Long gone are bulky, stiff sneakers that over-restrict foot motion and spur injuries. Today’s athletic shoes are sleeker and more stylish, but with so many to choose from, it’s critical that you wear a pair suited to your activity. For example, walking shoes are different from running.
Walking shoes should have more support in the arch because that’s where the impact is greatest when you walk, while running shoes should have supportive heels. The best walking shoes also have plenty of all-over cushion to support your foot as you go.
Although some running shoes might suit your feet’s walking motion just fine, many have less cushion than you’ll need, so logging your miles in them could trigger impact injuries. To keep your feet feeling good mile after mile, try a bunch on and go with the shoe that feels best for your stride. Here, our top picks based on fit, stability, and—of course—style.
Best Walking Shoes For: Fast Walking
The lightweight ASICS Metrolyte 2 will cushion your feet with its molded Ortholite Sockliner while supporting your arches throughout your quick stride. Plus, it comes in a slip-on option and a variety of cute color combos, which is a good thing because you may want to stockpile, according to one reviewer: “This is my second pair of Metrolytes. I just love them,” she writes. “I have a narrow heel, but the ball of my foot is wider, and these are not sloppy at the heel, nor do they rub. I can wear them walking for hours, and have many times.”
Best Walking Shoes For: Running Intervals
Walkers who want to add jogging bursts or work their way to a 5K should opt for a running shoe like the Brooks Revel 2. This one is designed for high impact but is flexible enough for the rolling motion of walking. One happy Zappos customer writes: “My arches are cradled, calves pleasantly stretched, my heel supported and room for my toes to wiggle. My feet are happy!”
Best Walking Shoes For: Hiking And Trail Walking
Finding a shoe that’s durable enough for trail walking but not full-on hiking boot can be tough. Fortunately, these Keen waterproof hiking shoes fit the bill. They feature a breathable mesh and sturdy upper and back to keep your ankles secure as you walk or run up a mountain. Plus, the low-density EVA midsole provides proper arch support while the durable shank offers comfort through tough terrain.
As one Amazon reviewer puts it: “They are lightweight yet sturdy. They fit snug but aren’t tight. I have what I consider a standard foot, with a bit of a wider toe box so I prefer shoes with a wide toe box.”
Best Walking Shoes For: Running Errands
Saucony’s original bullet sneaker is lightweight and has just enough arch support to keep your feet comfy when you’re on the go. With a durable rubber sole, you can trudge through any terrain. “Love the sporty retro look of these,” says one wearer in her Amazon review. “They’re comfortable enough to wear all day, though they’re best for walking and not for running around.”
Best Walking Shoes For: Overweight Walkers
If you are walking to lose weight and have some pounds to shed, you need a well-supported shoe to help with balance and control of your foot. As an approved shoe for people with diabetes, New Balance’s WW411v2 Walking Shoe has a removable foam insole and midsole cushioning to absorb heavy impact.
One Zappos reviewer says, “My podiatrist told me I need to wear a diabetic shoe. These are great! No one will even know I had to switch from my regular New Balances, and my feet are much happier.”