These shoes are made for walkin'
As the song goes, nobody walks in L.A. But in O.C. I've actually seen it done, and it's a great way to stay fit or get started if you're easing into a workout routine. But which shoes are best for your feet?
Consumer Reports road-tested 25 different walking shoes, and Asics came out on top for both men's and women's models. And the jury is still out on those odd-looking "toner" shoes that are supposed to work your calf muscles.
The $100 Asics GEL-Tech Walker Neo was judged the top men's shoe, with an overall score of 83. The $100 women's version also ranked No. 1, with a score of 80. All shoes were tested for cushioning, stability, fit, flexibility and breathability. The Tech Walkers earned "excellent" ratings for fit and stability. They were praised for their "innovative design" in which the laces are slightly off-center over the highest point of the instep, providing a "snug" fit.
The only other men's shoe recommended by CR is the $50 Avia A333M, which weighs in at 9.9 ounces, compared with the GEL-Tech's 11.5 ounces. But the "best buy" stamp goes to the Pro Spirit Jacorey, which Target sells for only $20.
Ryka's Radiant shoe (which costs $70) came in second in the women's test and earned a "recommended" stamp of approval. The best buy is the $28 Champion C9 Kacie, which also is sold at Target and earned an excellent rating for flexibility.
Nike performed better in the women's test than the men's: Its $80 Air Miler Walk for women ranked third, but the men's $75 Air Max Healthwalker+ VII landed ninth out of 10.
What about those toning shoes, which are supposed to work your leg muscles as you stroll? Among men's shoes, two were tested: the $130 Earth Kinetic K had a relatively low score of 65, far ahead of the $110 Skechers Shape-Ups (52 points), the ones Joe Montana shills for. In the women's category, Reebok's $100 EasyTone Reeinspire scored 65, beating out the $110 Earth (59 points) and $100 Skechers (56) brands.
"Shoes known as toners have alternative soles that change your gait or posture," the Consumer Reports article says. "They can be unstable but are supposed to activate muscles, which compensates for those changes. Most panelists said they felt C1 and D2 Earth and C2 and D3 Skechers working their muscles, mostly the calves, but few women noted the same effects with the D1 Reebok. You might not like the way toners feel, so check comfort before buying."
In case you're wondering about running shoes, Asics GEL-150TR (both $65) took the top slots for men and women in a previous test. The $45 Payless Champion Amp 2 came in a close second for men, and the $70 Ryka Core Strength XT was close behind in the women's models.