How to Find the Most Comfortable Boots for Walking

For many women today, boots are replacing more traditional shoes as a year-round look. While taller styles dominate during the cold weather, ankle versions can be worn anytime with a range of ready-to-wear looks from skirts to shorts and leggings.

However, not all boots are created equal when it comes to styling or fit. Since boots are worn day-into-night, comfort is essential. Here are some guidelines to follow when boot shopping this season in order to maximize the comfort experience.

1. Look for Styles With Breathable Materials

Regardless of the temperature outside, feet need to breathe. Look for materials such as genuine leather or suede rather than synthetics that may trap moisture and create a breeding ground for fungus.

Minnetonka Double Fringe Side Zip Boot
The Minnetonka Double Fringe side zip boot is done in porous suede.
CREDIT: Zappos

2. Opt for Low, Chunky Heels

It’s no surprise that lower heels are more comfortable to walk in. However, since women are not likely to give up on high heels anytime soon, the chunkier the heel the easier it is to walk. Heels with more surface provide greater stability and safety when walking around.

Sam Edelman Packer
Sam Edelman Packer, complete with a low, underslung heel.
CREDIT: Zappos

3. Choose Boots With Flexible Soles

If walking around town rather than jumping on a bus or calling for Uber counts as your daily exercise routine, soles need to be flexible and lightweight. Simply do the flex test when shopping for your next pair of boots by gently bending the boots by hand. If they don’t flex easily, move on to another option.

Sorel Explorer Joan
Sorel Explorer Joan, featuring a lightweight flexible outsole designed with molded rubber pods for stability and grip.

4. …And Cushioned Insoles

The real measure of comfort comes from within. Boots should incorporate cushioned insoles for a soft landing underfoot. For those looking for even more support, check for enhanced arch supports and heel cups designed for stability. Here, price comes into play.  The cheaper the boot, the less likely the cushioning material will hold up after long wear, so it might make sense to spend more up front.

Clarks Sillian Sway
The Clarks Sillian Sway includes a cushioned Ortholite insole for all-day wear, plus a rubber outsole for even more underfoot comfort.
CREDIT: Zappos

5. Make Sure You’re Shopping for the Right Size

Getting your foot measured by trained sales associates is essential in selecting a pair of boots for walking. Boots that are too short will stub your toes after time, while boots that are too long will have your foot moving about inside, which can cause blisters. Next, check for the proper width. Many consumers don’t realize they need a wide width, an option many boot brands offer today. The right width, however, doesn’t stop at the foot. Check the width of your calf as well when looking for taller styles. There’s nothing more painful or unattractive than squeezing your leg into a boot that’s too narrow.

Trotters Liberty Wide Calf
The Trotters Liberty wide calf incorporates elastic goring at the shaft for added adjustability.
CREDIT: Zappos

All products featured have been independently selected and curated by our editorial team. If you buy something through the links included on our site, FN may earn a commission.

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