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
- Teva Tirra Athletic
- Nylon Strap Closures
- Grippy 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. KEEN is known for their protective toe cap, which can be found in several makes and models of their hiking shoes and boots.
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. Teva Tirra Athletic
Teva Tirra Athletic was made for all terrain walking in a sandal. With a rubber sole that encompasses a nylon shank for stability, you can stride confidently on or off road. And with its water-resistant design, it’s ideal for wading in streams or creeks, and has special water-channeling lugs on the outsole for added traction. Go ahead and feel free explore around that waterfall after a long hike!
Cushioning is found in the molded EVA midsole, providing compression spring with every step. The heel has a Shock Pad, which helps absorb impact. Synthetic and polyester webbing keep your foot firmly secured with a sporty look to them, and easy hook and loop closure.
Cost and Value
For something technical, comfortable, and that comes in a variety of color options, this comes at an average cost when compared to some other options on our list, and it’s well worth the investment. Superior traction, readily wearable in water, and solid traction make this sandal a great purchase for your next adventure in hiking.
- Stability Shank
- Water Friendly
- EVA midsole
- Polyester and Sythetic Webbing
- Strap Placement
- Run Long
3. ECCO Yucatan
Comfort is found within the Yucatan’s PU midsole foam, and EVA footbed, giving cushioning that outlasts the morning into the evening. Stability and support are held in the RECEPTOR technology, made for dynamic movement during the gait cycle. Microfiber lines the webbing and footbed for an added plush feeling on your foot. A rubber sole provides traction for rougher outdoor terrain.
An over the toe strap combined with a heel and ankle closure help to keep you from slipping out of the sandal, which are lined in comfortable microfiber. The closures have several adjustment areas, designed for optimal fit and function, with an easy hook and loop closure. Nubuck uppers come in a variety of color combinations and hues, so you can step on the trail with a bit of personality.
Cost and Value
ECCO Yucatan is on the more budget moderately priced side of the list, but well worth consideration. ECCO’s superior structural design has been top line in sneakers and boots, especially for those with high arches, or other foot ailments that require stability and support more so than average. Price can vary depending on the color and style selected, but it’s a great investment for the technology, support, comfort and style found in this spunky sandal.
- Arch Support
- Microfiber Lined
- Limited Widths
4. KEEN Rose
The Rose may have an open sandal design which gives you the sense of walking barefoot, but it’s rugged sole and toe bumper help protect you during rougher hikes or terrain. The sole is marked with grooves for traction, and the uppers are made from leather and textile. It’s sporty look may fool you to think it’s for the pool only, but take it out for a test hike to be pleasantly surprised.
Support and comfort are noted in the EVA footbed, designed to cradle the natural contours of the foot. AEGIS Microbe Shield lining helps to prevent any bacterial growth from prolonged periods of exposure to dampness. Its straps are easy hook and loop closure for an easy in and out fit, and the sandal is machine washable should you need to freshen them up.
Cost and Value
Like many of our sandals, the KEEN Rose is available in a number of hues and colors. Depending on which you select, the pricing may vary slightly from averagely priced to slightly more expensive. For hikers who love KEEN, and newer outdoor enthusiasts looking for a hiking sandal, it’s smart investment.
- Toe Protection
- Strappy Design
- Water Friendly
- Stiff Feel
- May Rub
5. 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.
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. 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. For those with high arches, or other foot ailments that require arch support, the Rockport is a great option to consider.
Founded in 1971, Rockport aimed to incorporate advanced athletic technology into their shoes. With these sandals, those same original principles apply. Whether you're hitting the trails or exploring the coast, these won't 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
8. 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
9. Chaco ZX/2 Yampa
Chaco created this sporty sandal to be light, airy and free. Its strappy design features a big toe loop and over the top foot closure, combined with heel and ankle straps to keep you firmly in place. Straps boast of beautiful coloring made from nylon, with an adjustable buckle closure. This lightweight nylon design makes it great for stepping off trail into streams and pools to cool off on hot days.
The ZX/2 Yampa has Chaco’s LUVSEAT PU footbed which will support your foot with every step. Vibram outsoles with a diamond shaped pattern help to give added sticky traction on wet surfaces or gravel terrain. And with such a plush outsole, you’ll be going the extra mile to find that hidden waterfall for a lunch break!
Cost and Value
Slightly more expensive than the average mark, the ZX/2 Yampa by Chaco is still a solid investment in a pair of uniquely designed hiking sandals. With its toe loop and open feeling, you may feel like there is nothing on your feet. And with such amazing styling options, it’s a great option to consider.
- Unique Design
- Plush Sole
- Water Friendly
- Toe Loop
- May Require Break In
10. Merrell All Out Blaze
The All Out Blaze is a crossover style hiker between sneaker and sandal, but provides added protection when out on more rugged trails. A synthetic and textile upper gives lightweight structure and support against abrasions, but still wraps your foot in padded collar and heel to prevent any blistering. Cut outs alongside of the shoe and atop the toes allow for ventilated air flow to help keep feet cool and give it that sandal feel.
The All Out Blaze has a unique lace up elastic for speedy closure that helps pull the shoe to your foot. Vibram soles provide rugged traction across boulders and uneven terrain, and a slight toe cap curves upward for the occasional stubbing that occurs when hiking. The Unify midsole helps provide cushioned comfort, and the uppers promote some water resistance making them ideal for creek walking.
Cost and Value
As the Merrell All Out Blaze comes in a variety of colors, the pricing can vary quite a bit from budget friendly to slightly more expensive on our list. Still a smart purchase for those looking to invest in a pair of protective sandals that are wearable to wade in creeks, maintain grip, and have an athletic aesthetic function. Great for avid hikers looking for a lighter, airier feel to their outdoor treks.
- Rugged Sole
- Toe Protection
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 many options. 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. Also note, we wouldn’t recommend extreme hiking conditions as suitable for hiking sandals. This means alpine temperatures where foot exposure to the elements could possible cause frostbite, and other similar situations. It’s up to you to decide and know your hiking level and ability, and decide upon the best hiking sandal to use for your needs!
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!”. Companies then started to get excited, and decided to design footwear that bridged the gap between shoe and sandal. Although initially perceived as an ineffective model, now they’re accepted as a wonderfully creative 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.
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.
Comfort is 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 some hiking sandals can fall short when it comes to comfort. Many of those on our list come with microfiber lining to help wick away moisture, and have padded or supported footbeds for cushion and comfort levels. Thicker soles can always give a plushier step
One advantage that hiking sandals have over shoes is ventilation. This is great because your feet are ultimately going to be cooler. It also means that if your sandals get wet, it’s not such a big deal as they’ll dry out much quicker than conventional shoes.
Check over the straps on the sandals. Adjustable straps can be your best friend when you’re hiking on a long trail in the middle of nowhere, and if 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. Check to see how wide the straps are and their thickness. Based on your personal preference, select wider straps for less rubbing in general, or more narrow straps if you prefer multiple straps to secure you properly.
Also important is to check how the straps are designed on the sandal. Most will cross atop the foot in some pattern, and will have a heel and ankle feature to keep you in the sandal. Others may have this, but connect a toe loop for front foot closure to the sandal. If you can imagine where your particular foot may rub or find discomfort based on how the strap design is shown, this can help you select a sandal best for you!
Who wants to pay a lot of money for sandals that don’t last? I doubt anyone does!
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 those on our list, are generally very good – they’ve been around a long time and have put a lot of money into their design and technology.
- Toe Bumpers – add protection and durability to your sandal
- Tough Outsole – not only adds traction, but helps keep the shoe intact
- Quality Uppers or Straps – many synthetics, leather, and nylons in hiking gear now come with a water resistance to keep your shoes going for a longer lifespan
- Cushion – EVA footbeds are made to help give you cushion, but also to last over time so that cushioning doesn’t fade.
- Abrasion Resistant – Some sandals have uppers designed to help prevent abrasions from tearing at the material and slowly damaging the sandal over time. Those on our list have this quality to some degree.
- Replaceable Parts – Many companies that design hiking sandals know that parts can break simply due to the environment they’re used in. To that regard, they’ve begun to invest in making replaceable parts so you can simply fix your sandal instead of throwing them away.
If you want to hike then you’re going to need good traction. It’s a fact of participating in outdoor activities in general. If the sandals that you’re considering for your summer activities look like they don’t have good traction, it’s definitely time for a new pair.
Traction is so important for a number of reasons. You need your sandals 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 in a moment’s 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. Get a pair that is going to stick to the path ahead, with a decent, aggressive tread pattern and a hardwearing rubber outsole is key.
Having a pair of hiking sandals in your kit bag carries considerable benefits, like open styles and better ventilation then conventional footwear. Let’s face it, who 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 toes that we mentioned 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?
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: What do I wear with hiking sandals?
A: 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 swimsuit on the beach. Hiking sandals are starting to gain popularity as a fashion accessory; a quick Google search will reveal it’s not uncommon to see sandals on the catwalk.
Enjoy the sensation of the wind between your toes, just get out there and enjoy the summer.
Q: Who makes the best hiking sandals?
A: 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 may prefer minimalist coverage or less protection.
– If you like your sandals loud and proud with all the functionality of a trail shoe, then go with a KEEN or Merrell hiking sandal. They’ll do pretty much anything a hiking shoe can do but with far better ventilation.
– If you like getting wet, then select a sandal that has nylon straps, or is water repellant in some degree. Most on our list have this feature.
Q: How should hiking sandals fit?
A: 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, we still struggle with how a sandal should fit. This is because unlike a shoe that covers the whole foot, sandals have an openness about their design. 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.
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 for what’s best for your individual foot. 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. 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?
A: This is where brands like Merrell and Keen have dominated the market over the years in terms of wide toe boxes. However, note that most sandals will have open toe cages, so it may simply depend on which strap structure best suits your unique foot width.
KEEN and Merrell offer wide width sandals that feature cutting edge technology, comfort and quality across their whole range. What’s nice about these sandals on our list, is that they’re trail shoes, designed across lighter to heavy hiking activity, with the exception that they have a unique open design to keep your feet from sweating.
Q: The most comfortable hiking sandals ever made?
A: Interesting question because the most comfortable sandals may not be the best for hiking activities. Depending on what you plan to use your hiking sandals for, it can vary. More rugged terrain and boulder scrambles require that you stay firmly put, and perhaps have a toe bumper or athletic support in the sandal. If you’re looking for casual hikes along gravel paths and streams, something with less protection may be preferable. Be sure to read our Criteria section to help you select which is best for your next adventure!
Q: What are hiking sandals?
A: 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 is no longer an issue. 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 on grip, so you can be sure you’ll grip the path whatever it’s made of. Hiking sandals are a great option to add to your arsenal.
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