We updated this guide in March 2022 to ensure all products vetted by the Textiles Lab at the Good Housekeeping Institute were in stock and reflected current pricing. We also added a pick from APL.
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. Look for a shoe that’s comfy all day, supports your arches and cushions your heel — and it doesn't hurt if it actually looks cute. With so many factors to consider, the pros in the Good Housekeeping Institute Textiles Lab partnered with medical experts to put popular shoes to the test to find the best walking shoes to buy, evaluating over 1,000 data points collected over 200 hours of walking. 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 find the shoes that are comfy to wear and healthy for your feet.
Whether you’re walking long distances for exercise, travel or work or just running errands, you’ll need the right pair of shoes to keep you on your feet all day pain-free.
- Best Overall Walking Shoes: Asics Gel Quantum 180 5 Sneakers
- Best Value Walking Shoes: Tiosebon Athletic Walking Shoes
- Best Lightweight Walking Shoes: New Balance FuelCore Nergize Sneakers
- Best Travel Walking Shoes: Allbirds Tree Runners
- Best Cushioned Walking Shoes: Adidas Ultraboost 21 Sneakers
- Best Walking Shoes for Foot Pain: Brooks Ghost 14
- Best Shoes for Walking All Day: Ryka Devotion Plus 3 Walking Shoes
- Best Hiking and Walking Shoes: Merrell Siren Edge 3 Hiking Shoe
- Best Walking Shoes with Arch Support: KURU Atom Sneakers
- Best Walking Shoes for Wide Feet: Orthofeet Stretchable Sneakers
- Best Walking Sandals: Vionic Amber Adjustable Walking Sandal
- Best Walk to Run Shoes: Hoka One One Clifton 8
- Best Fashion Walking Shoes: APL TechLoom Bliss Running Shoes
- Sleek design
- Excellent support
- Great for people with flat feet
- Stiffer than some prefer for walking shoes
Testers loved the Asics Gel Quantum 180 for being comfortable, supportive, well-cushioned and having an excellent fit. Testers also loved the stylish appearance — these sneaks are available in eight colors from classic black and white to bright blues and reds. Dr. Splichal and Dr. Metzl both loved an earlier model of these sneakers for providing excellent stability and control, ideal for people with flat feet. All testers for this brand reported that they liked the sneakers more than their current ones and would continue to wear them.
- Starts at just $30 for a top tested shoe
- Over 26,000 rave Amazon reviews
- Super lightweight feel
- Not all testers liked their appearance
These slip-on sneakers by Tiosebon were popular for their cushioning. One tester said, “They didn't look like clunky, orthopedic shoes, but they felt as if they were padded with four inches of memory foam.” Not only are they by far the most affordable sneaker in our round-up at just $30, they also have over 26,000 rave Amazon reviews. Dr. Splichal likes how lightweight they are, but testers didn’t rate the appearance as high as other styles.
- Favorite among podiatrists for excellent freedom of movement
- Mesh offers flexibility to cover bunions
- Testers loved how versatile these lightweight sneakers were
- Less cushioning than other styles
These New Balance sneakers are among the lightest we tested, and they were popular with our testers for providing great cushioning and a comfortable feel. These are Dr. Splichal’s favorite sneakers, as they allow lots of freedom of movement with mesh in the front of the shoe. Testers also credited this front mesh for making the shoes breathable and comfy over bunions. With an impressive 44,000 Amazon reviews, our pros agree that these shoes are an excellent value for a top-tested sneaker.
- Machine washable
- Rave reviews from our tester panel
- Laces are made from 100% post-consumer recycled polyester
- No half sizes
Allbirds sneakers are a popular travel option since you can toss them right in the washer for easy cleaning after a long trip. A whopping 91% of our tester panel gave these shoes a perfect rating for comfort. Reviewers love them for travel, saying “I walked for 12 miles in one day with them, and my feet didn’t hurt.” We also love that this style gives you the option to go sock-free. While we love the shoe's Lyocell fabric for its sustainable attributes, these sneakers aren't made from eucalyptus, further explained in our plant-based fabric guide.
- High comfort scores from testers with chronic foot pain
- Segmented crash pad for smooth walking
- Allows freedom of movement with great cushioning
- Lower appearance scores
Prevent uncomfortable foot pain after exercise with a shoe that prioritizes stability and control. Brooks is a popular running shoe brand, but walkers especially love this style as it has ample cushioning and a comfortable heel. One tester with chronic foot pain said she usually finds "no shoes comfortable to wear, but these are amazing." Although some testers didn't love the appearance, they got high marks across the board for cushioning, support and traction.
- Thick cushioning
- 20 color options
- Slip-on design for easy on/off
- Cushioning wears down over time with heavy use
Testers raved about Adidas Ultraboost sneakers’ “cloud-like” cushioning and support, thanks to the high foam levels and extra air pockets to cushion impact. All testers found the Ultraboost line of sneakers to be comfortable and said they would continue wearing them. Dr. Metzl likes the midsole of these sneakers and recommends them for those “complaining of joint aches.”
- Great cushioning when walking on hard surfaces
- High traction outsole
- Brand designs shoes specifically for women's foot shape
- Some concerns from experts surrounding the longevity of the foam materials
Ryka designs shoes based on a woman’s foot shape; the brand says it’s based on the angle between the hip and knee. Testers found these sneakers comfortable and supportive while providing excellent cushioning and traction. However, testers did not rate these sneakers as stylish. Dr. Metzl likes this style for hard surface walking, making this pair ideal for walking all day or long distances on concrete.
- Waterproof materials with breathable mesh
- High traction outsole
- Cushioned midsole for support
- No ankle stability like traditional hiking boots
Testers rave that Merrell hiking sneakers offer excellent support and cushioning with a high traction outsole, keeping you safe on the trails. This pair features a waterproof yet breathable upper with a rubber sole and toe cap, designed for traction and protection. The rubber midsole is designed to absorb shock and reduce pronation as you move.
- Slip-on design for easy on/off
- Stretchy, breathable mesh
- Excellent arch support, according to testers and experts
- Some testers found the ankle opening a bit uncomfortable
When rushing out the door, you cannot be bothered with a sneaker tongue that just gets in the way. Kuru Atom sneakers feature a slip-on design with laces for added security and a tongue built into the shoe. Dr. Splichal notes that the plastic in the sole adds extra arch support, which is helpful if you have flat feet. Testers gave high scores for cushioning, support and fit, and they rated it highly for appearance as well, with six colors available. The stretchable mesh upper is great to accommodate wider feet or bunions.
- Wide and standard sizing available
- High marks from testers for comfort and cushioning
- Reviewers recommend these shoes for those with plantar fasciitis
- Lower appearance scores from testers
If you have wide feet, sneaker shopping can be a huge pain. Orthofeet Stretchable sneakers are offered in standard, wide and extra-wide widths with sizes from 5 to 12 (half sizes included!). Testers gave these sneakers a perfect score for cushioning and comfort but didn’t rate the appearance as highly. One tester noted, “The most comfortable shoe I’ve ever worn but aesthetically not my favorite.” As Dr. Metzl advises, prioritizing comfort is essential!
- Soft, cushioning footbed
- Excellent arch support and stability
- Reviewers love the "pretty embellishments"
- Not available in half sizes — brand recommends ordering down a size if you typically wear half sizes
Vionic specifically designs orthotic shoes, but with such fashionable styles, you’d never know. These walking sandals have a microfiber-wrapped footbed for soft comfort and a rubber outsole for traction. Testers also loved Vionic sneakers for providing excellent cushioning and support. Available in multiple colors, these trendy leather sandals can go from day to night with ease.
- Great cushioning without looking bulky
- Mesh upper for increased airflow
- Rocker for a smooth ride with each step
If you're headed out to exercise and want a shoe that can take you from a brisk walk to a run, these sneakers from Hoka are ideal. A recent GH Fitness Awards winner, our testers loved that these feature the brand's signature foam-cushioned footbed without looking bulky. These shoes are a popular pick among runners, but walkers agree that they offer excellent support for a light, springy step.
- Pull-on sock upper
- Over 40 shades available
- Sleek look
- Over $200
Testers swear that they "live in these sneakers" because the slip-on design makes them easy to put on when rushing out the door. With a chic look and breathable knit upper, this pick is available in over 40 shades. The thick cushioning on the back heels makes these sneakers comfy straight out of the box with ample support throughout.
Running shoes tend to have more control to brace for impact on the sole, while walking shoes 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. For walking shoes, consider the following:
✔️Pick them up before trying them on. Avoid super heavy styles that’ll keep you bogged down. One exception: If you have flat feet and need more support, 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. Our experts recommend styles with more twistability (i.e. less control): It helps you develop stronger muscles from your feet to your 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 walk a few laps around the store so you can avoid shoes that pinch or squeeze your feet. If you have any existing foot pain, Dr. Metzl suggests going with the pair that "makes the pain go away when you’re walking around the store," as that's a good indicator you've found a winning shoe.
✔️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, ditch them: It'll only get worse the more you walk in them.
In recent evaluations, we've tested over 30 different styles of walking shoe, leading to over 1,000 data points collected. We sent shoes to consumer 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 end, testers walked over 200 hours total while evaluating walking sneakers.
In the Lab, we weighed each sneaker to nix overly clunky styles. We also sawed each sneaker in half so our experts could evaluate the inside of the shoe. Podiatrists and other footwear experts reviewed the inner construction and foam of each sneaker to find the most supportive styles.
Above is an example of a sneaker sawed in half before being reviewed by podiatrists and other footwear experts to analyze the efficacy and longevity of the materials.
The Good Housekeeping Institute Textiles Lab has been a leading expert on footwear for years. Emma Seymour is a senior textiles product analyst. She’s been at Good Housekeeping for over three years, overseeing Lab and consumer tests for walking shoes, luggage, tampons, pillows, sheets, period underwear and more. With a degree in Fiber Science and Apparel Design from Cornell University, she has extensive research experience, particularly focused on athletic wear. As a lifetime sewer with previous product development experience, she has a strong fashion background with expertise in proper fit and construction. She continues to expand her knowledge with additional coursework on sustainable manufacturing and new textile testing methodologies.