7 Best Walking Shoes in 2024

Laci
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7 Best Walking Shoes in 2024
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Walking is rarely considered a fitness activity on its own. That’s why people usually go with their running shoes or gym trainers for taking strolls and getting around. And these shoes do get the job done in many cases.

But when your feet start craving more comfort and support in your daily walks, it’s time to consider a dedicated walking shoe. 

We have walked in the walking shoes, cut them in half, ripped them apart, and used many lab instruments to test, measure, and assess 20+ parameters, and all this to help you find the best one. Understanding that people may expect different things from their walking shoes, we have selected top picks in different categories.

How we test walking shoes

We are a team of shoe fanatics who have dived into the nitty-gritty details of numerous walking shoes to deliver you the most comprehensive reviews. What's more, we bought every shoe with our own funds!

Our reviews would not be complete without our lab tests. Subjecting shoes to over 30 different tests, we get rare and valuable data that cannot be provided by a few days or even weeks of regular wear testing. Flexibility, breathability, and toebox width are just a few examples!

But it doesn't stop there: we delve even deeper by cutting the shoes in half to obtain other quantitative data, such as stack heights and midsole softness.

Best walking shoes overall

Nike Motiva
90
Great!

What makes it the best?

Motiva is Nike’s first dedicated walking shoe and it impressed us greatly in our lab and wear tests, making it our top choice among all walking shoes we've tested so far! Its design stands out from the rest, yet its luxurious cushion, smooth transitions, and robust outsole make each walk truly enjoyable.

We felt like we were on cloud nine as we stepped into the thick and squishy cushion. The stack rises to an above-average 34.9/25.6 mm with a light composition that provides exceptional relief. Our durometer confirms it’s 40.0% softer than average. The wavy sole also levels up the compression for added underfoot protection.

At first glance, Motiva's pronounced rocker stands out. However, wearing the shoe amplifies its effect, offering seamless heel-to-toe transitions with each stride. To maintain the forward momentum, we expect the midsole to be quite stiff. Our bend test confirms it’s 43.1% stiffer than average.

Motiva shows unwavering support from dry to wet pavements, offering traction with its waffle-like pattern. It barely shows any wear after our tests so we expect it to last hundreds of miles. Motiva combines a 21.4% tougher-than-average 92.0 HC outsole with a thicker-than-average 3.0 mm rubber, cementing its durability.

Visually, we noticed the sole tends to crease easily because of its softness. However, we believe this won't significantly impact its performance, except for heavier runners who might experience premature cushion compression.

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

Most comfortable walking shoes

What makes it the best?

Allbirds Tree Runners is unparalleled in being the superior walking shoe out there and its maximum-extent functionality is what won us over. For all-day wear, work, travel, and everything in between, this walking shoe is definitely the most comfortable. As if that isn’t enough of a reason, Tree Runners also stands out in sustainability and easy-to-slip-on convenience!

A forever and a day didn’t feel like a long time when we were in Allbirds Tree Runners. One reason we found for our painless long walks is its delightfully firm midsole. We validated what we felt through our durometer, which reflected a 29.6 HA hardness that’s slightly softer than the 31.2 HA average. 

Another factor that got us through the day with ceaseless comfort is the shoe’s breathability. While Allbirds Tree Runners only scored 3/5 on our breathability test, our bright light revealed its very porous upper, which allowed our feet to feel superb airflow. Correspondingly, this shoe is also super lightweight. With a weight of 8.6 oz (245g), it is 22% lighter than average.

Although our calliper measured the shoe’s insole to be 7.2 mm, which, by the way, is 38% more cushioned than average, we still felt like it lacked arch support. That being said, we do not recommend this pair to people who require extra supportive shoes.

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 shoes for walking and standing all day

Hoka Transport
82
Good!

What makes it the best?

In our search for the best walking shoe for standing all day, we looked for a shoe that feels amazingly soft yet secure on foot. Based on our time spent in the shoe and in the lab where we thoroughly tested it, the Hoka Transport is just that! It does all this with its perfectly balanced cushioning which comes in a very secure package.

We found it perfect for spending full days on our feet. It's plush underfoot but not squishy at all. Our lab tests confirmed this: we pressed a durometer against its midsole foam and it scored 21.9 HA, making it 23% softer than an average walking shoe while still providing a sufficiently firm platform to stand on.

What seals the deal when it comes to this well-balanced cushioning is that we felt no wobbling! No wonder, given that it is 45% stiffer than the average walking shoe. We tested this with our force gauge that showed 30.4N when we bent the shoe to 90 degrees. The semi-gusseted tongue and relatively stiff heel counter also helped us feel more secure in the Hoka Transport.

We do not recommend Hoka Transport to those who live in warm climates. As shown in our breathability test, this shoe is less breathable than average. Hello, sweaty feet!

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

Walking shoes with the best arch support

What makes it the best?

Countless hours of lab and wear tests allowed us to discover the walking shoe with the best arch support: the Skechers Arch Fit 2.0. As its name suggests, our feet enjoyed the level of support this shoe brings, both in comfort and stability. It surprisingly preserves in-shoe pleasure despite its rigid elements and affordable £100 price.

Our arches are well-cradled inside the AF2’s generous stack. Our calliper reveals above-average measurements, notably its whopping 39.2 mm heel that erased any hint of the ground. To our amazement, it maintains a stable ride thanks to its non-squishy composition. Our durometer confirms it’s 21.6% denser than average, preventing uneven collapsing of the foam.

Allowing us to distribute our weight and secure our footing is the wide platform of the shoe which is 114.5/90.9 mm in the forefoot and heel. Enhancing surefootedness is the stiff midsole, which includes flex grooves in strategic areas so that it isn’t too rigid. Upon counterchecking with our bend test, AF2 stands 15.7% more resilient than average.

However, its lack of durability, specifically in the toebox, heel padding, and outsole, limits the shoe’s lifespan. We recommend exercising caution with these areas as they demonstrated minimal resistance against our Dremel.

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 walking shoes for travel

On Cloud 5
87
Good!

What makes it the best?

On Cloud 5 really set the mark for being an outstanding travel walking shoe, thanks to its wanderlust-ready characteristics! Testing the shoe for a considerable amount of time, we learned that it almost feels like we are walking barefoot: natural strides, terrific airflow, and weightless trips all throughout the day.

Our on-foot roam around with Cloud 5 was just exquisite because we could walk in it with little to no effort. In our lab, we found that it was certainly flexible when we subjected the shoe to bending using our digital force gauge. It hardly resisted bending at a 19.8N force. This might be 10% less flexible than the average, but it granted us fluid foot motions. 

Even when we got out on sunny days, Cloud 5 took care of preventing or drying off sweat on our feet. We looked into it by flashing a bright light to the upper and discovered it is heavily perforated, especially around the toe box, allowing a smooth air passage. Much like air, the Cloud 5 also weighed next to nothing, as shown by our scale. It was 7.94 oz (225g), which was 12.1% lighter than others.

However, we realised that Cloud 5 was more fitting for occasional travels only and not frequent ones because it wasn’t the toughest shoe we tried on. Actually, after using it for a while, we noticed wear in the toebox area. We suggest being easy on Cloud 5 or sporting a more durable shoe if you can’t help being all out on your trips.

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 walking shoes

Hoka Bondi SR
85
Good!

What makes it the best?

Only one pair got us head over heels when we tested for the ultimate slip-resistant walking shoe and that is Hoka Bondi SR. On the bottom surface, it creates an exceptional amount of friction against glassy surfaces that eradicates any chance of missteps and mishaps. Inside, it’s so inviting that we never want to wear anything but Bondi!

To learn more about the non-skid ability of Bondi, we made contact between our durometer and the outsole. With a 73.1 HC hardness flashed on the device, we learned two things: It is equally soft as the average and this allowed the shoe to cling hard on tiles and other smooth floors.

Aside from the slip protection, we also got our feet a home whenever we were out racking up the distance. We once again utilised our durometer, but this time we pressed it to the midsole, giving us a 20.4 HA softness, which is 20% softer than average. We also measured the tongue’s padding and a whopping 11.1 mm was recorded by our calliper. Not only did it surpass the average by 177.5% but the overall padding and cushioning rendered us more than satisfied, comfort-wise.

Too bad the Bondi’s upper did not emit the smoke we filled up its interior. Accordingly, we rated its breathability a 1/5, so if you plan on getting Bondi, make sure to use it bearing this information. Otherwise, we recommend choosing a more air-circulated pair.

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

Best rocker-bottom walking shoes

KEEN WK400
83
Good!

What makes it the best?

At first glance, it’s obvious that KEEN WK400 is the best-rockered walking shoe. Yet what reestablished its title is its performance in our actual walks and lab tests. It smoothly propels us forward, encouraging us to get our steps in by supporting us with a mindblowing amount of cushioning and a robust outsole.

Its striking feature is its KEEN CURVE, similar to a rocking chair. A stiff full-length plate sits beneath the midsole to retain its rocker shape and to stabilise our strides as we move forward. Our bend test reveals it's 60.8% more rigid than average.

With its one-of-a-kind midsole, we couldn’t wait to measure the cut-in-half shoe. Our calliper reveals a whopping 45.7 mm heel, offering generous cushioning for a zero-pain experience. Paired with a 24.3 mm forefoot, the drop results in a never-before-seen 21.4 mm. Such a high drop translates to smooth forward rolls and significantly less pressure on our lower legs. Further making the whole experience enjoyable is its softer-than-average and bouncy foam.

Underfoot, we found a very supportive and durable lugged outsole—12.7% harder and 2.4 mm thicker than the average walking shoe. All our lab results point to its toughness, which means it can handle moderate trails too. 

Unfortunately, it’s also one of the heaviest walking shoes we’ve lab-tested. At 13.4 oz (381g), it sits 40.1% above the average.

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

How to choose walking shoes

First of all, think of how you are going to wear your pair of walking shoes most of the time.

Here are the three most common categories of walking footwear based on their intended use:

Shoes for walking and standing all day

Shoes in this range are meant for walking and standing all day long, be it for leisure, errands, fitness, casual outings, or a trip to Disneyland.

Skechers Arch Fit review

They will keep you comfortable on concrete or any other urban surface, as well as cobblestone, and not too rocky trails.

Additionally, you can consider running shoes designed for walking to expand your options.

Shoes for travelling and commuting

These are lightweight, airy shoes that are barely noticeable on foot. Most of them have a slip-on design, which makes them easy to put on and take off.

on-cloud-5-quality

This footwear will cushion your feet in long airport lines, on sightseeing trips, and while meandering around your holiday spot.

Shoes for work

These models are meant for the workers of healthcare, food, and other essential industries. They typically come with a leather upper which makes them hard-wearing and easy to maintain.

Hoka Bondi SR walk

The outsole often features a slip-resistant characteristic to keep the wearer sure-footed on dusty and wet tile floors.

Walking shoes for flat feet, plantar fasciitis, and other foot conditions

Do your feet have special needs? 

Be it a diagnosed condition like diabetes or just periodic heel pain, your walking shoe should relieve discomfort and not aggravate it. Here are some general guidelines on what type of footwear to choose for various health issues:

Flat feet / Overpronation

Can you find your foot arch and pronation type in the pictures below?

Arch types and recommended shoes.png

Do your shoes tend to wear out on the inner side much faster? Does it feel like your ankles are about to roll over the shoe's sole? If so, most likely you have flat feet and/or overpronation and you need a pair of stability walking shoes.

Here is how these shoes help your feet and legs:

  • stabilising components prevent excessive inward rolling of the foot
  • the heel is held firmly by a solid ankle collar or an external stabiliser
  • the wide platform doesn't let the foot spill over the edge of the shoe

We assess, torsional rigidity and heel counter stiffness for each shoe in our lab. We also use a calliper to measure the widest parts of the sole.

*The table is sorted by the torsional rigidity score where 5 is the stiffest.

Plantar fasciitis

A perfect shoe for plantar fasciitis is going to have the following parameters:

  • moderate cushioning: soft enough to protect the foot from the impact but firm enough to prevent wobbling
  • more padding in the heel takes the strain off the plantar fascia ligament
  • a broad sole ensures stability and cushioning in the entire heel area
  • the heel is locked inside a firm heel counter

In our lab, we measure midsole softness, insole thickness, platform width, heel counter stiffness, and more to pick out the most suitable options for this painful foot condition. Here are the top-rated walking shoes that meet these criteria:

*The table is sorted by midsole softness: the lower HA reading stands for softer cushioning.

Bunions

If a bony bump on the big toe joint wouldn't let you live, a walking shoe with the following characteristics will ease your pain:

  • a spacious toe box doesn’t constrain the forefoot
  • flexible upper material stretches in the ball foot area

allbirds-tree-runners-fit.JPG

In addition to trying each shoe ourselves, we use a calliper to measure their precise toebox widths.

Skechers Arch Fit 2.0 Toebox width at the widest part

We measure both the widest part of the forefoot as well as the toebox width near the big toe. The two numbers make it easier to compare toebox tapering across all walking shoes.

Skechers Arch Fit 2.0 Toebox width at the big toe

If you need more options, set the width filter to wide or extra-wide on this catalogue page.

Heavy weight / Obesity

Heavy walkers are going to appreciate the following characteristics in their daily beaters:

  • extra space in the toe box can fit a larger foot
  • firmer and thicker cushioning helps to absorb impact effectively under heavy load
  • more durable materials prevent the shoe from wearing out too soon

Disclaimer: These recommendations are based on the general podiatrists’ advice and are not meant as a substitute for professional medical treatment.

Hoka Bondi SR Heel stack

Diabetes

Disclaimer: Because we are not qualified to recommend footwear for diabetes, we rely on the statements made by the brands themselves.

New Balance is among the most popular companies that have certified walking shoes for this condition.

From our experience, here is what makes these shoes eligible:

  • spacious toe box doesn’t cramp the forefoot and helps to accommodate foot deformities if any
  • a moderately soft midsole keeps the foot cushioned and ensures stable movement
  • the interior is seamless, minimising any chance of chafing and blistering
  • the midsole has supportive elements that don’t let the foot roll excessively

These shoes are marked with an A5500 code, which makes them subject to compensation by Medicare.

What are the best shoes for walking on concrete all day?

Knowing how hard concrete can be on one's feet and footwear, we created a separate category of waking shoes meant for that surface. There are a few key characteristics that walking shoes must meet to get here:

  • sufficient cushioning (at least 30 mm of heel stack) which is not too soft
  • a thick outsole made of highly abrasion-resistant and thick rubber

*Outsole durability shows the depth of the damage left in the shoe's outsole after 22 seconds of Dremel drilling. A lower number means less damage and higher durability.

The process of testing outsole rubber durability with our Dremel.

Are running shoes good for walking?

Absolutely! We even have a selection of the best running shoes for walking for you to check out. In many ways, running and walking shoes are very similar as both are designed with repetitive forward motion in mind. A lot of beginner runners also start by interchanging jogging and walking and most running shoes accommodate that perfectly.

Just make sure that you are selecting from daily trainers and not speed- and performance-oriented running shoes. The latter have a peculiar design that makes them feel awkward and unstable on slower paces.

Lightweight walking shoes: pros and cons

Some walking shoes are so incredibly light that you even forget about having them on your feet!

Skechers GOwalk 6 cushioning

We keep track of shoes that weigh less than 9.2 oz (260g) in a men's US size 9 and keep them in a separate catalogue of lightweight walking shoes. Here are some of the lightest ones on our roster:

Some of these shoes go as far as being minimalist or even barefoot-like. This footwear type is very unique and requires an adaptation period. 

Overall, we think that lightweight walking shoes are irreplaceable if you are after the following:

  • a sense of wearing no shoes at all, feeling very grounded
  • easy on-and-off shoes for travelling by plane/train/bus
  • flexible footwear that can be packed into a bag without taking up much space or adding weight
  • £20-20 cheaper price tag than average

On Cloud Weight

But there is a dark side to lightweight shoes too as they tend to have:

  • Less cushioning. Based on our calliper measurements, the heel stack in lightweight walking shoes is about 3 mm thinner than the average.
  • Less support. Shoes lighter than 9.2 oz (260g) typically have no supportive elements for the arch, are less torsionally rigid, and have more pliable heel counters which result in less stability overall.
  • Poorer durability. Most of these shoes have no rubber outsole at all exposing the foam to faster abrasion. They also have more delicate upper materials and no protective overlays.

Choose the right upper material in walking shoes

The choice is simple:

  • if you want a soft, light, and airy experience, choose knit or mesh uppers
  • if you need a more supportive feel and longer shelf life, go for leather or suede uppers

Leather vs. mesh upper: difference in breathability

But there is just no doubt that leather and suede shoes beat their mesh counterparts in wear resistance. Below is the comparison between two shoes after the same Dremel test. For consistency, we apply the tool's sandpaper tip with the same speed (5K RPM) and pressure (3.2N) to all walking shoes for 12 seconds. 

Hoka Bondi SR vs Hoka Kawana toebox durability

Leather vs. mesh upper: difference in durability

If you are not a fan of leather shoes, there are alternatives with extra sturdy and tightly woven textile uppers.

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.