The lost art of the long, leisurely stroll has made a serious comeback. Do you know how bad things have to be for people to take up walking as, like, an actual pastime? People used to avoid walking like the plague. But now—confronted with a very real plague that’s still wreaking havoc—we’re all walking everywhere we can with impunity. If that isn’t a telltale indication we’re living in the end times I’m honestly not sure what is. (Don’t even get me started on “power walking.” It’s called running, you nerds. It’s already a thing! Pick up the pace and power walk the hell out of here.)
So if you’re going to do it, at least do it right. Which means it’s time to cop some proper walking gear. And sure, you could probably get away with wearing your comfiest pair of everyday beaters, but if you’re serious about your newest hobby, it’s worth investing in a pair of shoes specifically made with walking in mind. In other words, some sturdy-as-hell sneakers that provide ample cushioning and support, all while keeping your feet as protected as possible so you can get those steps in with relative ease.
If you have no idea where to begin your search, I got you. Scroll through below to peep some of the best options available now, and don’t go too hard out there. These shoes, after all, are made for walking. (Sorry. I told myself I wouldn’t do it. At least I tried.)
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Versafoam Cohesion 13 Sneakers
Chances are, most of the brands behind your favorite running shoes also make a few real solid options for running’s less-strenuous counterpart. (Walking. I’m talking about walking.) Saucony’s Versafoam Cohesion 13 is a super-comfortable silhouette ideal for walkers who need all the added cushioning they can get.
One Star Vintage Suede Sneakers
Chuck Taylors will always be classic, but the One Star’s OrthoLite insole and added cushioning make it the walker’s choice (and a favorite of skaters the world over). If you’re looking for a sneaker you can wear anytime, anywhere, this is it.
React Infinity Run Flyknit Sneakers
Nike’s React line is specifically designed to reduce the chances of injuring yourself while in motion, and it’s not just for running. With added foam for extra comfort and ultra-lightweight uppers made out of the brand’s signature Flyknit fabric, the React Infinity absorbs a whole lot of impact while making sure your feet stay protected on walks of any duration.
Go ahead, laugh all you want. But Allbirds built a billion-dollar business off the strength of the brand’s hero product, a relatively plain wool runner that doesn’t look like anything special but remains one of the most popular sneakers on the market purely because it’s so damn comfortable. And more than a million pairs in, it’s looking like the brand is about to have the last laugh.
A lightweight all-terrain option courtesy of the Swiss brand—though you might not be too familiar with it yet—primed to become a household name stateside real soon (and with Roger Federer as an official partner, no less).
Bondi 7 Sneakers
Hoka’s status as a fashion-crowd favorite, bolstered in part by strategic partnerships with beloved labels like Engineered Garments, is only on the rise, and the brand’s signature thick-soled Bondi 7 style is a solid introduction to what it does best: shoes with about about as much cushioning as you can get, short of taping a pillow to your feet.
Beast ’20 Sneakers
If you’re friendly with anyone who fancies themself a serious runner (feh!) you’ve likely heard them extoll the virtues of Brooks’ signature shoes more than a few times (and at length). It’s like a reflex. Turns out, the brand also makes some ultra-cushioned styles perfect for taking long, leisurely strolls while said runner pals huff and puff past.
Gel-Kayano 27 Sneakers
If you’re not already familiar with Asics’ classic Gel-Kayano silhouette, you’re seriously missing out. The beloved Japanese brand isn’t just for runners, and its signature shoe is made with an attention to detail that separates it from most other models on the market. If you plan on taking an especially long walk any time soon, these are the shoes to do it in.
Made in USA 993 Sneakers
The archetypal Dad Shoe is an obvious choice for any list of comfortable sneakers if only because dads (your dad, my dad, all dads) prioritize comfort above all else. And boy, does this shoe deliver. Made in the USA might come at a slightly more premium price point, but believe you me: It’s worth every damn penny.
Ultraboost 4.0 DNA Shoes
The shoe that kicked off a veritable craze for running-inspired lifestyle sneakers (and almost single-footedly catalyzed a serious Adidas resurgence in the process) still slaps today. Surprised? I thought not.
Limited Edition XT-6 ADV Sneakers
If you’ve noticed a somewhat odd amount of fashion-forward folks wearing Salomons lately, you’re not imagining it. Over the last few years, the trail-ready sneakers have become a surprise hit with some of the industry’s most stylish insiders. Despite its newfound it-shoe status, the brand remains a solid source of ultra-durable sneakers whose distinctive treaded rubber outsoles are ideal for long treks across different terrains.
Experiment 4 Trail Fury Sneakers
Kerby Jean-Raymond’s take on the iconic Reebok Fury is an absolute unit of a sneaker. Proceeds from the sale of the Experiment 4 Fury Trail, long since sold out, benefitted the Innocence Project, and if that ain’t reason enough to cop, the shoe’s distinctive use of protective TPU should seal the deal (especially when you’re trudging through the winter slush).
Yeezy 700 V3 Arzareth Sneakers
Kanye West’s sneaker line, produced in conjunction with the sportswear savants at Adidas, isn’t just for teenagers waiting to get into Supreme. (It shouldn’t be, at least.) One of the brand’s most eye-grabbing designs is also one of it’s most comfortable, thanks to a Primeknit upper and EVA midsole. A reinforced rubber outsole on the bottom adds all the traction you’ll need for a long walk around the neighborhood, evading local hypebeasts with time to spare.
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Avidan Grossman is the Style eCommerce Editor at Esquire, covering men’s fashion, shoes, grooming, and accessories.
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