Best running shoes for walking

by Solereview editors
This article was updated on July 10th, 2024 with current models. Solereview does not accept free samples for its reviews and has no ties to the industry. We buy our shoes at full price; the proof of purchase is available in the stand-alone reviews.

The Nike Invincible 3 used for walking.

Lightweight walking shoe
Asics Cumulus 26 product box


Asics Gel-Cumulus 26

The midsole softness is placed closer to the foot for walking comfort, and there’s more room inside the upper.

Buy from Zappos.com

What makes the Cumulus 26 a good walking shoe is its soft cushioning and lightweight build. Also, the softness is concentrated closer to the foot – thanks to the Ortholite insole and the cushy Flytefoam midsole.

Unlike the Cumulus 25, the outsole doesn’t use rubber. The ‘outsole’ is now a part of the midsole. Unlike the top half, the lower midsole is made of firm EVA foam. This firm base creates a cushioned platform for walking while making the shoe lighter.

At slow walking speeds, the Cumulus delivers a softer ride experience than the Nimbus or Glycerin.

The upper has more room than comparable neutral trainers (Brooks Ghost, Nike Pegasus et. al), and that helps with the interior comfort.

The outsole grip is average on smooth floors and slushy sidewalks, as the rubber outsole has been replaced with the exposed midsole foam.

 

Max cushioning for walking
New Balance 1080V13 product box


New Balance 1080V13

If you’re looking for a soft walking shoe, it’s hard to go wrong with the plush 1080V13.

Buy from Newbalance

If your idea of a walk involves superior midsole plushness, then the New Balance Fresh Foam 1080 V13 is a great pick. The 1080V12 was already a great walking shoe, but the 1080V13 is a lot plusher.

The 1080 V13’s ride is soft as well as deeply cushioned, and those are good things to have in a walking shoe.

It’s not mushy though, and it’s not as bouncy as the Nike Invincible Run 3. Purely from a walking use-case viewpoint, the 1080V13 is a noticeable upgrade from the 1080v12.

New Balance 1080V13 on the road.

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 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 an accommodating toe-box. Though the 1080V13 no longer uses an elastic mesh like the 1080V12, the soft mesh adds plenty of interior comfort.

 

Soft cushioning for walking
Asics Nimbus 26 product box


Asics Nimbus 26

The Nimbus 26’s just-right softness makes it an excellent walking shoe.

Buy from Zappos.com

  1. Read our detailed review of the Asics Nimbus 26 here.

The Nimbus 26 is a great trainer for leisurely daily runs, and also a comfortable walking shoe.

The walking comfort comes from the tall and wide Flytefoam midsole. The 42 mm heel and 34 mm forefoot make it a very soft shoe, and the rocker-like forefoot adds a helpful ‘roll forward’ effect.

The soft cushioning makes long walks easy on the feet; a cushy insole and lasting provide that first layer of step-in comfort. Asics has updated the outsole with Hybrid Asicsgrip rubber, so the traction is better than the Nimbus 25.

The Nimbus 26’s upper is secure and true-to-size, but runs hot – just like the previous version. The upper has an elastic tongue with a gusset for a secure midfoot fit. The heel collar is very plush and delivers a secure grip.

If you find the standard fit narrow, just know that this shoe is also sold in wider sizes.

  • Asics’s marketing pitch: Add comfort to every step.
  • Upper: Engineered mesh, inner gusset.
  • Midsole: Flytefoam Blast+ foam, heel Gel unit. 8 mm heel drop.
  • Outsole: Hybrid Asicsgrip rubber.
  • Weight: 305 gms/ 10.7 Oz for a half pair of Men’s US 9/UK 8/EUR 42.5/CM 27.
  • Stack heights: 42 mm (heel), 34 mm (forefoot).
  • Available widths: D – regular (reviewed), 2E (wide), 4E (extra-wide).
  • Previous model: Asics Nimbus 26
  • Country of origin: Indonesia.
  • Median lifespan: 400 miles.
  • Recommended temperature range: Warmer than -5° C/23° F.

Pros

  • Ride comfort
  • Supportive and neutral cushioning
  • Smooth transitions
  • Optional wide, extra-wide sizes

Cons

  • Upper is not breathable
  • Low versatility
  • Low reflectivity
  • Printed heel loop may irritate
  • Outsole grip needs further improvement

 

Softest cushioning for walking
Nike Invincible 3 product box


Nike Invincible 3

The Invincible 3’s 100% ZoomX midsole makes it the bounciest walking shoe on this guide.

Buy from Nike.com

  1. Read our detailed review of the Nike Invincible 3 here.

At the time of writing this guide, the Nike Invincible 3 is the cushiest and bounciest shoe that money can buy.

The bouncy ZoomX midsole makes walking enjoyable, as the loading process happens over the deep reservoir of foam.

The wide flare and plastic heel clip add support to what is an exceptionally soft and springy midsole. The Invincible 3 also has a lasting fabric under the insole, whereas the Invincible 2 did not. The midsole sidewalls get a ‘scooped’ design, so the Invincible 3 is firmer and more stable than the Invincible 2.

The grooved sidewall of the Nike ZoomX Invincible Run 3.

There is SO MUCH foam under the foot. Naturally, walking becomes very comfortable.

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.

 

Supportive cushioning for walking
Hoka Bondi 8 product box


Hoka Bondi 8

The Hoka Bondi 8’s rocker midsole and cushioned ride makes it an ideal walking shoe.

Buy from Zappos.com

  1. Read our detailed review of the Hoka Bondi 8 here.

Here’s the catch. The Bondi 7 is a better walking shoe than the Bondi 8, so if you can snag the 7 for cheap – go for it. We recommend trying the new Hoka Skyflow as well.

That being said, the Bondi 8 is still a great shoe for walking.

What we love about the Bondi 8 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 true-to-size upper has a plush and secure fit. The Hoka Bondi 8 fits narrower than the 7 because of the slimmer midsole base, so that’s something to keep in mind.

 

Supportive cushioning for walking
Brooks Glycerin 21 product box


Brooks Glycerin 21

The Glycerin 21 just-right cushioning makes it a comfortable yet supportive walking shoe.

Buy from Zappos.com

  1. Read our detailed review of the Brooks Glycerin 21 here.

The Brooks Glycerin 21 is softer than the Glycerin 20, so it now has greater comfort for walking.

At the heart of the cushioned midsole is the Nitrogen-infused ‘DNA Loft V3’ foam that’s neither too soft nor too firm.

The balanced cushioning produces a supportive yet comfortable platform for walking. The outsole has decent traction and is generously grooved for connected transitions.

The padded heel and tongue create a plush feel; the upper fits true to size but slightly shorter than the Glycerin 21. Just know that the Glycerin 21 also sells in ‘GTS’ and ‘Stealthfit’ versions. The Stealthfit upper should have more room than the standard Glycerin.

  • Brooks’s marketing pitch: Super softness with every step.
  • Upper: Engineered mesh, no gusset.
  • Midsole: DNA Loft V3 foam. 10 mm heel drop.
  • Outsole: Softer rubber (forefoot), firm rubber (heel).
  • Weight: 278 gms/ 9.8 Oz for a half pair of Men’s US 9/UK 8/EUR 42.5/CM 27.
  • Stack heights: 38 mm (heel), 28 mm (forefoot).
  • Available widths: D – regular (reviewed), 2E – Wide.
  • Previous model: Brooks Glycerin 20.
  • Country of origin: Vietnam.
  • Median lifespan: 350 miles.
  • Recommended temperature range: Warmer than -5° C/23° F.

Pros

  • Ride comfort
  • Plush interiors
  • Smooth transitions
  • Outsole traction
  • Optional widths

Cons

  • Lower outsole durability
  • Not as stable as the Glycerin 20
  • Lack of reflective elements
  • Tongue slide

 

Supportive cushioning for walking
Hoka Skyflow product box


Hoka Skyflow

As a walking shoe, the Skyflow’s bouncy and supportive cushioning hits all the right notes.

Buy at Roadrunnersports

The Hoka Skyflow grows on you. When you try it on for the first time, it feels like a firm shoe. After a few walks, the shoe’s propulsive cushioning gets better – there’s a noticeable ‘bounce’ to the midsole that’s missing on the Clifton and Bondi.

That’s because Skyflow uses a super-critically foamed EVA (read more about this process here) instead of standard EVA foam. This gives the shoe that extra pep during walks.

Like most Hoka shoes, the midsole rocker helps the foot roll forward naturally when walking.

There’s plenty of support too, thanks to the wide midsole and strategically placed outsole rubber. The midsole doesn’t have pressure points under the arch like what we experienced on the Bondi 8.

The engineered mesh upper has a secure fit, but isn’t narrow. The tongue could do with slightly less padding, though.

 

How we selected: What to look for

Hoka Bondi 8 as a walking shoe.

Walking involves fundamentally different gait mechanics than running.

Can running shoes be worn for walking? Sure, but not all of them. 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 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 Asics Cumulus 26.

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 forefoot outsole of the Brooks Glycerin 21.

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 or have a rocker: 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.

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

The Nike Invincible 3 for standing all day.

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 plastic heel clip of the Nike ZoomX Invincible Run 3.

A cushioned running shoe is usually a good walking shoe. Pictured here is the cushioned and supportive Nike Invincible 3.

The Nike Invincible 3 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.

Other reviews and buyer's guides