When’s the last time you really thought about the shoes you wear when you go for a walk? The best walking shoes aren’t just stylish or trendy—they should be comfortable, supportive, and durable. And although you don’t have to buy a pair of sneakers meant specifically for walking, it doesn’t hurt.

Yes, walking shoes are technically different from running shoes and other athletic sneakers. “Walking shoes are designed to maintain stability throughout a walk,” explains Saylee Tulpule, D.P.M., a podiatrist with Foot and Ankle Specialists of the Mid-Atlantic in Maryland. “Compared to running shoes, walking shoes are heavier-weight, which helps to maintain a slower, steadier pace.”

Looking forward to trying out a new pair of walking shoes? Join us for our virtual 5K on April 30, 2022. It’s totally free, and you can even create a team to walk with your loved ones. Shop for new shoes together and if you each grab an exclusive Virtual Walk T-shirt, you’ll really look like a team! Register here, and email virtualwalk@hearst.com if you have any questions.

But with thousands of options jockeying for a role in your next walk, it can feel impossible to find the exact right pair. Get started by considering the needs of your feet: “People try to make their foot fit in a shoe, instead of picking a shoe that fits your foot,” says Dan Giordano, D.P.T., C.S.C.S., co-founder and director of physical therapy at Bespoke Treatments in New York City. “Look for something that doesn’t push your foot into the shoe, gives you room in the toe area, and keeps your heel secure.”

Ready to get started? Read on to discover how to find the walking shoes that are best for you, then discover the absolute best pairs as determined by podiatrists and reviewers.

      How to choose the best walking shoes for women

      Again, walking shoes fall into a category distinct from kicks designed for running. “Shoes that are made strictly for walking usually have more arch support to protect where the force is greatest when you walk,” Giordano notes, “as opposed to running shoes, where the cushioning is usually more in the heel.”

      Discover the Calming Power of Walking

      Plus, Dr. Tulpule says, walking shoes provide more flexibility in the arch and typically lack the extra cushioning that runners require. They also tend to have a lower heel height. That’s not to say that you can’t walk in running shoes—but if you’re an avid walker, it’s worth investing in a specialized pair of kicks. Get started with these tips:

      Find the right features. Our experts suggest looking for cushioning in the arches and heels, roomy toe boxes, mesh uppers, durable soles with traction, and removable insoles. Each will keep your feet feeling much more comfortable during walks of any distance—and allow you to avoid common pitfalls like blisters and arch pain.

      Opt for flexibility. “Avoid walking shoes that are too heavy, too rigid, and too narrow in the toe box,” Dr. Tulpule warns. If your shoes aren’t friendly to your feet, your walks will be more painful, and you might end up hurting yourself, or just walking less than you’d like to.

      Know your feet well. People with flat feet should ideally find a shoe with more stability and support in the arch and heel area, says Ricardo Cook, M.D., an orthopedist at the Centers for Advanced Orthopaedics in Maryland; people with higher arches should look for more cushioning to help absorb shock. And if you have arthritis or trouble with ankle instability, opt for more cushioning and support instead of lighter options, recommends Damian A. Richardson, M.D., a foot and ankle surgeon at Hoag Orthopedic Institute in California.

      The best walking shoes for women

        How to make sure your walking shoes fit

        Here’s how to tell if your sneaker fits properly, according to Dr. Richardson:

        • You do not feel the top of the shoe with your toes, and you can comfortably wiggle your toes.
        • The sides and top of your foot are supported while your toes still move freely.
        • The heel cup does not slide off or pinch. The pressure around the entire foot and heel should feel cradled without any points of extra contact or squeezing.

          One last thing: You should replace your walking shoes at least once a year, Dr. Tulpule says, since they lose their cushioning and support over time. If you track your distance, you might also opt to buy a new pair every 300 to 400 miles, explains Dr. Cook. You can tell it’s time for a refresh when the soles of your shoes start to wear down.

          Got all that? Great! Now it’s time to get walking. Here are the 15 best pairs of walking shoes for women, according to experts and reviewers.

          Best Overall: Hoka One One Bondi 7

          Hoka One One
          Hoka One One Bondi 7

          Yes, these kicks look pretty intense at first—but with serious cushioning, they’re wonderful walking shoes, Dr. Tulpule explains. One of the most cushioned options in Hoka’s lineup, the Bondi 7 uses an EVA midsole for a plush feel. Translation: Prepare to feel like you’re walking on clouds, if those clouds also offer traction, stability, and comfort. “These shoes gave my feet such relief that I want to wear them everywhere!” one reviewer with plantar fasciitis says. “And now I'm happy to say that my plantar fasciitis pain is 98% better. These shoes are a great part of my recovery.”

          Best Value: New Balance 608v5

          New Balance 608v5
          $55.99 (25% off)

          Sometimes, you can’t do better than the classics. Largely available for under $60 and offering tons of much-needed support, these chunky-cute sneakers are ideal for walkers who don’t want to spend an arm and a leg to hit the trail in comfort—just look at all of that cushioning and arch support! “It's a miracle! I can walk without my feet hurting terribly, I'm able to stand for longer periods of time now,” reports one Amazon reviewer with plantar fasciitis, bone spurs, and poor circulation. “Love these shoes!”

          Best for All-Day Wear: Saucony Echelon 8

          Saucony Echelon 8

          Designed to cradle the foot with a contoured footbed, extra energy return, and lots of cushion, this sneaker from Saucony is a guaranteed smooth ride all day long. They’re also good for those who need to wear orthotics (which easily slip in) and under-pronators. “These shoes are extremely comfortable and provide plenty of cushion and support while I'm exercising,” one Amazon reviewer raves. “I no longer feel the fatigue and numbness in my joints that I used to experience with other brands.”

          Best Investment: Vionic Tokyo

          Vionic Tokyo

          A favorite among Prevention editors (even landing in our Prevention Picks) and online shoppers alike, these comfy kicks from foot-friendly brand Vionic expertly walk the line between looks and performance. They’re decked out with cushioning and flexible outsoles, plus a removable insole that allows you to insert your own orthotics. And because they’re mesh, you’ll never have to worry about sweaty feet again. “This style fit true-to-size and was very comfortable,” one reviewer explains, and they offer “substantial arch support.”

          Best for Casual Wear: Brooks Adrenaline GTS 21

          Brooks Adrenaline GTS 21

          Dr. Tupule “love, love, loves,” these ever-popular Brooks kicks for a few key reasons, including their powerful arch support, sturdy construction, and stability, making them a great choice for both overpronators and those with plantar fasciitis. Better yet, a removable footbed ensures you can insert your own orthotics, and they come in four distinct widths. “I think I’m in love,” one Zappos reviewer swoons. “Running errands and walking hills on the treadmill—pretty sure my feet sighed in relief from comfortability.”

          Best Versatility: Altra Rivera

          Altra Rivera

          These sneakers are ideal for any activity—your daily walk, the gym, errands, or a run—because they’re super-flexible and absorb shock, on top of encouraging better walking form. And each sneaker is made with FootShape technology to fit both narrower and wider feet with ease. “Give yourself wiggle room! Exercising in shoes that are too tight can be uncomfortable, which won’t help motivate you to get moving,” says Emily Breeze, a personal trainer.

          Best Cushioning: New Balance Fresh Foam Arishi v3

          New Balance Fresh Foam Arishi v3

          Finding a great pair of walking shoes for less than $75 is a sign—you should just go ahead and buy them. Dr. Tulpule appreciates their foam outsoles, which translates to “more shock-absorption,” she explains. Plus, they’ve got other all-important features like mesh uppers, cushioned ankle support, and lightweight construction. “The fit and size are excellent,” one reviewer with plantar fasciitis and tendonitis explains. “I believe this shoe is a keeper.”

          Best Lightweight: Crocs LiteRide Pacer

          Crocs Literide Pacer
          $48.07 (20% off)

          If you’re looking for light-as-a-feather kicks, this pair’s for you. These sneakers are made from the same cushy foam as the brand’s iconic clogs, and it provides super support and all the cushioning without weighing you down. They also have great ventilation to keep sweaty feet at bay—and they happen to look pretty darn cute, too. “I've never found a shoe that allows me to have no foot pain during my 10-hour shift till this one,” one reviewer says. Another raves that it was the perfect shoe for a trip to Disney, due to the fact that it’s so comfortable and quick to dry.

          Best Arch Support: Dansko Pace

          Dansko Pace

          These walking shoes from Dansko, which come recommended by Dr. Tulpule, are ideal for people with high arches and conditions like plantar fasciitis, which requires plenty of arch support. With a roomy toe box, a padded heel, and breathable linings and uppers, they’re all-around great sneakers. “They have that awesome Dansko arch support,” writes one Amazon reviewer with “wicked” plantar fasciitis. “They’re extremely comfortable without looking too clunky.”

          Best for Wide Feet: Vionic Miles

          Vionic Miles

          Vionic shoes are a favorite of podiatrists, and this pick combines dual-layer breathable mesh upper with a lightweight EVA midsole for a shoe that feels easy-breezy to wear. The features include removable mesh-covered footbeds and an ombre effect on the midsole with patterned laces for a stylish twist. Designed with a unique advanced motion system technology, the Miles Active is built to get you where you need to go.

          Best for Walking to Running: ASICS Gel-Kayano 27

          Gel-Kayano 27
          ASICS amazon.com

          These sneakers are made with a technology called Space Trusstic, which provides stability while reducing overall weight—meaning they’re perfect for a stroll or an upbeat run. Breathable mesh upper helps keep feet nice and cool, while flex grooves at the forefoot allow the shoes to move more naturally with you. Bonus: The rears are reflective, so you’re more visible when walking in the evening. “The springiness I get walking on them is amazing,” one Zappos reviewer raves. “It’s like walking on marshmallows.”

          Best for Trail Walking: Merrell Trail Glove 6

          Merrell Trail Glove 6

          Feel good and look good while you embrace your inner outdoorswoman. A grippy rubber outsole provides stellar traction to conquer summits and trails, and ample cushioning (plus a stabilizing heel) helps you keep your footing. You’ll also get protection from the elements with the waterproof, yet breathable, material. “They are very light and breathable,” one reviewer says. “I have high arches and I like the arch support.”

          Best for Power Walking: APL Techloom Pro

          APL Techloom Pro

          APL’s proprietary cushioning provides enhanced support and shock absorption for your midsoles—where it’s most needed when walking. Moreover, the flex grooves in the soles fit the natural motion and alignment of your feet for painless and efficient walking. Perfect for power walks around the park, these durable kicks will make any intense stroll feel comfortable. “Love the fit and I get compliments all the time,” one Zappos reviewer says. “My only complaint is that the tongue is too long; it rubbed on the front of my ankle when I first put them on. Now they feel great! I would highly recommend them.”

          Best for Everyday Wear: Ryka Women’s Devotion Plus 3 Walking Shoe

          Devotion Plus 3 Walking Shoe
          Ryka amazon.com
          $67.97 (24% off)

          These shoes are good for your feet and look good. Made with a rubber sole and an anatomical precise-return footbed, these kicks are sure to keep you comfortable daily. A lightweight molded shoe with a RE-ZORB platform and a full-length internal insert level up these sneakers. Plus, available in nine different colorways, there’s sure to be a style here to fit your wardrobe. “I did some research before buying these and I have to say I love them!! I had my meniscus removed a year ago and have arthritis in my knees,” one happy reviewer says. “I love to walk and was up to five miles before my tear. These shoes really help me walk better and more confidently. I’m not afraid I’m going to trip and fall anymore. I’m getting a second pair!!”

          Best Sandal: Teva Hurricane 4

          Teva Hurricane 4

          Since their introduction decades ago, Tevas have been the sandal of choice for walkers, hikers, and anyone else looking for sturdy, lightweight, adjustable, waterproof sandals. This pair boasts a made-to-last outsole that can take on both craggy terrain and city streets in stride, plus a cushioned footbed that one reviewer calls “crazy comfortable” with “a slight bounce.”

          Additional reporting by Emily Abbate, Jake Smith, and Christine Mattheis