Best running shoes for walking

by Solereview editors
Published: Last Updated on

The Asics Nimbus 24 on the road.

This article has been updated with current models for March 2023. The Asics Nimbus 24 has been replaced with its newest version. The Asics Nimbus Lite 3 has been removed. Except for the narrower ‘B’ width, the women’s models are almost identical to men’s.

Most sportswear brands sell walking shoes, but boy, do they look un-fun. Walking shoes lack the sheer breadth of colors and materials that running shoes have.

Can running shoes be worn for walking? Sure. But first, it is important to understand the fundamental difference between walking and running, and how that affects the choice of footwear.

Shortly after the push-off phase of running, both of the feet are momentarily up in the air. Contrast this with walking, where both the feet can be simultaneously in contact with the ground. One foot is flat on the ground while the tip of the other foot is still in contact with the road.

Hence, the transitions occur more slowly during walking as the weight loading progresses gradually from the heel to toe.

If you’re familiar with Solereview’s shoe guides, you know the drill. We first lay out the selection criteria followed by the list of recommended shoes. Here goes:

The heel view of the Nike ZoomX Invincible Run Flyknit 2.

A beveled heel edge is walking-friendly

The shoe should have a beveled (angled) heel: Unlike running where people either forefoot strike or heel strike, walking involves 100% heel striking – and this isn’t optional. So an angled heel helps with smoother heel landings.

The Brooks Glycerin 20 in the outdoor.

The outsole should have as much ground contact as possible: Since the weight loading happens in a very gradual way along the length of the shoe, a wide midfoot gap is undesirable. The midfoot should be bridged with rubber to provide continuous outsole coverage.

The forefoot should be flexible: Another aspect of walking is that the foot flexes more gradually than running. Hence, a stiff midsole is likely to tire the foot faster than a flexible kind – unless the midsole has a rocker shape that allows quick roll-offs.

For example, the Brooks Glycerin 20 and adidas UltraBoost 22 are exceptions. The Nike ZoomX Invincible also gets a hall pass due to its strengths in other areas.

The shoe should have ample cushioning: If you’re going to spend long hours on your feet, the midsole needs to be comfortable.

Standing in the Nike ZoomX Invincible Run Flyknit 3.

Now, ‘cushioning’ isn’t to be conflated with softness. A shoe can be cushioned without being mushy; an overly soft shoe creates more work for your muscles and could result in tiredness.

The side view of the adidas Ultraboost 22.

A cushioned running shoe is usually a good walking shoe. Pictured here is the cushioned and supportive Ultraboost 22.

The Nike Invincible Run Flyknit V2 features on this guide because it is very soft without being mushy – the inherent responsiveness is the antidote to the ultra-soft ride.

The upper should fit and breathe well: This one’s a non-negotiable. A shoe that is either too tight or too loose is not suitable for walking. Just like running, the foot swells during long-distance walking, so there needs to be enough room for the toes to splay. Conversely, a loose upper may cause blisters if the foot slides inside the shoe.

The choice of socks is important for long walks. Avoid thick and loose-fitting socks that can gather under the foot and cause blisters. Invest in a pair of moisture-wicking socks that fit well. Most running socks match this description.

1) Asics Gel-Nimbus 25

The Nimbus 25 is the most evolved – and the cushiest Nimbus version yet. It’s a great trainer for leisurely daily runs, as well as a comfortable walking shoe.

Unlike the Nimbus 24, the Nimbus 25 doesn’t have a multi-density midsole. It doesn’t even the visible ‘Gel’ pad under the heel.

The latest Nimbus simplifies its midsole design by using a thick and wide stack of Flytefoam Blast. The 41.5 mm heel and 33.5 mm forefoot makes it a very soft shoe, and yet the rocker-like forefoot adds a helpful ‘roll forward’ effect. This lively character was absent on the previous versions of the Nimbus.

The soft cushioning makes long walks easy on the feet; a cushy insole and lasting provide that first layer of step-in comfort. While there’s plenty of rubber outsole coverage, the lack of defined lugs means that the Nimbus 25’s traction isn’t as good we hoped it to be.

The Nimbus 25’s upper is smooth, well-fitting, and true-to-size – traits that are desirable in a comfortable walking shoe. The upper now has an elastic tongue with a gusset for a secure midfoot fit. The heel collar is very plush and delivers a secure grip.

2) New Balance Fresh Foam 1080V12

If your idea of a walk involves superior midsole plushness, then the New Balance Fresh Foam 1080 V12 is a great pick.

The 1080 has come a long way since it was reincarnated in a Fresh Foam avatar. The 1080 V12’s ride is soft as well as deeply cushioned, and that’s all one needs in a walking shoe.

Our comprehensive review has everything that you need to know about the 1080V12.

The New Balance Fresh Foam 1080 V12 on the footbridge.

It’s not mushy though, and it’s nowhere as soft as the Nike Invincible Run or Hoka Bondi 7.

The outsole geometry and material also help enhance the overall cushioning. The blown rubber forefoot is both soft and grooved for gentle transitions during the walking gait cycle.

The forefoot of the New Balance Fresh Foam X 1080 V12.

The rocker midsole and outsole geometry are excellent for walking.

The traction isn’t bad either, so the wide forefoot and heel create a planted feel over roads and sidewalks.

The knit upper has a just-right fit with a near-seamless interior and a broad toe-box. The fit runs snug, but the stretchy and soft mesh upper makes the interiors comfortable and accommodating.

3) Asics Gel-Cumulus 24

The Asics Cumulus had already evolved to a well-rounded shoe by 22 and 23, and the 24 is a step further in the right direction. The Cumulus 24 retains the walking-friendly cushioning while making slight improvements on the fly. Our detailed review has everything that you need to know about this comfortable shoe.

The comfortable upper gets a new mesh with a texture that’s similar to the Nimbus. On the surface, it looks better than before. On the inside, there’s the smooth and soft interior that’s recognizable from the Cumulus 23.

The transition groove or 3D space of the Asics Cumulus 24.

The heel crash pad is generously articulated to allow smooth landings and transitions. The transition groove in the center also helps.

The Asics Cumulus 24 in outdoors.

The midsole layer that’s just above the outsole is made of single-density Flytefoam, thus resulting in smoother transitions from the heel to toe. The firmer wedge above the Gel pad benefits the ride stability.

The outsole rubber lugs are distributed evenly and separated by flex grooves. As a result, the traction and transition quality is excellent for walking.

4) Nike ZoomX Invincible Run V2

At the time of writing this guide, the Nike ZoomX Invincible Run V2 is the cushiest and bounciest shoe that money can buy. Our review makes it very clear that nothing else even comes close.

The ZoomX midsole of the Nike ZoomX Invincible Run Flyknit 2.

There is SO MUCH foam under the foot. Therefore, walks become very comfortable.

The tongue of the Nike ZoomX Invincible Run Flyknit 2.

The said levels of bouncy cushioning make walking enjoyable, as the transitions take place over the deep reservoir of ZoomX foam. The wide flare and plastic heel clip add support to what is an exceptionally soft and springy midsole.

The upper has a broad toe-box and is fully sleeved on the inside; this makes the fit smooth and true to size. The padded and plush heel collar cups the foot in softness.

5) Hoka Bondi 7

Even though the Bondi 7 is on its way out (as it is being replaced with the Bondi 8), we hope that Hoka continues to sell the 7.

We say this because the Hoka Bondi 7 is a better shoe than the 8 – our in-depth review explains why.

The Hoka Bondi 7 in the outdoor.

The transition groove of the Hoka Bondi 7.

The rear outsole has negative space for smoother transitions, softer ride, and better stability.

What we love about the Bondi 7 is its wide and supportive midsole that’s also deeply cushioned. The EVA foam midsole is neither too soft nor too firm, and the outsole has a full-contact design. These features make it an excellent walking shoe.

The toe-box of the Hoka Bondi 7.

The broad toe-box has an accommodating fit profile. The rubberized overlays add some splash resistance on damp roads.

The true-to-size upper has a plush and secure fit. The synthetic guard on the toe-box is helpful on wet sidewalks, as it prevents the mesh from absorbing moisture. That’s another feature that the Bondi 8 lacks.

6) Brooks Glycerin 20

Though Glycerin 20 differs greatly from the Glycerin 19, its performance as a walking shoe is equally dependable.

Unlike the Nike ZoomX Invincible, the Glycerin 20 has a medium-soft ride that’s tinged with firmness. Sure, it is cushioned but in a supportive way. Our detailed review dives deep into the Glycerin 20’s on-road behavior.

The transition groove of the Brooks Glycerin 20.

The DNA Loft V3 foam isn’t super soft. But as a whole, the supportive midsole is great for walking. The transition groove is also a walking-friendly feature.

The Nitrogen injected DNA Loft V3 of the Brooks Glycerin 20.

The DNA Loft V3 appears to be an EVA blend foam that is blown with Nitrogen. That’s what the tiny bubbles are.

And yes, the redesigned midsole has a fancy Nitrogen-infused ‘DNA Loft V3’ midsole, but that doesn’t alter its walking-friendly character.

This balance of cushioning results in a stable yet comfortable platform for walking. The outsole has decent traction and is generously grooved for connected transitions.

The tongue of the Brooks Glycerin 20.

Unlike the past models, the Glycerin 20’s tongue lacks a sleeve. That said, the upper is extremely comfortable for walking.

The Brooks Glycerin 20 in a park.

The padded heel and tongue create a plush feel; the upper fits true-to-size. It has more space than the Glycerin 19 due to the removal of the full sleeve, and the ventilation is better.

Just know that the Glycerin 20 also sells in a ‘GTS’ and ‘Stealthfit’ version. Of all three, we prefer the standard Glycerin 20 because of the better upper fit.

7) adidas UltraBoost 22

The Ultraboost has always been a walk-worthy running shoe with lots of underfoot comfort, and the Ultraboost 22 is no different. Our in-depth review of the shoe is here.

There are many things that make the Ultraboost 22 suitable for walking. A full-volume midsole made of the responsive Boost foam provides dependable comfort for long walks. The Boost midsole is much wider than what it used to be, thus creating a stable base for walking.

The Continental rubber outsole of the adidas Ultraboost 22.

The full-contact outsole geometry and larger Torsion plate makes the ride smooth and stable for walking. The Ultraboost 22 and 21 share the same midsole.

The adidas Ultraboost 22 on the boardwalk.

The translucent outsole is made of durable Continental rubber, but the geometry is nothing like the older UltraBoosts that existed before the V21.

The forefoot core uses a softer rubber whereas the rest of the outsole is hard rubber. A plastic Torsion shank adds stiffness under the midfoot and forefoot; this helps with the forward rolling movement.

Also worth pointing out is the absence of gaps on the outsole. The full-contract layout of the Ultraboost 22’s outsole is excellent for walking.

The redesigned midfoot cage of the adidas Ultraboost 22.

The Ultraboost 22 makes some much-needed changes to the plastic cage design.

On the upper, the plastic midfoot cage returns. It’s not an inconvenience during walks, and the stiff panels keep the foot supported. The knit upper is soft and fits true to size. The toe-box is shallow – something that has been a part of the Ultraboost since its inception.

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