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9 best boys’ sandals that are comfortable and supportive

Whether going on holiday or a staycation, make sure your child is kitted out with stylish but sturdy footwear

Zoe Phillimore
Thursday 09 June 2022 15:40 BST
From old-school buckle-ups to high-tech designs, find the perfect fit for your little one
From old-school buckle-ups to high-tech designs, find the perfect fit for your little one (iStock/The Independent)

The warmer months are here and it’s time to shed clumpy shoes and slip into more summery footwear. We’ve been testing the best sandals that’ll see your kids from beach to weddings and everything in between.

If you’re anything like us, you might despair at the lack of choice for boys’ shoes. While we’ve certainly moved beyond the days of “boys wear blue and girls wear pink”, and are now happy to embrace all colours and styles, we’ve always found variety has been on the scant side.

So, we hunted high and low for boys’ sandals that are comfy, stylish and practical, and we were pleasently surprised to find a wide choice of styles out there.

From traditional leather buckle-ups to modern high-tech sandals designed for adventure, being super lightweight and quick drying, theres something for every occasion.

Before splashing any cash, always get your child’s feet measured, and then check the style you’ve chosen fits their feet. They should be snug but the feet shouldn’t bulge, and they shouldn’t slip at the heel when walking either.

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How we tested

We tracked down lots of different styles of sandals. We were keen to find ones that looked nice but were also practical and suitable for whatever we were up to over the summer. Of course, comfort was paramount – we looked at how supportive they were and whether they rubbed.

Adjustable footwear that could grow a bit with our ever-growing children (a pair of two-year-old twins and they’re five-year-old big brother) were a big bonus for us, and bank balances everywhere. We also gave extra points to shoes that our children could do up themselves. These are the ones we’re picking up this summer.

The best boys’ sandals for 2022 are:

  • Best overall – Salt-Water shark tan kids sandals: £49.95, Salt-watersandals.com
  • Best for cool prints – Liewood blumer sandals: £22.10, Liewood.com
  • Best smart sandals – Next leather sandals: £26, Next.co.uk
  • Best for comfort – Bobux tidal sandal navy multi: £42.99, Happylittlesoles.co.uk
  • Best everyday sandal – Clarks clowder print kid grey/pink: £40, Clarks.co.uk
  • Best gender-neutral design – Zig + Star rae infant cross-strap sandal: £45, Zigandstar.com
  • Best for fun design – Marks and Spencer rainbow riptape sandals: £14, Marksandspencer.com
  • Best for adventurous kids – Quechua kids’ outdoor sandals: £19.99, Decathlon.co.uk
  • Best for poolside – Liewood joy sandals, £24.70, Liewood.com

Salt-Water shark tan kids sandals

Salt Water.jpg

Best: Overall

Rating: 9.5/10

Oh my goodness – we love these sandals! The design is timeless and they look fantastic teamed with casual shorts and tees, or with occasion ware (there are five other colours to choose from). They’re made from leather and are designed to be worn when swimming, so perfect if you’re headed to any beaches this summer.

The one small downside we found is that the buckles are fiddly – no way a toddler could do them up independently. We also found that they did rub initially, but Salt-Water advises soaking the sandals in water and then putting them on. They then mould to your feet and are insanely comfortable. And these sandals are built to last – they look as good as new after hours of wear.

Although this is technically a boys’ sandals round-up, we liked the fact these shoes are unisex, so you can hand them down to siblings or other friends, no matter their gender.

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Liewood Blumer sandals

Liewood Blumer.jpg

Best: For cool prints

Rating: 9/10

These sandals come in a gorgeous mix of unisex prints. We went for sea creatures, which our toddler loved. The straps are made from sofa EA foam, with Velcro straps that meant our tester could put them on unaided.

They’re flexible enough, so rubbing was minimal even in hotter, sweatier weather. The Velcro straps across the ankle and at the toes mean you can adjust the width to suit your child.

Incredibly lightweight, these are fab for chucking in the suitcase without eating up too much of your baggage allowance. We also loved the panda print on the sole of the shoe, which leaves pleasing footprints in the sand.

  1. £27 from Liewood.com
Prices may vary
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Next leather sandals

Next.jpg

Best: Smart sandals

Rating: 8/10

Both the upper and the lining of these cute sandals is leather, so they’ll wear in beautifully without looking shabby too quickly. We went for navy but they also come in sage green and a neutral sand colour.

The weave is close together, meaning little toes didn’t escape through the gaps, and our toddler tester seemed very happy indeed in them. A textured grip on the sole means that they weren’t sliding all over our hardwood floors, either.

The generous riptape at the ankle leaves plenty of room for adjusting to fit, though there’s no adjustment at the toes. The F fit is still quite wide, so this may not be the right sandal for those with very narrow feet.

  1. £26 from next.co.uk
Prices may vary
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Bobux tidal sandal

Bobux.jpg

Best: For comfort

Rating: 9/10

We just adore the sunshine rainbow colours of these smart little shoes. They’re clearly designed with plenty of thought by people who really know children’s feet. Made from quick-drying leather, they’re perfect for a bit of beachwear and yet they look smart enough for formal occasions, too.

The inside is textured to stop sweaty feet sliding about, yet incredibly soft – they moulded to our tester’s feet in no time at all. Plus, the contrasting sole has a decent tread to stop any slips.

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Clarks Clowder print sandals

Clarks.jpg

Best: Everyday sandal

Rating: 8/10

Although these sandals say they’re pink, our boy testers loved them (the sandals aren’t pink pink, should that bother you). We loved the animal print across the straps – it’s a subtle but cute detail.

The bulky soles provide loads of support for growing feet, and the lining is soft, antibacterial and quick drying. The soles also have a paw print tread for creating fun footprints.

With rip tape at the toes and ankle, these are easy to adjust to find the right fit (though they only come in F width). The open toe means they’re very breathable and great even on very hot days, yet they feel robust enough to be up to the job of rock-pooling, racing around theme parks or whatever else your summer throws at them.

  1. £40 from clarks.co.uk
Prices may vary
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Zig + Star rae infants’ cross sandal

Zig and Star.jpg

Best: Gender-neutral design

Rating: 9/10

With a big thumbs up from a paediatric podiatrist, Zig + Star kept our kid’s growing feet supported and comfy for hours. The three straps at the heel, ankle and toes mean they’re really adjustable, too. We found this so useful for extending the sandals’ lifespan but also for accommodating slightly swollen feet in the heat.

The natural rubber sole looks stylish, absorbs shocks well and is flexible to help negotiate rocky terrains. The inner sole is soft and comfy, and seemed to mould to our tester’s feet really nicely.

We were so impressed with the quality of these shoes – they’re definitely designed to last several hand-me-downs. They’re also a gorgeous unisex option, and come in fun prints, too.

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Marks and Spencer rainbow riptape sandals

M&S.jpg

Best: For fun design

Rating: 8/10

With Birkenstock vibes, this happy-looking pair of sandals is ticking some serious aesthetic boxes. Our tester immediately grabbed them from the box, put them on, and strutting their stuff around the garden.

The brightly coloured straps have riptape at the toes and ankles for a closer fit, and this helped our toddler with independent dressing. The lining is super soft and leather-like, while the soles are plastic with plenty of grip.

Every time we saw our toddler in these, they made us feel happy, and our tester seemed pretty thrilled with them, too.

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Quechua kids’ outdoors sandals

Quencha.jpg

Best: For adventurous kids

Rating: 8/10

These sandals are designed for childhood adventures. They’re robust enough to cope with all the running, climbing and jumping that your child can throw at them. Thick soles with very deep treads gave our tester plenty of grip for tree and playground clambers.

Inside, there’s decent arch support – something you don’t see in many sandals – and a grippy plastic lining. The toes of the shoes are covered in grip too, which gave our tester really great protection when playing football, or attempting the climbing wall at the playground.

The bungee cord across the top of the foot and the riptape across the ankle make these an adjustable fit. Our little adventurer seemed very happy indeed with them.

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Liewood Joy sandals

Liewood Joy.jpg

Best: For poolside

Rating: 8/10

We found these sandals brilliant for poolside – though sadly just weekly swimming lessons for us. However, they’d also translate well to a beach or swimming pool in sunnier climes.

They’re made of soft, flexible PVC. Our five-year-old didn’t moan once about rubbing with these, so they passed that test with flying colours, too.

We found these are on the side of a wider fit, even with the riptape at the toes, ankle and heel. Gentle arch support and a deep tread meant they performed well for comfort and grip. 

  1. £29 from Liewood.com
Prices may vary
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The verdict: Boys’ sandals

We are totally in love with the Salt-Water Sharks – they look insanely cute, go with every outfit, are hardwearing and don’t mind a drenching. We also loved the Zig + Star for thoughtful design and the Marks and Spencer’s rainbow number is just pure joy in sandal form.

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