Whether you walk for exercise, are on your feet all day, or like to spend hours on the trail, having a comfortable pair of shoes is essential.
The good news is that there are many brands and designs of walking shoes from which to choose. But, as always, we want to help, and we think our list of the best walking shoes will do just that.
We’ll list what we think are the best shoes available – including our top choice, the Brooks Addiction Men’s Walking shoe – provide some buying tips, discuss proper walking shoe care, and compare walking shoes to running shoes.
Let’s begin by discussing some things to keep in mind when buying walking shoes.
|Brooks Men’s Addiction Walking Shoe||Check on Amazon →|
|Skechers Men's Afterburn Memory-Foam Lace-up Sneaker||Check on Amazon →|
|Skechers Performance Men’s Go Walk Slip-On Walking Shoe||Check on Amazon →|
|Nike Men’s Air Monarch Iv Cross Trainer||Check on Amazon →|
|Rockport Men’s World Tour Classic||Check on Amazon →|
|Merrell Men’s Jungle Moc Slip-On Shoe||Check on Amazon →|
|New Balance Men’s Mx608V4||Check on Amazon →|
Before you buy: 7 Things to consider when purchasing walking shoes
Walking shoes, running shoes, sandals – you’ll soon notice that choices abound as you begin to shop, but we’re going to direct our focus on walking shoes – not the many other kinds – because they’re made for just that: walking.
Finding the right pair of walking shoes that fit your needs, that are comfortable, and that come at the right price can be a challenge, but the following tips can help you narrow the field.
Cushioning means comfort, and no one has much patience for a pair of shoes that’s uncomfortable right down to your sole(s). Why bother wearing a pair that’s too tight or feels like you have plywood attached to the bottoms of your feet?
The overall cushioning of your men’s walking shoes helps determine how much pressure you feel on your feet as you’re walking or standing in them.
Check out your shoes’ inner cushioning; is it made from inferior foam or another material base? If so, you’ll soon experience the agony of your feet while those shoes you spent your hard-earned money on likely will wear out faster than higher-quality brands.
2. The Fit
This tip is where trying on shoes in a store, rather than purchasing them online, has an advantage. Fit = Comfort (just like proper cushioning, ankle and heel support, etc.), and an ill-fitting pair of shoes is, as mentioned, nothing but aggravation.
The best shoe stores generally have someone who can measure your feet for proper length and width. Here are some things to consider when getting the right fit.
- Always wear socks when fitting your shoes – that is, unless you don’t wear socks on an everyday basis, but we think most of you do.
- Try on both shoes, because your feet may be of a slightly different size.
- Walk around in the shoes before deciding whether to buy them. You probably won’t need more than a few minutes of walking to determine how they fit, but don’t be in a rush, either. Also, keep in mind that they may be a little stiff when you first wear them, but if they’re excessively stiff, you probably need to try a different size or different brand.
- Wait until later in the day to go shoe shopping, because your feet are likely to be a bit swollen from being on them most of the day. This helps to find a “true” fit.
- Another important part of a shoe’s fit is the roominess of the toe box. Many walking shoes come with rounded toe boxes that provide comfort on long walks and help prevent issues such as calluses and blisters. On the other hand, too much roominess in the toe box can cause your foot to move around too much and may lead to stability issues.
- Pay careful attention to the length and width of the shoe. Too much length may cause your foot to move around excessively in your shoe, while shoes that are too short can cause calluses, blisters, and other not-so-fun issues, such as hammertoes. Similar problems may occur if you wear shoes that aren’t wide enough. Even worse, too-tight shoes may hinder proper blood circulation and lead to serious foot problems.
- Another thing to consider is whether the shoe has an Achilles tendon protector. Also known as a tendon lock, it reduces stress on your Achilles and keeps your heel in place. While we’re not saying that you should never buy walking shoes online, just make sure to check the shoe’s dimensions and specifications. Read the reviews of others; customers often reveal whether a shoe runs big or small.
3. The Shape of Your Feet
The shape of your feet is another factor for finding a comfortable fit. You may wear the same size as someone else but have a different foot shape regarding width, the shape of your foot arches, and more.
Your arch shape may be flat, normal, or high, and it has a significant effect on the fit and comfort of your new walking shoes.
4. Ankle & Heel Support
Walking on uneven surfaces on which you may suddenly bend or twist your foot can cause injuries or excessive strains. That’s why finding a shoe with the best ankle and heel support is so important.
Some men’s walking shoes come with extra shock absorption that limits the effects of hard impact and makes it easier to walk on different types of terrain without stress and strain.
5. The Outsole
The outsole is often the first thing to wear out on a pair of shoes. If you choose an outsole that’s too thick, the chances are good that your shoes will wear out faster than you expected.
Walking shoes with rubber or rubber-synthetic compounds provide durability and comfort, and you may need a heavier outsole depending on how hard you are on your shoes.
However, in general, most men prefer lightweight walking shoes, and you can find shoes that are lighter but still durable.
Any number of materials may make up the upper portion of a walking shoe, including leather, synthetics (such as polyester), or a wide variety of mesh types.
Mesh materials, as well as those made with cotton, breathe better than synthetic materials and usually weigh less.
The most comfortable walking shoes bend easily and match the flexibility of your feet while you walk. You need some resistance to protect your feet from undue strain, however.
8. Arch design
Not everyone needs walking shoes with extensive arch support, although you might think otherwise. It’s important to buy shoes that fit your arch shape.
For example, if you have low arches or flat feet, a shoe with motion control and balance helps to keep your feet stabilized.
If you have high arches, then you’ll probably need walking shoes that have cushioned soles with extra shock absorption and stability.
How a shoe looks often affects how often its owner uses it. Staying motivated is important for maintaining a walking-for-exercise regimen, and having a pair of shoes that you like looking at and like to show off helps.
Next, we’ll take a look at our picks for the best walking shoes for men.
The 7 best walking shoes for men in 2020
Brooks is a company that focuses primarily on running and walking shoes, and millions of customers over the years can attest to the quality of their products.
The men’s Addiction Walking Shoe lives up to the lofty Brooks’ reputation and has many features that make it the best on the market.
Brooks advertises its Addiction Walking shoe as having the fit and feel of a running shoe, which are nice attributes to have in a more casual walker. It’s excellent for people who have foot problems or suffer from leg pain, and it combines sturdiness with durability.
The Addiction Walking shoe includes a full-grain leather upper that provides plenty of comfort, while Brooks’ patented HydroFlow technology creates excellent midsole cushioning and shock absorption.
There’s plenty of padding around the collar that makes them comfortable to wear for long stretches; in fact, this makes them good shoes for walking all day.
You’ll also love them if you’re on vacation or frequently out of town, because they’re the most comfortable men’s walking shoes for travel.
While these shoes provide the stability you, your feet, and your legs need, they’re also lighter weight than many other walking shoes. There’s plenty of arch support, and they have a classic, sleek design that looks good with anything.
- Lightweight but stable
- Ideal for people with leg and foot problems
- Comfortable to wear for long stretches of time
- The leather upper may get warmer than other types of material
Comfort, durability, protection – the Brooks Addiction Walking Show provides all of these and more. The company says that they feel like a high-quality pair of running shoes, which is saying a lot, and it’s hard to argue with them.
Who wouldn’t like a walking shoe that combines comfort, style, and function? If Amazon reviews are any indication, thousands of men get it with the Skechers Afterburn lace-up sneaker.
The latter is what you’d expect from Skechers, and that’s a good thing. A global leader in lifestyle footwear, Skechers is a trend-setter in many ways, including when it comes to style. The Afterburn features a cool design that you can purchase in a variety of colors.
But the Afterburn more than its good looks. It features a leather and synthetic composite upper that helps create optimal comfort, and includes mesh overlays, as well as a padded collar for added comfort around the ankle.
There’s also a memory foam insole that enhances comfort during long walks or when you spend long hours on your feet for work and other activities.
Indeed, while the Afterburn ranks among the best walking shoes for men, it’s also ideal for anyone whose occupation requires them to be on their feet for eight hours or more.
The Afterburn also includes an Articu-Lyte rubber sole that’s flexible and offers the traction you need on all types of surfaces and terrain.
- The mesh upper is breathable and provides plenty of support.
- It features a cushioned mesh tongue and padded ankle collar.
- The rubber sole offers plenty of traction.
- Sizing may run narrow.
The Skechers Afterburn is great for walking but also great for anyone who’s on their feet a lot. It combines a stylish design with excellent overall comfort.
It seems like wherever you go in the U.S. these days you see someone wearing a pair of Skechers.
That’s hardly a surprise, considering that Skechers has, since its inception in 1992, risen to become the third-largest athletic footwear brand in America, behind Nike and Under Armour.
Skechers fills a gap that the two behemoths ahead of them mostly don’t, i.e., they provide a simple, casual, quality shoe that isn’t high-performance athletic footwear.
That said, you’ll love the performance you’ll get from a pair of Skechers, particularly with products such as their Performance Men’s Go Walk Slip-On shoe.
While there’s nothing overly fancy about the Go Walk slip-on, it checks all of the boxes for consistent performance and ranks among the most comfortable walking shoes for men.
It’s made of mesh fabric and slips on and off easily (while providing more of an elegant look than many lace-up shoes).
One of the best things about mesh fabrics is how well they breathe and provide excellent ventilation. Your feet remain comfortable even on the warmest days, whether you’re on a trail in nature or walking from place to place in your everyday life.
Skechers has two patented technologies that play a huge role in their shoes’ overall comfort: a Goga Pillars sole that provides excellent flexibility to enhance your walking experience, and a GOga Mat insole for superior cushioning.
The outer sole also features multi-directional traction that adjusts nicely to the terrain.
The mesh fabric helps make the shoe lightweight, which helps to reduce further the sort of strain that can tire your feet easily, but doesn’t reduce its overall durability.
What else? Well, there’s a memory foam padded heel cup that helps provide an excellent fit and a midsole that has excellent impact absorption.
- Lightweight but durable
- Easy to slip on and off
- Durability is a concern for some customers
The Performance Men’s Go Walk Slip-On is another hit by a footwear company that keeps coming up with winners. Some reviewers say the shoes feel like bedroom slippers, and it’s hard to beat that kind of comfort.
It’s nice to have options, if your fitness routine is multi-faceted. That’s why we think you’d like the Nike Monarch IV Cross Trainer; as its name suggests, you can wear it as a walking shoe but also for other types of workouts.
Or, if you simply want a comfortable casual shoe that makes vacation sightseeing feel as if you’re walking on air, then the Monarch IV Cross Trainer has you covered.
As you’d expect from the Nike Air line, the Monarch IV provides superior support and has a pylon midsole. The Air-Sole covers the length of the shoe and contributes greatly to the shoe’s overall comfort.
The solid rubber outsole has a variety of traction patterns that give you the stability you need on a variety of surfaces. We also like its leather upper that has perforations for better airflow, as well as overlays for additional support.
The Monarch IV represents the best of Nike technology and is a superb walking shoe. But its sleek design – which resembles that of many Nike running shoes – is best for casual or active situations.
In other words, you shouldn’t wear it for more formal occasions – but we don’t think that’s a problem for most men.
- Excellent support and stability
- Works well on all types of terrain
- Breathable leather upper
- The sole can be a bit stiff, especially in the beginning
The Monarch IV cross-trainer is an excellent walking shoe that is a close cousin to Nike’s line of running shoes. You can use it for a variety of activities with the expectation of comfort, stability, and support.
Rockport is a pioneer in developing casual shoes that utilize athletic footwear technology. They have a long line of casual – and formal – shoes that provide superior walking comfort and stability, and the line includes their World Tour Classic.
And what’s not to like about a shoe that’s comfortable, durable, and excellent for people with foot issues who need a less-constrictive shoe?
The World Tour line of shoes is among Rockport’s best in many ways.
It comes with a padded tongue and collar that limits excessive rubbing (and prevents blisters), while it also has breathable polyurethane cushioning that absorbs moisture and also provides odor resistance.
The shoe’s upper consists of full-grain leather that’s easy to clean and which conforms nicely to the foot for a comfortable fit. It also has an EVA foam midsole footbed and a rubber outsole that’s very durable.
- Sturdy leather construction
- Good for all types of terrain
- Some customers say the newest World Tour version is narrower than in the past
Rockport is a well-established company that’s at the forefront of modern casual shoe technology. Their World Tour line is of superior quality and ideal for a variety of uses.
Is it a walking shoe? A casual shoe? At first glance, the Merrell Men’s Jungle Moc Slip-On seems to fall into the latter category, but it also provides most of the benefits of a good walking shoe without necessarily looking like one.
We like it as a walking shoe because, among other reasons, it provides exceptional comfort and slip-resistant stability on all kinds of terrain, i.e., wet, dry, even, uneven, and so on.
It’s an ideal shoe for trail walking and has a stylish design that makes it suitable for wear just about anywhere, including casual work environments.
Merrell’s shoes come with their M Select Fresh feature that prevents sweat and moisture from affecting your shoe’s freshness, thanks to antimicrobial agents that penetrate and limit the production of the odor-causing microbes.
The most important feature of the Merrell Moc, however, is its comfort. The elastic at the top is easy on your foot and makes it simple to take the shoes on and off. Moreover, the shoes are comfortable right out of the box.
We also think you’ll like the Merrell Moc’s mesh lining, which provides breathability and excellent airflow.
- Extremely comfortable
- Wide selection of color choices
- M Select Fresh feature
- The shoe is almost too good-looking to take on a trail walk
Whether you wear it for walking or use it for everyday life, the Merrell Jungle Moc will provide superior comfort. They’re stable, slip-resistant, and simply look good.
Not every man wants to spend $100 – or more – on a pair of walking shoes, but they do want a high-quality option at the right price.
The New Balance Men’s Mx608v4 combines quality and affordability in a shoe that many, many men (it has nearly 10,000 reviews on Amazon) wear and love.
We like the Mx608v4 for many reasons, not the least of which is comfort.
It’s a shoe that combines many elements to create high comfortability – including a quality rubber sole, density foam for excellent support, a cushioned footbed, and generous sizing that works for men with wide or narrow feet.
The thick rubber sole provides excellent traction, which is always a plus when you’re working out, as well as nice balance (hey, it goes with the name, after all).
An enhanced design delivers increased forefoot flexibility, while further comfort comes from enhanced heel cushioning.
You can get the Mx608v4 in suede or leather; in either case, the upper has nice breathability that prevents your feet from overheating, whether you’re at the gym or out for a long walk.
Not that you have to use the Mx608v4 for exercise and power walks only. Many men use them for casual wear, and they’re among the most comfortable shoes for standing all day.
New Balance offers a variety of color options, including blue, white, red, grey, brown, black, and more. They may not be as stylish as other top men’s walking shoes, but they’re still suitable for casual wear, and they deliver big in the performance department.
- Fit all shapes and sizes of feet
- Excellent balance and traction
- A quality shoe at an affordable price
- Not as stylish as some walking shoes, but beauty is in the eye of the beholder
New Balance is a highly-recognized brand that has a loyal following and thousands (upon thousands) of satisfied customers. The Mx608v4 is a budget-friendly shoe that has everything you need regarding comfort.
Taking proper care of your walking shoes (and when it’s time to replace them)
No one wants to spend good money on a product and then have it wear out too quickly. That’s certainly true of walking shoes, which should provide you with plenty of use.
However, you have some responsibility, too – namely, caring for the shoes – and it’s a key component of ensuring your shoes’ longevity. Here are some steps you can make to make sure your shoes have the best care.
1. Use your walking shoes for walking
Some runners and walkers make the mistake of using their workout shoes for other activities. Not that they’ll harm your feet – although they are designed for their intended activity – but using them only for walking and running will help them last longer.
2. Air them out
Don’t store your walking shoes in your gym bag or another less-ventilated place between uses. They need to breathe and fully dry out between uses.
3. Dry them out
It’s important to let your shoes dry out between uses if they get wet. Air drying them is the best method – and, really, the only method you should use – and make sure to loosen the laces and pull out the insoles first.
You also can put wadded-up paper (such as newspaper) inside them to hasten the drying process.
Never dry your shoes on or near direct heat sources, such as on a radiator, because the heat can dry out the leather, as well as the adhesive and other materials.
Always air dry your shoes if you wash them, as well. Use cold water and gentle soap to wash them, and never toss them in the dryer after you’ve finished.
4. Replace the insoles, but don’t use this to avoid replacing the shoes
Your insoles may break down, but never replace them as an alternative to buying shoes that have worn out.
The shoe provides the majority of the cushioning and support you need, and new insoles won’t make up for the cushioning and support lost through regular wear and aging.
5. Rotate your shoes
If you don’t mind spending the extra money, you can buy a second pair of walking shoes a month or so after you’ve bought your first pair and then alternate them every other workout.
Many stores and online outlets offer discounts for buying more than one pair, including “buy one, get one free” specials.
How do I know that my walking shoes need replacing?
The bottom line is that your walking shoes lose a bit of cushioning and support with every step you take. Wearing shoes that are beyond their lifespan can lead to a variety of foot and ankle problems, such as shin splints, heel spurs, plantar fasciitis, stress fractures, etc.
Here are some signs that it’s time to “retire” your current pair of walking shoes:
- The tread pattern on the soles is worn down. Some shoes have a color pattern that alerts you when the sole is worn down.
- The heel shows signs of wear, particularly on one side of it. It can reach a point where the shoe leans towards one side.
- The uppers around the ankle are breaking down.
- You notice wrinkles on the bottom or side of the sole, which indicate that the support and cushioning are wearing out.
As a general rule, most athletic shoes should last 350 to 500 miles. While walking shoes don’t take the same kind of pounding as running shoes, the chances of you still getting good support and cushioning past 500 miles aren’t good.
Your weight is also a factor in how quickly your shoes wear out.
Also, keep in mind that your walking shoes have already aged before the first time you take them out for a spin. They’ve been in a warehouse and on a store shelf, and the glue that holds them together is drying out, while the cushioning’s air pockets are diminishing.
Some shoes that are on sale are older models, or soon to be discontinued, and may a year, or more, old. While they often come at a bargain price, they probably won’t last as long you’d like.
You can always ask the store’s staff how long a shoe has been on the shelf, or buy the latest model to be safe.
Walking shoes vs. running shoes: What’s the difference?
Many, many men have asked the same question: “Why can’t I just wear my running shoes as my walking shoes?” and vice-versa.
After all, there are plenty of similarities between walking and running shoes – at least it looks that way – but there also are significant differences, which we’ll discuss here.
These shoes are made for walking: A closer look
While walking shoes have the reputation of being less technologically-advanced than running shoes, the gap isn’t as wide as you think.
Many of the best walking shoes on our list have plenty of bells and whistles, even if they’re not as noticeable of some of the top brands of running shoes.
But running shoes, by necessity, come in a wide range of choices, because they must fit different running styles and needs. While running styles can vary widely from person to person, the ways that people walk aren’t that different.
Let’s take a closer look at walking shoes, what they should provide, and the things that make them different from running shoes.
Running is a high-impact sport that puts excessive strain on the body’s joints and muscles. Walking, on the other hand, impacts the body only half as much as running.
That said, walking shoes don’t need an extra bit of forefoot cushioning like running shoes, and most can get by with less heel cushioning, as well.
Fitness walkers should look for lighter shoes that provide enough cushioning, so their legs and feet don’t feel too much impact and pressure from long walks.
Speed walkers typically wear extremely lightweight racing flats that regular walkers may use for short walks, but these don’t provide enough cushioning for regular walks.
2. Can I wear running shoes for walking?
Back to our original point, and the question that many walkers/runners have: the answer is “yes”, you can use running shoes as walking shoes – but only if you consistently walk longer distances (such as six miles or more).
If you fall into the latter category, check out some well-cushioned running shoes, but ones that meet all the criteria for good walking shoes.
Nonetheless, the best choice for walkers is walking shoes, because of the differences in 1) how the foot impacts the ground while walking compared to running and 2) because of the arch support they provide.
With a high arch, your foot usually provides less natural shock absorption, so it’s important to choose a walking shoe with more cushioning.
People with flat feet, meanwhile, also have less support, which can lead to muscle and joint stress. Choose walking shoes with plenty of support if you’re flat-footed.
Walkers and runners both need shoes that provide adequate flexibility. One way to test a shoe’s flexibility is to press down on its toe to see where it bends.
Good fitness walking shoes should bend at the forefoot, because walkers push off with their toes, unlike runners, who absorb the most impact at the arch or mid-foot.
Never buy a shoe that has little or no bend at all. If you’re serious about walking, including fitness walking, there’s no reason – or excuse – to wear a shoe that doesn’t have the proper flexibility. Be wary of shoes labeled “walking shoes” that don’t have the flexibility you need.
4. Heel height & shape
Again, the point of impact is different for walkers and runners, and a proper walking stride causes the heel to strike first. That said, walkers generally need shoes with less of a height differential between the heel and toe.
Examine the heel closely – rather than a shoe’s outer sole – because the soles on some styles can make it appear that the heel has more height than it does.
While runners benefit from shoes with flared heels, good walking shoes typically have an undercut or straight heel that aids the natural, forward rolling movement of walking.
The angle of the heel also is important, because it helps to absorb shock that otherwise falls squarely on the ankles. It’s a must for fitness and speed walkers, because their feet strike the ground many more times than the normal walker.
5. The fit
It doesn’t matter whether you’re a runner, a fitness walker, a speed walker, or someone who just loves to take a low-key, casual walk – your shoes must fit properly!
Shoes that are too big or too small easily can create blisters and other foot issues that can keep you on the sidelines for an extended period.
That leads back to the point about making sure you stroll around in a pair of potential new shoes before buying them (and make sure to wear them on both feet).
Why running shoes are different from walking shoes
Runners can be fickle when it comes to shoes, and with good reason. Running puts a lot of stress and strain on the feet and ankles, as well as the knees and hips, and finding the right shoes is crucial to limiting stress.
So, the question then becomes: “Can I wear walking shoes for running?”
The answer is “no”, simply because walking shoes don’t provide the overall cushioning and support needed for running, which puts a greater strain on the body – especially the lower body – than most other activities.
True, it’s still vital to choose walking shoes that provide enough cushioning and support, but the impact running puts on your body is a whole different animal.
- Runners need more cushioning – Runners hit the ground with three times their body weight. That’s one of the reasons why extra cushioning is so important, especially cushioning in the heel and forefoot. As a runner, you may land first on your heel and then roll forward to the ball of your foot. Or, you may land first on the ball of your foot; it all depends on your stride, and running strides may vary greatly from person to person.
- Running shoes have thicker soles – Running shoes are more lightweight than walking shoes but have thicker soles. Thick soles act as shock absorbers for the rest of the body, which is another reason why walking shoes aren’t appropriate for running.
- Running shoes may have more breathability – Your feet can get hot during running, which is a reason why most running shoes consist of a mesh material that allows air to move freely inside of your shoe. Mesh fabrics also help make the shoe lighter.
- Running shoes need flexibility – Flexibility is important for running and walking shoes. Many running shoe designs bend at the midfoot or arch, while some flex most at the forefoot. Which one you choose depends on your stride and what part of your foot impacts the ground first.
- Running shoes and heel height – Walkers tend to strike the ground with their heel first, and the angle of the heel absorbs some of the impact that otherwise falls squarely on your ankles. Runners need different degrees of heel height depending on their stride and how their foot impacts the ground. A flared heel is ideal for most runners, because it provides extra stability. That’s even more important if you run trails or on other off-road surfaces.
- Running shoes come in many variations – You won’t have much problem finding the right shoe for you if you’re a runner. Whether your someone who runs (jogs) for exercise, competes in races, or a sprinter, there’s a running shoe out there with your name on it.
Whether you’re a runner or a walker, pay special attention to any foot-related issues that may require additional support or special features.
Ask your podiatrist to recommend the best extra support – inserts, etc. – that will alleviate impact that may exacerbate those issues.
Why we chose these shoes for our best-of 2020 list
Anyone who’s looking for a good pair of walking shoes will tell you that comfort is king. After all, if they don’t fit and feel right, why wear them?
Then again, a shoe that’s comfortable for another person might not be comfortable for you, especially when you take into account your foot’s shape, what type of walking you do, and so on.
Still, overall comfort is among the main considerations for choosing one walking shoe over another, and many things contribute to a shoe’s comfort, including breathability, the quality of the inner and outer soles, and the materials used in its construction.
We also considered price. Although a shoe’s cost isn’t one of the most important reasons for why we choose one brand over another – because price doesn’t guarantee quality or a lack thereof – we strive to list products in a variety of price ranges.
What are your thoughts? What’s your favorite brand and make of walking shoes? Why do you like them more than others? We welcome your comments and suggestions and would love to hear from you.