If you’re hitting the trails this summer, sandals are a great alternative to the hiking shoe, or even hiking boot. Many now offer almost the same levels of comfort, support and traction underfoot, yet give the top of your foot freedom and breathability.
They’re also brilliant when transitioning in and out of water – drying within minutes – plus, they’re much more lightweight too.
Consider what surface you're likely to be using them on – many come equipped with large lugs (deep indentations in the sole for added traction) and a grippy Vibram sole to keep you firmly planted even on the most technical rocky terrain.
Some will offer a more plush and comfortable ride, while others are a much more minimal design with firmer and sturdy soles that will encourage a forefoot walking style. As well as this, some offer great toe protection, which is ideal in rugged scenarios.
We have also chosen sandals in our roundup that are designed specifically for water; they drain very easily and are made from hydrophobic materials, so your feet will dry out in minutes.
Any hiking sandal worth its salt will have at least two – quite often three – adjustable straps, which will keep the shoes firmly on your feet, thus avoiding blisters.
As you might have experienced at some point, sandals can get a bit smelly. But many are now treated with an odour repellent finish, are machine washer friendly, or have a super simple design which gives little chance for odour to latch onto.
We have tested a selection of hiking sandals in a number of different terrains, both in and out of water, to find you our favourites.
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Bedrock cairn 3D Pro adventure sandals: £108, Pannier
A Californian-based brand, Bedrock was founded in 2011 and focuses entirely on producing thoroughbred hiking and adventure sandals. The flagship of their range is the 3D Pro sandal, it’s the perfect balance of functionality, minimalism and comfort. Solidly built, they’re equipped with super grippy and durable Vibram 16mm footbeds which are zero drop, meaning your heel is the same height as your frontfoot.
With no strap across the toe section, there’s much less chance for rubbing than those with the toe strap. It is worth noting that underfoot, the sole has a much firmer feel than most others in this roundup, which offer a more spongy feel. With three adjustable areas, everyone will find the right level of comfort. If you’re in and out of water too, your feet will dry within seconds – there’s no messing around with superficial foam type comfort that holds odours and moisture. This is a super versatile and great adventure sandal.
Teva hurricane XLT2 sandals: £39.97, Blacks
Teva has specialised in making sandals since 1984, and the hurricane sandal, with its super simple no-nonsense design, is instantly recognisable. Recently refreshed with updated features such asadded heel strap padding and a chunkier sole, these sandals are brilliant, affordable and will happily put up with milder hikes as well as for recreational use.
The three adjustable Velcro straps secure the sandal very well and comfortably onto your foot. The sole provides a good amount of support and traction and is made out of ethyl vinyl acetate (EVA), a manmade material otherwise known as foam rubber. This allows water to roll straight out of the shoe, so your feet will be dry again within minutes. They are nicely proportioned around the foot, so you should avoid scrapes or bumping your toes.
Ecco offroad sandals: £90, Ecco
If you’re looking for comfort and support underfoot, combined with an open upper; these are a great option. The sole under your heel feel feels exceptionally well padded and sturdy, plus there’s good arch support too – these really are well suited to longer distance hikes. Probably not the best option if you’re going to be paddling in and out of water as they take longer to dry out than others, and the front Velcro strap doesn’t really adjust much. However, they’re adjustable around the heel and are lightweight, making them ideal for hikers.
Merrell choprock strap sandals: £85, Merrell
Equipped with 5mm lugs and Vibram soles, these won’t leave you wanting for grip, support or comfort. With elasticated padded synthetic material gripping your foot, overlaid with three adjustable Velcro straps, they feel super secure and well fitted. The outsole is exceptionally comfortable and generous, keeping you comfortable on extended hikes. They’re very much intended to be used in and out of water too – since they don’t have any sponge-like midsole to hold water.
Luna mono 2.0 sandals: £99.99, Luna Sandals UK
Heard of the book Born To Run? It’s centred around barefoot running. The author, Christopher McDougall, founded the Seattle-based brand Luna in 2003 to promote an “as nature intended” style of running and distance hiking. So, if you’re into the ultimate minimalist gear, look no further than these. The mono 2.0 is Luna’s all-rounder option; whether it be for hiking, running, or general wear, these sandals are super lightweight.
They feature a dead flat 11mm sole and 4mm deep lugs for decent grip, all Vibram megagrip of course. The adjustable straps are climbing grade nylon and secure the sole very well, while the padded heel strap is an unusual touch of luxury. These come with a lifetime guarantee, which proves their build quality. Plus, if you’re environmentally conscious, these are a top choice as they are totally vegan.
Keen evofit 1 sandals: £99.99, Keen
A more maxi style sandal that offers second skin comfort and support around your entire foot. Equipped with a quick drying synthetic upper and secured with a bungee-style elasticated chord to tighten, your feet (unusual for a sandal) are well strapped in. They are water repellant and their surface are treated with an odour repellent finish to avoid them becoming smelly. The outsole is a grippy rubber to keep you sure footed if you’re wading through streams / paddling on rocks, plus with good rubber protection around your toes you won’t accidentally stub yourself on anything.
Merrell choprock shandals: £100, Merrell
If you’re expecting to be in and out of water, these are ideal. With their grippy Vibram soles and 5mm lugs, these will keep your feet well connected to wet rocks. The water friendly synthetic upper combined with a midsole allows for easy draining, they dry out relatively quickly too. These are great in rough terrain as your foot is totally enclosed so you can’t scrape against rocks. The holes on the upper could let smaller debris in occasionally, but as they slip on and off very easily, secured quickly using the elasticated bungee pull cord, you’ll only have to stop for a few seconds to remove anything.
Meindl Capri sandals: £85.50, Go Outdoors
Made from breathable nubuck leather inlaid with neoprene inserts to avoid rubbing and for comfort, these feel really high-quality, as expected from premium footwear manufacturer Meindl. Three adjustable Velcro straps and synthetic cushioned midsole make them really comfortable, and chunky outsole make these are a great option for longer hikes.
Keen clearwater leather CNX sandals: £84.99, Keen
These lightweight sandals are comfortable from the moment you put them on. They offer a relaxed fit and slip on and off very easily with a drawstring bungee fastening, making them ideal for everyday life. The leather outer is lined with a wetsuit-type lining for comfort and they are coated with an odour control treatment. With good toe protection and grippy soles, they’d be fine for use in and out of water too, plus they’re machine washable so a practical option too once they’re ready for a renewing clean.
Columbia santiam 3 strap sandals: £70, Cotswold
These Columbia's are very affordable considering their range of features, including the three straps we look out for. They don’t sacrifice on quality and performance either – with a suede leather upper and synthetic lining, they look and feel great and have a durable build. The grippy rubber outsole has good lugs and offers great cushioning for longer hikes, and the footbed has a comfortable synthetic lining.
The verdict: Men’s walking sandals
We were super impressed with the Bedrocks; these minimalist sandals are made from high quality material with top notch design, are super comfortable and simple while still offering just enough support and padding. There’ll be no heel striking in these zero drop, flat soled sandals, but they’ll be trusty companions for miles and miles of hiking. If you’re likely to be in and out of water a lot, the Keen Evofit sandals are also a great option.
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