Best Hiking Sandals Reviewed & Rated
When planning for your hiking trip, sandals aren’t always the first things that come to mind. Sandals were previously the sole pleasure of our unfashionable uncles, who liked to wear their dark brown sandals with white socks. This meant that the serious hikers amongst us couldn’t always take sandals seriously!
Thankfully, sandals have moved with the times. A whole industry has sprung up around robust sandals built specifically for men and women hikers.
- KEEN Whisper
- Made in the USA
- Bungee lace capture system
- KEEN Newport H2
- Washable polyester webbing
- Non marking outsole
- Teva Hurricane XLT
- Rubber sole
- Slight raised heel
There are a number of benefits to packing a pair of hiking sandals with the rest of your kit. They make a great alternative to the traditional hiking boot, which might get sweaty and horrible especially in the hot summer weather. Fewer pressure points also mean that your feet are less likely to blister. Hiking sandals provide great ventilation, which when you’re pounding the well worn trails will give your feet the opportunity to breath. If you need to cross a stream or river on your backcountry trail, a good pair of sports sandals will dry quicker than most other types of footwear.
But hiking sandals do have a time and place. If you know that your trail is going to involve scrambling over a steep hillside, boulders or rocks, then wearing a pair of hiking sandals could be just plain dangerous. On these occasions get yourself a sturdy pair of boots that will protect your ankles. Then you’ll have the opportunity to whip out your sandals once you get back to your campsite, where your feet can chill in ventilated comfort.
10 Best Hiking Sandals
1. KEEN Whisper
A lot of thought has gone into the toe protection, where the rubber outsole wraps up and over the toes, protecting your pinkies from painful stubs and blows.
Metatomical footbed design
In plain English, this means that the sandal is designed in a way that offers your foot excellent arch support. Cradling the natural contours, your feet experience comfort and support.
Cost and Value
This of the best-rated Hiking Sandals by customers for good reason. Packed with subtle KEEN technology, female hikers can be sure of a secure fit, comfort and style.
- Cleansport NXT for natural odour control
- Multi directional lug pattern for traction
- Feminine specific design and style
- Compression moulded EVA footbed
- Quick dry
- Polyester stitching may unravel after extended use
- May come up half a size too big so try before you buy
2. KEEN Newport H2
The Newport features a unique, multi-directional lug pattern and razor siping. This means that you’ll have the right traction regardless of whether the path is soaking wet or bone dry.
This is where things get really clever. The footbed conforms to the shape of your foot offering personalized comfort. It’s also removable for when you need to throw them in the washing machine.
Cost and Value
These aren’t the cheapest pair of sandals on the market. But if you’re looking for the best alternative to hiking boots, consider these. Your feet will be comfortable, protected and well ventilated.
- Cleansport NXT technology to stop your sandals smelling like cheese
- Mesh lining to help your feet breath
- Compression molded EVA midsole
- Toe protection to guard your pinkies against serious injury
- The front strap may lose it’s stick ability after months of active use
- Stitching has been known to unravel
3. Teva Hurricane XLT
That’s why these sandals made this list. They’re boiled down, no nonsense sandals which exceed expectations. Loved by customers, the lightweight design and strap system means a supported customized fit.
Whilst other sandals in this list will boast about their design innovations, The Hurricanes quiet simplicity means there are fewer failure points. These sandals will handle heavy abuse over the years and just keep going.
Cost and Value
Whilst on the surface they might look simple, there’s certainly enough going on under the hood to justify the price tag. So if you want to keep your kit durable, rugged and lightweight - look no further.
Lightweight Polyester webbing
Durabrasion Rubber outsole supplying great traction
Quick drying, it’s heritage is on the river
Comfortable footbed which conforms to your feet
Strap system which provide a positive grip
Strap system may cause discomfort if not fitted correctly
Can run a bit small, try before you buy
4. KEEN Venice H2
Theses outsoles are designed not to leave marks, but that’s not the only thing that’s great about them. Made from rubber with a unique traction system, they’ll also handle most terrains with ease.
If you plan to wear sandals throughout the day then your feet may swell. These sandals feature a breathable, stretchy strap that is fully adjustable. Perfect for keeping your feet nice and comfortable.
Cost and Value
A good value, all around shoe. Whether you’re planning on to hitting the beach this summer, jumping on your bike or hiking the trails, this versatile sandal can handle it all.
- Waterproof nylon overlays
- Easy to use bungee lacing system
- Rubber toe bumper
- Polyester webbing
- May come up small, try before you buy
- Limited arch support
5. Teva Original Universal
Hold these sandals in your hand and you’ll be struck by their lightness. This comes at a cost though - the outsole is made from Spider Rubber, which doesn’t feel robust.
Two points of adjustment
As with all Teva sandals, you’ll notice the comfort as you soon as slip these on. This is due in part to the two points adjustment system – the ankle strap and the toe strap.
Cost and Value
If you’re looking for a stylish pair of sandals, and you need a microban zinc based anti-microbial treatment to keep your sandals smelling nice and fresh, this could be for you.
- Great looks
- Comfortable and waterproof
- Durable rubber outsoles
- Multi colors available
- Hook and loop closure system
- Velcro can catch onto polyester webbing
- May be too narrow for some feet
6. Reef Fanning
Yes you read that right. Move over Mr Nike Air, for the ultimate poolside comfort you want one of these airbags enclosed in soft polyurethane.
Lost your Swiss army knife? Well fear not. Turn these sandals over and you’ll find a bottle opener embedded into the Reef Icon Herringbone rubber outsole!
Cost and Value
Whilst these may not be your sandals of choice for hiking, you’ll appreciate these sporty sandals whilst relaxing after a great day’s surfing, or for poolside entertainment.
- Padded interior
- Footbed is made from EVA
- Bottle opener built in
- Made in the USA
- Heavier than most over sandals reviewed
- May be too narrow for some feet
7. KEEN Arroyo II
The non-marking rubber outsole comes with 4mm multi directional grip that delivers aggressive, uncompromising grip just when you need it to bite into the unpredictable terrain.
Patented rubber toecap
Every hiker knows the value of having a sturdy toecap. The rubber outsole reaches up and over the toe area, so even if your pinkies take a pounding, they’ll be protected whilst wearing these.
Cost and Value
If you’re looking for footwear which bridges the gap between a trail shoe and a sandal, then these are for you. They provide maximum breathability with all of the features you’d expect.
- Waterproof nubuck upper
- Secure fit bungee lacing system
- Quick dry lining
- Heel support structure
- Rear pull on loop
- Sandals run up large. KEEN recommends ordering half a size smaller
- Ensure you tighten the lacing system fully before wearing to avoid foot slippage
8. Chaco ZX2 Classic Athletic
All of Chaco’s sandals feature a biocentric footbed that has received the APMA Seal of Acceptance. They also donate 3% of after tax profits to organizations dedicated to caring for people and the planet.
Unique to Chaco, this sandal features a non-marking ChacoGrip rubber outsole with a 3mm lug. This ensures excellent traction regardless of what activity you get involved in this summer
Cost and Value
There’s a lot to like about these environmentally conscious sandals. Perfect for summer camps, rugged terrains and all round activities, they’re the ethical choice on this list.
- W or C/D indicates wide width and B or M indicates medium width
- Easy to slip on
- Easy to wash
- Easy to get repaired
- Simple adjustments
- May take a little time to get the right fit so try before you buy
- May lose some traction on wet surfaces
9. Rockport Rocklace Athletic
The XCS Rockport footbed are designed with lasting comfort in mind. Added arch support means that your feet won’t be aching by the end of the day.
Founded in 1971, Rockport aimed to incorporate advanced athletic technology into their shoes. With these sandals, those same original principles apply. Whether your hitting the trails or exploring the coast, these wont let you down.
Cost and Value
Not as expensive as some of the sandals on this list, but more stylish then most. These sandals incorporate athletic technology into a sandal that wants you to feel comfortable and look great.
- Genuine hard wearing leather
- Two adjustable hook and loop straps
- Rear pull loop for easy access
- EVA midsole
- Comes up large, try before you buy
- May be slightly loose even when fully fastened
10. Merrell Kahuna III
This sandal contains an air cushion within the heel, which will absorb shock and add stability to your foot. The outsole is made out of Vibram.
It doesn’t sound like the most attractive thing to shout about, but the pig suede upper means that these are one very comfortable pair of sandals.
Cost and Value
Not cheap, but great for men who’ll use them for trekking, hiking and every day use. Be warned though, once you’ve broken them in you may not want to take them off, they are super comfortable!
- Suede upper for maximum comfort
- Speed laces for a secure fit
- Aegis antimicrobial solution to stop your sandals from smelling nasty
- TPU Heel stability Arm to provide stability on rough, uneven surface terrain
- Breathable design
- Slippery on wet surfaces
- Narrow fit
Choosing the right pair of hiking sandals can be difficult. Especially when you plan on doing a lot of activities over the summer and you want to invest in a pair that will do the required business and wont let you down.
For longer walks, aim to buy a pair which invest in stability, motion control and cushioning. Some designs have closed toe protection, which is perfect if you think your trail might involve a loose gravel or rocky terrain. The last thing you want to do is turn around and hop back to your campsite having stubbed your foot! That’s not to say that an open toe design doesn’t have its benefits. They’re lighter for a start and unsurpassed when it comes to a well-ventilated experience, keeping your feet cool and comfortable.
Whilst flip-flops are a less-recommended choice, they are perfect for beach, pool activities and less strenuous activities.
One thing all hiking sandals should have in common is outsole traction. Check before you buy that the outsole is suitable for the type of activity you want to participate in.
Waterproofing is something you might also want to pay attention to. However, because of their open design, sandals will generally dry out quicker then most shoes anyway.
Criteria Used to Evaluate the Best Hiking Sandals
The popularity of hiking sandals has exploded over the last decade meaning that there has never been so much choice. This is not a bad thing as sandals become increasingly specialized, borrowing from other designs previously only found on trail and running shoes.
All this choice can mean increased confusion, so knowing which pair to buy for your summer may require research.
Hopefully this criteria list will help you to narrow down the list considerably. But be warned, there are pros and cons to every type of design, but we’ll try and guide you towards what might be best for you and your summer trip.
Pre-enlightenment, the flip-flop was king. Low quality was almost a pre-requisite when it came to sandals. All that changed when designers held up their tools and said “no more”. Boffins then started to get excited, and decided to design footwear that bridged the gap between shoe and sandal. Although initially perceived as an unholy union by purists, now they’re accepted as a jolly good concept. With the advance of technology, we can now enjoy high quality sandals that can provide the stability and cutting edge support of a full shoe.
A word of caution. If you’re thinking about taking on more challenging terrain such as loose rocky surfaces and tree trunks, for goodness sakes, leave your sandals in your tent and put on a pair of hiking boots which are going to protect your beautiful ankles. Some sandals are still notoriously bad for sliding around and flexing too much in challenging terrain, so make sure you do your research before buy, I don’t want you to get hurt!
How sandals fasten up is key to their stability and it really is down to preference as to which ones you buy. Many of the newer, better models tend to go for either a two-strap solution, or bungee lace up system. If the sandal has a loop on the back, this isn’t some design error, or a handy way of hanging your favourite sandals up above your mantle piece for all to see. It’s there to help you pull the sandal on or off, which is more useful then you’d think when you’re tired.
Research what is going on in the footbed of a sandal as this can be invaluable; this is an area where your foot can take a lot of punishment. If the sandal has some sort of shock absorbance technology built in, then this is a good thing, and good for your precious feet too.
Probably one of the most important considerations, especially if your summer activities are going to involve long hikes.
With traditional hiking boots and trail shoes, you can pretty much can guarantee a level of comfort. However with so many different designs and styles out there, you might have to think a bit more carefully, as hiking sandals can fall short when it comes to comfort.
One advantage that hiking sandals have over shoes is ventilation. This is great because you’re feet are ultimately going to be cooler, without the sweat and cheesy smells! It also means that if your sandals get wet, it’s not such a big deal as they’ll dry out much quicker then conventional shoes.
Check over the straps on the sandals. Adjustable straps can be your best friends when you’re hiking on a long trail in the middle of nowhere, and your feet tend to swell up. It may sound low tech, but an adjustable strap system is a great way to customize the fit to your foot. If you’re like my unfashionable uncle and you like to wear white socks with your sandals (I wont judge) then adjustable straps again come into their own with a customizable fit over your unfashionable socks.
Check to see how wide the straps are and their thickness. If they’re too thick you might find sweaty zones on your feet, not to mention redness and rubbing.
Who wants to pay a lot of money for sandals that don’t last? Not me!
Whilst it may seem like common sense to purchase a pair of durable sandals, how can you actually test them out? Short of putting together a YouTube video where you might film yourself dropping the sandals off the side of a skyscraper to test their hardiness, or walking across the desert for the sake of science, it’s quite difficult to work out how durable your hiking sandals actually are. The more established brands such as Tevo or Chaco are generally very good – they’ve been around a long time and have put a lot of money into their design and technology.
Some sandal companies have started investing in replaceable parts, so if something goes wrong you can get it fixed rather than getting all emotional and throwing your favourite sandals out with the trash.
If you want to hike then you’re going to need good traction. It’s a fact of life. If the sandals that you’re considering for your summer activities look like they don’t have any, do me a favour and forget about them. If you buy them, we are not friends anymore.
Traction is so important for a number of reasons. You need it to be able to handle everything a trail throws at them, from mossy strewn rocks to hiking up steep rocky paths. Any experienced hiker will tell you that the weather can change at a moments notice, and often does. Your sandals need to be able to handle a change in climate because if the trail suddenly becomes wet, you do not want to be slipping and sliding around like John Travolta on the dance floor. Get a pair that is going to stick to the path ahead, with a decent, aggressive tread pattern and a hardwearing rubber outsole.
Having a pair of hiking sandals in your kit bag carries considerable benefits, like open styles and better ventilation then conventional footwear. Lets face it, which doesn’t like to feel the wind between their toes. Selecting the right model is the tricky part and this largely depends on what you intend to do for your summer activities.
Common trade offs like buying a lighter pair meaning reduced support, or a heavier pair packed with tech that could result in a bit more sweat, is something to think about. Toe protection is great, but what about that cool breeze between your pinkies that we spoke about earlier. Would you rather have them be protected, or take a risk as you catch a breeze and the Goosebumps rise on your well-ventilated toes.
There’s not really any right answers, just minimum standards, and all of the hiking sandals reviewed here excel at those.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: What to wear with hiking sandals?
I’m glad you asked.
Whilst I’m not the fashion police, if I catch you wearing white socks with sandals, I’ll great you with a very stern look of disappointment.
In all honesty there is no hard and fast rule. It depends on what you’re using them for. They seem to go well in most environments, like paired with shorts down town, or your tight budgie smuggling Speedos on the beach. (No judgement here)
They’re starting to gain popularity as a fashion accessory; a quick Google search will reveal it’s not uncommon to see sandals on the catwalk.
I’ll say take a risk and be daring. Enjoy the sensation of the wind between your toes, just get out there and enjoy the summer.
Q: Who makes the best hiking sandals?
This is a difficult question to answer because it all depends on what you want to do with your sandals.
If simplicity is your thing, you want to go special-forces style minimum drag into a hardy terrain, get the Teva Hurricane XLT. These bad boys are lightweight and quietly exceptional.
If you like your sandals loud and proud with all the functionality of a trail shoe, then go with the KEEN Arroyo II hiking sandal. They’ll do pretty much anything a hiking shoe can do but with far better ventilation.If you like getting wet, then The Teva Original Universe brand was born on the water.
No joke, they were designed by a river guide, who clearly saw the problems with conventional footwear on the water, and decided to re-write the rule book. They’ve therefore got great waterproofing, They dry out quickly, truly the Teva brand was designed for the great outdoors and especially the raging rivers of Colorado.
It even has a cool name, Tevo means “Nature”.
As far as woman’s hiking sandals go, I’m no expert and have refused on numerous occasions to test them out. Despite my shortcomings, I hear that KEEN Women’s Whisper Sandals are by far the best liked, all-round sandals out there. My wife says they’re pretty cute too and I’ve learnt not to argue with her. So whether you intend to tackle some serious trails, ride a bike in ventilated comfort or just look cool wearing them around town, KEEN Whisper would be my choice for the ladies. And they come in a wide variety of colors too, what more could you want?
If you appreciate fine looks and robust materials, then check out the Rockport sandals next time you uncork a bottle of expensive, full-bodied red wine.
Well made and up for any challenge, Rockport aren’t usually a brand you’d associate with hiking sandals. But the Rockport Rocklace Athletic are up there with the best of them, with a list of features as long as your arm.
A finely crafted sandal made for the big outdoors. The uppers are made from rugged full grain leather, working in perfect harmony with a sports style sandal. Two adjustable straps mean a snug personal fit. The full rubber outsole makes sure that this sandal functions well whatever your summer activity. Trail or poolside, these are a hard wearing, fine sandal for the gentleman who gets what he wants.
Q: How should hiking sandals fit?
Great question. Thanks for taking the time to ask.
The noble sandal is one of the oldest styles of footwear, worn by the highest of royalty to the lowliest of peasants throughout the ages.
Thousands of years later, all social classes still struggle with how a sandal should fit. This is because unlike a shoe that covers the whole foot, sandals don’t play by the rules. With hiking sandals, it’s especially important that you get the fit right.
When you’re picking out your sandal, make sure that the sole is a little bit bigger than your foot. I hope I’m not teaching you to suck eggs here – that isn’t my intention, but you’d be surprised at how many people get this detail wrong. That’s why you should pay attention to the section in reviews which state whether a sandal comes up a bit too short or too large.
You want a sandal that has the room for your foot to conform to it properly. Some sandals are too narrow in this respect, so you need to do your research. The sandal that you buy needs to be comfortable and protect your feet as well.
If you like hiking sandals with a strap system, then you can customize these to fit the shape of your foot. You don’t want your feet sliding around on the trail, so do them up firmly, but not so firmly that you lose circulation and your toes turn blue. Also be aware that throughout the day your feet may swell, which may mean a readjustment to avoid discomfort.
Q: Best hiking sandals for wide feet?
This is where brands like Merrell come into their own.
Merrell offers wide width sandals that feature cutting edge technology, comfort and quality across their whole range. I have fairly wide feet too and I love wearing Merrells, once you break them in they’ll be so comfortable you wont want to take them off.
What’s interesting is that they use a vegan friendly construction. Whilst I’m not about to eat my sandals, if you’re looking for an ethical sandal to wear this summer, Merrell doesn’t seem like bad brand to start with.
Take a look at the KEEN Arroyo II too. These tend to come up large, which are perfect for hikers like me with big old’ slabs of meat. What’s nice about these sandals is that they think they’re trail shoes, with the exception that they have a unique open design to keep your massive feet from smelling like brie which has been out of the fridge for too long.
Q: The most comfortable hiking sandals ever made?
Interesting question because the most comfortable sandals may not be the best for hiking activities.
For me it’s the Reef Fanning. The 360-degree airbag in the heel is pretty much impossible to beat for comfort. But regardless of the great traction that these offer, I wouldn’t take these hiking on the trails, simply because that’s not what they’re designed for. Let’s be honest though, the bottle ring pull incorporated into the outsole is the best invention since sliced bread, so you can forgive me putting this sandal on the list in the first place.
Moving back to hiking, I’m going to say that Merrell’s are hard to beat when it comes to sheer comfort. I’ve been wearing them for years and I know how well they hug your feet. There are arguably better sandals out there, but sometimes you just want to stick with what you know works.
The Teva Hurricane XLT hiking sandal is a contender for how comfortable they are, just because of the lightness. They feel like air on your feet, and are well ventilated too. Weirdly, you’ll appreciate a lack of features that might have slowed these sandals down.
Q: What are hiking sandals?
Whilst shoes and boots completely cover your feet, hiking sandals leave more of your skin exposed to air, meaning your feet remain cooler and more comfortable.
If you’ve ever crossed a stream or river in boots, you know just how uncomfortable and weighed down your feet can feel. With hiking sandals, this gets turned on its head. They might get wet, but due to increased ventilation water quickly escapes and dries quicker too.
Hiking sandals are also lightweight, which make them a great alternative to traditional hiking boots. One feature which hiking sandals share with boots and trail shoes is the traction. Modern versions won’t compromise, so you can be sure you’ll grip the path whatever it’s made of.
In summary, hiking sandals are a great bit of kit to add to your arsenal. Plus you wont have to worry about wearing sweaty socks in the summer heat.
- The best outdoor sandals for men, The Telegraph - Online newpaper, Jun 22, 2014 ,