Cushioned walking shoes are awesome, super comfortable footwear pieces. Some people call them their “comfy shoes” because that’s what they are: comfortable! Besides being sports shoes, walking shoes can also function as everyday wear shoes for active people.
Choosing the best cushioned walking shoes can seem complex on the surface, and indeed it can be. With so many options to choose from, where do you start?
This article will give you a head start toward choosing the best cushioned walking shoe for you!
What Makes the Best Cushioned Walking Shoes
Of course, the best cushioned walking shoes will have a decent amount of cushioning! But did you know that there are other aspects of a cushioned shoe that also make it comfortable and stable? Besides only cushioning, these are some other things to look for in a cushioned shoe.
1. A Good Fit
Many walking shoes come in different sizes, but also in different widths! Some walkers may prefer a wider shoe width in order to allow their toes to “fan out” during their walks, but other people may like a snugger fit.
While this is a personal preference, there are still some things to think about. It’s generally recommended that walkers choose a shoe with a wide toe box, for example, to provide extra support and breathability and to support back health.
For certain people with unusual feet (or very specific preferences), a very particular fit of shoe may be in order. If you are picky about the fit of your walking shoes, make sure you try them on in the store before bringing them home.
If you over or under pronate, have plantar fasciitis, or a foot injury, make sure to account for this when deciding on a shoe with a good fit. There are even walking shoes that are made specifically for certain conditions or situations like these!
A good pair of cushioned walking shoes will have a combination of both cushioning and support. Arch support is essential, especially for people with high or low arches, but even for people with normal arches too!
Support can come in the form of not only arch support, but also ankle support. The construction of the shoe is also important to look at; for instance, it’s important to examine the shoe to decide if it’s sturdy enough to balance your feet (and you!) while you’re walking.
3. Durable Materials
The materials that a shoe is made from can make a huge difference in comfort for your feet and body as well as for your checkbook. A cushioned walking shoe that’s made from strong, durable materials will last longer, meaning less expense over time and also happier feet!
Always remember to take a look at the customer reviews and product description to get a feel for the durability (or weakness) of the materials of a shoe. Going to a store and holding the shoe in your hands is of course another excellent way to determine the quality of materials.
While it’s not always possible to tell whether or not a shoe is made from extra durable materials or not, generally reviews and personal experience will tell you the most. The shoes on this list are some of the most durable and efficient cushioned walking shoes of 2020.
4. Type of Cushioning
Different shoes offer different types of cushioning, and this is just as important to consider as the amount of cushioning itself! Some types of cushioning are softer and fluffier, while others are tougher and offer more spring.
According to many walkers, the best cushioned walking shoes offer a balance of springiness and soft fluffiness. But this is very much a matter of personal preference, so test out shoes to see what you like the best!
Walking shoes should be shoes that you can wear not only during your walks, but also during the rest of the day too! Because you’ll probably work up a sweat on your walk, and you want your feet to stay comfortable, choosing a pair of shoes that are breathable is a must.
The best cushioned walking shoes are made from breathable materials that offer plenty of airflow to your feet. Although some walking shoes tend to be a bit more heavy than other kinds of sport shoes, don’t let that fool you! Some are still very breathable.
6. Style and Design
Walking shoes come with a lot of “gear”, and some poorly designed models look bulky and feel awkward. The best cushioned walking shoes are designed with care and love to be both stylish and functional!
There are many different walking shoe designs, of course, and you have to choose the one that works best for you. Many shoes also come in different colors! Consider when you plan to wear the shoes and with what outfits you might pair them before making a final decision.
Top 8 Best Cushioned Walking Shoes 2020
Adidas Ultraboost 20
Best Overall – Men
New Balance Fresh Foam 1165
Mizuno Wave Rider
Best for Budget
Best for Plantar Fasciitis
Hoka One One Challenger Low Gore-Tex
Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 34
Brooks Adrenaline GTS 20
Best for Over- and Under-Pronators
Brooks Glycerin 15
Best for Marathons and Long-Distance Walks
1. Adidas Ultraboost 20 – Best Overall
Adidas is one of the top brand names in the sport shoe and apparel industry, and the company doesn’t disappoint when it comes to its Ultraboost 20 walking/running shoe. By far one of the best of 2020, the Adidas Ultraboost is a great cushioned shoe for both men and women.
The fit of this shoes is clever and comfortable. A sock-like fit provides extra ankle support while also offering additional cushioned comfort, and a snug yet flexible upper offers a little bit of extra overall support without compromising on cushioning.
One of the cool things about the Adidas Ultraboost is that it comes in many different color options, and its design is quite stylish! In comparison with many other shoes on this list, the Ultraboost 20 has the most diversity when it comes to color choice.
Last but not least, the cushioning in the Ultraboost 20 has some bounce, making every step you take lighter and easier! Don’t let the bounce fool you, though; this Adidas shoe is as cushioned and soft as a cloud.
- Stylish design
- Made for walking, running, or everyday wear
- Sock-like fit
- Multiple color options available
- Great energy return with every step
- Reliable brand name
- Snug fit
- Excellent support
- Breathable, knit upper
- Boost midsole for extra comfort and support
- More expensive
- Not exclusively a walking shoe
2. New Balance Fresh Foam 1165 – Best Value
It’s no surprise that the Fresh Foam 1165 made it onto this list of the best cushioned walking shoes, because New Balance definitely produces some of the highest quality walking shoes of all. Combining affordability with function and comfort, these New Balance shoes are top notch.
The New Balance Fresh Foam 1165 shoes are exceptionally lightweight in comparison with many other walking shoes of 2020. They’re quite flexible and airy with plenty of breathability; a mesh upper offers maximum airflow as well as range of movement for your feet and ankles.
These Fresh Foam shoes are multifunctional. They’re fantastic for walking but can also be used for light runs or everyday wear as well. The Fresh Foam midsole provides extra cushioning and support, as does the removable foam insert.
The New Balance Fresh Foam 1165 shoes are made in a bootie style, which offers additional ankle support and alignment help. Plus, these shoes are stylistically designed to not draw too much attention, making them great for people who walk a lot for their work.
- Well-known brand name
- Good for walking, running, and everyday wear
- Bootie-fit construction
- Subtle design
- Flexible and versatile
- Breathable mesh upper
- Ultra-soft and comfortable Fresh Foam midsole
- Decent stability
- Upper is slim; there isn’t as much room in the toe box
- Not as many style or color options available
3. Mizuno Wave Rider – Best for Budget
The Mizuno Wave Rider walking shoes may be the most affordable on this list, but that doesn’t mean that they don’t pose strong competition! These shoes have extraordinary cushioning and take pressure off of the heel to make for a smooth, easy transition between each step.
Besides being affordable, the Mizuno Wave Rider is also quite durable. It works great for walking long distances and gives comfort every step of the way! A low heel and wide toe box together contribute better spinal alignment and general comfort for your feet, ankles, and knees.
Best of all, this shoe is both comfortable and stylish! The Wave Rider comes in a few different appealing colors, and the exterior stylistic design of the shoe is unobtrusive and subtle, perfect for everyday wear or a long walk downtown or along a main street.
A U4icX heel wedge ensures that the heel impact is minimized. Less impact on the heel means that each step is softer and smoother, ideal for walkers who are looking for the best cushioned walking shoe for all their walking adventures.
- Affordable price
- Great long distance shoe
- Wide toe box
- Stylish appearance
- Multiple fun color options available
- U4icX heel wedge
- Low heel
- 100% synthetic construction
- Arch support may be less than some other shoes
- Not necessarily designed to suit special foot conditions that require particular types of shoes and shoe designs
4. Kuru Atom – Best for Plantar Fasciitis
The Atom walking shoe from Kuru is as beautiful as it is comfortable, with exceptional functionality and durability to boot. This shoe is specifically designed for people with plantar fasciitis and other foot injuries, but lots of other people will also find something to love!
This shoe has a bootie-fit that provides extra ankle support, something that’s essential for individuals with foot injuries of any kind. The structure of the shoe is designed to hit and support your feet and ankles in all the right places at just the right time during each step.
The Kuru Atom utilizes a hollow cup in the heel to help take the pressure off of the heel. Meanwhile, a firm arch provides some extra support and an ultra-soft foam insert offers extra comfort. Overall, this shoe has some of the best support of any shoe on this list.
This Kuru shoe is made from durable synthetic materials that are as breathable as they are comfortable. A mesh upper creates a super lightweight, airy feel to the shoe, and meanwhile the rubber sole and layers of padding and cushioning give you maximum comfort during your walk.
- Great for people with foot injuries
- Engineered to take pressure off of the heel
- Made from durable materials
- 100% synthetic shoe
- Stylish design
- Excellent for walking and everyday wear
- Firm arch
- Breathable mesh upper
- Bootie-fit; extra ankle support
- Kurusole alignment/posture aid
- Color options aren’t as diverse
- Costs more than other shoes
5. Hoka One One Challenger Low Gore-Tex – Best Off-Road
Hoka One One is a brand that reigns supreme in the world of athletic shoes, especially when it comes to walking shoes! The Challenger model has an aesthetically pleasing design as well as some of the best cushioning of any 2020 walking shoe.
The Challenger walking shoe is especially durable, making it excellent for off-road walks and hiking adventures. The sole of the shoe is thick and well-cushioned, thus offering a solid barrier between your feet and the road as well as extra comfort along the way.
The midsole of the Hoka One One Challenger is specifically designed to reduce the intensity of impact, which adds to the comfort level of this shoe. The cushioning itself has been described by reviewers as “marshmallow-like” or even “cloud-like”!
A Nubuck leather upper and a bootie-fit provides extra protection from the elements. The shoe is still cleverly designed to be quite breathable, however, so there’s no need to worry. No matter whether it’s raining or shining, this shoe will be with you every step of the way!
- Extra thick rubber sole
- Attractive shoe design
- Vibrant and modest color options available
- Nubuck leather upper
- Midsole reduces impact
- Excellent traction; 4mm rubber lugs on sole
- Mostly waterproof shoe
- Comfortable, snug fit
- “Marshmallow-like” cushioning
- Some of the most expensive shoes on this list
- Outsole may stick on sidewalk-type surfaces
6. Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 34 – Most Lightweight
Nike is, of course, an essential brand when it comes to athletic products. The Air Zoom Pegasus 34 walking shoe is a comfortable dream of a shoe that has all the features you’d want without anything extra and unnecessary. These shoes are a work of art.
This shoe has a slightly raised heel that is ideal for walkers because it allows your feet to roll gently and comfortably with each step. A bootie fit and mesh upper combines the benefits of a snug, secure shoe fit with airy, breathable materials to create an ultra-secure and freeing shoe.
Comparatively lightweight in terms of walking shoes, the Air Zoom Pegasus 34 is specifically designed to be aerodynamic, lightweight, and streamlined. The snug (yet comfortable) fit of the shoe adds to the support and lightweight feel that this Nike shoe has to offer.
Even though it’s lightweight, the Nike Air Zoom Pegasus still has quite a bit of cushioning! Zoom Air units in the insole provide springy, soft cushioning that has great feedback and posture correcting abilities.
- Lots of fun colors to choose from
- Attractive, sleek, and modern shoe design
- Snug fit
- Raised heel; excellent heel-to-toe action
- Zoom Air units in the insole
- 100% synthetic materials
- Bootie-fit for extra support and comfort
- Good for long walks
- Can be used for running as well as walking
- Dynamic Fit technology included
- Somewhat more expensive
- Not good for hard walkers; if you step heavy, this shoe may not have the support you’re looking for in a cushioned walking shoe
7. Brooks Adrenaline GTS 20 – Best for Over- and Under-Pronators
Brooks is a leader in the walking shoe industry. The Brooks Adrenaline GTS 20 is the latest Adrenaline model and comes with spectacular cushioning and excellent new features. When it comes to cushioned walking shoes, Brooks is one of the best companies!
The “guide rails” that line the bottom of the Adrenaline GTS 20 shoes are designed to help correct overpronation and under pronation. Extra firmness and stability are included in this shoe as well to prevent foot and ankle injuries that are sometimes caused by these conditions.
But don’t let the extra stability fool you! This shoe is also incredibly comfortable and soft. A DNA Loft midsole in combination with an EVA rubber compound under the heel makes for an extra cushioned heel strike that minimizes impact and increases comfort.
The Brooks Adrenaline GTS 20 has a woven upper that’s extremely lightweight and breathable. This shoe may be a bit bulky for running, but it’s perfect for walking in that it’s generally much lighter than other walking shoes, and also more streamlined!
- Stylish appearance
- Plenty of color options to choose from
- Guide rails help prevent and correct poor pronation
- DNA Loft midsole
- EVA compound under heel
- Minimal impact on heel
- Woven upper; breathable shoe
- Snug, comfortable fit
- Lightweight and streamlined
- Can be used for both walking and running
- May not be as good for plantar fasciitis
8. Brooks Glycerin 15 – Best for Marathons and Long-Distance Walks
Another Brooks shoe, the Glycerin, has made it onto this list of the best cushioned walking shoes as the best shoe for marathons and marathon training. Beautiful and comfortable at the same time, if you’re serious about walking these are the shoes for you.
The Glycerin combines a lightweight construction with extra padding to make an ideal long-distance shoe. Inside the shoe, a smooth fabric lines all areas, adding to the overall comfort! Plus, this shoe is somewhat customizable and comes with a removable insole.
A full-length segmented Crash Pad lines the bottom layers of the Brooks Glycerin. The Crash Pad minimizes the effects of impact and adds another layer of cushioning. The Plush Transi is there to give you that “walking on clouds” feel that is so sought after in a walking shoe.
The materials used to create the Brooks Glycerin 15 are durable and reliable. While intense training may require that the shoes be replaced sooner rather than later, with moderate training these shoes will last a long time.
- Can work well to support certain foot injuries
- Aesthetically pleasing design
- Many color choices
- Made from durable materials
- Full length Crash Pad
- Plush Transi padding
- Removable cushioned insole
- Smooth fabric lines the shoe interior
- Excellent for long walks or marathons
- Great heel-to-toe action
- Fit can run too small; make sure to try the shoes on in a store
- Not necessarily great for everyday wear; some customers also complained that the shoes didn’t work as well for running as they do for walking
There are so many wonderful, beautiful walking shoes on the market. These are the best-cushioned walking shoes, and they’re definitely some of the best overall that are available in 2020. Comfortable, stylish, and versatile, cushioned walking shoes are absolutely amazing.
Although there are many factors to consider when it comes to choosing a cushioned walking shoe, there are also some simple truths. Now that you know the basics and have read about the best of the best, you’re equipped to go out and choose your best cushioned walking shoe!