Archeologists working in Armenia recently said they had discovered what might be one of the world's oldest shoes. That shoe, estimated to be 5,500 years old, shares many features with today's walking shoes: a leather outer, laces, and cushioning, according to news reports.
More modern technologies and materials are used in the 25 shoes in our latest tests. Some sport innovative designs, and a few are specialty shoes with unusual soles that are supposed to help tone your legs, glutes, and other muscles.
Among regular walking shoes, A1 and B1 Asics were tops for men and women. Their innovative design shifts the lacing system slightly off-center over the highest point of the instep for a snug fit. And they performed well in all aspects of our testing. We also recommend A2 Avia for men and B2 Ryka for women. Bargain hunters can try the men's A4 Pro Spirit for $20 and the women's B6 Champion for $28, both CR Best Buys.
Shoes known as toners have alternative soles that change your gait or posture. 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.