Unless you’re Forrest Gump and only have a single speed, you likely spend significant time walking. In that respect, walking is a great equalizer — we all do it. But for some reason, any discussion of “walking shoes” brings to mind geriatric power walkers donning sweatsuits, lacing up china white tennis shoes and puffing around Floridian condo complexes. And not to throw salt on grandpa swag, but I’d sooner kick the bucket than go for a stroll in those outdated kicks.
Believe it or not, there are walking shoes geared toward those of us who aren’t recovering from hip surgery. And in this buyer’s guide, we’ve handpicked the best walking shoes, ranging from stylish retro releases to supportive trail-ready kicks. Tarmac or trail, fast or slow, long or short: whatever your walking preferences, you’ll find a pair of shoes that works for you below.
Best Walking Shoes: Under Armour HOVR Slk Evo Perf Suede Shoes
Balancing the popular knit style with a robust and supportive heel cup, Under Armour’s HOVR SLK EVO leads the pack both in style and comfort. Under Armour claims their HOVR tech supplies “zero gravity feel,” and though I’ve never been to space, I agree as much as any landlubber can. HOVR tech pairs a soft foam core with a mesh “Energy Web,” which retains and adds shape to the foam. Together, they offer prodigious cushioning and energy return — perfect for long walks through the concrete jungle. All the while, there’s an idiosyncratically Under Armour spin to the style: we’re talking triangular leather lace details, dual pull loops and a space-age outsole. Suede and summer don’t often go together, but plentiful perforations allow perspiration to escape. Our only gripe? The creamy leather forefoot is easily marred by wayward drips of salsa, so I recommend user discretion when taking down tacos. Of course, you can always opt for one of the darker colorways if clumsiness is all but predestined.
Best Distance Walking Shoe: Hoka One One Akasa
While Hoka One One’s aren’t renowned for their jaw-dropping aesthetics, they’re world-famous for their cushy, curved outsoles. Recognizable by their upturned “Meta-Rocker” shape, these outsoles are comfortable and easy on the knees. And the Akasa, Hoka’s latest road walker/runner, provides plush cushioning at a light-enough weight that you can run strides. There’s minimal lateral support throughout, but the cloud-soft, shock-absorbing rubberized foam in the midsole and outsole is remarkably pleasant when endless strolls are on the agenda — especially on merciless concrete. If you can embrace the style, the 4mm heel-toe drop Akasa is hands down one of the most comfortable walking shoes available and our top pick for logging long distances at a leisurely pace.
Best Retro Walking Shoe: Puma RS-0 Trophy
Like remaking a classic movie, updating a retro sneaker is a dicey decision — brands run the risk of inciting riots amongst diehard fans. With the RS-0 Trophy, Puma dishes out a free game on how to boldly walk this fine line. Based on the late 80’s “Running System” lineup, the RS-0 Trophy has the same basic style and branding as the originals, but updated materials and contemporary aesthetics make it a well-balanced mix of new and old. The outline is oversized, but the RS-0 is not as overtly clown-like as some other remakes from the era. Taking advantage of modern tech, the RS-0’s molded rubber heel cup and injection-molded EVA midsole maintain stability and offer supreme comfort, making the Trophy ideal for strolling block after city block. Laces match the heel pull-loop, which stylistically ties the shoe together (pun very much intended). Undeniable style and surprising comfort earn the Trophy, well, a trophy in our book.
Best Lightweight Trail Walking Shoe: Vasque Breeze LT Low GTX
We’re throwing this adventure-ready low hiker into the mix; after all, what’s hiking if not walking in the woods? As one of our top picks for venturing beyond the realm of city streets and sidewalks. The Breeze LT stays true to Vasque’s trail-crushing roots with a thin yet aggressive Vibram Litebase outsole, which both delivers grippy traction and shaves weight off the already sleek package. A permeable Gore-Tex membrane guarantees weather-resistance and moisture management. For long days on the trail, Vasque’s dual-density EVA midsole will keep your dogs from barking too loud. What’s more, if you do happen to wander back into a more urban setting — be it a metropolitan hub or mountain town main street — the Breeze’s low-cut and low-key style make this hiker much more versatile than you might think.
Best Hybrid Trail/Road Walking Shoe: Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 36 Trail
Given their baffling array of sneakers, just picking the right pair of Nikes is often the biggest challenge — especially when a fresh drop seems to be announced every single day. If you can’t see the forest for the trees, but love walking along tree-lined trails, zoom in on the Air Zoom Pegasus 36 Trail: the recent release (June 13) is the first Pegasus edition in over a decade to possess a lugged outsole geared for dirt and mud. The lightweight Pegasus has been a hit with road runners (and walkers) over the years, and hype has been building around this all-terrain release. While the outsole is beefier than the regular Pegasus 36, the new Pegasus 36 Trail’s numerous flat-topped lugs offer a continuous surface that’s well-prepared for road walking, too. The moisture-managing mesh upper is both breathable and quick to drain should precipitation or perspiration be in the forecast.
Best Walking Shoe for Comfort: Asics Tiger Gel-Saga
Asics owns a massive chunk of the athletic shoe market thanks to its extensive lineup of gel-equipped sneakers, but they’re not necessarily top of the mind on the fashion side. Until you feast your eyes upon Asics Tiger, the Japanese footwear brand’s street-savvy branch, where the brand regularly collaborates with creatives around signature releases. The Gel-Saga’s been around the block a few times — it was initially released in 1990 and has since been a top seller — and the latest retro remake is true to the classic style. The body of the shoe is plush and borderline fat (think cross trainer meets skate shoe), while the molded insole/outsole provides ample cushioning and rebound. Should the going get slick, the tacky rubber outsole delivers the necessary traction. With an OG vibe and Japanese characters on the laces, this comfortable shoe is a conversation starter, to say the least.
Best Travel Walking Shoe: Allbirds Tree Runners
Billed as the “World’s Most Comfortable Shoe” and championed by both tech bros and your dad alike, New Zealand-bred Allbirds are everywhere right now. One of the most alluring aspects of the Allbirds lineup is the simplicity: they have a few models, sure, but they’re only available in two constructions: merino-made “Wool” and eucalyptus-based “Tree.” With the summer heat in full swing, we’re opting for the Tree Runners over the ubiquitous wooly versions, as they offer better breathability and temperature control. Like the Wool edition, the Tree Runner is soft enough to be worn comfortably without socks. It’s lightweight and still wrangles the odor-bashing properties of merino wool in the replaceable, padded insole, making it primed for international travel. If sockless summer use, an impromptu hike or a hellacious travel day pushes your Runners past olfactory standards, you can chuck these shoes straight into the wash.
Best Supportive Walking Shoe: Mammut Mercury III Low LTH
The Mammut Mercury III Low is by far the most supportive, burly option in this round-up, and we’ve included it for that explicit reason; the Mercury Low kicks ass and takes names on muddy trails and loose rock. The hiker is expressly designed to reduce stress on the ankles and minimize the risk of serious injury. Heavy and heavier duty, the Mercury III Low boasts a hexagonally lugged Vibram outsole purpose-built for barbarous use in the mountains. And yet, full Terracare leather construction, subtle style and an under-the-radar color scheme help the Mercury blend into more urban surroundings (provided it’s not already caked with mud). Given the stiffness of the shoe, some break-in time is required, but once you’ve got the fit dialed, the Mercury is ready for anything you are.
Best Reflective Walking Shoe: Adidas Nite Jogger
The Nite Jogger is a remake of an Adidas smash hit from 1980 — proving just how far ahead of its time the footwear maven actually is. Available in a handful of colorways, ranging from murdered-out black to flashy reds and blues, the lightweight Nite Jogger juxtaposes suede overlays with high-vis, reflective embellishments on the upper (so you don’t get run over while taking Oscar for a walk). The sneakers don’t just stand out at night, however, and earn countless daylight double takes as well. That attention comes courtesy of the unmistakable three stripes on the side, a protruding, almost angular heel and an overall funkified, classic vibe. Lastly, though the style is retro, Adidas revamped the Nite Jogger with their cushioning Boost midsole. Day or night, this Adidas Original is a showstopper.
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