Looking to invest in a hiking sandal in 2021?
We’ve reviewed some top hiking sandal options in detail below, but just to give you an idea of what your options are, here’s a summary of our top picks!
Summary of The Best Hiking Sandals
While not providing quite as much stability as we would like, they are ludicrously comfortable, making them our pick as Best For Comfort
As you would expect from Teva, these are really well made all-rounders for a very keen price, making them our pick for Best Value
Even by the standards of hiking sandals, these are really lightweight and easily fold up into your luggage. Best Lightweight Sandals
If you want an open sandal but are looking to hit some more ruggesd terrain, these are our pick as Best Closed Toe Sandals
What Are the Best Sandals for Walking and Hiking?
We’ve put some great hike sandal brands out there through their paces, scaling peaks, crossing rivers, and dealing with our fair share of blisters to deliver an unbiased roundup of this year’s most promising picks!
Ready to give hike sandals a try? The sandals we reviewed cater to just about every budget and need.
Chaco Mega Z Sport– Best Hiking Sandals Overall
- Upper: Synthetic
- Adjustment Mechanism: Buckle
- Midsole: Polyurethane
- Anti-Microbial to prevent foot odor
- Podiatrist certified footbeds for excellent support
- High-performance sole for all-terrain hiking
Chaco is renowned for its rugged, outdoorsy sandal options, and the Chaco MEGA Z Cloud comes in as our best overall hiking sandal. With wide webbing and a soft footbed, these Chaco shoes cater to comfort on every level.
Stable enough to handle heavy packs, the Chaco Mega Zs also has a cushioned insole that doesn’t require a break-in period to deliver on the promise of comfort.
Thanks to the polyurethane midsole, these Chaco Mega sandals are much more durable and supportive than those manufactured with EVA.
Even though they might not be the most budget-friendly pick, or lightest, it ticks all the right boxes in terms of comfort, support, and durability.
- Exceptionally durable
- Provides great support and comfort
- All-terrain hiking sandals
- Might not be the best pick for individuals with flat foot arches
- Some might find the straps hard to adjust
Ecco Yucatan – Most Comfortable Hiking Sandals
- Upper: Leather
- Adjustment Mechanism: Hook-and-Loop Straps
- Midsole: Polyurethane
- 3-strap adjustability for the perfect fit
- Microfiber-covered EVA footbed for superior support
- Soft neoprene lining for optimal comfort
With a footbed made of EVA and covered with microfiber, the Ecco Yucatan comes in as our most comfortable pick.
These shoes sport three adjustable hook-and-loop Nubuck leather straps that work to conform to your foot shape making them the most comfortable sandals we tried.
The 2-mm lugs on these shoes grip well on dry and rocky terrain, although they don't offer quite as much support for heavier loads.
The leather used in the upper won’t dry as fast as synthetic webbing, so just keep that in mind if you like hiking in wet conditions.
Although the aesthetics on the Ecco Yucatan aren’t for everyone, they are soooo comfy, so it might be worth the tradeoff.
- Plush, contoured footbed
- Comfortable strap material
- Good traction
- Unique style that might not appeal to everyone
- The leather on the uppers won’t dry as fast as synthetic uppers
Teva Katavi 2 – Best Value Hiking Sandals
- Upper: Suede
- Adjustment Mechanism: Hook-and-Loop Straps
- Midsole: EVA
- Rugged Durabrasion (rights reserved) Rubber outsole provides great traction
- Hook-and-loop straps allow you to easily get the perfect fit
- EVA midsole provides arch support
The Teva Katavi 2 combines comfortable suede straps with a plush contoured footbed and durable rubber outsole in one lightweight package.
Its EVA midsole offers good comfort while its nylon shanks ups the stiffness factor.
We found the Teva's neoprene cushion on the heel keep the shoe in place, even in wet conditions, however, the sole didn't have the best grip in the wet.
So if you love hiking in wet conditions, these Teva shoes might not be the best pick for you, however, the rubber outsole on the Teva does provide a good grip on dry terrain.
So if you’re looking for a comfortable, lightweight, and versatile sandal that won’t break your budget, the Teva Katavi 2 is a great option.
The Teva Katavi 2 offers great value and is our best value pick.
- For their price, these sandals perform great
- Limited traction on wet terrain
- Not as stable and supportive as other hiking sandals
Xero Z Trail – Best Lightweight Hiking Sandals
- Upper: Polyester Webbing
- Adjustment Mechanism: Adjustable Strap
- Midsole: FeelLite(rights reserved) Rubber
- Adjustable Z-pattern for perfect tension across and over your foot and heel strap behind your heel
- Super lightweight
- “Zero-Drop" ensures your feet aren’t elevated and are anatomically correct
Xero Z Trail hiking sandals are thin, light, and flexible and great for those of you that follow the “barefoot” and zero-drop shoe movements.
In fact, the Xero Z Trail has such a minimalist design and weight that it offers just 10mm of shoe between your foot and the ground, bringing one as close as you’ll get to barefoot hiking.
The Xero Z is one of the most lightweight hiking sandals out there, so they’re ideal for hikers that don’t want to add any weight to their packs. They are flexible enough to be twisted into spirals, so you can cram them into almost any spot in your pack too.
Even though the adjustable hook-and-loop heel strap can become undone in wet conditions, the Z-Trails still offer good grip on wet terrain.
The idea of “Feeling the World” – which is what Xero is all about – might not be for everyone, but it is one of the leaders in the zero-drop footwear niche.
- Very lightweight
- Comfortable, thin footbed material
- Adjustable heel strap
- Not enough support for rugged terrain hiking
- Not the grippiest option
Keen Newport H2 – Best Closed Toe Hiking Sandals for Rugged Terrain
- Upper: Polyester
- Adjustment Mechanism: Straps
- Midsole: EVA
- Multi-directional lug pattern for superior traction
- Razor siping for improved ground traction
- Airiness of a sandal with the toe protection of a hiking shoe
The Keen Newport H2 comes in as our top pick for rugged terrain hiking where you’ll need to have your toes protected.
The molded insole is comfy and supportive while still feeling lightweight. They also provide great arch support.
With razor-siped soles, the Newport H2 sandals provide great traction and their washable webbing uppers are ready to provide your feet with the comfort and protection you need in dry conditions.
These shoes are water-savvy thanks to their rubber outsoles and hydrophobic EVA-foam footbeds.
There is just one drawback here, and that's the fact that the closed toe design makes it easier for pebbles to get stuck inside your shoes, but it’s a minor inconvenience when compared to all the great benefits these sandals bring to the table.
- Superior grip and traction
- Water-ready hiking sandals that perform well in-and-out of water
- Closed-toe design offers protection on rugged terrain
- Closed-toe design makes it easy for pebbles and sand to get stuck in your shoes
- As you can imagine they are heavier and bulkier than the others on this list
Bedrock Cairn Sandals – Superior Grip
- Upper: Polyester
- Adjustment Mechanism: Straps
- Midsole: EVA
- Zero-drop, low profile platforms
- Vibram soles for ultralight weight, ruggedness, and lasting grip
- Sole-hugger wings for stability and secure, non-slip fit
The Bedrock Cairn Sandals come in as the best grip hiking sandals thanks to the geometrically patterned footbed that provides noticeable skin traction.
Thanks to the unique Y-straps on these sandals, your toes are also kept secure,
The Cairn Adventure Sandals use nylon webbing as a toe post, followed by paracord straps between the first and second toes. They’re basically like flip-flops with heel straps, but just way better!
However, I have always found flip-flop designs like these to be really uncomfortable, but other people I know that have tried them, really like them for their stability and grip.
One friend, who shall remain nameless as he has very sweaty feet, cannot usually wear sandals as his feet simply slip off of the sole as he walked. With these, he had no problem and stole these from me as soon as he found out I did not like them!
The three-point adjustment system ensures that lateral slippage is minimal with these shoes. Although the XS Trek rubber outsole isn’t the grippiest in the Vibram lineup, these shoes do offer a great balance of traction and durability.
- Lightweight yet durable materials used for construction
- Secure fit thanks to the 3-part adjustment system
- Versatile design that provides great grip
- Between the toe design isn’t for everyone (I found it really uncomfortable!)
Why Do I Need Hiking Sandals?
Gone are the days where sandals were reserved for the beach and public showers.
Having your feet cramped in sweaty shoes all day isn’t the ideal situation for warm weather hiking, which is why giving a hiking sandal a go is definitely something worth considering.
We live in a day and age where standard flip-flops have been reengineered with beefier soles, secure webbing, and supreme arch support, making them just as comfy on the hiking trail as they are next to the pool – but which one is best for you?
Pros and Cons of Hiking Sandals
Hiker sandals are great for easier days on the trail since they allow your feet to breathe while also tending to your comfort needs.
They’re much more lightweight than hiking boots and eliminate the need for stripping off your shoes (or completing your hike in soggy hiking boots) when crossing a stream.
They won’t replace hiking shoes altogether, but they’re a great addition to your gear collection because they won’t weigh down your pack.
Just in case you’re not sold on the idea yet, here’s why hiking in a sandal is great
- Blisters won't be your biggest problem anymore – Boots can be as breathable as they want to be, they’ll always make your feet sweat. Sweaty feet and friction lead to blisters, which just equates to a miserable hike. A sandal ensures things are more breathable down there, and although the straps can be blister hotspots, it’s easy to take preventative measures with a sandal.
- Water crossing woes sorted – If you hike with sandals, you won’t have to take your shoes off before crossing a stream or river. You also won’t need to wait for your feet to dry before putting your shoes back on again either.
- Debris and pebbles aren’t a problem – even the tiniest of rocks in your walking shoes call for a pitstop just to get rid of a little nuisance. With a sandal, all you need is a proper foot shake (or a finger between your toes) to get rid of an annoyance in a flash.
Just like everything man-made, sandals also have their own set of drawbacks. Here’s why they might not always be the best option:
- The adjustable straps can be harsh on your feet – If you tend to hike in wet and sandy areas, you may have to deal with quite a few blisters. Sand or water can turn your sandal straps into sandpaper, causing real discomfort. Keeping a roll of athletic tape on hand is always a good idea to patch up any hotspots and prevent blisters from forming.
- Exposed toes – Freeing your toes is great, but having your tootsies exposed also poses a few hazards. The sun, thorns, the cold, loose rocks, and snakes are just a few of them.
- When a strap fails you, you’ve got a problem – Breaking a lace on one of your hiking shoes isn’t the end of the world. But with a sandal, you need all the adjustable straps to stay intact for optimal performance. Luckily, the best hiking sandals are made with extremely durable strap materials, but still, it’s a possibility.
How do I buy the best hiking sandals?
Hiking sandals are great for anyone looking to hit the trail without hiking boots. Depending on your favorite type of trails, some features might be more important to you than others.
Here’s a look at what to keep in mind before investing in a pair of sandals for hiking:
The midsole is the epicenter of a hiking sandal’s support. This is the layer between the outsole and the insole.
Midsoles are typically constructed of either ethylene vinyl acetate (EVA) or polyurethane (PU). EVA is generally lighter and softer but not as durable as polyurethane.
PU offers firmer support but might be less comfortable than EVA.
The upper is the part of the sandal that holds the top half of the sandal onto your foot. Uppers are typically made of sued/nubuck or synthetic materials.
Each has its own advantages and drawbacks.
Suede/nubuck is thinner than leather so they don’t dry quickly when they get wet.
Synthetic uppers are made of polyester, nylon, or microfiber and tend to be more lightweight. They also dry quicker than suede/nubuck, but they’re not as durable.
The outsole is the bottom layer of the shoe and is usually made of sticky rubber. For the best traction, you need deeper lugs (the knobs and shapes in the sole).
A note on lugs
Lugs come available in a variety of shapes, and these shapes help to determine traction.
Multi-directional patterns (V- or diamond-shaped) are great for uneven terrain.
Circular lugs are better suited for wet and muddy trails since they systematically disperse water and prevent hydroplaning.
You also want to check out the amount of space between the outsole’s lugs and treads, which determines how effective the sandals are at shedding dirt and mud.
The wider the spacing, the more effective the shed, but the less grip they give in the dry.
Your shoe's midsole is what basically determines the amount of stability it’ll offer during your hike.
In general, midsoles are made stiff to keep the wearer balanced but provide just the right amount of flex for maneuverability.
Midsoles that are embedded with steel or nylon shanks offer even better stability and underfoot support.
The expected lifespan of sandals is important to keep in mind. Sandals with EVA midsoles last as long as the average running shoe so they’ll need to be replaced every 3-6 months if heavily used.
Sandals with PU midsoles last much longer than EVA sandals, and if you maintain them well, they’ll easily last a year or more.
Most hiking sandals use either straps or buckle adjustment systems. There are usually three straps that secure your foot and heel to the shoe, but some have four straps for added security.
The way your hiking sandals fit can make or break your hiking experience.
Some sandals mold to your feet over time, offering a great way to get a custom fit.
You’ll need to keep in mind that your feet will swell in the heat and when they’re under stress, so you need enough leeway without your sandals becoming uncomfortable.
You definitely want a pair of waterproof or quick-drying hiking sandals if you plan on staying comfortable throughout your hike.
If your kicks stay wet for a long time, they’ll be useless and start rubbing you in all the wrong ways.
Before purchasing a pair of sandals, you need to think about where and how you’ll be using them.
If you mostly stick to flat and easy trails, open-toed sandals are perfect. But if you’re into rougher terrains, you’ll need something that offers more protection.
Every sandal will fit differently, but perhaps you have specific needs like an orthotic sole or extra arch support.
Brands like Keen are best suited for folks that have wider feet than most. Brands like Ecco, on the other hand, tend to run on the narrow side, so they generally don’t work for people with wide feet.
If you need orthotic soles or you have very high arches, you need to be specific about fit and comfort when choosing sandals for hiking.
How Do I Get Started with Hiking Sandals?
Hiking sandals have a lot of advantages when compared with traditional hiking shoes and boots.
Water crossings are effortless when you’re wearing sandals and getting rid of pebbles in your shoes is something you won’t battle with like you would with boots.
You’re also less likely to get blisters and 110% more likely to score some awesome tan lines!
Here’s how to get started with sandals if you’ve never hiked with them before
- Break them in – Most hiking sandals have a break-in period. Don’t skip it or you’ll end up regretting it. Wear your sandals around the house (or town) for a couple of days before tackling the trail with them.
- Don’t go all out right away – It’s better to start out with shorter hikes to get used t hiking with sandals. You need to keep in mind that hiking in sandals is a world apart from hiking with boots.
- Protect your feet from blisters – Taking a roll of tape with you on the trail is the best way to avoid hotspots from forming. If you’re hiking with sandals, tape is a pack essential.
Are Sandals Good for Any Type of Hike?
Hiking in minimalist shoes like sandals is a great way to lighten your gear when hitting the trail. It also gives you a sense of freedom compared to wearing bulky boots.
But are sandals good for any kind of hiking?
In short: Not always
Hiking sandals CAN be great for hiking IF they were made for the terrain and kind of hiking you plan on doing.
The terrain you’re tackling shouldn’t be too rugged, and obviously, the kind of weather you’re hiking in will affect just how suitable your kicks are for hiking.
Some hiking sandals provide exceptional traction, even in wet and muddy conditions, but you simply can’t expect to conquer miles up rugged uphill terrain geared with nothing but sandals.
There’s a time and place for everything. Summer hikes on terrain that isn’t too much of a challenge are ideal for sandals, but the winter months and mountainous trails… sometimes it’s better not to push your luck.
If you’ve never tried hiking in sandals before, you’ve been missing out on heaps of freedom and fun. This post should have paved the way to help you decide which kind of hiking sandals will suit your needs best.
We recommend the Chaco for most goals and purposes since Chaco is comfortable, supportive, reliable and durable. So if you’re looking for a great all-round hiking sandal, the Chaco Z Sport is a great starting point.
Hikers that need optimal comfort levels are better off with something like the Ecco Yucatan while those on a budget may find that the Teva Katavi provides the best bang for their buck.
The Xero Z Trail sandals are probably your best bet if you don’t have an ounce to spare in your pack and the Keen Newport H2 offer the best toe protection on rugged terrains.
If you need a sandal that fits snugly and won’t fail in terms of grip, the Bedrock Cairn Sandals are a great option.
We’ve tried all of these sandals and are pretty confident that they cater to every budget, need, and sense of adventure. All you have to do now is to pick one, kick out those sweaty boots, and start experiencing hiking on a whole new level!
- 1 Summary of The Best Hiking Sandals
- 2 What Are the Best Sandals for Walking and Hiking?
- 3 Chaco Mega Z Sport– Best Hiking Sandals Overall
- 4 Ecco Yucatan – Most Comfortable Hiking Sandals
- 5 Teva Katavi 2 – Best Value Hiking Sandals
- 6 Xero Z Trail – Best Lightweight Hiking Sandals
- 7 Keen Newport H2 – Best Closed Toe Hiking Sandals for Rugged Terrain
- 8 Bedrock Cairn Sandals – Superior Grip
- 9 Why Do I Need Hiking Sandals?
- 10 Pros and Cons of Hiking Sandals
- 11 How do I buy the best hiking sandals?
- 12 How Do I Get Started with Hiking Sandals?
- 13 Are Sandals Good for Any Type of Hike?
- 14 Final Thoughts