It might seem strange to start an article about the merits of finding the best walking shoes with reasons not to, but bear with us, and we promise we’ll get to the good stuff. If you’re a frequent and enthusiastic hiker, or like to go on walking holidays where there is likely to be snow or really rough and rugged terrain, then you might not want to throw your walking boots away just yet. Similarly, if you suffer with chronic ankle pain thanks to an injury or long-term health condition and are really worried about ankle support, you may be happier with high-cut walking boots than shoes. But, if you made that all important decision that walking shoes are for you, then keep reading to discover our round-up of the best walking shoes for women.
So why buy walking shoes? Well, other than for the scenarios mentioned above, we think they win over hiking boots any day. Considerably lighter, more comfortable and less restrictive, and not over-warm in hot weather (as leather walking boots in particular can be) they’re a great practical option whether you’re a dedicated Sherpa-in-training or taking your first tentative steps down the local country park with Fido in tow.
Many, like any good walking boots, have waterproofing stitched in, so while you might want to add a low-key gaiter for particularly wet weather, they stand up well to pour-downs and puddles, and will even dry out faster than boots if you accidentally find yourself ankle deep in a creek (note to self: next time you do the navigating). Thanks to robust soles and clever constructions, they needn’t be any less rugged than a boot, either — no avoiding painful-looking bits of gravel or bumpy tracks, as you would in traditional trainers — and thanks to that lightness we mentioned before, they’re even ideal for chucking in the suitcase for fair-weather walking holidays. Baggage limits? Pfffft, bring it on.
All you have to do is look out for a couple of things: a flexible sole, which will allow you to keep the optimum heel-toe gait going; and a low, supportive heel that keeps you moving forwards (not slapping down like a huffy duck) to keep sore shins at bay. We’ve done the rest, so keep reading for our pick of the best walking shoes on the market right now.
1. Nike Downshifter 7W
These shoes are made for walking, and errands, and anything else you like
Best for: Best all-rounder | Main material: Synthetic | Waterproof: No
Fitting in all the walking you’d like to when you’re always on the go doing literally anything else can be tough, and that’s where these Nike walking shoes come in handy. They absolutely nail the sports luxe trend, looking just as good as a regular shoe as a sports shoe (and that’s very good looking indeed), so even if you’re just fitting in a quick stroll on the way to work or to pick the kids up from school, they’ll keep you supported and stylish. Reviewers highly commended the comfort and the fit, and together with their affordability and great range of colours, that makes the Downshifter our best walking shoe of the bunch.
2. UA Charged Push Training Shoes
With these light and breathable training shoes, you’re in charge of your walking workout
Best for: Sturdiness | Main material: Synthetic | Waterproof: No
While this stylish pair is marketed as a training shoe, there are a few features at play that we think makes them perfectly suited to walking. First, there’s the responsive “Charged” cushioning to keep you blister-free and bouncing along the track; then there’s the breathable micromesh upper to wick away sweat from the feet; but best of all, perhaps, there’s what UA are amusingly calling a “burrito tongue”, stiff enough to make walkers feel supported but not so stiff — according to pleased reviewers — that it interferes with particularly active workouts. If you like walking, running and hitting the gym, but don’t want to invest in three separate sets of shoes, why not go for these multi-tasking marvels.
3. Mountain Warehouse Belfour Walking Shoes
Great at pretty much everything, these walking shoes are overachievers for sure
Best for: Budgets | Main material: Synthetic | Waterproof: Iso membrane
These Belfour walking trainers get rave reviews on walking sites, and it’s easy to see why. While as good an all-rounder as the Nike Downshifter for causal walks, they really come into their own under slightly more pressure. The breathable mesh upper and lining deals with sweat on strenuous walks, the EVA footbed is cushioning to keep feet pain-free, and the rubber sole is both rugged and flexible to deal with long-haul hikes. If you’re not sure which shoes to go for and don’t want to shell out a fortune, these come highly recommended.
4. Asolo Blade Low Rise Hiking Shoes
The walking shoe that looks like a trainer
Best for: Light walking | Main material: Suede/polyester | Waterproof: Gore-Tex
If there’s anything that can motivate you towards a really good, long walk, it’s a good-looking, undeniably sporty pair of walking trainers — and those would be the Asolo Blade hiking shoes. They have all the lightness and looks of a trainer, but with a durable water-resistant suede and polyester upper that’s much more suited to the great outdoors, and Gore-Tex waterproofing to save your feet from showers. If you don’t like the look of traditional walking shoes but want the performance, try these.
5. Skechers Go Walk 4-Pursuit Trainers
Light and lovely and extra-cushiony for a comfortable walking experience
Best for: Comfort | Main material: Synthetic | Waterproof: No
These Skechers trainers might conjure up memories of PE plimsolls thanks to their ultra-minimal look, but rest assured it’s all rather more high-tech than that. This particular incarnation of the Go Walk trainers has been favourably reviewed for its low-key design combined with surprising comfort and support, in particular the good amount of heel cushioning, which is great news for sufferers of plantar fasciitis or rheumatoid arthritis. If you’re looking for a pair of shoes to promote proper posture, keep you going on leisurely strides, and not look too hardcore, take these slip-ons out for a spin.
6. Salomon Tibai GTX Low Shoe
The boot bosses turn their talents to a walking shoe, with great results
Best for: Summer walks | Main material: Leather and synthetic mesh | Waterproof: Gore-Tex
Salomon have been doing business in the walking world since 1947, so it stands to reason that they’d know a thing or two about how to make a good shoe. Thanks to their unbeatable breathability, these Salomon walking shoes are more suited to warm-weather walks than many other models, as they’ll wick away sweat to keep you dry and comfortable. If the weather does go south, there’s always the Gore-Tex waterproofing for backup, and if you come across any particularly rough bits of terrain, a clever gusseted tongue to keep debris out and avoid any irritating pebble-in-shoe scenarios.
Enjoy tackling terrain in all types of weather? Try our guide on the best walking trousers for size. If you want to take some impressive snaps of your travels, we've also put together a list of the best travel cameras.