Best Sandals For Runners & Athletes Reviewed
You might find the thought of wearing sandals while you run a little odd, but in reality, it’s a style that more and more people are adopting. There are many reported benefits to running in sandals like the ability to spread your toes on impact, open airflow, and the gradual strengthening of ligaments, muscles, and tendons. Think of that glorious feeling the moment you put on a pair of sandals after having your feet stuck in a hot and sweaty pair of running shoes for hours, now imagine never having had to wear those running shoes at all. What a beautiful feeling, right?! But it can be tough to know which ones to wear, and that’s precisely why we’ve made this list.
In a Hurry? The test winner after 17 hrs of research
LuvSeat PU Midsole
- Chaco zCloud
- Keen Rialto 3 Point
- Atika Maya Trail
- Vibram VI-S
- Teva Hurricane XLT
- Gold Pigeon GP5931
- KEEN Newport H2
- Skechers On The Go 400
- ECCO Terra 3S
- Xero Z-Trail
- Criteria Used for Evaluation
- Frequently Asked Questions
10 Best Sandals for Runners
1. Chaco zCloud
LuvSeat PU Midsole
Sizes Run Small
Chacos’ zCloud features a polyester webbed upper that circles the foot across the midsole for a unique fit. It has adjustable high-tension heel risers and a LuvSeat PU midsole. The zCloud comes pretreated with an antimicrobial application that prevents odors from occurring and features an injection-molded ladder lock buckle.Read more
The zCloud has a non-marking ChacoGrip rubber outsole that boasts 3mm deep lugs for superior traction on any surface. Its adjustable and customizable features make for a one-of-a-kind-wear.
A LuvSeat PU midsole and a polyester webbed upper make the zCloud an overly comfortable sandal. The zClouds built-in antimicrobial treatment works to prevent odors before they happen.
Cost & Value
These sandals are available at a mid-price range and offer exceptional value considering their feature-rich wearability.
2. Keen Rialto 3 Point
PU Foam Footbed
Adjustable 3 Way Straps
Raised Metatarsal Ridge
Cleansport NXT Tech
Sizing Can Vary
Get ready to hit the trails with the Keen Rialto 3 Point. It’s the updated version of the model and offers some design and function upgrades from previous versions. For runners, it demonstrates all the qualities of fit and support needed in a regular sneaker, but now in a sandal. Plus, you’ll have odor-fighting technology to help keep these smelling great, even during the heat of summertime.Read more
Support and Cushion
Direct-attach PU midsole stabilizes and supports the foot during running, while the PU foam footbed helps support the metatarsals with a raised ridge. Ideal for proper toe splay without leaving the underfoot feeling sore. Synthetic soles help to give you traction with a textured bottom for grip, and water resistant uppers make it great for stream crossings, while the hydrophobic lining helps keep water from being absorbed into the sandal, including perspiration.
As the name suggests, the Rialto 3 Point has three adjustable straps to give you the best possible fit for your foot. Two straps go across the foot, while one wraps around back of the heel to keep you snug and secure. And, this sandal has Cleansport NXT technology, to help prevent odor buildup in the sandal due to sweat, or other damp conditions which can cause bacterial growth.
Cost and Value
One of the more expensive items on our top ten list, it’s a solid investment for a pair of rugged sandals you can take off-road, in the water, and still run comfortably in. The Keen Rialto 3 Point offers all the features structurally that a running shoe would need for performance, but keeps that open-air feel in a sandal design. Adjustable 3-way straps help give you the best fit possible, so it’s sure to fit you!
3. Atika Maya Trail
Hook & Loop Closure
May Rub At Side Strap
The Atika Maya Trail is a foot-friendly pair of sandals designed for wear on a variety of terrains. Jog in total comfort thanks to the Maya’s cushioned insole and added arch support. These sandals feature an intuitive footbed that conforms to the contours of your foot and adjustable long-lasting hook & loop Velcro straps for easy on and off wearability.Read more
The Atika Maya Trail is a multi-purpose and convenient sandal that even has unisex options available. Run at ease on any terrain thanks to the Maya’s grippy outsole and comfort-boosting features.
These Atika sandals are easy wearing and designed with durable hook & loop Velcro closures that will prevent any flopping. An intuitive footbed and cushioned insole top off the added arch support that makes these sandals so great for running in.
Cost & Value
An extreme saving, these sandals are one of the least costly to make this list. However, they certainly don’t cut any corners when it comes to quality construction and ease of wearability.
4. Vibram VI-S
Serrated Blade Lugs
The Vibram Vl-S is an ideal sandal for running or other physical activities like yoga. The VI-S is a form-fitting sandal with zero heel-to-toe-drop for a minimalist experience. Featuring an adjustable stretch closure system and easy side-release, these Vibrams are a comfortable wearing sandal for running. The VI-S has a rubber outsole that provides a solid grip on any surface and can be machine washed on a cold cycle.Read more
The VI-S boasts an adjustable stretch closure system for a secure and customized fit, along with a serrated blade lug and grippy rubber outsole.
The VI-S is a minimalist style sandal with a zero heel to toe drop. Run the way nature intended and feel more connected to the ground beneath your feet.
Cost & Value
The Vibram VI-S is available for a surprisingly low price considering the substantial safety and comfort these sandals have to offer.
5. Teva Hurricane XLT
Hook & Loop Closure
Tevas' Hurricane XLT is made from 100% textile materials and boasts a grippy outsole with a minimal drop. It's adjustable hook & loop straps make for an easily customizable fit, while exaggerated lugs on its outsole make for incredible traction. These lightweight sandals are the perfect option for runners.Read more
Made from 100% textile materials that are breathable and lightweight, along with a grippy rubber outsole which boasts exaggerated lugs for superior traction on any surface.
The Hurricane will keep your feet securely in place thanks to its adjustable hook & loop strap closures which provide a custom fit every time.
Cost & Value
The Hurricane XLT is a mid-priced shoe that has some serious comfort to offer the everyday runner. These are an excellent pair of sandals and will compliment any jog or sprint while on the trail, or off.
6. Gold Pigeon GP5931
Fabric & Synthetic Materials
Untrue To Size
This Gold Pigeon sandal boasts fabric and synthetic materials along with a rubber outsole for excellent traction. Its water release sole is quick-drying while also encouraging fresh air to flow around the foot. The GP5931’s bounce back bottom retains its shape well while its adjustable straps make for a secure fit.Read more
A shock-absorbing sole makes for a flexible and cushioned feel while bouncing back to retain its shape. These Gold Pigeons are lightweight and waterproof making them a good choice for those summer morning runs along the beach.
The GP5931 is easy to care for as you can simply put them in the washing machine and air dry after thanks to their BPA-free synthetic material.
Cost & Value
These sandals are inexpensive, comfortable, and waterproof, what more could you ask for in a pair of sandals?!
7. KEEN Newport H2
Shorter Life Span
KEENs’ Newport H2 is made in the USA and features a non-marking rubber outsole with razor sipping. A low 1.5-inch platform and metatomical EVA footbed make these sandals an excellent option for runners, and a multi-directional lug pattern offers increased traction on any terrain. These sandals will stay in place thanks to a secure fit lace capture system and TPU stability shank.Read more
The Newport H2 comes highly rated among users everywhere for its purely comfortable wear. Featuring a metatomical EVA footbed and non-marking rubber outsole, the Newport H2 is a well supported and cushiony ride.
The Newport H2 has a razor sipped sole and multi-directional lug pattern for incredible traction on any terrain, including slippery tracks.
Cost & Value
KEEN’s Newport H2 isn’t the cheapest sandal to make this list, but it is one of the most popular among users. The H2 boasts comfort-boosting features and secure fastening for a safe and supple ride.
8. Skechers On The Go 400
5 Gen Cushion
Goga Max Return Energy
Adjustable Strap Closure
Skechers’ On The Go 400 is an ultra-lightweight athletic sandal that’s a good choice for runners. It features a responsive five gen cushioned midsole and Goga max return energy footbed. A rubber outsole makes the 400 a grippy shoe, and its soft fabric lining will have you sprinting on pillows.Read more
The Go 400 is a super-comfortable sandal for outdoor activities like, running, walking, or yoga. Its responsive cushioned midsole and Goga max return energy footbed help to keep your feet and legs feeling rejuvenated while you move.
The Skechers On The Go 400 features adjustable strap closures for a secure fit that ensures your feet will stay firmly in place. The Go 400 also sports a durable rubber outsole that provides grippy wear so you can run sure of foot.
Cost & Value
These Skechers are relatively inexpensive and bring tons of comfort to the playing field. Designed with the athletic enthusiast in mind, these are a good choice to consider.
9. ECCO Terra 3S
PU Midsole Foam
Last but by no means least on our top ten list, ECCO weighs in with the Terra 3S. ECCO brand is no stranger to comfortable and functional footwear, and they keep things stylish too. The Terra 3S is a textile sandal with sporty appeal, loads of support and cushion, and durable sole built for trail running. Get ready to hit the trails, roads, streams all with the freedom feel of a sandal!Read more
Support and Cushion
If you want that plush cushioned feel in a sandal for your runs, the ECCO Terra 3S has a PU midsole foam to add that pillow-soft feel to your steps. An EVA footbed with a smooth and supple microfiber cover helps keep the sandal lightweight, stable and gives an additional cushion. Mesh lining makes the straps breathable and quick drying so that you can take these into the water on hotter days should you choose to.
No running shoe, sneaker or sandal, would be worth the investment without a durable, yet supportive sole. The base of the Terra 3S has a trail-running inspired sole, with grippy texture and comfort abound. The PU/TPU sole is directly injected and helps keep flexibility and cushion while maintaining a solid grip and traction. You’ll be pleasantly surprised with the performance of this pair of sandals on or off the road.
Cost and Value
By no means, the most expensive, the ECCO Terra 3S runs slightly more expensive than average for our list but is worth the consideration. From its techy comfort and stability features to its breathable mesh and trail-inspired sole, any running enthusiast can appreciate the design of this sandal. Adjustable straps give you the best individual fit you can find, and plush footbed will keep you going that extra mile!
10. Xero Z-Trail
5000-Mile Warranty Sole
Feel True Sole
Toe May Turn Under If Dragged
Xero Z-Trail is the embodiment of sandal runs, closest to barefoot that you can get in a shoe in general. They’ve kept a super minimalist look and feel, but simply added a protective sole to help keep the foot safe from abrasions, glass, rocks, or other bits that you can pick up in the skin when running barefoot. One of the most natural feeling and simplistic sandals out there for running, it’s worth a look if you’re a sandal run enthusiast!Read more
The Xero Z-Trail consists of a 5mm sole and nylon laces which won’t stretch out over time. The Feel True soles at the base of the Z-Trail come with Xero’s 5000-mile warranty, so should they wear out before then, you can contact the manufacturer for a replacement product at 60% MSRP plus the cost of shipping. With the extra tread pattern at the base of the sole, these will feel barefoot but still function to maintain grip when running.
Nylon ‘laces’ create the structure to keep the foot in place on the sole and can be styled in a number of ways. It may take a little getting used to, but once you have the proper fit for your feet, running will feel lighter than with regular heavier sneakers, and you’ll have breathability to the max. And, since there is little to these wonderful sandals, you can roll them up, pack them in your travel bag or purse, and take with you without fuss!
Cost and Value
At an average price threshold, the Xero Z-Trail is a running sandal made for minimalists, who appreciate the barefoot running style and history. With its 5000-mile warranty sole, zero drop, and minimal design, they make a great travel sandal as well as running sandal. But, get a hold of these quick as they seem to sell out as the running sandal starts to gain popularity!
Criteria Used for Evaluation
There are many different styles of running sandals available today and choosing the most appropriate for your terrain and weather conditions is essential. Some of the style considerations to keep in mind when you’re selecting a pair of sandals to run in are:
Zero Drop: Zero drop sandals are the same as minimalist running shoes and have a zero drop from the heel to forefoot. Many wearers feel that a zero drop encourages a more natural style of running and promotes striking with the forefoot instead of the heel. Landing with the heel is linked to an increase in the risks of running-related injuries and is encouraged by a higher drop from the heel to toe.
Straps: There are two types of strap closures to choose from which are vertical, or horizontal. Vertical straps are thong styled and rest between the toes instead of across them, as with horizontal styled straps. Some wearers prefer vertical straps because they have less material across the top of the foot, whereas, others prefer horizontal straps because they feel more secure and cover more of the toe area.
Closed-toe: While a closed-toe detracts from the barefoot feeling of running in sandals it does provide better protection and should be considered when running on hazardous terrain.
Open-toe: An open-toed sandal is more breathable and airy than a closed-toe but offers less overall foot protection.
Trail: Trail-specific options are available and feature a more solid sole unit, usually with a rubber outsole and a deeper lug pattern to grip the loose stones or wood of the trail.
Off-Trail: Off-trail sandals are similar to trail ones, only they usually have a closed-toe for added protection from the hazards of the terrain and will usually expose less of the foot overall as a safety design.
When it comes to running in a pair of sandals, their overall weight affects how well the wearer can perform. A more substantial shoe requires more energy expenditure which in turn, causes slower times. However, it is essential not to sacrifice comfort in the hopes of attaining higher speeds as wearing an uncomfortable shoe can burn more energy through increased shock-absorption with every step.
Specific materials are lighter than others that are going to weigh you down. Elements to consider are:
Synthetics: Synthetic materials are human-made and consist of two layers, a backing layer, and an external layer. Synthetic materials are lightweight and breathable making them a strong consideration for footwear.
Foam: Foam is a top-of-the-line material for shoes and sandals alike. It’s ultra-lightweight and absorbs shock better than many other articles out there.
Leather: Leather is an all-around great material for the construction of a shoe. It’s breathable, lightweight, and long-lasting which is why it’s a favorite for many shoe manufacturers and consumers.
Mesh: Mesh is a lightweight woven material that allows for perfect airflow and keeps feet cool and dry no matter how far you’re going to run.
Another thing to keep in mind is looking for materials that are going to wick moisture away from the foot; this will prevent a build-up of bacteria that causes odors. An excellent moisture-wicking component is leather, while some synthetics are very good as well. For additional odor-control, look for shoes that have Cleansport NXT technologies, or those that explicitly have anti-microbial properties.
Staying comfortable during and after your run is of paramount concern. Wearing a shoe that lacks in certain features will leave your feet, ankles, and legs feeling fatigued and painful. Depending on your level of strength running without proper cushion and support can cause all sorts of painful injuries and can result in a decrease in your overall performance. Some of the features to look for when selecting a pair of sandals based on comfort are:
EVA Footbed: Ethyl Vinyl Acetate (EVA) is a human-made foam polymer. It is an excellent material for use in footwear due to its soft and flexible properties. EVA provides a superb cushion while maintaining a lightweight and thin profile.
Arch Support: Arch support is something many individuals prefer to have ample of, especially those with flat arches or Plantar Fasciitis. Many of the shoes on this list have features that add an extra level of arch support.
Anti-slip: It’s essential that you’re sure of foot while running and preventing slips is of significant concern. It’s not a comfortable feeling when you slip and hurt yourself which is why you should choose a pair of sandals that have dependable traction for multi-terrain grip. Rubber is the best option as it provides superior hold, as well as, weather-resistance.
When thinking about the comfort of sandals for runners, it’s important to consider various areas of possible concern, including rubbing and blisters. When a sandal has straps and closures, it’s vital to thoroughly ensure there is going to be no rubbing before taking them out for a run. Rubbing and friction cause blisters which are painful and can impede overall performance, affecting you for days, or even weeks at a time. It’s also a good idea to inspect the footbed area and make sure there are no points of pressure that are going to press too much on a specific area of the underside of your foot as this too will cause blisters and calluses.
When it comes to running footwear, the brand behind the design plays an integral role. Everywhere you turn these days including newspapers, magazines, and on television, we see celebrities and Hollywood’s A-listers, wearing great footwear. Running and athletic shoes are no different.
The pairs featured on this list are some of the most coveted designs from the biggest athletic brands in the business. When looking at the brand, take note that it is not the end-all-be-all of running shoes, however, choosing a brand that is well-known and reliable might make the difference between a comfortable run and injury.
No one wants to spend their entire paycheck on a pair of shoes, even if they are for something as important as for fitness. When we were evaluating items, we really took into consideration a few different things when it comes to price. Primarily, we really wanted to focus on sharing brands and products that offered a blend of a good price and value for your money.
To do this, we scanned through a couple dozen different types of sandals. We looked at the price range and came up with an average or an estimated market value for running sandals. This number was then used in choosing the best products. For example, we would look at a product and ask ourselves:
No matter the type of good you are planning on purchasing, by asking questions like above, it can really help to ensure you are receiving your money’s worth for a purchase.
Expert Interviews & Opinions
If you plan on running in sandals, one of the main things to consider is where the straps of the sandals fall. If you feel irritated in any way by them, most chances are that you'll wear them once to run, and leave them in the closet afterwards.
Check straps around the toes, to make sure your toes stay put, and any around the heels, to make sure you don't have any rubbing when you run.
If you're planning on taking your sandals off-road, make sure you keep your toes protected with a sandal that covers the toe box area. This will help prevent stubbed toes and trips, or worse.
When you first take them for a spin, try them out on an easier route, something flat, with gravel or dirt.
Frequently Asked Questions
Running in sandals can be completely safe so long as you are careful in choosing an appropriate style to meet your individual needs. Many people feel that sandals lack the proper support needed while you run but that’s just not the case.
There are many styles of sandal that are designed specifically for running and possess added supportive qualities. Alternatively, many runners are seeking a barefoot feel with the added underfoot protection one gets from wearing a bare minimum shoe. If you are interested in wearing a barefoot sandal than start off slowly, running shorter distances and build-up to more extended and more intense training. Allowing yourself time to adjust will give your body time to build the strength needed for running without the added cushion and prevent the occurrence of foot pain or fatigue.
You should also consider the potential hazards of the terrain you intend to run on and select an appropriate style that will adequately protect your toes and feet. For instance, if you’re running where there is an increased risk of falling objects or a danger of stepping on sharp debris it is better to opt for a closed-toe or a sandal with a thicker outsole.
So long as you run using proper form and don’t push the limits too far while wearing sandals your feet should not hurt any more than they typically would after a run.
If you are transitioning from a standard heel-to-toe-drop to a zero drop, it is best to start off slow and reduce overall run time and intensity. Slowly work your way up to the level you would typically run at over the course of several weeks or months as this will allow your body time to adjust to this new style of running. As long as you don’t rush yourself through the transition period, you should not experience any pain in your legs or feet.
The strength of your arch determines whether or not you will be able to run while wearing sandals, not the height. Many people have the misconception that having a flat span means that they are limited in their range of footwear and activities which is not true. If you work at strengthening your arch, you will be able to withstand shock just as well as someone with an average arc and will be able to wear the same footwear as anyone else comfortably.
Any terrain that you usually would run on so long as you protect your feet from the elements as well as, from the hazards of your surroundings.
That depends on how well they’re constructed and how much wear you put them through. A well-constructed sandal should last as long as a running shoe would, and the items on this list were chosen based on their durability, among other factors.