Any serious hiker knows the trepidation of removing hiking shoes/boots after a long day, out in the heat, traversing dusty trails. First, there’s the smell of sweat-soaked leather to deal with, and no matter how expensive or robust your wick-away Smartwool socks are, they cannot totally eliminate the funk. You know what I’m talking about.
Then there’s the grime that not only irrevocably worked its way into every last fiber of your twenty-dollar pair of socks, but somehow also turned your feet into a veritable mud puddle. Even when you scrub off the dirt, you still have to deal with the horror of inevitable redness, swelling, blisters, and toenails starting to lift from the bed.
Well, now that I’ve completely turned some of you off to marathon hiking, I’ll speak directly to those of us willing to suffer every foot-related indignity in order to enjoy the most remote reaches of wilderness on the planet. If you’re tired of suffering saunas on your feet, you’ll be happy to hear there’s an alternative: hiking sandals. Which hiking sandals offer the comfort and support you need, paired with the airflow you crave? Here are the 12 best hiking sandals to consider.
Teva Terra Fi 5 Sport Hiking Sandals
Teva is ostensibly the first name in outdoor sandals, with rugged and reliable footwear designed to work equally well on dry trails and slippery river rocks. This “aggressive” model is truly designed for the serious hiking crowd, thanks to a springy cushion underfoot consisting of EVA foam for the foot pad and a molded PU midsole for support, not to mention a real grippy sole. Let your toes breathe freely with water-friendly straps that hold your foot securely in place without the complete enclosure of a hiking boot.
Bedrock Sandals Cairn Adventure Sandals
These water-friendly sandals will take you over the river, through the woods, and pretty much anywhere you want to go, thanks to lightweight and long-lasting Vibram Regolith rubber soles that offer superior traction and grip, along with comfort that conforms to your feet with wear. Throw in patent-pending premium webbing for straps with three adjustment zones and you’ve got secure and stable footwear designed to tackle any overland trek. Plus, a portion of each sale goes to 1% for the Planet, an organization that directs funds to environmental nonprofits. Good for you, good for nature.
Xero Shoes Z-Trail Sandals
Looking at the thin soles and straps of this flexible, lightweight sandal, you might be understandably concerned about how it will hold up to harsh trail conditions. Okay, to be honest, they’re not likely to get you through a multi-day excursion over rough terrain, but the comfort and flexibility of these barely-there sandals are perfect for day hikes and water activities, thanks to FeelTrue rubber grip, a TrailFoam middle layer that absorbs shock, and a BareFoam footbed for ultimate comfort, wherever you walk. Tubular webbing means no hard strap edges irritating your feet.
Chaco Odyssey Sandals
You might wonder if there’s a hiking sandal that offers all the protection and security of hiking boots with a bit of a breezeway for added comfort. Wonder no more – Chaco has you covered. These hybrid sandal-shoes feature a breathable mesh covering over the foot, paired with straps for security and a slingback design to increase ventilation. ChacoGrip Plus rubber clings to terrain, while the dual density EVR midsole soaks up moisture with antimicrobial and odor control. Water-safe and designed to be durable, this could just be the best of both worlds.
Keen Newport Hydro Sandals
One of the biggest hurdles with hiking sandals is toe protection. All that open air comes at a cost. While the protective rubber toe and reinforced polyester webbing straps are a lot more confining than the average sandal, these are a great option for anyone seeking robust footwear paired with more ventilation than the average hiking boot offers. Straps aren’t adjustable, per se, but the stretchy, secure-fit lacing system allows you to tighten as desired for added stability. Compression-molded EVA midsole offers outstanding cushion and the quick-dry lining is ideal for active hikers.
Chaco Z/2 Classic Sandals
Another impressive offering from Chaco, this classic sandal has everything you need to keep tootsies comfortable during a long day of hiking. Let’s start with the podiatrist-certified LUVSEAT PU midsole designed to mold around your foot, paired with the ChacoGrip rubber sole for unreal gripping power. This utility is heightened by polyester jacquard webbing straps, including a toe loop to keep your foot from sliding out the front, as well as a secure injection-molded ladder lock buckle for tightening. Hike the Grand Canyon or ford a river – these sandals will get you there.
Oboz Men’s Campster Sandals
Another closed-toe sandal, this option isn’t quite as aggressive as Keen, but it definitely offers more toe protection than others on this list, if that’s what you want. Polyester webbing is pretty much a given, but you’ll also enjoy a textured, anti-microbial top layer for the sole, paired with a cushy, yet firm dual density EVA midsole and water capable traction. You’ll stay comfy in wet or dry conditions, enjoy excellent grip on rocks, and avoid the heaviness common to hiking boots with this lightweight sandal.
Columbia Men’s Wayfinder 2 Strap Sandals
TBH, these aren’t super attractive for a Columbia product, but the important thing is that they get the job done, and Columbia rarely fails when it comes to thoughtful utility. The two-strap design is a lot more open than the average hiking sandal, which means you’ll enjoy unparalleled breathability. Hook and loop closures are easy to tighten, even on the go. Omni-GRIP wet traction rubber offers awesome sticking power, and the 2-part midsole, complete with a plush TechLite footbed and firmer TechLite frame, offers comfort and support where you need it most.
KIIU Closed Toe Sport Hiking Sandals
Is closed toe the way to go? This sandal will make you question your heathen, open-toed ways, with attractive design and practical features for days. There’s the non-slip PU rubber outsole, the quick-dry, breathable mesh lining and lightweight webbing to keep you cool even with added coverage. The elastic band and adjustable heel strap make it easy to custom fit each sandal, and the rubbery toe cover prevents injuries to your most valuable hiking assets should you suffer a slip or trip. All this and four colors to choose from.
ECCO Yucatan Sandals
The main difference you’ll notice right away with these open-toed sandals is that much of the upper strap portion is fixed for added stability during wear. Still, you’ll have plenty of options for adjustment with hook and loop straps at the toes and the ankle. Nubuck leather is durable, but hardly waterproof, so you’ll want to weatherproof before wearing these sandals and maybe avoid full submersion. Still, you’ll enjoy moisture-wick linings, a cushy EVA footbed, high-traction rubber outsoles, and direct injection polyurethane midsoles with hard EVA shanks for optimal support on long hikes.
Merrell Choprock Shandal
It’s a shoe! It’s a sandal! It’s a shandal! Sooo, yeah, that’s a thing. Still, you really can’t talk about hiking shoes without Merrell getting at least a mention. If you’ve had a long love affair with their comfy (albeit heavy) hiking boots, you’ll love their lightweight, closed-toe sandals. The framework fully encloses your foot, but with breathable mesh and plenty of ventilation ports, they’ll still keep you cooler than boots. Totally water-friendly, these hikers offer a protective rubber toe cap, webbing loops to adjust the fit, a removable EVA insole, a compression molded EVA midsole, Vibram Megagrip outsole, and more. Great is an understatement.
Astral Filipe Outdoor Sandals
This sandal falls squarely in the stylish category, but that doesn’t mean it’s lacking in substance. Full disclosure: they’re listed as “light hiking” sandals, but they definitely offer plenty of comfort for daily walkabouts and short hiking excursions. The Flip Grip outsole offers maximum stick on smooth surfaces, which makes them a good bet for dusty rocks and slippery riverbeds alike. Even better, these sandals are convertible, thanks to the included ankle strap attachment that takes them from flipflop to hiking shoe with minimal effort.
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