Whether you're traveling, running errands, or spending time on your feet at work, you need a comfy pair of shoes if you do a lot of walking. There are lots of factors that go into comfort — some of which might not be so obvious. However, the most comfortable walking shoes typically have several features in common.
First, they should be well-cushioned. This doesn't just mean soft but also equipped with arch support. They should provide shock absorption to cushion your feet and prevent them from getting fatigued. Look for materials like polyurethane or EVA foam, which offer both durability and support.
Second, they need to be flexible. If you've ever spent an afternoon walking around town in stiff, clunky shoes, then you know it's a recipe for blisters and soreness. Materials such as mesh, nylon, and other stretchy fabrics are ideal. Leather works too, as long as it's constructed with enough flex to move properly.
Next, they should offer temperature control. Breathability is the top factor here. The same materials that provide stretch typically breathe well, too, so stick with mesh, nylon, and comparable fabrics. It's also great if they're moisture-wicking and antibacterial to handle sweat.
Lastly, you want good traction. It's hard to call a pair of shoes comfortable if you fall on your face when you wear them. Make sure you have sturdy rubber soles equipped with reliable treads.
With these considerations in mind, here's a list of the most comfortable walking shoes in every category.
1. The Best Casual Flats For Walking
Olukai Women's Pehuea Shoe
What's great about them: I personally have these casual, lightweight flats, and I can attest to how comfortable they are, even when walking long distances. They're built with ultra-soft mesh that's both flexible and breathable (so you won't get too hot). In the back, they boast tough leather heels that are durable while also looking sleek. The footbeds feature reactive, dual-density polyurethane that's lined with moisture-wicking microfiber to control sweat. Best of all, they slip on and off with ease.
What fans say: "I’m amazed how comfortable these shoes are! They fit perfect, true to size. Mesh toe keeps your feet cool and the comfy soles allow me to walk on them all day."
- Available sizes: 5 to 12
2. The Best Dress Shoes For Walking
Cinak Women's Flat Ballet Walking Shoes
What's great about them: If you're looking for a pair of slightly dressier shoes that are still really comfy, these lightweight dress flats are a great pick. The ballet-style flats feature smooth, synthetic patent leather and rubber soles that are strong and grippy, despite being thin and sleek. The material stretches as you walk, and the bottoms have texture so you won't slip. They also glide on easily and travel well due to their compact design. Even better: They come in 11 different colors.
What fans say: "Perfect walking shoes that don't look like gross walking shoes. Five stars! I'm still wearing them, after a month of backpacking! We'll see how long they last!"
- Available sizes: 5 to 11
3. The Best Athletic Shoes For Walking
MBT Women's Colorado 17 Fitness Walking Shoes
What's great about them: If you're going to be fitness walking, hiking, trekking, or participating in other fast-paced, high-impact walking sports, these cushioned athletic shoes make a fabulous choice. They're built with strong, shock-absorbing rubber soles that also have traction to grip the ground. The high-abrasion EVA foam is durable and exceptionally comfortable. The shoes feature breathable mesh footbeds to prevent overheating while also providing ample stretch. Plus, the insides have antifungal, moisture-wicking material that helps reduce odor and minimize dampness. On top of that, the heel loop helps you slide them on smoothly, and they lace up with ease.
What fans say: "These are the most comfortable tennis shoes I have ever worn. Just wish they came in more colors. I can stand up straighter and walk with greater ease. Amazing difference from my other athletic shoes."
- Available sizes: 5 to 12
4. The Best Sandals For Walking
Megnya Women's Walking Sandals
What's great about them: Specifically designed for walking, reviewers say these lightweight trekking sandals are super comfy. The straps feature soft but sturdy braided nylon, and they have durable midsoles made from top-grade EVA foam. The adjustable nylon is constructed to allow your feet to move freely without feeling constricted. What's more, the strong rubber soles have shock-resistance to prevent foot fatigue as well as firm, anti-slip traction. They come in a dozen cool colors to choose from, so you can match any outfit.
What fans say: "My feet feel like I'm walking on clouds. I cannot believe how comfortable they are for the price. I bought the black in my size 8 and they fit perfectly. They are very well made, very sturdy, the braiding is impeccable, which is shocking for [the price]. I will be buying more."
- Available sizes: 5 to 11
5. The Best Boots For Walking
Ecco Women's Bella Zip-Ankle Bootie
What's great about them: Made with extensive walking in mind, these lightweight ankle boots offer a striking degree of comfort. They're built with 100 percent leather that's both durable and flexible. The material is also breathable, according to reviewers, so you can walk all over town without your feet sloshing around in puddles of sweat. With tough polyurethane soles that keep you from slipping, these sleek boots are still lightweight enough to pack in a suitcase. On top of all this, they're designed with cute, adjustable zippers on each side, and they come in seven color choices.
What fans say: "Extremely comfortable. I bought these to wear on a trip to England/Wales where I knew I would be walking a lot. Have been wearing them since I came home lots. They look like new despite lots of use. Easy on and off."
- Available sizes: 5 to 11.5
Bustle may receive a portion of sales from products purchased from this article, which was created independently from Bustle's editorial and sales departments.