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Steps Above

What are the best shoes $65 and less for walking? That depends on how hard and fast you like to tread.


Each year, Walking magazine editors review walking shoes. Last week, the first of two parts looked at shoes $66 and higher. Today: shoes $65 and under. It is reprinted with permission from Walking.


Buying a pair of walking shoes gets easier all the time. Demand from walkers has made walking the biggest category for many shoe manufacturers. Sporting goods stores are carrying more styles. It's great news for consumers: There's something for everyone--as long as you know what you're looking for. That's where we come in. This comprehensive shoe guide will help you find the best pair at the best price, whether you're a casual strider or a racewalker; hard on shoes or easygoing; blessed with a perfect gait or a total biomechanical disaster.

$50 TO $65 (Editors' Choices)



Especially Good for: Speedsters, Bargain Hunters, Walk / Run

* Great rounded heel, flexible forefoot, and low profile ideal for athletic walkers.

* A well-cushioned ride; air unit in the heel aids midsole durability.

* Mixed leather / mesh upper.

Comments: "Very comfortable. Better-than-average support."


AVIA 382


Especially Good for: Pounders, Bargain Hunters, All-Day Wear

* A classic, and probably the best value around: firm, durable PU cushioning (good for midsole crushers), and a great low-profile design.

* Flexible forefoot and Avia archrocker bottom create a unique heel-to-toe flow. All-leather upper less athletic, but durable.

Comments: "The fit was very comfortable." "Uncomfortable because of the rocker bottom."



$65 (men's $70)

Especially Good for: Speedsters, Fit, Overpronators, Walk / Run

* Athletic profile, dual-density C-EVA midsole lends medial support for mild overpronators.

* A lighter mixed leather/mesh upper is available for more athletic walkers, borrowing from Asics running shoe heritage.

Comments: "Fantastic cushioning--feels squishy but not sloppy." "Nice wide forefoot." "Narrow heel, my foot doesn't slip."

Other Standouts



Especially Good for: Fit (three widths for women, two for men), Overpronators, Bargain Hunters, All-Day Wear

* A great value for overpronators due to solid plastic medial post--the only one at this price.

* Good base of support, adequate cushioning. All-leather upper may get warm inside.

Comments: "Supportive, most comfortable." "Comfortable, but not very well-vented."


AVIA 3097


Especially Good for: Overpronators, Walk/Run

* Lightweight cut-away out-sole for more performance-oriented walkers.

* Plastic heel clip will help mild overpronators.

* Avia's Fom pads for enhanced cushioning and midsole durability.

Comments: "Very adequate width in the toe box." "The cushioning was OK, felt a little hard."



$55 (men's $60)

Especially Good for: Speedsters, Fit, Walk / Run

* GEL cushioning in the heel should enhance midsole durability.

* Leather / mesh upper for flexibility and lighter weight are great for athletic walkers, drawn from the Asics running shoe heritage.

* Good midsole profile: fairly low heel and flexible forefoot are well-designed for speed.

Comments: "Great deal of support even for high arches." "Lightweight. However, took a while to break in." "Liked the heel fit and toe room." "Comfortable and durable."




Especially Good for: Speedsters, Bargain Hunters, All-Day Wear

* Good profile--up-curved toe and mesh upper for more athletic walkers.

* A fit many women like: ample toe room and a snug heel.

* Dual-density C-EVA adds support for mild overpronators.

Comments: "Best-fitting shoes I've worn in a while." "Very comfortable . . . wider toe area." "Tongue is stiff where it hits ankle."




Especially Good for: Fit, All-Day Wear

* Etonic Eon air unit in the heel for improved cushioning and durability.

* All-leather upper. Two width options.

Comments: "Very comfortable along the ankle and the upper." "Not very cushiony, but overall comfortable."




Especially good for: Fit (four widths), All-Day Wear

* The SL-2 Last offers a good base of support and roomy toe box.

* Great if you wear orthotics and / or have a wide forefoot.

* Plus great sizing options for men and women.

* Solid design, traditional leather upper.

Comments: "Fit very nicely. First athletic shoe I've had that I didn't need a 'wide.' " "Cushioning and support are excellent." "They're great."




Especially good for: Fit (three widths), Bargain Hunters, All-Day Wear

* A great value: comfortable fit and lots of sizing options at a great price.

* Sound design and all-leather upper great for moderate walking and all-day wear, not speed.

Comments: "Very comfortable; the support was very good." "Could be a little more cushioned; fit was good." "Nice slender design."




Especially Good for: Speedsters

* Fairly flexible midsole and lightweight design with lots of mesh in the upper is good for performance walkers.

* Fila's 2A Technology material in the heel should enhance durability and cushioning.

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