what shoes are best for walking
what shoes are best for walking

When it comes to finding the perfect pair of shoes for walking, the choices can be overwhelming. With so many styles, brands, and features available, it’s hard to know where to begin. But fear not, we’ve got you covered. In this article, we’ll explore the top shoes that are not only comfortable but also provide the necessary support for those long walks. Whether you’re strolling through the city streets or exploring nature trails, we’ve got the ultimate guide to help you find the best shoes for your walking adventures.

Factors to Consider

When it comes to choosing the best walking shoes, there are several important factors to consider. These factors will ensure that you find a pair of shoes that not only suit your walking style but also provide the necessary comfort and support for your feet. Let’s explore these factors in detail.


Comfort is key when it comes to walking shoes. After all, you’ll be spending hours on your feet, so it’s important to find a pair that feels great from the moment you put them on. Look for shoes that have ample padding and cushioning, as this will help to absorb shock and reduce any discomfort or fatigue.


Good support is vital for maintaining proper alignment and reducing the risk of injuries while walking. Look for shoes that provide excellent arch support, as this will help to distribute your weight evenly and prevent strain on your feet and lower legs. Additionally, shoes with good ankle support can help stabilize your feet and prevent any excessive rolling or twisting motions.


Alongside support, cushioning plays a crucial role in providing a comfortable and enjoyable walking experience. The cushioning in your shoes should provide a good balance between impact absorption and responsiveness. Shoes with too little cushioning can cause discomfort and fatigue, while those with too much may feel too soft and lack the necessary support.


The flexibility of your walking shoes is also an essential factor to consider. Shoes that are too stiff can restrict natural foot movement and make walking feel unnatural and uncomfortable. Look for shoes that allow your feet to flex and bend at the ball of the foot, providing a more natural gait and reducing strain on your feet.


Nobody wants sweaty and uncomfortable feet while walking. Breathability is an important factor to consider, especially if you live in a hot or humid climate or plan on doing longer walks. Look for shoes made from breathable materials such as mesh or those with built-in ventilation channels to ensure proper airflow and keep your feet cool and dry.

Types of Walking Shoes

When it comes to walking shoes, there are several different types to choose from. Each type is designed with specific features and characteristics to cater to different walking surfaces and terrains. Let’s take a closer look at the various types of walking shoes available.

Walking Shoes

Walking shoes are specifically designed for walking and provide the necessary comfort and support to keep you moving for extended periods. They typically have a supportive midsole, cushioned insole, and a flexible outsole to promote a natural walking stride. These shoes are great for everyday walking on pavement or other even surfaces.

Trail Shoes

Trail shoes are designed for walking and hiking on rough, uneven terrains such as dirt trails, rocky paths, and muddy surfaces. They feature a more rugged and durable design with added traction on the outsole to provide better grip and stability. Trail shoes often have a protective toe cap to shield your toes from rocks or other trail hazards.

Running Shoes

While running shoes are primarily designed for running, they can also be suitable for walking. Running shoes offer great cushioning and support for long-distance walks and provide ample flexibility for a smooth walking motion. However, keep in mind that not all running shoes are suitable for walking, so choose a pair specifically labeled as suitable for both activities.

Hiking Boots

If you enjoy more adventurous and challenging walks, such as hikes in the mountains or through rugged terrains, hiking boots are the ideal choice. Hiking boots provide excellent ankle support, a sturdy outsole for traction, and superior durability. These boots often feature waterproof or water-resistant materials to keep your feet dry when walking through wet or muddy conditions.

Features to Look for

When choosing the best walking shoes, there are specific features you should pay attention to. These features will ensure that your shoes provide the necessary support and comfort for your feet. Let’s explore these features in more detail.

Arch Support

Arch support is essential for maintaining proper foot alignment and preventing excessive strain on the arch of the foot. Look for shoes that have adequate arch support, either through built-in arch support or removable insoles that can accommodate custom orthotics.

Shock Absorption

Walking puts repetitive stress on your feet, so having good shock absorption is vital to reduce the impact on your joints. Look for shoes with cushioned midsoles or specialized cushioning technologies that can absorb and disperse the shock from each step, providing a more comfortable walking experience.

Toe Box

The toe box is the area of the shoe that surrounds your toes. It’s important for the toe box to have enough room to allow your toes to move freely. Shoes that are too narrow can cause discomfort, blisters, and even deformities over time. Look for shoes with a roomy and spacious toe box that allows for natural toe splay.

Sole Thickness

The thickness of the sole plays a role in both comfort and stability. A thicker sole can provide more cushioning and shock absorption, while a thinner sole offers greater flexibility and a closer-to-the-ground feel. Consider your personal preferences and the terrain you’ll be walking on when choosing the appropriate sole thickness for your walking shoes.

Heel Counter

The heel counter is the back part of the shoe that cups your heel. It should provide a snug and secure fit without feeling too restrictive. A well-designed heel counter can improve stability and prevent excessive foot movement, reducing the risk of blisters or other discomforts.

Different Walking Surfaces

It’s important to consider the type of surface you will be walking on when choosing your walking shoes. Different surfaces require different features and traction to ensure a safe and comfortable walking experience. Let’s explore the different walking surfaces and their specific requirements.


If you primarily walk on paved surfaces such as sidewalks, roads, or city streets, a pair of walking shoes with good cushioning, support, and traction will suffice. Look for shoes with a durable outsole that provides excellent grip on smooth surfaces.


Walking on trails requires a more rugged and durable pair of shoes to withstand the uneven terrain and potential hazards. Choose trail shoes or hiking boots that offer superior traction, a protective toe cap, and a sturdy outsole for grip on rocks, gravel, or muddy paths.


For indoor walking or those who prefer the controlled environment of a gym, treadmill walking shoes are a great option. Look for shoes with cushioning and shock absorption to reduce the impact on your joints. Treadmill shoes should also provide good stability and grip on a smooth surface to prevent any slippage.


Walking on grass can be a pleasant and refreshing experience, but it requires shoes with good traction, especially if the grass is wet or slippery. Look for walking shoes with an outsole that has reliable grip on grass surfaces to ensure stability and prevent any accidents.

Walking Shoe Fit

Finding the right fit for your walking shoes is crucial to ensure maximum comfort and support. Ill-fitting shoes can cause blisters, discomfort, and even lead to foot problems in the long run. Let’s explore the different aspects of walking shoe fit that you should consider.

Toe Room

Make sure there is enough room in the toe box for your toes to move and splay naturally. Your toes should not feel cramped or squeezed together. There should be a thumb’s width of space between your longest toe and the front of the shoe.


Different shoe brands and models come in various widths to accommodate different foot shapes. It’s important to choose a shoe width that matches the width of your feet. Shoes that are too narrow can cause discomfort and pain, while shoes that are too wide can lead to instability and inadequate support.

Heel Grip

A good walking shoe should provide a secure and comfortable grip around your heel without any slippage. Check for any gaps or movement in the heel area when trying on the shoes. The heel should feel snug but not overly tight or restrictive.

Midfoot Fit

The midfoot area of your shoe should provide a secure fit without feeling too tight or constricting. It’s important to find a balance between a snug fit and allowing enough room for your foot to flex and move naturally during the walking motion.

Ankle Support

While ankle support is not always necessary for walking shoes, some individuals may benefit from extra support, especially if they have weak ankles or are prone to ankle injuries. Look for shoes with higher collars or built-in ankle support if you feel you need the extra stability.

Walking Shoe Materials

The materials used in the construction of your walking shoes play a significant role in their performance, durability, and breathability. Different materials offer different benefits, so let’s explore the various options available.


Leather walking shoes are known for their durability, support, and classic style. They provide excellent structure and stability for your feet while conforming to their shape over time. However, leather shoes may not be as breathable as other materials and may require regular maintenance to keep them in good condition.


Mesh is a popular material choice for walking shoes, known for its breathability and lightweight nature. Shoes with mesh uppers allow for better airflow, keeping your feet cool and dry during walks. Mesh shoes are often more flexible and conform to the shape of your feet, providing a comfortable fit.


Synthetic materials, such as nylon or polyester, are commonly used in walking shoes. They offer a combination of durability, flexibility, and breathability. Synthetic shoes often require less maintenance than leather shoes and are typically more affordable.


Gore-Tex is a waterproof and breathable fabric commonly used in walking shoes designed for wet or unpredictable weather conditions. Its unique membrane technology allows moisture to escape while providing a barrier against water. Gore-Tex shoes are ideal for those who often walk in rain, snow, or other wet environments.

Walking Shoes for Different Terrains

Depending on the type of walking you do and the terrain you encounter, there are specific types of walking shoes that are better suited for different situations. Let’s explore the best walking shoe options for different terrains.

Urban Walking

For everyday walks in the city or on paved surfaces, a comfortable pair of walking shoes with good cushioning and support will suffice. Look for shoes with a durable outsole and ample cushioning to absorb the impact of walking on hard surfaces.

Trail Walking

When walking on trails or uneven terrains, trail shoes or hiking boots are the best choice. These shoes provide superior traction, durability, and protection for your feet. Look for shoes with a sturdy outsole, protective toe cap, and added ankle support for added stability and safety on rough terrain.

Long Distance Walking

If you enjoy long-distance walking or are training for a walking event, such as a marathon or endurance walk, choose shoes specifically designed for distance walking. These shoes typically have extra cushioning, maximum shock absorption, and superior arch support to minimize fatigue and discomfort during extended walks.

Everyday Walking

For casual and everyday walking on a variety of surfaces, a reliable pair of walking shoes is your go-to choice. Look for shoes that combine comfort, support, and versatility. These shoes will provide the necessary cushioning and stability for your feet during your daily activities.

Walking Shoe Brands

When it comes to choosing the best walking shoes, there are several reputable brands that consistently provide quality options. While personal preference plays a role in selecting the right brand for you, here are some popular walking shoe brands to consider.


Nike offers a wide range of walking shoes that combine style, comfort, and performance. Their shoes feature innovative cushioning, supportive midsoles, and durable outsoles. Nike walking shoes are known for their versatility and are suitable for various walking surfaces.

New Balance

New Balance is renowned for producing high-quality walking shoes that cater to different foot shapes and sizes. They offer a range of widths to ensure a proper fit and provide excellent support and cushioning for long walks. New Balance walking shoes are known for their durability and comfortable fit.


Skechers is a popular brand known for its comfortable and stylish walking shoes. They offer a variety of models with features such as memory foam cushioning, breathable uppers, and flexible outsoles. Skechers walking shoes are a great choice for casual walkers looking for comfort and style.


Adidas walking shoes combine fashion-forward designs with performance features. They offer lightweight shoes with responsive cushioning and durable outsoles. Whether for urban walks or trail excursions, Adidas walking shoes provide a good balance of comfort and style.


Brooks is a brand known for its dedication to running and walking footwear. Their walking shoes offer excellent arch support, cushioning, and energy return for a comfortable and efficient walking stride. Brooks walking shoes are popular among walkers seeking reliable performance and durability.

Walking Shoe Maintenance

Proper maintenance of your walking shoes is essential to maximize their lifespan and performance. Here are some tips to help you maintain your walking shoes in top condition.


Regularly clean your walking shoes to remove dirt, debris, and sweat. Use a soft brush or cloth to gently scrub away any stains or marks. For persistent stains, you can use a mild detergent and water solution. Be sure to rinse off any soap residue and allow the shoes to air dry.


Allow your walking shoes to air dry naturally after each use. Avoid placing them near direct heat sources, as this can warp or damage the materials. Stuffing the shoes with newspaper or shoe trees can help maintain their shape and absorb excess moisture.

Replacing Insoles

If the insoles of your walking shoes have lost their cushioning or support, consider replacing them with new ones. This can help extend the life of your shoes and provide ongoing comfort for your feet.

Shoe Deodorizers

To keep your walking shoes smelling fresh, consider using shoe deodorizers. These can help absorb odors and keep your shoes smelling clean and pleasant. You can use products specifically designed for shoes or opt for natural alternatives like baking soda or activated charcoal sachets.

Special Considerations

Certain foot conditions and concerns may require additional considerations when choosing walking shoes. Here are some common foot conditions and the features you should look for in your walking shoes.

Foot Conditions

If you have any existing foot conditions such as arthritis, diabetes, or neuropathy, it’s essential to choose shoes that accommodate your specific needs. Consult with a healthcare professional or a podiatrist to determine the best shoe features and modifications for your condition.


Overpronation occurs when the foot rolls excessively inward during the walking or running motion. Look for walking shoes that provide stability features such as medial support or a supportive midsole to help correct and control overpronation.

Flat Feet

Individuals with flat feet lack arch support, and their feet may naturally roll inward. Look for walking shoes with good arch support to help alleviate discomfort and provide proper alignment.

Plantar Fasciitis

Plantar fasciitis is a common condition characterized by inflammation and pain in the heel or arch of the foot. Look for walking shoes with excellent cushioning and arch support to reduce the stress and impact on the plantar fascia.

Bunions and Corns

If you have bunions or corns, look for walking shoes with a wide toe box to accommodate the shape of your feet without causing discomfort or pressure. Additionally, shoes made from soft and flexible materials can help reduce irritation and friction on sensitive areas.

In conclusion, finding the best walking shoes requires careful consideration of various factors such as comfort, support, cushioning, flexibility, and breathability. By analyzing the different types of walking shoes, features to look for, walking surfaces, shoe fit, materials, terrains, and maintenance tips, you can make an informed decision and choose the perfect walking shoes for your needs. Don’t forget to consider any special foot conditions or concerns you may have to ensure optimal comfort and support. With the right walking shoes on your feet, you’ll be ready to embrace the joy and benefits of walking with each confident step.

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Dr. Patrick Smith
I'm Dr. Patrick Smith, a board-certified podiatrist with over 20 years of experience. I received my Doctor of Podiatric Medicine degree from the California School of Podiatric Medicine in 2001. I then completed a residency in podiatric medicine and surgery at the University of California, San Francisco. I am a specialist in the diagnosis and treatment of foot and ankle conditions. I treat a wide range of conditions, including: I am also a certified pedorthist. This means that I am qualified to design and fit custom orthotics. Orthotics are devices that are used to correct foot problems and improve alignment. I am committed to providing my patients with the highest quality of care. I am compassionate and understanding, and I take the time to listen to my patients' concerns. I am also up-to-date on the latest advances in podiatric medicine, and I use the most effective treatments available. I believe that everyone deserves to have healthy feet. That's why I am passionate about providing my patients with the care they need to live pain-free and active lives. If you are looking for a podiatrist who can provide you with the best possible care, I encourage you to contact my office. I would be happy to help you find relief from your foot pain and improve your overall health. Thank you for reading my bio. I look forward to meeting you and helping you achieve your foot health goals.