Walking is one of the best forms of exercise around. Yes that’s right, walking. It’s better than running, it’s better than deadlifts, or yoga, or bicep curls, or Crossfit, or anything. The reason why? It’s easy, it’s simple to do, and you can add it into a busy lifestyle with relative ease. There’s no skill to walking, no complicated step by step instructions to learn, and you don’t have to spend hours of YouTube watching demonstrations of perfect walking technique.
All you have to do is walk out your front door, and keep going. Studies have shown that hitting 10,000 steps per day is one of the most effective ways to lose weight and to keep that weight off long term. A study in 2006 by Schneider et al found that when overweight adults walked 10,000 steps per day they lost a significant amount of weight, and kept it off too. Compare this to the gym where every January thousands of people sign up and then quit after just 6 weeks!
How to hit your 10,000 Steps
Increasing walking is one thing, but hitting 10,000 steps per day is another thing entirely. There is a little bit more planning involved, and a little more determination required. See, 10,000 steps is a hell of a lot, and you’re unlikely to do it by taking the stairs instead of the elevator! You should try to split the steps up into morning steps and afternoon/evening steps.
Walk to work if you can, or if you have to drive then park your car further away from work than usual. If you take the bus or train then consider getting off a stop early. Use your lunch hour to go for a walk rather than spending it sitting down. When you come back from work plan a 30 minute walk to a local park or round your block.
Make walking enjoyable, bring your headphones and listen to music or an audiobook. This will make walking much more entertaining. Finally, you will need to own a pair of comfortable walking shoes. You might think that this is unnecessary, but for serious walkers, a good pair of walking shoes can make a huge difference to how fast you walk, how comfortable you are during the walk, and how long the shoes last.
Investing in a good quality pair of walking shoes that will last you 2-3 years may seem like a steep price to pay at first. But think of it as a long term investment. If you spend $90 on a pair of walking shoes that will last you 3 years that’s just $30 per year. If you only buy a pair of shoes for $40 but it falls apart after 8 months, you’ll end up spending far more. People make this mistake all the time when it comes to footwear.
Ideally your shoes should be so comfortable that you forget they are there, once you’re in badly fitted or easily damaged shoes you’ll immediately be aware of this fact, and it will be all that you can think about.
The difference between walking shoes and hiking boots
Most people when they hear the term walking shoes will immediately think about hiking boots. This is understandable as the difference between hiking and walking is not immediately apparent. But they are actually completely different types of footwear. Walking shoes are designed to be comfortable, relatively lightweight, and tight fitting.
Hiking boots are designed for walking along very difficult terrain, this means that they need to be very heavy duty and durable. They are also designed to accommodate heavy hiking socks so aren’t as tight fitting as regular walking shoes. Hiking boots are one of the heaviest forms of footwear that you can find, this is necessary for the extra traction required on the sole, the toughened toe end of the boot, and the extra ankle support.
The difference between walking shoes and running shoes
Now we’re into even more complicated territory, a lot of readers would probably accept that there is a big difference between walking shoes and hiking boots. But trying to explain the difference between walking shoes and running shoes will be more of a challenge. It is perfectly obvious to anyone that you can easily walk in running shoes, so why bother?
Well, this comes down to biomechanics. How you walk is very different to how you run. When running fast most people will try to run on their toes, because of this running shoes are designed with this in mind. When you walk, it is usually heel first so the cushioning is different. Walking shoes actually have a lot less cushioning then running shoes anyway, this is because walking is a very low impact exercise, while running is high impact.
Another minor difference between the two shoes is waterproofing. Almost every running shoe is made with a breathable mesh on the top of the shoe. This prevents your feet from getting too sweaty and sliding around inside the shoe, for running this is a useful thing to have. Walking on the other hand does not necessitate having a breathable mesh. In fact, you will want your shoe to be as waterproof as possible.
Walking shoes can also be a lot more supportive, when running it is often assumed that you will be running in one straight line. There will be no side to side movement (otherwise known as lateral movement), nor will there be steps to climb etc … Walking, particularly if you are walking through nature can involve lots of changes in terrain (though not to the same degree as hiking) and therefore the shoes are designed with this in mind.
Running shoes may feel fine when walking along a pavement, but take them onto some grass, or a dirt track and they will feel uncomfortable and unstable. This cuts both ways, walking shoes will not work well if you are planning on running a 400m race as fast as you can. They will be too heavy and the cushioning will be all wrong.
When should you buy walking shoes?
If you are planning on increasing your walking then obviously walking shoes would be a great purchase. If you are overweight or very unfit then walking is a much more realistic fitness choice than regular exercise (no matter what your Crossfit loving buddy says). Getting a good pair of walking shoes that can help keep you comfortable and well supported is a great idea.What to look for when purchasing walking shoes
This may sound basic, but so many people skip this step. Get your feet measured, you may find that you have been completely guessing your foot size for years! If possible you could also ask for a biomechanical assessment of your walking technique, though this test is limited by the experience of the assessor. If they offer one though, it is a good idea to take them up on it.
How well your shoes fit will make a massive difference to your enjoyment of a walk, one excellent way to check whether a shoe fits is to walk down a decline. If the shoe slips, or if your toes are jammed right up against the front of your shoes then they are slightly too big. You can also test to see how they perform while you walk up some stairs. If your heel keeps slipping, or rubbing against the back of the shoe then they are too big.
Finally you want to check lateral movement, does this cause the sides of your feet to rub against the sides of the shoe? Or is there too much space, in which case the shoes might begin to slip. A good quality shoe will fit tightly against the sides of your feet, but too tight and you will feel discomfort while walking. Try twisting the shoe side to side in your hand, if it twists easily then avoid it. If the shoe resists your movement then it will clearly have some stability and will help you while walking.
Price is something that should come into your considerations, whether a shoe is good value for money or not is very important. You don’t want to throw your money at an expensive pair of walking shoes that fall apart after just 6 months, but nor do you want to buy a poor pair of shoes just because the price is a bargain.
While reviewing these shoes we will mark them on their price, but this will be based on value for money. A shoe can be $300 and be excellent value for money (5/5) or it can be $30 and poor value for money (3/5) or vice versa. Of course, we will be looking at ten of the best walking shoes on the market, so don’t expect too many low scores!
Durability is another important factor to consider, though this is hard to do in a shop. Luckily you have our reviews to find out whether your brand new walking shoe is going to last you a lifetime or just a few weeks.
Finally there is style, this may not be important for some people but it is important to remember that shoes are considered as clothing. What you wear can influence how you are perceived, and how confident you feel as a person. Think that this is shallow? You’re probably correct, but you’re also probably not wearing bright pink and orange striped trousers at your friend’s wedding next year are you? Style matters.
10 Best Walking Shoes
In our comparison table we are going to list the top 10 walking shoes on the market. You’ll be able to see which is our preferred shoe, and why. Remember that while we are putting a lot of expertise and experience into these reviews, it is still just our opinion. Also, just because a shoe gets the highest overall score, it does not mean that the shoe is necessarily the perfect choice for you.
If, for example you don’t care about style then you could ignore that score and concentrate instead on comfort, or on price, or a combination of comfort and durability. This way you will find the perfect shoe for your unique needs.
|New balance Walking Shoe||4/5||4/5||4/5||3/5||15|
|Skechers Sport Afterburn||4/5||4/5||4/5||1/5||13|
|Rockport We Are Rocking Chranson||3/5||4/5||5/5||3/5||15|
|Reebok Work N Cushion 2.0||4/5||5/5||4/5||3/5||16|
|Skechers On The Go City 3-55300||4/5||5/5||3/5||4/5||16|
|Mohem Poseidon Walking Shoes||4/5||3/5||3/5||3/5||13|
|Dreamcity Lightweight Walking Shoes||4/5||3/5||3/5||5/5||15|
|Sibaru Walking Gym Shoes||5/5||4/5||3/5||4/5||16|
|Reebok Ultra V DMX Max Walking Shoe||3/5||5/5||5/5||2/5||15|
|Asics GEL-Tech Walker Neo 4||2/5||4/5||5/5||3/5||14|
Best Walking Shoes #1: New Balance Men’s MW411v2 Walking Shoe
If you are looking for comfort, then the New Balance Men’s Walking Shoe is a great choice. They are made from 75% suede and 25% mesh, these means that they are not particularly waterproof but they are breathable. They would be perfect for longer walks, and for warm conditions. While they look quite bulky, they are actually quite light weight.
The shoes are very durable and the outsole is made to last. The cushioning is excellent and will really help reduce aches and pains after a long walk. Because they are so light in weight, these walking shoes could be used in the gym as well as for hikes, just so long as the terrain was easy. They are far away from the tougher hiking boots, and are not ideal if you are planning on travelling through difficult terrain or going cross-country.
Style wise it all depends on what colour scheme you go for. The grey walking shoes look fantastic and could easily pass for fashionable shoes. The black and grey shoes also look good. The other colour schemes look much less fashionable though, the all black ones and the white and blue ones in particular emphasise the “blockiness” of the design.
The value for money is excellent, the shoes are on the cheaper end of the scale but will last as long as any other on this list, are very comfortable, are perfect for long walks, and at least a couple of the designs look really stylish. Definitely worth checking out.
Best Walking Shoes #2: Skechers Sport Afterburn
Skechers is a shoe company that was founded in 1992, and is well known for making quality shoes that are affordable and effective. The Skechers Sport Afterburns are made from smooth leather, have a mesh upper (for breathability) and use a memory foam insole. They are perfect for anyone who wants to get into walking as they are comfortable, particularly for people who are overweight.
The biggest selling point for these shoes is the memory foam insole, which makes the shoes adaptive to your walking style, your frame, and your foot size. This will help prevent the shoe from slipping, will make them more comfortable, and will help your walking technique. This does tend to make the shoes a little heavier than others on this list, and the extra cushioning is partly to blame for the one downside to these shoes.
The downside is that they just don’t look that great. Compare these shoes to any of the others on this list and they look way too bulky, the colour schemes are bad, and they give of a feeling of being distinctly uncool.
Don’t let that distract you from the fact that the shoes have great traction, are very sturdy, and are the closest shoes on this list to hiking boots. If you plan on doing some gentle hiking, or walking along uneven paths, then these are definitely the best shoes for you.
They are comfortable, long lasting, a very decent price, and they are well cushioned, if you don’t care about what your feet look like while walking (and many people don’t) then you’ll have a great pair of shoes on your hands … or feet.
Best Walking Shoes #3: Rockport We Are Rocking Chransom
Rockport is a shoe company that was founded in 1971, they are actually credited with the invention of the walking shoe, and were the biggest supporters of it as a form of exercise. When wearing a Rockport shoe you are contributing to a company that created the first walking shoe, this list might not exist if Rockport hadn’t been so innovative.
The shoes are made from leather, but have a synthetic sole. They are sturdy, fit well, they are comfortable, and the shoes will last you forever. While these shoes may look like something that an old man would wear, they are actually filled with cutting edge technology. They use Adiprene technology (created by Adidas) as a shock absorber, which will help you to walk with maximum comfort.
These shoes are really good for travelling through a city in. They look good when combined with smart-casual clothes, and they are perfect for walking your 10,000 steps per day. They would also work on hikes, but it would be a shame to place them at risk of getting scuffed or muddy.
They are a little more pricey than the previous two shoes, but are still very reasonable. If you’re looking for smart casual shoes that you could wear with jeans or smart trousers while walking about town these are perfect.
Best Walking Shoes #4: Reebok Work N Cushion 2.0
The Reebok Work N Cushion 2.0 shoes were not designed to look cool, they were designed to be as comfortable as possible while walking. They are ridiculously good value for money, they are well cushioned, and surprisingly durable, the style is the only thing that lets them down at all. Reebok are a well known English shoe maker that has been around since 1958. They are usually known for sporting goods, but are increasingly concentrating on fashion.
The Work N Cushion 2.0s use leather for their upper which will help increase the durability of the shoe. They have reduced the heel so that your walking stride can be improved, this is a really clever touch as a better walking pattern will reduce injury risk and improve comfort. They have added forefoot grooves which can help improve flexibility, this will also improve comfort during a long walk.
The outsole has had a lot of attention too, and has been designed to prevent slipping. The company claim that their shoes are oil and slip resistant which will help keep you upright on even the most treacherous of surfaces.
The shoes are great value for money, and considering how comfortable they are you could really consider these a bargain. They don’t look much, that’s the only downside. They just look like quite cheap running shoes. With the Work N Cushion 2.0 it’s all about how they feel and how they perform.
Best Walking Shoes #5: Skechers on the Go City 3-55300
We’ve already reviewed a Skechers walking shoe in this article, and we have an (arguably) better pair to look at right now. The On The Go City shoes are more stylish, more comfortable, and only a little less durable. They are incredibly light weight and because of this they are perfect for walking long distances in, but may not be as useful for country walks.
The shoes use 5GEN midsole cushioning which not only helps improve comfort, but also improves the responsiveness of the shoe as you walk. The mesh upper has been designed to expand as you walk which will also improve your comfort, it’s a really clever idea. They also utilise a Skechers Goga Max insole, which maximises support and cushioning.
The shoes also have really good arch support, if this is something that concerns you while walking then getting the On The Go City shoes is a really good idea. The design is also beautiful, the shoes are almost completely seamless, and the white and grey combination looks gorgeous.
Best Walking Shoes #6: Mohem Poseidon Walking Shoes
These next shoes are a little different, they are great for walking in but are also designed to wear in water. If you are a bit of a water sports nut or spend your time on boats, on the beach etc … then these shoes are perfect for you.
The first thing that you notice about the Poseidon walking shoes is the lovely colour scheme, particularly if you choose the electric blue ones. They look quite a bit like boat shoes, with a very low heel and incredible flexibility (you can fold them up into a ball).
They are made almost entirely of mesh so you can walk through water without them becoming waterlogged and heavy. Perfect for long walks on the beach, boating, water activities, and even walking along roads (provided the surfaces are flat and even).
Best Walking Shoes #7: Dreamcity Water Shoes
Another pair of water shoes that are light weight and good for walking in. These water shoes by Dreamcity look absolutely stunning. They have a rubber sole, but the rest of the shoe is made of a breathable mesh that will help your foot on hot days in the sun, and in the water. Unlike the previous shoes, these won’t fair quite as well underwater, but are more aimed at keeping you upright in wet and slippery conditions.
If you’re looking for a pair of walking shoes that you can wear by the beach, on holiday, or in hot weather then these are perfect. They are cheap, surprisingly durable, look good, provide excellent traction, and are comfortable. A decent pair of walking shoes that are perfect for certain situations.
Best Walking Shoes #8: Sibaru Walking Gym Shoes
The walking shoes from Sibaru are the best value shoes on this list, they may also be the most comfortable. The shoes are well made and perfect for walking, though due to their light weight design they would not suit running or hiking. These shoes are quite similar to the water shoes we looked at above, but they are more comfortable.
There are certainly better quality shoes on this list, but considering the price these shoes are excellent. Walking in them feels like you’re walking on air, the soles of the shoes are shock proof and will help to absorb any of the forces that can hit you while walking for long distances. They look nice and would suit most outfits. Instead of laces they use a drawstring which is quite a cool idea.
They can be used for travelling, driving, gardening, and for walking. You could also wear them while in the gym, they are comfortable but don’t have a huge heel like running shoes would (which can negatively affect many exercises). A really nice budget shoe, that performs like a premium shoe.
Best Walking Shoes #9: Reebok Ultra V DMX Max Walking Shoe
This is the second pair of Reebok shoes to make our list, and they are another excellently made pair of walking shoes that provide comfort and durability. They contain a leather upper which will help improve support for your feet, and help improve the durability of the shoe. The underfoot has DMX Max tech air cushioning, which is some seriously impressive cushioning technology.
As you walk the air cushioning transfers from the heel to the toe, providing all round comfort but also reinforcing good walking technique. The shoes use a bevelled heel which is designed to help improve your walking gait. These are two really innovative ideas that can hugely help you walk better and in more comfort.
The shoes also have a transition bridge which provides a smooth transition from heel to toe as you walk. Hands down these are the smartest shoes on this list. They are ridiculously comfortable, will last you for years, and are a decent price. The only thing that lets these shoes down is the style. They look bulky, the colour scheme is dull (all black or all white) and there is too much stitching.
If you are only interested in walking though, these may just be the best shoes on this list!
Best Walking Shoes #10: Asics Gel Tech Walker Neo 4
The last shoes that we are going to look at are the Asics Gel Tech Walker Neo 4s. These shoes are a little on the pricey side compared to some on this list, but they are more than worth that extra cost. The shoes are made for the serious walker, people who walk many miles per day, who easily hit 10,000 steps before lunch would love these shoes.
They are comfortable and utilise a Biomorphic Fit Upper which is a stretchy material that is placed in the upper to reduce irritation. There is a dual density midsole system which can hugely improve stability while also enhancing support. The shoes also have rear foot gel technology cushioning, and forefoot cushioning. Perfect for maintaining good walking technique (heel to toe).
The shoes aren’t the best looking on this list, but they are very long lasting, very comfortable, and well cushioned. Perfect for anyone who walks a lot day to day.Final Thoughts
The perfect walking shoe for you, depends on what it is that you want from them. This list has some great light weight water shoes, which are perfect for boating, water sports, walking on the beach, and travel.
There are also some great shoes for people who exercise a lot, and want a pair of shoes that they can walk around the gym in. Then there are the walking shoes that are designed for looking nice and feeling comfortable while travelling. Finally, we have walking shoes that are designed for the constant walker.
It’s difficult to say which is the best because they all cater for different needs, but our personal favourite? The Skechers On The Go City.
 Patrick L. Schneider, David R. Bassett Jr, Dixie L. Thompson, Nicolaas P. Pronk, and Kenneth M. Bielak (2006) Effects of a 10,000 Steps per Day Goal in Overweight Adults. American Journal of Health Promotion: November/December 2006, Vol. 21, No. 2, pp. 85-89.