Walking shoes/sneakers for women
May 30, 2019 3:57 PM   Subscribe

My new commute involves a 15-20 minute walk twice a day, with some challenging hills. I need walking shoes/sneakers to wear, and then I’ll change into work shoes at the office.

Women’s size 6.5, narrow heel, tendency towards pain in the ball of my foot when I walk a lot. Occasionally wonky knee, so shoes must be flats. If I can find a comfortable pair that will last a long time I’ll pay pretty much anything. Preferably can be bought on amazon or Zappos. I’d love for them to have at least a modicum of style, but that’s not a priority. The only sneakers I’ve bought in the past decade are Converse or Keds, which are basically like strapping cardboard to your feet, so I don’t even know where to start. Brand recommendations? Specific shoes you love? Help!
posted by skycrashesdown to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (19 answers total) 15 users marked this as a favorite
I got a pair of hiking sneakers from Columbia a few years ago. They look mostly like regular sporty sneakers (and are a decently fun teal/neon yellow design) but have a bit more ground stability and tread tooth than regular sneakers. They are very good for walking in.

They don't appear to have the exact ones I've got anymore, but these look pretty close.
posted by phunniemee at 4:09 PM on May 30, 2019

I've been wearing Asics gel cumulus to walk around the city for years. They're really comfortable- when they wear out, I buy a new pair.
On Amazon
posted by dianeF at 4:48 PM on May 30, 2019

i have asics trail runners and they are great on uncertain surfaces, which is at this point in my life all surfaces. asics in general have, unlike many other brands, remained consistent in good quality for at least the past 10 years which is IMO unusual these days. i do find the current gen of gel nimbus to be slightly too inflexible for my needs but my shoe needs are kind of weird.
posted by poffin boffin at 4:55 PM on May 30, 2019 [1 favorite]

I've put many many many miles on keen's Presidio II in total comfort and a modicum of style. I'm very prone to Plantar Fasciitis and these were absolute foot savers. Keen's site itself is throwing me script bugs, but here's zappos on the old style.
posted by Cold Lurkey at 5:24 PM on May 30, 2019 [1 favorite]

I’ve had good luck with Ecco Soft 7 sneakers. I have narrow heels and need a wide toe box. I’d like to think that they have a decent amount of style and they come in a ton of colors. I wear mine while traveling and can walk miles in them.

I second the Keen Presidio. Super comfy. I’m not super into them style wise, but they keep my feet happy all day long.
posted by Maeve at 5:33 PM on May 30, 2019

Have you ever tried Rothy's? I have these and regularly walk an hour or two a day in them. I think they're very comfortable, though you might want more support.
posted by pinochiette at 6:03 PM on May 30, 2019

I have narrow heels and recently bought a pair of Forsake shoes which are the most comfortable shoes I have ever found for walking.
posted by Kris10_b at 6:28 PM on May 30, 2019 [1 favorite]

I love New Balance Leadvilles. I'm on my 3rd pair. I get about 250 miles per pair.
posted by fluttering hellfire at 6:51 PM on May 30, 2019

I walk everywhere and I found that stiff-soled, heavy sneakers were a drag. I love my Skechers Gratis mesh sneakers. Low profile, lightweight, flexible sole, subdued color combos, memory foam insoles, no heel slips, no heel blisters from Day 1 plus I love that I don't even need to tie laces.
posted by TWinbrook8 at 7:17 PM on May 30, 2019

I like UnderArmor tennis shoes for the narrow heel and wider toe box. Very comfy.
posted by Red Desk at 8:39 PM on May 30, 2019

I recently bought two pairs of Skechers that are styled more like flats than sneakers. I bought them specifically because I’m going to Italy next month and I need shoes that will hold up to full days of walking, but still look decent if I want to pair them up with a casual dress. I’ve been wearing them to work every day, using the excuse that I need to break them in for my upcoming trip (which I try to mention in every conversation because . . . Italy!!!) but the shoes didn’t need any breaking in – I just love wearing them.

I got this pair in white and they’re super light (I think they're related to the Gratis shoes linked above by TWinbrook8) and this one to double as black flats.
posted by kbar1 at 10:43 PM on May 30, 2019 [1 favorite]

I've been wearing Onitsuka Tigers by Asics for a similar commute most days for several years. They come in a ton of different colors and a few different styles and are remarkably consistent in size/fit - I'm on my 7th or 8th pair and have never sent them back for any reason other than not liking the color when I saw it in person. Zappos carries them, but their website has more color options. Wide toe box, some support, on trend-ish, last me about a year per pair.

Skip the Mexico 66's and go for the GSMs, Ultimate 81s, or Serranos for more comfort.

My Birkenstocks get the second most use for the commute.
posted by asphericalcow at 11:28 PM on May 30, 2019 [1 favorite]

on shoes are both cute and comfy.

But if you're up to it and have one near by, I really would stop by your local running store (Fleet Feet is a reliable chain), especially with a wonky knee. Go in, tell them you're looking for shoes for walking. They should ask to see you standing up and to walk a bit to take a look at your stride and make recommendations based on that.
posted by damayanti at 5:47 AM on May 31, 2019 [1 favorite]

"tendency towards pain in the ball of my foot when I walk a lot."

This might make a difference in what is ultimately comfortable for you. You might have to keep your big toe from flexing too much, so need a stiffer shoe or a custom orthotic. You might want to get it checked out by a podiatrist.
posted by SandiBeech at 7:26 AM on May 31, 2019

I didn't want to jump on the hipster Allbirds bandwagon, but one of my friends did, and when I tried those babies on it felt like I was walking on clouds. My plantar fasciitis flare-ups have gotten significantly less frequent on my long walks of ~4 miles every weekend. These are breathable, light, and worth the price. Since you've previously worn Converse and Keds, the low profile on these are similar, and definitely lightweight and bendy enough to stick in your bag once you get to work and switch them out.
posted by Everydayville at 11:06 AM on May 31, 2019

I tend to have pain in the balls of my feet also, and I have a very high instep so I cannot wear the sandals or sneakers from this brand. On the other hand if I could only buy one shoe for the rest of my life they would be these. The very first time I put them on they felt like bespoke shoes. I never would have chosen a Mary Jane style by myself and these are the only ones I have ever seen that have a strap that goes over my instep. I wore them to work in Seattle for 3 years. I didn't have to change shoes that way.
posted by Altomentis at 11:45 AM on May 31, 2019

I have bad knees, and do a lot of walking, and have had good luck with Skechers Women's Flex Appeal 2.0 Newsmaker Sneakers.
posted by gudrun at 6:15 PM on May 31, 2019

Joe's New Balance Outlet has tons of great NB shoes at affordable prices. You can filter by size. 6.5 is a valid option. It's up to you if you want to filter further by width. I've had many different pairs and put hundreds of miles on them walking and running. Usually I get tired of them or before they ever wear out.
posted by glonous keming at 6:26 PM on May 31, 2019

I want to nth the recommendation to go to a running store and tell them what you’ve told us. They’ll watch you walk and get you in just the right shoes — it’ll save you money and time by not requiring you to buy several pairs til you find the right one.
posted by bluedaisy at 10:30 PM on May 31, 2019

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