Style

These are the most uncomfortable shoes I’ve ever put on my feet

The Rockport M7100 Prowalkers are an inflexible mess.

pair of green Rockport Prowalker M7100 shoes Credit: Reviewed / Kevin Cortez

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I have no problem wearing ugly shoes—in fact, I find them oddly charming. So long as they’re comfortable, functional, and balance my style with some peculiar flair, I’ll take all of the bizarre footwear.

That said, I normally wouldn’t reach for a pair of Rockport shoes. They're stylistically too simplistic to appeal to my sneakerhead instincts. But when the brand reached out and asked if I was interested in testing a pair, I decided to give it a chance. Rockport’s reputation is built on walking sneakers—shoes explicitly made for walking and not running—that look more like basic casual shoes than athletic trainers, so that's where I focused my selection.

I was intrigued by the Prowalker M7100. Although not at all my style, the $70 sneaker had rave reviews from over 4,000 fans on Amazon, some of whom said their pairs have lasted through a decade of wear. I wanted to find out for myself just how good these shoes were. Who cares if they’re ugly (obviously, I don't), especially if they’re comfortable.

What I like about the Rockport Prowalker M7100

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Credit: Rockport

Rockport's M7100 Prowalker is the company's best-selling shoe.

I ordered the M7100 Prowalker in what the company describes as a “white and wheat” colorway, though it’s closer to a mint green. The color is unique, and the contrast between the shoe’s tan inner fabric and tan exterior is visually interesting. I also found the padded tongue to be comfortably thick, which I appreciate on an upper.

Sadly, there isn’t much else I like about these sneakers.

What I don’t like about the Rockport Prowalker M7100

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Credit: Reviewed / Kevin Cortez

The shoe's perforated holes aren't fully punctured, while the midsole is already coming apart.

Where to start? These shoes are poorly constructed and made with cheap materials. They’re stiff, they fit too narrow, and the insoles are essentially flat pieces of cardboard. They feel like wearing plastic—not in the sleek Rothy’s kind of way, but more like if I were to stick my feet into food storage containers. The outsoles themselves are hefty and far from pliable. I don’t think I’ve ever worn a more uncomfortable shoe in my life.

I ordered these sneakers in my usual men’s size 11.5 and went with a wide fit after reading user reviews that complained about how narrow they are. While they fit in length, my outer toes scrape against the inside walls of each shoe, despite the wider width. The collars feel rough and stiff, and they cut into the back of my ankles—even when I switched into thick socks. There isn’t enough padding in the shoe’s heel to soften the harsh feel against my ankles, and the fabric itself feels like sandpaper, even through my aforementioned socks.

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Credit: Reviewed / Kevin Cortez

The M7100 Prowalker suffers from rough stitching and a poorly glued midsole.

Straight out of the box, the Prowalker M7100s are rigid with little to indicate they might soften with time. Even the laces are tough. I wore the shoes on a walk around my neighborhood to see if I could loosen them up and felt no considerable difference after 4,000 steps. They were just as stiff as when I first unboxed them.

The outsole is so ungiving that every step I took came with a loud and rubbery thud, as if I were intentionally slapping my toes onto the street. Later, I attempted to bend the shoe with my hands to see if the outsole would give. After significant effort, I was able to bend the toe box—leaving behind an ugly set of creases. This shoe’s plastic leather won’t age well with use. Plus, the amount of time it would take to break these shoes in—if that’s even possible—is far beyond my level of patience.

These shoes aren’t equipped with any arch support or padded cushioning on the heel to make walking comfortable. The insole’s paper-thin material proves it. This nonexistent support, alongside the narrow width and harsh outsole, caused my feet to ache after my short walk. The knuckles of my pinky toes felt tender, my ankles were scuffed from the hardened collar, and my heels were irritated.

The outside of the sneakers are made with awkwardly cut pieces that are sloppily assembled. There are visible gaps between the midsole and upper, and the stitches look frayed. The shoe’s perforated holes—which are supposed to help ventilate the foot—weren’t properly punctured and were therefore still closed. This, in conjunction with the shoe’s plasticy fabric, might explain why they’re so unbreathable.

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Credit: Reviewed / Kevin Cortez

The M7100 Prowalker's insole is paper thin.

To that final point, I ask this: Why are these shoes retailing for $70 to $80 when so many other brands make pliable, competent casual sneakers with smarter designs and better materials? A quick glance at Reebok’s classic line shows a batch of shoes that retail at $70 or less for casual sneakers made of nylon and suede that are more breathable than Rockport’s choice of fake leather. The Sketchers GoWalk 6 rings in at about the same price as the ProWalker, and is composed of leather and mesh upper, making it inherently more breathable than Rockport’s. Even the Nike Cortez, a shoe our style editor Amanda Tarlton despised, seems more capable of comfort than this (and that’s saying a lot).

Is the Rockport Prowalker M7100 worth it?

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Credit: Reviewed / Kevin Cortez

Under the insole, a stiff and rigid footbed.

Not unless you don’t enjoy your feet. I could go on and on about how much I hated this experience, but one thing is clear: Rockport’s Prowalker M7100 is a poorly constructed shoe made with terrible quality materials and awful design choices. Anyone looking for a walking shoe can easily do better than this. It’s the antithesis of its own name. Stay away.

Get the Prowalker M7100 from Rockport for $70

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Prices were accurate at the time this article was published but may change over time.

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