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Walking has historically been an underrated workout, but in the age of step-counting apps and pedometers, it's finally getting the love it deserves. You can do this low-impact exercise virtually anywhere, anytime, getting your daily calorie burn in while toning your lower body—often without breaking a sweat.
Aside from a trusty fitness tracker, one thing you need to maximize your walking routine is a proper pair of shoes. "Supportive footwear must be worn," confirms UK-based podiatrist Marion Yau. "Choose a pair of shoes that are lightweight with adequate cushioning for the distance you are walking."
According to Chanel Perkins, DPM, a podiatrist based in Texas, "the most important characteristics of walking shoes include the overall stiffness of the shoes, a roomy toe box, firm arch supports and cushioning." All that said, walking shoes are typically somewhat heel-heavy compared to most running sneakers and cross-trainers. But luckily, a chunky heel is in.
Scroll down for the best walking shoes for women.
Best Overall: Sorel Kinetic Impact Strap Slip-On Sneaker
Molded rubber outsole
Breathable mesh uppers
When it comes to walking shoes, Sorel's Kinetic Impact Sneaker is tough to beat. Featuring a molded rubber outsole with oversized scallops, a two-pod midsole, and a removable EVA (ethylene-vinyl acetate) footbed, you'll have all the arch support and cushioning you need underfoot.
As for the uppers, you're looking at breathable mesh with full-grain leather on the inner and outer sides. There's also an extra-wide elastic strap at the vamp and a pull-tab on the back heel, making them endlessly comfy and super easy to get on and off.
Size Range: 5–12 US | Colors: Black, black/yellow, gold, white
Best Budget: TIOSEBON Women's Athletic Walking Shoes
Lots of colors available
Breathable sock-style uppers
Removable foam inserts
No wide sizes
On a budget? No problem. These slip-on walkers by Tiosebon boast molded, slip-resistant outsoles, removable foam inserts, and sock-style mesh uppers. They're breathable, lightweight, endlessly comfy, and come in more than 30 colors.
Size Range: 5–13 US | Colors: Various
Best Splurge: Ara Montclair Sneaker
Plush gel cushioning
If you're open to splurging on an exceptional pair of walking shoes, Ara's Montclair has your name on it. This lace-up sneaker has plush gel cushioning in the footbed to alleviate joint pressure, plus shock-absorbing outsoles and an antimicrobial lining to minimize odors.
Size Range: 6–11.5 US | Colors: Blue, black, orange/pink, white
Best Slip-On: Vionic Alaina Sock Sneaker
Available in wide widths
Built-in arch support
Relatively tight fit
Partial to slip-on designs? You'll appreciate Vionic's Alaina Sneaker. This podiatrist-designed pair has stretchy sock-style uppers with elastic bands over the forefeet and a toggled lacing system, allowing you to pull them on and adjust the tightness with minimal effort. And like all Vionic shoes, the Alaina features built-in arch support.
Size Range: 6–11 US | Colors: Black/white, gray, blush
Best Lacing System: ON Cloudterry Sneaker
Knotted elastic laces
Memory foam soles
The Cloudterry Sneaker features a pull-on design and knotted elastic laces for an adjustable fit that stays put. What's more, the plush cotton terry uppers and CloudTec memory foam soles lend to cushy softness and unmatched comfort with every stride.
Size Range: 5–11 US | Colors: Silver, brown, white, black, sand, blush
Best Outsole: Nike Crater Impact Sneaker
Made with recycled materials
Somewhat stiff uppers
Walking shoes are all about a robust outsole, and Nike's Crater Impact Sneaker doesn't disappoint. Made of a blend of foam and recycled rubber with padded midsoles, you can count on comfy cushioning and reliable traction with every step.
Size Range: 5–12 US | Colors: Multi, black, white
Best Lightweight: Dr. Scholl's Hunter Sneaker
Made from recycled bottles
Dr. Scholl's footwear saw a major glow-up in recent years, and we're here for it. Weighing just 7 ounces, the incredibly lightweight Hunter Sneaker has breathable knit uppers in your choice of sage or sand, plus anatomically designed cushioning, ultra-soft lining, and a flexible fit.
Size Range: 6–11 US | Colors: Beige, sage green
Best for Plantar Fasciitis: FitFlop F-Sporty Uberknit Sneaker
Ergonomically engineered midsoles
APMA Seal of Acceptance
Somewhat hard to get on
If you struggle with plantar fasciitis or general heel pain, you might find relief in FitFlop's F-Sporty Uberknit Sneaker. This slip-on shoe features ergonomically engineered midsoles with unbeatable cushioning. It's no wonder it carries an APMA (American Podiatric Medical Association) Seal of Acceptance.
"Plantar fasciitis is caused by inflammation of the plantar fascia, a thick connective tissue located at the bottom of the foot," says Yau. "Its primary function is to provide stability and support the foot arch by running along the heel to the metatarsals. Injury to this can lead to pain on the bottom of the foot, heels, and calf."
Size Range: 5–11 | Colors: Various
Best for Wide Feet: FitVille Women's Rebound Core Shoes
Available in wide widths
Shock-absorbing heel pads
Designed by a podiatrist
No medium widths available
Yau recommends the Rebound Core sneaker from FitVille. Made with wide feet in mind, this podiatrist-designed shoe has a shock-absorbing heel pad to minimize pressure on the plantar fascia, plus an anti-pronation heel ring to support a more natural gait.
Size Range: 6–12 US | Colors: Gray, blue, black, white
Best Waterproof: Blondo Karen Waterproof Slip-On Sneaker
Not ideal for wide feet
If you live in a rainy climate and want to keep up with your walking routine year-round, consider getting these waterproof slip-ons by Blondo. Beyond the stretchy knit uppers that stand up to precipitation, you'll love the cushy rubber outsoles that support your natural stride.
Size Range: 6–11 US | Colors: Black, camo, blush, gray
Best Color Selection: Steve Madden Maxima Monochrome Knit Sneaker
Excellent color selection
Not only does the Steve Madden Maxima offer support through its sculpted translucent outsole, but it also comes in a range of undeniably fly colors. We're talking blush, Barbie pink, black-and-white leopard, burgundy, mauve, and a rich, rusty brown.
Size Range: 5–13 US | Colors: White, blush, blue, pink, leopard, gray, burgundy, mauve, brown
Best White Sneaker: Reebok Classic Leather Sneaker
May need supportive inserts
Everyone loves a white tennis shoe—the clean, versatile design goes with everything and flatters everyone. With that said, you really can't go wrong with Reebok's Classic Leather Sneaker. The coated leather uppers resist staining and feature ventilation over the forefoot while the plush interiors keep your feet comfy from the inside out.
Size Range: 5–11 US | Colors: White
Best Beach: Teva Hurricane Drift Water Friendly Sandal
Injection-molded footbeds and straps
No half sizes
Teva reigns supreme in the active sandals category, so it's no wonder the brand makes the best option for walking on the beach. With injection-molded EVA footbeds and hook-and-loop straps, the lightweight, supportive, and water-resistant Hurricane Drift is ready to stand up to the tide. Extra points for the chic monochrome color options.
Size Range: 5–13 US | Colors: Various
Best Sandals: Chaco Wayfarer Strappy Sandal
No break-in period
Not ideal for narrow feet
No half sizes
Whether you're running errands in the summer or sightseeing on a warm-weather vacation, you'll be glad to have a pair of Chaco's Wayfarers at the ready. Featuring the brand's ChacoGrip soles and podiatrist-certified footbeds, you'll get a broken-in feel from day one and all the arch support you crave.
Size Range: 5–12 | Colors: Brown, black, clay, beige, mauve, rust
Best Platform Sandals: UGG LA Shores Platform Sandal
Not ideal for narrow feet
Uggs aren't just for winter. Case in point: the LA Shores Platform Sandal, an elevated walking shoe with a chunky 2-inch heel and a contoured footbed. These lightweight platforms also have adjustable straps and cushioned insoles with all-day arch support.
Size Range: 5–12 US | Colors: White, olive, black
The best walking shoes overall are undoubtedly the Sorel Kinetic Impact Strap Slip-On Sneakers due to the effortless on-off design, molded rubber outsoles, dual-pod midsoles, and removable footbeds with arch support and cushioning. However, if you want something a bit more affordable, go with the Tiosebon Women's Athletic Walking Shoes. And if you're looking for a warm-weather, water-resistant option, your best bet is the Teva Hurricane Drift Water Friendly Sandal.
What To Look For When Buying Walking Shoes
Yau says arch support is critical for walking shoes, and orthopedic clinical specialist Cindy Glaser agrees. But as Glaser notes, the level of support you need depends on your arch height (or lack thereof). "People with a higher arch will have different shoe needs than someone with a flat foot," she explains.
A person with flat feet wouldn't need as much of an arch, whereas someone with a higher arch would want more cushion at their midsole. "Good rule of thumb: if you can take your shoe and bend it in half and twist it like Gumby, it probably does not have enough support," says Glaser.
You'll also want to look for styles with cushioned midsoles, which will likely be made of a textile-wrapped EVA (ethylene-vinyl acetate), a durable yet flexible rubber-like material. "If you walk more than six miles a day, having more cushioning would be better," says Yau.
According to Yau, shock absorption is also essential with walking shoes, which usually means they'll have a notably thick outsole in addition to a cushioned midsole. "A walking shoe should also feel slightly heavier than a running shoe," adds Perkins.
Perhaps most importantly, you'll want to ensure you get the right size and fit. "Studies recommend that there should be a 10-to-15-millimeter space between the longest toe and the shoe end," says Yau. "This can be measured using your thumb by pressing down onto the tip of the toe box and measuring half a thumb width. Furthermore, she says the shoe will fit best if you measure it from a standing position. Additionally, Perkins stresses the importance of roomy toe boxes.
How often should you replace walking shoes?
Generally speaking, walking shoes should be replaced after about 500 miles. If you walk for 30 minutes a day a few times a week, you can expect them to last about six months. On the other hand, if you walk for closer to an hour a day, you'll want to replace them every three months or so.
Can you use running shoes for walking?
In most cases, running shoes can be worn for walking. However, while both walking and running sneakers are designed to support a forward stride, they have distinct features. Walking shoes tend to be stiffer with heavier outsoles, whereas running shoes are a bit lighter and often more flexible. If your primary form of exercise is walking, you may want to get a pair designed specifically for this activity.
Why Trust Byrdie
Byrdie contributor Theresa Holland is an experienced freelance writer specializing in health, wellness, and fitness. As an avid walker and seasoned footwear copywriter, she knows how to spot high-quality sneakers. From this list, she can personally vouch for Sorel, Vionic, Nike, Teva, Dr. Scholl's, Chaco, and Ara. When compiling her picks for this story, she spoke to two podiatrists and a physical therapist, combed through reviews, and considered each of the expert-recommended features before making her selections.
Meet the Expert
- Cindy Glaser PT, DPT, OCS, NCPT, is a doctor of physical therapy, orthopedic clinical specialist, and nationally certified pilates instructor. She is the owner of Strength Unleashed, a physical therapy practice in Beverly Hills, California.
- Marion Yau (aka Miss Foot Fixer) is an award-winning celebrity podiatrist and YouTuber based in the United Kingdom.
- Chanel J. Perkins, DPM, is a podiatrist at the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston. She specializes in arch pain, plantar fasciitis, heel pain, neuromas, and tendonitis.