Walking Shoe Guide: Shoe Types

Choices of Walking Shoes for Your Best Fit

Trying on Shoes at the Shoe Store
Trying on Shoes at the Shoe Store. George Doyle/Stockbyte/Getty Images

Motion Control Shoes (MC)
Top Picks for Motion Control Shoes
Motion control shoes are the most rigid shoes. They are designed to be inflexible because they are meant to limit overpronation. They are heavy but durable. Many are built on a straight last, and may have a dual density midsole, with the denser material on the inside of the foot to help correct for pronation. Primarily, motion control shoes are for over-pronators and heavier people.

Often people with flat feet do well in these shoes. The problem with most motion control shoes is that they tend to have a thick heel that makes walking in them the same as walking uphill with every step.

Lightweight Performance Training Shoes for Neutral Feet
Top Picks for Performance Training Shoes
People who don't overpronate are said to have neutral feet. These shoes are flexible and lightweight to let them achieve the speed and performance they want. They may lack enough cushioning for longer walks. They tend to wear out faster for heavier walkers.

Stability Shoes
Top Picks for Stability Shoes
Stability shoes are a compromise type of shoe. They are more flexible than a motion control shoe while providing enough support and durability. Often they are built upon a semi-curved last and may have a dual density midsole for support. Stability shoes are for people who do not have severe motion control problems and midweight people.

They tend to have a thick heel as well, though not as thick as a motion control shoe, which makes walking in them the same as walking uphill with every step.

Cushioned Shoes
Top Picks for Cushioned Shoes
Cushioned Shoes have the softest midsoles, the least support, but are very flexible. Usually, they are built upon a semi- curved or curved last.

These shoes are for people who do not overpronate or need extra support. Often people with high arches do well in these shoes. Again, a thick heel makes it the same as walking uphill with every step.

Racing Flats
These shoes tend to have minimal stability, cushioning, or durability. However, this also means that they have a low heel, are flexible, and are very light.

Race Walker Shoes
Top Picks for Racewalking Shoes
These shoes are built to accommodate the motion of race walking and are similar to racing flats. They tend not to have a thick midsole nor knobs or lugs on the outsole.

Lightweight Hiking and Trail Shoes
Top Picks for Trail Shoes
These are the best choice for day hiking and walking on rocky or natural trails. If you aren't carrying a heavy pack, you don't need the extra weight and ankle support of heavy boots. Trail shoes have soles designed to protect your feet from rocks and give good stability and traction on natural surfaces. Trail running shoes are designed to be breathable, comfortable, and cushioned, sacrificing support and durability compared to boots.

Midweight Boots
These are designed for trail hiking and off-trail hiking with light to moderate backpacking loads. They are more durable and supportive, but still designed for short trips over moderate terrain.

Extended Backpacking Boots
Sturdy boots are designed for hiking with moderate to heavy backpacking loads, multi-day trips, and rough terrain. They are durable and supportive with ankle and foot protection.

More 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. Flex Test Your Walking Shoes
5. How to Get Fitted for Walking Shoes
6. Finding the Right Shoe Store
7. Walking Shoe Reviews

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