The footwear industry never ceases to catch us by surprise. Just when you thought you bought the latest and finest pair of walking shoes, a new model appears.
Then, it happens.
In front of you is a pair of new shoes, with a completely different persona, flaunting new features that can easily set you in another buying mode.
Not so fast, though.
You need to know what to look for in walking shoes before you spend your hard-earned money on a pair.
In this guide, I’ll show you what to look for in walking shoes without spending too much time in the process.
In particular, I’ll share everything I consider before getting myself a pair. And I hope this guide will help you make the right buying decision the first time.
Let’s get to it.
What are Walking Shoes?
Every pair of shoes has a purpose, and walking shoes are specifically suited for short strolls and walks at an easy pace.
Walking shoes are lightweight in design, with the zero drop sneakers and the memory foam models being even lighter in the category.
Many walking shoes don’t have thick forefoot and heel cushioning. Such options are ideal if you need to walk a lot faster.
Since you strike the ground with your heels first as you walk, and then roll through the steps, the walking shoes you get don’t necessarily need to have higher heels.
The most important thing to know about walking shoes is that they have to be as flexible as possible. Or they won’t give you the exceptional walking experience that you’re looking for.
Types of Walking Shoe
There are at least eight types of walking shoes that I can think of. And each is suitable for a different kind of walking.
1. Comfort Shoes
If you’re going to be on your feet all day, you had better invest in comfort shoes.
It doesn’t matter whether you wear sneakers, loafers, or dress shoes to work. Just make sure they’re comfortable enough to keep your feet happy.
Comfort shoes guarantee support and cushioning. And they’re usually the best option for those who do a lot of walking on a daily basis.
2. Stability Shoes
Built on the semi-curved last and featuring dual-density midsoles, stability shoes tend to be a lot more flexible than the motion control models.
They’re not only lightweight and durable. They also provide a decent level of support, which makes them a good choice for heavy and mid weight walkers.
Since they have post technology integrated under the arch, stability shoes easily correct overpronation, bringing the feet into neutral alignment.
They do have heels, but they aren’t as thick as what’s on motion control footwear.
3. Motion Control Shoes
From a design perspective, motion control walking shoes are stiff and less flexible. And their dual density midsole and materials added inside make them somewhat heavy.
Despite their rigidity, these shoes are durable and suitable for correcting overpronation. They’re also suitable for walkers with collapsed arches because the integrated dense material in the footbed provides arch support.
Given the denseness of the materials used for construction, these shoes are good for overweight walkers who want to get by without straining.
4. Hiking and Trail Shoes
Made for walking on natural, rocky trails, hiking and trail shoes are the best alternative to heavy boots.
Not only are they lightweight. They also feature a superior outsole, which protects your feet from sharp objects and rocks.
Rugged in design, with grooves that easily grip different hiking trails, these shoes offer better traction and stability everywhere you go.
While they’re not as durable as hiking boots are, they’re comfortable and breathable, with good cushioning for extended period of walking in the hiking trails.
5. Cushioned Shoes
Although they don’t offer enough support, cushioned shoes have soft midsoles and tend to be a lot more flexible than motion control shoes.
They are good for people who have normal feet, although you can also benefit from them if you have raised arches.
6. Lightweight Walking Shoes
Lightweight walking shoes are for walkers who have normal feet.
Since they’re also flexible, these shoes allow you to walk at a speed of your choice. And they generally offer a decent level of performance.
The problem with lightweight footwear is they lack sufficient cushioning. As such, they won’t last longer if you use them for extended period every day.
If you choose lightweight shoes for heavy walkers, I recommend you learn when to replace walking shoes and why it’s important to do so.
What to Look for In Walking Shoe, Choose, and Buy the Right Pair
Whether you’re interested in sneakers or you’re looking for your next pair of dress shoes, below what to look for in walking shoes before buying.
Get a Pair of Shoes with Decent Cushioning
Whether you are going for a short stroll or you plan to walk for long hours, it’s essential to wear shoes with insoles that protect your heels and arches from injuries.
Because insoles provide a soft, comfortable landing, they can protect your heels, midfoot, and arch from damages. Not to mention prevent your feet from straining while walking.
Get Your Size Right
A pair of walking shoes maybe cheap, fashionable, or both. But they won’t make the cut if they’re not of the correct size.
The right pair of walking shoes is the one that fits well.
Not only do fitting shoes make walking comfortably possible. They also go a long way to prevent blisters and calluses.
When looking for walking shoes, make sure you pick the correct size. Your sneakers shouldn’t be too big and dress shoes shouldn’t fit too small.
Small shoes are nothing but tight, and wearing tight footwear means you’re welcoming bunions, stress fractures, body stress, and hammertoes. Oversized ones just make it difficult to walk.
Choose Durable Walking Shoes
Brands make shoes differently, with varying materials and unique sets of technologies, and this explains why some models last longer than others do.
When looking for walking shoes, wear the hat of a perfectionist and look for a model made of the best materials.
Shoes with rubber outsoles, leather upper, breathable liners, metallic eyelets, and double or triple stitching are a good deal. Even if they cost a little more, they’ll most likely last longer than lightweight shoes made of cheap materials.
However, how long walking shoes last isn’t only about how manufacturers make them.
Even the frequency of use affects their longevity, with many models easily logging up to 500 miles before showing signs of wear and tear.
What’s Your Feet’s Type?
Most standard walking shoes will fit you well if you have normal arches. Only make sure they have sufficient cushioning to provide the comfort you need to walk properly.
For fallen arches, find shoes with decent arch support. These come with inserts that naturally raise your arch.
And while their effect is only temporary, they’re quite effective in providing the support you need to walk comfortably even for an extended period.
Since such shoes feature technologies that enhance natural fluidity and movement, your feet get the necessary space to move while feeling supported and comfortable in the process.
It’s a different case if you have raised arches. Your foot is more rigid, and there’s too much pressure on the ankle, forefoot, and heels.
The lack of flexibility makes walking on high arches hard and sometimes painful. But you can find some relief by using walking shoes for high arches.
Know Your Needs and Preferences
Before I go out to by shoes, I first ask myself why I need them in the first place. This allows me to buy the right pair of shoes for the right type of walking.
I bet you shouldn’t be an exception either.
If you intend to be on your feet for long hours, go for long distance walking shoes.
Such footwear, from dress shoes to loafers to sneakers, lowers the chances of overpronation and lower back pain. In any case, motion control shoes would be ideal for a lot of walking.
Suppose you have body aches, it would be reasonable to pick shoes that provide comfort as you walk.
For example, shoes for lower back pain feature anatomical and ergonomic designs, which lower body strains by enhancing even distribution of weight as you walk.
If you’re one of the people who sometimes love to experience the effect of barefoot walking, you should go for minimalist shoes.
Are the Walking Shoes Comfortable?
Let’s be honest:
Many of us buy walking shoes based only on our guts, only to end up with stiff pairs that won’t easily flex or feel comfortable even after multiple break in attempts.
The results are obvious – injured feet and painful knees, especially after doing a lot of walking.
But why put your feet structure to unnecessary strain when you can enjoy the benefits of walking with a pair of the right shoes?
So instead of choosing shoes simply because they look good, remember that comfort supersedes aesthetics.
Choose a pair of shoes with a breathable upper. They allow constant airflow to keep your feet cool and dry throughout the day.
A pair of shoes with a cushioned footbed, combined with durable insoles with a good padding, provides a comfortable platform to snug your feet. If the inserts can contour to the shape of your feet, that would be great.
Pick shoes that have sufficient room in the toe box. They shouldn’t be too tight or too loose, just roomy enough to allow your feet to wiggle.
Ease of wearing also play a role in determining whether a pair of shoes is good for walking.
Sneakers with Velcro straps and slip on shoes are good for quick on and off. Lace up designs, on the other hand, allows you to tie to your comfort, so you can tighten or loosen the laces to get that snug fit.
Buy Walking Shoes that Offer Good Traction
I don’t want to slip and fall in a pair of shoes supposedly built to keep me on my feet and give me an exceptional walking experience.
So when it comes to choosing walking shoes, I even go as far as to check the quality of the outsoles.
First, consider shoes made of rubber outsoles. In addition to flexing well and breaking in easily, rubber outsoles are more durable than the competition.
Second, make sure the shoes are slip-resistant. Check if the pair has grooves, are important in gripping different surfaces to provide traction and stability. The more grooves the shoes have the better.