This article, which supplements our previous article describing the use of walking boots for ankle sprains, is meant to show you a range of different types of walking boots commonly available for rehab purposes.
The walking boots featured below are some of the most common walking boots used for post-surgical rehab, conservative management of fractures, ankle sprains, or other ankle injuries that require a period of relative immobilization with ample protection.
In these reviews, we report the average customer rating for each boot, and we supplement these ratings with added context regarding unique aspects of each walking boot, and when one may consider one type over the other, ultimately providing you with information to make an informed decision about what walking boot is best for your ankle injury.
As usual, when it comes to properly rehabilitating an ankle injury, we always recommend seeking in-person advice from your local physician or physical therapist, as this will allow for a more detailed assessment of your specific ankle injury, and as such, a more specific treatment plan.
With that said, here are our selections for the best walking boots available online:
AirCast AirSelect Standard and Elite Walking Boot
Average Customer Rating: 4.5 / 5
AirCast is one of the most well known brands for walking boots, to the point where AirCast and walking boot are often synonymous in clinical settings.
Consider the AirCast AirSelect walking boot to be the Honda Civic of walking boots. It provides everything you need, nothing more, nothing less. The design is simple, and while not fancy, the simplicity allows for easy use and minimizes the chances of things falling apart.
The rocker-style sole is a little more subtle relative to other boots, but still allows you to “roll” over the foot while walking, which can make walking a little more comfortable for those who are cleared for full weight bearing. Additionally, the bottom of the boot is well cushioned, so ground reaction forces are well distributed throughout the boot, essentially easing off the pressure on your foot and ankle joint.
The bad part about those two things combined is that it will still feel awkward to walk, simply because you have one leg sitting higher than the other. That said, given the importance of these features, it’s tough to avoid this with any walking boot, so just know that walking might not feel perfectly symmetrical even with full weight bearing.
There are three air cells in the boot that provide pneumatic compression for a snug fit, and you can inflate each cell individually, allowing for customizable fit. With this model, you don’t need an external pump. You simply set the dial to the air cell you want to inflate (grey knob on the side numbered 1 to 3), then repeatedly push the black button near the top of the boot to gradually inflate the air cells to your desired level of compression for a comfortable fit.
This boot can get a little hot when worn for a long time, which is really the case for most walking boots. The soft padding that lines the inside of the boot can be washed, but it’s easy to get it dirty and stinky if you’re barefoot in the walking boot.
Therefore, if possible, we suggest wearing a sock inside the boot to help reduce the build-up of dirt and odour. Many people wear graded compression socks under their boot to further assist with prevention of excessive swelling, especially in the acute or sub-acute stages of injury recovery.
Lastly, for even more ankle support and greater comfort, AirCase offers an “Elite” version of this walking boot. From what we can tell, the main difference is more contouring in the soft padding for improved comfort, and the hard lightweight shell is a little more robust.
AirCast AirSelect Short Walking Boot
Average Customer Rating: 4.5 / 5
This is the same company and model of walking boot as the first one we listed above, but you will notice it’s much shorter. A shorter walking boot can be helpful for improved comfort and convenience, but is more often used when you need protection and immobilization of the foot itself rather than the ankle joint.
For example, those who have had bunion surgeries or certain types of Lisfranc injuries or surgeries may be able to use a short walking boot, as the foot will be stabilized and protected. Additionally, given there is less material, it will be lighter weight than the standard or elite versions of the Aircast boots, and it won’t be covering as much of the leg, which can be more comfortable.
The trade-off is that your ankle will have less support and may even move a little in the boot. Even though it’s still provides solid ankle support relative to a shoe, the shorter height means that some ankle movement may occur, particularly in the plantarflexion and dorsiflexion motions.
Overall, if you have been advised by your attending healthcare professional that a short walking boot is suitable for your needs, this could be a really good starting point, as it comes in at a decent price, and the AirCast brand is known to be reliable, focusing on practicality over appearance and extraneous gimmicky features.
United Ortho Air Cam Walking Boot
Average Customer Rating: 4.5 / 5
United Ortho is another popular brand for walking boots. Similar to the AirCast brand, they have different styles available to help cater to individual needs.
While the design is fairly similar to the AirCast models, there are some subtle differences. In the case of the Air Cam walking boot, it is typically advised to take the soft inside liner out of the boot altogether and put that part on first. The liner forms reasonably well to the foot and ankle, and while this may feel like an extra step at the start, it really helps provide a firm comfortable fit.
Rather than having three air sacs that you can inflate, this boot only has one, which is neither good or bad in this case. On one hand, this is more simple and the conforming liner with a firm fit should help prevent any issues. On the other hand, there is slightly less customization possible when it comes to feeling varying amounts of pressure on different aspects of the ankle.
To provide an example based on my own personal experience (keeping in mind this is a sample size of 1), I benefited from having the separate air sacs in the AirCast models when I had a nerve injury in my ankle and there was a specific spot that was extremely sensitive to touch and pressure.
I was able to take advantage of this setting to reduce pressure on that specific area, but only when I was completely resting with my foot supported in a non-weight bearing position, so it wasn’t really applicable when I was moving around.
Otherwise, I’m not sure if I would have received any additional benefit from being able to pump up separate regions of the boot, and probably would have preferred the simplicity of the continuous design offered by the United Ortho Air Cam Walking Boot.
Lastly, given how popular this brand is for walking boots, you have a plethora of customer reviews available for your consideration. Personally, I like to start by looking at the write-ups in the 4-star reviews, as I find these reviews offer more pros and cons based on peoples’ personal experiences.
Kefit Air Cam Range of Motion Walking Boot
Average Customer Rating: 4.2 / 5
This walking boot is unique in that it’s basically a blend between a walking boot and a hinged range of motion brace.
This walking boot can be adjusted from a totally locked position up to allowing 45 degrees of plantarflexion and/or dorsiflexion in 15 degree increments.
While this may seem pretty cool at first, keep in mind that this will require a clear understanding of post-injury or post-surgical guidelines, including any limitations regarding ankle range of motion +/- weight bearing, and associated time frames for progression.
If you are cleared by your surgeon, physician, or physical therapist to be moving the ankle while walking, then this could be a great option for support and stability while improving the comfort of walking in a boot.
For example, for those who suffered a fracture in their toe or foot that is deemed to be stable and at an appropriate phase of healing for weight bearing, this walking boot could be a good option. However, if the injury or surgery involves the ankle joint or soft tissues that can be stretched by moving the ankle joint, then it’s probably a safer bet to find one that doesn’t move altogether.
While this walking boot does have the ability to be completely locked, the support in this position may still be a little less than what’s offered in the AirCast and United Ortho models, and some may find it confusing to ensure they have the walking boot set in the appropriate position.
Overall, this is a great option for those who need protection and immobilization of the foot, but are also cleared for full weight bearing and are allowed to move the ankle at least 15 degrees, knowing that you need to be confident in your ability to properly adjust the walking boot within the guidelines of your rehab protocol.
If you aren’t comfortable adjusting this on your own, or if you shouldn’t be moving the ankle joint, then we suggest one of the more rigid versions provided by AirCast or United Ortho.
Brace Direct Children’s Walking Boot
Average Customer Rating: 4.8 / 5
This pediatric walking boot is very well reviewed. Unlike the pneumatic walking boots for adults that we described above, whereby you can inflate or deflate air cells for customizable pressure, this boot offers a more universal fit for kids and relies more on the soft liner and straps for a snug fit.
On one hand, the lack of pneumatic compression reduces the customization of the walking boot; however, it may also be a good thing in that a child won’t be able to fiddle with the air pressure, ultimately reducing the risk of cutting off circulation to the foot (assuming proper application of the straps).
With three different sizes – small, medium, and large (measurement chart provided on their listing), as well as three different colors, there should be a size available for most kids. The typical rocker bottom sole, plush inside liner, and rigid support provides all the other features you would expect in a typical walking boot.
Overall, this is a walking boot for kids that provides good value, practicality, and a variety of sizes and fun colors. It’s a simple design, which is desirable in many situations, and with virtual fitting sessions available from the company, you can be more confident in finding the correct size for your child.
This article summarized some of the most popular and well-reviewed walking boots available online. With slight differences in styles and features, we hope this comparison will allow you to find the best walking boot for your injury or condition.
Keep in mind that guidelines provided by your surgeon, physician, or physical therapist are of utmost importance, and should represent the most valuable information when selecting an appropriate walking boot for your foot or ankle injury.
The content here is designed for information & education purposes only and is not intended for medical advice.