Our Test Team Tried and Found the 14 Most Comfy Shoes For Counting All Your Steps

John Tyler Allen, lindsey emery
·12 min read
Photo credit: Staff
Photo credit: Staff

From Runner's World

As a running magazine, we often tout the health benefits of our sport, but honestly, walking is pretty great, too. In fact, research shows that—just like runners—people who walk at a moderate intensity regularly have a lower risk of high blood pressure, high cholesterol and type 2 diabetes. Turns out the most important thing is that you’re getting miles in, wherever and at whatever pace you can—as long as you’re able to practice safe social distancing measures while you do it. And what you put on your feet (supportive, cushy sneakers!) can either make you or break you (painful heels!) in that mission. But don’t worry—we’re here to help!

Whether you’re a high-mileage walker, a runner recovering from an injury, or someone who simply wants to squeeze as many steps into your schedule as possible, we’ve found a pair of shoes for you. We review hundreds of shoes every year and test the latest foams and materials in our Runner’s World Shoe Lab. Many of those same technologies are used in these pairs, which gives us unique insight into how they’ll perform and hold up over the long haul. See a sampling below for the best walking shoes and read on to learn more about how to pick the pair that’s right for you.

Comfort Is Everything

Walking shoes are built for comfort, first and foremost. This has traditionally meant that they’re not always the most sexy (or cute even), but they’ll undoubtedly keep your feet and body happy. Most walking-specific shoes are designed to give you miles of cloud-like cushioning, with support and breathability so you can wear them all day. Those with wide feet will be able to find shoes all the way up to 4E in most brands. We’ve also noticed some style strides being made in the category. Brands realize that more and more people are looking for sneakers that are both fun and functional. Plus, several classic running shoes can truly work well for both activities.

These Shoes Are Made for Walking (and Standing)

The designs favor support, stability and, as we mentioned already, comfort (with added breathability). That means they’re typically (though not always!) heavier than running shoes but ideal for cruising on rail trails, hitting the gym, or wearing when you’re on your feet all day. That support will keep your feet and joints better protected against impact and fatigue. For people whose feet need more lightweight, flexible shoes, we’ve got options for you, too.

The Right Fit

As with any shoes you wear for cruising around the track, office, or neighborhood, finding a pair that fits you the best is most important. Some things to consider when making your choice: Are your feet wide or narrow? Do you have high arches or low arches? Do you supinate (foot turns out) or overpronate (foot turns in) upon landing? Do you have any issues with plantar fasciitis or other injuries? And last, but not least, what types of activities will you be performing in these shoes? Try on several different brands and styles to find your perfect pair. And if you are prone to injuries, consider getting a second opinion from a podiatrist first. New research reveals that the impact different types of shoes can potentially have on your gait can now be applied clinically.

How We Chose

We went straight to the source, asking big brands what styles they recommended most for walkers. We wanted to know what their most popular walking shoes were—and why. They all had to touch on the points mentioned above—comfort, support, fit, and function—and we took it from there. These are just some of our favorites, but we recognize that everyone and every foot is different. There is no such thing as the perfect shoe for everyone—only the perfect shoe for you. We hope this round-up helps you find it.


Topo Athletic Rekovr 2

Slipping these shoes on after a long run feels akin to falling back onto a luxuriously soft mattress after a long day of travel. The cushy Ortholite footbed features a wave pattern that feels like a gentle massage underfoot, a padded heel gives your ankle the support it needs to relax with every step, and the best part—a durable Vibram outsole gives you solid traction to tackle just about any surface, so you can safely and comfortably sport this lightweight clog style wherever (and whenever!) you want. Winter walking bonus: the antimicrobial blended wool uppers keep your feet warm and dry, without overheating.

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Teva Gateway Low

Less bulky than a traditional hiking shoe, but with many of the same high-tech features, the Gateway is great for when your walks take you on both roads and trails. Its lightweight, water-resistant upper kept our feet dry during rainy treks in the Pacific Northwest. Its durable rubber outsole provides smart traction for varying terrains, and a thick EVA foam midsole gives you the just-right combination of cushioning, stability and off-road protection. We also appreciate that this shoe was designed with sustainability in mind—the upper, sockliner and laces were made with partially (55 to 100 percent) recycled materials and all of its leather components were sourced responsibly. Available with a mid-length heel collar, as well.

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Ryka Myriad Walking Shoe

Built specifically to provide women better support while they stride, the Myriad does not disappoint. It offers a slightly narrow heel (more secure fit!), a roomy toe box (greater stability!) and super-responsive cushioning (joint-protecting shock absorption!)—all while comfortably cradling your arch and heel. A mesh and knit upper doesn’t limit flexibility or breathability, and strategic treading on its marbled rubber outsole helps keep you steady on your feet, no matter how fast you’re moving forward.


Hoka One One Bondi

Yes, this is a running shoe, but if you’re looking for a plush ride, no matter how you choose to complete your miles, the Hoka One One Bondi 7 features a robust midsole worth dissecting. The EVA foam midsole is soft without feeling overly gummy, though it does noticeably compress with every step. A beveled heel creates a subtle high point where the heel strikes the ground, which both adds to the cushioned feel and angles the foot forward. From here, Hoka One One’s early-stage Meta-Rocker design carries the rolling motion fluidly to the forefoot. (This is all quite subtle; wearing one Bondi 7 in tandem with a non-rocker shoe makes the motion more obvious.) Also important to note: a dense foam insole with a pronounced arch gives the footbed a slightly firmer feel than other highly cushioned walkers. The rest of the shoe fits quite snug. A thick tongue, memory foam collar under the ankle, a deep heel cup, and a firm counter stabilizing the heel all work together to hug and support the foot.

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New Balance 860v11

New Balance’s updated 860v11, a stability running shoe that bridges well into the walking category, is, by cushy walking shoe standards, solid underfoot. It’s not an overly firm shoe—the Fresh Foam midsole gives nicely under the heel—but the transition from heel to forefoot feels sturdier, the forefoot significantly crisper, than its ultra-cushioned competitors. A stability shoe, the 860v11’s added structure comes from a dense medial post beneath the arch that prevents the foot from caving inward. This update also adds a unique, supremely comfortable heel design: a rigid counter transitions seamlessly to a fitted foam collar that wraps up and around the heel (locking it in from the top) and rides smoothly against the Achilles. Finally, a thin but tough synthetic mesh upper ranked this among the most breathable shoe on this list. With its crisp ride and structured midsole, the 860v11 excelled during both long walks and mid-distance runs.

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Altra Escalante 2.5

The Altra Escalante 2.5 is a road running shoe designed to push the pace, but we found this low-profile design is also ideal for walkers who want both a natural feel underfoot and a cushioned ride. For minimalists: a wide toe box and sock-like upper allow the toes to splay, a zero-drop heel design (heel and toe are at the same height) levels the foot, and a segmented rubber outsole and hyper-flexible midsole easily allows the foot full freedom to bend. For minimalists with sensitive joints: Altra’s lightweight, thin(ish) Altra Ego midsole offers significantly more cushion than a true minimalist shoe, but with a feeling that’s less like marshmallowy EVA foam and more like bouncy gum rubber. The updated woven upper is the softest and most pliable we tested, which allowed the foot space but sacrificed some stability. (For locked-in lateral support, check out Altra’s Escalante 2 or Torin 4.5 Plush.) The Escalante’s strengths will show up specifically when you walk by providing cushioned and surefooted ground contact.

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Allbirds Wool Runner Mizzles

The Mizzle gives you all of the eco-friendly perks of Allbirds’s popular Wool Runners—a soft, breathable merino wool-lined foam insole, a flexible sugarcane foam outsole and natural, non-slip rubber treads—with the added benefit of a water-repellent technology, called Puddle Guard, applied to its fabric upper. So your feet are guaranteed to stay comfortable, warm, dry, and well-grounded while you run—er, walk—around town, no matter how much rain is in the forecast or how many errands are on your to-do list.

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Kuru Atom

The Atom is Kuru’s sleek, bootie-style athletic trainer designed to allow those suffering from plantar fasciitis and other hotspot injuries to still push the pace. Kuru’s heel-conscious design uses a hollow cup to relieve pressure on the heel bone (the calcaneus) and the plantar fascia ligament that connects to it. During heel strikes, instead of driving the calcaneus into the plantar fascia, the heel expands downward, which naturally causes the heel cup to hug the back of the foot. A foam insert that molds to the sole and a firm arch support further cradle the foot against pressure points. Up top, the mesh bootie fits like a sock and, when your workouts demand more support, the lacing system integrated into the quarter panels and heel counter can be cinched down for a locked-in fit.

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Brooks Addiction Walker 2

The Addiction Walker 2 is basically a well-cushioned bottom matched up with a non-perforated leather upper, sitting closer to a lightweight walker than its slightly industrial appearance would lead you to believe. This shoe provides great all-day comfort and has a rubber, lug-free, slip-resistant outsole that feels better underfoot when you’re standing for hours on end. A diagonal roll bar in the outsole will provide maximum support and a very stable ride. The BioMoGo DNA foam found in the midsole helps this shoe stay comfortable if you plan to go on long walks or depend on it for all-day support. The same foam is used in Brooks’s running shoes to adapt to your stride and absorb pressure on impact.

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Saucony Echelon Walker 3

Available in both wide and extra wide sizes, the Echelon Walker 3 gives everyone the room they need to be comfortable on their feet for long stretches at a time—whether you’re working or just walking around. A durable, yet breathable, full grain leather upper protects the shoes from scuffs (and your feet from well, everything else), a supportive, cushioned midsole puts a nice bounce in your step, and a non-slip grip on the outsole keeps you steady as you go.

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OOfos OOmg eeZee Low Shoe

Confession: We’ve never actually walked on marshmallows, but we imagine it would feel a lot like this. Every step you take in the eeZee, a new slip-on style that features OOfos’s proprietary, impact-reducing foam midsole, allows your foot muscles and joints to relax just a little and recover in real-time. The woven canvas-like upper has a four-way stretch that doesn’t limit flexibility, there is good arch support, and the shape of the outsole, with a slightly curved heel and toe, give you a rocker feel that helps propel you forward in a natural motion with less effort. The eeZee is also available with a mid-length heel collar.

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Teva Ember Commute Slip-on WP

Photo credit: Teva
Photo credit: Teva

Many of us spend a lot more time in slippers than we used to these days. So to find a shoe, like the Ember Commute, that basically takes everything we love about slippers (Teva’s Ember Moc slipper, in particular) but adds on elements that make it perform well when you’re walking around in the great outdoors, is kind of a dream come true. A soft, microfiber, moisture-wicking liner keeps your feet cozy on the inside (like slippers!), while a durable, water-resistant upper keeps you protected from the elements outside. It also has a midsole with just enough cushioning and a strategically tread outsole for added traction on any terrain. Note: these shoes seem to run a little big, so you might need to go down a size.

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Reebok Walk Ultra 7 DMX Max

Reebok’s walking shoes have been getting rave reviews for years, and the Ultra 7 DMX Max is another one to add to that list. With a memory foam footbed that feels like a warm hug every time you slip them on, a cushioned midsole that continuously (and comfortably) moves air up and down your foot as you stride and a supportive leather and textile upper, these give you a strong base to help you squeeze in all your steps. They also have a durable rubber outsole that promises to keep you stable along the way.

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Cat Footwear Code Scout Mid

The Code Scout Mid blurs the lines between style and comfort. This ankle-high “sneaker-boot” has a no-fuss infinity lace closure with a toggle, and a quilted upper with neoprene lining that’s water repellent—and cozy too. A soft EVA foam midsole and anti-bacterial sock lining keep these shoes cushioned and fresh after hours of walking. Our tester liked how comfortable the shoes were on long walks exploring suburbia but noted some people may prefer a sneaker with a higher heel (it has no drop and offers little support for flat arches). The Code Scout comes in bold colors, like yellow shown here, and is available in unisex sizing.

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