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How to Choose Walking Shoes

What makes walking shoes better for walking than any other type of shoes? Put simply, walking shoes are intended for walking, just like basketball shoes are made for playing basketball or running shoes are made for running. In this guide, we'll talk about how to choose walking shoes based on the types of walks you take.

That's right, there are many different types of walking. Since “walking” means different things for different people, it’s best to look for shoes that fit your own definition of walking. Hiking is a form of walking, but you're also walking every time you visit the mall.

Where you walk and the intensity of your walking is going to determine the best walking shoes for your needs. Also, if you have sensitive feet and notice pain when walking, it’s best to look for walking shoes that will help alleviate your symptoms.

Learn how to choose walking shoes below:

Where are you Walking?

It’s the journey that matters – not the destination. Wherever that may be, it’s important to look for a pair of walking shoes that will help you handle the terrain underfoot. Certain types of shoes are catered to certain walking situations.

Casual Walking in Suburbs or Cities

If you’re looking for casual shoes for walking in the suburbs or city, there are a wide range of comfortable footwear options. Pavement can be rough on the feet and knees, and that’s exactly what you get when walking on sidewalks in densely populated suburban and metropolitan areas.

Instead of walking around in stiff dress shoes or heavily padded running shoes, opt for lighter walking shoes. Shoes like the Walk-Lite Witton are ideal for urban exploration and even light exercise walks. For casual walking shoes that keep you comfortable, look for walking shoes designed to support the natural rolling motion of your stride.

Do you like to walk for exercise? Men and women walking in exercise get-up is a common sight in suburbs and cities alike. Fitness walking is much easier on your knees than running and is great for staying in shape. For exercise purposes, either walking shoes or running shoes will fit the bill. Although the extra padding of running shoes is not necessary for most, running shoes will make your feet comfortable if you regularly experience foot pain or cramps.

Light Walking on the Trail

If you – like most people – hit the trail for just a few hours at a time, you definitely don’t need to lug beefy hiking boots along. However, it depends on rigorous of a trail you are walking. For advanced trails, light hikers are perfect as they offer better support for overcoming tough, technical trails. You’ll be happy to have additional ankle support when traversing obstacles like boulders and steep inclines.

Like to take nice strolls in the park or on the trail? There are many benefits of hiking that are great for both your physical and mental well-being. Casual walking shoes or multi-sport shoes are perfectly suited for light trail hiking. Multi-sport shoes differ from casual walking shoes in terms of durability. They blend the durability of a hiking boot with the stylish design of a casual walking shoe.

If the trail is muddy or has mild to moderate obstacles, multi-sport shoes are your best option. Most multi-sport footwear features waterproof materials whereas casual walking are less often waterproofed.

Long Distance Nature Hiking

A long distance hike on a trail – especially an ungroomed trail – usually warrants hiking boots. Hiking is typically defined as walking for long distances across country or woods. However, the geography of the region where you’re hiking will help determine the best pair of walking shoes for the hike. However, if you like short weekend hikes, you might want to learn how to choose light hiking boots.

Take, for example, Alexandre Poussin’s current expedition in Madagascar. Poussin and his family are walking from one end of Madagascar to the other. The hot climate of the African nation forced Poussin to reconsider bringing traditional hiking boots alone. Instead, he opted for the V-Lite Sphike, a walking shoe, and a low-cut hiking shoe. The last thing you would want in Africa is to walk in a big, bulky hiking boot intended to keep your feet warm in cold to moderate climates.


Regardless of where you’re hiking, it’s usually a good idea to have waterproof shoes, or at least waterproofing properties. Even if the exterior of a shoe like the Sierra Lace does not come pre-waterproofed, it does have a moisture-wicking lining that will help draw out moisture from the shoe’s interior, should and water get in.

If you live in a region that experiences constant rainfall (ie: the Pacific Northwest), a shoe like the Sierra Lace is ideal because there are many waterproofing treatments commercially available to waterproof the leather uppers.

If the Shoe Fits, Wear it.

The right fit makes all the difference. It doesn’t matter what materials the shoes are made from – high quality leather, foam cushioning – if it doesn’t fit right, it’s not a good shoe for walking. There are a couple of key points to look for when trying on walking shoes:

  • Snug, Not Tight. First off, the shoe should feel nice and secure, but not tight. If the shoe is painful or feels like it’s compressing your foot, it’s not a good fit. You should be able to wiggle your toes, but not your heel.
  • Secures the Heel. When you walk, you should not feel your heel lifting. If your heel is moving in your shoe, try a different shoe. After lacing up, you should be able to push your foot to the front of your shoe and fit one finger in between your heel and the back of the shoe.
  • Supports the Ankle. A sprained ankle while walking is one of the most common injuries reported. Your shoes should provide your ankles with support to minimize this risk. When leaning from side to side in your shoes, the shoe should feel flexible and not resist these motions.

If your shoes do not fit properly, you may develop foot or heel blisters. They can be very painful, but you can learn how to prevent blisters. Try to keep your feet cool and dry whenever walking to avoid blisters.

Feet Hurt When Walking? Look for these Features.

If you regularly experience pain while walking, it’s advisable to see your podiatrist to get a professional opinion. However, the reason for foot pain may just be improper footwear. Long walks with running shoes could potentially cause discomfort because they are not designed for the natural rolling motion of walking. Try to seek out lightweight walking shoes that are built for walking.

Instead, opt for a walking shoe with a curved heel to accommodate that natural rolling motion.

In addition, look for walking shoes with cushioned insoles and midsoles. When walking, gravity pulls your weight down, putting a lot of weight on your feet. Gravity forces blood into your feet which is why your feet become inflamed after a long day of walking. It’s for this reason podiatrists often recommended gel or otherwise padded orthotics. Thick, cushioned insoles and midsoles will help absorb shock from every step you take.

In Summary

Walking, whether for casual fun or for exercise, is great for both body and mind. Nietzsche once said, “All truly great thoughts are conceived by walking.” We couldn’t agree more. If you’re looking for a solid pair of walking shoes, make sure your walking shoes have these qualities:

  • Lightweight Construction. The heavier the footwear, the more energy you expend with each step.
  • Location, Location. A pair of casual walking shoes for city walking should differ from shoes intended for intensive hiking.
  • Rolling Gait. When you walk, your feet naturally roll. Opt for shoes designed to accommodate that natural rolling motion.
  • Proper Fit. The right fit is crucial to your comfort. Make sure there is room in your toes, but your heel remains secure with each step.
  • Waterproofing. No one ever regretted having waterproof shoes. If your shoes do not come pre-waterproofed, you can treat most shoes with a waterproof solution.
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