If you have recently discovered the great outdoors and want to be part of a healthy and addictive lifestyle, then why not start from the bottom up? Footwear is such an important part of hiking, and the type of footwear you choose can make all the difference to the enjoyment of your chosen adventure.
The words sandal and hiking are two words that would have not gone together a few years ago, but today, they seem to fit like a foot into a shoe. With the advent of more and more people becoming involved with outdoor activities, the world’s shoe manufacturers have had to come up with new designs and materials to suit so many different needs. The long-form hiker is probably going to be looking for a product that is heavy-duty and robust in design and manufacture, while the enthusiast is after a product that is easy to use and versatile.
We hope that this will not only help you in your decision on what style to purchase but also encourage you to get out there and enjoy the simple beauty that Mother Nature has to offer. Here are the 8 best hiking sandals.
In 2003, the people at Keen asked themselves, “Can a sandal protect your toes?” The answer that they came up with was to be the catalyst for the introduction of the Newport sandal. This would eventually set the world of trekking alight and introduce a completely new range of footwear. As with a lot of Keen’s designs, the Newport treads the fine line that sets apart the shoe from the sandal. But the Hydro seems to have alleviated that issue without the company batting an eyelid. This sandal has a very open design, which makes it perfect for any aquatic adventures that you may wish to undertake. Whereas underwater socks could be detrimental to one’s toes when encountering rocks and other hazards hidden from view, the Newport’s enclosed toe design offers the perfect protection from the elements.
The Newport also features a webbing exterior that is completely washable, while the inner is made up of a quick-drying lining that is PVC free. The tread that Keen has designed is not only good for the aquatic journey but also offers great grip on dry land. As some experts have pointed out, this sandal is a good cross between a casual and technical piece of footwear and will suit your needs all summer long. Their midsole and stability shank gives the Newport Hydro excellent support and stability. Another very important feature about the Newport Hydro is that the internal meshing is what the people at Keen call “breathable” and has a natural odor remedy that protects not only you but your friends from what could become an embarrassing problem after a few days hiking.
Teva is another one of those footwear companies that has been around for many years. Since their humble beginnings back in 1984 to the present day company, the has grown into one of the world’s biggest manufacturers. The story of Teva is quite an interesting one. A Grand Canyon river guide realized that within everybody, there is the spirit of adventure just waiting to get out. All they needed was an excuse, an invitation. So, with this in mind, he came up with the idea of a simple sandal that would be easily held in place when hiking and simple to remove. How? Attach a Velcro watch strap to a pair of flip-flops, and there you go: invitation sent. “Strap in and go” adventures to be found.
The Katavi Outdoor hiking sandal is many things to many people. It is an ideal sandal for the trail-blazer, reducing the chances of fatigue by simply keeping the weight down. This also makes it the perfect choice for the overseas traveler. This open-toed sandal has a suede and mesh combination upper and features padded Velcro straps that fasten around the heal, the bridge, and the toes of the any respectable “treky.” There is also a polyester lining that will have your feet kept nice and dry. The midsole is a very comfortable compressed foam that acts as a shock absorber, and the center placed nylon shank will keep you stable and supported. The tread on the Teva Katavi is a non-marking rubber that offers you the confidence for any terrain ranging from the trail to the sidewalk. These sandals come in sizes 7-16; there are no half sizes, and they are only available in brown or beige.
The California-based Bedrock Sandals took a long look at what was on the market and decided that it was time for a change. Their feeling was that sandals designed in what was now becoming the traditional way were a little too constraining. What did they do? They redesigned the layout of their strapping system that saw the creation of an amalgam of the flip-flop and the Tevas. Not stopping at this hybrid design, they then introduced an aluminum insert to their paracord thong to prevent what is most common on many types of flip-flops, the annoying breakable plug that always lets go at the most inopportune moment. Bedrock also gives you an adjustable heel cuff on the Cairn 3D for that all-important rear-foot stability.
Additional comfort is via the contoured footbed, and its impressive grip is supplied from a Vibram MegaGrip outsole. To some, it may look a little on the minimal side, but it has stood up to some of the greatest tests, a pair was used by Bedrock’s CEO to hike the 3000 kilometer Te Aroroa trail in New Zealand. The only thing that may be seen as a drawback to this sandal is that the strapping system may take a little time to get used too if you are not familiar with it, and you cannot wear socks with the Cairn 3D. All in all, the Bedrock Cairn 3D Adventure is a high-quality designed and manufactured sandal that is well worth consideration before you make the final decision on what sandal suits you.
As the name would suggest, the Merrell Men’s All Out Blaze Sieve Convertible Water Sandal is best suited for the adventurer who prefers to get his feet wet and loves the thrill of water sports. The clever sales team at Merrell quickly realized the potential of these sandals and marketed them as a “Hydro-Hiker,” a product that was sure to attract the attention of those water-loving treky’s. These stylish pieces of footwear have been designed to give the user a comfortable, reliable, and quick-drying sandal that will perform on the wettest conditions and environments. The polyurethane coated waterproof leather uppers provide you with adjustable Velcro straps that are neatly placed over the bridge of your feet and your toes. Then there are the hook-and-loop closure straps whose adjustment allows easy and precise fitting.
One of the beauties about this sandal is the removable back strap that virtually converts the sandal into a slider making for a far more comfortable fit when just spending time relaxing at your favorite camping spot. As with many sandals on the market, the Vibram outsole has been used to supply the grip. It features a three-millimeter lug pattern that sees the lugs hollowed for providing a product that is as lightweight as possible. This will certainly be appreciated when you have spent several hours on your feet wading through deep water. The Merrell Men’s All Out Blaze Sieve Convertible Water Sandal has complete toe enclosure ensuring protection from intrusive and hazardous obstacles like rocks or partially exposed sticks. The bottom line is simple: if you are into wet-walking, then this sandal is definitely for you.
If whitewater rafting is a sport that gets you going and starts to pump the adrenalin through your veins, then the Chaco Z/2 Classic is one sandal that you should be looking at. This streamline hiking sandal feels as good as it looks and hasn’t compromised the discerning consumer’s style since their inception in 1989. The Z/2 was designed with all outdoor exploits in mind and has been manufactured for longevity. The quick-drying polyester uppers are matched with straps made from Jacquard webbing that gives you a fully adjustable customized fit around the foot and through the midsole. Combine this with the injection-molded ladder-lock buckle, and you have an extremely well fit and, thanks to the unusual toe-loop, stylish sandal.
The colors range from navy to brown and a very impressive tie-dye camouflage design that will set them apart from the others. Chaco did their homework when planning and designing this sandal, offering the contoured arch supporting LUVSEAT footbed that has been podiatrist certified. Polyurethane has been chosen to be used for both the footbed and the midsole, while the ChacoGrip rubber outsole gives you a 3.5-millimeter lug size for impeccable traction. This sandal is both suited for the long haul and short haul treks, and while the toe loop design may not be everyone’s choice, there is a model available that does not have this feature, so this lightweight sandal for men has become a popular option for many adventurers.
The Xero brand, originally known as “Invisible Shoes,” was inspired by one man’s constant injury issues from sprinting and another man’s advice to try barefoot running as a solution to the problem. This seemed to work, but it became apparent that there were certain places that barefoot activities were just not as practical. It seemed that the solution would be to make a lightweight huarache running sandal, which our man did, this then lead to his friends wanting the same sandals after seeing them and, in turn, led to the beginnings of Xero. The philosophy of “less is more” seems to fit the design of these sandals that the manufacturers believe come as close to the barefoot experience as possible. These ultra-light, ultra-thin sandals will certainly appeal to all the minimalists looking for a sandal that will suit their needs and is not a hassle to take on any adventure.
The Z-Trail is an extremely comfortable sandal to wear and is remarkably adept to the trail. Of course, they do not have the same performance as a heavier duty sandal, but if that’s not what you are looking for, then so be it. You will find that this sandal will perform well on moderate trails, denser or rougher terrains don’t suit the rubber tread on the Z-Trail, but it is certainly thick enough to protect from intrusive sticks and sharp rocks. The sole of the sandal is made up of two layers of super-thin foam that the Xero people have fortified with what they call FeelTrue rubber grip pods. This 10-millimeter thick outsole will fit the contours of the foot nicely and will come as close to the feeling of barefoot running as possible.
The KIIU brand is a great example of why you don’t have to spend a fortune on a good hiking sandal. Most top-of-the-range sandals, especially closed-toe designs, will cost you well in excess of $100, but the KIIU Men’s Closed Toe Hiking Sandal will give an alternative that the budget-driven adventurer is looking for. These lightweight sandals are ideal for climates where you may find the temperatures soaring and the humidity well into the 90% range. Should you be adventurous enough to explore the tropical jungles that certain parts of the world have to offer and you are lucky enough to get caught in a torrential downpour, then fear not, as the use of a breathable mesh lining will have your feet dry in no time at all.
The fully adjustable bungee lacing system used will quickly supply a nice secure fix across the bridge of your foot; this coupled with the Velcro hook and loop heel strap ensures a comfortable and dependable fit for any foot size between the range of 7.5 to 13. The outsole will ensure an excellent grip with its textured lug pattern and non-slip rubber. The closed-toe feature means that those usually unprotected digits will not have to be exposed to the dangers of hidden obstacles that can appear out of nowhere. All in all, the KIIU Men’s Closed Toe Hiking Sandal is a great choice for the beginner on a budget who is just setting out on the adventure trails of the world.
Astral’s new Filipe designed flandal (yes, that’s right, flandal) is a cross between a flip-flop and a sandal, a smart hybrid that uses the best products that Astral has at their disposal. They have cleverly made the Filipe user-friendly by allowing additional support to the wearer should they require it. The engineers thought long and hard and came up with a system that has two notches at the base of the main straps that let the user insert supplementary webbing that will fit across the heel and the top of the foot. This ingenuity makes for the Filipe to be much more secure when used for aquatic exploits.
The adventurer who enjoys the challenges of such things as whitewater rafting, canoeing on the fast-flowing rivers of the world, kayaking on undisturbed lakes, or even swimming on a warm summer day will be more than happy with the Astra Filipe Water Sandal. Don’t be mistaken though; the sandals are also extremely good for dry hiking and will take on any terrain that you are likely to challenge yourself with. The other attraction of the Filipe is that it has not been over-priced and will suit most people’s budgets.