Your fitness routine doesn't need to be full of flash and high-intensity training. Simply going for a light stroll around your neighborhood can be enough to keep your blood pumping and body in proper shape. Like other disciplines, however, your success with walking depends highly on your equipment, i.e., your sidewalk-cruising sneakers.
Designed with comfort in mind, proper walking shoes can be a breath of fresh air to your underfoot experience, whether you walk to get your daily mileage in or routinely see yourself on your feet throughout the day. Like your dedicated running shoes, though, there are a number of options to choose from when deciding on a worthwhile walking profile, each with their own perks and build components to help you get the most enjoyment out of the slow lane.
BEST OVERALL WALKING SHOEKeen WK400 Read More
BEST UPGRADE WALKING SHOEBrooks Glycerin StealthFit 20 Read More
BEST BUDGET WALKING SHOESkechers Arch Fit Oxford Read More
BEST LIGHTWEIGHT WALKING SHOEAllbirds Tree Runners Read More
BEST CUSHIONED WALKING SHOEHoka Bondi 8 Read More
How We Tested
While I typically take my cardio in the form of running or rowing, I’m always happy to slow my pace for a less intense walk around the track or neighborhood. Across multiple weeks, I shifted down a gear or two to see how these below picks performed, highlighting their comfort and traction as well as their breathability and overall aesthetics.
I wore these walking-focused sneakers outside of training, too, to see how the underfoot cushioning and support translated to all-day wear. Whether strolling around my block to meet my mileage cap, striding to-and-from my kitchen and home office, or strutting around town to complete my weekend errands, these top-performing sneakers were there to keep me active and stylish from head to toe (emphasis on the toe).
Our Top Picks
While many sneakers can be good for walking purposes, this silhouette is built specifically for the discipline. The all-new WK400s showcase a great attention to detail to help emphasize your normal walking stride, which is more of a pendulum-like rocking motion than the spring-and-loading sensation you see when running. To accomplish this, these kicks employ a constant curvature through the midsole, dubbed Keen.Curve technology. I felt this construction provided an excellent sense of forward momentum while still remaining cushioned enough for standing scenarios.
The Keen WK400s also create a well-balanced ride thanks to their wider outsole and lugged tread pattern. I really appreciated this component on Sunday strolls after a little downpour, as I never questioned my traction across washed out sidewalks or muddy trails. I do recommend letting these premium walkers air out a little before your first jaunt through town, though. There’s a present chemical smell to these kicks when unboxed, which could send your olfactory senses for a whirl if you hop right into a session.
For a more in-depth look, read our full review of the Keen WK400s.
Brooks Glycerin StealthFit 20
Your strolls will feature no lack of comfort if you lace up these impressive kicks from Brooks. The Glycerin StealthFit 20 provides all the underfoot cushioning of the brand’s normal Glycerin profile, with the added upgrade of an adaptable fit upper. I found this sock-like StealthFit tech to be extremely comfortable for normal wear, and appreciated how easy it was to get into these kicks whether hitting the streets for an afternoon walk or heading out the door for weekend appointments. Plus, the DNA Loft v3 midsole cushioning kept every step plush and cozy, although there is a slight rigidity at first (don’t worry, these sneakers break in quickly).
If you’re interested in the Glycerin StealthFit 20s, I do suggest pairing them to a higher sock as well. The collar and heel are comfortable across the ankle, but the lack of structure can lead to some heel slippage if you’re strolling in no-show socks. I didn’t notice this issue when walking in ankle-cut or crew socks, however, hence my recommendation.
Skechers Arch Fit Oxford
These stable pacers from Skechers can be perfect for your walking needs, all without shelling out a ton of cash. The semi-rockered geometry of the midsole can make for easy transitions throughout your strolls, allowing you to go from heel-to-toe with minimal strain. I also appreciate the Arch Fit insole included in this sneaker, which offers up a contoured, padded design to help with overpronation. Seriously, it’s far closer to an aftermarket insert than the normal sock liners you see in other profiles.
The Arch Fit Oxford is available in a number of colorways, perfect for a variety of tastes and personalities. Just make sure you’re well-secured at the laces before hitting the sidewalks, though. These Skechers feature long, slick laces that can hang errantly over the side and have a tendency to come undone with minimal effort, according to some athletes.
Allbirds Tree Runners
There’s not a lot going on across this Allbirds silhouette…in a good way. I enjoyed the lightweight, breathable makeup of the Tree Runners, and the low stack height across the Brazilian sugarcane SweetFoam midsole kept every step bouncy and comfortable. There’s also no vibrant overlays or training-focused callouts across the profile, giving an added sense of versatility to this walking shoe in terms of aesthetics — I wore these confidently with a number of bottoms from running pants to chinos, jeans and more.
The Allbirds Tree Runners are also machine washable, which I quickly found out was a necessity rather than a convenience. These sneakers can become stained and dirty rather easily, so if you want to keep that clean look across your kicks wear after wear, be sure to routinely add these to your weekly laundry loads.
Hoka Bondi 8
If you take one gander at this Hoka silhouette, there’s little confusion regarding its intention — maxed-out underfoot cushioning. Despite the pillow-like profile of the Bondi 8, I found the ultralight, resilient foam to still have a nice firmness to it, which allowed for cozy strolling without having that squishy feeling upon each landing. I also enjoyed the zonal rubber placement across the outsole which kept this silhouette plenty grippy through varied terrain without weighing down the shoe overall.
The weight and pickup isn’t the only illusion at play with this Hoka offering, however. Despite the wide midsole and base, the upper is tapered inward for a more narrow fit at the midfoot. While I didn’t experience any discomfort during fitness-based walks or all-day wear, I understand that wider-footed athletes may dislike the more snug fit. Thankfully, though, Hoka does offer this profile in wide sizing, so this issue can be easily resolved if you so choose.
Saucony Guide 16
When athletes suffer from low arches, they need an added dose of structure and support in their footwear for improved biomechanics. These Guide 16s from Saucony can be a great option for these needs, creating a cradle-like fit that contours to your foot for moderate support. I also found these sneakers to have a nice blend of cushioning across the PWRRUN foam midsole, keeping steps plush and comfortable where necessary. Plus, the embedded Hollow-Tech plastic plate creates a stable ride, forgoing the need for more intrusive guide rails along the profile.
These Saucony kicks can be excellent for daily wear, and I found the foam to easily retain its responsiveness day in and day out. I do recommend, however, that you pay close attention to the forecast before lacing these up for a walk around the track or cul de sac. The outsole can easily lose its grip across wet surfaces which can lead to some slipping and sliding, even at a slower walking pace.
On the opposite end of the footprint spectrum, athletes with higher arches should look for shoes or insoles that create a contoured fit that bridges the gap between your arch and footbed. These Limitless Sneakers from Bionic are bio-mechanically designed to hug your arches, giving each stride an added dose of comfort and security for a more natural alignment. Plus, these Vionic kicks also boast a rocker-like geometry which can help facilitate forward motion.
Naturally, though, a shoe’s performance is limited to how well it fits your foot, and with Vionic silhouettes, you need to do a little homework. The size chart differs from traditional US sizing, so be sure you order the correct fit from the start. Additionally, some athletes have stated that the toe box can feel tight across the digits, so it may be worth sizing up to accommodate, albeit in relation to the brand’s specific guide.
Under Armour UA SlipSpeed
Need a quick cooldown from your regular training sessions? Walking can be just the ticket, yet after a grueling workout, the last thing you want to do is fuss with complicated laces or uncomfortable uppers. The UA SlipSpeeds from Under Armour make transitioning into post-workout attire far easier thanks to a BOA lacing system for quick toggles and an innovative collapsible heel for slip-on wear. I really appreciated this build feature after hard-nosed training where I’d be more inclined to lazily swap my attire, and the Iso-Chill padded interior only added to the soothing post-training sensations.
The SlipSpeeds, according to the brand, can also be worn as your go-to training sneakers, but after quickening my pace for a few go-arounds, I do recommend keeping these for post-workout walks only. In order to create that collapsible heel, there’s little room for added structure and lockdown. As such, I experienced a good bit of heel slippage when wearing these kicks as normal gym shoes.
Tired of lacing up your sneakers before getting your daily steps in? Consider a slip-on silhouette for your walking needs like these recovery-minded kicks from Kane. The Revives are a favorite of mine for their simple, comfortable, slip-on aesthetic, and the perforated rubber upper provides excellent ventilation that’s ideal for warmer weather. Plus, the dual-density RestoreFoam midsole gives your strides a generous amount of cushioning, which is a nice touch particularly when pacing after long days in the gym or at work.
The Kane Revive can be a convenient addition to any wardrobe, but be mindful that the injection-molded makeup does leave room for some audible notes, too. Since I have somewhat higher arches, I quickly noticed an air pocket between the footbed and arch that led to a noticeable squeak when compressed at the bottom of a stride. A small dilemma, indeed, but if you prefer to have a more quiet step when walking, it may be best to look at other profiles.
For a more in-depth look, read our full review of the Kane Revive Active Recovery Shoes.
Other Good Options
Glerups Wool Boot with Rubber Outsole
It’s rather difficult to think of a day where I haven’t worn these boots at some point throughout my schedule. The Wool Boot from Glerups provide excellent comfort and warmth across your feet ideal for staying cozy at home, and the notched rubber outsole makes them plenty durable for routine jaunts around your home or apartment. If I’m dealing with inclement weather outside or lack the motivation to hit the gym, I’m happy to get my steps in with these cozy-filled slippers by pacing from room-to-room throughout the day.
Naturally, however, the upper construction does not lend itself to routine outdoor wear — the wool can become dirty and disheveled quickly if exposed to the elements. While I’ve admittedly worn these walkers through the yard a few times (as well as a few quick sprints to the mailbox) I’d recommend preserving the warmth and comfort for inside conditions. After all, who said walking needed to be an outside activity, anyway?
Danner Trail 2650
If you prefer to take your walks with an added dose of adventure, look no further than these hiking shoes from Danner. The Trail 2650s feature a lightweight upper composed of leather and textiles, giving your get-up a nice mix of performance and style. I also like how well the shock-absorbent EVA midsole tackles most terrain, while the Ortholite footbed keeps every step well-cushioned. Admittedly, I wouldn’t put these sneakers to the test against more challenging trailways, but if you’re hitting the hills at a walking pace, I’m more than happy to let those paths for more advanced silhouettes.
The Danner Trail 2650s also feel lighter than their listed 1.5-pound weight, which makes for easier pickups throughout your jaunts. It’s wise to shake these sneakers off before putting them away, though. The Vibram 460 outsole with Megagrip technology can be great for traction, but can pick up a lot of dirt and grime in the process.
For a more in-depth look, read our full review of the Danner Trail 2650s.
You know what’s a great environment for walking disciplines? Racing through an airport or train station to reach your desired terminal. For these scenarios, I like the recently-launched Transport profile from Hoka. The quick-toggle lace system makes getting into and out of these kicks for TSA purposes much more approachable, and when you’ve finally gotten through security (or those dreaded turnstiles) the compression-molded EVA midsole fills every step with a plush sensation. I also admire the subtle style of the Transport’s available colorways, keeping the aesthetics subdued enough for varied wear while still providing notes of performance.
If you’re a Hoka faithful and are considering adding the Transports to your shoe rotation, there are a few caveats worth pointing out, none more prominent than the tighter fit across the upper. To help improve durability, the Transports utilize Cordura abrasion-resistant textile across the build. While this enhances the shoe’s longevity and resistance to wear and tear, it’s not the most forgiving material, eliminating some of the stretch and soft comfort that’s more prominent in the brand’s other silhouette.
For a more in-depth look, read our full review of the Hoka Transports.
Nike Air Pegasus 83
There’s no walking the line (get it?) between active wear and lifestyle wear with these Nike fan favorites. Boasting a great vintage look that harkens back to the brand’s roots, the Air Pegasus 83 can be an excellent option for athletes that need a profile comfortable enough for daily wear with style notes to really accentuate any get-up. Plus, the sub-$100 price tag makes these a great pickup for anyone searching for that old school Nike aesthetic without reaching for deadstock prices.
Of course, however, these Peg 83s aren’t the most performance-based silhouettes in the world, so if you prefer to reserve your walking as a fitness discipline, there are other, more worthwhile picks to choose from. For those that are normally on their feet, though, taking their strides as the day rolls by, these can be a prime pick on style points alone.
How Should Walking Shoes Fit?
Premium walking shoes are typically good straight from the box meaning there's little to no break-in required to reap the underfoot cushioning and support. Additionally, because walking is a less intense activity than running or strength training, you can afford a little space in the toe box and midfoot if it translates to improved coziness mid-stride. While a lockdown fit can help you get the absolute most out of each silhouette, a little play isn't the worst thing at these paces. Make sure to take your personal needs and wants into consideration as you browse the landscape for that ideal pair of kicks.
Can You Wear Running Shoes for Walking?
As you can see from the above roundup, there are plenty of running-focused sneakers that translate well to the walking discipline. With that said, however, there are a few key differences between running shoes and walking shoes that make the comparison a little more convoluted.
For one, running shoes are typically lighter in stature than walking-specific profiles, which is ideal for facilitating the quicker pickups and transitions associated with the activity. Additionally, the cushioning dispersement across a running profile's midsole could see added foam at the heel and forefoot to create better shock absorption across these common landing locations. Breathability and flexibility can also fluctuate between dedicated runners and walkers, but there's no hard and fast rule that dictates this difference.
In reality, it's best to keep your personal walking style and preference in mind when choosing which shoe style is right for you. If you're aiming to utilize walking as a companion activity to your normal jogs, by all means look at running silhouettes for these slower paces. If walking is your only form of physical activity, you could benefit more from a profile designed with walking biomechanics in mind.
What to Look for in Walking Shoes
Naturally, your walks should be as comfortable as possible, so to help make your activity a more plush experience, look for silhouettes with ample amounts of underfoot cushioning. This added foam or other cozy material across the underfoot can help absorb the shock and impact more, leading to a better, more enjoyable experience whether pacing across concrete, the track or other terrain.
While max-cushioned profiles can be enticing, however, you also want a bit of firmness across each landing to help facilitate efficient transitions and turnovers. Pillowy midsoles can be cozy enough for standing atop, yet once you go to take a step, you can often find it difficult to create proper ground contact as your heel and forefoot fight through the foam makeup.
When thinking of how supportive your walking shoes are, you're really looking at how well your kicks cradle your arches. As stated before, your walking biomechanics differ from your running mechanics, so there's different stressors at play as you transition from landing to toe-off. Having a walking shoe with well-to-do stability features can go a long way in ensuring you maintain a natural plane throughout your jaunts while also eliminating any errant chances of developing pains and aches across your feet, ankles and knees.
Lastly, your walking shoe's breathability should also be considered, especially if you want the most comfortable profile possible. No matter your pace or speed, you'll naturally begin to work up some sweat over time, so be sure to find a sneaker that allows that moisture to dissipate with ease for added comfort. Highly-breathable silhouettes can also go a long way in helping prevent chafing and blisters, as the wet condensation can lead to heightened friction over extended wear.