Hitting the trails, and climbing some mountains, that’s the life! However, when most people prep for hiking, the first thing they do is grab a comfy pair of boots to protect their feet.
But, wouldn’t it be nice if you could grab a nice pair of sandals instead? Well, what if we said you could?
Hiking sandals are specifically made to tackle these trails on warm sunny days where you feel the need to travel light. But, how do you know what to look for? Which ones are the best on the market? Well, let’s find out! However, before we rank them, there are a few things you should know.
The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly of Hiking Sandals
By now you must be wondering, how are sandals possibly any good for hiking. After all, we tend to assume that hiking requires specialized footwear to protect our feet from the environment.
But, that’s not always going to be the case, certain trails benefit from the unique advantages provided by hiking sandals, and if you want to know more about them, here’s a breakdown.
- Allow your feet to breathe
- Openings allow your feet to swell without causing blisters
- Can cross bodies of water without taking them off
- Come in a variety of styles from closed-toe to laces and more
Sandals are lighter and smaller than hiking boots. This translates to less energy used while climbing because you’re not carrying nearly as much weight as you would with hiking boots. You’ll find yourself with more energy left over after the hike is complete!
Boots are constrictive by design (they’re meant to protect your feet after all). As the day goes on, your feet will start sweating and your socks will get musty and damp, but with hiking sandals, you can avoid all of these problems. Socks are optional for sandals, which means your feet will remain exposed to fresh air. The constant exposure allows them to breathe and remain fresh for a longer period of time.
But, what if your feet get swollen during the trip? It’s true that some hiking boots are designed to be comfortable even as your feet swell, but with hiking sandals that’s never really an issue. As mentioned earlier your feet are given plenty of space to breathe, and with that comes less blistering and additional comfort.
Still, does your hike include crossing rivers and traversing lakes? Well, if you’re wearing boots, be prepared to take them off before traveling through the water with your feet exposed. Using sandals, however, means that even if you cross the water while wearing them, your feet and sandals will dry off quickly thanks to the open air exposure. Your feet will find themselves warm, toasty, and refreshed in no time!
As far as variety, you’ll find hiking sandals in a large number of different styles. You’re almost certain to find at least one or two that fit your specific tastes! But still, what about the cons?
- They’re not effective in cold weather
- Some of them offer no additional joint support to your ankles
- Your feet will get dirty and covered in mud
- Stubbed toes
- Blistering can be a problem before they’re “broken in”
As you could probably infer from the list, wearing hiking sandals comes with minimal downsides. But, that doesn’t mean they are completely insignificant. Before purchasing a pair of sandals, consider the following information.
Hiking with sandals is commonly done in tropical and warm climates. You shouldn’t be wearing sandals in the middle of winter anyway. Snow and open toe footwear does not mix well, and your feet will eventually suffer frostbite.
Hiking with a heavy backpack or luggage is also out of the question as a majority of sandals don’t provide you with the adequate ankle/joint support needed to carry the equipment safely. Conversely, you’ll want to find some with proper cushioning and arch support instead to slightly mitigate this issue.
If you don’t like getting your feet dirty and covered in mud, they’re also out of the question as you’ll have them exposed to the environment throughout the trip.
Stubbing your toes is also a problem as you become accustomed to having your feet in the open. Finally, they might cause a few blisters on your feet until they’re well worn. Once you’ve used them for a bit, this shouldn’t be an issue.
Honestly, though if you’re going hiking with sandals you’re probably going in knowing about these downsides already and have no issues with getting a little dirty.
How to Choose the Best Hiking Sandals for You!
Finding the best pair of hiking sandals is fairly easy, you just have to know what you’re going to do with them! Consider the following bullet points before making any purchases and you’ll pretty much guarantee your own satisfaction.
- Proper arch support
- Adjustable fit
- Shock resistance
- Water resistance
A good hiking sandal will have some of these; a great pair will have all of them. But, depending on your location, they might not all be necessary. For example:
Proper arch support will provide you with the comfort necessary to complete those day-long hikes, which will do a number on your back. However, if you’re planning on going on shorter trips, any hiking sandal will do.
Adjustable fits are also meant to help you during long trips. Your feet will get swollen after a while, finding a pair of hiking sandals that has adjustable straps will allow you adjust them to your feet at any point during the trail, and if it gets cold, you can put on some socks for added warmth (you’ll just need to account for the additional space required for the sock).
A high shock resistance is designed to help you tackle rougher trails. You’ll want to find a pair that has foam midsoles, or ethylene vinyl acetate (commonly referred to as EVA) because these provide them with plenty of shock absorption.
Water resistance is important in any environment that’s going to include crossing through water, rivers, or streams. You’ll find that hiking sandals made out of synthetic materials or rubber will have the best waterproofing.
Some hiking sandals provide more protection than others. Additional protection on hiking sandals means they protect your toes, cover more of your feet, and tend to be heavier. These are better for longer hikes, where you run the risk of stubbing your toes and going through rougher terrains. Conversely, less protection means they’re lighter, but better suited for easy hikes.
Besides these factors, you’ll want to consider the amount of weight you’ll be carrying (hiking sandals normally don’t have good joint support), and the location/climate of the area. Most hiking sandals are designed for warmer climates, and easy terrains.
But, while all of that is great to know, how do you find the best hiking sandals available? Well, we did the research for you, and found the best six pairs for both males and females available on the market.
6 Best Men’s Hiking Sandals 2019
Featuring a sturdy build and providing plenty of comfort, the Arroyo II Hiking Sandal has received great marks from hikers everywhere. Furthermore, you’ll find that the outsole on the Arroyo II is perfect for keeping traction on any surface!
It’s a versatile sandal, capable of tackling outdoor walks, hikes, and even casual use at the beach or in the neighborhood. Even bodies of water aren’t a problem, thanks to its quick-drying ability, so don’t be afraid to cross a river or two while hiking.
But, what if they get dirty? No problem, as the Arroyo II are easy to clean, and can even be put in the washing machine without issue.
- Sturdy and Comfortable
- High traction
- Sizing can be an issue
- The lacing system can be tricky
Highly versatile, and lightweight, the Chaco Z/Volv are an excellent pair of hiking sandals, designed to bring a classic style into the modern age. These sandals will accompany you everywhere from trips to the lake, and even the longest trails!
They Chaco Z/Volv are designed with both comfort and practicality in mind; you’ll pretty much feel like they’re a part of your body. Thankfully, the footbed does a great job at providing you with comfort as it feels rather soft and cushiony, and thanks to its solid arch support, your feet will remain safe and sound.
Water is also not an issue as they dry fairly fast, and even more importantly, they grip the terrain well enough while submerged.
- Lightweight and versatile
- High quality materials
- The foot bed might feel slippery at times
- You might have issues with the plastic feeling of the materials underneath your feet
If you’re looking to reduce your carbon footprint take a look at the minimalist Z-Trek hiking sandals from Xero.
Light and durable, this is a pair of hiking sandals that will leave you feeling like you’re wearing nothing at all. Furthermore, the company sells them with a 5,000 mile warranty, which pretty much tells you the confidence they have in their product.
Their design is also meant to avoid slipping, by virtue of having a chevron designed sole, and they can be easily adjusted thanks to their Velcro straps.
- Great warranty
- No arch support
A hybrid between a shoe and a hiking sandal, the All Out Blaze Sieve from Merrell is quite the beast.
As the name implies, this type of shoe is at home in the water, but regardless of whether you’re going for a stroll on the beach, or taking a hike near the river, these hiking sandals will have your back.
The quick-lacing and easy slip-on design ensures you’ll always be able to fit these on snugly and quickly, thereby protecting your feet in case of any emergency. Additionally, they’re also versatile enough to tackle most terrains with plenty of grip.
- Great for trips that involve water
- Drainage holes to allow water flow
- Easy to put on and lace up
- Highly versatile and comfortable
- Lack of arch support
- Outsole is too thin
A great choice for those looking to get something with plenty of variety and practicality, the Newport H2 from Keen is an excellent hiking sandal.
The Newport H2 comes in a large number of colors and schemes, which means you’re certain to find something that meets your particular tastes. Additionally, you’ll find that they have excellent arch support for those long hiking trips where you want to wear something besides boots. It’s also very stable regardless of terrain, thereby keeping you safe regardless of what challenges lie ahead.
But, how does it perform in the water? Well, it does quite well, in fact. The Newport H2’s have the ability to dry quickly and also have a fairly good grip in wet conditions/terrain. You’ll find that they’re quite versatile in almost any scenario.
- Found in a variety of colors
- Practical for any situation
- Stable and comfortable
- Can cause excessive foot sweating
- Stitching can be iffy
- Sizing is also an issue (as with other Keen products)
An up and coming on the outdoor footwear market, Grition brings you their take for a high-quality pair of hiking sandals.
While they don’t have a name for their hiking sandals, just know that Grition designed these with practicality and versatility in mind. Regardless of what adventure lies in front of you they’ll perform well and keep your feet safe at the same time.
Their lightweight design also means that you can walk long distances without tiring your feet out, and the outsole is made for both jogging and hiking. You can also wear them while biking, and even while traversing through bodies of water.
- Foot odor issues after sweating for a while
- They run small, so you’ll need to order a bigger size or two
6 Best Women’s Hiking Sandals 2019
The women’s version of the Newport H2 Sandal comes with additional color options, and a slightly slimmer frame. But, while it’s lighter than previous models, it does not sacrifice on protection at all.
They’re great for hiking and traversing through dirt roads, while still remaining comfortable during long trips. Additionally, it’s specifically designed to prevent your foot from sliding on rough terrain.
Plus, the Newport H2 has plenty of arch support on its footbed, which translates to a better posture. A closed-toe design also helps you avoid blistering or stubbing your toe.
- Good arch support
- No adjustments in the ankle area
Comfort and versatility are the most prominent aspects of the Viakix Napali Hiking Sandals. These sandals are made with four adjustable straps that conform to your feet for a safe and comfortable fit every time you wear them.
Made out of high-quality materials, they’re capable of handling any trails, including those that involve trekking through water or rough terrain. Even the outsole is made out of premium materials that will give it a longer lifespan in comparison to other brands.
You can feel safe knowing that the Napali also provides great arch support for your feet, allowing you to hike long distances without harming your feet!
- High quality materials
- Good arch support
- Lots of adjustable straps
- Outsole is fairly small
- Some users report they cause their feet to smell
Lightweight, fashionable, and durable, Teva’s Tirra Athletic Sandals are among the best on the field. Featuring ample arch support, a comfortable footbed, and even fantastic stability, you couldn’t ask for more from this awesome pair of hiking sandals.
But, those aren’t the only benefits provided by this pair as they are versatile enough to handle watery environments and even rough terrains without any problems.
The low weight means your feet won’t get tired quickly during long trips, and you’ll be back to hiking on other trails in no time!
- A fantastic overall product
- Highly versatile and fashionable
- Foot odor
- Ankle straps
The perfect vacationing shoe for women who love going on hikes and long walks, we present to you Plaka’s Explore! This comfortable pair of sandals offers great support for walks of any lengths and even trips involving treks through the water!
The straps are made out of high-quality nylon which means your feet won’t rub against them and chafe or blister. Additionally, the rubber sole is designed to prevent slipping, helping you avoid potential mishaps during rougher portions of the trail.
Made out of braided rope, they’re also very fashionable and stylish.
- High quality materials
- Good support
- The colors have been reported by users to be slightly different than advertised
You can tackle almost any scenario with the help of Merrell’s Sandspur Rose Hiking Sandals! This rugged pair of sandals is made out of leather for comfort, plus a rubber outsole for additional treading and traction. Pair them with the patented Air Cushion heel designed and you’ll be extra comfortable during your trip!
The easy slip-on design means you won’t have to struggle to put on these sandals, and the adjustable strap will have them tightly secured to your feet in no time.
But, if you’re more into looking stylish, fear not as these sandals are super fashionable and stylistic.
- Stylish and comfortable
- Good arch support
- Easy to wear and remove
- Sizing can be a problem for some users
If you’re looking to get your first pair of hiking sandals, without having to spend too much, try your hand (or is it feet?) at the Reggae Rasta!
Comfortable and easy to wear, they’re the perfect introduction to hiking sandals. You’ll find that they’re best suited for easy/beginner level trails that don’t feature rough terrain.
It’s true that the heel’s thickness will protect your feet, but you’re not going to get the best arch support from them, thus you might experience some pain after prolonged periods of walking. As such, you should be mindful of long trails when wearing these.
Definitely great for newbies looking to get into the field of hiking, but not so much for those that are trying to tackle difficult climbs, the Reggae Rasta are an excellent point of entry!
- Good for beginners
- Thick outsoles
- Don’t perform well on difficult/long hikes
- No heel strap
Hiking with sandals is awesome, your feet will breathe better, and you won’t have to worry about taking them off while crossing rivers or small bodies of water. However, you should always consider the pros and cons before making any purchases. Also, remember they’re not useful in every scenario and exercising cautious judgment is crucial to your safety.
You’re not going to be wearing them in snowy weather, but if you’re ever going for a hike during the summer months or in tropical weather, hiking sandals can be a godsend.
At the end of the day, all that matters is that you remain safe, happy, and comfortable with your new pair of hiking sandals!