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Updated February 2022
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and all opinions about the products are our own. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
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We recommend these products based on an intensive research process that's designed to cut through the noise and find the top products in this space. Guided by experts, we spend hours looking into the factors that matter, to bring you these selections.

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Buying guide for best women’s walking shoes

Although any pair of shoes will get you from point A to point B, some pairs are more conducive to prolonged walking than others. Dress shoes and boots, for instance, have curb appeal — but most are uncomfortable after walking long distances. Instead, people often turn to walking shoes to enjoy more comfortable strolls.

Buying women’s walking shoes, though, is more than a matter of finding the most comfortable pair. They should offer support and shock absorption to maintain proper alignment, reduce fatigue, and protect feet, particularly when walking on hard surfaces like sidewalks. It’s worth noting that some styles have targeted support around the arches and heels, while others have removable insoles that can be replaced with custom orthotics.

Finding the ideal women’s walking shoes involves a little research, and after that, be prepared to try on several styles. If you can’t decide which pair of walking shoes is best — often the case when more than one suitable pair is found — it’s common to purchase more than one.

women's walking shoes
It’s a good idea to remove walking shoes before going indoors, as they may track dirt and debris inside. If possible, keep them on a shoe tray instead of on the floor.

How to choose women’s walking shoes

Walking-shoe sizing

Most women’s walking shoes are available in half and full sizes 5 through 12. Only select brands — including New Balance, Puma, and Rykä — offer wide widths and extended sizes. Even fewer brands offer narrow widths, with Easy Spirit the best-known.

While several brands of women’s walking shoes run true to size, some styles will fit you better than others. Certain walking shoes, for example, have narrow cuts, unusually wide toe boxes, or overly spacious heels. As a result, it’s common for wearers to try on a few pairs. If possible, wear your preferred socks or custom insoles to find the most realistic fit.

Laced vs. slip-on walking shoes

Women’s walking shoes can be divided into two categories — laced and slip-on. Some wearers are partial to one style or the other, while others invest in both to suit different walking-related activities.

Laced walking shoes may offer a better fit given their adjustability, but some wearers find it difficult or tedious to tie and untie them. Some of these styles have the traditional appearance of other athletic shoes, while others lack sporty aesthetics and have bulkier designs.

Slip-on walking shoes, on the other hand, offer easy on and off. However, because they lack adjustable features such as laces or hook-and-loop closures, some feel they offer an inferior fit. Slip-on styles also are made with stretch materials, so they’re prone to sweating out and losing their shape over time.

Removable vs. attached insoles

Women’s walking shoes may have removable or attached insoles. Many athletic footwear brands have transitioned to removable insoles so wearers can add their own cushioned insoles or orthotics.

Other walking shoes have attached insoles, including many styles with contoured or memory-foam footbeds. Placing insoles or orthotics inside these styles may create a bulky, uncomfortable fit.

Many people treat their walking shoes with water-repellent sprays to keep stains and moisture at bay.

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Walking-shoe features

Materials

Women’s walking shoes are made with many of the same materials used in other athletic shoes. This includes natural materials, such as leather, as well as synthetic ones, including mesh, polyester, nylon, neoprene, and spandex.

Leather walking shoes are durable, protective, and tend to keep out moisture better than most synthetic materials. While they require a “breaking-in” period, particularly across the instep, leather styles eventually offer a comfortable, flexible fit. They also are easier to keep clean, given the multitude of leather care products on the market.

Synthetic walking shoes are well-received for their lightweight construction. Most have highly flexible designs that let the foot move freely, and several have breathable panels that promote airflow to keep feet cool and dry. However, their quality tends to be hit-or-miss.

Comfort features

The most common comfort features found in women’s walking shoes make them more comfortable than the average athletic shoe.

  • Padded tongues and heel collars minimize friction, which in turn may reduce occurrences of blisters.
  • Memory-foam footbeds are soft and mold to the foot, absorbing shock and preventing foot fatigue.
  • Seamless linings reduce friction inside walking shoes, and you can wear some styles comfortably without socks.
  • Elastic details, often seen in slip-on walking shoes, make these shoes easy to get on and off. They also stretch to accommodate your foot.

Support features

Most women’s walking shoes have supportive features that promote proper foot alignment while you walk or stand. Some have contoured footbeds that offer targeted support at the ball of the foot, arch, and heel. Others have responsive cushioning throughout the midsole. Still others are specifically designed to support people with plantar fasciitis and heel spurs.

Traction outsoles

Many women’s walking shoes have high-traction outsoles that improve grip, particularly on wet or uneven terrain. These outsoles offer a high level of resistance with well-defined treads and groove patterns, many of which resemble tires. However, given that resistance, walking shoes aren’t recommended for activities that require sliding, twisting, or turning, such as dance-fitness or kickboxing classes.

women's walking shoes
DID YOU KNOW?
Walking shoes made with synthetic materials, such as mesh and polyester, can be spot-cleaned with a diluted mixture of gentle dish soap and lukewarm water.
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Walking-shoe accessories

Quality socks: Puma Women’s Runner Socks
A good pair of athletic socks helps keep your feet from aching on long walks. These Puma socks are breathable and comfortable, and users say they’re good for hours of walking.

Insoles: Powerstep Pinnacle Arch Support Insoles
Insoles give feet more support and cushioning. These insoles from Powerstep are great for any problems with feet — some users say they’re even better than custom orthotics.

Fitness tracker: Fitbit Charge 5
To monitor your progress, consider investing in a fitness tracker. Fitbit’s Charge 5 is water-resistant, so you don’t have to worry if it starts raining while you’re walking, and it even offers stress-management and advanced heart metrics.

Reflective vest: Flectson Reflective Vest
If you walk in low-light conditions, especially on sidewalks or roads, a reflective vest can boost your visibility to drivers. This vest is designed as workout wear, so it’s not only lightweight, but has an inside zipper pocket for your smartphone and keys.

Pricing

Women’s walking shoes range in price from $30 to $200. Price depends both on brand name and how well they’re made.

Inexpensive: Affordable walking shoes are priced $60 and below. These include lightweight styles that offer moderate support and cushioning. They may not be as durable as more expensive walking shoes.

Mid-range: Walking shoes between $70 and $130 include styles designed for walking and low-impact exercise. They’re durably made and usually have better footbed support and outsole construction.

Expensive: The most expensive walking shoes run as high as $200. Most styles in this price range are made by premium athletic footwear brands and have features such as high-quality support or patented materials.

To achieve a custom fit in their walking shoes, many wearers experiment with different lacing styles.

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Walking-shoe tips

  • Invest in walking shoes for travel. Considering how much walking travelers do, walking shoes emerge as the most comfortable and supportive footwear options.
  • Buy more than one pair. Wearers who love their walking shoes often buy multiple pairs so they always have spare ones when it’s time for replacements.
  • Opt for season-friendly styles. It’s common for wearers to opt for breathable walking shoes — styles with mesh panels — during warmer months. For colder months, leather styles with thicker linings are more popular.
women's walking shoes
People who want more ankle support in a walking shoe can opt for mid-top styles that cover the ankle.

FAQ

Q. How long do women’s walking shoes last?

A. It depends how often they’re worn, and which types of ground you walk on. Women’s walking shoes worn daily tend to wear out after a couple years or sooner, while those worn occasionally may last closer to three years. Sidewalks and concrete tend to shred outsoles and cause premature wear, so if you walk on this type of surface, you may replace walking shoes more often.

Q. What are the best colors for women’s walking shoes?

A. It’s largely personal preference, though some wearers are partial to solid colors that coordinate easily with outfits and athletic apparel. Popular colors include black, white, tan, and gray. Other wearers prefer brighter colors and designs that boost visibility to motorists, cyclists, and fellow pedestrians. Brighter styles are especially popular for wearers walking in low light.

Q. Do any walking shoes have reflective details?

A. A growing number of walking shoes have reflective details such as logos and designs. However, walking shoes without reflective details can be affordably upgraded with reflective shoe laces or clip-on shoe lights.

 

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