Walking Shoes Checklist

Having a good pair of walking shoes can be a lifesaver when you’ve been walking all day. Walking shoes should give you a good level of comfort and support. I remember going to the amusement park Magic Mountain all day and feeling exhausted, but my feet were fine.

Walking shoes should have an insole that has cushion and arch support. The foam midsole should be cushioning and fairly flexible. The sole should grip the ground, and the upper should have a firm but not tight grip around the heel and sides, letting the toes feel free to wiggle.

If you’ve ever worn shoes that are not comfortable to wear for very long, you know that a good pair of walking shoes can feel just the opposite. They are comfortable, cushioning, and can support your foot during longer periods of walking.

What do Most Walking Shoes Have in common?

When considering what to look for in a walking shoe, ask yourself if it has some of the common traits that many walking shoes have. If not, consider how you will be using your walking shoes most of the time to make a decision about whether the shoes are right for you.

Most walking shoes will be comfortable.

Once you buy a pair of walking shoes, try to find a pair that is comfortable right from the beginning. Some leather shoes might be a bit stiffer at the beginning, but a good pair of walking shoes could feel like your walking on clouds right from the start.

So as you initially stand and walk in the walking shoes, you can do a check for a couple of things.

  • First, make sure the comfort level is fairly good.
  • Second, are they supportive as you just stand in place for a minute and then walk for a minute?
  • Last, are things too tight or loose. Consider how you tied the laces and the socks you’re wearing for the best fit. 

Most walking shoes are lite weight.

Lightweight shoes are not always the best type of shoes for everyone, but lightweight walking shoes can offer walkers an easier time walking for long periods. That’s one reason why you’ll see a greater number of lightweight walking shoes available. 

Some walking shoes may be denser, so they can provide a more supportive walking experience. If you need arch support or have pain when walking for long, these types of walking shoes could provide more support for your needs.

Generally, you want a walking shoe that is light enough to walk for long period and still feels comfortable. 

Most walking shoes have a thicker insole.

A part of the support that is provided by walking shoes comes from the insole. They tend to be very cushioning and can help to give comfort and support for longer periods of walking. If you notice a firm and thinner insole, you probably have found a sports shoe for running or for other sports.

Running shoes can sometimes work well for walking if they have enough cushion, but not all will have this. Try to find a shoe with a cushioning insole and a thick enough midsole to provide all-day comfort.

Most walking shoes are flexible.

You want to have enough flexibility in your shoe to provide healthy biomechanical movement in your foot as you walk. A flexible shoe helps to aid in the natural movement that occurs with your feet while you walk.

With a stiff midsole, the foot may not be able to absorb walking impacts as well, depending on how supportive and cushioning the insole is. If this happens, your foot will not feel comfortable for very long. 

If you’ve ever worn Vans shoes, (AD) you may enjoy the flexibility they provide. 

Most walking shoes are breathable.

Your walking shoes may look sporty and have a mesh upper. This can provide both airflow and sometimes some extra flexibility to the shoe. When walking for longer periods and during warmer weather, a breathable walking shoe is helpful for providing perspiration relief.

You may not need a breathable shoe in the cold or if you are walking for shorter periods. Sometimes the socks you wear (article) can help wick away moisture and keep your feet dry even in warm or hot situations.

Many people also choose running, cross trainers, or sports shoes as walking shoes.

Many shoes that provide all-day comfort can be used for sporting activities as well. These sports shoes can also have the common attributes of a good walking shoe, but they may be designed for more intense activities. 

Trying out several shoes may be your best bet to see which shoe is the best for you. Trying three pairs on will give you the contrast to understanding what the differences are. You may find that a sports shoe can provide the cushion, support, and stability you’re looking for in a walking shoe.

Shoe Design

Shoe manufacturers generally want to sell shoes that can be sold to the greatest number of people. They design shoes for the average person with a general range of sizes that fit most people. 

If your feet are not average, you will want to consider what attributes in a walking shoe are going to meet your needs best.  Whether it’s a need for arch support or to help with plantar fasciitis, there should be a walking shoe that works for you.

Wide feet need a shoe that is wider or has plenty of room and possibly a wider sole. Narrow feet will need a shoe that can maintain snugness and grab the heel and the sides of the foot. With some searching, you’ll likely find one that will meet your specific needs.  

The Midsole

Each time you walk, your foot hits the ground with a certain amount of force. If you were barefoot, your arch would help to absorb the impact, and the muscles would help you use your foot to walk forward.

In a shoe, the midsole does a lot of the work of absorbing the impact of walking on the ground. It can create a cushioning environment, doing much of the work your foot would.

A comfortable shoe has enough foam to provide a soft ride for long periods. If it’s too hard or too thin, your foot may soon begin to feel tired and achy because more work is being done by your foot.

To ensure your feet feel comfortable throughout the day, find a shoe that can cushion the entire weight of your foot so that the foam provides enough cushioning along the entire length of the foot.

One way that I can tell if a midsole is going to be comfortable for me is by squeezing the sides of the midsole foam. A denser foam will provide a stiffer walking surface, which some people may want if their foot experiences issues with softer surfaces.

Generally, a softer foam feels much more comfortable for longer periods, although it may wear out sooner. Try flexing the shoe in different ways to test how soft it is, and once you find a soft walking shoe with a thick enough foam cushion for you, it will likely be comfortable.  

The Insole 

A good insole can be the difference between comfort and achy feet. In walking shoes, the insole can help with cushioning and arch support.

Each person’s foot is different. Some of us have flat feet, while others have high arches. Some of us are underweight, while others are overweight. 

For most all walkers, you’ll want a thicker insole to provide comfort, arch support, and cushioning. Depending on the insole, there may be little or a lot of arch support and cushioning.  

Memory foam feels good but tends to lose effectiveness quickly. Denser foam can work well but many are thin. A gel or harder foams can support and absorb well but some may feel too hard. Deciding which is best may be a matter of experience and preference.  

Luckily, most insoles can be removed and you can replace them if they aren’t working out. Although replacing your insole may not get the exact results you want.

The insole is a custom fit for each shoe and is made to work with the midsole for support and cushioning. That’s why trying on the shoe before you buy it can make a big difference in the decision of which shoe you should buy.

The Sole

You may not think the sole is that important and most of the time you would be right. But before you decide on which shoe to buy, think about how you’ll be using these shoes most of the time. 

If you will be walking and hiking with these shoes, you’ll need a tread that can grip well. If you’ll only be walking around town and in stores, most likely any rubber sole will do. 

If the sole is not rubber, then you may need to consider that it will have less gripping power in slippery areas. 

The Upper

Ranging from mess to leather, walking shoe uppers can make a big difference in style, comfort, and use. If people are generally only walking with their walking shoes, most people enjoy using a shoe that has a fabric or mesh upper. 

This provides a comfortable and flexible. For outdoor activities, you’ll likely want fabric or mesh, but for colder weather get a shoe that can keep out the rain and keep your feet warm. 

A Checklist for Walking Shoes

What are some of the attributes to look for in a walking shoe? In this list below we’ll look at what things you might want to consider when buying a walking shoe.

You can see if it has most of the qualities you’re looking for in a walking shoe and which qualities might be preferable. 

Deciding what you need and want in a walking shoe all depends on your preferences, experience, and the pros and cons of each shoe.

To make a decision easier you might want to have a list of questions to ask yourself, so you can decide what’s most important to you.  Then look for a shoe that qualifies.

Shop for Walking Shoes

If you’re looking for walking shoes, these are my 5 top choices. There are so many options, if you are willing to use the chart above, it can help you hone in on the right shoe for your needs.

Sketchers Men Elite Flex Hartnell Loafer

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03/10/2024 05:43 am GMT

This shoe has a thick midsole and fabric upper. With a memory foam insole, it is very comfortable, and most people say that this shoe is great to walk on.

Brooks Women’s Addiction Walker

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03/11/2024 09:16 pm GMT

This shoe has a thick midsole, a leather upper, upper padding for a secure fit, and a supportive ride. These shoes don’t have a lot of flex but are good for using adding orthotics to help with foot and knee pain.    

New Balance Men’s Ralaxa V1 Walking Shoe

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03/10/2024 07:08 am GMT

This shoe has a mesh and textile and rubber sole. A thick midsole and cushioning midsole make it a shoe many people say is great to walk in. It has enough padding in the upper for a snug fit.

Asics Men’s Gel-Venture 8 Running Shoe

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03/11/2024 09:28 pm GMT

This shoe has a thick midsole, a mesh/synthetic upper, and a rubber sole.  These can work for those interested in walking in rougher areas, and it can accommodate orthotics if needed.  

Sketchers Performance Women’s Go Walk 5

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03/11/2024 09:28 pm GMT

These shoes have medium-thick soles with a breathable athletic knit mesh upper. The insole and midsole have Goga pillar technology for a very lightweight shoe. 


When you are ready to look at walking shoes, you can consider the qualities of each walking shoe you look at and use a checklist to determine if it meets your qualifications. 

There are many factors to consider when getting walking shoes and being prepared beforehand will give you an edge when deciding on which pair of walking shoes you should buy.

Thanks for visiting Helpshoe.com


I enjoy many types of outdoor activities including running, hiking, and walking. I was a former elementary school teacher for 17 years and now enjoy writing and sharing my love of the outdoors.

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