Unlike more extreme sports, we don’t always consider the toll regular long walks can have on our bodies. That is, until you take a walk and come home with blisters, sore arches or painful joints.
Good walking shoes matter, and spending just a little can go a long way in how enjoyable — and pain-free — your walks are.
Specifically, you should look for flexibility, comfort and stability in a pair of walking shoes, according to Dr. Jeffrey Hurless, board-certified podiatrist, foot surgeon and medical director of Healthy Feet Store.
“These shoes are also typically a little heavier in weight than running shoes to help maintain stability,” he said.
So how exactly can you tell a quality walking shoe from the latest sneaker hype? We sat down with the experts to bring you this guide. Here are six of the most highly-rated walking shoes on the market that you can buy without breaking your budget.
Best for daily walkers: Propét Tour Knit
Best for all weather: Vionic Walker
Best for all terrain: Xero Shoes TerraFlex
Best for arch support: Propét TravelActiv
Best for wide seet: Propét Stability X
Best for bad knees: ASICS Gel-Venture 8
Best Walking Shoe for Daily Walkers
Shoe: Propét Tour Knit
Why they’re the best: When it comes to a versatile walking shoe for your daily jaunts, Derek Roach, owner of Flow Feet likes the Propét Tour Knit.
“This style features a 10 mm heel-to-toe drop which helps with forward movement in each stride,” says Roach. “The precision knit uppers are great for breathability and to keep the inside of the shoe fresh even with frequent use. The insole is a Ortholite X25™ Open Cell foam insert that provides multiple layers of cushioning for comfort on long walks or even with strenuous exercise.”
Best Walking Shoe for All Weather
Shoe: Vionic Walker
Why they’re the best: No matter where your walks take you, the sturdy construction and long-lasting comfort of the Vionic Walkers will have your back.
“These are a great option for active folks looking for a shoe that features comfort, stability and water resistance during long walks or gym workouts,” says Hurless. “This shoe is constructed of a 100% breathable polyester mesh lining and a water-resistant full grain leather upper.”
Best Walking Shoe for All Terrain
Shoe: Xero Shoes TerraFlex
Why they’re the best: For the adventurer-walker, board-certified podiatrist Dr. Alissa Kuizinas recommends the Xero Shoes TerraFlex.
“These are the best all-terrain shoes,” says Kuizinas. “They’re great for walking on different terrain because of the tread pattern, but they still have the zero drop, wide toe box shape that allows feet to function naturally.”
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Best Walking Shoe for Bad Knees
Shoe: ASICS Gel-Venture 8
Why they’re the best: Another common complaint for regular walkers is pain in their knees. The ASICS Gel-Venture 8 answers the call, by way of a special design specifically intended for people with bad knees.
“The shoe is designed to help people who suffer from common knee problems such as patellar tendinitis (jumper’s knee) and chondromalacia (cartilage damage that can cause pain and instability),” says Dr. Daniel Boyer of Farr Institute. “The shoe offers a secure fit with an adjustable instep that can be tightened or loosened as needed, with outsole feature grooves that increase traction and durability.”
Best Walking Shoe for Wide Feet
Shoe: Propét Stability X
Why they’re the best: It can be hard to find good shoes for wide feet. Fortunately, the Propét Stability X has some pretty nifty technology making long walks for the wide-footed that much better.
“The Stability X has two layers of removable inserts to adjust the depth of the shoe allowing your feet to sit lower in the shoe for a wider toe box fit,” says Roach. “The style comes in widths up to XXW for wider feet.”
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Best Walking Shoe for Arch Support
Shoe: Propét TravelActiv
Why they’re the best: Bad arches? Not to worry. Dr. Hurless recommends the Propét TravelActiv for their comfort, functionality and style.
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“The cushioned EVA insole provides lasting support for your arches, with the footbed being completely removable in the event that you want to replace them with your custom orthotics,” says Hurless. “These walking shoes feature good traction, are lightweight and offer superior support.”
Contributor Larissa Runkle frequently writes on finance, real estate and lifestyle topics for The Penny Hoarder.
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