Whether you’re a daily walk devotee or someone who spends their workdays on their feet, a good pair of walking shoes can make all the difference between having a great day or a crummy one. If you’ve followed footwear trends in the last few years, you’re probably aware that Hoka sneakers—recognizable by their oversized soles and bright color combos—have garnered a cult following that encompasses everyone from streetwear aficionados to healthcare workers to hot-girl walkers. And that’s for a good reason: When it comes to making high-quality walking shoes, Hoka checks the essential boxes and ranks among top brands like Nike and New Balance.
What should you look for in a walking shoe?
If you already own a pair of general running shoes, those should work well for walking. But if you’re looking for a new pair of shoes to wear solely (pun intended) for strolls, here are some key design elements to keep in mind while you shop.
Whether you’re enjoying a leisurely stroll or moving at a quick, determined pace, walking shoes can have a major effect on your feet and joints, as they act like shock absorbers for your steps, Jeffrey DeLott, DPM, a board-certified foot and ankle surgeon at Connecticut Orthopaedics, tells SELF. A well-cushioned shoe can help reduce some of that impact and keep your feet, ankles, and knees comfortable for longer. Dr. DeLott says to look for shoes with materials and features like gel, foam, and air pockets.
A supportive walking shoe will help keep your feet stable while you walk, Dr. DeLott says, adding that you should think about your foot type and tendencies when shopping for shoes. For example, you can look for shoes designed for pronation (when the feet roll inward) or supination (when the feet roll outward), or you can give a shoe made for stability or motion control a try. There are also neutral shoes that don’t provide targeted support but may be more comfortable for some people. Consider trying on a few pairs to get a feel for what you like.
It can be tricky to balance the weight of a walking shoe with the cushion and support it offers, but it’s still an important factor to keep in mind, Dr. DeLott says. A cushy, sturdy shoe will likely feel heavier, while a lightweight shoe might not provide much support or shock absorption. Again, taking the time to test drive a couple types of shoes will help you determine the right weight and feel for you.
Depending on where and when you plan to walk, you might need to take a closer look at your shoe’s materials. Hot weather (or feet that are prone to sweating) will call for a breathable shoe made with mesh and other fabrics that facilitate ventilation. Rain, on the other hand, means finding a shoe that’s made with water-resistant or waterproof materials like Gore-Tex. And don’t forget to check the soles: If you’re going to walk on outdoor trails or rocky terrain, make sure your shoes provide adequate traction.
What sets Hoka apart from other sneaker brands?
Hoka, also referred to as Hoka One One, is probably best known for its ultra-plush line of shoes that make running on concrete and other hard surfaces feel like stepping on marshmallows. Hoka running shoes usually have a “maximalist” look, with chunky, outsized soles that buoy the wearer’s feet. They’re extremely easy to spot not only for their shape but for their vibrant colorways too, which range from cool pastels to kindercore-esque colorblocking. They’re undoubtedly a millennial fashion statement at this point, but they’re also a great choice for runners and walkers who want to take care of their feet and knees while on the move.
Thanks to the brand’s signature walking-on-clouds feel, Hokas are actually recommended by podiatrists for people who deal with plantar fasciitis. This condition is characterized by stabbing pain in the sole of the foot, specifically in the heel, and wearing supportive, comfortable shoes can help alleviate that discomfort. Some pairs even come with a seal of approval from the American Podiatric Medical Association (APMA), denoting that they’re beneficial to foot health.
The best Hoka shoes for walking
If cushioning and support are top priorities for you, you may want to browse Hokas for your next pair of walking shoes. Here, with Dr. DeLott’s shopping criteria in mind, we’ve highlighted our top picks for the best Hoka shoes for walking.
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