Hiking Sandals: The Essential Guide

Hiking Sandals
  • Post category:Hiking
  • Reading time:11 mins read

What are hiking sandals?

Hiking sandals are shoes that incorporate both the advantages of hiking boots and sneakers. They typically have an open, non-waterproof upper made of leather or nylon mesh with relatively thick soles (3 – 6 mm), which cover your toes completely. The downside to this design is they do not enclose the foot as a boot would.

The reason they are called sandals is that they often have a thin, flat sole appropriate for walking on sand. However, the word “sandal” is also commonly used in reference to any type of shoe with an open toe and heel covering.

Hiking sandals have become popular among outdoor enthusiasts since the mid-1990s. The major advantage of these shoes is the great freedom to move your toes. While barefoot hiking isn’t practical for long distances, the ability to wiggle your toes in a hiking sandal can be very helpful to keep circulation moving and prevent foot cramping.

Why do you need hiking sandals?

There are many reasons why a hiker needs sandals.

1. They are easy to put on and take off

2. They are relatively lightweight compared to boots, which can be important for long hikes with a heavy pack.

3. This type of footwear offers more support than traditional sandals since they are designed specifically for hiking.

4. Because you have better balance while wearing these shoes, you may feel safer hiking over rugged terrain.

5. Some people believe that trekking in sandals is better for the environment since you’re not disturbing plants and animals like you would when wearing boots.

6. The best pair of hiking sandals should be appropriate for your planned destination, whether it’s a day hike or wilderness backpacking trip.

7. People who suffer from foot problems may find these shoes more comfortable than boots.

8. The majority of hikers say they prefer wearing hiking sandals over any other type of footwear because they are so convenient and lightweight.

Types of hiking sandals

1. Trail runners – these shoes are very lightweight and designed for running long distances without breaking down or wearing out easily. They have thin soles, are breathable, and come in lots of fun colors.

2. Hiking boots – these shoes are the most durable type of footwear on this list, though they are also the heaviest and least flexible. They’re waterproof, have strong laces that stay tied all day long, and have thick rubber outsoles for extra comfort and support.

3. Hiking shoes – this is a good in-between option if you want some of the features of hiking boots with a lighter, more flexible design. Many of these shoes are waterproof and have extra cushioning for added comfort on long days of hiking or backpacking.

4. Water sandals – while most people think of these little shoes as beachwear, they’re also great for getting wet when you’re on the trail. They’re comfortable and light, and many come with quick dry technology that prevents them from getting waterlogged by morning dew or a quick swim in the nearest river.

5. Climbing shoes – some people prefer to use these types of shoes when they’re hiking, though others find them to be too rigid for long days on the trail. They’re designed specifically for rock or mountain climbing, however, so they offer superior grip and control even when you’re biking downhill at top speeds.

What type of sandal is right for you?

Hiking sandals come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and colors. The most important consideration when choosing this type of footwear is what activity you plan to use it for. You may want to consider these factors:

1. Type of terrain – the best hiking sandal for rocky riverside paths will not be appropriate on smooth mountain trails.

2. Season – lightweight sandals may be perfect for summer or warm climates but will not protect your feet from the elements as well as a boot would.

3. Activity – if you’re going to be hiking long distances, you’ll need plenty of support and cushioning for your feet; otherwise, lightweight sandals may work better for you.

4. Weight – a lighter shoe will allow you to stay on your feet longer, but it typically won’t provide as much support and protection from the elements as a heavier sandal would.

5. Price – hiking sandals range in price from relatively inexpensive to very expensive, depending on the materials used to construct them and whether or not they are water resistant.

How to find the best hiking sandal for your feet while hiking?

1. Choose your activity – hiking sandals typically come in two varieties: light and heavy duty. Lighter sandals are typically used for day hikes, while heavy-duty sandals can be worn on longer treks.

2. Wear the socks you’ll be using when hiking – if you plan to wear lightweight hiking socks, this is the type of sandal you should buy. If you’re planning to hike in warm weather, consider buying a pair that is ventilated, which will allow your feet to breathe even when they are enclosed.

3. Consider your terrain – most hiking sandals have thick soles that can protect your feet from sharp rocks and rough path surfaces, but some models are more durable than others.

4. Go to a local outdoor store – you may find it easier to try on different types of shoes at a physical location rather than ordering them online. If possible, visit the store during inclement weather or other adverse conditions so you can test out your sandals for fit and comfort in an actual hiking situation.

5. Do your research – ask friends who are avid hikers which sandals they recommend, and read online reviews to see what other consumers have to say about specific brands of sandals.

Best brands of hiking sandals for men & women

1. Keen – this brand was one of the first to offer hiking sandals for both men and women, making them a go-to choice among experienced hikers looking for reliable outdoor footwear.

2. Columbia – these sandals come with air mesh panels that provide ventilation for hot weather hikes. The insides are lined with moisture-wicking fleece to ensure that your feet do not get too sweaty.

3. Teva – these sandals come with thick soles and mesh uppers for maximum breathability. The outsoles are made from recycled rubber, making them both long-lasting and environmentally friendly.

4. Birkenstock – hikers love the solid construction of these sandals, which are made of high-quality leather. They’re also extra comfortable, making them perfect for people who plan to wear their hiking sandals all day long.

5. Rockport – these shoes have full-grain leather uppers with moisture-wicking sheepskin linings that help keep your feet dry even during hot weather hikes. The outsoles feature patented WaveSpring technology for added shock absorption and durability.

Advantages of buying sandals online vs in store

1. Price – while you might expect to pay more for hiking sandals than for regular shoes, the price difference between online retailers and brick-and-mortar stores isn’t always significant. Many brands offer discounts of 10%-30% on their websites when you buy several pairs at once, which can help you get the most out of your money.

2. Selection – with the advent of online shopping, you have nearly limitless options when it comes to finding the perfect type of sandal for your needs. You can look through dozens or even hundreds of products and read reviews from other customers before making a decision on which hiking sandals to buy.

3. Convenience – if you live in a rural area, it may be difficult or impossible to find the type of sandal you want in your price range. With online shopping, you can have the best hiking sandals delivered right to your doorstep without ever having to leave home.

4. Sizing – many brands of men’s outdoor footwear are specially sized according to European or American measurements, making it difficult for international buyers to find the right fit. If you buy a pair of sandals online from a retailer with a return policy, you can always send them back if they don’t fit properly.

5. Durability – most hiking sandals are made with high-quality materials that will last for several years at a time. If you plan to wear your sandals on a regular basis, it’s worth paying extra for high-quality construction and comfort features such as memory foam insoles.

Disadvantages of buying sandals online vs in store

1. Time – hiking sandals are popular footwear items, and it can take several days or even weeks for them to ship to your house from a retailer’s warehouse. If you need the shoes right away, it may be better to buy them at a brick-and-mortar store so you can slip into a brand new pair as quickly as possible.

2. Fit – sandals are less stable than regular shoes because they don’t have laces, heels, or other fasteners to keep them firmly secured to your feet. You can remedy this problem by trying on several pairs at a local outdoor gear retailer so that you can find the ones that feel best for your feet.

3. Uniqueness – while online retailers can carry hundreds of different pairs of men’s outdoor footwear, most brands are still available only at physical stores. This means that you might miss out on your favorite product if you buy it online without trying it on first.

4. Selection– even the biggest websites don’t have access to every brand, style, and color of sandal. If you’re looking for specialized footwear for a particular activity or sport, it may be better to buy locally so that you can speak directly with an expert about your options.

5. Return policy – some buying options on the Internet don’t allow customers to return items once they’ve been used or worn. While most hiking sandals are sturdy enough to remain in good condition for several years at a time, it can be difficult to tell if they’re comfortable without wearing them out in public.

What to look for when shopping for new sandals


Make sure that your sandals are made of quality material because this will ensure that they’re durable and comfortable to wear. Try to stay away from cheaper versions because they typically have not been tested or proven effective in the outdoors.


When purchasing hiking sandals, make sure that you get what you pay for. Hiking sandals that are made of quality materials such as leather, rubber, and nylon will last you a long time and provide comfort during your outdoor adventures.

Different features

There are many different types of hiking sandals available to choose from. Some include treads underneath the foot for added support when in different terrain or weather. Others include added straps in between the toes to help with stability when climbing rocks and hills.

Different types of terrain

When purchasing hiking sandals, it’s best to get what you’re going to need for the area and whether that you will be in most often. If you hike in hot areas then leather or nylon may not be your best option because they typically do not breathe very well. On the other hand, if you hike in cold areas you’ll want to purchase those that have been lined with fur or fleece because they will keep your feet warm and comfortable.


When it comes to hiking sandals, most do not protect against water. Although this might be a negative feature for some people who enjoy hiking in the rain, there are many benefits for those who do not enjoy it. If you don’t want to stop your outdoor activity just because of a few raindrops then waterproof hiking sandals may be perfect for you.

Quality brand names can be costly, but they’re well worth the money if comfort and durability are what you’re looking for. Brands such as Teva and Keen design hiking sandals for specific terrain and weather conditions, so be sure to find the one that you need .

The primary concern for hikers is that their feet remain comfortable and dry during extended periods of walking. Wearing the wrong types of shoes, such as flip-flops, can cause numerous blisters or injuries to your foot. Because this is not something you want on an outdoor adventure, focus more on buying hiking sandals rather than regular shoes for your next hiking trip.

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