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

Keep your feet feeling comfortable, supported and pain-free with these women’s walking shoes for exploring the outdoors, from beaches and parks to walking multi-terrain nature trails

Best women's walking shoes 2019: a woman stands on a boulder overlooking a mountain peak

Walking is a fantastic way to enhance your wellbeing while exploring the natural world, and keeping your feet comfortable on your various adventures will boost your experience no end. If you’re looking for the best women’s walking shoes to do just that, you’ve come to the right place.

Our expert buyer’s guide rounds up our absolute favourites, including our top picks for tackling different types of terrain, women’s walking shoes for the beach and park, and those purposefully designed to keep the rain out on wet weather strolls.

Our expert pick

  • Features to look out for in your new walking shoes include lightness, flex, support and rigidity. Too much of one can sacrifice another. Also, each of us has different priorities, whether that’s extra support to minimise the risk of an ankle roll, or a deep tread to cope with muddy trails. Luckily, the waterproof Merrell MQM Flex can handle it all.
  • Indeed, our top pick for the best women’s walking shoes has a super-light midsole and enhances support of your feet with a shock-absorbing air cushion in each heel. The lining is also treated with M Select Fresh antimicrobial agents to kill any odours.

Do I need shoes or something more robust?

The best women’s walking shoes are lighter and more flexible than boots, making them the ideal choice for those of you who want a low-fuss and lightweight yet durable outdoors shoe. 

That doesn’t necessarily mean they’re automatically far less hardy than technical boots, but, depending on the shoe’s design, they might not offer as much full ankle support. Depending on the material, the shoes might not offer as much impact protection, either.

So the type of footwear you buy depends largely on where you’ll be using them and what kind of terrain you’ll regularly be walking on.

Best women's walking shoes 2019: a woman sits on a rock overlooking a canyon

Choosing the best women’s walking shoes for you

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

Modern versions are most commonly made of synthetic materials, with strategically-placed patches of reinforcement providing rigidity in those places most likely to experience impact or high wear and tear.

If you're on the hunt for a new pair of women's walking shoes, look for high-performance features such as GORE-TEX Extended Comfort line, designed to keep feet dry and warm, and tech to reduce foot fatigue. The latter will benefit you no end on longer walks and multi-day walking trips.

Also, if you're sticking mainly to rural trails littered with mud, stones and scree, opt for a shoe with seamless uppers and a bellows-style tongue. This type of tongue, attached to the side of the shoe’s upper, will prevent debris from getting in and annoying your feet.

Lastly, consider what type of tread depth you’ll need. Here’s two examples:

  • Fine tread – this is perfectly acceptable if you’ll be doing most of your walking on flat surfaces, such as paved pathways, roads and gentler trails.
  • Deep tread – ideally with angled, self-cleaning lugs, will boost your stability and grip on trickier trails and in adverse weather (make sure they’re waterproof).

Ready to discover the best women’s walking shoes for you? Then read on for our top picks...

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, as the conventional laces on these shoes are easier to maintain.

4. Teva Arrowood 2 Mid

A great choice when style and fuller ankle support are in order

Reasons to buy
+No need to break in+Fuller support+Very stylish

Sometimes you crave the support of a fuller, mid-style walking shoe, and that’s where the Teva Arrowood 2 Mid comes in. It’s perhaps obvious to state how attractive these women’s walking shoes are, with that soft-touch finish (available in Midnight Navy and Desert Sand).

They’re lightweight on the feet and feel super-comfy from the first step—you can thank Teva’s FloatLite tech, plus an EVA foam footbed, for that magic. Designed to look like a sneaker-hybrid, the Arrowood 2 Mid offer enhanced support around the ankle, and work to reduce foot fatigue on longer strolls.

We wouldn’t wear them on a hardcore hike, but we have worn them on nature trails and countryside strolls and found them to be supportive and stylish; trust us, they’ll look far better with jeans thank chunkier outdoors boots if you’re heading to the pub after a big Sunday morning walk.

The North Face Women's Litewave Fastpack GTX waking shoes

5. The North Face Litewave Fastpack GTX

The best women's 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

6. Mammut Hueco Mid GTX

Stylish walking shoes with unbeatable grip

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

Highlights here include the wet weather-friendly, mega grip Michelin rubber sole – who wouldn't want the grip of a racing car when they're out walking on wet country pathways? 

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

7. 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

8. 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

9. 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.