Travel + Leisure / Reese Herrington
As an avid traveler, I love exploring cities on foot. No matter where I am, I always make it a point to schedule some time for a meandering walk around various neighborhoods, which I find is a great way to experience a city’s culture and daily life up close. Plus, it’s a fantastic way to stay active while you travel.
On a recent week-long trip to London and Paris, I did just that when I signed up for several walking tours with City Experiences. I knew I would be on my feet a lot, including during an 8-hour “London in a Day” experience, so I packed my go-to pair of comfy sneakers even nurses swear by for their long shifts: Hoka Kawana Road-Running Shoes. Let me tell you, it was the best decision ever — these shoes knocked it out of the park in terms of comfort, durability, and style. In fact, I did four back-to-back walking tours in both cities for about 80,000 steps and didn’t get a single blister.
To buy: rei.com, $140
The Hoka Kawana shoes’ secret to all-day comfort starts with ample cushioning. Padding around the collar gave extra support to my ankles as I traipsed all over town, and midsole foam gave my feet a cloud-like surface to walk on. And no matter what the terrain was (hello, slick and rainy roads and uneven streets) there was always plenty of traction thanks to the outsole’s durable texture — an especially good feature to have as we walked all over cobblestone pathways around the Tower of London during the guided tour.
The Hoka Kawana Road-Running Shoes also kept my feet cool and dry the entire trip thanks to a textile and synthetic upper layer with mesh panels that kept things breathable but protected from the elements. Not to mention they molded to my foot like a dream: the traditional lace-up closure meant a secure fit, and I was pleasantly surprised that the laces stayed put the whole day without me having to redo them.
As I really started getting my steps in, I noticed that the Hoka Kawana Road-Running Shoes have a wide base and foot frame that offers moderate stability, which works great for those of us who have neutral gaits. It even has the brand’s “swallowtail” heel geometry which creates a broader, flatter surface so you have a smoother heel strike in your stride. I wore them in the neutral nimbus cloud color, but they also come in two colors in women’s sizes 6-11, including half sizes.
To buy: rei.com, $140
So, even though they’re touted as a road-running shoe, I fully approve of the Hoka Kawana as comfy lifestyle walking sneakers. But active travelers will be happy to learn they really do stand up during jogs, too. I couldn’t resist a quick run in Regent’s Park one evening in London, and I was pleasantly surprised by the comfortable cushion the shoe provided on a concrete path. Plus, the reflective details on the toe meant people could see me as I crossed the streets on the opposite side of what I am used to here in the U.S.
With all of these stellar features, it’s no wonder nurses are praising them as “the absolute perfect shoe” that they wear every day, with one saying that they even bought three pairs. “I have Fibromyalgia and Ehlers-Danlos, so my body always hurts. Plush comfort and support are most important for me, and these are the perfect shoes for long-day support,” they added. Another shopper, who works at a doctor’s office, said they work great for people who stand a lot during the day. “My legs have big broken veins, and I have to be careful with what shoes I wear. These are amazing, and my legs don’t hurt at the end of the day,” they remarked.
And I agree wholeheartedly. After spending a week in them, I noticed my ankles didn’t swell up at the end of each day. At just under 8.5 ounces, they are one of the lightest pairs of trainers I have owned. Playing tourist and walking long hours in these shoes across London and Paris felt like I was floating on a cloud.
But don’t just take it from me. Another shopper who also loved the construction of the Hoka Kawana said, “I was going on a trip that would involve a lot of walking, so I wanted to make sure I had supportive shoes. These did not disappoint. They have a very firm foundation, great arch support, and are nice looking.”
To buy: rei.com, $140
As if I needed more reasons to love them, these shoes even have an extended heel pull, so I was able to take them off and put them back on easily without having to dance around on one foot, as most of us often do. And to top it all off, the shoes are made of recycled materials, making me feel good about the sustainability of my footwear choices.
So if you have to travel with just one pair of shoes that will perform flawlessly across multiple terrains and activities, the Hoka Kawana Road-Running Shoes are the ones for you. They seamlessly go from city streets to trails to the gym and offer the right amount of comfort and stability in each situation. The aesthetically pleasing colors are a nice added bonus — go ahead and grab a pair for your next travel adventures.
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