There’s no better time to invest in a good pair of hiking sandals than in the sunny months when we all love to be outside.
Stuffing your feet into hot, tight hiking boots can ruin a breezy mid-summer hike. On the other hand, female adventurers have long struggled to find a sandal that holds up to the wear and tear of the trail while keeping their feet comfortable and blister-free. In short, this iconic summertime footwear is notorious for being flimsy and lasting little more than a few seasons.
As a native of Florida where it’s sandal season 365 days a year, I’ve sampled all kinds of open-toed options. I’ve tried and tested an array of sturdy outdoor shoes, drawn to extra perks like affordability, innovation, and style. Ultimately, I’ve learned to look for three defining characteristics: durability, water-resistance, and weight.
As feet swell during the hike, your sandals should easily adjust and let your foot expand. Waterside hiking by streams and rivers require a shoe that will dry quickly and not hold on to moisture as you trek onward after a dip. And for well-traveled hikers, a sandal that can pack down and perform on any terrain, from slick rock to desert canyons, is also a must.
So, can one sandal have it all? Below are my picks for sandals that stand out from the pack.
Editor’s Choice: Chaco Z/1 Classic Sandal
Chacos are widely considered the mother of all hiking sandals, and rightly so. A hefty following of die-hard #ChacoNation supporters don’t lie.
Here’s what I love about the Chaco Z/1 Classic Sandal. First, the LUVSEAT™ PU midsole makes for incredible arch support all day long.
Second, the special Chaco webbing adjusts to your preferences. The sandal’s straps wrap around your foot and adjust through the midsole, making each sandal customizable to your unique foot structure.
On the bottom, the Vibram® rubber compound used in the shoe’s outsole can be customized with different treads that latch onto all kinds of surfaces, even when wet. Though the footbed is dense and heavier than most, it stands up to rough terrains.
As a die-hard socks-and-sandals wearer, I opt for the open toe webbing so I can slip into some woolies and warm my toes by the fire in the winter months. That said, the toe loop strap is a trendy and popular option.Check Amazon Price Check REI Price
Best Value: Freewaters Supreem Sport
The Freewater Supreem Sport is a vegan sandal that boasts a cushy sole of Supreem Foam that’s designed for a cloud-like footfall all-day.
Adjustable velcro straps are the key to the quick and simple fit for this shoe. A removable heel strap transforms this sandal into a slide, a fun design quirk that comes in handy when dipping in and out of the water, or when you need a quick shoe on the go.
Freewater’s foam footbed makes for a nearly weightless shoe, a trait that lends to these sandals being ideal for travel. They’re light and packable, no suitcase-weight anxiety needed.
Freewaters guarantees the foam footbed stays soft, cushiony, and full of rebound for years and years of comfortable wear, so you can trust you’re making a solid long-term investment.Check Amazon Price Check REI Price
Fashion Pick: Viakix Napali Hiking Sandals
The waterproof Napali Hiking Sandals from Viakix are handcrafted, featuring a stylishly feminine look with natural blue webbing. They’re also amazingly comfortable, with four adjustable straps over the arch and toes that you can customize for the perfect fit.
The Napali Hiking Sandals employ an EVA midsole to deliver a cushiony step. There’s also a shank stabilizer to ensure long-lasting arch support.
Whether you’re vacationing on a Caribbean island or pounding the trail on a hike, the Napali Hiking Sandals aim to be your versatile, go-to travel and adventure shoe.Check Amazon Price
Upgrade Pick: Malibu Rancho Sandals
The Malibu Rancho Sandals are a modern rendition of the traditional Mexican huarache. These one-of-a-kind sandals swap the traditional leather construction for a slip-resistant rubber and hand-woven elastic webbing. A snug fit ensures the sandals hug your entire foot from toes to arch and heel, flexing with you as you walk.
The Rancho’s lightweight materials make this shoe feel weightless, helping to alleviate foot fatigue on long hikes. Easy pull tabs on the heel and arch get these sandals on in one swift pull, no strappy adjustments
Trendsetter Pick: Keen Uneek O2
The Keen Uneek O2 presents an attractive compromise for hikers who can’t fully part with their trail running shoes. Part sandal and part sneaker, the Uneek O2 slips on with a swift pull of the heel strap. Just adjust the snug fit with an elastic cinch cord, and you’re off to the races.
The interwoven webbing that gives the Uneek O2 its unique look also adds functionality by flexing to the foot as it moves. The footbed features a metatomical design, engineered to cradle the natural contours of your foot. The traditional lace-up style of a sneaker provides that same upper support, but without suffocating the foot in a sweltering cage.
Keen is famous for their water shoes, and the Uneek O2 is no exception. The quick-dry interior lining allows these shoes to get wet without staying soggy.
Worried about smell? The Uneek O2 features Cleansport NXT™, a pro-biotic technology used in footwear that supports natural odor control.Check Amazon Price Check Moosejaw Price
Versatility Pick: Teva Terra-Float 2 Knit Evolve
The first Teva sandal was dreamt up in 1984 by a river raft guide looking for sandals that wouldn’t get lost downstream. Thanks to some quick thinking and a hook-and-loop wristband, the first iteration of Tevas was born. Today, Tevas takes explorers from beaches to mountains, to urban trails with their multi-
The Terra-Float 2 Knit Evolve is most unique in design because of it’s sock-like knit upper that hugs the foot as it moves, making it ideal for dynamic hiking environments. Woven from polyester yarn, this knit webbing wicks away moisture so your sandals won’t feel sweaty. The sandal’s sole is fitted with a Float-Lite midsole and a Rugged Durabrasion Rubber™ outsole, providing lightness along with durability and traction across all terrains.Check Moosejaw Price
These women’s hiking sandals do a great job of setting up female hikers for outdoor success, no matter the circumstances. Summer months are meant to be spent outside, so lady hikers should look to invest in a solid pair of sandals to keep feet comfy and cool as they explore new trails.
For more tips on finding the perfect pair of sandals, check out our guide to the best minimalist sandals. If you’re curious about how Tevas and Chacos stack up against each other, read through our Teva vs. Chaco comparison article on the two popular brands to see which brand comes out on top.