Treadmills have been around for a long time now. However, though the basic outline and premise remains, various permutations have begun to take off. Since around the early noughties, we’ve been seeing more and more of one particular kind – the walking pad, originally engineered by a group of sports scientists in Chicago.
Walking pads have taken off since then as more and more people have become aware of them and the benefits they can bestow. In fact, the WalkingPad brand, the OG brand and one of the largest makers, won the highly competitive 2019 Red Dot Design Award for innovation
Hundreds of thousands of people have walked probably millions of miles on walking pads since their inception. Though they seemed mostly to take off in the East at first, with consumers in China going particularly nuts for them, we are now seeing more and more of them on the global stage.
But what exactly are they? Should you get one? If so, which one should you go for? And what benefits can you expect to gain from using it? We’ll be looking at all of that at the end of our buyers guide, but for now… let’s take a look at the best walking pads available in our full buyers guide.
Our Top Walking Pads
Though there are many walking pads out there that deserve your attention, we’ve narrowed our list down to five front runners. These are all incredibly good machines that will give you an exceptional workout, time after time, with a great deal of longevity.
HFC Walking Treadmill
I really like how the HFC Walking Treadmill handles.
It comes with a remote control that allows you to take it between 1-10kph. This is actually quite a big deal, though plenty of walking pads allow for this kind of speed. For perspective, I have run 10km races in 45 minutes before. However, in my current condition (the wrong side of thirty and with a greater emphasis on strength and mobility) it takes me around an hour.
That is me running steady state at 10kph. This isn’t even particularly slow – plenty of people would take longer to complete a 10km run!
To get this in a walking pad is incredible. It’s actually on a par with several mid-range folding treadmills I can think of. Though you will rarely use it to full capacity, it’s good to know that however much you throw at the HFC, it can match you and then some.
The machine itself is pretty small, measuring in at 120cm x 50cm x 14cm. With a maximum weight capacity of 110kg, it can be used by most athletes. I would prefer to see this a little higher. Many people who turn to walking do so because they have significant body fat to lose. Walking is often one of their only safe options. However, 110kg on such a small machine isn’t bad.
You can monitor the usual metrics using the HFC’s smart little LCD – things like running time, distance travelled, calories burned, and so on.
The HFC is very quiet, with a durable steel frame, fantastic shock absorption technology, and a non-slip tread that will keep even the clumsiest walkers upright. The 1.5HP motor is near silent, which is a must in any domestic setting or workplace, and the whole lot weighs in at just 23kg – light enough for most people to carry.
With all of the above in mind, the reason HFC tops our list is because on top of being a great all round performer, it offers incredible value for money and is one of the most affordable options available. A top buy all round.
Dripex Walking Pad
The Dripex walking treadmill is incredibly easy to get started with. As with most of the items on this list, it comes fully assembled, and its slim design and relatively moderate speed make it a great beginner’s item.
The 500W motor gives you speed options ranging from 1-6kph, whilst its multi-layer running belt provides cushioning for ankle, back, and knee joints. You should be able to get a decent, fast-paced, safe walk going, even if you can’t quite bring things above a light jog.
Everything is controlled by remote and/or app, with all the data you would ever want available on demand.
It’s also incredibly durable and solid, made from high-quality steel. The manufacturer claims that it has a top weight of 100kg. I’m approaching this (I’m in the low 90s) and felt completely safe – it seemed like the frame could take a lot more, though I wouldn’t recommend testing this out. Suffice to say that athletes weighing up to 100kg will find it more than stable enough.
As with the HFC, I would prefer to see a higher top weight, or at least a higher one advised.
It is compact and easy to move, as it should be, with a small footprint of 58cm x 15cm. It weighs 31.5kg, so a fair amount heavier than the HFC, though manageable enough. Transport wheels at the front of the frame make this a lot manageable still.
It’s a solid option, if not quite as spectacular as the HFC.
CitySports Walk Pad
CitySports’ offering occupies the same kind of position as Dripex’s model.
As with Dripex’s walking treadmill, it has a decent 500W motor that allows for speeds of 1-6kph, which is plenty for a very fast-paced walk. It can take a maximum weight of 100kg, so all but the heaviest of athletes will do well on it. It weighs slightly less, at 26.2 kg, and has a similar footprint.
It is, in other words, a solid offering for the midrange of this list.
I particularly like their LED display computer. It shows what you want it to show – speed, time, calories burned, distance travelled, and so forth. The speed is easily controlled with a handy little remote control.
Everything is low-noise, making it perfect for home and office use.
Bigzzia Walking Pad
We’re getting back into the fast lane with Biggzia’s offering to our list. It’s high-power motor allows you to achieve the same speed range as HFC’s model, with a full 1-10kph speed. You can get a really decent jog or power walk going if you want to.
You can adjust the speed with a good quality remote control, and the LCD screen offers all the data you could ever want.
The Biggzia weighs about the same as the HFC, too, at a mere 23.5kg. It really is an incredibly portable piece of equipment. It lies completely flat, with just 14cm of ground clearance, and runs almost silently thanks to its incredibly smooth 1.5HP motor.
The Biggzia also does what I love in cardio machines – it manages to balance a sleek, elegant look with durability and utility. It looks lovely and functions incredibly well. The running surface features a 5-layer shock-absorbing structure with anti-slip, anti-static, lawn texture belt, giving you complete safety and peace of mind.
It is easily folded and wheeled about for storage. One of my favourites by a long way.
OneTwoFit Walking Pad
The OneTwoFit walking pad is robust, made from high quality steel and featuring a wide base to provide secure stability and durability. It feels like you could stomp along all day on it, without a care in the world.
This being said, it features the same kind of maximum weight as the Dripex and its competitors, at 100kg. Heavier athletes beware – you may not be the safest on it, no matter how tough it feels!
It is also on par with the Dripex speed-wise, with a range of 0.8-6kph. As you can no doubt see by now, this is pretty standard for a walking pad (the clue is in the title, after all – you should be using it to walk, not jog!). However, if you want something that can bring you up to a heavier jog, HFC or Biggzia will be the place to look.
OneTwoFit’s offering is very smart, though. It features a very nice LED display with smartphone app connectivity. It can connect to the FitShow app on your phone via Bluetooth, through which it can keep tabs on your progress, including all your biometrics and health markers and your performance data (including speed, time, calories, distance, steps, and so on).
It is also very quiet and near enough shock-proof. Cushioning on both sides of the treadmill achieves this, decreasing noise and vibration, whilst soaking up any impact you can put into it. The running belt is anti-skid, with a 7-layer shock-absorbing structure design. It really is amongst the softest cardio machines I have used in a long while.
As with most other options, it is very easy to move around, with a lightweight design and transportation wheels built in. A solid option for a low-impact walk.
What Is A Walking Pad?
WalkingPad is in itself a brand. However, just as we have Ketchup and Biros plenty of derivatives, so too has the market grown around the original WalkingPad. We can count the idea of the ‘walking pad’ as a solidly improper noun at this point.
In essence, a walking pad is a small, lightweight treadmill alternative that is incredibly portable. The original template came from a team of product experts, including sports science professors and electrical and mechanical engineers, in Chicago in 2016.
It was designed to do what it says on the tin – it is a largish pad area designed to let you walk. It is compact and light, easily storable, so can be used and stored at home or in the office far more easily than a hefty conventional treadmill.
I like the idea of walking pads; I like walking in general. It’s one of the best forms of exercise going. Simply walking is an easy task for most people without underlying health concerns. Simply walking for 30 minutes a day brings a wealth of benefits, including improved mental wellbeing, improved energy levels, better posture, better musculature, lower blood pressure, better insulin sensitivity, cardiovascular health… the list is too exhaustive for us to go through here.
Suffice to say, 30 minutes walking per day could change your life very much for the better.
Though I would always suggest walking outdoors when you can, this isn’t always possible or practical. Dark, wet nights aren’t too inviting; for many, they are not safe, or at least don’t feel so. And, realistically, you can multitask very easily with a walking pad, putting in the steps as you stand at your desk, for instance.
The Benefits Of Using A Walking Pad
There are many benefits to be gained from investing in and using a walking pad.
To start with, they are very compact. Walking pads are small and generally foldable – all the items on our list below are. This means that they are easy to store under a bed or desk, in a handy bit of wardrobe space, or wherever you have just a little bit of room. Rather than permanently dominating a room, as conventional treadmills do, they are completely inconspicuous and very practical.
They are also light and portable, meaning you can tote it between the house and office if you need to.
Many will nevertheless offer you most of the features you would expect of a traditional treadmill.
For instance, the original WalkingPad has automatic speed controls, so you can keep at your own pace. Most are incredibly safe, with absorbent belts, so they won’t hurt you or wear your joints down, no matter how much you use them. Many will feature anti-slip belts with this in mind. They are also generally very quiet, which is vital in any piece of fitness equipment you’ll be using around other people.
Other than this, walking pads offer you everything you need to put in that half hour or more of walking without ever having to leave the room.
How Do You Use A Walking Pad?
Walking pads are walking machines. So much is obvious. Therefore, in a basic sense, you use them by walking on them.
There are a few things to bear in mind, however.
Firstly, walking pads’ speed will often either be controlled by your footsteps or remote.
For footsteps, built in, precise sensors in the main frame will pick up on your speed and allow you to maintain your pace. To speed up, you walk near the front of the walking pad. To maintain your speed, aim for the middle. If you want to decelerate, drop back to the rear of the belt.
For remotes, simply keep the device in your pocket and adjust as needed.
Other than this, simply walk. Try to set aside decent blocks of time for your training. Steady state exercise like this should be performed over longer stretches – preferably 20 minutes or more. Maintain an even pace, put on whatever media you want to enjoy as you work out, and go for it.