By Amber Sayer
In full transparency, when I was first introduced to HOKA shoes about 10 years ago, I was skeptical that they would be good training shoes given the maximalist design with tons of cushioning.
However, HOKA shoes have become fully integrated into my regular running shoe lineup, and I even have HOKA walking shoes for everyday wear as well as HOKA hiking boots and shoes for off-road adventures.
In fact, although most HOKA shoes are designed for running, there are some excellent HOKA walking shoes and I wear HOKA running shoes as my everyday walking shoes.
In this article, I will discuss why HOKA shoes are great for walking and my picks for the best walking shoes for various needs.
What are the Best HOKA Shoes for Walking?
So, why are HOKA shoes great for walking?
Ultimately, it is important to provide the disclaimer upfront that everyone has their own unique footwear needs and while there are some HOKA shoes that I believe are great for walking, you may need a different type of shoe based on your biomechanics and the nature of your walking workouts.
That said, particularly if you suffer from knee pain, foot pain, plantar fasciitis, or arthritis, you will find that some of the best HOKA shoes are indeed the best shoes for walking in general.
What Makes HOKA Shoes Good for Walking?
What I love about HOKA shoes is that the shoes are all thoughtfully designed with optimal biomechanics in mind.
The most distinguishing factor of HOKA shoes is the maximalist design. This refers to the thick cushioning in the midsole of HOKA shoes for occupational use. In other words, there is more material built up between the bottom of your foot and the walking surface, all of which provide cushioning and shock absorption.
There is ample cushioning to help attenuate impact forces whether you are running, walking, hiking, or just standing on your feet.
This reduces the workload on the small muscles that control the mediolateral arch of your foot, helping reduce the risk of overworking these muscles.
When the small muscles in your feet have to stabilize and hold your foot in the proper position for too long or under too much impact force (think running or having excess body weight), the plantar fascia, bones, and foot muscles take on the brunt of stabilizing your foot and absorbing impact, all of which can increase inflammation and lead to foot pain and potential foot injuries.
Lower Heel-to-Toe Drop
HOKA walking shoes have a low heel-to-toe drop.
This is sometimes referred to as just the heel drop, and it refers to the difference in the height between the heel and forefoot in a shoe, measured in millimeters.
The standard heel drop in most running shoes is somewhere between eight and 13 mm, but the HOKA shoes have a much smaller heel drop, closer to 4 to 6 mm.
This helps lengthen the Achilles tendon and puts less pressure on the ball of your foot because your foot is in more of its natural position rather than elevated up in the heel.
As a result, the muscles in your feet are able to actually operate correctly in terms of controlling the decompression and then bounce back of the arch of your foot when you walk and run.
This all works together to reduce stress on the plantar fascia, metatarsals, and intrinsic muscles that support your arch, all of which can work together to decrease the risk of foot pain and foot injuries from walking.
Stable and Reduce Joint Pain
Additionally, the HOKA shoes for walking feature a wide base of support. You will notice that my choices of HOKA shoes have a larger surface area to the base of the shoe, or the outsole. This functions like a bucket seat, providing additional stability to the foot to control pronation when you land on your foot whether you are running, walking, or even just standing.
The more surface area you have in contact with the ground, the greater the area over which forces and pressures are dispersed. This will reduce pinpoint pressure or force on any given area of your foot and will help spread out the impact force before it travels up to your ankles, knees, and hips.
Variety of HOKA Walking Shoes
Finally, HOKA walking shoes come in a variety of styles based on what type of walking you are going to be doing.
There are HOKA shoes, which are great for power walking and walking workouts on the road. Within this category, there are HOKA shoes that provide stability if you have flat feet or foot pain like plantar fasciitis, as well as neutral HOKA running shoes for those who have a standard arch and foot control but still want to take a vantage of the cushioning and benefits of HOKA shoes for walking.
HOKA trail shoes are great for walking off-road or hiking.
HOKA shoes for occupational wear, which are great for walking around a hospital, restaurant, retail store, factory, or any other job where you are on your feet all day.
There are even HOKA sandals for walking around the gym locker room, poolside, or just around your home or the community in warm weather.
Best HOKA Shoes for Walking
1. HOKA Clifton 9 - Best for Walking Workouts & Treadmills
I have been running in the HOKA Clifton running shoes since the second generation, and they are now on the ninth iteration of this favorite running shoe.
It is a great neutral, balanced, well-cushioned running shoe for walking as well, particularly if you are walking for fitness, walking on a treadmill, or walking on roads.
The new HOKA Clifton 9 is even lighter, shaving off 4 ounces of weight, and there is a plush memory foam collar around your ankle to keep your foot snug and secure in the shoe.
It is a low-drop shoe, with a 5 mm heel drop, which decreases the pressure on your metatarsal heads and keeps your Achilles and calves stretched.
One reason I think this is one of the best HOKA runningshoes for walking is that it is a very lightweight and responsive neutral running shoe.
This means that it will support your natural walking gait in a lightweight design without causing fatigue in your legs for longer walking workouts and treadmill walks.
That said, there is still the most advanced cushioning technology that HOKA has and the meta-rocker design on the sole of the shoe.
Basically, this means that there’s a very slight curvature on the bottom of the shoe to facilitate easy heel-to-toe transitions for a smooth, natural walking stride.
This can help you walk faster and more fluidly for a more vigorous walking workout.
2. HOKA Transport - Best for Everyday Errands & Walking
The HOKA Transport is specifically designed for walking, and has the chic fashion look of a stylish walking shoe with all of the performance features of the top walking shoes, HOKA brand or otherwise.
One thing that is really cool about this HOKA walking shoe is that it is crafted with sustainability in mind, using a 30% sugarcane EVA midsole (a very sustainable material), a 100% recycled polyester vamp and tongue Cordura® mesh, 100% recycled polyester rear-quarter mesh, tongue and collar lining, and nearly fully recycled components in the leases and other textiles.
Plus, for top-of-the-line traction and durability of the outsole, this HOKA shoe has a Vibram® EcoStep Natural outsole made with 90% oil-free ingredients.
The HOKA Transport is one of the best shoes for walking at night because the shoe features 360 degrees of reflectivity.
It is a little heavier than some of the other HOKA running shoes, but there is excellent cushioning, a low heel drop, and the premium Vibram® sole, which will stand up to miles and miles of walking adventures wherever your feet take you.
3. HOKA Arahi 6 - Best for Flat Feet
If you are looking for HOKA shoes for flat feet, I highly recommend the Arahi 6.
This is one of the best HOKA stability shoes, featuring the proprietary J-frame technology to control pronation when you walk.
There is maximal cushioning to absorb impact forces, which is particularly helpful if you have joint pain walking.
It’s also great that the HOKA Arahi comes in wide widths to accommodate different foot shapes.
4. HOKA Speedgoat 5 - Best for Walking Trails
If you prefer hiking or walking on trails, the top rated shoes for walking on rougher terrain is the HOKA Speedgoat 5.
This is designed as a trail running shoe, but you can also get it in a mid-cut and high-cut style so that it is a hiking boot.
The higher styles provide more ankle support for uneven trail terrain, while the low trail running shoe is great for more casual walking on varied surfaces.
This shoe is great for walking on grass, trails, or wet surfaces because there is excellent traction, and you can buy a Gore-Tex version if you want waterproof walking shoes for all-weather adventures.
Despite being well-cushioned, supportive, and stable, these hiking boots and trail running shoes are surprisingly lightweight. Many hiking boots are extremely heavy and trail running shoes tend to follow that same pattern.
This is why I believe the HOKA Speedgoat 5 shoes are not only the best HOKAs for hiking, but also the best trail running shoes and hiking shoes overall.
5. HOKA Gaviota 5- Best for Walking on Hard Concrete Floors
The HOKA Gaviota has a lower heel-to-toe drop, which, as discussed, evens out the pressure on your foot, keeps the Achilles and calf muscles lengthened, and allows the small muscles in your feet to operate in their optimal positioning.
I also love these HOKA shoes because there is a plush, softer cushion to help with shock absorption, which is great for treadmill walking or walking on hard, city concrete sidewalks.
6. HOKA Bondi SR - Best for Walking & Standing all Day
The HOKA Bondi SR is a good shoe for walking around an occupational setting or standing on your feet all day.
If you work on your feet, this is definitely one of the top HOKA shoes for walking in workplace settings.
These HOKA walking shoes feature water-resistant leather, a slip-resistant outsole, and a high-quality, compression-molded EVA midsole so that you have reliable cushioning all day long.
To improve safety and stability, this HOKA shoe has a super grippy, anti-slip outsole that provides full ground contact. This improves traction on the ground even if it is wet, greasy, or slick.
7. HOKA Ora Recovery Slide 3 - Best for Walking Around the House
Lastly, on my list of the top HOKA shoes, for walking around your home or in the gym after your workout, are the HOKA Ora Recovery Slide 3.
This is actually a sandal rather than a close toed shoe. However, unlike most cheap flip-flops and sports sandals, this HOKA walking sandal features a thick stack height with arch support (essentially unheard of for a sandal!).
Furthermore, there is the meta-rocker design on the sole to help with a smooth heel-to-toe transition when you are walking around, which helps actually facilitate a natural walking gait so that you don’t have to squeeze your toes to try to hold the sandal in place as it stiffly flops from back to front when you walk.
Most importantly, they are extremely comfortable and lightweight—like walking on a memory foam mattress—and will support your achy feet yet allow your hot feet to breathe.
Overall, among all of the popular shoe brands, I truly believe that HOKA shoes are among the best shoes for walking.