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Best Cushioned Walking Shoes in 2021

 

Any exercise is good exercise. In fact, there is a growing body of evidence that the best exercise for extending your life expectancy isn’t running or lifting at the gym – it’s just regular old, everyday activities like walking and gardening. So don’t underestimate walking as a great cardio workout! It can be a great way to establish an exercise habit. If you want to eventually build up to running, that’s great! But many people are happy and healthy with walking.

Even if you’re just planning on walking for a while before you get into running, choosing the right shoes is essential.

That’s why we’re reviewing the best cushioned walking shoes today. No matter how hard they’re pounding the pavement, your feet need to be protected, comfortable, and well supported while you’re on them. Some of them are walking-specific shoes, but many also double as running shoes, so when you do decide that it’s time to start running, you’ll already have the basics.

Our first choice is the Hoka One One Bondi 7. It features a full-length EVA midsole and a molded Ortholite footbed, with a Meta-Rocker and some impressive cushioning.

Read on to see our other top ten choices if you’re in the market for a new pair!

Top 3 Best and Favorites

 

Hoka One One Bondi 7

 

  • Early-stage Meta-Rocker
  • Full-length EVA midsole
  • Molded Ortholite footbed
CHECK MEN’S PRICECHECK WOMEN’S PRICE

 

Brooks Addiction Walker 2

 

  • Great for overpronators
  • BioMoGo DNA midsole cushioning
  • Leather construction
CHECK MEN’S PRICECHECK WOMEN’S PRICE

 

Brooks Dyad 11

 

  • BioMoGo DNA cushioning
  • Dual stability arch pods
  • Suitable for underpronators
CHECK MEN’S PRICECHECK WOMEN’S PRICE

Best Overall

1. Hoka One One Bondi 7

The Hoka One One Bondi 7 is a highly-cushioned neutral shoe. While designed for running, it’s great for walkers who want support but don’t need tons of extra stability.

Hoka has been very generous with cushioning in the midsole. These shoes feature a full-length EVA foam that will make you feel as though you’re walking on fluffy clouds.

The upper is crafted from engineered mesh, which allows for better air circulation, preventing hotspots in the shoe when you’re on the move.

Synthetic overlays wrap around your midfoot, providing additional structural support to keep you from turning an ankle.

An internal heel counter helps provide a secure fit so your foot doesn’t move around within the shoe. The new heel cap has extra padding to provide a bit more support.

The molded ortholite footbed provides additional comfort, and is antimicrobial to prevent odors.

The early-stage Meta-Rocker in the sole has been upgraded. Initially, you may feel that the shoe feels firmer than normal and doesn’t have any flex. But you’ll soon notice that the construction of the shoe itself helps propel you forward for a smooth transition. This rocking motion also helps to improve energy efficiency while you walk.

Areas of the outsole that were prone to wear and tear before the upgrade now have a generous amount of rubber coverage, making the shoe more durable.


PROS:

  • Early-stage Meta-Rocker
  • Full-length EVA midsole
  • Molded Ortholite footbed
  • Internal heel counter

CONS:

  • Some may feel that the shoe is too firm

 

Top Runner-up

2. Hoka One One Elevon 2

Hoka One One comes in second place, too – we’re suckers for their max-cushioning philosophy. If you asked our true opinion, we’d have to say this shoe has a face perfectly suited for radio. But looks aren’t everything, and pretty much everything else on the Elevon 2 is wonderful.

Below the surface, the Elevon 2 has some great features that make it a good choice if you’re shopping for the best cushioned walking shoes.

Like the Bondi 7 before it, the Elevon 2 is a neutral shoe that allows the foot to find its natural and comfortable placement on every step.

They’ve taken care to plump up the cushion without adding too much weight to the shoe, which is helpful whether you’re walking, running, or bouncing around.

Like other Hokas, the engineered mesh upper allows for good air circulation, keeping your feet cool.

An asymmetrical tongue is a unique feature that prevents the tongue from putting pressure on places it shouldn’t while facilitating a tight but comfortable fit.

As for the midsole, it features the Top Layer PROFLY. It’s designed to be softer in the heel for effective impact absorption, and a little harder in the forefoot to assist with a bouncy push-off.

Some walkers find that the unusual extended heel design adds more cushion. Others feel that it interferes with their stride and distributes the shoe’s weight a little strangely.

In the end, it’s up to you to give them a try if you like what you see!


PROS:

  • Top-layer PROFLY midsole
  • Impressive cushion with less added weight
  • 5mm heel-to-toe drop
  • Asymmetrical tongue for better fit

CONS:

  • Excessively oversized heel pull tab and extended heel make this shoe look a bit clunky

 

Most Supportive

3. Brooks Addiction Walker 2

Brooks is another brand that will be familiar to runners. They are known for superior cushioning and support, and the Addiction Walker 2 doesn’t disappoint on either front.

As you can tell by its name, this shoe is made specifically for walking. It’s been designed to provide exceptional support, and walkers who overpronate should find that it fits comfortably and supports them in all the right places.

This is thanks to something called an Extended Progressive Diagonal Rollbar, which offers a dual-density medial post right where the arch needs extra support.

This robust support system means that the foot has no chance of turning inwards, keeping it in a natural position and reducing the chance of pain and injury.

The BioMoGo DNA midsole is well-cushioned, keeping up with Brooks’ soft and cushy reputation. It’s both soft and supportive, so it prevents fatigue due to either excessive stiffness or lack of support.

The outsole is certified slip-resistant, which adds an extra element of safety. Walkers who had the opportunity to get to know and love the original Addiction Walker may be slightly disappointed at the changes in the 2.

Some have lamented that it’s stiffer and less comfy on the feet, but if you’ve never worn it before, you may find this one to be more cushioned than some others you have worn.

Another bonus of this shoe, and something we like quite a bit, is the stylish leather construction. If you choose the black pair, they’re practical enough to walk in for exercise, but also smart enough to wear to functions. Win win!


PROS:

  • Extended Progressive Diagonal Rollbar
  • Great for overpronators
  • BioMoGo DNA midsole cushioning
  • Leather construction

CONS:

  • Walkers who knew the original Addiction Walker may be disappointed with the upgrades

 

Best for Overpronation

 

4. Hoka One One Gaviota 2

And here’s our third Hoka One One shoe on this list! If you’re an overpronator, you may just be interested in this one, as it’s Hoka’s support shoe designed specifically to combat overpronation.

As Hokas go, we find the Gaviota 2 to be one of the nicer-looking options. Although it still has Hoka’s traditional stack-height one-upmanship, it’s a fairly sleek-looking shoe that comes in a variety of interesting colors.

If you overpronate, Hoka has designed this shoe to cater to you. The first support feature is the RMAT J-Frame in the midsole. RMAT is a unique type of dual-density foam and has a reputation for being more durable than the standard EVA.

The J-Frame is an alternative to a medial post. This foam is situated on the medial side of the shoe and wraps around the heel, providing support while removing the need for a medial post.

The Late-Stage Meta-Rocker also helps keep the foot stable in the shoe when making the heel-to-toe transition.

Another feature that helps prevent rolling of the foot is the Arch-lock Wings. These are found on either side of the shoe and basically wrap around the foot like a harness, keeping it locked in tightly (but not uncomfortably).


PROS:

  • Firm RMAT J-Frame
  • Zonal rubber in the outsole
  • Molded OrthoLite foam insole
  • Late-Stage Meta-Rocker

CONS:

  • May run small and narrow

 

Top White Walking Shoes

 

5. MBT Sport 3X

If you prefer white shoes, then check out the MBT Sport 3X. Although MBT is not one of the biggest sports shoe names out there, this shoe is an interesting one and wins our top spot for best white walking shoes (that have great cushioning).

MBT stands for Masai Barefoot Technology. These guys are all about natural movement! Just looking at their shoe, you can tell that it’s designed a little differently to most others.

The soles of the MBTs are curved, which is apparent when viewing them from the side. This does give the shoe a bit of an odd look, but it serves a purpose. The curvy sole is said to match the natural way your foot moves and is designed to make it feel like you’re walking on a soft and uneven surface.

Why, I hear you ask? Well, MBT themselves mention how the natural instability of the shoe contributes to the wearer being constantly “on the move”, adding movement to your day even when you don’t realize it.

It also adds to the cushioning, making your feet feel like you’re walking on sand. Their Pivot Axis technology causes a bit of a rolling movement, kind of like walking with a little rocking horse strapped to your foot.

This helps soften landings and power push-offs, but also activates more muscle in the lower limbs, giving you a bit of a workout at the same time.

It’s an interesting shoe that’s worth trying. It’s recommended to wear them without orthotics if you want to get the full benefit of their unique technology.


PROS:

  • Curved sole for constant movement
  • MBT Pivot Axis technology
  • Removable mesh insole
  • Padded tongue and collar

CONS:

  • The shoe looks a little strange due to its curved sole
  • May not be best for walkers who need stability

 

Best For Orthotics

 

6. Brooks Dyad 11

If you do need an orthotic and you had your heart set on the MBT, don’t worry!

The Brooks Dyad is going to be the right shoe for you. Not only is it a good-looking running or walking shoe, but it’s also great for neutral walkers or those who underpronate. It has some helpful features that make it super comfy.

The shoe is very stable, featuring eco-friendly BioMoGo DNA cushioning, stability arch pods for extra support, and a segmented crash pad beneath the sole, to absorb impact and make it easier on the feet.

What makes this shoe great for those who need orthotics is the extra room inside. The toe box is fairly roomy without looking bulbous, and the foam insole can be removed to make more space for an orthotic.


PROS:

  • BioMoGo DNA cushioning
  • Dual stability arch pods
  • Heel segmented crash pad
  • Suitable for underpronators

CONS:

  • Some walkers may find the heel to be too narrow

 

Best Slip Resistant

7. Hoka One One Bondi SR

If you live and walk in an area that gets a lot of rain or is just often slippery, naturally you’ll want a shoe that is safe in slippery conditions. The Hoka One One Bondi SR is a variant of our top choice, reworked to be a little like a workplace boot wrapped in a running shoe.

A water-resistant leather upper and a non-marking, slip-resistant sole make this a pretty hardcore walking shoe. It’s layered with textured, grippy rubber on the underside, so no matter where you’re walking, it should keep you stable.

Other features include a full-length EVA midsole, a memory foam collar for extra comfort, an early-stage Meta-Rocker for smooth transitions from heel strike to toe-off, and flat laces to prevent pressure on the top of the foot.

It’s quite similar to the Bondi 7 we mentioned above – but slip resistant!


PROS:

  • Early-stage Meta-Rocker
  • Full-length EVA midsole
  • Water-resistant upper
  • Padded memory foam collar

CONS:

  • The shoe looks and feels a little bulky

 

Top Wide Toe Box

8. Altra Paradigm 5

If you’ve ever wished for a walking shoe that doesn’t squish your toes, this could be it! Altra has designed the Paradigm 5 with a uniquely shaped toe box that allows the toes to spread out (or “splay”) inside and not feel cramped, no matter how many miles into your walk you are.

It’s a neutral/underpronation, zero-drop shoe, with some interesting technologies to make for a comfy walk every time.

The Altra EGO midsole provides decent cushioning and a bouncy energy return, which is helpful when there’s no heel-to-toe drop to assist in pushing off.

The outsole features GuideRails integrated into the shoe, to provide extra support when necessary. This, plus the STABILIPOD technology (which acts as a tripod of support), keep your feet steady, stable, and where they should be while you’re running.


PROS:

  • FootShape toe box
  • Altra EGO dual-nature midsole
  • FootPod midsole and outsole technology
  • STABILIPOD stability tech

CONS:

  • Some buyers feel that the heel is a little too narrow for comfort

 

Best Gel Cushioning

9. ASICS Gel-Nimbus 23

If you suffer from heel or foot pain when your foot lands on the ground, it may be worth trying the Gel-Nimbus.

ASICS is known for their impressive impact-absorption, based on their GEL cushioning system. It makes the Nimbus an incredibly comfortable shoe, even for walkers who’ve had foot problems in the past.

The shoe itself is every bit as decent as others, with an engineered mesh upper and a flexible midfoot panel that provides just the right mix of stretch and support.

In terms of cushioning, the heel provides impressive impact absorption thanks to the strategically-placed GEL unit. Not only does it absorb shock, but it provides a soft cushion beneath the heel when on your feet for some time.

If you compare the men’s and women’s shoes, you’ll notice that they look slightly different, more so than some others. ASICS understands that men’s feet and women’s feet aren’t necessarily the same, and have implemented some gender-specific tech into their shoes.

A Trusstic device and under-toe pillars are thoughtfully placed on both the men’s and women’s shoes, and are designed to cushion areas that are prone to jarring.


PROS:

  • Gender-specific Trusstic device
  • Flytefoam Propel technology
  • GEL technology cushioning
  • Engineered mesh upper

CONS:

  • The gender-specific technology can only be so specific, and may not actually be suitable for everyone

Top Nike Cushioned Shoes

10. Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 38

Nike fans, this is our top choice for their walking shoe. It’s a fairly sleek-looking shoe, although some may not like the oversized sole.

A Nike React foam midsole is springy and lightweight. To add extra cushioning to the forefoot, they’ve incorporated a large AirZoom unit, which may be helpful for some and may feel bulky to others.

The lightweight upper and stabilizing midfoot band make this shoe feel like it’s almost not even there. Weighing in at just 258 grams for a men’s size 9, it’s impressively light compared to others.

If you tend to experience heel slippage, then this may not be the shoe for you, as it’s been plagued with slippy heel problems.


PROS:

  • Nike React foam midsole
  • Air Zoom unit at the forefoot
  • Midfoot band for support
  • Lightweight upper

CONS:

  • Flat-footed walkers won’t feel comfortable in this shoe
  • May experience heel slippage

 

FAQs

Not sure which would be the best cushioned walking shoes for you? Here are some common questions you may be wondering about.

What Should You Look For When Buying Walking Shoes?

If you’re looking to own a pair of the best cushioned walking shoes, here’s what to consider when shopping:

Midsole Cushioning

Obviously, the midsole needs to have some decent cushioning. There has to be some energy return in the midsole that bounces you back upwards a little when you walk, so that you can walk for longer without your feet hurting or getting too tired.

Stability

This is a rather individual thing. If you overpronate, you’ll need slightly different shoes than those who underpronate. Depending on your feet, you may need a neutral shoe or a stability shoe.

Outsole

You need a rubber outsole that’s hard, durable, and has good traction in wet and dry conditions, both on the road and off-road.

Weight

Shoes that are too heavy will weigh you down and cause your feet to become tired quickly. A lightweight shoe will keep you light on your feet!

Why Should Walking Shoes Be Well-Cushioned?

You may think walking shoes don’t need that much cushioning, because unlike running, you aren’t landing with a heavy impact.

While that is true to an extent, even walking puts pressure on the feet. Good cushioning in your shoes helps to keep your feet as safe as possible by:

  • Reducing impact jarring on the joints
  • Decreasing foot pain
  • Minimizing foot fatigue
  • Making your walk feel cushy
The Wired Runner