When’s the last time you really thought about how well your walking shoes fit? It matters! When choosing sneakers, many people simply buy options that look cool or trendy. But that can lead to a walk that’s less than pleasant—or worse, damaging to your feet. You have to base your purchase on how well the shoes feel on your feet.
“People try to make their foot fit in a shoe, instead of picking a shoe that fits your foot,” says Dan Giordano, D.P.T., C.S.C.S., co-founder and director of physical therapy at Bespoke Treatments in New York City. “It’s all about comfort for walking shoes. Look for something that doesn’t push your foot into the shoe, gives you room in the toe area, and keeps your heel secure.”
The best walking shoes for women in 2020 are:
How to shop for the best walking shoes for women
It’s important to note that most walking shoes are designed differently than running shoes, but it doesn’t mean you can’t wear running shoes to walk. “Shoes that are made strictly for walking usually have more of an arch support, to protect where the force is greatest when you walk. As opposed to running shoes where the cushioning is usually more in the heel, because it is usually the point of contact,” Dr. Giordano says.
To keep your feet feeling good mile after mile, be sure to consider these qualities when shopping for new walking shoes:
- Supportive cushioning in the arches and heels
- Roomy toe box to prevent blisters and bunions
- Mesh upper for breathability
- Durable soles with traction to absorb shock
- Removable insoles, in case you want to use your own orthotics
And remember: a sneaker that’s perfect for walking the mall with your girlfriends may be different than the one you wear to hit a local trail on the weekends. Below, read more details about what we think are the best walking shoes for women.
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THE BEST WALKING SHOES FOR WOMEN
Best Overall: Vionic Walker Classic Sneakers
Vionic shoes are a favorite of podiatrists, as well as Prevention editors and readers. They make your feet feel really good, even when you struggle with foot problems like plantar fasciitis and bunions. The Vionic Walker Classic is no exception, offering everything walkers need in a shoe from comfort to style. Approved by the American Podiatric Medical Association, these lightweight sneakers feature a supportive orthotic insert, a molded EVA midsole, and a flexible outsole to accommodate long walks and various forms of movement. The breathable mesh upper helps to air out your shoes during sweat-inducing power walks and the traction underneath is all about stability. If cloud-like cushion and security are what you’re after, this is it.
Best Value: New Balance 411 Walking Shoes
This walking shoe from New Balance is beyond comfortable for hours and hours of wear. For that, we can thank the brand’s cushioning in the heel, which has is great for shock absorption. Medical professionals, teachers, and anyone else with a job that requires you to be on your feet all day will love that this shoe delivers cushion where you need it, when you need it.
Best for Versatility: Adidas UltraBoost Running Shoes
More than 900 customer reviewers are raving about the Adidas UltraBoost running shoes for their midsole, trampoline-like cushioning. The durable and textured rubber sole helps stabilize your feet and offers traction for a variety of terrain. And if you’re worried about having additional heel support, the 3D heel frame allows for a smooth strike-to-midfoot transition. Still on the fence? A Dick’s Sporting Goods reviewer says: “I have arthritis in my feet and also flat feet, and many sneakers I have bought don’t offer comfort for long walks. These sneakers go on easily and I walked over 19,000 steps in them and still felt comfortable. These were by far the most expensive sneakers I have ever purchased but worth every penny.”
Best for Everyday: Allbirds Wool Runners
We can go on all day about how much we love Allbirds. Slipping on these shoes will make you feel like you’re walking around in your socks and slippers—literally. They’re made with superfine merino wool so they’re soft and make your feet feel supported. They’re also naturally moisture wicking and machine washable. That’s right—you can throw these kicks in with the rest of your laundry and they won’t get ruined! The lightweight soles are designed with a foam cushioning, while the laces are made from 100% recycled polyester. What’s not to love? Better yet, the S-curve thread is designed to mimic the anatomical flexibility of your foot, so weight is evenly distributed between your arches and heels. Bye, plantar fasciitis!
Best Lightweight Feel: Nike Air VaporMax Flyknit 3 Running Shoes
With a snug, flexible mesh upper, these ultra-light and breathable running shoes will make it easy to pound pavement with comfort. In addition, the heel and toe overlays hug your feet in the areas where you need the most structure and support. The “airpods” underfoot also give you a little extra bounce in your step. One Nordstrom reviewer says: “I bought this in the Silver Metallic and it is likely the most comfortable sneaker I’ve ever owned. The extra cushion air pockets feel amazing…so amazing that I was able to walk around NYC for 12 hours and my feet did not hurt at all.”
Best for Absorbing Shock: ASICS GEL-Kayano 26 Running Shoes
ASICS is known for engineering some of the best running shoes, and this pair is no different. The full-foot gel cushioning and high-abrasion rubber outsoles absorb shock with every stride, while the comfortable insoles support your natural gait. It’s also equipped with a signature FlyteFoam Lyte midsole that gives you cushion on long training runs and walks. One Amazon customer reviewer writes: “I’ve been wearing ASICS for the last seven years and these have been one of the most comfy ones I have tried. Cushioning is amazing and they look great.”
Best for Casual Wear: Superga Cotu Sneakers
These are Kate Middleton’s favorite walking shoes, and there’s a good reason. Beyond her good taste, these comfy kicks come in a variety of colors and complement any casual outfit. The sturdy rubber sole and lightweight cotton canvas make it an all-around great shoe for everything from running errands to meeting friends for brunch. An Amazon customer agrees with the Duchess of Cambridge: “Since I got them months ago I’ve barely used any other pair of sneakers. They are incredibly comfy, super stylish, and don’t hurt my feet in any way. Supergas have been the most comfortable shoes ever since the first time I put them on.”
Best for All-Day Wear: Saucony Echelon 8 Walking Shoes
Designed to cradle the foot with a contoured footbed, extra energy return, and lots of cushion, this sneaker from Saucony is all about a smooth ride all day long. They’re also good for those who need to wear orthotics (they easily slip in) or if you’re an under-pronator. A Zappos reviewer says: “The Saucony Echelon 8 is remarkably comfortable, provides excellent support, and fits true to size.”
Best for Trail Walking: The North Face Hedgehog Fastpack GTX Hiker Shoes
From the trail to the fire pit, this option from The North Face is smart for the outdoorsy person in all of us. Complete with a Vibram outsole, this pick provides stellar traction to conquer summits and trails. You also get protection from the elements with the waterproof yet breathable Gore-Tex upper. An Amazon reviewer says: “I wear NorthFace HedgeHogs as my all-around sneaker. I don’t hike but love the gore-tex shoe for working with dogs all day.”
Best for Extra Cushion: Hoka One One Bondi 7 Running Shoes
If you haven’t seen anything in the Hoka lineup before, then, yes, this looks pretty intense. But if you want some serious cushioning, this is exactly the solution. One of the most cushioned options in Hoka’s lineup, this sneaker uses an EVA midsole for a plush feel. Essentially, prepare to feel like you’re walking on clouds. The padded tongue gives the top of your foot an extra hug to seal the deal. Traction, stability, and comfort—this has it all. A Zappos customer who suffers from plantar fasciitis writes: “These are the only shoes that are comfortable for me to walk in. I have them in two colors!”
Best True-to-Fit: ASICS Gel-Quickwalk 3 Walking Shoes
These lightweight walking shoes from ASICS feature gel-cushioning in the rearfoot to help absorb shock and provide a smooth heel-to-toe transition. They also feature a high-abrasion rubber in the outsoles for excellent durability and traction. We also love that they have a padded tongue and collar and molded foam insole for added support. An Amazon reviewer says: “I power walk on the treadmill doing between 3 to 5 miles a day. This is my second pair of ASICS Gel Quickwalk. I have tried so many others but to me these are the best. Run true to size!”
Best for Power Walking: APL Techloom Pro Running Shoes
Also known as Athletic Propulsion Labs, APL’s proprietary Propelium cushioning provides enhanced support and shock absorption for your midsoles—where you need them most when walking. Moreover, the flex grooves in the soles fit the natural motion and alignment of your feet for painless and efficient walking. The perforated knit makes them breathable and weightless. Perfect for power walks around the park, these durable kicks will make any intense stroll feel comfortable. A Zappos customer says: “Love the fit and I get compliments all the time. My only complaint is that the tongue is too long it rubbed on the front of my ankle when I first put them on. Now they feel great! I would highly recommend them.”
Best for Walking to Running: Nike Epic Flyknit 2 Running Shoes
If you’re a race newbie, these Nike Flyknit shoes are made for you. As you rack up the miles and increase speed, these Flyknits offer a foot-stabilizing sole, thanks to Nike’s React technology, so each step and stride is fully supported to prevent injury. With a snug fit, these kicks are true to size so make sure you buy a pair that leaves a little room in the toe box. “I really love running with these on my feet,” a Nordstrom reviewer says. “They spring with each step and they’re very lightweight. I love that they breathe well.”
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