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Before you embark on your next hike, think carefully about your footwear. You probably have a favorite pair of reliable hiking boots that keep your feet comfortable and supported on casual camping trips, summit pushes and thru-hikes. But what about hiking sandals? A new pair of shoes could revolutionize the way you experience a trail.
Many people are skeptical of wearing sandals while hiking — open-toed shoes on rough terrain? However, this style is popular among hikers in certain climates and trails. Learn more about the best times to wear hiking sandals and check out our recommendations for the best options on the market.
When Can You Wear Hiking Sandals?
You might think sandals are just for the beach or summers in the city. Think again! Hiking sandals are versatile footwear that offer the strength and flexibility you need on almost every trail. Explore the additional benefits of these shoes:
- Support: Hiking sandals aren’t your typical flip-flops or slides. They’re designed and manufactured with the support you need for serious hiking, even on hills and in rivers.
- Cool and breezy: One of the most uncomfortable parts of hiking in warm weather can be hot and sweaty feet in your hefty boots. Sandals are open, allowing the breeze to cool you off as you walk.
- Adjustable: Have you ever had a pebble stuck in your shoe? When you’re wearing hiking boots, it’s a big hassle to unlace them, take them off, remove your socks, and put it all back together. But with hiking sandals, you can easily adjust the straps to remove any small rocks or twigs that end up in your shoes.
- Lightweight: Hiking sandals are a lightweight alternative to heavy hiking boots. Enjoy lighter steps, especially when you’re navigating more challenging terrain.
- Water resistance: Hiking in wet boots and socks is no fun — and can lead to blisters and other health hazards. Hiking sandals are water resistant, allowing you to cross streams and enjoy river hiking without suffering the consequences of soggy shoes.
- Less friction: With fewer points of contact with your foot, you’re less likely to develop blisters from the friction with your sandals.
Hiking sandals are excellent for all-terrain adventures, especially in the summer months or warmer climates. They keep your feet supported without feeling constrictive or limiting your movement. Plus, sandals are versatile enough to wear at any time — no need to switch out of your hiking shoes if you’re backpacking through town or want to visit a restaurant for a post-hike meal.
However, there are times when you should stick to boots or trail runners when you’re on the move. For example, cold weather and extremely rocky terrain demand full foot protection. Hiking sandals often have less traction, and they certainly don’t provide the ankle support that sturdy boots do. You should opt for your favorite books if you’re tackling a particularly steep or difficult summit.
If you’re prone to sunburns, wear full-coverage trail shoes — or be sure to apply sunscreen regularly.
8 Best Hiking Sandals for Your Next Adventure
Now that you know when and where to wear sandals to enjoy a more comfortable hike, it’s time to find the right pair for you. Check out our recommendations of eight of the best hiking sandals for your next day on the trails.
1. Chaco Men’s Z/2 Classics
Chaco’s Z/2 is part of their Classic series for a reason — it offers everything you need in a hiking sandal so you can focus on the journey. The adjustable polyester straps provide a comfortable and secure fit while a rubber sole is built to support your feet. The toe loop offers even greater control wherever you go.
2. Teva Omnium 2
If you want the comfort and ease of a sport sandal but aren’t ready to make the jump to open-toed shoes, check out the Teva Omnium 2. These hybrid sandals from one of the leading active footwear brands are slip-resistant and quick-drying, so you can move from land to water with ease.
3. ECCO Men’s Yucatan
Enjoy these lightweight hiking sandals on and off the trail. ECCO’s Yucatan sandals are made of durable nubuck leather and neoprene lining. The footbed is designed with Receptor® technology to provide superior stability no matter where you stand. You’ll enjoy soft cushioning combined with performance.
4. KEEN Newport 2
KEEN’s Newport 2s are another hybrid option that offers toe protection while granting you the quick-drying, open-air benefits of sport sandals. The bungee straps make them easy to put on and take off at any time. Plus, they’re versatile — the grippy soles give you traction on the trail but won’t scuff up floors or patios.
5. Kamik Men’s Syros
The closed-toed counterpart to Kamik’s open-toed Milos, these sandals are a no-nonsense option when you’re looking for an everyday shoe you can also wear on the trail. Made of synthetic leather with quick-drying technology and a single bungee lacing system, you can take Kamik Syros around the block or up the trail.
6. HOKA Hopara
Designed in the same style as HOKA’s famous cushioned running shoes, the Hopara is a unique mountain sandal. It has strategic cut-outs for ventilation and drainage while providing the structure and support of a sneaker. You’ll get a serious grip on all terrains so you can explore as far and wide as you’d like.
7. Bedrock Cairn Adventure
If minimalism is your style, take a look at the Bedrock Cairn Adventure. These sandals are lightweight, providing a thin yet rugged Vibram soul to ensure you stay connected with the earth. It’s just enough to keep your feet protected while granting full movement and flexibility.
8. Xero Shoes Z-Trail EV
Another minimalist shoe, Xero’s Z-Trail EV sandals consist of the bare essentials — a comfortable 11mm sole with just enough recycled nylon strapping to keep them on your feet. Move naturally on land or through streams with these affordable and stylish barefoot hiking shoes.
Find the Best Hiking Sandals for All Terrains
Determine what’s most important to you before buying hiking sandals — are you looking for comfort while hiking along rivers or enough support to tackle rougher climbs? Do you value lightweight shoes or is traction your priority? Consider all the options to find the perfect fit and get ready for your next adventure.