This article has been updated to reflect the current models as of January 2022. Updated versions of the Asics Contend 5 Walker, Saucony Omni Walker and Rockport Prowalker M7100 have been added. New additions include the Ecco ST1 Hybrid and Nike Monarch IV. The Brooks Addiction Walker 2, Ecco Addiction Walker Sneaker, New Balance 1700 and 928V3 as well as the Nike Vomero 5 have been removed. These shoes are not meant to be worn in freezing weather.
This guide’s title may sound familiar. It is because we wrote one on running shoes, but this list did not include shoes made for walking.
We discussed in the previous article how running and walking differ in their mechanics. This explanation allowed us to choose walking-friendly trainers.
We won’t do that here, as this is a guide to walking shoes. Instead, we will start by examining the design elements of a good walking shoes.
Walking is a cycle that begins below the heel and ends at your forefoot. The entire length of your outsole will eventually come into contact with the ground. The outsole should be designed to help the foot move along the motion path.
Good walking shoes have a flat outsole with no deep grooves or gaps in the midfoot. Segmented heel landing zones are also preferred. This is where a small portion of the outsole edge can be separated by a groove. Although this is not a problem, the articulated heel allows for smoother transitions because of its flexible motion.
Walking conditions can be challenging. The shoe may encounter wet or dusty surfaces, which will require the outsole material’s superior grip. It is preferable to have non-slip rubber on the outsole. If the outsole is made of foam, it should have a texture that is traction-friendly. Shoes that don’t meet minimum grip criteria have been excluded.
This guide also contains shoes that are only suitable for non-freezing temperatures.
Walking shoes are slower than running shoes. The outsole remains in contact with the ground longer and has a slower loading process. Walking shoes are often worn for the entire day by people.
Walking shoes must be durable, regardless of the intended use. This applies to the outsole as well as the upper and midsole.
Cushioned, supportive midsole
The soft core cushions the Ecco ST.1 Hybrid’s heels while walking.
Comfortability of a walking shoe is largely dependent on its midsole and footbed. How fresh your feet feel after a walk will depend on the quality of the midsole, footbed, and geometry. Two reasons are why a soft midsole should be avoided. This will slow down the transition and make the ride unstable.
Athletic footwear brands generally do a good job of providing stability and cushioning. We have included the Skechers GoWalk Arch Fit and Ecco ST.1 Hybrid.
The Ecco ST1 is a hybrid dress shoe. Hybrid shoes like the Ecco ST1 are great for providing a stable, comfortable ride. Dress hybrids, unlike traditional dress shoes, use a Polyurethane foam or EVA foam midsole for increased ride comfort.
Comfortable upper that supports and protects your feet
An upper for a walking shoe must have certain non-negotiable characteristics. It should be both protective and accommodating. Most walking shoe uppers are made of leather. Leather is more durable than synthetic and acts as a barrier against dirt, debris, and occasional puddle splashes.
Low-cut hiking shoes, although we didn’t include them here. The upper is reinforced with thick mesh and fused overlays to protect the foot from any bumps or nicks.
After walking for more than an hour, feet tend to swell. This is why the upper must have enough space for this to occur.
It is no surprise that Skechers and New Balance are the winners in this category. New Balance was founded in order to sell orthotic inserts. No other brand offers as many styles and uppers as New Balance. Skechers, on the other hand has built its reputation as a brand that offers everyday shoes at an affordable price.
In the past, Nike made great walking shoes. The 1996 Air Inclement Walker had ‘low pressure’ Nike Air and walking shoes with the Airliner insoles. There have been many changes since then. Nike and adidas have reduced their ranges.
Brooks has their staple, the Addiction Walker. The Contend Walker, Omni/Echelon Walker, and Saucony Walker represent Asics and Saucony.
The Ecco ST.1 Hybrid is our top choice for walking shoes that also doubles as office wear. Although it is expensive, this shoe is versatile and a great walking shoe. The Reebok Walk Ultra 7 DMX, if you are looking for the best value, is our choice.
This alphabetical list can be sorted as follows:
1) Asics Gel-Contend Walker SSL
The Gel-Contend walking version offers the same value as its running counterpart.
Asics has an Amplifoam midsole that provides support for walking. The Guidance line on its outsole is useful in this shoe. For a smooth transition, the groove centers the weight on walks.
The $65 retail price is amazing for how much material the upper has. The synthetic leather upper is very lightweight and has no mesh. It keeps the feet in place on long walks and repels moisture.
2) Ecco ST1 Hybrid Gore-Tex
The Ecco ST.1 Hybrid Gore-Tex was reviewed recently and it proved to be a great walking shoe. It’s a little too formal, but that’s okay.
The only problem is the laces sometimes coming undone, which must be replaced with an aftermarket pair. However, the midsole of the ST.1 is loaded with walking-friendly features.
The ‘Phorene” Polyurethane midsole provides sufficient cushioning for long walks and support during gait cycles. The outsole of synthetic rubber is made to contact the ground as much as possible. For cushioning comfort, the outsole has a soft foam core underneath.
The midsole is not the only thing that matters. The insole, which is leather-lined, provides excellent comfort and high levels of support for the under-arch. You can also remove it if you need an aftermarket orthotic.
The large upper allows for the change in foot volume as you walk long distances.
3) Nike Monarch IV
Although the Nike Monarch IV might seem unassuming, it is a great value for $75. Although the Monarch IV was initially intended to be a sturdy cross-training shoe that provides a stable and cushioned ride, Nike wanted it to become an iconic footwear staple. Nike has achieved great success, and more.
The original Monarch was a great training shoe, but it is also a versatile walking shoe.
Durability is achieved by the leather-clad upper with a full rubber outsole. Cushioning comfort and stability are provided by the full-length Air unit within a supportive EVA foam middlesole.
The flat outsole provides smooth transitions and reliable traction during slow gait cycles. Comfort-oriented features such as the padded tongue or heel make it very comfortable.
For more space, the Monarch can also be purchased in an extra-wide size.
4) New Balance 877
The New Balance 877 walking shoe is an affordable option if you don’t have the budget to spend on expensive shoes. The full retail price is less than $100.
The suede and mesh uppers are lightweight, protective, and pliable. For interior comfort, the collar and tongue linings are foam-padded. They are made from a soft textile.
The full-length Polyurethane Abzorb Midsole, which is both durable and stable, provides cushioning. The purpose-built walking outsole is well-suited for slow rolling and grips well.