Walking Shoe Guide - How to Choose the Best Walking Shoes

Learn What to Look for in the Right Shoes for Your Walking Style

Walking Shoe Choices
Walking Shoe Choices. Richard Newstead/Moment/Getty Images

Walking shoes are your most important item of gear. We will help you decide which are the best shoes to buy for fitness walking. You'll learn what to look for in a good shoe for fitness walking and how to know it they are the right shoes for your walking style. We have top picks for each shoe type.

Finding the Best Walking Shoes

There is no one best shoe for all walkers. The best shoe for you is the one that fits you best, the one that gives you the proper support, flexibility, cushioning, and compensates for any stride problems you may have, such as overpronation.

Each person's feet are different.

Take all advice with a grain of salt. Find a shoe fitting expert to help you find the shoe that is best for your walking distance, speed, style, and surface as well as your weight and stride. The best place to find that person is at the most-serious running shoe store in your area.

Should You Buy Walking Shoes or Running Shoes?

Shoe manufacturers put the best design and technology into running shoe styles while walking shoe styles are designed primarily for market appeal rather than performance. Follow the tips on the upcoming pages to see whether that walking shoe you are interested in buying really meets your needs, or if you should go with a running shoe design.

Essential Walking Shoe Qualities:

  • Flexible: You must be able to bend and twist the shoes. When you take a walking step, your foot will flex as you roll through a step from heel to toe. If the shoe is too stiff, your foot will fight it with each step. You can end up with numb toes, shin splints, and other problems.
  • Flat: Walking shoes should have a relatively flat heel, although you may not be able to tell this from the outside appearance. Inside the shoe, it may have more or less drop between the heel and the toe. Look for shoes with a heel drop of fewer than 8 millimeters. You can even find zero heel drop shoes.
  • Heel Not Flared: Since walkers strike with the heel first, you do not want a big flared heel. In fact, a slightly undercut heel is preferred. A flared heel adds extra stability and you see it on running shoes for runners that need stabilization. You probably only need a flared heel on trail shoes for walking on uneven surfaces.

Should Walkers Wear Boots or Sandals?

It is common for long distance walkers in Europe to wear hiking boots. However, boots do not provide motion control features that many people need, and may be inflexible and heavy. Walkers may discover that they need a boot for the trail but not for the street. Even walkers who trek the Camino de Santiago in Spain prefer lighter weight, flexible trail shoes for their long walk on natural surfaces.

Walking sandals can be a good option, depending on how they are constructed and what terrain you are walking in. You need to learn what to look for in a walking sandal so you choose one that works for fitness walking.

Next page: Shoe Types and Top Picks for Each Shoe Type

Walking Shoe Guide

1. Walking Shoe Guide Intro
2. Top Picks for Shoes by Shoe Type
3. What Do Shoe Lasts and Shapes Mean?
4. Are Your Walking Shoes Flexible Enough?
5. How to Get Fitted for Walking Shoes
6. Finding the Right Shoe Store
7. Walking Shoe Reviews

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