Runner’s World; Courtesy Luna Sandals
Already planning your summer hiking trips? Whether you’re taking a day trip or thru-hike, the temperatures can get hot and hiking boots can become more of a hindrance than a help. A much lighter — and cooler — option is a good pair of hiking sandals. While they may not seem as safe as boots, they can actually be just as stable, and may even fare better if you’re trekking through water.
That being said, not just any sandal will do. To ensure that you remain safe, comfortable, and blister-free, you will want to make sure that you are investing in a sandal that is designed for hiking, with a grippy sole, a close, adjustable fit, and the durability to hold. up mile after mile. Since there are so many choices out there, we’ve gathered up some of our favorites that will help you stay cool and comfortable during your hikes this summer. Look below for some buying advice and in depth reviews of each of our picks.
How to Pick the Right Hiking Sandal
When you’re searching for a hiking sandal, there are a few key aspects that you will want to consider to make sure that they fit well, won’t cause you any discomfort, and can handle the mileage you need them to do. One of the most important parts of your sandal will be the sole. You want something that will be grippy and have some sort of lug — thought most will not be as aggressive as those found on a hiking boot.
There are also generally two types of soles — those that are super minimalist, zero drop and flat, and those that have a molded shape including an arch support. While personal preference will dictate what feels best, if you are accustomed to shoes with more support or are prone to overpronation, a molded option is probably a better choice.
The fit of the shoe is also crucial. Unlike running and hiking shoes, which should have a thumb’s width of room between your longest toe and the tip of the shoe, you’ll want your hiking sandals to fit much closer to the foot — only a quarter of an inch longer than your longest toe — so that you’re less likely to get the front of the shoe caught on something and trip. Also look for a highly adjustable sandal — your hiking sandals shouldn’t be flopping around on your feet, but instead should have a super snug, close fit. This will help keep them safe, and also comfortable as you hike.
How We Selected
To find the best hiking sandals among the many options on the market, we researched the most popular models available and considered price, design, durability, and comfort. We looked at both expert reviews and more than 22,000 customer ratings, written by people who’ve bought these models on sites like Amazon, to settle on the hiking sandals you’ll find below.
For more great hiking gear, check out our coverage of the best hiking poles and hiking boots!
Z / Cloud Sandals
Chacos are among the most popular hiking sandals on the market, and with good reason. They are durable, super supportive, and highly adjustable, ensuring you get a snug, reliable fit. They come in many different styles, but this one is a great place to start, especially if you haven’t tried hiking in a sandal before.
They do have a significant arch, so you may have to try a few sizes to make sure that the arch hits in the right spot. Once you find the correct fit however, these will last you year after year.
Original Universal Sandals
Hiking sandals can get expensive — particularly if you’re looking for something for light day hikes or mostly to wear back at the campsite. If you’re new to hiking in sandals and want something that can function just as easily as everyday footwear, these Tevas are a great choice.
They are slightly softer than most options on this list, and they’re comfortable right off the bat, too. They also have Velcro straps at the top of the foot and ankle that allow you to easily and quickly adjust the fit.
Best For Running and Hiking
Skinny Bear Winged Edition
When it comes to durable, minimalist sandals, you can’t get much better than Lunas. These are made with a zero drop Vibram sole, meaning wearing them doesn’t feel much different than walking on the ground — except for the necessary protection they provide from sharp rocks and twigs.
These sandals are also made with the intention that you can both run and hike in them, so they have a super close fit that feels almost like an extension of your feet. To get this feel, the shoes are adjustable in three places so they sit exactly where you need them to in order to prevent gapping and movement.
Cairn 3D Adventure Sandals
These Bedrock hiking sandals are another great choice that feel almost like you’re going barefoot. They are super lightweight and come pre-molded so you won’t have to worry about breaking them in. While this can make them ultra comfortable, it can also cause some issues if you don’t get the right size, so make sure that you’re sized properly when purchasing.
These have multiple adjustment points, but are easy to get on and off, thanks to the Velcro back. These are also going to have a bit of a looser fit than the Lunas above because of the bungee between the toes.
Best High Cushion
If the thought of hiking in bare feet seems a bit too out there, but you want something that’s light and springy on your feet, these Hokas could be a good option for you.
These hiking sandals have a supportive, high cushion base that hugs the heel and wraps up around the toes, preventing slippage or the stubbing of toes. It also covers most of the foot, but does have significant ventilation so you won’t feel like your feet are suffocating. Plus, it has a neoprene upper that’s both soft on the skin and dries quickly after being in water.
Best Toe Protection
Men’s Newport H2 Sandal
Another great toe-protective sandal, this Keen is on the stiffer side, so it’s ideal if Hoka’s hiking sandals are too soft for you, or you just prefer something closer to the ground. It comes in 19 different color options, ranging from muted neutrals and vibrant tie-dye, and the high traction rubber sole is also designed to hold up against long hikes on rough terrain. These are also great if you hit some water as you hike, as they drain faster and more easily than boots or sneakers.
Best for Everyday Wear
Sonora Women Oiled Leather
Outdoor enthusiasts love their Birks, but these classic sandals are more often associated with casual outdoor wear than hiking. However, Birkenstock recently came out with an outdoor collection that marries their traditional cork and leather shoes with a durable lug sole that’s made for taking on the outdoors.
While these shoes aren’t ideal for use in wet conditions, they are supportive, and the leather will stretch and form to your feet. They are best for light, dry hikes, or vacation days with a lot of walking.
If you want a more water-friendly option, Birkenstock also makes this pair, which is crafted from entirely synthetic materials.
Buy Similar Men’s
Now Recovery Slide
You probably don’t want to wear slides while you’re hiking, but these Hokas are a great recovery sandal. Not only are they super easy to spray off with a hose if you get them dirty, but they also have incredibly high cushion, so after a day of stubbed toes and rolled ankles, they feel like a dream. Unlike many slides, these also have significant arch support, so they are great for tired feet.
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