The Best Walking Shoes for Women That Look Just as Great as They Feel
Arch support, cushioned soles, and the feeling of walking on air? Yes, please!
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These shoes were made for walking
We’ve all had the unfortunate experience of realizing that our brand-new, comfy-looking shoes are anything but comfortable. The blisters, the achy arch, the joint pain—ouch! And all from a shoe that seemed sensible. The problem is, we weren’t looking at the right things when purchasing them. Finding the best walking shoes for women all comes down to “shock absorption, arch support, and cushioning,” explains Jacqueline Sutera, DPM, a podiatric surgeon with City Podiatry in New York City. “Walking shoes should be specifically made for walking, which is a forward movement.” The best walking shoes for men offer many of the same facets, of course.
Whether you’re walking long distances for fitness, leisurely strolling around the neighborhood after a meal, running errands, or spending the day at work, the right pair of walking shoes is your key to long-term wear that’s pain-free. Check out these doctor- and stylist-approved picks to keep you on your feet, and then fill out your closet with the comfiest sandals, flip-flops, and slippers so you have the perfect shoe for every occasion.
Altra Rivera Sneaker
Best for: Light exercise and fitness
“Look for styles with rubber outsoles that are bendable and mesh with lightweight leather or fabric uppers” if you’re walking for fitness, advises Dr. Sutera. This Altra Rivera sneaker offers a snug fit that was designed for both walking and running, so you can pick your preferred method of fitness in style. The light, breathable mesh material is incredibly flexible while the heel cushion offers shock support and impact absorption that’s great for everything from a neighborhood stroll to the type of on-your-feet-all-day action nurses and teachers are prone to. Here’s how to clean shoes to keep these eye-catching kicks looking fresh for years.
Original Comfort by Dearfoams Sophie Shoes
Best for: Running errands and daily wear
These cushy walking shoes feel more like slippers than actual shoes, which is what makes them the best for running quick errands and impromptu out-the-door moments. The knit design is breathable, perfect for warmer days and climates to keep feet cool and blister-free, while stretch inserts allow them to be slipped on or off almost instantly. The lightweight one-inch vinyl sole also offers loads of cushion and heel support—two essential elements on Dr. Sutera’s list of must-haves. If you’re looking for actual slippers, check out this pair that has the most five-star reviews of any product on Zappos.
Bogs Sweetpea Rubber Rain Boot
Best for: Rainy days
This stylish ankle bootie is the most comfortable walking shoe by far for rainy days, thanks to a modest one-inch heel, 100 percent rubber construction, and inner arch support. They’re great for rainy days, gardening, and even hitting outdoor sports events in the mud. Since they’re made of rubber, they may get a little sweaty on warmer days, so be sure to wear them with socks and read these tips to keep shoes smelling fresh.
Reebok Dailyfit Walking Shoe
Best for: Everyday walking
This slip-on style shoe with knit uppers and a synthetic sole is perfect for low-maintenance, no-fuss wearing that offers support and style. Because of its built-in contoured sock liner with arch support and underfoot cushioning, it’s also one of the best walking shoes for women who prefer to go sock-free. The sole offers air-circulating technology that makes each step feel like a cloud walk, so you can stand on your feet, walk around town, or do just about anything else with ease. Pair these with leggings or denim for a polished casual look.
Gola Grandslam Shimmer Flare
Best for: Adding a dose of glamour
These cool kicks are definitely for the most glamorous walkers on the list, thanks to their metallic-hued leather accents and on-trend silhouette. They’re great paired with slim black pants and a sweater for work or for being seen out and about with a classic handbag. The low platform rubber soles offer shock absorption and just the right amount of lift. “A chunky or thick heel absorbs shock, as [does] a well-padded and cushioned insole,” Dr. Sutera says, noting that the rounded toe offers additional comfort.
Naot Buzz Sneakers
Best for: Work attire
These modern walking shoes for women offer a lace-up closure and sleek on-trend trims to meld athleisure with sophisticated style. You’ll love the hand-sewn construction that offers durability and long-wearing flexibility, as well as the removable, anatomic cork and latex footbed that molds to the shape of the foot with each wear. The outsole is made of a slip-resistant material that offers easy walking and traction, and this one has even received the American Podiatric Medical Association Seal of Acceptance for promoting good foot health. While you’re shopping, check out these brands you probably didn’t know were on Zappos.
Bearpaw Emerson Sandal
Best for: Budget-minded buyers
The adjustable hook-and-loop heel strap on this affordable walking sandal makes it an easy choice for warm summer days, and the microsuede contoured footbed offers just the right amount of gentle support to keep your tootsies strolling along anywhere your adventurous side may take you. They’re also a vegan-approved option, thanks to synthetic uppers and a shock-absorbing rubber sole, and the macramé trim will instantly elevate any ensemble.
Ryka Sky Walking Shoe
Best for: Prolonged standing
Those who have physically taxing jobs and hobbies that require prolonged standing and moving about (we see you, nurses and teachers) will love these aptly named Ryka Sky walking shoes. Just ask the 5,300-plus Amazon reviewers who gave it five stars. These sneaker-like shoes really do feel like little bursts of weightless air beneath your feet, thanks to a built-in memory foam sock liner, breathable mesh uppers with supportive leather overlays, and lightweight molded midsoles. The rubber outsole provides traction, durability, and shock absorption that take the edge off standing and walking marathons and keep foot and shoe pain in check.
Skechers Go Walk Joy
Best for: Women with wide feet
This classic walking shoe is light as a feather but definitely not stiff as a board—it offers extremely lightweight wearing with responsive cushioning. It’s also available in wide sizes, and as women with wide feet know all too well, that’s not always easy to find. The modest rubber sole offers just the right amount of lift, while breathable mesh uppers and cooling insoles keep feet dry and sweat-free all day long. Better yet, the insole offers cooling technology. FYI, there are a few shoes you should never wear while driving. Keep these Skechers in your car and put them on for a safer ride.
Bzees Dakota Slingback Sandal
Best for: A little lift
If you thought finding a walking-appropriate heel was impossible, think again. These cute lightweight wedges from Bzees come in a playful pink shade and classic all-black to coordinate with just about anything in your wardrobe, and they boast a two-inch wedge heel that’s so lightweight and supportive, you’ll forget you’re even wearing a heel at all. The peep-toe is perfect for most warm-weather occasions or even a business casual look, and the slip-on styling makes them easy to get on and off—although you probably won’t feel inclined to take them off. The fabric also has antimicrobial and odor-control technology that’s great for hot and potentially stinky summer days, and they’re even machine-washable. They come in extended and wide sizes, too.
New Balance 877 V1 Walking Shoe
Best for: Narrow feet
New Balance kicks are classic choices for cushioned walking, and these 877 V1 walking shoes are no exception. They’re particularly great for those with narrow feet, thanks to inclusive sizing that offers narrow, medium, and wide widths—a relative rarity in the world of walking shoes. They also come in a variety of eye-catching and easily matched colorways to suit just about every personal style (you can find some to match your favorite workout shorts!)
Five Tribe Gentle Backless Loafer Flatform
Best for: A put-together lounging look
This backless beauty is a cool, elevated take on the platform sneaker—literally and figuratively—thanks to its stacked dual-density foam core bottom and modern design. This is a flexible flatform that moves with you, adjusts to your steps, and has a surprisingly high-end removable molded insole, a feature you’d normally find in shoes at least double the price. You’ll wear them with your best loungewear sets, denim, casual skirts, and dresses, and just about anywhere you’re rushing off to in a hurry.
Keen Targhee II Walking Shoe
Best for: Hiking
Go take a hike! Literally, though, because these Keen Targhee II walking shoes are the perfect hybrid of rugged outdoor hiking shoes and healthy walking footwear technology that will help you maximize all the fun things to do on your next hike. They offer a ground-grabbing rubber sole, a metatomical footbed with responsive support and added cushioning, and a genuine leather upper portion that’s designed to stay dry no matter which trail you choose to take. The inch-and-a-half heel offers a small amount of lift and extra shock absorption, while the removable insole signals just how well these shoes are made.
Vionic Brisk Aimmy Walking Shoes
Best for: Plantar fasciitis pain
This orthopedic shoe looks more like a trendy sneaker than anything else, but don’t let it fool you. It’s one of the best walking shoes for women who suffer from plantar fasciitis–related heel pain. The concealed built-in orthotic provides serious arch support you’d be hard-pressed to find in typical athleisure-style shoes, and the textile fabric uppers make them easy to wash and keep clean. They’re available in a variety of neutral colors, medium and wide widths, and have bragging rights to the American Podiatric Medical Association Seal of Acceptance. Reviewers “love, love, love” how comfortable they are, with one fan noting that what makes them even better is that they don’t make her feel like an old lady when she wears them. While you’ll probably want to keep these right by the door since you’ll wear them so much, check out these shoe storage options for the rest of your collection.
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- Jacqueline Sutera, DPM, a podiatric surgeon with City Podiatry