I do a lot of walking, so I’m picky about my shoes. My last three go-to pairs have all been the same style of Rykas: I fell in love with the first pair, then eventually bought two more before the style was discontinued. Recently I wore through the last of them. As if on cue, Reebok sent me a pair of their new Versawalk DMX Max walking shoes to test out. Excellent timing!
When I slipped them on the next morning, I felt decidedly wobbly. The shoes have what’s called a “hollow two-pod cushioning system,” which lets air move from one pod to the other, supposedly to provide individualized cushioning. What it was providing me with, though, was a definite feeling of sliding inward toward my arch. I gave it a moment, though, and to my surprise, my feet adjusted and began to feel level again.
Once I got used to the shoes, I quickly discovered how comfortable they are. I felt like I was almost bouncing with every step (fun!), and that’s some feat when you’re walking on asphalt. At the same time, my feet felt well supported.
That’s not all there is to like about these shoes, either: There’s plenty of room in the toe box (even for my wide toes), and the heel fits snugly. Plus, the keep-my-feet-cool ventilation is excellent, thanks to the mesh across the top front of the shoe.
But there’s one big drawback, and it’s one that plagues nearly every walking shoe out there: They look like boring white nursing shoes. Why, why, why do shoe companies believe that serious walking shoes have to be almost all white? Are we walkers so much less cool than runners, whose shoes come in every shiny, groovy color you can think of? Are we to think that when our knees can’t handle the impact of running anymore, or we want to try Nordic walking, or we just plain prefer walking to running, we automatically become undeserving of good-looking shoes?
For a while, a couple years back, it seemed like walking shoes had taken a comely turn and left the Great White Way (those Rykas I loved were a testament to that: a cool silvery gray with a touch of aqua). Alas, it didn’t last, and I can’t for the life of me figure out why.
And so, I am issuing a challenge to all the fitness shoemakers out there: Please come up with some cool-looking shoes for serious walkers!
One big question remains regarding my new Reeboks: Will the comfort factor trump their plain Jane looks? Will substance win over style? Given the current lack of stylish options, I may not have a choice.
Product: Reebok Versawalk DMX Max
Pros: They’re super comfortable and cushiony, they support well, and they keep your feet cool.
Cons: They look boring.
Cost: $65 at Reebok.com
Extra tip: Keep track of the miles you’re putting on these shoes with the Shoe Odometer, reviewed in this blog on Sept. 4.