Best Gladiator Sandals Reviewed & Rated
Nothing says summer has arrived like slipping into your favorite pair of gladiator sandals. Inspired by the heat and sand of the gladiatorial arena, this type of sandal is the perfect combination of style and functionality that's great for the beach, hiking, walking or work.
The interpretation of this ancient style provides something for everyone - regardless of whether you're after something low, high, slip on, lace up, elegant or sturdy. It's a fashion statement that'll definitely get you noticed, whether you've paired it with jeans, shorts, a skirt, or a flowy summer dress. Below, you will find the top 10 gladiator sandals available for purchase.
In a Hurry? The test winner after 10 hrs of research
Cork and Memory Foam Footbed
- Dansko Vivian
- Sofft Mirabelle
- Frye Blair Ghillie
- Alegria Kleo
- Clarks Kele Lotus
- Cobb Hill Gabby-CH
- Aerosoles Conchlusion
- Skechers Reggae
- Earth Bay Gladiator
- Blowfish Bungalow
- Criteria Used for Evaluation
- Frequently Asked Questions
Top 10 Gladiator Sandals
1. Dansko Vivian
Cork and Memory Foam Footbed
Beware of Counterfeit Items
The best possible combination of supportive comfort and style, the Dansko Vivian is a great choice for those looking for a stylish strappy sandal that will provide enough support to be worn for long hours, or even for longer walks. With a style that’s stain resistant as well as accepted by the American Podiatric Medical Association, you can rest assured that this is a great investment for footwear, regardless of whether you plan on wearing it every day, or just occasionally.Read more
1.5 Inch Heel
The wedge sole of the Vivian features a 1.5 inch heel which is perfect if you like to have a bit of elevation, but prefer stable footwear that won’t cause fatigue or metatarsal pain. The rubber outsole ensures a slip-resistant wear that won’t break down too easily, even with frequent wear on pavement and similarly abrasive surfaces.
The cushioning and supportive qualities of the Vivian come from the footbed that combines cork, memory and EVA foam, providing you with the best possible combination of shock absorbing qualities, while still remaining soft to the touch and breathable. Contoured to provide a great deal of arch support, this style is a great choice even for those with foot health issues such as flat feet.
Cost and Value
Slightly above average in terms of cost, the Dansko Vivian is a great investment for those looking for a pair of shoes that’ll ensure proper foot health, but will still look great paired with either jeans, skirts or dresses. The nubuck upper is durable and resistant to staining, which means plenty of wear, while the footbed is one of the most comfortable you will come across in this type of shoe.
2. Sofft Mirabelle
1.5-inch Heel Height
Adjustable Buckle Closure
5/8-inch Platform Height
Unsuitable for High Arches
The reviews are in and this pair rates highly in the comfortable, must-have department. These are made with an adjustable, buckle closure and have a leather lining for a secure and comfy fit. Additionally, the cushioned footbed will make you smile, as you place your weight down and feel the support these have. They have a 1.5-inch heel height and 5/8-inch platform height, as well.Read more
You will love the way this footbed feels, as it brings you a wonderful amount of comfort. Cushioned, the footbed is built well and really helps to take the load off, as it were.
With a 1.5-inch heel height, you won't have legs begging you for mercy after only a few blocks of walking. With a low height, this is a great pair for enjoying the day.
Cost and Value
Comparable to the others on this list, this pair hits the higher end of cost range. They are, however, a wonderful fit and the comfort factor is certainly worthy of the purchase price. In other words, these are must-haves and there's no doubt about it.
3. Frye Blair Ghillie
Toe to Ankle Lace
Lacks Arch Support
Time Consuming to Lace Up
If you’re a fan of the finer things in life, you’ll definitely enjoy wearing the Frye Blair Ghillie, a Greek-inspired pair of summer footwear made from some of the softest suede you will find. It’s one of the rare pairs of gladiators that make use of an asymmetrical design that results in a slightly more elegant look, while still retaining the high level of adjustability and comfort that’s expected of this type of footwear.Read more
Frye is a company you can count on if you’re after a high quality leather item. The Blair Ghillie is made with Italian suede leather in the upper, and a leather lining that’s in contact with your feet. This ensures a comfortable wearing experience that’s easy to break in, and is durable enough to provide you with years of wear.
The outsole on the Blair Ghillie is made with leather, making use of two rubber coverings in the forefoot and at the back of the heel for prolonged durability and traction. Leather soles are a great choice as they become just the right amount of flexible as they’re broken in, in addition being more breathable than rubber and plastic.
Cost and Value
Even with a 70% discount, the Frye Blair Ghillie is considerably more expensive than any other style listed above. Overall, this is due to the type of materials used, but the construction as well. If you decide to make this investment, you can rest assured you’ll be receiving a great pair of footwear you’ll happily wear for years to come.
4. Alegria Kleo
Wide Style Range
These one-inch platform gladiator footwear are great for summer. They have a removable footbed made from cork, memory foam and a soft suede finish for comfortable, happy foot bottoms. Leather straps with fabric linings ensure the tops of your feet are equally comfortable. A variety of designs and prints to choose from make this shoe suitable for any casual outfit and the rocker sole will have you rolling along in style.Read more
These sandals come with a superbly comfortable footbed of memory foam, cork, and suede. The footbed is removable for easy cleaning of the suede finish or to let them dry out after a day of playing in the surf. Fabric lined straps ensure no sore spots.
Range of Styles
All of the shoes in this line are patterned and come with a different strap embellishment for every print, from buttons to leaves to peace signs. From retro and bright to dark and sleek, there is a style choice and color to suit every personality.
Cost and Value
They are priced in the middle range relative to the other sandals on our list. For a reasonable cost, you are really getting superior comfort and fit. The removable footbed allows for easy maintenance of the shoe even in wet conditions. The range of styles and colors to choose from ensure that there is something for everyone with this pick.
5. Clarks Kele Lotus
Full Grain Leather Upper
Clarks’ Cushion Soft
Zipper and Velcro Closure
Tight Ankle Strap
Runs Slightly Small
This short summer style is perfect for when you’re in a hurry, but still want to look great with a pair of strappy leather flats. Available in three colors, you can choose between a black, tan or metallic version for a style that’ll match a number of casual and dressed up outfits. The laser cut details add to the overall look of this shoe, but also to its breathability, allowing fresh air to circulate, even on the hottest of days.Read more
At first glance, you’ll notice that the Kele Lotus is quite different than most similar styles in that it takes into consideration that gladiators can be a hassle to put on and off. To solve this problem, it provides the wearer with a simple back entry with a zipper closure, as well as an adjustable top strap that’s secured with a hook and loop closure.
The outsole of the Kele Lotus is made with PU, a material that’s usually found in athletic and comfort oriented footwear. Aiding it is Clark’s Cushion Soft technology that absorbs shock when walking, as well as a soft and supportive OrthoLite footbed that makes all-day wear a pleasant experience.
Cost and Value
With a price that’s average compared to the other items on this list, the Clark’s Kele Lotus is an excellent investment, especially thanks to the level of comfort it offers to the wearer. A high quality full grain leather upper gives you ease of mind when it comes to durability, while the inside is made soft and comfy to the touch thanks to a breathable textile lining.
6. Cobb Hill Gabby-CH
True to the Style
Available in Multiple Widths
True to the gladiator style, these ankle high, leather footwear Cobb Hill have thick straps and a lace-up that offers peek-a-boo style for your toes without the thong, while providing full coverage for your foot. A rubber outsole provides for durability and comfort when walking on any urban surface. Available in a range of standard colors but also fashionable blue and red standouts.Read more
EVA insoles provide a cushion for your feet while a rubber outsole provides durability and grip on wet or slick surfaces. The leather straps aren’t just fashionable, they are durable as well. A rear zipper prevents wear from relacing.
True to the Style
These sandals are true to the gladiator style - low, strappy and laced up to the ankle. The straps are wide to allow your foot to peek through while mid strap stitching adds subtle, arena-ready detail.
Cost and Value
This footwear is priced at the higher end in our list. Their style makes them suitable almost anywhere with a wide variety of outfits. Made of high-quality materials with design elements that prevent early wear, these sandals will last a long time. The rubber outsole and EVA insole will ensure comfort over their life.
7. Aerosoles Conchlusion
Memory Foam Insole
Great Style Variety
Aerosoles has a reputation for building quality, comfortable shoes that are stylish and all for a reasonable price. This gladiator inspired thong sandal has a double layer of memory foam in the insole, so you can walk for miles. With a choice of styles and colors to choose from, this pair will be just as enjoyable at home or on a beach as they will hiking on that vacation adventure.Read more
Double Memory Foam Insoles
Doubled up memory foam insoles, suede lining, and shock-absorbing diamond patterned soles make for very happy feet. The thong style has enough space over the arch for a comfortable fit without being loose.
With a wide variety of styles to choose from, there is a shoe here for every taste and every wardrobe. The open design on these provides for plenty of airflow; keeping you cool on those hot summer days.
Cost and Value
Aerosoles puts a lot of comfort technology into this shoe for a very affordable price, which is mid-range compared relative to other sandals on our list. With so many styles to choose from, you are sure to find a sandal that you will want to wear all summer long, everywhere you go.
8. Skechers Reggae
Adjustable Hook-and-Loop Closure
Memory Foam Footbed
Great Walking Sandal
These sandals are another comfort meets style superstar. At only 6 ounces they are lightweight and easy for the beach, hiking, or walking around town. The straps are made from durable material with a soft lining to prevent chafing and blisters and the sole guarantees good traction in almost any conditions. This model is convertible - remove the heel strap and you have an equally comfortable slip-on.Read more
These sandals are made with a flexible rubber sole to prevent slipping and provide shock absorption. The footbed is made with memory foam and the straps are made from soft but sturdy faux leather with a fabric lining.
Adjustable straps and buckles make adjusting the fit to any foot easy. The footbed is comfortable and contoured with some extra arch support, to prevent the aches and pains that come with a day on your feet.
Cost and Value
With a mid-range price tag, they are durable, easy to clean, comfortable and they adjust to, however, you want to wear them - ankle strapped for more support or slip on for a more relaxed feel. A lot of thought has been put into the design of these shoes and the quality of the materials used to make them.
9. Earth Bay Gladiator
Variety of Color
Molded and Padded Insole
Great Price Point
Straps Not Adjustable
Unsuitable for Wide Feet
These ankle height, fashionable footwear are designed for comfort without compromising on the aesthetic appeal. The unique straps on this shoe are gladiator meets boho chic. Zippered back for easy slip on and off makes up for the lack of adjustable straps on this shoe. The variety of colors and color mixes in this line will make it easy for everyone to find something they like.Read more
A lot of thought went into the style of this shoe, with their unique boho cuts meets gladiator straps. There are a variety of colors to choose from in the calf leather strapping including funky pairings of color in some styles.
Designed for Comfort
The zipper closure makes it easy to slip in and out of this shoe. Arch support in the insole makes for a comfortable wear all day. The molded insole is also padded with a polyurethane foam cushion.
Cost and Value
These shoes are priced at the low end of the range relative to our other picks. For the price, you get good comfort and great style with a range of colors to suit any wardrobe. The calf leather straps are easy on the top of your foot and the textured outsole will do well on any urban terrain.
10. Blowfish Bungalow
Variety of Colors
Two Adjustable Straps
Fits True to Size
Simple, Clean Style
No Padding in Footbed
With these ones, we move toward a youthful, casual style that Blowfish has come to be known for. With a zippered back and adjustable straps over the foot and around the ankle, you adjust once to your fit and go. Available in a large variety of colors with a simple, unembellished style, you will find a pair to match any outfit.Read more
Youthful and Simple
These flats are all about a youthful, simple, gladiator-inspired style. The shoes come in a variety of colors from classic black or white to roses, tans, browns, and greys to suit any preference, with a zipper back to make it easy.
True to Size
The shoes fit true to size. With two adjustable straps, you can adjust the fit over the top of the foot and at the ankle once and then take them on and off with the zipper back. The fit of the straps is relatively snug, preventing slipping.
Cost and Value
These sandals are priced in the low range relative to the others on our list. For that, you get a true sized shoe that is fashionable, casual and a lot of fun. The zippered back means you won’t be opening and closing buckles on the straps repeatedly. The textured bottom also provides a better grip than many other sandals with the same look and feel.
Criteria Used for Evaluation
Sandals are great for summer but if you are planning to wear them for any length of time, you will want a sandal that is secure and supports your feet comfortably. Arch support, adjustable straps to keep the sandal secure, and a properly fitted, cushioning sole are factors you want to consider. In fact, podiatrists suggest that you make comfort a priority when choosing summer footwear. A thicker sole with a low heel will provide the most shock absorption for your feet. You should look for materials that cushion the feet but also are solid enough to offer good support.
Great Material for Cushion + Shock Absorption:
You want sandals with a contoured arch as they will provide more support to your arches. Arch support is important because when not supported, the arches become strained and can cause other problems, like plantar fasciitis.
When determining the correct fit for a sandal, your heel should be kept at the back to prevent your foot from sliding back and forth. This prevents blisters by preventing your feet from rubbing up against the straps repeatedly. Your feet may swell a little (or more) while you are walking which can change the way your skin and the straps interact. To test the correct placement, you should walk some distance in the shoe and note where your foot is placed and any spots that may be irritated. It is important to note, podiatrists also suggest that sandals should be slightly larger than enclosed shoes, to allow your feet to swell in the humid, warm weather.
Your feet need to flex as you walk. Your sandals need to be flexible too. A proper fit will include a sandal that flexes where your foot flexes, at the front in line with the ball, while providing stability to the rest of the foot. Even sandals that are molded to a typical foot still need to flex in the forefoot while you are walking. If you have arthritis or other foot problems, you should avoid any sandal that can flex in half from toe to heel.
If you are going to be walking long distances in your sandals, or hiking, you may want to wear socks. It is important to note, wearing socks with sandals will cause extra heat and should be considered in hot climates. In addition, know any sandal will fit differently on a barefoot and one encased in a sock.
Our feet get larger as we age. They do, I know, it’s so counterintuitive but it’s true. Also, some of us have one foot that is a little larger than the other. In that case, podiatrists say that you should always fit the larger foot. If you are in doubt, a podiatrist can give you your exact measurements to help ensure a proper fit. Correct measuring will ensure a good fit and should be taken seriously.
Podiatrists recommend that sandals should match the shape of your foot. The width of your foot should fit onto the sole without spilling over to provide your foot with the right support. The length should also be correct - no toes hanging over the edge and no gaps between the back of your foot and the back of the sandal.
Sandals can be flimsy and hard on your feet. A lack of traction can lead to a fall and a lack of stability can lead to short-term or long-term injuries, pain, and joint problems. It is important, even when eyeing that super sexy gladiator with the laces up to the knees, that you consider how much traction and stability the sandal will offer and the environment you will be wearing them in.
An adjustable strap, with a buckle or Velcro closure, will help to anchor your feet into the correct position on the sandal. This will provide the best stability and support even when the shoe begins to wear. Also look for straps that are wide enough to stop your foot from slipping in the sandal. Straps that are too thin will not provide sufficient stability. Also, if your sandal has a platform, it should be wide enough to provide solid stability while standing and walking.
Podiatrists say that shoes with rubber soles that provide traction are very good options to prevent accidental injuries. All shoes should have a textured outsole, as opposed to smooth and flat, as these will provide traction between you and the ground. Surfaces that are smooth and slippery result too often in sprains and strains in the ankle and knee.
Feet need to breathe and a good summer sandal will allow for airflow and comfortable, dry feet. It is suggested that you avoid jelly type shoes which cause sweaty feet. Choose a gladiator sandal that will give your feet plenty of air while also providing support and stability. Canvases are very good, breathable options.
Also look for secure adjustment mechanisms like velcro, buckles or straps that do not stretch too readily under pressure. Leathers stretch but are usually strong enough not to stretch too easily. Canvases also provide stretch, though a little less than leathers. In the end, looking for higher quality materials is going to provide you with a longer lasting, better fitting shoe that is healthier for your feet.
Performance is really important in any footwear. If it does not perform well, then we may feel we have wasted our money on something that seems worthless. This is why we consider performance as being a top factor with other attributes such as comfort, fit, and etc. With that being stated, there are some defining features of performance, in regards to sandals.
With sandals, you should be aware of the environment you will be presenting them in. Are you headed to the beach? Are you walking down the sidewalk or in a mall? Maybe, you are headed to a nightclub. These are measurable places in which you can better determine if the sandal is in the right spot, so to speak.
If you're headed to the beach, then the sandal should not be made of a material that will trap sand or ruin if faced with water. Rubber footbeds are great for a beach surrounding, as they are easy to clean and repel water just as easily. If you are working with a cork footbed, then you might want to consider the mall or a nightclub for those, or some sort of waterproofing.
Also, the bottom (outsole) of the footwear should be able to perform where you will be walking. Does the traction hold up on multiple surface types, such as slick and polished floors, gravel on a sidewalk, and so forth? Rubber outsoles are great at handling slick or wet surfaces; whereas, a plastic bottom might not do so well; albeit, the traction design has a lot to do with this, as well. Herringbone traction patterns are a popular choice for multi-surface types.
Flexibility matters when considering performance, also. If you will be walking all day in your gladiators, then a stiff upper could prove painful, as the very design, generally, means an open environment with straps. The straps, if too thick, can rub blisters; especially, if walking a lot. If you will be sitting around or standing, however, then thick straps may not be an issue.
The main thing to remember is that you only know where you will be. Each pair of footwear is made a little different than another pair. Additionally, that footwear will have places it should be, and places it should never see. As such, it is vitally important to understand your surroundings and where you will be. In this, you will be better prepared for your next purchase.
Expert Interviews & Opinions
Strappy sandals, especially gladiator sandals, can be quite aesthetically appealing, and pairable with many varieties of attire.
When you step into your sandals, try to choose a pair where the straps keep your toes inside the shoe as best possible, to avoid any discomfort from toes sticking out through straps!
During the prime of sandal season, summertime heat can get the best of us. You can freshen up the footbeds of your sandals by using baby powder, or a mixture made at home.
In a small sandwich baggie, mix together corn starch, baking soda, a bit of baby powder, and your favorite essential oil. Close the bag tight, shake, and apply a bit to your footbeds before wearing!
Frequently Asked Questions
Absolutely! Their purpose is an important factor to consider when buying a sandal. Do you want a hiker? A walker? Something comfortable for the beach? Something a little more formal for that summer wedding you’re attending. The purpose of the sandal will likely be your first consideration. After determining the purpose and the corresponding style, you should still consider comfort, fit, traction, quality, stability, and durability to give you the very best experience.
That will depend on where you work. Construction workers, heavy equipment operators, and those that shovel iron into burning ovens should probably avoid sandals altogether. All kidding aside though, some employers frown upon open-toed sandals at work and either bans them or require a closed toe. You should speak with your employer to be sure that your gladiator sandal purchase will fit with your employer’s policies.
The Mayo Clinic suggests that if the blister isn’t very painful you should try to let it be. The skin over the blister acts as a bandage to prevent infection. Put a bandage on it to cover it and let it heal. If it looks infected, get advice from your doctor, especially if you have diabetes or circulation problems. If the blister is painful and not infected, you can drain it but you still want to leave the skin intact. Here’s how.
It's recommended that if you have very high arches and are wearing a lace up, you can lace your shoes to the sides near the center top of your foot to prevent pressure from building there. What you may lose in stability, you will gain in comfort. For some gladiator sandals, you will be able to do this. Look for a sandal that laces rather than one with only straps. The lace loops should be close enough together to provide support on your forefoot and around the ankle without interfering with the arch.
Most manufacturers will provide the dimensions of their shoes for one particular size. If you are in doubt, it is a good idea to read all the reviews that you can for the sandals that you are considering. Often, someone will have offered information for people with wider feet. Or, in some cases, you will be able to post a question that the manufacturer or other questions can answer about the fitting for a wider foot.