Best Hiking Sandals (Buying Guide)
In one of Ella Fitzgerald’s iconic tunes, she opens the Porgy and Bess number with the line, “Summertime, and the living is easy.” Well sure, it’s easy if you’re able to escape the heat, stay cool and acclimated to the sweltering weather around you! For example, let’s say you and your friends are headed to the local watering hole to cool off at the nearby nature spot. Of course, we all know that the best spots are naturally farther away and more off-trail than your running shoes can provide you, so you open your closet and see what outdoors footwear you can choose. Unfortunately, your hiking boots aren’t really suitable; too hot, too clunky. So you keep searching and digging into the realms of your closet, but you can’t find anything that fits the description. Ideally, you have something that wears like hiking shoes but with the breathability of a sandal. Maybe something like a pair of water shoes, but with more durability and protection.
Naturally, the best option for the warmest months of the year is a pair of hiking sandals. Combining the comfort of sandals with strong ankle support and balance, you’ll be able to pass along miles while staying cool under the summer sun. It’s a really practical provision when hitting the trails in the warmer months. And In this emerging field, there are loads of great options, which can overwhelm anyone new to the market. So we’ve taken the time to identify the strengths and advantages of the top options available, ensuring you won’t be stuck with a subpar pair that gives you blisters and breakdown. So without further adieu, let’s start identifying some of the premier hiking sandals around.
Best Hiking Sandals – Overview
1. Chaco Z/2
- Polyester jacquard webbing upper wraps around the foot and through the midsole along with a toe loop for a secure fit for a customized fit
The Chaco brand is known for its minimal aesthetic and the harmonious marriage of form meeting function. The simple streamlined design has made them a fan-favorite among the stylish hiker and urbane outdoorsy community since they were first released in 1989. While still capable of withstanding a variety of outdoorsmen conditions, including class 5 whitewater rafting, they still manage to come in a variety of colors and patterns to suit all styles. This could explain why they’re a top pick with the urbane alternative hipster crowd (both in the men’s and women’s market), who sip lattes in hiking sandals between yoga classes and kombucha launches.
But while the Chaco Z/2 not only provides several options for all styles and aesthetic preferences, but the company gives you more harmonious ethical considerations as well. When the rubber base is worn down, you can just send them in for repair, saving yourself some money and protecting the environment a bit more than tossing them outside and buying a second pair. Also, the synthetic materials used to create the shoe means the product is certified vegan, and one of the most eco-friendly options on the market.
And now onto the sandals nitty-gritty breakdown. The uppers are a collection of quick-drying adjustable straps that encases the foot and holds the midsole tightly for an individually customized fit. Moving downwards, the loops are secured through their injection-folded ladder lock buckle, so you won’t have to continue tampering with them once on the trails and moving around. We especially appreciate the top-loop as it provides additional forefront control and ankle stability. The LUVSEAT insole they have ingeniously crafted offers stable podiatrist-certified arch support, so you don’t have to worry about injuring yourself and can instead stay on your feet all day long.
And as we mentioned earlier, both the midsole and footbed are made of a durable polyurethane that ensures this sandal is built to last. And it will continue to grip along slippery rock and granite, thanks to the Chacogrip rubber outsole, which is comprised of a 3.5-millimeter lug for all-day traction. Standard to most footwear suppliers, these sizes range from US men’s 7 to 15.
- Beautifully and simply designed
- Eco-friendly with lasting durability
- Not as much ankle support as competitors
- A bit expensive
2. Ecco Yucatan
- Crafted from premium, soft nubuck leather upper with 3 point adjustability for a soft, comfortable fit
The Ecco Yucatan is a great option for considerable ankle and foot support and protection. When handling this sandal, it’s evident that the microfiber midsole has been developed from a super durable polyurethane midsole. Basically the Yucatan can offer incredible stability and support for its users while staying lightweight and efficient. In fact, the sandal has a seal of acceptance from the American Podiatric Medical Association, so you’re in good hands, and your feet in good care, when you strap these guys in.
Speaking of the strap, the adjustable 3-point hook-and-loop straps keep you locked in and comfortable all day for the best possible market comfort. The rubber sole wicks moisture away from your feet, so you can stay stepping safely and keep your feet dry. And smell-free as well, considering the anti-microbial application on the rubber, expelling potential foot odor away so as to never encroach on your personal space.
The open-toe design comes with a strong Nubuck leather upper material and at a manageable 1 pound 9-ounce product, you won’t be weighed down as you’re pouncing past slipper rocks on the running streams. And the tough hard rubber outsole means you’ll be able to grip the terrain encountered as well, whether the weather is wet or dry, hot or cold. No one wants to slip and lose their balance on the way to the water!
Now back to the material. Sure the bottom-rubber grip and anti-door features are great, we want to reiterate the midsoles’ importance, specifically their direct-injected polyurethane material featuring the brand’s featured RECEPTOR technology. Using an eco-skeletal wraparound shank, flex channels and propulsion plates, the sandal is able to mimic your barefoot stepping motion, reducing muscle fatigue and maximizing stability and support. Basically you’re able to move in an effortless, natural way, and can keep moving without worry for any all-day excursion. If you love them enough, know that you can fit the whole family in these sandals as they run from size 6 to 16.5.
- Podiatrist-backed stability
- Anti-Door technology
- Classic design
- The price tag is a bit high
- The leather top may inhibit the ethical consumer
3. Keen Newport H2
- Metatomical EVA footbed, Multi directional lug pattern for increased traction
The Keen Newport H2 are great closed-toe sandals that provide the full arch-support and comfort of a standard sneaker with the durability and breathability of a sandal. Specifically, this model was designed for water sports and moving through rocky terrain, when the last thing you want to do is stub a toe on the way to the river’s far bank. The sandal’s polyester webbing means your shoe will repel moisture due to the thoughtfully designed hydrophobic foam which enwraps your feet. Plus, to better grip, the slippery surfaces you may be passing through the soles of the shoes have these knife-cut lugs that can help you hold onto the terrain. In addition, the non-marking carbon-rubber outsole means the grime and dirt easily come off and stay off. It’s always nice when your feet can stay clean despite the elements. And not only will they be clean, but safe as well, thanks to the rubber toe cap along the sandal’s front rim.
While we have highlighted the sandal’s extraordinary durability and waterproof systems, we cannot forget to mention that the H2 also offers great midsole arch support. Built standard into the rubber base is an EVA foam cushioning and a patented Clarino Sedia antimicrobial coating, so your feet stay fresh and keep the stink off your shoe’s soles.
To ensure you can have a pair to match any outfit or shoe size, you can buy the Newport H2 in 23 colors and 11 shoe sizes, from US men’s 7 to 17. But we should let you know that the Keen sandals tend to run a bit small, about half a size (as they’re normally not worn with socks), so if you’re on the cusp of two different sizes, we recommend moving upwards on this one. Don’t say we didn’t warn you!
Essentially, the Keen Newport H2 sandals are great for hikers who really need the form to meet function, specifically in damp and wet areas. Whether hiking through creeks, lagoons, a deep downtown puddle or the ocean’s edge, you can always rely on the H2 for durability and traction on wet surfaces.
- Designed specifically for water sports in mind
- Rubber toe cap to protect your feet
- EVA footbed and Clarino Sedia coating to keep away doors
- Lots of padding and protections mean the sandal is less breathable
- Not the most aesthetically beautiful sandal on the market
4. Teva Terra Fi 5
- An upper of quick-dry earthfriendly unifi reprieve recycled polyester webbing supports your foot and stands up to abuse
These Teva hiking sandals are a classic pair of sandals and for a reason. Long considered one of the best hiking sandals on the market, they provide far more stability than your friends slip on flip flops or other flimsy competitors. The midsole is made from a lightweight polyurethane material that can handle any terrain, from slick sand to bedrock. The adjustable lightweight velcro straps tuck you in safely, and we really appreciate the option of a customizable heel strap. For their simplicity, it really offers a comfy compatriot on the trails, whether trekking through the Appalachian mountains for a day or just going for a walk with your dog to the river crossings.
To throw it all out there, know that these guys are easily washable and the rubber provides strong shock absorption as well, meaning your feet won’t get tired on the uneven terrain. At one pound and 10 ounces, they’re one of the more ultralight options available and the more economical choices.
- Heel cup comfort
- A reliable brand that is known for durability
- Good price point
- Only comes in two colors
- Limited toe protection
5. Merrell Men’s All Out Blaze Sieve Convertible Water Sandals
- Sporty sandal featuring waterproof leather upper with adjustable hook-and-loop straps at vamp, ankle, and counter
When I look at this pair of Merrell’s, I think it’s your dad’s old-school style sandal with new-school technological advancements inside. The company considers them a ‘hydro-hiker’, making it that perfect balance of a water-friendly hiking sandal that we’re looking to pinpoint. The upper materials are made from a polyurethane-coated and waterproof leather, alongside adjustable Velcro straps that ride across your foot’s bridge and toes. The hook and loop heel strap allows the hiker to slide in the footwear effortless and then adjust accordingly.
The technological innovation doesn’t stop there; check out the lycra neoprene stretch collar on the upper portion. This neoprene material is used in wetsuits, helpful in avoiding rashes that can arise from wet and damp straps. The last thing you want is discomfort on the terrain, and it’s evident that a lot of considerations were met in this product. Plus, this flexibility allows you to pull the sandals off and on effortlessly, and then you can use the bungee lacing system to tighten them to be fit your feet.
The hiking portion of these sleek hybrids comes from the Vibram rubber outsole that grips well, due to the three-millimeter lug pattern below. And it’s obvious that they’ve designed this product with great intent, as each lug has been hollowed out to balance weight distribution on your feet. With so many considerations on the sandals interior, it’s amazing that they also include a variety of options on the shows exterior design. With sizes from 6.5 to 15 and with colors including dark slate and a light brown, there’s lots of range with these Merrells.
- Lightweight, with a sleek design
- Great grip on the tails
- No toe loop or toe strap to maximize stability
- The open design leaves foot open to vulnerabilities
6. Xero Shoes Z-Trail
- Up to 76% lighter and thinner than other sport sandals, but with all the protection and comfort you want and need. Xero Shoes come with our 5,000 mile warranty.
If the last thing you want to be is to be weighed down with burdensome sandals slogging you down, the first thing you need to do is look at the Z-trail sandals from Xero. At 11 ounces these suckers are light as a feather and as steady as the summer sun. The company warranty covers these guys for up to 5,000 miles, so you can just about walk from the Carolinas to California and back on one pair’s protection. And with a 100% synthetic development, they’re a great fit for a vegan’s wallet and his conscious considerations as well.
But you should know that just because these are lightweight does not mean they’re flimsy. Plenty of consideration went into this product and its development to provide great support for the wearer. For example, the heel cup forms to your foot and keeps debris away from your feet like gunk, grime, and mud. Plus the Z-style sandal shape ensures they will grip your foot accordingly, never slipping or rolling out like with some older designed styles. While not the best protection out of all the options we’ve analyzed, we’d recommend these ones any basic water sports like kayaking or water wading.
Essentially, they’re a perfect minimal style sandal that will allow you to splash around with some protection below your ankles and some style to boot. Tack on the fact that these guys float as well, and you’ll never have to worry about losing them sinking down to the river’s flowing floor. And with such a lightweight design, you could stash them as you go, either when driving past a running river you want to dive into, or when backpacking across the Appalachian mountains, ensuring you always summer-ready.
- The lightest sandal available
- Great design and universal appeal
- 5,000-mile warranty
- No closed-toe protection
- Limited ankle support
It’s tough to select a single top pick when considering the best hiking sandals available. It simply depends on what you’re looking for in your hiking sandal. If you want to look stylish on your way to the local riverwalk and don’t demand much treacherous terrain beyond that, well then look no further than the Chaco Z/2 or the Xero Shoes Z-Trail. They’re both beautiful sandals that offer great protection at a favorable price point. If you prefer something equipped to protect your feet and keep you moving in really all-terrain environments and across altitude climbs, then I would have to lead towards the ECCO Yucatan.
Whatever sandal you’re considering, just remember that as long as you are getting out and enjoying the outdoors regardless of the harsh summer sun, you’ve made a great choice. And be careful, as you just might find the hiking sandal creeping into your personal catalog from occasional summer hike fare into a daily attitude. Their simple design and effortless use make them a fantastic year-round option in southern climates, or wherever the sun hangs low for what seems like ages and the perspiration always lingers.