A sturdy pair of hiking boots is necessary for all serious hikers, but sandals are the perfect solution when temperatures soar and your feet start to sweat in the summer months. Plus, in hot weather, nothing beats a dip in a cold stream, and a pair of quick-drying sandals provide protection and traction on slippery rocks.
The real trick with sandals is finding a pair that is well made and durable enough to withstand hikes and water sports. I’ve been through six pairs of flip flops in one summer in the past – that’s not the right way. A few years ago, I invested in a pair of real “dad sandals” and I’ve been convinced ever since. The sandals I’ve collected on this list are tough enough to handle a hike and give you the support you need while carrying a fully loaded backpack.
Even around camp, it’s nice to have a pair of sandals you can put on quickly. Think how annoying it is to tie up your hiking boots in the middle of the night when nature is calling. With a pair of sandals, you can simply strap in, go, and go right back into your comfy sleeping bag.
Things to consider
First of all, it is important to find sandals that comfortable and provides good support. Hiking can be hard on the feet, so sandals that chafe or don’t provide enough arch support can quickly become sore.
Second, look for sandals with good traction. They should have a sturdy sole with deep treads to prevent slipping on wet and slippery surfaces. Finally, consider how easy the sandals are to put on and take off. When you’re on the trail, the last thing you want is to waste time fumbling with sandals that are difficult to put on or adjust.
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My pair of Teva Hurricane XLT2 have never failed me. With these sandals, you can cross a stream or weave through winding trails in comfort and style. EVA foam midsoles and a padded neoprene heel provide support for your feet, while the Durabrasion rubber outsole acts as a sturdy foundation that provides traction both in and out of the water. Three adjustable straps make it easy to find the perfect fit and keep your feet from slipping, and the straps are made from a quick-drying polyester and nylon blend. Teva offers these sandals in multiple colors and designs, and for under $100, they’re an absolute steal.
A pair of Bedrock Sandals Cairn Adventures has the minimalist V design of a flip-flop, but offers something much more rugged. These lightweight sandals will surprise you with their ability to withstand. The durable Vibram XS Trek outsole provides support and protection, while Bedrock’s exclusive strapping system locks your feet in place. Because they’re so compact and lightweight, they can easily slip into a loaded hiking bag – super handy for long backpacking trips.
The Chaco Z/Clouds are some of the most comfortable sandals I have worn. As the name suggests, these sandals feel like you’re walking on a cloud, and I especially liked the added arch support. The contoured arch and cushioned insole are responsible for all-day comfort, and three quick-drying webbing straps allow for an easily adjustable fit. The outsole is made from a stiff and heavy ChacoGrip rubber, while the softer midsole molds to your foot. The Z/Clouds are available in several stylish styles and you can wear them around town if you need to.
Keen’s Newport H2 sandals are designed for backpackers who can’t stand themselves out of the water. My Keen Newports have been my go-to shoes for kayaking and beach camping for many years, but be warned, these sandals are functional, not fashionable. The closed-toe design and 10-point straps protect your feet from sharp rocks, roots, and thorns, but sacrifice every style point. The sandals are made from a polyester material that dries quickly when wet, and the elastic laces make it easy to put on and take off the sandals. Be careful with the fit on these, as they run half a size smaller than the others!
Teva’s Terra Fi 5 sandals were designed for hiking and their features prove it. The velcro straps can be easily adjusted for the perfect fit and are made with Repreve polyester which uses recycled plastic from water bottles. The straps are also lined with a softer fabric on the inside to prevent chafing and painful blisters. The molded polyurethane midsole is comfortable and features a small notch in the back to hold your heel in place, while the grippy outsole is made of a durable rubber that will protect you from punctures and sharp objects.
ECCO’s Yucatan sandal is a more expensive option, but the comfortable microfiber-lined EVA insole and high-quality materials make up for that. These sandals provide all-day comfort and stay sturdy and stable on the trails. The rubber outsole features a deep tread pattern that provides all the traction you need to power through a hike, and the rubber is firm and durable enough to take a beating. The best part about these sandals is that the lined insole doesn’t get slippery when wet, perfect for stream crossings and summer adventures.
The KEEN Targhee III open toe sandals are built with the same durable construction that the Targhee III hiking boots are known for, making them excellent for the trails. Comfortable yet sturdy, these sandals feature a lightweight leather upper and KEEN All-Terrain non-marking rubber outsole. The textured insole may irritate your feet at first, but it provides great support and prevents your feet from slipping when wet. The three-point Velcro straps are easy to adjust, and the foam midsole is lightweight but still supportive. KEEN is known for their durable shoes and hundreds of online reviews suggest these sandals will stand the test of time. A word of warning – these are the definition of ‘dad sandals’ and they might give you the sudden urge to break a cold one and have a barbecue.
Hoka’s Hopara sandal is sporty, versatile and performs on the beach and on the trails. The synthetic upper with drainage cutouts ensures your feet stay dry, while the neoprene collar provides flexibility and comfort. The rubberized EVA midsole provides support and cushioning, and the 4mm lugs on the outsole provide excellent traction. The sporty design is inspired by Hoka running shoes, which are known for their comfort, and the firm sole with a large toe cap prevents chafing and blisters. Although an expensive option, the Hoka Hopara sandal is well worth the investment.
The Strata Universal features a thicker sole and simpler design than the Terra Fi 5 or Hurricane XLT2. Teva is the undeniable juggernaut in the sandal world, and this list wouldn’t be complete without this sandal. The Vibram Megagrip outsole is constructed with micro-traction lugs that provide incredible traction and stability. The supportive midsole is made from the same lightweight EVA foam found in the Terra Fi 5, and the straps are doubled to minimize the risk of blisters. These sandals are unfortunately less available than the XLT2 or Terra Fi 5, but are ideal for trekkers looking for a functional and comfortable sandal.
The Z-Trail EV sandals from Xero are among the lightest hiking sandals on the market, weighing just 5.4 ounces. The ultra-thin 10mm sole manages to provide cushioning and protection against rocks and other debris thanks to a foam footbed and lug outsole. One downside to the Z-Trail EV’s minimalist design is that there isn’t much between your foot and the ground, so you can feel rocks and other objects even if they can’t. penetrate the sole. Also, the lack of padding and straps may make it less comfortable for longer rides. These are best for short getaways or to wear around camp.