Best Walking Shoes for Women

We break down the best walking shoes for women by brand and give you all the details. Which pair will you choose?

No matter where your journeys take you, a good pair of walking shoes is essential. You don’t want sore and aching feet when you take long walking treks in Tokyo or go on a short stroll around your neighborhood or at work standing and moving on your feet all day.

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A good rule of thumb for a good pair of walking shoes is that your legs get sore before your feet do.

There are a ton of walking shoes out there and we’ve done our best to narrow it down to the best.

We’ve organized our list by brand name. Otherwise, our list might be dominated by only a few brands, and we wanted to make sure that you were aware of all your options.

Also, keep in mind that there are different types of walking shoes.  Some emphasize the barefoot feel.  Others are more about cushion or their lightweight.  Before you choose a shoe, think about what it is you want from it.

Here are some major characteristics of walking shoes:

  • Stylish (when you want to feel good and look good)
  • Cushioned Comfort (good for overweight walker or if you just want a little more “cush” in your step)
  • Barefoot Feel (sometimes the most comfortable feel is the feeling of not wearing shoes at all)
  • Office Ready (when you want to make your feet happy but you got to be office appropriate)
  • Waterproof (for the rainy season or when you might be stepping in creeks)
  • Lightweight (because what good is a heavy walking shoe?)

For this list, we looked at brands that are well-known for style, comfort, class, and reliability.

Without further ado, here’s what we found.

 

Nike

Formerly known as Blue Ribbon Sports, Nike is headquartered in Beaverton, Oregon and is the world’s largest athletic shoe and apparel company.  So, yeah, they know what they’re doing when it comes to quality shoes.

Nike Free RN Flyknit 2018 (barefoot / lightweight / stylish)

I’ve been a Nike Free wearer since they were introduced in 2005. Nike Free was designed for the barefoot experience, so if you’re not used to that, it might take some time for your feet to adjust. If that’s the case, it might be good to walk around town in them before taking a long trek.

Originally, there was a numbering system for Nike Free shoes:  3.0 (little cushioning), 5.0 (more cushioning), 7.0 (most cushioning).  Nike dropped the numbering system and found the perfect balance between “barefoot” and “cushion”.

The latest model is the Nike Free RN Flyknit, which is the lightest in the Free RN family. It really hugs your foot for great comfort.  The upper almost feels like a sock (so, no, it’s not waterproof).

If you’re not going to wear these on the airplane (why wouldn’t you, though?), they’re quite compact and easily fit into a number of different sizes and shapes of bags.

The RN Flyknit is available in many different colorways to suit your own personal style.

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 Nike Epic React Flyknit (cushion / stylish / lightweight)

When the React line of Nike shoes was introduced less than a year ago, they went flying off the shelves.  Nike has finally caught up with demand, so you can grab yours now.  I haven’t tried on a pair of these babies yet, but the customer reaction and reviews tell me this is a great and comfortable shoe.

This shoes emphasizes cushion, so no matter where you wear these, your feet are sure to be happy. Of course, Nike didn’t stop there.  These shoes are extremely lightweight and durable as well.

Customers say they’re weightless and beautiful and that it’s like walking on air. How can you resist a pair of shoes like that?

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Merrell

Founded in 1981 as a maker of high-performance hiking boots, Merrell knows what they’re doing in making shoes comfortable for hiking and walking.

Whenever I take a significant trip, I like to buy a pair of shoes to fit the environment that I’m going to.  The last two trips I took, I bought a pair of Merrells. They did not disappoint.  They’re well-made, look good, and are great for walking significant distances.

Women’s Trail Glove 4 Knit (barefoot / lightweight)


These have the barefoot feel, which I prefer.  And similar to the Nike Flyknit, the 3D knit on these shoes hug your feet for great comfort and maximum flexibility.

You don’t have to bother with tying laces, either. They have a quick lock lacing system and a “stretch collar” for easy on and off.  In other words, these shoes are great going through airport security and other travel situations.

The shoes have a sturdy toe and sturdy heel, so that sock-like upper doesn’t get out of control flimsy.

And although these shoes are for the barefoot experience, there is a nice cushioning layer as well.

These shoes come with great traction, so you can wear them on sidewalks and trails.

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Women’s Moab FST 2 (waterproof / cushioned)


This is a more athletic look to one of Merrell’s most popular hiking shoes, and the only waterproof shoe on the list.

The Moab style is known for its extreme comfort, so your feet will be pleased no matter where they go.  This particular shoe also features a more athletic-style look and a lighter midsole than the Moab hiking shoe.

And don’t worry too much about sweaty feet.  This edition of Moab has breathable mesh lining and has antimicrobial agents that reduce shoe odor.  (No joke.)

Like most Merrell shoes, this model has great traction and is built with durability in mind.  The fact that it has Merrell’s own air cushioning is just icing on the cake.

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Ecco

Ecco is a Danish shoe maker founded in 1963. Their products are now sold in 88 countries around the world.  I’ve never owned a pair, but I can’t escape their reputation of being some of the most comfortable shoes around.

Women’s Bluma Slip-On Ballerina Flat (office ready / lightweight)


We looked for a shoe that was more office ready and found this beauty.  The heel measures only a half inch (.5”), so no stress there on your foot.

The sole of the shoe is synthetic, but the upper has mesh for breathability and leather overlays for looks. The heel has a pull-tab for easy on and off.  And the sporty ballet look will fit many styles.

These, and many other Ecco shoes, feature what Ecco calls a comfort fibre system.  What that means to you is they’re soft, moisture-absorbent, have effective control of bacteria and odor, and give your feet a cushion of foam.

People who have this shoe say they are so comfortable and that it’s a great shoe for someone who is on their feet 8 to 10 hours a day.

We don’t recommend running a marathon in these, but if you’re on your feet all day in an office setting, you’ll definitely want to take a look at them.

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Women’s Soft 7 Fashion Sneaker (stylish/durable)


More sneaker style.  More traditional look for a walking shoe.

The upper is a soft leather and has a front-zip for easy on and off. This shoes is light, flexible, and of course comfortable.

Another stand out feature of this shoe is its durability. Its outsoles are made of polyurethane which is the longest lasting material for outsoles.  In other words, you won’t have to replace these shoes for a long time.

Like the shoe above, it features the comfort fibre system for cushion, odor-control, and more. Lightweight and flexible, this shoe truly has it all.

People who bought this shoe talk about its comfort and style.  People also note their  good arch support and lots of comfort when walking around for hours on end.

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Easy Spirit

Easy Spirit makes shoes and products exclusively for women.  They’ve been in business for over 35 years. Easy Spirit was founded with a simple principle: comfort. They believe comfort is confidence and confidence is comfort. Well, I don’t know if I buy that, but their shoes seem really good.

Easy Spirit Women’s Jeyden Loafer Flat (office ready)


This is another office ready style on our list. The Easy Spirit Jeyden has a classic design which features a beautiful leather upper with stitch detailing.

This shoe offers durability with its one-piece rubber outsole.  The heel is only a half inch (0.5”), so no stress there.  It has a comfortable loafer design for easy on and off.

It’s also well-cushioned for when you’re on your feet all day. Like all the shoes, we’ve chosen to put on this list, the people who have bought them, swear by them.  A teacher said “I’m on my feet all day long and these shoes are the most comfortable ones I own.”  Another wearer remarked, “they are so very comfortable and have great arch support.”

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Easy Spirit Women’s Romy Sneaker (comfort / cushion)


One of the best reviewed walking shoes out there.  It might not win a lot of points for looks, but walking comfort is top notch. This is definitely a shoe for those long, urban treks.

The materials that make up this shoe is a combination of leather and textile. The shoe also features a flexible sole and cushioned foam sock-liner.

That’s all well and good, but what matters here are what people are saying about them.

One person has been wearing this model of shoe for almost 20 years. She’s on her feet 10 to 12 hours a day and these are the only shoes she can wear.

Another person wore these shoes on a trip to Disneyland (how much walking is that?) and said that these were the most comfortable pair of walking shoes ever, and now she owns five pair.

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Rockport

A worldwide brand that is based in Marlborough Massachusetts, Rockport was established in the early 1970s.  They’ve been bought and sold numerous times, but are still around.

Rockport is credited with inventing the walking shoe and popularizing walking as a form of exercise as a healthy alternative to running. The company has invested much in research into the biomechanics of walking to design its shoes.

Rockport makes shoes that are more office friendly and stylish rather than pure athletic or hiking shoes. They are comfortable, but they do sacrifice some comfort for looks.

Quick story about me and Rockports:

I’ve always had my eye on this brand and wanted to try them.  Back when I had my office / teaching job, I could have really used a pair.  I liked their look and knew they were comfortable, but I skimped and bought a cheap pair of no-name shoes instead.  My feet suffered.  Let that be a lesson to you, don’t skimp when it comes to buying shoes.

So now my only regret is that I didn’t have a pair of Rockports.

Ayva Oxford(walking / stylish)

Rockport calls these shoes “athleisure trainers”, so you get the idea what these shoes are all about.  Yeah, these are athletic shoes but more for walks than distance runs.

They have double cushioning with removable footbeds and EVA outsoles.  In addition to cushioning, the outsoles were made with flexibility in mind.

Like all Rockport shoes, these are more stylish than most other brands, so you’ll look good and feel good.  Durability is also a part of this shoe’s design, so you know they should last a long time. The textile lining also creates great breathability.

People rave about their fit, comfort, and lightweight style. One wearer goes on about their professional look and the terrific comfort for an all-day out of office meeting.

Seems like the perfect office walking shoe.

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Cobb Hill Adele (office ready / stylish)

Another office ready model, this one has the EVA footbed for support and cushion. This slip-on shoe is not only easy to wear but also stylish.  The textile lining repels moisture leaving your feet dry and comfortable all day. And the bottoms have great traction, so you don’t have to worry about slipping as you stride to the next meeting.

These are the most office-oriented shoes on the list, so it’s probably best to not put these on to walk the Appalachian Trail.  However, if you’re walking and standing all day in the office, it’s going to be hard to top these.

People who bought these shoes are saying they are very comfortable!

And a teacher said that they are so comfortable that she teach her three-hour night class on her feet the whole time.

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Skechers

I admit that when I think of Skechers (yes, that really how you spell it, without the “t”), I think of 90s style and looks, but when I researched them for this article, I was surprised to see that they have a great modern look to much of their apparel and shoes.

And after even more research, I found that people rave about Skechers like no other walking shoe brand.  People love their Skechers.

Skechers GOwalk Revolution Ultra Sneakers (cushion / style)


For Skechers, this is their best walking shoe.  The people who bought this shoe are more enthusiastic than the people who rave about the other shoes on this list.

The upper is textile, the sole is rubber.  Therefore, lightweight on top and durable on the bottom. The upper is also a sock-like fit and hugs your feet for soft comfort and flexibility.

Besides that, the Ultra Go has its own signature cushioning. Your feet will be walking on clouds,but not “nothing clouds”, clouds with bounce.  Skechers call them high-rebound ultra pillars; what they do is put spring into every step.

They’re the perfect shoes for slipping on and off, so another good shoe on this list for battling through airport security.  And they have an air cooled insole, so your feet won’t overheat.  How effective it really is, I don’t know, but people LOVE these shoes.

One self-proclaimed shoe-oholic says these shoes are the most comfortable shoes she owns. They give a lot of arch support, but because of their soft upper, they’re probably not the best for hiking the trails.

Another wearer is a factory worker who is on her feet on the concrete for 12 hours a day and when she bought these shoes, she stopped feeling the pain she normally would in the fourth hour or so.

And yet another wearer swears it’s like walking on air.

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Skechers Women’s Flex Appeal 2.0 Sneakers (style / lightweight)

Another Skechers shoe with style.  This one has so many colorways, you might spend all day deciding the one you want most. So why not get two pairs?  This is one of Skechers best-selling and most highly rated shoes.

They’re lightweight and constructed with flexibility in mind.  I could probably say this about every shoe on the list, but they’ll make your feet happy.  Besides their looks, these shoes also pack an air cooled memory foam insole.

Of course, people who bought this shoe rave about it, too.  Many of them love the color choices and have more than one pair.

A nurse, who is on her feet all day calls these shoes super comfortable and is a repeat buyer.

Another buyer who says she’s very picky about shoes and comfort, loves these shoes more than any others that she’s ever tried.

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New Balance

Never known for their fashion appeal, New Balance has built their business and reputation on comfort and quality. Oh, yeah and they’re over 100 years old (founded in 1906) so they have more experience than many of the other brands on this list combined. They have great technical expertise and are known for offering a variety of widths.

Long story short:  New Balance knows what they’re doing.

New Balance Women’s FuelCore Nergize V1 Fuel Core Cross Trainer (cushion / lightweight / stylish)

Okay, I admit: this one surprised me.  It doesn’t look like the typical New Balance shoe.  Besides looking good, (there are tons of colors to choose from), it also has a textile upper and rubber sole, which means lightweight and durable.

There’s the cushiony midsole foam and the memory comfort insole.  These are shoes meant to be slipped on and off (once again, great for travel), but they also support lacing and being tied up, so you can choose how to secure them to your feet.

People who bought this shoe say that they’re cute and comfy. If you need extra arch-support, though, this might not be the one for you.

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New Balance Women’s 510v4 Cushioning Trail Running Shoe (cushion)

Another shoe with many, many colors to choose from, only these are not as stylish as the other option from New Balance. They are superb if you’re doing a lot of walking, and if you’re looking at this list, that means you probably are doing (or will do) a lot of walking.

These are trail shoes, so they’re tougher and more durable than some other choices on this list.

There’s extra protection for your toe (if you’re one who stubs your toe a lot or maybe just kicks into things). But really it’s there to prevent holes with your big toe sticking out.

The all-terrain tread will keep you from slipping, and the cushioning is where this shoe really shines.  It’s in the name of the shoe! And in addition to the standard cushioning in the heel, New Balance also provides a “Ultra Soft” comfort insert. Your feet will be happy all day.

Like some of the other shoes on this list (Skechers, for instance), people who love this shoe are buying multiple pairs.  Other wearers also note the shoes’ support and stability for their feet.

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Asics

Asics, founded in 1949, is headquartered in Kobe, Japan. (A nice little town, if I do say so myself; I lived there for about a year.

From Wikipedia, “ASICS (アシックス Ashikkusu) (stylized as asics) is a Japanese multinational corporation which produces footwear and sports equipment designed for a wide range of sports, generally in the upper price range. The name is an acronym for the Latin phrase anima sana in corpore sano, which translates as “Healthy soul in a healthy body”. In recent years their running shoes have often been ranked among the top performance footwear in the market.”

Besides that, there was a time when Nike wanted to buy them out.  Asics refused and now there’s a bit of a rivalry between the two companies.

ASICS Womens Noosa FF 2 Running Shoe (cushion / lightweight )

Asics tout these as “triathlon-ready shoes”, so anything less than a triathlon should be a cakewalk in these puppies, right? They feature responsive cushioning; you won’t feel the concrete beneath your feet.

They also have a super lightweight design, so your feet won’t be aching from lifting heavy clodhoppers all day.  Like most of the other shoes on this list, they were also made with flexibility in mind to lessen the chance of foot aches and heighten the feeling of freedom.

The uppers have breathable mesh to help keep your feet cool, too.  And Asics claim these shoes can be worn comfortably without socks if that’s your thing.

The footbed is removable and has Asics’s patented FlyteFoam technology for superb comfort.

There is also gel cushioning in the heel.  The rubber outsole is great for grip even in wet conditions.

So is there any down side to this shoe?  A few who bought this shoe say that the material is a little on the thin side and a hole developed for them.  I don’t know what percentage of wearers experienced this, but it’s something to keep in mind if you’re planning to be rough with these shoes.

Still others rave about this shoe.  Another nurse, with 12-hour shifts says that Asics are her go to brand. And she already has three pairs.  Another person who bought these like the fact that the shoes are lightweight yet supportive and  feel like she has nothing on my feet. For me that’s the ultimate in shoes.

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ASICS Women’s MetroLyte Walking Shoe (stylish / barefoot)

These shoes have the grip of a “barefoot” shoe, but also have good cushioning.

This is Asics most lightweight slip-on walking shoe, so another great shoe to make your way through the hustle and bustle of the airports or maybe just your everyday romp through the city.

A full-length memory foam sock liner provides cushioning.  And it’s not too cushiony because it features a contoured arch as well as contour to the shape of your foot.

It also features moisture wicking to keep your feet cooler and dryer.

Don’t worry about slipping; the outsole has great grip that was designed to keep solid contact with even wet surfaces.

Many people who bought these shoes are buyers of multiple pairs.  They love the comfort, cushion, and flexibility.  However, a few people have gotten holes in what they consider a thin material.  It might be worth the risk, though, for how comfortable these shoes seem to be.

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Bonus:  Adidas Adissage

If you’ve ever had a pair of Adidas Adissages, I don’t have to convince how great these slides are.

The reason that they’re a bonus item rather than being on the main list is that they’re not for a full day of walking.  However, after you’ve spent all day on your feet, no matter how great your shoes are, you need something like these.

They have multiple points that literally massage your feet and get the blood circulating. They also have great arch support.  If, after a long day of travel, you make it back to the hotel, but want to go down to the corner restaurant, wear these.

And it might be a fashion faux pas, but if you wear these with socks, it’s the ultimate experience. That soft layer of sock between the bottom of your feet and the plastic points of the Addisages, just feels so good.  And it is better to feel good than look good, right?

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Verdict

The truth is that you can’t go wrong with anything on this list.  The reason we listed so many was so that you could find the right pair for YOU.  Here’s a few final suggestions though:

Nike

I’ve never heard anyone say that they regret buying a pair of Nike shoes.  The Flyknit Frees are awesome for a more barefoot feel.  And the Epic React Flyknits will give you fantastic cushion and be light on your feet.

Merrell

Like I said in the body of the article, I’ve bought Merrell shoes for my last two big trips (one to Seattle and one to the Big Island of Hawaii).  My feet didn’t complain once.  They provided me great comfort, support, and looks. I’m sure I’ll keep buying Merrells in the future. The Trail Glove 4 Knit and the Women’s Moab FST 2 are our recommendations.

Rockport

If you need comfort for the workplace (or just want to look good on your urban travels), this would be my choice.  I haven’t personally tested them out, but their reputation, their creation of the “walking shoe”, and the great customer reviews are all enough to make me buy with confidence. We liked the Cobb Hill Adele and the Ayva Oxford styles.

Skechers

I almost didn’t put these in the final verdict, but the overwhelming and enthusiastic reviews from people who have bought and wear these shoes on a daily basis convinced me that Skechers are shoes not to be passed over.  If you like their sporty and athletic look, go for it.  We liked the GoWalk Revolutions and the Flex Appeal 2.0s.

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