9 Best Walking Shoes for Different Styles

Walking shoes come in many varieties. You may want shoes for your fitness walking or comfortable shoes to get you through a day of work or travel. See top picks for walking shoes by type of shoe. What kind is right for you? Check the walking shoe guide to find out the basics of what to look for in a shoe to match your walking style.

What to Look For

Consider these factors when choosing your perfect shoe:

  • Fit: Your shoes must fit well, but leave enough room so your feet can expand while walking. Your walking shoes should be a size to a size and a half larger than your dress shoe.
  • Flex: Good walking shoes are flexible. Your foot flexes as you roll through a step from heel to toe. If your shoe doesn't flex with it, you can't get a good walking motion and your feet fight your shoes with each step. See if your shoe bends on the ball of the foot and if you can twist it from side to side. If it is stiff as a board, you need different shoes.
  • Flat: Walking shoes should be flat, with little difference in height between the heel and the ball of the foot. This is one of the biggest difference between a good walking shoe and some running shoe designs. Look for designs that are flatter rather than having a built-up heel.

Also, be sure to replace your shoes every 500 miles.

Best Fitness Walking Shoes for Neutral Walkers

ASICS Gel-DS Trainer 20
Courtesy of Amazon

If you enjoy brisk walking workouts and are looking for a performance shoe, explore these top choices.

Fitness walkers with a ​neutral gait do well with a flat, flexible, lightweight shoe. These shoes should have just enough cushioning for comfort, but not so much as to make the shoes heavy.

Very often, the best performance walking shoes are running designs that meet the needs of walkers. In this category, you'll see the Asics Gel DS-Trainer and the Brooks Ghost as two models that work well for walkers.

Best Cushioned Walking Shoes

Brooks Glycerin
Courtesy of Amazon.com

Walkers need enough cushioning to prevent fatigue when walking long distances or standing for extended periods of time. Walkers generally have less need for cushioning than runners, since walkers put far less impact force on the foot with each step.

Cushioned shoes usually do not have any motion control correction and have minimum support. Instead, they have lots of mid-sole cushioning for comfort. Top choices in this category include the Brooks Glycerin and the New Balance 1080 amongst others.

Best Motion Control Walking Shoes

Brooks Beast
Courtesy of Amazon.com

If you overpronate, these firm and heavier shoes help correct your gait and may reduce your risk of injuries that can result from overpronation. Heavier walkers who overpronate especially benefit from motion control shoes as they are built to be sturdy. If you see excessive wear on the inner side of the sole of your shoe, you may need motion control shoes.

In this category, the Brooks Beast and Brooks Ariel are top choices amongst others.

Best Comfort Walking Shoes

ECCO Sky Comfort Shoe
Courtesy of Amazon.com

What shoe can you wear all day that is comfortable, provides the right support, and may help relieve your foot pain problem? Comfort shoes come in various designs to address different needs.

Some are super-cushioned and work well if you stand most of the day. Others have orthotic designs for better support for foot conditions. Some are minimalist designs that feel great to slip into.

If you have foot pain, it is wise to consult a foot health expert to get a recommendation for your specific problem.

Best Trail Walking Shoes

Vasque Mantra 2.0 GTX Hiking Shoe
Courtesy of Amazon.com

Boots aren't the only choice for walking on rough trails. For example, walkers on the challenging Camino de Santiago prefer Brooks Cascadia shoes.

Trail shoes give you the stability, traction, and protection you need for rough uneven surfaces, slippery slopes, and rock protection. Traditional boots can be very heavy and inflexible but have their use for backpacking and extreme day hiking. But today's trail running shoes have good traction but are lighter in weight and flexible.

These top picks have suggestions for each use of trail shoes.

Best Walking Sandals

FitFlop Skinny Backstrap Sandal
Courtesy of Amazon.com

Some walkers simply prefer sandals, even for long walks or trail walks, and definitely for beach walks. But many sandals don't provide good support for protection for your feet and flip-flop designs don't let you walk with a proper heel-to-toe motion.

We have picks for sandals that are better designed for various types of walking. Some sandals have orthotic footbeds while still being stylish. Trail sandals have toe guards and a sole rugged enough for natural surfaces.

Best Stability Walking Shoes

RYKA Revere Walking Shoe
Courtesy of Amazon.com

Stability shoes provide good support and durability. Heavier walkers with a neutral gait are often steered into stability shoes as they will last longer than lightweight performance trainers.

Stability shoes vary as to whether they provide motion control or not, and it is important for walkers to know whether they actually need motion control. Stability shoes tend to have thicker heels, which walkers don't need, so look for those that are less beefy.

Best Racewalking Shoes

Mizuno Wave Universe
Courtesy of Amazon.com

Racewalkers need a very flexible and lightweight shoe as they roll through each step from heel to toe. Very often they turn to racing flats to get a shoe that is flat from heel to forefoot. But if they are racewalking longer distances, they still need a little cushioning.

This is a balance that can be hard to find, but​ there are choices for those walkers who want to go fast.

Best Toning Shoes

ABEO R.O.C.S Aubrey
The Walking Company

Toning shoes were a very popular shoe category in past years and they aimed to work your muscles differently with a rocker sole, instability pods, or minimalist designs. They either force the foot into a greater range of motion with each stride or are unstable so the body has to keep balancing constantly. Many brands had to retract claims that they burned more calories, and there was a rash of settlements and refunds for unsupported advertising claims.

But many walkers still find they like these designs, and shoe companies such as Skechers and Walking Company produce models to satisfy them.