7 Best Cushioned Walking Shoes in 2024

Laci
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7 Best Cushioned Walking Shoes in 2024
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Are you the kind of guy who persists in everything? Especially in your daily walks? If so, settle for nothing less — be in the best walking shoes for men and keep earning those miles.

To come up with this compelling selection, we've tested high-quality cushioned walking shoes for men in our lab and on the test walks. The lab told us what our personal experience with the shoe could not: why the shoes are more or less durable, breathable, and what's inside of them. You will surely find something for yourself and your homies here.

How we test walking shoes

Rounding up the finest cushioned kicks for the gents requires an unbiased set of steps. This approach involves the following:

  • To make our reviews quite compelling and objective, we buy men's cushioned walking shoes with our own funds.
  • We walk in these mighty kicks for extended periods to test their strengths and determine their areas of expertise.
  • We measure the 30+ parameters of each walking shoe, from breathability and flexibility to midsole hardness. We even wield our calliper to help us get how thick the cushioning and insole of the shoes. Also, we cut the shoes in half so we can judge what's inside better.

Best cushioned walking shoes overall

Hoka Transport
82
Good!

What makes it the best?

After logging countless hours in our lab and walking around the city, we finally decided which is the peerless cushioned walking shoe of all: Hoka Transport. To say that its cushioning is heavenly is to put it lightly. But what’s even more riveting is the support, steadiness, and surefootedness we felt while taking our walks, whether on roads or light trails.

While we discovered that our durometer punched in a midsole softness of 21.9 HA (23% softer than average), on our strolls, we felt a hint of firmness. We adored this underfoot as it made us endure whole days of walks without any pain. 

Although the 34.1 mm heel cushioning (3.2 mm thicker than average) noticeably elevated us from the ground, we didn’t sense any wobbly or flimsy feeling from the shoe. Instead, we experienced exceptional stability – thanks to Transport’s stiffness and wide base. Our digital force gauge detected a 30.4N resistance, stiffer than average by 45%! On the other hand, the forefoot and heel base measures 112.8 mm and 92.5 mm, which are 5.3 mm and 7.3 mm wider than the mean values.

The downside is, wearing Transport can get hot. As evidenced by our smoke test, it is not breathable. It scored only 2/5. Looking at the upper under our microscope only confirmed this: the image showed an incredibly interlaced fabric. We hate that we can’t enjoy it during warm weather. Therefore, we do not advise travelling in the Hoka Transport during summertime.

Pros

  • Unbelievably comfy
  • Spacious toe box
  • Adequately cushioned
  • Superior traction
  • Reliable outsole durability
  • Easy to slip in and out
  • True-to-size fit
  • Easy to clean
  • Sustainable

Cons

  • Not great for warm weather
  • Squeaky during break-in
Full review of Hoka Transport

Cushioned walking shoes with the best comfort

Nike Motiva
90
Great!

What makes it the best?

Among cushioned walking shoes we took on wear tests, we found Nike’s Motiva to be the cream of the crop, with its plush and rockered platform delivering effortless strolls. Designed to provide extended comfort and reduce effort, our lab confirms its capability to facilitate pain-free walks. Additionally, Motiva features a durable outsole to withstand extensive mileage.

The bottomless cushioning is our main source of relief, featuring a height of 34.9/25.6 mm with a plush composition. Our durometer confirms its cloud-like sensation with a low 15.0 HA measurement. Further enhancing comfort is the even weight distribution provided by the compression of the wave design underfoot.

Motiva’s unique geometry is undeniable yet it truly comes alive in action, promoting seamless forward transitions with every stride. The midsole maintains a certain level of stiffness to sustain the rocking motion and our bend test confirms Motiva is 43.1% more rigid than average.

Underfoot, we saw Nike’s signature waffle pattern that effectively gripped wet and dry roads. Extensive testing barely scratched the tough rubber compound, which our durometer reveals is a high 92.0 HC. At a thick 3.0 mm, we expect the shoe to outlast the average walking shoe.

However, due to its squishy composition, the sole developed wrinkles early on. However, we discovered that this had minimal impact on function, except for runners on the heavier side.

Pros

  • Rocker makes for effortless walks
  • Audaciously plush cushioning
  • Out-of-the-box comfort
  • Very wide and stable base (for walking/jogging only!)
  • Durable and grippy sole
  • Amazing wear resistance in the upper
  • A Nike shoe that's NOT tight and narrow

Cons

  • Lacks breathability for hot weather
  • Sole develops wrinkles easily
  • Rocker takes time to get used to
Full review of Nike Motiva

Cushioned walking shoes with the best arch support

What makes it the best?

Revealing what’s to come, Skechers Arch Fit 2.0 lives up to its name, providing maximum cushioning and exceptional arch support that perfectly contours to our feet during testing. This standout feature, and its affordable £100 price, make it our top choice for arch support among lab-tested cushioned walking shoes.

The amount of foam and comfort this shoe brings exceeds its value. Our calliper reveals the heel is elevated to a sky-high 39.2 mm, leaving us on cloud nine with no pain and ground feel. Paired with a 24.0-mm forefoot, this leaves us with a 15.2-mm incline that reduces stress on our heels and arches.

Its reinforcing support is felt through the firm cushion, vast base, and stiff midsole. All these elements work hand-in-hand to guide our foot alignment in a subtle yet effective manner. Our lab confirms our experience with the following results vs. the average: a foam that’s 21.6% firmer, a midsole that’s 15.7% more rigid, and 3.1/1.4 mm wider in the forefoot and heel.

However, if breathability is a priority, we recommend disregarding AF2 as it feels too stuffy for warmer seasons. Our lab reveals its lack of airflow with a low 2/5 rating.

Pros

  • Amazing support for overpronation
  • Wide and stable platform
  • Tonnes of cushioning
  • Lighter than the Arch Fit 1.0
  • Perfect for all-day wear
  • Padded and cosy interiors
  • True to size and fit

Cons

  • Very poor breathability
  • Lacks durability
Full review of Skechers Arch Fit 2.0

Best lightweight cushioned walking shoes

What makes it the best?

In our search for the best lightweight cushioned walking shoe, we looked for a shoe that feels extremely well-cushioned, despite its weightless build. As we pushed the Allbirds Tree Runners to its limits in the lab and on our feet, we came to realise that it’s head and shoulders above its competition in this regard. What drove us to pick it for this category is its ultralight construction, its soft insole, and its generous amount of cushioning underfoot.

As we thoroughly tested the Allbirds Tree Runners on the streets, we didn’t have any doubt in our minds that the shoe was lightweight. True enough, when we put it to the test in the lab, we measured its weight at 245g (8.6 oz), which makes it 23.1% lighter than the average walking shoe.

Despite all that, it doesn’t skimp at all when it comes to cushioning. Walking with the Allbirds Tree Runners on foot felt amazingly cosy. Its underfoot comfort is what particularly stood out to us, prompting us to take a deeper look into it in our lab. We measured its insole thickness to be 7.2 mm which is 1.7 mm thicker than that of the average walking shoe - quite a significant amount!

When we put in the miles in the Allbirds Tree Runners, we discovered another great thing about it. We found it great for extended walking sessions because of a good amount of cushioning overall. To take a deeper look into this, we cut the shoe in the middle to measure its stack height. With a heel stack height of 31.1 mm, there’s a lot of volume underfoot, considering its much lower weight.

While the comfort afforded by its cushioning makes it a great partner for pounding the pavements, an adequate amount of gentleness is needed when walking on rough surfaces. When we pressed our durometer to its outsole, we found that its hardness was at 62.1 HC, which is 13.6% softer than that of the average walking shoe. Therefore, we don’t recommend this for those looking for a walking shoe to beat around in.

Pros

  • Extra comfortable interiors
  • Equally cozy in 40 and 85ºF
  • Can be worn without socks
  • Lightweight and packable
  • Flexible sole
  • Removable insoles
  • Easy to style
  • Machine washable
  • Sustainable design

Cons

  • No half sizes
  • Lacks arch support
Full review of Allbirds Tree Runners

Best cushioned rocker-bottom walking shoes

KEEN WK400
83
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What makes it the best?

KEEN WK400 is a tough one to beat. With unlimited cushioning and its unique KEEN CURVE midsole, it’s undoubtedly our best rockered cushioned walking shoe in the lab. Other than its visual form, it facilitates smooth forward strides that make us want to be on foot for hours.

With a geometry similar to a rocking chair, it feels more natural once we start walking. It has a stiff plate integrated into the midsole to preserve its shape and maintain our balance. As confirmed by our flex test, it’s 60.8% more rigid than average.

We measured the cut-in-half shoe and our jaws dropped upon measuring the 45.7 mm heel. This is one of the tallest we’ve seen, ultimately protecting our feet from landing impact and fatigue. Combined with a modest forefoot, the resulting drop is a record-breaking 21.4 mm drop—boldly exceeding the average by 10.4 mm. This takes the pressure off our ankles and Achilles. Further emphasising comfort is its cloudlike foam that registered a soft 22.0 HA durometer measurement.

However, all the extra cushion comes with an extra 3.9 oz (109g) of baggage vs. the average. Those who prefer a lightweight shoe should look for other options.

Pros

  • Rocker sole propels you forward
  • Copious amount of cushioning
  • Takes stress and pressure off the feet
  • Amazingly comfortable step-in feel
  • Highly durable and abrasion-resistant
  • More stable than it seems!
  • Can go from road to trail

Cons

  • Needs some getting used to
  • Heavier than average
Full review of KEEN WK400

Best slip-on cushioned walking shoes

On Cloud 5
87
Good!

What makes it the best?

For us, the best slip-on cushioned walking shoe should be one that provides a nice and pleasant ride quickly and easily. From all the shoes we’ve tested in the lab and on our feet, we found the On Cloud 5 to reign supreme in this regard. Its combination of balanced cushioning, breathability, and secure fit makes paradise for feet available in a snap!

The On Cloud 5’s status as a slip-on makes it a very convenient shoe to have. It's a shoe that can be worn quickly and in a hurry. What made us appreciate it even better is the fact that it secures feet exceptionally well. We didn’t have any experience of heel slips at all! From our experience with it, we’ve found that its fully gusseted tongue is what makes it very reliable in this regard.

Having the On Cloud 5 on our walking sessions made us appreciate the work that a cushioning unit puts in. To push it to the limits, we tested it for long hours, but we still couldn’t feel any hint of discomfort! To look into this further, we pressed our durometer to its midsole. Its hardness places it at a great spot, being only 4% stiffer than the average walking shoe. This firmness - while not exactly marshmallowy plush like other walking shoes, provides excellent comfort and structure underfoot.

As our hours with the On Cloud 5 piled up, we expected some heat to build up in the interior of the shoe. This certainly was not the case for the On Cloud 5. Its upper is well-perforated, letting us literally feel the air between our toes. To test this further, we pumped smoke into its interior and found that the particles had no problems escaping from the vents in the On Cloud 5’s upper and lace section.

While the On Cloud 5 has the cushioning to go the distance, it isn’t ready for long-term wear and tear. We found that its foam scuffs quite easily in the outsole. Its mesh upper also feels pretty flimsy especially when considering the long run. We don’t recommend it for those looking for a shoe to beat around with.

Pros

  • Perfect for all-day wear
  • Unbelievably lightweight
  • Can do low-impact workouts
  • Amazing in-shoe feel
  • Very breathable
  • Super easy on-off
  • Great flexibility
  • Regular laces are added
  • Sustainable materials (44%)

Cons

  • Not for wide feet
  • Lacks durability
  • Outsole catches pebbles
Full review of On Cloud 5

Best slip-resistant cushioned walking shoes

Hoka Bondi SR
85
Good!

What makes it the best?

Concluding our search for the best cushioning walking shoe that granted us the most eminent slip-proof experience is the Hoka Bondi SR. We are so unbothered by where we are stepping on because the outsole guards us from stumbling while the cushioning locks the comfort inside. Also, walking on tiled floorings, may they be oily or splashed with water, is a piece of cake with this shoe. 

With a 73.1 HC outsole softness, it’s 1.1% harder than the average. This small difference evinced that the outsole isn’t too hard nor too soft, just right to clutch, and never easily let go on slippery floors. Utilising our calliper, we gauged how dense the shoe’s cushioning is. With an overloading thickness of 39.4 mm in the heel and 31.2 mm in the forefoot, Bondi SR got ahead of the standard thicknesses by 25.9% and 48.6%. This delivered outstanding support and shock absorption. 

We also used our durometer to determine the midsole’s softness and it turned in 20.4 HA, demonstrating 19% more plushness than average. Our walks are certainly more pleasurable because of this. However, the durability of the outsole is sacrificed. We applied our Dremel to it and it caused a 2.5 mm indentation, which is 56.3% deeper than the average. If you highly require wear-resistant outsoles, we recommend searching for other pairs.

Pros

  • Comfort is off-the-charts
  • Extra thick cushioning for all-day support
  • Smooth heel-to-toe transitions
  • Alleviates foot discomfort (podiatrist approved)
  • Stable for a neutral shoe
  • Slip-resistant outsole
  • Superior material quality
  • Water-resistant leather upper
  • Accommodating toebox

Cons

  • Heavy and bulky
  • Not breathable
Full review of Hoka Bondi SR

Walking is a relatively low-impact activity. But do enough of it, and the accumulation of those small impact forces begins to take its toll.

Highly cushioned walking shoes are ideal for dedicated walkers or folks with active jobs. These shoes feature above-average cushioning and often have additional shock absorption technologies to keep your joints and feet feeling good.

Skechers Max Cushioning Arch Fit who should buy

This guide to choosing the best cushioned walking shoes will cover the features to look for and highlight some top brands to consider when shopping for some new max-cushion kicks.

Key features to look for in cushioned walking shoes

All modern walking shoes are cushioned to some degree. But some shoes take it to another level with thick midsole construction, innovative materials, and cutting-edge shock absorption technology. If the best cushioned walking shoes are what you’re after, these are the features to pay particular attention to.

Stack height

Stack height refers to the thickness of a shoe's midsole — the layer of cushioning sandwiched between the footbed and the outsole. Usually measured in millimetres (mm), most shoes have a higher stack height (i.e. more cushioning) at the heel and less near the forefoot, which mimics the natural heel-to-toe walking stride.

hoka-transport-inside.JPG

Most walking shoes feature a 10-30 mm stack height. Anything over 30 mm is considered a “high-stack” or “max-cushion” shoe. The best cushioned walking shoes often have a 25-35 mm stack to provide generous cushioning without sacrificing too much stability, as can sometimes happen in shoes with extraordinarily thick midsoles.

hoka-transport-heel-stack.JPG

Midsole foams

The actual materials that a midsole is constructed from play an even bigger role in cushioning than the stack height of any given midsole. Most cushioned walking shoes now have midsoles made from EVA (ethylene-vinyl acetate), PU (polyurethane), or proprietary blends of several different foams.

Midsole foams are getting lighter and more protective simultaneously thanks to innovations like supercritical fluid foaming, which injects nitrogen gas into foams to improve impact absorption without adding weight. Advances like this are how the best cushioned walking shoes feel fun and responsive while providing all-day comfort and protection at the same time.

Skechers Max Cushioning Arch Fit Midsole softness

We use a durometer to measure the softness of every lab-tested shoe. You can choose how soft of a shoe you want based on this parameter.

Shock absorption and arch support

The foam midsole of your walking shoes does the bulk of the shock absorption, but other design features can also help lessen the impact forces on your feet and legs. This includes arch support. Your foot arch works to redistribute pressure evenly through each step. Shoes that fit your foot shape will help to maximise this inbuilt shock absorption feature.

Cushioned shoes with extra arch support, like the Skechers Arch Fit, can significantly help with shock absorption and long-term comfort. Shoes with arch support are also essential for people with flat feet and overpronation.

Skechers Max Cushioning Arch Fit midsole branding

Other features of cushioned walking shoes

Cushioning is often used synonymously to describe the comfort of walking shoes, but the two are not necessarily the same. It is possible to have cloud-like, maximally cushioned walking shoes that simply don’t work with your feet.

Your cushioned walking shoes must be comfortable for you. Breathable upper materials, widths and toe boxes aligned with your foot shape, and well-designed tongues and heel collars that provide a secure and stable fit are other important shoe features to consider.

on-cloud-5-gusseted-tongue

Brand spotlight: Top cushioned walking shoe brands

Hoka

First embraced by trail runners and marathoners for their comfort and exceptional cushioning, Hoka footwear has the qualities that you would want in a pair of cushioned walking shoes. The Hoka Transport is one of the best walking shoes out there, high stack or not. It is highly cushioned, yet stable and supportive—just what you want for long days on your feet.

Hoka Bondi SR walk

On

On’s cushioned walking shoes and proprietary midsole foams all play on the word “Cloud” for a reason: this is as close as it gets to actually walking on clouds. On shoes marry comfort and cushioning to sleek urban aesthetics in a way that few other brands can match.

on-cloud-5-durability

Allbirds

Like On, Allbirds shoes emphasise style more than your average walking shoe. The popular Tree Runner shoes offer an impressive amount of cushioning in a lightweight design. Packed with so much style and cushioning while weighing so little means the Tree Runners are less durable than our other favourite. They are best reserved for more light-duty outings.

allbirds-tree-runners-lightweight.JPG

Skechers

Skechers walking shoes stand out for their use of memory foam cushioning. The brand’s Max Cushioning walking shoes provide a comfortable footbed and feel form-fitting even without a break-in period.

skechers-gowalk-joy-ecstatic-style.JPG

FAQs

Are cushioned walking shoes better for walking?

Walking results in significantly less impact forces than running, so cushioning is not quite as important. But anyone who walks regularly or spends most of the day on your feet will benefit from the comfort and protection of cushioned walking shoes.

Are memory foam insoles helpful for cushioned walking shoes?

Memory foam is extremely comfortable and supportive at first, but it tends to not be as durable as other materials.

Author
Laci
Laci
Laci is a contemporary dancer turned shoe aficionado. She is the most knowledgeable person when it comes to athletic shoes, size conversions and details people nitpick about footwear. She keeps the RunRepeat content gears turning 24/7. And she walks 20miles/week.