If you’ve ever tried some new sneakers just to wind up with aching, nagging foot pain, you already know that seeking out really great walking shoes that suit your feet is well worth the time. We’re here to help make your search as seamless as possible—whether you’re in the market for a pair you can wear while strolling around the neighborhood, hiking, running errands, or trying a new walking workout.
What should you look for in a walking shoe?
A good walking shoe should be built for regular use, with features to keep you comfortable even after long periods of wear. That’s why shock absorption is one of the first things you should look for, Jossie Abraham, DPM, a podiatric surgeon at Hartford HealthCare Orthopedic Institute at St. Vincent’s Medical Center in Connecticut, tells SELF. A shoe that cushions the impact of your steps will feel comfier and likely reduce your risk of foot, ankle, and knee pain, she says. In addition to a decent amount of padding, the shoe should have a wide base and support through the midfoot and arch. Both of these design elements can further reduce strain on your lower body.
It’s also important that your walking shoe of choice fits your foot in terms of both length and width (check out SELF’s sneaker buying guide for detailed tips). According to the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons, your shoes shouldn’t make your toes feel cramped or like they can’t wiggle. So people with wider feet, for example, should look for footwear that comes in multiple widths or has wider-set toe boxes. Dr. Abraham says you can also consider shoes with a mesh toe box, which allows more space and breathability compared to more rigid materials like leather. Ultimately, you don’t want to feel like your foot is fighting against the structure of the shoe—rather, you want a pair of shoes that’ll mimic the shape of your foot.
Our top picks
- Best Overall: Hoka Bondi 8, $165
- Best Budget Pick: Ryka Sky Walk Walking Shoe, $70
- Best for Flat Feet: Hoka Arahi 6, $140
- Best for Maximum Cushioning: New Balance Fresh Foam X 1080 V12 Running Shoe, $160
- Best Walking Sandals: Chaco Z1 Classic Sandal, $45
- Best for Plantar Fasciitis: Kuru Quantum, $155
- Best for Spending All Day on Your Feet: Asics GT-1000 12, $100
The best walking shoes in 2023
Is it high time to find some new sneaks that you’ll be excited to lace up and take for walks? If so, we’ve selected some excellent pairs to consider. Our picks for the best walking shoes come from experts, SELF Sneaker Award–winning reviews, and top-rated shoe brands. We’ve included pairs for folks with plantar fasciitis or flat feet, cloudlike kicks that are well-suited to spending long hours standing, and even some sandals and trail shoes that fit the bill too.
All products featured on SELF are independently selected by our editors. However, when you buy something through our retail links, we may earn an affiliate commission.