10 Best Hiking Sandals in 2021

Paul Ronto
Paul Ronto on
10 Best Hiking Sandals in 2021

Finding the best hiking sandal can be a drag considering the many options available. But having the basic know-how of what hiking sandals are all about would make a whole lot of difference.

To help you narrow down the choice, we have reviewed 20+ hiking sandals and selected the best ones. Open or closed toe, water-ready, minimalist - whatever your preferences are, we’ve got a top pick in five different categories.

Also see the guide section below to learn a few expert tips on choosing the best hiking sandal for your purpose.

How we test and review hiking sandals

RunRepeat’s review database is one of the largest, making it possible for sandal-lovers to get what they want in a matter of minutes. Now, you can save 6-10 hours of your time and save at least $41 on an average all thanks to these:

  • RunRepeat scans the prices of each hiking sandal from 200+ retailers.
  • Reviews from more than 230,000+ users and 200+ experts were gathered and analyzed.
  • Ratings were calculated and a CoreScore is given to each shoe for probable buyers to easily gauge how liked the shoes are by both experts and the users. 

Best overall

The Chaco Z/ Cloud 2 is a hiking sandal that’s got it all right! Even better, it ticks all our boxes in choosing the best hiking sandals! And that is why it dominates this list! 

But the total standout from this sandal is its unmatched comfort! Our feet are well-cushioned but still are very protected underfoot, especially during excursions on rough trails! 

Not once have we experienced any jagged rock or root poking the underside of our feet! 

And it only gets better! Comfort and protection may be top-notch, but its support only takes everything to a whole new level! 

The shoe stabilizes the feet, keeping them steady and wobble-free with its impressive arch support! There’s none of that rollover sensation, especially on uneven terrain! If anything, we’re as surefooted as ever! 

And how could we look past its grip? It’s THE hotshot! Through rocky and loose terrain, we’ve NEVER experienced slips! It just crushes everything underfoot! 

The wide and thick sole only makes this sandal’s stability a cut above the rest! It’s kept us grounded and anchored, the constant feeling has been confidence-inspiring

With all its adventure-ready features, it’s hard not to love the Chaco Z/ Cloud 2! It’s won over thousands of feet, and it sure has won ours too!

See our full review and facts

You can’t get more universal than the Teva Universal Trail. It’s got the looks to hit the streets, but it sure got what it takes to conquer the trails! This sandal has legit stolen our hearts! 

When it comes to comfort, it doesn’t cut corners! From the straps to the sole, this sandal just screams COZY! 

And we love (ab)using our sandals on the roughest trails, just to see how far they’d go, and how long they’d survive. And this Teva sandal is no exception! 

And guess what? It’s proved itself a beast! The Vibram outsole eats up everything we throw at it! It’s almost like rocky and gnarly trails are nothing next to it! 

After some creek crossings and long days on the beach, this hiking sandal has WOWED us with its quick-drying abilities! 

Whether on sand, rocky trails, or on the pavement, this shoe is A+ in the stability arena! So much so we’re in awe of its excellent arch support! As in, no feet rolling far off to the sides! 

This has kept us pain and strain-free! 

Putting it on and off is such an easy task! It's so easy, it doesn’t feel like a task at all! The soft straps are very easy to fasten and adjust! 

The Teva Universal Trail is BIG on outdoor-ready features, but it does so without loading it all up on its weight. Amazingly, this sandal has managed to keep a featherlight construction, it’s so easy to move with it! 

See our full review and facts

Best for water

The KEEN Newport H2 is not safe from our scrutiny! After taking it out on some serious water hiking, we are happy to report that this sandal has exceeded our expectations in all the best ways possible! 

It’s not going to keep the feet dry (hello, it’s a sandal), but it’s a surefire champ when it comes to preventing water retention! 

Its quick-dry lining is THE highlight! After wading through shallow waters, this hiking sandal has impressed us with its effective water drainage! So much so, we didn’t have to worry about moisture causing foot odor! 

Yes, it’s everything water-ready, but it sure doesn’t shy on performance! When we tread through uneven and wet terrain, the outsole has been nothing but pure magic! Its grip is AMAZING! 

If there’s one way to describe our whole experience, it’s surefooted

And it gets better! Apart from the sole’s sheer focus on traction, it also ensures HIGHLY stable steps with its top-notch arch support! 

If you’re thinking it’s as rigid as a brick, you got it wrong! It’s not the kind of support that punishes the feet. On the contrary, it’s got enough give to actually make the feet feel at home! And that’s exactly what we got!

See our full review and facts

It’s clear as day, the KEEN Clearwater CNX is everything water-ready! And we couldn’t ask for more! 

From beach walking, kayaking, to investigating tidepools, this hiking sandal gives nothing but pure goodness! And if you’re looking for a pair that’s going to take you from the (light) trails to the beach, this is THE sandal! 

It’s obvious that it’s a big gun among waterproof hiking sandals - the reason why it’s on this list! But what makes it great is that it’s not just terrific in one thing, it’s excellent in almost everything! 

First, it’s plenty durable! Even after several soakings, it still is not damaged or deteriorated. It’s as good as the day we got it! 

The dangers of water hiking are slipping and falling. But with this shoe, we have NO concerns or issues with such! The outsole just bites into all the surfaces underneath it! 

Whether it’s soft ground, slick rocks, or dry terrain, it’s hands down IMPRESSIVE! 

We’ve tried other versions of the KEEN models, but nothing comes close to the Clearwater CNX! It’s got a great wrap around the foot, and the toe bumper doesn’t rub against the skin! It’s secure and comfortable, it’s the BEST among its siblings! 

Despite it being a closed-toe sandal, not once have we felt warm in it! The upper allows sufficient airflow, keeping the feet cool and dry! 

And to top it all off, this shoe is INCREDIBLY light! As in, there’s no feeling of drag and it’s barely noticeable! 

If there’s one thing that hinders the KEEN Clearwater CNX from being our top pick, it’s that it’s just not protective enough (in the sole) for day hiking!

See our full review and facts

Best with closed toe

The obvious reason why the KEEN Uneek tops this list is because of the protection it gives the feet, but does it stop there? Take it from us, no. It’s so much more than what it’s billed to do! 

This sandal is among the best of the best! Why? Chiefly, it’s because of its featherlight weight! No cap, it’s among the few hiking sandals that made us forget we were wearing anything on our feet during our outdoor excursions! 

To put it plainly, it’s one of a kind! 

And although it shaves weight, it doesn’t trim down on comfort at all! Step after step, this sandal just gives our feet all the cush it could ask for! It doesn’t even require a break-in period! 

Don’t get us wrong, it’s not the kind of sole that’s mushy. It’s got a balanced cushion, meaning it’s got some softness to cradle feet and has some stiffness to support them! 

And this is exactly what we’ve experienced in this sandal! Our feet are nice, comfy, and stable. ZERO issues with slips and rollover! 

To truly keep our strides stable, the outsole is as high-traction as it could get! Plodding through rough and uneven trails has been an easy feat! 

Even better, it’s totally adept in some water hiking activities! And wet feet and sandals should be the least of your worries. The Uneek is a master in wicking away moisture! 

There’s A LOT to write home about in the KEEN Uneek, but it also has its fair share of hitches. And one that we just can't write off is the rubbing the straps caused on our feet. It just takes comfort a step down! 

Ultimately, still a great buy if you’re searching for the best closed toe hiking sandals that will give you all the protection you need!

See our full review and facts
KEEN Arroyo III
KEEN Arroyo III KEEN Arroyo III
Men
Women

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Also great

Having tested out a lot of KEEN sandals in the past, we can say that if there’s one thing the KEEN sandals are aces of, it's comfort! And the KEEN Arroyo III surely lives up to that! 

Straight from the box, this shoe gives us first-class comfort! So much so, there’s no need to break it in at all! It’s just ready to rock the outdoors! 

And although it has a much thinner toe cap this time around, the Arroyo still doesn’t hold back on protection! 

If you think it doesn’t go beyond comfort, well this sandal will surprise you! In the stability arena, it’s to die for! 

The upper fits snug, but it’s not constricting, allowing the foot to move. And even better, the sole is supportive, but it's not rock solid. This essentially means that it’s got some flex to encourage the natural bend of the foot. Simply, it ups comfort! 

And if you’re in need of additional arch support, don’t fret. This sandal has got you covered! It’s accommodating enough for custom orthotics! 

To seal the deal, it’s one hell of a grippy hiking gear! Whether it’s on dry, wet, or uneven surfaces, it just bites its way through!

See our full review and facts

Best minimalist

The Xero Shoes Z-Trail may skimp on cushion, but it sure doesn’t when it comes to comfort! Honestly, this shoe has taken us by surprise! 

Because it's minimalist, it barely has any weight on, and we’ve felt this throughout outdoor excursions! This sandal has NEVER made us feel like it was dragging us down. It’s INCREDIBLY light, we completely forgot we were wearing it! 

And ooh la la, it’s flexibility is just off the charts! Our movements have never been this free! It’s that good! 

Whether you want a laid back style on the streets, or do some hiking on the trails, you can easily do both in this sandal! 

It’s got the style to catch some eyes, and it sure has got what it takes to tramp through the rough terrain! 

Even more, it’s just as grippy in some water adventures! No need to worry about slips or falls at all! 

What’s great about it also is that it’s easy to put on and take off. The straps are easily adjustable, and they’re just as good in keeping the feet locked in place! It’s easy to disregard any sandal’s lockdown system, but in the Z-Trail, it’s hard to overlook! 

That’s because it’s so darn good at what it does! 

The only setback the straps (or the only setback the Xero Shoes Z-Trail suffers from) is its lack of durability. After some miles, they just broke!

See our full review and facts

For such a lightweight shoe, the Xero Shoes Z-Trek took our breath away with its INSANELY grippy outsole! Hands down, it’s among the best we’ve ever had when it comes to traction! 

This sandal just bites and smashes everything underfoot! We’ve taken it out on some of the unfriendliest terrain we could go to, and it’s proven itself STELLAR! 

And even better, it adapts to the motions of the foot! And with such minimal construction, it’s also EXTREMELY light, it’s almost like air! 

For the wide-footed hikers, mostly male hikers, great news! It’s got a welcoming fit! Even more, the straps are SO easy to adjust, locking down our feet is a breeze! 

You might think it uncomfortable because of its stripped-down sole, but it’s NOT. It’s very pleasant to the feet, we’d make it a replacement to our flip-flops any day! 

And just like the Z-Trail, the Z-Trek is also deficient in strength! After multiple tests outdoors, the sole just completely broke off from the sandal! 

But overall, for such a pocket-friendly price, the Xero Shoes Z-Trek has so much to offer! And if you want to have a bang for the buck experience, this won’t disappoint!

See our full review and facts

Best budget sandal

For a price that doesn’t break the bank, the Teva Original Universal sure does a lot! And it does everything excellently! 

Whether it’s just for everyday casual wear or trail hiking, this sandal claims to do the job! And after a couple of tests later, we’re here to certify it’s remarkably versatile functions! 

During regular walks on pavement, this sandal gave our feet all the comfort they could ask for! Every step is superbly soft, and what’s even better is it doesn’t weigh us down at all! 

And it’s equally perfect for light trails too! Not only are our feet cozy, they are also very well-protected! 

And how can we not love its breezy and cool design? In extremely hot temperatures, we have ZERO issues with sweaty feet! In this department, a solid 10/10! 

For the fashionistas out there, fret not, this sandal is, by far, the easiest to pair with! It can go with any outfit! 

The Teva Original Universal sure brings a lot of goods on the table for SO little price! And if it’s a great value for money you’re going for, you won’t go wrong with this budget-friendly hiking sandal!

See our full review and facts

The Teva Hurricane Drift is jam-packed with trail-ready features, it almost feels like it’s one of the expensive hiking sandals on our roster! 

It’s designed to handle outings that sure have some shallow water crossings involved! And this sandal just demonstrates what a SOLID water hiker is! 

First off, it’s quick-drying. Even after some water wading, the straps immediately shed off water! So, we had NO issues with foot odor at all! 

And on slippery rocks, this sandal just anchors us to the ground! It’s SO great at keeping our steps surefooted and slip-free, walking on wet and soft terrain is not even a challenge! 

Even better, it’s sterling in keeping the feet nice and comfortable! 

The sole may have some give to keep the feet pampered, but it also has serious regard for stability! It gives more than enough arch support to keep our strides steady and slip-free!

And at 14.1 oz, this is among the lightest hikers we’ve ever put our feet in! It’s so dang light, it’s almost like we’re hiking barefoot! 

Overall, the Hurricane Drift gives so many performance-oriented functions in exchange for such a minimal price! And for us, it’s truly a great value hiking shoe that won’t let you down!

See our full review and facts

Hiking sandals: Are they any good? 

If you’re someone from Arizona, Texas, or Florida, flip-flops, and sandals are a must especially in the scorching hot months of summer. They’re our go-to pair when strolling around town or when frolicking on the beach. But, are they any good for outdoor adventures that entail muddy trails, scrambling, and crossing rivers?

The short answer here is Yes and No. 

It all boils down to the terrain you are planning to conquer and your preference. Hiking sandals are generally built for hikes on well-maintained trails while carrying a light pack. If you’re after mobility and comfort, then hiking sandals are for you. Here are a few more reasons why hiking sandals are a must-consider footgear for your upcoming spring or summer outdoor escapade.

8 reasons to wear hiking sandals on your summer adventure.png

What makes up the best hiking sandals?

Hiking sandals, like flip-flops, are made lightweight and breathable. However, unlike your everyday slippers, these are engineered to be trail-worthy. Some are even designed with technologies that make it an eligible alternative for ultralight thru-hiking or backpacking trips.

To pick out the best type that’s capable of meeting the demands of your next quest, getting the lowdown of how each of its components work makes a whole lot of difference. See below the sandals’ main components, the usual things it’s made out of, its love-its, and not to mention its could-be-betters.

Hiking sandal anatomy.png

  Common Materials Used Key Benefits Could-be-betters
Upper
Leather - Durable (material can last for years)
- Stable and supportive
- Comfortable overtime (this material most often molds to the shape of the foot over time giving hikers a customized fit)
- Hypoallergenic
-Takes a long time to break-in
-Heavier on the feet
-Stays wet longer
-Pricier
Synthetic -Breathable
-Dries quickly
-Weighs less
-A more affordable option
-Feels softer out of the box
-The preferred material of vegans
-Prone to wear and tear
-Provides limited support and stability
Midsole
EVA -Soft to mildly stiff cushioning underfoot
-Much more flexible
-Lightweight
-Less supportive
-Tends to compress over time
PU -Supportive (helps when carrying a heavy pack weighing over 30lbs)
-Durable
-Feels stiff out of the box
-Weighs more
Nice to know: Some sandals are made with shanks placed in between the midsole and outsole improving its stability. This equates to less foot-fatigue. It also prevents bruising underfoot caused by sharp rocks.
Outsole
Soft rubber -Stickier
-Flexible
-Lighter
-Best used when scrambling in rocky terrain
-Mediocre performance on muddy trails
-Breaks down faster
Hard Rubber -Durable
-Stable
-More protective
-Lacks flexibility
-Feels heavy underfoot
-Less traction on sleek surfaces like wet rocks
Nice to know: Deeper outsole lugs offer better grip on muddy terrain and shed debris with ease

Choosing the right type of outsole

Hiking sandals depend on the outsole for traction. Its sticky outsoles often provide great traction on wet rocks. Compared to boots though, the lugs found on sandals are less aggressive making them less ideal for backcountry hikes. 

Lugs come in a variety of shapes that determine the sandal’s traction upon ground contact. Here are the most common lug patterns and their benefits. 

Outsole and lug patterns.png

Other things to consider in hiking sandals

Apart from the materials, there are in fact other features worth looking at when looking for the best hiking sandal. Here are a few:

Water readiness

Breathable, water-ready sandals (like those made of waterproof or water-repellent materials) effectively drain water and dry quickly. While these won’t completely keep your feet dry, this type of sandals won’t get soaked too much.

Toe protection

If toe-stubbing and forefoot injuries happen to you too often, a closed-toe sandal is worth looking at. With this type of sandal, you can keep your tootsies protected. 

Take note though that this won’t offer the same protection provided by your rugged hiking boots. You can also expect these to weigh slightly heavier than your open-toe sandals.

Odor control

Yes, sandals are naturally well-ventilated but this won’t stop the funk. If you have sweaty feet, it’s always a good idea to check out sandals equipped with antimicrobial linings or stink-resistant footbeds. 

Pick the RIGHT hiking sandal with these 6 expert tips

When out hunting for the best hiking sandal, there are other aspects that are worth looking into. Just take note of these 6 expert tips and there won’t be any second-guessing which one to pick.

1. Focus on your needs

The type of hiking sandals you are shopping for should be able to meet the demands of the areas you frequent. 

If you’re after versatility, then cushioned and lightweight sandals might just be what you need.  These types are great for travel and would also work well for rafting or when out camping. 

On the other hand, if your adventure involves thru-hiking on easy to moderately difficult terrain with slight inclines, then you’re better off choosing trail-worthy hiking sandals that offer stability and grip. Sandals that provide toe protection are also worth considering.

2. Consider recommendations from experts 

While mothers know best, your go-to guys (and gals) for footwear recommendations are the experts and the seasoned hikers in the realm of hiking. 

If you have friends who are quite experienced in outdoor adventuring, bring them along when out sandal shopping. Their insights would prove valuable especially when you are just starting out.

3. Know your foot type

Ever tried checking the sole of your shoes? Well, it’s actually a good idea. Unknown to many, the location of the most wear and tear on the soles tells a lot about your foot type and the type of sandal or shoe that would work best for you. Check out the image below to find out more. 

Arch types and recommended shoes.png

4. Choose a pair of hiking sandals that fit perfectly

Finding the best hiking shoe or outdoor boot that provides the perfect fit can be tricky, the same goes when fitting hiking sandals. But, it does not have to be thanks to these 6 pointers:

Purchase hiking sandals in the afternoon. The human foot slightly enlarges towards the end of the day due to swelling. Because of this, it is a good idea to try on sandals sometime in the afternoon or evening.

Bring your socks. If you’re the type who likes to wear socks with sandals (which is 100% alright), it is advisable to bring your favorite hiking socks. It’s best if your socks are made of wool or synthetic since this is moisture-wicking and provides warmth or insulation.

Get it in half size. Getting the perfect size can be tricky at times. Fortunately, most brands offer their hiking sandals in half sizes. Consider getting a half size smaller or larger if your preferred whole size keeps missing the mark.

Have an extra space for your toes. There must be at least a half-inch extra space in front of your big toe. This space ensures your toes do not touch the ground, especially during descents. The rest of your foot should also stay within the confines of the footbed—no heel or midfoot overlaps. If you prefer closed-toe sandals, look for a roomy toe box with enough wiggle room.

Go wide instead of going large. If after trying several sizes your feet still feel cramped and restricted, especially around the sides, ask for a wide version of that sandal. Some feet are extra bulky, so some footwear brands offer their products in wide width.

Test your soon-to-be sandal. After choosing the pair that fits you perfectly, walk up and down an inclined surface and make sure your toes do not slip beyond the front of the footbed or hit the end of the enclosure during descents. You should also get minimal heel lift or none at all. If it does, adjust the tightness of the straps or laces. Sizing up or down is also advised.

6-step guide to ensuring proper fit.png

5. Be adventurous and try several pairs before making a purchase 

It is quite alright to stay faithful to your preferred brand, however, it is also okay to try out other brands from time to time. 

When shopping for the right hiking sandal, it’s a good idea to gather several pairs of sandals from different brands before finally choosing the ideal pair. Also, if you are extra patient, try on previously fitted sandals the second time to make sure you are favoring the right ones.

6. Check its adjustability

Sandals often come with webbing upper or interconnected straps. Aside from giving wearers a secure and custom fit with their adjustable straps. 

The more straps a sandal has, the more secure of a lockdown you will get (which is especially handy if you have oddly-shaped feet). Apart from the number of straps, take into account how easy it is for you to adjust these. No one wants to deal with hard-to-adjust straps while in the middle of a hike. 

Bonus Topic: Must-know hiking sandal fails

While it’s always good to know the benefits you get from the best hiking sandal, knowing its flaws is equally important. 

Obviously, given its open-air construction, you’d already expect sandals to lack ankle support and protection. While you can’t really do anything about the absence of ankle support, some of its flaws can be remedied. Here’s how:

Sandal Fails Remedy
Exposure of tootsies to sun, cold, critters, and loose rocks -protect your feet from the heat of the sun by applying generous amounts of SPF Sunscreen on the top of your feet. Re-apply after a few hours or after crossing rivers and streams
-wear socks with your sandals to avoid cold feet or to protect them from critters
-step carefully to avoid stubbing your toes on loose rocks
Abrasive straps -use a towel to keep your feet and the straps of your sandals dry
-apply athletic tape or vaseline on areas that are prone to hotspots.
Fraying or worn out straps -inspect the status of the straps regularly
-keep a small sewing kit or a duct tape on your pack in case field repairs are needed
Author
Paul Ronto
Paul Ronto

Over the past 20 years, Paul has climbed, hiked, and ran all over the world. He has summited peaks throughout the Americas, trekked through Africa, and tested his endurance in 24-hour trail races as well as 6 marathons. On average, he runs 30-50 miles a week in the foothills of Northern Colorado. His research is regularly cited in The New York Times, Washington Post, National Geographic, etc. On top of this, Paul is leading the running shoe lab where he cuts shoes apart and analyses every detail of the shoes that you might buy.