So, it’s time to head out and hit the trail. You’ve got your backpack, your tent and… your sandals?
Yeah, hiking sandals are definitely a thing and you’re missing out if you’re leaving them behind.
Not only are they wonderful for stretching achy feet after a long day of hiking, you can even hike in them!
I love to hike in my sandals and I’ve even gone out for long backpacking trips with a pair of sandals on my feet.
What qualities are important for choosing a hiking sandal? We’re going to walk you through the process of picking the best hiking sandals.
Quick Answer: The 10 Best Hiking Sandals For 2018
- KEEN- Women’s Whisper Hiking Sandal
- Merrell Women’s All Out Blaze Sieve Water Shoe
- KEEN Women’s Newport H2 Hiking Sandal
- Teva Women’s Verra Sandal
- Dream Pairs Women’s Adventurous Outdoor Sandal
- Merrell Men’s All Out Blaze Sieve Water Shoe
- Teva Men’s Katavi Hiking Sandal
- Teva Men’s Hurricane Sandal
- KEEN Men’s Newport H2 Hiking Sandal
- VENSHINE Mens Sports Summer Hiking Sandal
Best Hiking Sandals
Best Women’s Hiking Sandals
Perhaps the lightest weight sandal from KEEN in the women’s lineup, the Whisper is reminiscent of both the Blaze and Newport sandals.
It’s even more open in design than the other sandals we’ve reviewed which makes it lightweight and airy. However, it also opens the foot to the dangers of injury on sticks or rocks on the trail.
A full toe cap like all of the KEEN sandals helps to protect from toe injury. On the bottom of the sandal the tread pattern is less aggressive than the Keen Newport.
That makes the Whisper sandal a lightweight option that would be good for well-maintained trails and shorter hikes. Overall a great option for ladies walking sandals when camping with the family or a mix of hiking and recreation based activities.
Best For: Lightweight camp shoes.
This hiking sandal sits more on the side of a trail runner shoe. It’s designed with an open framework for a lightweight, airy feel that’s great in the water.
Since the shoe is open, water can drain easily but rocks and sticks are kept out when hiking. A full toe cap like all of the KEEN sandals helps to protect from toe injury.
This Merrell trekking sandal is quickly adjustable to any foot shape with an elastic draw cord. Neoprene material makes up the majority of the upper.
Underneath, the sandal is rocking a Vibram sole with aggressive tread, the Merrell Blaze’s have my vote for the best hiking sandals for women.
Best For: Technical hikers.
I owned the men’s version of this exact sandal and hiking for several years with them. A perfect shoe for summer use from hiking to boating and enjoying the sunshine.
I like the open design and elastic drawstring. Unlike the Blaze sandal, the Newport is a bit more open. Beware the errant stick and bug bites on the feet!
Underneath the sandal has a slightly less aggressive tread pattern than the Blaze. That means it might be more at home for hiking gentle trails as well as back and forth from the canoe launch.
Overall, it’s a good camping sandal choice for summer lovers!
Best For: Watersports lovers.
Teva is a universal name in hiking sandals. Their Verra model is a classic Velcro laced sandal with minimal foot protection. It’s built on a lightweight sandal sole with moderate tread.
The sandal would be a good choice for moderate to light hiking and mud conditions.
Overall, I think Verra’s are a good choice for an outdoor sandal after hiking. It’s lightweight and compressible with a minimalist frame that will easily disappear into a backpack.
Thanks to the Velcro design it’s also going to be a good fit for any unique foot shape. The open design is guaranteed to feel good after a long day of wearing hiking boots!
Best For: Minimalist design and packability.
Taking more than one page out of KEEN’s hiking sandal playbook, these are an inexpensive alternative. If you’re on a budget and looking for a hiking sandal this might be your pick!
I like that they kept the rubber toe cap. If you’ve done much hiking you know that stubbing your toes on rocks and roots is a regular occurrence.
One added feature is the Velcro adjustable heel strap. This helps adjust the total amount of space in the sandal for a good fit.
The tread of this backpacking sandal is pretty light so don’t expect it to cut through nasty trails and muck!
Best For: Hikers on a budget.
Best Men’s Hiking Sandals
With an aggressive Vibram sole this sandal is ready to hit the hardest trails. Fully enclosed toe design and a rubber toe cap make it a good choice for more technical hikers.
It’s quite similar to the majority of Merrell’s sandals with an elastic quick lace system that’s adjustable to most any foot shape. I think this is a great system for the vast majority of hikers.
I like that the sandal is offered in a handful of colors to help wearers customize their kicks. Overall the Merrell Blaze’s are the best hiking sandals for Men, especially for hikers looking for something between sandal and shoe.
Best For: Hikers also into paddling and watersports.
Teva brings in another Velcro sandal with suede and mesh uppers. This is an open toe design much like the Verra women’s sandal. Two Velcro straps across the upper foot and one across the heel provide all the adjustment.
One thing that sets this sandal apart is the extremely rugged tread. Large lugs and an overall aggressive design across the entire sandal make it a good choice for more technical hiking.
However, due to the open toe, it may not be advisable to push this sandal into harder hiking trails. There’s nothing worse than getting tripped by a stick and having a foot injury.
Best For: An aggressive camp sandal.
These may be one of the simplest sandal designs on our list today. With moderate tread, they’re a good choice for just about any recreational or casual hiking.
Aesthetically they leave something to be desired when compared to more lavish models of the KEEN sandals. However, their lightweight and compact design make them a standout choice for camp shoes.
With a simple Velcro design, there’s not much to go wrong. Simply adjust the sandal and enjoy. I would recommend these as a good men’s choice for camp sandals.
They are fully open toe sandals so beware of income sticks, rocks, and debris.
Best For: All around summer use.
Maybe the total opposite end of the spectrum from the Teva Hurricane sandals, these KEENS are robust. A generous rubber toe cap fully encapsulates the front of your foot for protection from sticks and debris.
Never underestimate the crippling effects of a foot injury on the trail. Using an enclosed toe sandal can help prevent that.
They’re available in many colors and wildly popular as a hiking / paddling hybrid. I personally owned this hiking sandal for years.
I found the tread to be a good happy medium between casual and technical for all around summer use and a good choice for a pair of trekking sandals.
Best For: Hiking and paddling together.
With an elastic lacing system and leather uppers they’re quite a nice build quality. I do enjoy the Velcro adjustable heel which provides a bit more customization compared to other similar models.
Some users worry about ever so slightly lower build quality compared to KEEN sandals but I wouldn’t worry. It really comes down to which you prefer: lower price, or peace of mind? I would say the Venshine’s are the best budget hiking sandals for Men.
How to Choose the Best Hiking Sandals
Type of Hiking
You first need to consider if sandals are right for the hiking you plan on doing. If you plan on carrying a heavy pack, I would advise against sandals, they just don’t provide the support and cushioning that a good shoe or boot will give you.
Hiking sandals come in just about every style you can imagine. Weight, however, remains a pertinent factor since you’ll have to wear or carry them on your hiking trip. Anything that goes into the woods with you should be as lightweight as possible.
There’s a popular saying that one pound on the feet is equivalent to five pounds on your back. As it turns out, it’s actually true that any extra weight on your feet is much more tiring than extra weight on your back.
When it comes to hiking sandals, there are three main types you might consider.
Thongs or Flip-Flops
These lightweight minimalist sandals are everyone’s favorite summer footwear. Do they really belong on the trail, though? I think they have their place.
Flip-flops can be ridiculously lightweight. Look for those foam and rubber ones at the dollar store. They weigh a couple ounces and give you an ultralight sandal for wearing around camp.
Not recommended for hiking in.
Velcro sandals definitely feel like it’s 1995 all over again. Velcro is not only one of the most useful inventions in history, it also makes some good sandals.
Velcro sandals are a close second to webbing sandals. Many will find that Velcro sandals are even better for security and fitment. Choose a Velcro based sandal if you’re looking for the most secure and enveloping fit.
I first found webbing based sandals from a company called Chaco. They’re made with adjustable flat straps of webbing in various designs and colors. Webbing sandals are available from many outdoor footwear brands today and the selection continues to grow!
I love my webbing sandals because, once adjusted, they’re quite secure and comfortable. They eventually wear in to fit your unique foot shape. On top of that they’re more customizable than any other hiking sandals I am aware of.
Tread and Sole
Since we’re looking for a hiking sandal, it’s important to consider the sole of the sandal. Among outdoor footwear there are many types of tread available. Looking for a rugged and deep tread pattern with large lugs is always important though.
Lugs are the tread of the sole around the outside of the foot. These are heavily responsible for traction when cutting through thick mud and slippery trail conditions. Since sandals are already less stable than a good trail running shoe or hiking boot, great lugs are a must.
You’ll also want a rugged and durable sole material made by a reputable company such as Vibram. If you’re actually hiking in your sandals, inexpensive lightweight flipflops made from foam just won’t hold up.
Just like with hiking shoes or boots, you need some toe protection for when you inevitably kick a rock or log. Without a some good toe protection you risk injury to you toes and feet.
Like any footwear, fit is one of the most important factors in your choice of sandals. Naturally you want your sandals to be comfortable. One factor to keep in mind is the ability to adjust the fit easily on the trail.
If you are hiking all day your feet may swell so being able to make them a bit larger with adjustable straps is a nice feature. If it starts to get cooler being able to put on a pair of socks to keep your feet warm is going to come in handy.
I hope this guide was helpful for finding the best hiking sandals to fit your needs. If you want to comment or recommend a pair of sandals I didn’t include, please use my contact form to get in touch.
Have fun and be safe out there!