Best Hiking Sandals: Field-Trialed & Tested [2024 Update]

Discover the ultimate in trail comfort with our expertly curated list of the best hiking sandals. Whether you're crossing rivers or exploring rugged terrains, our guide ensures you step out in style, comfort, and safety, making every adventure memorable.

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Written by: | Reviewed by: Brian Conghalie
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While nothing can match the protection of a good pair of hiking boots, sometimes conditions call for something with a little more airflow and a little less weight.

Our team has been busy putting some of the top-rated sandals out there to the test, racking up the miles in locations as diverse as Spain, Scotland, and the Pacific Northwest. After much debate, the Chaco Z/1 Classic came out on top as the best overall hiking sandals.

In case they don’t meet your needs there’s a further list of the 10 outstanding performers including the Bedrock Cairn 3D Pro II Adventure, Teva Katavi 2, KEEN Newport H2, Teva Hurricane XLT2, ECCO Yucatan, Teva Terra Fi 5 Universal, KEEN Clearwater CNX, Xero Shoes Z Trail, Chaco Z/Cloud 2, and the KEEN Targhee III.

Lastly, we round off with a look at the criteria you should weigh up when buying a new pair of sandals.

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Quick Recommendations

  • Editor’s Choice:  Chaco Z/1 Classic
    “A simple but superbly comfortable hiking sandal that offers great traction, ample support and stability, and is built to last a lifetime.”
  • Runner Up:  Bedrock Cairn 3D Pro II Adventure
    “This lightweight sandal’s extra-grippy sole and intelligently designed strap system make it one of the most trail-ready and stable hiking sandal we’ve ever worn.”
  • Best Budget:  Teva Katavi 2
    “This sandal’s suede straps make it less ideal for wet trails but it’s a high performer in every other metric and the best budget hiking sandals on our list”
  • Best Closed-Toe Sandals:  KEEN Newport H2
    “While a little on the bulky side, the Newport’s burly build, outstanding traction, and added protection make them a great pick for hiking more challenging trails.”
  • Best Value:  Teva Hurricane XLT2
    “A simple but extremely well-made hiking sandal that scores high in the comfort stakes.”
  • Most Supportive:  ECCO Yucatan
    “Not an “all-terrain” sandal by any means, but one of the comfiest out there and a great choice for hikers tackling mellower trails or troubled by foot injuries.”
  • Best Traction and Grip:  Teva Terra Fi 5 Universal
    “These sandals grip loose and wet terrain as well as your average hiking shoe and are supremely comfortable to boot.”
  • Best Lightweight:  KEEN Clearwater CNX
    “A closed-toe-style sandal that excels both in water and on land.”
  • Best Ultralight:  Xero Shoes Z Trail
    “This zero-drop sandal is the lightest of all the sandals on our list and well worth considering for aficionados of the barefoot style.”
  • Most Comfortable:  Chaco Odyssey
    “It looks like a sneaker and feels like a sneaker, but delivers all the breathability of a sandal courtesy of mesh uppers and minimalist webbing.”
  • Honorable Mention:  Keen Targhee III
    “A burly closed-toe sandal that our testers rated highly in comfort, support, and suitability for varying terrains.”

Which Are the Best Men’s Hiking Sandals?

While the Chaco Z/1 Classic are our favorite hiking sandals, we’ve tested dozens of brands and feel all of the sandals on our shortlist below were worthy contenders.

  • Chaco Z/1 Classic
  • Bedrock Cairn 3D Pro II Adventure
  • Teva Katavi 2
  • KEEN Newport H2
  • Teva Hurricane XLT2
  • ECCO Yucatan
  • Teva Terra Fi 5 Universal
  • KEEN Clearwater CNX
  • Xero Shoes Z Trail
  • Chaco Z/Cloud 2
  • KEEN Targhee III

Chaco Z/1 Classic

Editor’s Choice

The Chaco Z/1 Classic (click here for women’s version) won our testers’ vote as the best hiking sandal out there due to its ability to maximize comfort and airflow whilst making the fewest compromises on the stability, support, and traction provided by regular hiking shoes.

Many modern hiking sandals have complex designs and use all kinds of newfangled features that all too often seem like a solution in search of a problem. The Chaco Z/1 Classic keeps things simple, and therein lies its strength.

The Z/1’s outsole is made with ChacoGrip rubber and boasts 3.5mm lugs. It provides awesome traction in loose or muddy ground and grips well on rock and slippery surfaces such as exposed roots. The podiatrist-certified, dual-density PU “Luvseat” midsole offers solid arch support and delivers outstanding all-day comfort.

Our testers loved the Z/1’s strap system. The adjustable straps on the heel and forefoot allow you to achieve a dialed-in fit with ease. The toe loop, meanwhile, wraps around the big toe instead of pulling back on the toe webspace, one of our biggest grumbles with the Bedrock Cairn and other models with a between-the-toe loop.

The material of the straps (polyester jacquard) is also highly durable and far quicker drying than the suede or leather straps used on models like the Ecco Yucatan or Teva Katavi.

It would feel like nitpicking to mention any downsides to the Z/1. While their open-toe style does leave your tootsies exposed to stubs and bumps, this is the trade-off when choosing a sandal in this style.

  • PROs

    • Comfortable
    • Adjustable straps and heel risers
    • ChacoGrip outsole with 3.5mm lugs
    • Podiatrist-certified PU footbed
    • Multiple color options available
  • CONs

    • No toe protection

Bottom-Line: The Z/1 is a trail-ready, durable sandal that leaves the competition trailing in its wake in the comfort stakes. A worthy winner of our best hiking sandal award.

Bedrock Cairn 3D Pro II Adventure

Runner Up

The Bedrock Cairn (click here for women’s version) is a sandal built for outdoor adventures, boasting a handful of features and design characteristics that translate into awesome performance on the trails.

Let’s start with the Bedrock sandals’ obvious USP, the MegaGrip Vibram sole. Thanks to the aggressive, pentagonal tread and deep lugs, our testers found this sole gave us as much grip and control in loose or muddy terrain as traditional footwear for hiking.

MegaGrip also adheres well to rocky surfaces, on which lesser outsoles have left us sliding around, and is among the most durable on our list. And unlike most hiking sandals, these Cairn are also resoleable.

The G-hook-and-loop front and heel strap configuration is the next feature we loved in the field. This system, combined with “sole-hugger” wings, does a few things. First, it helps to provide a more secure fit by locking the foot in place. Secondly, it provides superior stability by improving posture and gait. Thirdly, it reduces the risk of the sandal being sucked off your feet in mud or fast-flowing water.

Finally, you get all of the above at a piddly weight of 17.6 oz., which is a 12 oz. saving on the Chaco Classic and roughly a pound and a half lighter than your average trail shoe.

The downsides to the Cairn? This is a zero-drop sandal, so it might be a little hard on the calves if you’re used to wearing higher-drop shoes and are new to the barefoot style. The Cairns’ arch support is also best described as “minimalist” and the strap between the toes won’t be to everyone’s liking.

  • PROs

    • 3 adjustment points accommodate varying foot shapes
    • Extra-grippy Vibram MegaGrip outsole
    • Ultralight
    • Extremely durable and resoleable
    • Made with 100% vegan materials
  • CONs

    • Minimal arch support
    • Zero drop (a “pro” for some, granted)
    • Pricey
    • Toe loop/toe strap won’t be to everyone’s liking

Bottom-Line: Aptly named “adventure” sandals that are ready to roll wherever you dare to take them! The best barefoot hiking sandals in the business.

Teva Katavi 2

Best Budget

The Teva Katavi 2 is a robust, reliable, comfortable sandal that’s ideal for hikes on less rugged, well-maintained trails. It’s also fairly priced and was the standout favorite of our testers from the selection of low-cost sandals they trialed.

The K2 are made with burly leather straps, “Durabrasion” outsoles, and a chunky EVA footbed. This combo makes them highly durable, tough enough to deal with regular use on both paved and unpaved surfaces, and a little more pillow-like than most other options in their price range.

Compared to our review’s other 3-point, hook-and-loop closure sandal, the ECCO Yucatan, the K2 have far shallower, less aggressive lugs, which makes them a less suitable option for hiking on testier trails. They also lack some of the Yucatans’ dialed-in features, like the neoprene lining and more supportive and durable PU midsole.

Given that the K2 cost half the price of the Yucatan and weigh 3 oz. less, however, they’re a solid option if you’re looking to maximize bang for your buck or don’t envision needing top-end traction or the additional support of a more robust midsole.

  • PROs

    • Comfortable
    • No-chafe straps
    • Extremely durable rubber outsoles
    • Affordable
    • Ergonomic footbed
    • Nylon shank for added stability and support
  • CONs

    • Fairly heavy
    • Suede straps take a long time to dry
    • Less supportive midsole than other sandals
    • Less aggressive tread

Bottom-Line: A simple, hard-wearing, and comfortable shoe that’s ideal for light hiking. The best budget hiking sandal out there.

KEEN Newport H2

Best Closed-Toe Sandals

The Keen Newport H2 (click here for women’s version) is the ideal sandal if you’re looking for hiking footwear that provides the freedom and added airflow of a sandal whilst compromising only minimally on the support, stability, and traction of a regular hiking shoe.

Of all the hiking sandals on our list, the Newport are the most versatile and most suitable for buyers sitting on the fence between wanting a lightweight hiking shoe and a minimalist sandal. Our testers all agreed that they bring the best of both worlds.

Weighing in at 28 oz., the Newport is the second heaviest sandal on our list after the Chaco Classic. While this might be a dealbreaker for some, this closed-toe hiking sandal has a few features that make it worth the extra weight. A burly toe cap to prevent bumps and bangs, a plush EVA midsole, a bungee lacing system for easy on/off, and padded webbing are the most notable.

Other admirable features found on this sandal include a grippy razor-siped sole with deep lugs for excellent traction, an anti-odor treatment to keep them smelling fresh, and hydrophobic webbing that sheds water lickety-split. The open-toe design also makes it possible to wear socks with the sandals (if that’s your bag!).

  • PROs

    • Protective rubber toe cap
    • Excellent traction
    • Very comfortable
    • Durable uppers and outsoles
    • Versatile
  • CONs

    • Bulky
    • Relatively heavy
    • Less breathable than minimalist options

Bottom-Line: A versatile shoe/sandal hybrid in which you could hike the Appalachian Trail, spend a day on/in the water, or wear out on a night on the town (town dependent, of course…!)

Teva Hurricane XLT2

Best Value

The Teva Hurricane are a great choice of hiking sandal for buyers looking for a performance-oriented sandal at a reasonable price. They’ve been a regular on our list of the best men’s hiking sandals and best hiking sandals for women for the best part of a decade. And with good reason. Not only do they retail at around half the price of the market’s top-end sandals, but they also outperform many pricier competitors in several key metrics.

The Hurricane (click here for women’s version) encapsulates everything we love about hiking in sandals. They’re lightweight (20.8 oz. per pair), rugged, dry quickly, and keep your feet cool thanks to their supportive but minimalist velcro strap configuration. They also offer great traction courtesy of their multidirectional tread and deep lugs.

Like the Terra Fi, the Hurricane have an extra-cushy sole that provides all-day comfort and great underfoot protection, as well as quick-drying webbing that makes them equally at home in the wet stuff as they are on land. Our testers dragged them through streams, along puddled trails, and over many miles with sweaty feet, and all were impressed with how quickly they dried.

While the Hurricane have a nylon shank for extra support, they’re less rugged and less supportive hiking sandals than the Teva Terra Fi. However, they’re cheaper and almost 6 oz. lighter.

  • PROs

    • Quick and easy to adjust
    • Sustainable
    • Quick-dry webbing
    • Affordable
    • Comfortable
  • CONs

    • Less supportive midsoles
    • No toe protection

Bottom-Line: A pair of classic, tried-and-tested, rugged backpacking sandals that perform just as well on the trails as many of its pricier competitors.

ECCO Yucatan

Most Supportive

The Ecco Yucatan (click here for women’s version) are a great pick for buyers who want an extra-durable, sturdy, and supportive sandal for regular use on moderate trails.

Unlike other sandals on our list, the Yucatan aren’t an out-and-out hiking sandal, as betrayed by their more casual aesthetics and far from aggressive tread. So how do they earn their place on our list? Well, the Yucatan is a superbly comfortable sandal.

Our testers loved the molded EVA footbed and durable PU midsole, which together provide outstanding, long-lasting cushioning and support. The sandals’ RECEPTOR technology and tall stack height also deliver enhanced stability and absorb impact as well as any other models on our list.

The straps are soft against the skin and the contoured footbed feels nigh-on slipper-like.

The outsole, sadly, is nothing to write home about, and the lugs are a little too shallow to inspire confidence in loose ground or mud. As such, we’d only recommend the Yucatan for hiking in mellow or moderate terrain.

  • PROs

    • Great support
    • Burly materials
    • Extremely durable
    • Nicely contoured arch
    • Comfortable straps
  • CONs

    • Expensive
    • Heavy
    • Bulky
    • Not quick-drying

Bottom-Line: An outstandingly comfortable, supportive, and durable sandal that’s ideal for everyday wear and casual hiking on well-maintained trails.

Teva Terra Fi 5 Universal

Best Traction and Grip

The Teva Terra Fi 5 (click here for women’s version) is one of the most popular women’s and men’s hiking sandals the world over due to its comfort, support, durable materials, and grip.

Weighing 26 oz., the Terra Fi are among the heaviest sandals we tested. Those added ounces, however, are used on features that most hikers would much rather have than do without, especially on more challenging trails. These include wide, comfortable straps, molded PU midsoles for durable cushioning and support, and “Spider Rubber” outsoles that provide awesome traction and grip.

While not the lightest sandal on our list, the reason for their popularity is simple – they are as comfortable as sandals come, highly supportive, tough as nails, and provide traction on a par with your average camp shoes or favorite hiking boots.

  • PROs

    • Outstandingly grippy soles
    • Cushy midsoles
    • Comfortable velcro straps
    • Quick-dry webbing
    • Durable
    • Ideal for wider feet
  • CONs

    • Heavy
    • No toe protection

Bottom-Line: Tough and superbly comfortable trekking sandals that have the cushiest sole and grippiest outsole available.

KEEN Clearwater CNX

Best Lightweight

The Keen Clearwater CNX (click here for women’s version) are a great choice if you’re looking for a sandal that offers the protection of closed-toe shoes without paying the weight penalty.

The Clearwater weighs just over 17 oz., making it 10.7 oz. lighter than the Keen Newport and comparable to minimalist options like the Bedrock Cairn. But this is far from a minimalist sandal. It boasts burly toe protectors, a beefy rubber outsole, a cushioned midsole, and extensive polyester webbing that cradles the foot from heel to toe.

This looks like a doppelganger of the Newport H2, but there are a few key differences. Firstly, the Clearwaters’ molded arches and PU midsoles are a little on the scrawny side, which makes them less supportive and stable on uneven terrain. While the outsoles are made with the same materials, the Clearwaters’ tread is less aggressive and the lugs shallower, meaning they provide poorer traction in loose terrain.

But it ain’t all bad. The Clearwaters’ lighter weight makes them less likely to result in leg fatigue during long days on the trail and also gives them a more nimble feel. They also boast a thermoplastic urethane shank that provides a little extra stiffness to the sole, which gives you more purchase in steep terrain by preventing heel drop.

So, why would you choose these over the Newport, given that they retail at a similar price and the Newport is a more rugged and suitable choice for hiking? The answer is that the Clearwater are, as the name suggests, the more amphibian of the two, and transition seamlessly between water and land thanks to their sticky outsole and lighter, quicker-drying materials.

If you plan on doing any canyoning, rafting, or hiking on wet trails, these waterproof hiking sandals are a great pick.

  • PROs

    • Lightweight (and less clunky than the Newport H2)
    • Quick-drying webbing
    • Closed-toe style and webbing keeps feet protected
    • Comfortable footbed
    • Sole adheres well to wet surfaces and slippery rocks
  • CONs

    • Less traction than Newport H2
    • Short on arch support compared to other hiking sandals

Bottom-Line: The best waterproof sandals out there for hikers seeking a lightweight alternative to the Newport H2s.

Xero Shoes Z Trail

Best Ultralight

The Xero Shoes Z Trail (click here for women’s version) travel sandals earned our testers’ vote for Best Ultralight Hiking Sandals thanks to their pithy weight, surprising comfort, and impressive traction.

The Z Trail weigh a tiny 10.8 oz per pair. For reference, this is almost three times lighter than the Chaco Z/1 and roughly the same weight as regular flip-flops or a can of soda. Their extra-flexible materials also mean they can be rolled up and stowed in a pant pocket or backpack hood when not in use.

The outsole uses an aggressive, dual-chevron tread pattern that provides excellent traction and grip on inclines and wet ground. On top of that, the 3-layer, 10 mm FeelLite midsoles provide decent underfoot protection and enough flexibility to let your feet flex naturally, sparing you from aches, pains, and strains at the end of a day’s hiking.

Our testers appreciated the Z Trails’ also have soft, wide, tubular webbing, which didn’t pinch or chafe even on long trail days. They also liked having multiple adjustment points, a feature that lets you dial in the fit no matter your foot shape.

To keep weight down, makers Xero have done away with a few features that a few of our testers consider non-negotiable, such as a rubber toe box and cushy midsoles. This means they’re short on protection and not as supportive as sandals like the Ecco Yucatan, Teva Terra Fi, and Keen Newport.

Xero also boast that this sandal will let you “feel the terrain beneath your feet.” While this is true and all very well if you’re strolling on a sandy beach or a manicured trail, it’s far from ideal if you’re hiking in uneven or rocky terrain.

  • PROs

    • Ultralight – feels like walking barefoot
    • Minimalist webbing lets your feet breathe – ideal for summer hikes
    • Multi-point adjustment provides a snug fit
    • They float!
    • Good traction
  • CONs

    • Zero-drop soles can lead to calf strain in untrained legs
    • Scant underfoot protection
    • No toe protection
    • Lack stability (feel like a flip flop)

Bottom-Line: Minimalist sandals that are both beauty and beast – beautiful for devotees of minimalist footwear, but kinda beastly for anyone not used to low-drop soles, meager underfoot protection, and less substantial support.

Chaco Z Cloud

Most Comfortable

The Chaco Z Cloud (women’s version) is fast becoming one of the most popular hiking sandals out there due to its general trailworthiness and the added protection it offers compared to the Chaco Classic.

The Z Cloud is almost identical to the Classic (above). It boasts the same ChacoGrip outsole with 3.5mm lugs, a podiatrist-certified, dual-density PU “Luvseat” midsole that offers great arch support and comfort, and an adjustable strap system.

The Z Cloud weighs 0.2 oz more than the Z/1 Classic, but boasts an extra 5mm of cushioning. Our testers all felt that this small addition makes a noticeable difference to the sandal’s comfort. However, they still prefer the Z/1 classic for aesthetics and value for money.

  • PROs

    • Extremely comfortable
    • Great arch support
    • Good traction
    • Vegan-friendly construction
    • Lightweight
  • CONs

    • No toe protection
    • A fraction more expensive than Z/1 Classic

Bottom-Line: A wonderfully comfortable sandal that’s built to last and tackle all kinds of trail.

Keen Targhee III

Honorable Mention

The Keen Targhee III are a solid choice of hiking sandal for any hiker who wants the support and robustness of a shoe but with a little more airflow.

The Targhee III are available in both open and closed-toe models. Our testers trialed the closed-toe version and were impressed with their robustness, eco credentials, support, and comfort.

At 24 ounces, the Targhee are no lightweights. For those added ounces, however, you get tough leather uppers/straps, a nicely cushioned midsole, deep lugs, and a cushy insole. These sandals also have a roomy forefoot, so they’re ideal for hikers with wider feet.

The downsides are that the Targhee outweigh many other sandals with similar specs and materials and also cost significantly more.

  • PROs

    • Tough materials
    • Durable
    • Comfortable
    • Great tractions
  • CONs

    • Heavy
    • Expensive

Bottom-Line: An extra-burly sandal that looks great and performs well on the trail. Too heavy for long-distance hiking but great for hikers seeking more protection and support.

Hiking Sandal Comparison Chart

Product NameWeightClosure SystemClosed Toe
Chaco Z/1 Classic25 oz.Adjustable straps and heel risersNo
Bedrock Cairn 3D Pro II Adventure17.6 oz.G-hook-and-loop front and heel strapNo
Teva Katavi 224 oz.Hook-and-loop closureNo
KEEN Newport H228 oz.Bungee lacing systemYes
Teva Hurricane XLT220.8 oz.Velcro strap configurationNo
ECCO Yucatan20 oz.Velcro strapsNo
Teva Terra Fi 5 Universal26 oz.Velcro strapsNo
KEEN Clearwater CNX17 oz.Bungee lacing systemYes
Xero Shoes Z Trail10.8 oz.Multiple adjustment pointsNo
Chaco Z Cloud30 oz.Adjustable strap systemNo
Keen Targhee III24 oz.Bungee lacing systemYes

Top Choices by Category

Lightest: KEEN Clearwater CNX and Xero Shoes Z Trail
Closed-toe: KEEN Newport H2, KEEN Clearwater CNX, and Chaco Odyssey
Most comfortable: Chaco Z/1 Classic, ECCO Yucatan, and Chaco Odyssey
Challenging terrain: Chaco Z/1 Classic, Bedrock Cairn 3D Pro, KEEN Newport H2, and Teva Terra Fi 5

What to consider when buying outdoor sandals?

When choosing a good pair of hiking sandals you should consider the following criteria.

  • Type of Sandal
  • Comfort & Support
  • Outsoles and Traction
  • Weight
  • Versatility
  • Durability
  • Closure Systems

Type of Sandal

The most important consideration when buying hiking sandals is which type to go for. While personal preference will dictate the ideal choice between open- and closed-toe sandals, a few general observations about each type might help steer you in the right direction.

Open-toe models are lighter and provide more airflow, making them ideal for hot-weather hiking on well-maintained trails. On the downside, they leave your toes exposed to bumps and bangs from roots, loose rocks, and other debris. 

Closed-toe hiking sandals are more robust, protective, and provide stability, making them a better choice for hikes of greater length or in more rugged terrain. On the downside, they typically weigh and cost more.

Close up of closed toe sandals
Closed-toe models are more robust and substantial then their open-toe counterparts.

Both types of sandals are prone to letting in debris that can make life uncomfortable. Of the two, however, we find open-toe models to be less guilty of the above, simply because they allow the debris to escape just as easily as it came in. With closed-toe models, anything that sneaks inside is likely to remain there until you remove it.

Our list has three closed-toe-style models – the Keen Newport H2, Keen Targhee III, and Keen Clearwater CNX. Although these sandals all look relatively similar on the face of things, the devil, as they say, is in the detail. 

Of the three, the Newport provides the best traction. If you prefer sneaker-like cushioning, however, the Targhee III’s beefy midsole and tall stack height are sure to endear. 

The Clearwater CNX is best described as a hiking sandal-water shoe hybrid. Its more robust build and superior traction make it a better option for rugged trails. It’s also a whole 10 oz. lighter than the Newport, but not quite as tough, a little less grippy, and feels a fraction less stable underfoot.

Comfort & Support

Comfort is a crucial factor to consider when buying new sandals for hiking as it’s the main reason most hikers ditch their hiking boots or hiking shoes and wear sandals instead.

Man wearing sandals walking on well trodden path through forest
Sandals are not suitable for all terrain, but on well-trodden paths they are ideal.

In our experience, the most comfortable sandals are those that most closely mimic the foot-hugging design of a shoe with a substantial midsole and contoured footbed for arch support. Good examples of this are the Keen Targhee, Keen Newport, and Keen Clearwater. One notable exception is the Chaco Z Cloud, which is the most comfortable open-toe sandal we’ve ever tested.

The problem with closed-toe sandals is they’re fairly heavy and cover more of the foot, which largely negates the two main benefits of wearing hiking sandals in the first place – enhanced airflow and less weight on your feet.

hiker crossing stream in hiking sandals intext
Open-toe sandals enhance airflow however offer less protection than closed-toe options.

On the other hand, more minimalist options like the Chaco Z/1 Classic, Bedrock Cairn, Teva Hurricane, Teva Terra Fi, and Xero Shoes Z Trail are light and airy but have multiple straps that, for some, might chafe between the toes or on the ankles and heels. 

The lightest of these (the XS Z Trail and Bedrock Cairn) also lack arch support. This can cause heel pain and/or plantar fascia on longer days on the trail since your foot arch supports your body’s weight and absorbs shock when your foot hits the ground.

The most comfortable men’s sandals and women’s sandals on our list? It’s a toss-up between the Teva Terra Fi and Chaco Z Cloud, both of which our testers would be more than happy to swap for their slippers at home. 

Support depends almost entirely on the midsole, i.e. the layer of material wedged between the sandals’ insole and outsole.

Midsoles are usually made of either EVA (ethylene vinyl acetate) or PU (polyurethane).

PU is stiffer, heavier, and more durable, and provides far better support for the foot. As such, it’s the better option if you plan on carrying heavier loads or hiking in steeper terrain – a more rigid sole means your heel won’t drop quite so much when hiking uphill.

EVA is the lighter of the two materials and provides a cushier feel, but tends to feel like a squashed pancake underfoot if you’re carrying a heavy (20+ lbs) backpack.

Outsoles and Traction

The grip and traction provided by your sandals’ outsoles is a critical consideration for hikers. On well-maintained trails, traction isn’t so much of an issue. On muddy, loose, and steeper ground, however, you need an outsole that will keep you upright and in control. 

The lugs should be at least 3mm deep and the tread pattern aggressive. “Aggressive” means that the tread is multidirectional (usually a series of chevrons or rhombuses) rather than a linear or unvaried pattern like those found on regular sandals.

Woman walking uphill in hiking sandals
Good sandal tread should be at least 3mm deep and have a multi-directional pattern.

All of the sandals in our review provide good grip in loose terrain. However, the top performers are the Teva Terra Fi 5 and the Bedrock Cairn 3D, the latter of which uses a Vibram Megagrip outsole often found on hiking shoes.

Weight

Weight is important with any hiking gear but more so with footwear like sandals – the less you have on your foot, the less quickly your legs will grow tired and the more nimble you’ll feel with your footwork.

The flipside of this is that many ultralight hiking sandals forego certain features to shed weight, such as cushioned midsoles, toe enclosures, or robust and comfortable strap systems.

The Keen Newport are the heaviest sandals on our list at 28 ounces, while the Xero Shoes Z Trail (12 ounces) are the lightest.

Versatility

Having versatile hiking sandals is important if you plan to have your sandals moonlight as standard streetwear or beachwear or use them for watersports. 

Any pair of hiking sandals can double as around-town footwear if you’re more concerned with function than fashion. If aesthetics are important, however, more classically styled models like the Ecco Yucatan and Teva Katavi are more likely to tick your boxes. 

As regards suitability for use in water, there are three points worth making. 

Hikers feet in sandals standing in shallow river
Water-compatible sandals are ideal for river crossings, canyoneering or rafting.

Firstly, buying a pair of fast-drying sandals will make you less likely to reach for your shoes or boots if there’s a chance of rain or soggy trails. Secondly, they’ll save you from having to tackle river crossings in bare feet. Finally, they’ll be capable of moonlighting as water shoes if you happen to do a bit of rafting, canyoneering, coasteering, or other water-based activities.

Durability

Durability is among our top priorities when choosing any hiking footwear, and hiking sandals are no exception.

Gauging durability is tricky, but there are a few things to look out for, namely the midsole, the webbing, and the outsoles.

Of the two types of midsole, EVA and PU, PU is more durable. EVA is cushy and feels great, but tends to lose its springiness over time.

With webbing/straps, the burlier it is the more durable it will be. Models like the Keen Targhee have chunky, full-grain leather uppers and straps, so are more likely to last than ultralight sandals with skinny polyester webbing like the Xero Z Trail.

With outsoles, the deeper the lugs and tread, the more use you’ll get out of them. Shallow lugs will wear down quickly and leave you with little or no traction.

Closure Systems

Hiking sandals’ closure systems are the features used to attach the sandals to your feet, which makes them highly important if you’re hiking in anything other than well-trodden terrain.

One of the main advantages of hiking sandals is that they can be adjusted at multiple points (via a heel, forefoot, and toe strap), which allows you to get a more precise, dialed-in fit than with other footwear. But the level of adjustability can vary significantly from one model to the next. 

The more adjustment points a sandal has in the straps and webbing, the better you’ll be able to fine-tune your fitting. 

hiker climbing stone trail in hiking sandals intext
Adjustment points on a sandal via heel, forefront, and/or toe straps give a more precise fit.

In our review, the models with both heel and forefoot adjustments are the top performers in this metric – the Xero Shoes Z-Trail, Teva Terra Fi 5, Teva Hurricane, Bedrock Cairn, and the Ecco Yucatan and Teva Katavi, both of which have additional velcro strap adjustments across the toe.

Best Sandals For Summer Hiking: The Verdict

Choosing a pair of hiking sandals over more traditional hiking footwear is a great way to take some weight off of your feet and save yourself a sweaty time of things on summer hikes. 

We hope the above list has helped narrow down the options for you and demonstrated that there’s a sandal suited to every user and adventure type. 

If you want a pair that ticks every box and can withstand heavy use the Chaco Z/1 are our top pick. Alternatively, if you’re drawn to the idea of hiking sandals with the promise of more freedom for your feet, less sweat, and more airflow, without compromising on traction, then the Bedrock Cairn and Teva Terra Fi 5 are solid alternatives.

If you feel we missed any standout sandals, please holla in the comments box below. And if you think your friends might benefit from swapping their shoes for a pair of sandals, please feel free to share this article to spread the word.

Last update on 2024-05-22 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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Kieran Avatar

Kieran James Cunningham is a climber, mountaineer, and author who divides his time between the Italian Alps, the US, and his native Scotland.

He has climbed a handful of 6000ers in the Himalayas, 4000ers in the Alps, 14ers in the US, and loves nothing more than a good long-distance wander in the wilderness. He climbs when he should be writing, writes when he should be sleeping, has fun always.

Kieran has taught mountaineering, ice climbing, and single-pitch and multi-pitch rock climbing in a variety of contexts over the years and has led trekking and mountaineering expeditions in the Alps, Rockies, and UK. He is currently working towards qualifying as a Mountaineering and Climbing Instructor and International Mountain Leader.

Kieran’s book Climbing the Walls—an exploration of the mental health benefits of climbing, mountaineering, and the great outdoors—is scheduled for release by Simon & Schuster in April 2021.

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