The Best Walking Shoes for Travel That You Need for Your Next Trip
You don't have to be a marathon runner to be fit — walking is actually one of the healthiest forms of exercise. Before heading out the door, you want to be armed with the best walking shoes for you. You want a shoe that’s comfy all day, supports your arches, cushions your heel, and actually looks cute. With so many factors to consider, the Good Housekeeping Institute Textiles Lab put popular shoes to the test to find the best walking shoes to buy.
We sent shoes to testers with a range of shoe sizes and foot shapes. Testers walked for at least two hours before giving feedback on cushioning, support, comfort, traction, appearance, and more. In the Lab, we weighed each sneaker to nix clunky styles that’ll weigh you down. We also sawed each sneaker in half so our experts could evaluate the inside and insole of each shoe. We teamed up with Jordan Metzl, M.D., a sports medicine physician at the Hospital For Special Surgery in New York, and Emily Splichal, D.P.M., a podiatrist at the Center for Functional & Regenerative Podiatric Medicine in New York City, to dig into 527 data points collected over 170 hours of walking. These are the best walking shoes to buy in 2021:
- Best Overall Walking Shoes: Asics Gel Quantum 180 4 Sneakers
- Best Value Walking Shoes: Tiosebon Athletic Walking Shoes
- Best Lightweight Walking Shoes: New Balance FuelCore Nergize Sneakers
- Best Cushioned Walking Shoes: Adidas Ultraboost 19 Sneakers
- Best Travel Walking Shoes: Allbirds Tree Runners
- Best Shoes for Walking All Day: Ryka Devotion Plus 3 Walking Shoes
- Best Hiking and Walking Shoes: Merrell AC+ Range Sneakers
- Best Walking Shoes with Arch Support: KURU Atom Sneakers
- Best Walking Shoes for Wide Feet: Orthofeet Stretchable Sneakers
How to find the best walking shoes for you
Running sneakers tend to have more control to brace for impact on the sole, while walking sneakers have a bit more flex and bend. Many walking sneakers have added foam, which is especially important for people who are heavier and put more weight on the shoe because it’ll return some of the force back to your body. Dr. Splichal recommends only running in running sneakers, especially ones with more cushioning for long distance running.
- Before trying them on, pick them up. Avoid super heavy styles that’ll keep you bogged down. One exception: if you have flat feet and need more support. In that case, a heavier style might be preferred to offer sufficient control.
- Give the shoe a twist. Dr. Splichal says to twist the sneaker as if you're wringing out a towel. If you can do so, our experts recommend styles with less control (and more twistability): it helps you develop stronger muscles from your feet to glutes.
- Try on as many styles as possible. There’s no one-size-fits-all shoe. Each brand — and even each style — will vary in sizing and fit, which can have a big impact on your foot.
- Find the right fit. Wiggle your toes to make sure the shoes are not too tight, and make sure you walk a few laps around the store and avoid shoes that pinch or squeeze your feet. If you have any existing foot pain, Dr. Metzl suggests to go with the pair that "make the pain go away when you’re walking around the store," as that's a good indicator you found a winning pair.
- Choose comfort over everything. Dr. Metzl stresses that comfort is key. Regardless of the product claims, you should "be as objective as you can for support and comfort" and trust your instincts. Your feet will know which shoe is right. If your toes feel cramped or your heels are rubbing while you're testing the shoes out, ditch them: It'll only get worse.
Whether you’re walking long distances for exercise, travel, work, or running errands, you’ll need the right pair of shoes to keep you on your feet all day pain-free. Shop our top tested women's walking shoes for every occasion:
Our #2 pick is only $20!