17 Best Walking Shoes for Women: 2021 Buyer’s Guide Review
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If you are in a hurry and just want to know our top recommended walking shoes for women, then we suggest you check out Ryka Momentum for your daily exercise habit and Allbirds's Tree Runners if you want a stylish shoe for traveling and walking throughout the day.
Walking is an extremely underrated form of exercise.
In fact, there are a wide range of benefits to walking that include improved circulation, reduced body fat, less impact on joints, strengthening your muscles, increased mental energy and even a reduction on the risk of Alzheimer's disease!
Unfortunately, even though walking is a great form of exercise, many avid walkers make one critical mistake when engaging in this type of exercise — they typically wear running shoes instead of walking shoes.
This mistake is due to a couple of factors like:
So with all this in mind, we have put together a list of the best women's walking shoes for 2021.
- Best Overall: Women's Tree Runners
- Runner-Up Option for Walking Shoes: Ryka Momentum
- Most Affordable: Saucony Women's ProGrid Integrity ST2 Walking Shoe
- Most Cushioned: Hoka One One Bondi 6
- Best for Pain-Free Walking: Orthofeet's Coral Gray Stretchable
- Stylish Walking & Running Shoe: Allbirds Tree Dashers
- Best Walking Sandal: Vionic's Kirra Backstrap Sandal
- Best Balance of Lightweight & Cushion: New Balance Women's WW1865v1
- Perfect for Walking & Standing All Day: Orthofeet’s Whitney
- Best Shock Resistant and Cushioned Choice: Vionic Women's Walker
- Best Minimalist, Lightweight Shoe: Oofos Women's Oomg Low Shoe
- Most Comfortable: New Balance Women's WW928 Health Walking Lace-Up Sneaker
- Most Durable: ASICS Women's GEL-Tech Neo 4 Walking Shoe
- Best Budget-Friendly Option: Ryka Sky Walk
- Best for Trail Walking: The North Face Women's Hedgehog Fastpack GTX Hiker
- Best Women's Shoe for Plantar Fasciitis: Orthofeet Women's Verve-Turquoise Tie-Less Lace
- Best Women's Shoe for Flat Feet: Easy Spirit Women’s Romy Walking Shoe
What You Will Learn
- Best Walking Shoes for Women
- 1. Best Overall: Women's Tree Runners
- 2. Runner-Up Option for Walking Shoes: Ryka Momentum
- 3. Most Affordable Walking Shoe for Women: Saucony Women's ProGrid Integrity ST2 Walking Shoe
- 4. Most Cushioned: Hoka One One Bondi 6
- 5. Best for Pain-Free Walking: Orthofeet's Coral Gray Stretchable
- 6. Stylish Walking & Running Shoe: Allbirds Tree Dashers
- 7. Best Walking Sandal: Vionic's Kirra Backstrap Sandal
- 8. Best Balance of Lightweight & Cushion: New Balance Women's WW1865v1 Walking Shoe
- 9. Perfect for Walking & Standing All Day: Orthofeet’s Whitney
- 10. Best Shock Resistant and Cushioned Choice: Vionic Women's Walker
- 11. Best Minimalist, Lightweight Shoe: Oofos Women's Oomg Low Shoe
- 12. Most Comfortable Walking Shoe for Women: New Balance Women's WW928 Health Walking Lace-Up Sneaker
- 13. Most Durable Walking Shoes for Women: ASICS Women's GEL-Tech Neo 4 Walking Shoe
- 14. Best Budget-Friendly Option: Ryka Sky Walk
- 15. Best for Trail Walking: The North Face Women's Hedgehog Fastpack GTX Hiker
- 16. Best Women's Shoe for Plantar Fasciitis: Orthofeet Women's Verve-Turquoise Tie-Less Lace
- 17. Best Women's Shoe for Flat Feet: Easy Spirit Women’s Romy Walking Shoe
- What is the Difference Between a Walking Shoe and Running Shoe?
- 5 Steps to Shop for a Walking Shoe
- Walking Shoe Arch Types: A Quick Overview
- Should I Purchase a Walking Shoe for a Specific Type of Surface or Activity?
- Final Thoughts on Women's Walking Shoes
Best Walking Shoes for Women
1. Best Overall: Women's Tree Runners
These sustainable walking shoes hit the market in 2018 and changed the game when it came to caring for the environment while making comfortable shoes. Allbirds, the direct-to-consumer brand behind these shoes, has a strong commitment to environmental sustainability, which led them to release the “tree” collection of shoes.
These breathable walking shoes feature a mesh knit upper and are made with a silky-smooth–yet textured– fabric, offering a comforting and cooling feel. All of these materials are made from responsibly grown and sustainably harvested eucalyptus pulp, hence, the “tree” collection. According to Allbirds, this material uses only 5% of the amount of water and about 30% of the amount of land to manufacture when compared to typical sneaker materials.
The material used to make these shoes is noticeably cooling and can wick moisture away, making these shoes ideal for summer travel and all-day wear. The insoles provide the utmost comfort, keeping users coming back to buy multiple pairs.
When it comes to style, the women's options come in eight colors, so you can pick the style that best suits you. The thick laces offer a stylistic contrast to the form-fitting shoes, and the semi-muted colors allow these to match pretty much anything in your closet. Users report that these shoes (and their color) hold up well with time and show very few signs of wear.
2. Runner-Up Option for Walking Shoes: Ryka Momentum
The Momentum walking shoes are from Ryka’s fEMPOWER collection, which is their elite line of shoes engineered exclusively for women. When compared with other shoes, this women’s collection offers a narrower heel, more room in the toe box, and softer cushioning for an unprecedented fit, comfort, cushion, and impact support. These shoes are made with the most up-to-date performance technology, allowing your shoes to be the last thing on your mind during your long walks.
Made with performance innovation in mind, these walking shoes feature a lightweight molded EVA midsole with full RE-ZORB® responsive cushioning to protect your body upon impact as you’re walking. This impact protection also absorbs shock with every step you take. Furthermore, the Anatomical Precise-Return™ soles are designed with extra support for women’s arches and heels, while still offering an ultra-lightweight footwear option.
These walking shoes are made with a stretch knit upper that is not only very breathable, but also comes with custom designs, offering an artsy, ombre decor with layered glassy overlays. These shoes feature luxe details with pillow-soft, microfiber supportive lining that will last you the lifetime of the shoe. These shoes come in six colors: black, chambray blue, gray dawn, indigo, mauve chalk, and peach parfait.
They offer a lace-up front–allowing users to determine the exact fit–however, they are slip-on shoes with a small tab at the backs to help users pull them on. The stretchy laces can be adjusted as needed underneath the upper. They come with a durable, rubber plate outsole to ensure their long-lasting abilities.
3. Most Affordable Walking Shoe for Women: Saucony Women's ProGrid Integrity ST2 Walking Shoe
Saucony is a relatively new brand which is taking the athletic footwear market by storm. Although not as widely popular as New Balance quite yet, Saucony is expected to be quite a refreshing new treat.
4. Most Cushioned: Hoka One One Bondi 6
Unlike some versions of the Bondi in the past, the Bondi 6 comes with a rocking chair-like shape in the sole to make for a smooth stride and enhanced feel. This year’s update also comes with updated “marshmallow” cushioning to offer a softer step, making it the best shoe on the market if you’re looking for great cushioning. Moreover, the thick, double-layer midsole adds the perfect amount of forgiveness–yet the firm cushioning offers a maximalist shoe while minimizing the impact of each step.
With a 36 mm midsole, these plush shoes offer a good amount of lift, however, with a more precise fit than previous versions of this shoe, they feel very stable–even if you have to take a sharp turn. The heel collar offers more padding in addition to heel-stability, allowing you to feel secure when wearing these shoes.
The redesigned upper is very breathable, made using a combination of engineered mesh and lycra. This keeps the front of your feet feeling especially cool, and your feet maintaining an airy feeling throughout the day. HOKA also redesigned the Bondi 6’s rubber outsole, making it wider and more durable than before without compromising the shoes’ lightweight feel.
These forgiving shoes work well if you need an everyday training shoe, but they’re also great for those who want to try to keep running in the face of overuse pain or while going for a slow recovery walk or run.
5. Best for Pain-Free Walking: Orthofeet's Coral Gray Stretchable
These walking shoes offer exceptional comfort and a sure, non-binding fit. With a stretchable upper, they will form to fit the unique shape of your foot. They’re also padded with foam and have no overlays in areas that could be tender on your feet, allowing your feet to feel relaxed. They provide extra room in the toe box so you can freely and comfortably move your toes around without feeling pressure on your feet. However, they still offer extreme protection in areas of pressure points using a soft, seamless interior lining.
Orthofeet’s Stretchable walking shoes have anatomical orthotic insoles and ergonomic soles, providing users with support and thorough cushioning. The premium insoles have an anatomical arch support along with multiple layers of cushioning. This helps reduce pain because it improves foot alignment, which eases the stress and pressure that’s put on your body as you’re walking. Furthermore, they are made out of an anti-microbial fabric, which prevents odors from forming. The shoes also have a padded collar on the back, making them easy to slip on and off as needed.
The Ergonomic-StrideTM soles include air pockets beneath the heels, which is ideal for people who suffer from heel pain after (or during) walking. The air cushioning softens your steps and improves your stability. Users report that the soles help propel your feet forward as you’re walking, which adds spring to your step as if you’re walking on clouds.
These features make this option great for anyone who suffers from plantar fasciitis, diabetes, neuropathy, hammertoes, heel pain, or bunions. These shoes qualify as women’s therapeutic shoes and are certified by Medicare, making them a great solution for women who are looking for diabetic sneakers.
6. Stylish Walking & Running Shoe: Allbirds Tree Dashers
This is the first model of running shoes that Allbirds has put out, and they certainly do not disappoint. These stylish shoes are great if you’re looking for an option that you can wear to work and while running, as they don’t display any logos, overlays, or graphics. The understated and simple look of these shoes is unlike many other running shoes, making them appropriate to wear almost anywhere. Allbirds is famous for the comfort that their shoes offer, and these are no exception.
The midsoles of these shoes are filled with materials derived from sugarcane coupled with negative green EVA, which is appropriately known as SweetFoam. The soles are great at absorbing impact as you walk, but they are still firm enough to use for running. Users report these to be “middle of the road” in terms of cushioning, meaning they work well for most people, most of the time. The rubber coverage in the forefoot and heel help extend the life of these shoes. Also, the base of the Allbirds Tree Dashers is wide, so they offer good stability as you’re walking.
These shoes have a 7mm drop, which is neither too thick nor too thin. The stretchy knit upper adds to the comfortability of these shoes, as they offer your feet a bit of freedom and will mold to your feet. The knit is made from recycled materials and eucalyptus, making it very eco friendly. The heel collar is also all natural, as it is made using Merino wool. This material is firm enough to keep your feet in place while also maintaining comfort–plus, it helps users be able to easily step in and out of these shoes.
Allbirds Tree Dashers are ideal for both running and walking. They offer users a sense of security because they’re snug through the midfoot, however, they become wider around the ball of your foot, which keeps them comfortable for long days on your feet. Users have noted that they’re great for people who are just getting into running because of their ability to conform to your foot. These are definitely a great shoe to have on hand for traveling, as walking for miles upon miles in them will not be a problem.
7. Best Walking Sandal: Vionic's Kirra Backstrap Sandal
If you want less coverage than a sneaker provides, a sandal might be a better choice for you. You’re sure to find a size that fits you perfectly, as these fashion-forward sandals come in whole and half sizes and two widths from size 5 to size 12. These feminine sandals have a decorative triangular thong upper that is available in either leather or suede, in addition to fine metal rivets and a small buckle detail on the back strap, allowing you to adjust the fit as needed. This back strap also adds stability, so you can tighten the shoes as needed. These sandals have a webbed nylon toe post and breathable microfiber lining, which add to their light and airy feel.
The microfiber wrapped EVA footbed absorbs shock and returns energy with each step you take. This is ideal for those who have suffered from foot, ankle, or knee injuries in the past. Furthermore, the Vionic technology is designed to biomechanically support your arches and your feet, ensuring your comfort during your walk. The built-in orthotic is also effective in treating heel pain due to plantar fasciitis, as it supports the middle of your feet where that band of tissue becomes stressed while you’re walking or running.
These shoes offer a durable rubber outsole, so they will last you for many, many miles of walking. Further, the unique tread will give your feet traction on various surfaces, so you will feel stable while you’re walking.
8. Best Balance of Lightweight & Cushion: New Balance Women's WW1865v1 Walking Shoe
New Balance is one of the world's leading brands when it comes to sports wear. The absolute greatest thing about New Balance is the fact that they take criticism very seriously and you can always expect their products to keep getting better and better.
The product is yet to be severely criticized by any of the people who bought it, however, there are some minor complaints here and there. The reason why this product made the top of the list is because of it's insane popularity among walkers.
9. Perfect for Walking & Standing All Day: Orthofeet’s Whitney
Orthfeet’s Whitneys offers users exceptional comfort, making them ideal for those who have to walk and stand all day. These lace-up shoes are form-fitting, yet non-binding, providing extra space for users to freely move their toes and have full protection against pressure points.
They feature soft, flexible uppers and a seamless fabric lining to give users extra comfort and protection–even those who have sensitive feet. The Whitneys are orthotic-friendly, meaning they feature an extra deep design and come with removable insoles, giving users ample space to insert custom orthotics, if needed.
These shoes contain premium, anatomical orthotic insoles and lightweight ergonomic soles, which provide support and exceptional cushioning, making these shoes a great option for women who suffer from plantar fasciitis, bunions, and other foot pain. They also feature air cushioning and extra foam padding, giving users “pillow” support to ease existing pain and prevent future injuries. This also adds spring to your step, which softens the pressure you’re putting on your body when walking in these shoes.
These leather sneakers come in extended width sizes, so users can be sure to find a suitable pair. They’re available in medium, wide, extra-wide, and extra-extra-wide widths, helping everyone to find a comfortable fit.
Whitneys are certified by Medicare, plus they’re qualified as being “therapeutic” under code A5500 of the Diabetic Shoe Bill, making these shoes a good option for women who need diabetic walking shoes. The unique design of these shoes offer superior comfort, helping alleviate pressure on the joints, increase stability, and improve mobility.
10. Best Shock Resistant and Cushioned Choice: Vionic Women's Walker
Orthaheel prides itself with it’s intricate designs and affordable prices. Another brand to look out for in the future.
11. Best Minimalist, Lightweight Shoe: Oofos Women's Oomg Low Shoe
These minimalist shoes feature a simple, slip-on design that is suitable for people with a wide variety of tastes. Furthermore, they’re available in nine colors, so you can personalize them to your liking. They’re made with breathable 4-way stretch fabric and a soft upper, which offers a lightweight, comfortable shoe that you won’t want to take off.
The three primary features that these shoes offer women are impact absorption, comfort, and arch support. These shoes enable users to engage in a natural motion as they’re walking. They offer superior support by cradling the arch of your foot.
The unique OOfoam™ technology that is used to make the Oomg Low shoes absorbs 37% more impact than regular sneaker foam materials, which reduces the stress that you put on your joints as you’re walking. In fact, this patented footbed was designed with superior arch support to remove the stress that you put on your ankles, hips, knees, and lower back as you walk. This technology also speeds up the recovery process of existing injuries and creates a very secure and comfortable shoe that you can wear anywhere.
These shoes are often used by competitive athletes due to their beneficial features, however, many love to wear them on an everyday basis because they are an ideal lifestyle shoe.
12. Most Comfortable Walking Shoe for Women: New Balance Women's WW928 Health Walking Lace-Up Sneaker
Another of the best women's walking shoes is by New Balance. Having multiple brands of shoes on the list is quite an accomplishment for New Balance. Especially considering the fact that many athletics manufacturers won't give women walkers the time of day. This product has received much more positive reviews than the previous one, however, there's a reason why it didn't make number one: price.
13. Most Durable Walking Shoes for Women: ASICS Women's GEL-Tech Neo 4 Walking Shoe
ASICS began manufacturing athletic shoes in 1949. Indeed one of the most experienced companies on this list. As the years went by, the quality of their product kept getting better and better. A definite buy with lots of great reviews.
14. Best Budget-Friendly Option: Ryka Sky Walk
This lightweight, neutral shoe is perfect for those who aren’t looking to spend a lot of money. It is designed and engineered for fitness walking, with a memory foam footbed, TPU midfoot shank, and extra plush cushioning and support. Furthermore, the insoles are softly lined, which helps them mold to the shape of your foot and distribute your weight evenly.
The low-cut upper is made from a breathable mesh fabric, which gives you full ventilation, ensuring your feet stay dry as you walk. These shoes also feature leather overlays in key areas that help provide lateral support as well. To increase security even more, these shoes have a traditional laced closure, so users can make them as tight or as loose as they prefer.
These shoes feature a padded tongue and heel collar, which helps give them their snug fit. The tongue will also protect your instep from potential irritation from the laces.
The molded EVA midsoles will provide you with even more cushioning. These midsoles also help absorb impact and feature a TPU shank to ensure the structure of these shoes does not become compromised by excessive use.
The soles of the Ryka Sky Walks are made of rubber, which gives walkers traction on various terrains. The durable soles are also both flexible and waterproof, so the conditions under which you walk are not limited.
Finally, these shoes come in five different colors, so you can pick whichever suits your style!
15. Best for Trail Walking: The North Face Women's Hedgehog Fastpack GTX Hiker
The North Face Hedgehog Fastpack GTX Hikers are a lightweight hiking and trail walking shoe in one. They maintain a trail running shoe look, however, the majority of the padding is located in the heel of the shoe, which is perfect for walking or hiking.
These North Face shoes feature a waterproof Gore-Tex liner, which is a backup water repellent for the upper, which is synthetic and keeps the majority of the water out. They’re soft and flexible, which allow users’ feet to easily move from side to side without feeling too snug.
In terms of comfort, there is a lot of cushioning in the soles of these shoes in addition to a padded tongue. There is plenty of arch support as well, which adds to the comfortability. Additionally, the midsole is coated in PU leather and offers a dual-density EVA.
The soles of these shoes are a unique multicolor Vibram that is both attractive and functional, with soft and flexible inner rubber, which will also help you gain traction on slippery surfaces.. The design of the sole comes in the shape of either a flower or tree branch. On the forefront of the shoes, there is a small rubber toe cap that’s resistant to abrasion to help protect your feet against the elements of the trails.
This is a great option for the price if you’re looking for a middle of the line shoe.
16. Best Women's Shoe for Plantar Fasciitis: Orthofeet Women's Verve-Turquoise Tie-Less Lace
These might be the right shoes for you if you have an active lifestyle. Orthofeet Verve Women's Athletic shoes provide anatomical arch support, have a non-binding and relaxed fit, and provide the user with maximum protection in areas of the foot where pressure points are located.
They have a premium orthotic insole as well as ergonomic, cushioned soles that help soften each step you take while also improving your stability and allowing your feel to move in their natural way.
These shoes are engineered to help reduce pain while walking and improve comfort for people who have sensitive feet. They have a deep, wide toe box to let your feet take up the space that they naturally would if you were wearing no shoes at all.
17. Best Women's Shoe for Flat Feet: Easy Spirit Women’s Romy Walking Shoe
This is the best overall option for proper ankle and arch support, durability, price, and appearance. These shoes are incredibly lightweight and perfect for light running.
They come in a variety of colors, which makes them a fashionable athletic option. The removable sock liner gives the user excellent cushioning and absorbs shock.
What is the Difference Between a Walking Shoe and Running Shoe?
The difference is all in how it feels when you put it on.
A walker walks heel first as opposed to a runner who runs in-sole first. A running shoe will have a stiffer sole whereas a walking shoe will have more flex and blend to its design.
Keep in mind the fact that manufacturers put more thought into running shoes than they do in walking shoes, so what might seem the same to you might actually make a huge difference to you when you walk in them.
So with that mind, we recommend looking for 5 critical components when shopping for a walking shoe.
5 Steps to Shop for a Walking Shoe
As you shop for a walking shoe, make sure that the product you select fits your expectations in five ways.
#1. Flexible and Light Weight
In this case, you need to make sure that whichever shoe you picked is both flexible and lightweight. A good walking shoe would weigh between 10 to 32 ounces. The reason why you would need a lightweight shoe is that it's easier to move around in them on any surface. Same is the case with flexibility.
A good way to check whether the shoe is too flexible or just the right amount is to try twisting the shoe at the sole. If it twists to a certain degree without twisting completely, then it's at the right amount.
#2. Breathable but with a good fit
Try walking around for about 30 minutes before trying the shoes on. What this does is make your foot a bit swollen. When you wear the shoe, you can determine whether it'll fit perfectly after a long walk or will it be too tight. Your shoes don't have to be too fitted, however.
Make sure that there's an almost 1.3-centimeter space left between your toes and the tip of the shoe. The sides don't have to be too tight to the point of hurting you, however, they can't be too loose to the point where your foot falls off either.
Your heel tends to touch the ground first when you're walking, so you would need shoes which lay flat. However, as I'm pretty sure you know, no athletic shoe is completely flat. This is referred to as the heel drop measurement. The difference in heights can be from 10-30 millimeters based on whichever design you pick.
I'd strongly recommend buying shoes with a heel drop measurement of 0-10 millimeters. If your heel is way higher than your toes, then you'll be creating more pressure there and as a result, blisters will form on your toes.
All walking shoes have some sort of padding inside of them. The padding can make a huge difference id you're keen on comfort, as you should be. It's usually the padding which saves your foot from bruises, blisters or from poking your feet at rocky surfaces.
Look for a shoe with soft padding, it doesn't matter if it looks less in comparison to another shoe, what matters is the comfort.
A good women's walking shoe is one which doesn't put too much strain on your wallet. Trust me, a good choice for you with all the necessities I just mentioned is possible to buy in a specific price limit. I recommend focusing on the $60 to $120 price range.
Okay, to recap, here's what you need to look for when shopping for a walking shoe:
Walking Shoe Arch Types: A Quick Overview
One last thing to consider when shopping for a walking shoe for a woman is understand how your arches work. Our feet are able to form two types of arches for bodyweight distribution: sideways and longitudinal.
Sideways arches run from one corner of the insole to the other and longitudinal arches run from the bottom part of the insole till the top of your heel. If you're looking for the perfect walking shoes, then you need to determine your arch type first.
A quick test to identify what type of arch you have is to examine your foot prints.
If you're able to see all of your foot in the print, you have a low arch. If you're able to see the middle of your foot only sparingly in the print then you have a high arch. And, if you're undecided about what category to put your arch type then you're probably a neutral arch type.
Once you've identified your arch type, I recommend looking for walking shoe that matches it. Here is what to pick based on the three types of arches:
#1. Low arch type
You might want to go a little below the required amount of flexibility and a little less heel drop in order to stabilize your feet.
#2. High arch type
People with high arch type feet do not have good natural shock control. In order to compensate for this, you would need shoes with extra padding and curvature in their design.
#3. Neutral arch types
People with neutral arch types can refer to the section on the best features since this mainly applies to them. However, they might shift towards different heel drop measurements or padding based on where they think they're leaning to.
Should I Purchase a Walking Shoe for a Specific Type of Surface or Activity?
The short answer is typically yes.
Most walking shoes are adapted to a particular area. Even if the manufacturers say that their shoes are adapted to all surfaces, don't believe them! You might have noticed how some shoes hurt your feet while walking at a particular surface, whereas you're much more comfortable in another pair of shoes.
When buying walking shoes, and I mean actually buying them with the purpose of treating walking as an exercise, you need to go to the best athletics store there is. Even there, don't take the shopkeepers word for it. Try the product out, walk on a few different surfaces you might find around the store and determine for yourself whether it's comfortable at the same level on both the surfaces or not.
Now, if you are dealing with a specific surface or medical issue, then I recommend checking out these specialized buying guides:
Final Thoughts on Women's Walking Shoes
Walking has a lot of benefits and there are people who think that unless you're jogging or running, you aren't losing weight. Those people will be left dumbfounded after you walk into the room looking better than you've ever looked and you'll owe it all to treating walking as a proper exercise.
Walking shoes for women are being made available for every one slowly but surely. Just follow this ultimate buyers guide to help you pick out the best walking shoes out there for you.
Finally, if you'd like to learn more about how to build a walking habit, be sure to check out our other information-packed articles on this subject.
Thanks for checking out this buying guide. I hoped it helped you find the right walking shoe that fits your specific needs!