The best women’s walking shoes 2019: comfy footwear for all types of terrain

The latest walking shoes are designed to tackle any type of terrain while at the same time keeping your feet dry and pain-free. In other words, it's time to treat your feet to some new footwear

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More people are exploring the great outdoors than ever before - a trend which hasn't gone unnoticed by manufacturers of outdoor gear, which are going all out to create footwear for every type of terrain. 

This is great news for walkers, as it's now easier than ever to find the perfect footwear, whether you're a seasonal stroller or a hiker with a weakness for rugged mountain trails.

Our expert pick

  • Characteristics to look for in walking shoes include lightness, flex, support and rigidity. Too much of one characteristic can sacrifice another, and to compound matters, we've all got different priorities, whether it's great support to minimise the risk of a dreaded ankle roll, or a deep tread to cope with muddy trails. This is precisely why we love Merrell's newest shoe - the Moab FST 2 Gore-Tex.
  • To start with, it's got one of the lightest mid-soles of any Merrell shoe, and the combination of leather and mesh allows your feet to breathe while providing the support of a boot. This support is enhanced by both a molded nylon arch shank and a heel-based air cushion. Prone to stinky feet?
  • The lining has been treated with M Select FRESH antimicrobial agents. To put it simply, these odour-fighting agents disrupt the reproduction of pesky odour-producing molecules, keeping your feet fresher for longer.

Best women's walking shoes on grassy hike

How to choose the best women’s walking shoes

Years ago, decent walking shoes were few and far between - a sturdy (and often weighty) pair of boots was the go-to item of footwear. In recent years, advances in technology have allowed manufacturers to incorporate the most important qualities of a boot in a lightweight shoe. 

Today's walking shoes are most likely to be made of synthetic materials, with strategically-placed patches of reinforcement providing rigidity in the places it's most likely to be needed. If you're on the hunt for new walking shoes, look for features which replicate the protection offered by boots, such as the GORE-TEX Extended Comfort line, designed to keep feet dry and warm, and take the time to consider tread depth. 

The tread on walking shoes is usually finer than on hiking boots, and if you're going to be doing a lot of walking on flat surfaces such as roads, a finer tread will do the job, but a deeper tread - ideally one with angled, self-cleaning lugs - will work better on rougher trails.

This leads us neatly onto another issue - what type of terrain you'll be tackling. If you're walking mainly on rural trails littered with grass, stones and mud, opt for a shoe with less stitching - as few seams as possible. 

Seams are especially vulnerable to wear and tear, so look for features such as seamless uppers and a seamless bellows-style tongue. This type of tongue, which is attached to the side of the upper shoe, will prevent debris getting in.

The best women's walking shoes you can buy

Best women's walking shoes

1. Merrell MQM Flex Gore-Tex

The best women's walking shoes for all-weather adventures

Reasons to buy
+Fully waterproof+Breathable membrane +Shock absorbing heel 

If you're looking for walking shoes to wear in all conditions, slip into the Merrell MQM Flex GTX. The MQM's membrane is waterproof, keeping your feet dry when you're splashing through streams or walking in the rain. 

It's also extremely breathable, ensuring you stay dry and comfortable in hotter climates. A bellows tongue, meanwhile, prevents debris from sneaking inside the shoes, so you won't have to stop to empty out stones.

The Merrell MQM Flex GTX also feature an M Select GRIP outsole with durable traction which, in conjunction with a shock-absorbing air cushion in the heel, aids quick movement across rugged terrain. This makes them a powerful all-rounder for multiple outdoor scenarios.

Inov-8 Roclite 315 blue women's walking shoes

2. Inov-8 Roclite 315

A popular trail running shoe that's also superb for walking

Reasons to buy
+Adapts to your foot's movement +Excellent grip on slippery surfaces

Designed for running over varied and unpredictable terrain, Inov-8's popular Roclite 315 shoes offer impressive comfort and protection during walking thanks to a Power Flow midsole...

Inov-8 has designed these midsoles to deliver 10 per cent better shock absorption than standard midsole units, so you should have a smoother walking experience overall. They also boast superior traction, making them perfect for anyone who feels nervous walking over trickier terrain. 

Adapterb tech is another reason why the Roclite 315 has made our best women's walking shoes guide, as this technology enables the shoe to adapt to the natural movement of your feet and take into account any swelling when you're on the move.

Salomon Outline GTX W walking shoes

3. Salomon Outline GTX W

The best women's walking shoe for muddy country strolls

Reasons to buy
+Fantastic grip+Incredibly light

This well-priced walking shoe guarantees unbeatable grip on the muddiest of trails without making any sacrifices in the style stakes. Pillow-like foam heel cushioning and an insole made from stamped Ortholite foam keeps aches and pains at bay, while a lightweight synthetic toe cap provides extra protection without adding weight. 

We also love the perfect balance of flexibility and strength. This is largely due to Salomon's decision to print reinforcement directly onto the mesh upper, rather than stitching on chunky support panels. Don't be put off by the absence of Salomon's Quicklace, toggle-based speed lacing system either - the conventional laces on these shoes are easier to maintain.

The North Face Women's Litewave Fastpack GTX waking shoes

4. The North Face Litewave Fastpack GTX

A stunning walking shoe ideal for long walks in all conditions

Reasons to buy
+Reliable waterproofing+Great breathability

Lightness is key when it comes to walking shoes, but the downside is that brands will often skimp on necessary materials in order to reduce weight - a false economy. Not so with this shoe, which has plenty of water-blocking GORE-TEX along with a closed mesh design to keep shoes debris-free while allowing air to circulate. 

The best bit? The shoes are still wonderfully light, with a weight of just 594g (per pair). The soles are also easy to clean, thanks to self-cleaning lugs (something achieved thanks to their angled shape), although it's worth noting that the upper is synthetic, which is harder to clean than leather.

Mammut Hueco Mid GTX walking shoes

5. Mammut Hueco Mid GTX

Stylish walking shoes with unbeatable grip

Reasons to buy
+Impressive rubber grip+Winter-weather friendly

Mammut's new hiking shoes might well cost more than most, but the quality is hard to fault. Highlights include the wet weather-friendly, mega grip Michelin rubber sole – who wouldn't want the grip of a racing car?

Also, there’s a TPU heel stabiliser for furthering a steady grip on uneven surfaces, and a super-supportive strobel construction; the process of stitching the outer leather to the insole of the material to give a more rigid support. 

Which brings us onto our other favourite feature: the perfect balance between flexibility and support. The shoes have enough flex to make them ideal for a wide range  of terrain, but at the same time, they've got the necessary stiffness to prevent slips, stumbles and ankle rolls.

Asolo Blade grey women's walking shoes

6. Asolo Blade

A lightweight walking shoe for a 'barely-there' feel

Reasons to buy
+Waterproof+Noticeably lightweight

The Asolo Blade low rise women's walking shoe makes for comfortable walking year round. Whether it’s clear blue skies or tipping down with rain, these waterproof walking shoes will keep your feet comfortable with every stride. 

They are extremely lightweight, so they don’t feel like you're wearing a typical walking shoe, which is great for those who walk daily as well as those attempting trickier trails.

The Blade's lighter colour scheme might get dirty quickly if you go off the beaten track, but they're a great choice for throwing in your backpack.

Nike Downshifter 7 W black and white women's walking shoes

7. Nike Downshifter 7

Walking shoes that go undercover as regular trainers

Reasons to buy
+Stylish trainer design+Easy to wear

For those who often find themselves collared into a last-minute 'short scenic stroll' to a country pub, or racking up the miles running around town on errands, these are best women's walking shoes for you. 

The beauty of the Nike Downshifter 7 is that while they offer a comfortable and performance, they'll also fit right in with your athleisure wardrobe.

These Nike trainers aren't as supportive as the more dedicated walking shoes on this list, and aren't waterproof, but if you can't bring yourself to wear proper walking shoes and want style as well as some substance, you'll be fine with these.

Black Sketchers Go Walk black women's walking shoes

8. Sketchers GOWalk 4-Pursuit

The best women's walking shoes for sheer ease of wear

Reasons to buy
+No laces to contend with+Simple to pull on and take off

If you find lace-up shoes too restrictive and you aren't planning on walking across muddy fields any time soon, these slip-on Sketchers could be the answer. 

Although not designed for extreme trails, if you love walking along the beach or in the park, want something you can quickly slip on and off, the GOWalk 4 Pursuit will see you right.

Those with injuries or weak ankles may need more support than these can offer, but in general the super spongy soles in this women's walking shoes are pure joy for the feet. Think of them as slippers for outside and you'll get the picture.