned the American Podiatric Medical Association's Seal of Acceptance. This award signifies that the shoes have been independently verified by APMA testers and have been found to promote foot health. Several recommended options, including the Aetrex Chase and Hoka Clifton, have earned this prestigious recognition.
When it comes to walking shoe uppers, consider factors such as breathability, durability, and aesthetics. Good breathability is essential to prevent your feet from getting overly hot, sweaty, and uncomfortable, especially during long walks. Durability is also crucial because you'll be wearing your walking shoes frequently and they need to withstand daily wear and tear.
I recommend choosing shoes with mesh uppers as they strike a balance between breathability and robust construction. The open spaces in the mesh facilitate adequate airflow, keeping your feet cool, while still maintaining durability.
Finally, don't underestimate the significance of upper aesthetics. Although it may seem trivial, opt for a shoe with an appealing design and color that suits your everyday wardrobe. If you don't like how your shoes look, you'll be less inclined to wear them.
Weight: 8.7 oz (Men's), 7.3 oz (Women's)
It's a rarity to find a shoe that is both comfortable and cushioned enough for walking, while also feeling lightweight for running. However, the Hoka Clifton manages to strike that delicate balance. The latest version, the Clifton 9, actually features even more midsole foam than its predecessor, resulting in a 3mm increase in stack height, yet managing to be lighter.
The compression-molded EVA midsole of the Clifton 9 offers excellent shock absorption at any pace, and its responsiveness provides an extra bounce in your step. Plus, the Early Stage Meta-Rocker design by Hoka ensures smooth strides while walking or running, encouraging a lively pace. Rubber placements on the outsole enhance the shoe's longevity, making it suitable for high-mileage training and everyday use. Additionally, the Clifton 9 has earned the Seal of Acceptance from the American Podiatric Medical Association. With its unmatched versatility, this comfortable and capable shoe stands out among other walking footwear options, making it a go-to choice for casual wear or even your morning jog.
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Top Choice: Hoka Bondi SR, $175
Hoka"These shoes belong to the Hoka road-shoe line, and they offer the most cushioning in the range. They are known for being extremely comfortable. The Bondi SR line features a thick, well-padded EVA foam midsole that ensures a comfortable walking experience with every step," says Cunha, as reported by The Post.
These sneakers come in both black and white options, making them versatile for daily activities. They have been recently updated with water-resistant leather and a slip-resistant outsole.
Top Pick for Supination: Brooks Ghost 15, $140
Amazon"These shoes have a soft and flexible midsole with superior cushioning to absorb shock. They are suitable for supinators with high arches," explains Cunha.
As someone with higher arches who personally owns a pair of Brooks Ghost 15 sneakers, I can attest to their comfort and durability. They provide a cloud-like feel on your feet and are perfect for long runs, running errands, and everything in-between. They are available in a variety of colors and sizes on Amazon or directly on the Brooks website.
Top Choice for Breathability: UYN Women’s Nature Tune Vibram Shoes, $228
AmazonIf breathability is a crucial factor in your ideal walking shoes, look no further than UYN.
"This shoe is made of highly breathable and waterproof Membrain115 material that provides elasticity and comfort," says Cunha. "The shoe also features a Merino wool inner layer that keeps the foot warm in cold temperatures by wicking away moisture and reducing odors. The ultralight and shock-absorbing Vibram Chrono sole, made of EVA, offers increased arch comfort and support during walking."
Top Choice for Pronation: Asics Gel Kayano 29, $160
Asics"The forefoot of this sneaker is designed with a well-cushioned FF Blast Plus footbed and anatomical arch that is firmer and denser on the medial side of the shoe. This helps support and maintain the plantar fascia, preventing it from collapsing and minimizing fatigue and pain associated with over-pronation," says Cunha.
Featuring a low-profile external heel counter, this shoe provides advanced rear-foot support. It's available in over 20 different colors.
Top Budget-Friendly Choice: Saucony Cohesion 13, $40 (Original Price: )
AmazonFor those on a smaller budget, Cunha recommends the Saucony Cohesion 13 sneakers as an affordable yet durable choice.
"These walking shoes are spacious, comfortable, provide excellent ankle and arch support, and best of all, they only cost $40," he advises.
Top Splurge Selection: New Balance MADE in the USA 993 Core, $200
New BalanceIf you're willing to invest a bit more, Cunha highly recommends the New Balance MADE in the USA 993 Core sneakers.
"These shoes may be expensive, but they are designed to last. The NB 993’s offer increased durability, cushioning, shock absorption, and a rigid heel counter for ankle stability," he explains.
Top Pick for Bunions / Wide Feet: Hoka Clifton 9, $145
Hoka"The Hoka Clifton 9 is available in both standard and wide-width options, providing comfortable and supportive choices for people with wider feet or those who have bunions," says Cunha, as reported by the New York Post.
With the Hoka Clifton 9 sneakers, you can find them in various colors and enjoy the ninth iteration of this popular shoe, which is lighter and more cushioned than ever before.
Top sustainable walking shoes: Allbirds Women’s Plant Pacers, priced at $109 (original price: $135)AllbirdsFor an environmentally friendly and stylish choice, you can't go wrong with the Allbirds Women’s Plant Pacers.
"The Plant Pacers feature impeccable craftsmanship and are made from sustainable materials, including plant-based leather uppers and a lining made from recycled polyester," explained Cunha.
Finest walking sandals: Chaco Women’s Z2 Classic Athletic Sandals, priced at $52 (original price: $100)AmazonWith the arrival of warmer weather, it's always a good idea to have a pair of sturdy sandals that can handle long walks.
"If you have flat feet and often experience overpronation (where your arch collapses more than it should), I highly recommend the Chaco Z/2 Classic Sandal," advised Cunha. "This sandal provides arch support to minimize fatigue and discomfort in your arches. It also has a slight heel lift to reduce stress and pain in the posterior tibial and Achilles tendons, which are frequently associated with arch pain."
Best Slip-On Walking Shoes for Women: Allbirds Women’s Tree Dasher RelayAllbirds
- Price: $135
- Materials: Woven upper made from eucalyptus trees and recycled yarn, foam outsole with rubber traction pads and merino wool heel liner.
- Weight: Not specified
The one-piece woven upper is expertly designed to be highly breathable while fitting snugly across the top of your foot. This breathability promotes moisture evaporation, preventing unpleasant odors caused by sweat and keeping your shoes fresh-smelling. And if they do get dirty, don't worry—Tree Dasher Relays are machine washable (All Birds suggests using a pillowcase to prevent snags). The one-piece upper is crafted to provide supportive comfort without causing friction, and many reviewers found them incredibly comfortable, although they may feel a bit tight initially. Verified buyer Heather K. says, "I love the softness of the footbed. The toe box was a little narrow at first, but it feels better after wearing them for a few weeks." Nicole M., another verified buyer, had a similar experience and commented in her review, "I was initially concerned that they might be too small, but they adjusted after a few wears."
In addition to having a sleek appearance, the Tree Dasher Relays are also the most environmentally conscious models on this list. The midsole is crafted using the world's first carbon-negative EVA foam, a manufacturing process with an extremely low carbon footprint that is fully offset (and more) thanks to the company's verified carbon offset purchases. This makes the Tree Dasher Relays a true all-around winner.
- Lace-free upper molds to your foot without causing friction
- Highly breathable mesh upper
- Very lightweight overall
- Non-adjustable upper
- Minimal traction—best for smooth surfaces
When it comes to finding the best walking shoes for women, there are numerous options to choose from. Whether you're looking for the best value, lightweight design, or specific features like breathability or support for supination or pronation, this guide has got you covered. From the overall top pick, the Hoka Bondi SR, to budget-friendly options like the Saucony Cohesion 13, and even sustainable choices like the Allbirds Women's Plant Pacers, there is a perfect pair out there for every woman. So lace up, step out, and enjoy the comfort and style of these top-rated walking shoes. Your feet will thank you.