The best women’s walking shoes 2018: hit the trail, beach and mountain in comfort

Treat your feet to a pair of lightweight and comfortable walking shoes that will see you through many a season and over many a trail

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Walking any route or trail is much easier, more comfortable and far more enjoyable when you're wearing decent footwear. Sometimes, however, especially during the stickier summer months, hiking boots might seem a tad excessive. 

That's where walking shoes come in. They provide you with the support and stability you need, but without feeling too bulky on your feet.

The best women's walking shoes are comfortable enough to be worn daily, and are light enough to sling in your backpack if you're heading off on an active holiday.

To be sure you're buying a decent pair that will last, choose walking shoes that are waterproof, or offer a degree or water-resistance, and that are designed to reduce foot fatigue so that you can walk for longer without risk of injury or pesky blisters.

How to choose the best women's walking shoes

When choosing amongst the best women's walking shoes, first decide whether you need them to be fully waterproof. Not all walking shoes are waterproof, making some better for fairer weather, but there are a few rain-friendly options out there to see you well into autumn.

A quality walking shoe should feel comfortable, just like your favourite sneakers, while supportive enough to hold your ankle and amply cushion the soles of your feet. All of this reduces fatigue and soreness when you walk. 

In terms of sizing, make sure you have enough room to comfortably wiggle your toes, even when the shoe's laces are tightly tied. To kick-start your search, we’ve rounded up some of the best women's walking shoes available to buy today, for a range of budgets and styles...

These are 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 
Reasons to avoid
-Lighter colour options might attract dirt

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
Reasons to avoid
-Not for heavy duty walks 

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 Tibai GTX black women's walking shoe

3. Salomon Tibai GTX Low Shoe

The best women's walking shoe for muddy country strolls

Reasons to buy
+Warm Gore-Tex Lining+Decent grip
Reasons to avoid
-A little heavy  

If you go on plentiful trail walks but find boots too restrictive, Salomon's Tibai GTX Low Shoe is the next best thing. They all the best features of boots, including Gore-Tex waterproof lining and Contragrip soles, but are incredibly flexible. 

This makes them a stellar choice for summer trails where you still might come into contact with water or rocky terrain, yet equally as effective for wet weather rambling. Again, a gusseted tongue ensures your walking shoes stay free of foot-stabbing debris.

Asolo Blade grey women's walking shoes

4. Asolo Blade

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

Reasons to buy
+Waterproof+Noticeably lightweight
Reasons to avoid
-Light colour picks up dirt

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.

Black Mountain Warehouse Belfour red women's walking shoes

5. Mountain Warehouse Belfour Walking Shoes

The best women's walking shoes if you're on a budget

Reasons to buy
+Incredibly low price+Amply cushioned soles
Reasons to avoid
-Sizing comes up small 

If you like the sound of the Asolo Blade walking shoes but are worried they’ll get dirty easily, then these Mountain Warehouse Belfour Walking Shoes feature darker colours that are less likely to get ruined when you venture onto muddier paths. 

Thanks to an EVA midsole, The Mountain Warehouse Belfour Walking Shoes are super comfortable underfoot and have the added bonus of being waterproof to keep you dry on rainy days. 

They do come up a little small compared to our other picks for the best women's walking shoes, though, so opt for one size larger than your standard shoe size.

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

6. Nike Downshifter 7

Walking shoes that go undercover as regular trainers

Reasons to buy
+Stylish trainer design+Easy to wear
Reasons to avoid
-Not waterproof

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

7. 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
Reasons to avoid
-Not as supportive as the other shoes

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.