Updated May 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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Buying guide for Best men’s walking shoes

While it might be tempting to wear one favorite pair of athletic shoes to perform all sports and exercises, the truth is there are noticeable differences between men’s walking shoes, tennis shoes, running shoes, and cross-training shoes. Men’s walking shoes provide support for long walks involving an initial heel strike, while running shoes support an initial strike on the ball of the foot.

While this might seem like a minor difference, walking shoes reduce user fatigue with a less flexible sole and a different breaking point than running shoes or tennis shoes. Men’s walking shoes were developed at a time when low-impact exercises such as walking and light hiking were becoming more popular than high-impact activities such as jogging, running, or aerobics.

If you’re considering adding power walks to your exercise routine, investing in a pair of quality walking shoes will pay dividends at the end of the day. The additional ankle, arch, and toe box support reduce muscle fatigue and make sure a proper walking gait is maintained. Walking and running are two separate activities and require proper footwear for maximum benefits.

walking shoes for men
Most walking shoes have an estimated shelf life of 500 miles before they become too worn for safety or comfort. Replacing them with new shoes is preferable to replacing the insoles alone.

How to choose the best men’s walking shoes

Walking shoes vs. running shoes

One important consideration when choosing a walking shoe is understanding the differences between athletic shoes designed for running and those designed for walking. While it’s possible to walk in running shoes, it’s rarely advisable to run or jog in walking shoes. The important difference lies in the mechanics of walking versus running.

When a person walks, the advancing foot generally strikes the ground heel-first, then rolls through the mid-arch, and pushes off the ball of the foot for the next step. A true walking shoe supports the ankle and heel, cushions the arch, and bends at the toe box. A runner tends to push off from the toe box, absorb the shock of the landing with the heel, then push off again. Walking shoes reduce foot and leg fatigue through shock absorption, where much of the shock of running is absorbed in the heel and arch.

Materials

As with other forms of athletic footwear, men’s walking shoes can be constructed from a blend of natural and synthetic materials, each with a specific purpose. Leather uppers repel water, resist staining, and provide a firm but comfortable fit. Nylon mesh provides breathability, which allows moisture to evaporate from the toe box. Memory foam is a good choice for the additional cushioning in the heel and midsole. Natural or synthetic rubber outer soles protect the wearer’s feet from debris on the walking surface and also provide grip on uneven terrain.

Sizing

Finding the proper fit is critical when looking for men’s walking shoes. If the fit is too loose, the heel can slip out of the heel box easily and create blisters as it shifts in the shoe. The midsole needs to be firm enough to stabilize the arch. Some walking shoes have a noticeably narrower toe box than running shoes, which can be a positive or negative aspect for power walkers. Some may prefer the restrictions and support of a tighter toe box, while others may seek a wider toe box that allows for natural expansion during the final step.

While most men’s running shoes are true to size, wearing a pair of athletic socks to the fitting is a good idea. Going up a size to accommodate orthotics or thicker socks is not uncommon. Many walking shoe models also have removable insoles for easier maintenance or customized replacement.

If black toenails or heel blisters are an ongoing issue, consider trying a different lacing pattern to reduce heel slippage and a tight toe box.

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What features do men’s walking shoes have?

Lacing options

Better men’s walking shoes should allow wearers to choose alternative lacing methods to address specific gait issues. One lacing style provides more security to the heel section, preventing the heel from slipping out of the compartment during every step. There’s another lacing method for walkers with high or low arches, with additional tightness in the midsole. An uncomfortable toe box can benefit from a less restrictive lacing style.

Safety features

Although not a standard design element on many men’s walking shoes, a reflective badge can increase safety for those who choose to walk during dusk or dawn hours. Additional cushions can stabilize the wearer’s ankles to reduce the chances of a painful rollover sprain. The sole of many walking shoes is also reinforced to prevent punctures and provide grip on rough or wet terrain.

Additional uses

Walking shoes were developed specifically to address the needs of a growing population of power walkers since high-impact running shoes didn’t meet the demands of low-impact walking. However, these shoes have become popular work shoes for those who must frequently walk on hard flooring during a shift. They’re also popular as exercise shoes for low-impact exercises and treadmills.

walking shoes for men
DID YOU KNOW?
Moisture-wicking socks made from synthetic materials are preferable to cotton socks during long walks and hikes. Sweat inside a cotton sock can soften the skin and increase the chances of blister formation.
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How much do men’s walking shoes cost?

Inexpensive

A number of affordable athletic or hiking shoes could be worn for casual walking, but walking shoes designed specifically for these purposes generally start out in the $40 to $60 price range.

Mid-range

Men’s walking shoes that offer more footbed support and a higher-quality outsole can be found for $60 to $140. These shoes can also be worn during other low-impact activities.

Expensive

The highest-end men’s walking shoes are produced by well-established brands in the athletic shoe industry and can cost upwards of $200 a pair. These models tend to incorporate the latest in comfort and safety technology.

Going up one size in a walking shoe can increase the size of the toe box, allowing for a more natural gait than a true-to-size pair.

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Tips

  • Check for flexibility before selecting any walking shoes. Twist the shoe manually to make sure it flexes at the ball of the foot, not the arch support.
  • Overpronators and heavier users should try a motion control shoe. This type of walking shoe is heavier and helps balance the gait.
  • Choose walking shoes with laces whenever possible. The temptation to buy sandals, slip-ons, or shoes with hook-and-loop closures may be strong, but traditional laces help keep the heel in place.
  • Have your natural walking gait professionally tested. There are styles of walking shoes available to help address pronation issues, low arches, and other common problems.
walking shoes for men
Walking shoes are not recommended for gravel trails or off-road hiking because they don’t protect the feet from rocks, tree roots, or other hazards. Switching to a trail boot or hiking shoes is recommended on rough terrain.

FAQ

Q. Can I add custom insoles or orthotic supports to my walking shoes?

A. Most men’s walking shoes should accommodate standard orthotic supports, but you may want to test the shoe’s natural support structure before adding them. Many walking shoes have removable insoles that can be replaced with memory foam inserts or another improved padding.

Q. Do walking shoes have reflective material to improve safety?

A. Some men’s walking shoes incorporate special reflective badges to improve visibility at dusk or night. However, you may need to add these features yourself after purchase if you plan on walking during the evening or early morning hours.

Q. How long should quality men’s walking shoes last?

A. There are many factors to consider when gauging the lifespan of an athletic or hiking shoe, but typically, men’s walking shoes should last 500 miles or approximately three years before losing structural integrity. Frequent walkers on rough terrain may need to replace their walking shoes more often or purchase several pairs and wear them in cycles.

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