Hiking sandals are best suited for traveling in dry and warm climates. Unlike other footwear, such as hiking boots or trail running shoes, hiking sandals are designed with a lot of ventilation, a lighter weight, and zero susceptibility to water.
Personally, what I enjoy about hiking sandals is that despite their open and flexible design, they’re 100% suitable for lightweight hikes, just like you’d expect from a regular trail shoe.
That said, let’s take a look at the ten best hiking sandals my team and I tested, and which of them is our most recommended pair.
Our Most Recommended Hiking Sandals
1. Chaco Z/Cloud Sandal
- Weight (Pair): 1 lb. 14 oz. (men’s 9), 1 lbs. 5 oz. (women’s 7)
- Upper Material: Polyester Jacquard Webbing
The Chaco Z/Cloud hiking sandals are some of the best outdoor footwear on the market. They’re nearly perfect for light outdoor activities, such as camping, hikes on easy trails, and much more.
These sandals are designed with a customizable strap system, a performance ChacoGrip rubber outsole, and a LUVSEAT PU footbed. Overall, these sandals have excellent performance, but lean more towards the aspect of comfort.
While testing these hiking sandals, my team and I were impressed with how well they held up on longer hikes. The LUVSEAT PU midsole is incredibly soft, which is a stark contrast to the stiff outsole, and we were pleased to see that high arches are supported.
Even though these sandals trade some stability for comfort when compared to their predecessor, we felt confident wearing them on rugged terrain, and the outsole was very grippy to compensate for that lack of performance.
- The Chaco Z/Cloud sandals are versatile and suitable for many outdoor adventures
- Polyester uppers are durable and sturdy in many conditions
- ChacoGrip outsole shows solid performance on wet surfaces and dry conditions
- Pillow-like cushioning cradles the underfoot and arches, allowing for longer hikes
- True-to-size fit prevents the need to size up or down
- People who don’t have high arches may find the support unnecessary
2. Teva Terra Fi 5 Universal
- Weight (Pair): 1 lbs. 10 oz. (men’s 9), 1 lb. 4 oz. (women’s 7)
- Upper Material: REPREVE Recycled Polyester
The Teva Terra Fi 5 Universal hiking sandals are both on and off-trail footwear, which manage to be incredibly rugged and versatile.
These sandals are designed with a REPREVE recycled polyester upper, not only making them waterproof but also environmentally friendly. The nylon shank provides added support on uneven terrain and the molded PU midsole is very cushy up to many miles.
During their testing period, the Terra Fi 5 Universal sandals proved that they’re made to last for many years. The hook and loop closures can be fastened and taken off without any difficulty, despite being a little thicker than some others might like.
However, the footbed conforms to the shape of the foot and even does well at absorbing rough impacts. We really enjoyed that the outsole had enough tread to handle rocky surfaces.
- Suitable for multi-purpose outdoor activities
- Will have a long life-span despite being made from recycled plastic
- Stability and support features make it suitable for some trekking
- Is comfortable even when worn with hiking socks
- The bulky straps could cause some chaffing and irritation due to rubbing
3. KEEN Newport H2
- Weight (Pair): 1 lb. 12.3 oz. (men’s 9), 1 lb. 6.7 oz. (women’s 7)
- Upper Material: Polyester Webbing
The KEEN Newport H2s are closed toe hiking sandals. Also designed with an upper made from polyester webbing, these sandals are good for activities that involve water sports, while managing to maintain a high-quality build.
The Newport H2 seems to function more as a supportive lightweight sandal since the KEEN toe bumper is spacious at the forefoot and the EVA insole provides good arch support.
These sandals make use of a lace-lock bungee system, which uses elastic straps that can be tightly secured around the feet.
These sandals have great performance across various terrain. The standout features though are the Newport’s polyester webbing, which dries very quickly in wet conditions, and the toe bumper.
During our hikes, my team and I decided to submerge our feet in some shallow streams. We were surprised to see that even though the straps got wet, you could hardly feel any moisture a few moments later.
The toe box is also wide and sturdy. No matter how hard of a beating the forefoot took, my toes were safe and the cap remained in good condition.
- The uppers make these sandals reliable performers on land and in water
- The toe bumper is spacious and provides more protection against stubbing than most
- Outsole has consistent traction on various surfaces, including wet and dry rock
- Eco anti-odor keeps the sandals smelling fresh and is machine washable
- Hikers may encounter some issues with dirt, pebbles, and sand lodging in the sandal
4. Chaco Z/1 Classic
- Weight (Pair): 1 lb. 13.8 oz. (men’s 9), 1 lb. 5.2 oz. (women’s 7)
- Upper Material: Polyester Jacquard webbing
The Chaco Z/1 Classic hiking sandals are another Chaco brand product that excels in durability, comfort, and traction. Similar to the Z/Cloud, it also has a footbed that supports high arches while sporting a stiff LUVSEAT midsole.
Even though it doesn’t have any toe protection, it still functions as a rugged outdoor sandal with a bias towards comfort over performance.
That said, the ChacoGrip rubber still proves to be grippy on tricky surfaces, and the adjustable strap system can be custom-fitted to your feet.
Out of all the footwear I’ve tried, Chaco brand products are very consistent in the areas they perform well in. The styles change, but the features usually remain the same because they’re so successful.
These sandals can be worn for everyday use, and the Z/1 Classic provides enough maneuverability and flexibility to be used on the trail at a moment’s notice. The outsole has a 3mm lug depth, giving good tread regardless of the conditions.
However, do keep in mind that these sandals are a bit dense and not as soft as other products.
- ChacoGrip outsole remains reliable in wet and dry climates
- LUVSEAT midsole and heel cups provide all-day padding and comfort on the underfoot and arches
- Polyester Jacquard Webbing is difficult to damage even in harsh conditions
- Integrated strap system is easy to adjust and easy on the skin
- Some hikers may not like the lack of emphasis on softness and lightness compared to other hiking sandals
5. Teva Hurricane XLT2
- Weight (Pair): 1 lb. 4 oz. (men’s 9), 15.6 oz. (women’s 7)
- Upper Material: REPREVE Recycled Polyester
The Teva Hurricane XLT2 hiking sandal is a product with good cushioning for the long haul, a rugged Durabrasion outsole that has excellent traction, and an injection-molded heel strap that gives an easy and even grip around the foot.
Like the Teva Terra Fi 5, the Hurricane XLT2 is made with an eco-friendly and durable polyester upper.
The nylon shanks give more stability on uneven surfaces and despite having an exposed and open toe design, it still manages to show high performance for most outdoor activities.
When testing these stylish hiking sandals, I noticed that they had a sporty feel and showed no inconsistencies between their on and off-land utility. Although, I do wish that the footbed was a little more reliable.
When handling some descents, it was common for my toes to slide over the edge, making it more likely for me to stub myself.
- Has similar performance and utility to the Chaco Z Cloud at a cheaper price
- Durabrasion outsole excels in activities that involve water
- EVA midsole has no break-in period
- Footbed isn’t as secure or firm as it should be to prevent sliding
6. Xero Shoes Z-Trail Sandals
- Weight (Pair): 11.2 oz. (men’s 9), 8.7 oz. (women’s 7)
- Upper Material: Polyester
The Xero Z-Trails are minimalist sandals with a lightweight and flexible design. At only 10.8 oz per pair, these are some of the lightest hiking sandals on this list. As a result, they’re better suited for ultralight traveling.
The Z-Trail’s FeelLite footbed is made with three different materials to give softness and protection to the underfoot.
They have straight-out-the-box comfort and perform well as secondary footgear when you’re not hiking on a challenging trail or just engaging in casual outdoor activities.
Overall, this hiking sandal fits the average traveler. It’s not made to withstand technical trails because it’s so thin.
However, price-wise they give a lot of utility to someone who’s looking for a quality pair of sandals that can handle walks on beaches and moderate dirt trails.
Some users have reported quality issues with the straps snapping apart, but my team and I haven’t encountered those problems.
- Ultralight and adjustable for a comfortable fit around the feet
- Footbed manages to be more comfortable than most products despite the featherweight design
- Great option to carry around in case you need to switch footwear on the fly
- Not a good option for someone seeking a hiking sandal made for rough environments
7. ECCO Yucatan
- Weight (Pair): 1 lb. 9 oz. (men’s 9), 2 lbs. 6 oz. (women’s 7)
- Upper Material: Nubuck Leather
The ECCO Yucatan is a sportier sandal made with soft nubuck leather and neoprene-lined straps. In addition to being lightweight, these hiking sandals come with a ton of arch support and features to make sure you can be on your feet all day without discomfort.
The microfiber EVA foam footbeds have excellent support and cushioning in the midsole, meaning that your feet are safe from dirt, gravel, slippery rocks, and other harsh elements.
As one of the more expensive options on the list, the performance and comfort technologies these sandals offer may be worth it to some.
What I enjoyed about the ECCO Yucatan is that it resembles a traditional hiking sandal. Unfortunately, this means that it doesn’t have the same streamlined appearance that most modern footgear does.
However, this doesn’t reduce its utility on varied terrain. If you’re looking for something versatile, adjustable, and flexible, the Yucatan is a good choice.
- One of the best hiking sandals for support on the market
- Rubber outsoles perform well on wet and dry surfaces without slippage
- Spandex and nylon lining absorb and release sweat and moisture quickly
- More expensive compared to other sandals that have the same features if not more
8. KEEN Clearwater CNX
- Weight (Pair): 1 lb. 8 oz. (men’s 9), 15.2 oz. (women’s 7)
- Upper Material: Polyester Webbing
The KEEN Clearwater CNX are closed toe hiking sandals with a specialty for multisport activities. Its non-marking outsoles are made with omnidirectional tread patterns to enhance your grip on slippery surfaces.
Additionally, the uppers are made with a polyester webbing that securely wraps around the feet, while also being resistant to damage that would prematurely tear most other sandals.
Similar to the KEEN Newport H2, the focus of this sandal seems to be the protection it provides to your feet and toes.
My team and I were very pleased with how well these sandals stood up to rocky and uneven trails. However, it should be noted that in exchange for protection and sturdiness, this sandal loses some of its comforts.
As such, it’s a little overbearing when wearing it around your feet for a long time, but if you’re looking for a more rugged option, the Clearwater CNX is a solid choice.
- Closed toe design gives the forefoot top notch protection against rough and jagged surfaces
- Maintains high performance even in wet environments
- PU midsole has a 4mm heel-to-toe drop that assists in your foot’s natural movements
- Not ideal for wearing over long periods
- Reduced width and volume can make the sandals run narrower in exchange for a snug fit
9. NORTIV 8 Hiking Sandals
- Weight (Pair): 1 lb. 8 oz. (men’s 9), 1 lb. 5 oz. (women’s 7)
- Upper Material: Synthetic
The NORTIV 8 hiking sandals are another pair of closed-toe shoes that are designed with a lightweight fabric for increased ventilation and flexibility.
Sporting a durable non-slip outsole, a customizable bungee lace and hook-loop system, and a shock absorbing midsole, these sandals have many features that make them a well-rounded option for outdoor hobbyists.
It also helps that the rubber toe cap is wear-resistant and complemented by a cushy midsole that protects the underfoot.
The NORTIV 8 hiking sandals are well-rounded footwear. They don’t excel in any one category, but they also don’t have any areas they’re particularly bad at.
They feel more like athletic hiking shoes, so running in them, moving quickly over surfaces, and engaging in some sports are permissible. My team enjoyed the points of drainage around the sandal since it allowed the uppers to dry quickly and filter out debris.
- Closed toe design has the same sturdiness as some popular and pricier options
- Bungee laces and hook loops allow for a customizable fit around the foot
- Multi-directional tread on the outsole has a reliable grip and consistent stickiness on varied terrain
- Some hikers have reported needing to size down due to an inconsistent fit
- Has a snug design that makes them feel rough around your feet after long periods
10. Bedrock Sandals Cairn Adventure
- Weight (Pair): 1 lb. (men’s 9), 1 lb. (women’s 7)
- Upper Material: Polyester Nylon Webbing
The Bedrock Sandals Cairn Adventure footgear is a lightweight open toe sandal with a minimalist design.
This hiking sandal, unlike the previously mentioned footwear, is designed with a community-favorite Vibram Trek XS outsole.
The outsole is light and grippy, even in dry conditions. Additionally, despite its exposed appearance and resemblance to some ordinary flip flops, this hiking sandal is designed with a contouring Bedrock sole and soft lining.
So, the footbed gives you similar comfort to what you might find in some trail running shoes.
Based on our experiences with this hiking sandal, the Cairn Adventure doesn’t perform anything like how it looks. Despite having a somewhat goofy and lax design, this footwear has some pretty great construction.
Unfortunately, there’s not a lot of arch support since the footbed falls flat, which makes these a little tricky to wear for long periods if you have foot problems.
Overall, the Cairn Adventure manages to balance comfort, durability, and traction in a way that makes it a good shoe to have when tackling river crossings or casual hiking trails.
- Vibram soles have excellent traction in all conditions due to their hard rubber and aggressive tread patterns
- Strap system has three adjustment zones and sole-hugger wings for added stability
- Heel strap uses Velcro locking to buckle the foot in place for a non-slip fit
- Low profile design makes it reliable for sudden runs, quick hikes, and watersports
- The Bedrock Sandals Cairn Adventure is flat, making it a poor choice for hikers with high arches
- Minimalist design and exposed appearance may not appeal to everyone
Hiking Sandals Buyer’s Guide
When considering the best hiking sandals of 2023, my team and I assessed our footgear based on how well they performed in the eight categories below.
The ten hiking sandals on this list were chosen over other products based on their overall utility and reliability for select outdoor activities.
1. Comfort & Fit
A hiking sandal’s comfort is determined by its cushioning, ventilation, and support. A comfortable hiking sandal will include features such as arch support, foam footbeds, and heel pads or soles that can absorb hard impacts.
Advantages like these ensure that you can stay on your feet for long periods without feeling pain. As for the fit, ideally, sandals that are properly sized and have adjustable straps should be worn.
Adjustable straps let you customize how the sandal feels around your foot for a secure setup. In this category, the Chaco Z/Cloud Sandal scored the best.
2. Durability & Material
Durability is measured by testing a sandal’s lifespan on rough terrain. High-quality hiking sandals are usually made with polyester or leather.
Additionally, the outsole is made from a tough and sticky rubber to prevent premature wear and tear on the trail.
Sandals with a lightweight and minimalist design tend to be constructed with softer materials to increase their weight savings, making them more prone to tearing.
Oppositely, sandals that are heavy and have a thicker design are made to be tougher.
When it came to footgear that could take a beating, the KEEN Clearwater CNX outperformed its competition.
3. Stability & Support
Stability features help hold the foot in place to prevent ankle rolling and slippage.
Supportive hiking sandals have outsoles with grippy traction, sufficient padding, and designs that prevent foot fatigue from occurring.
TPU and nylon shanks are pretty standard in most designs, so it’s common to buy a sandal that does well on uneven ground.
However, do keep in mind that because of their style, the stability and support you’d get from a hiking sandal is less than what you’d experience from a hiking shoe or hiking boot.
That said, the best hiking sandals in this category were the Teva Terra Fi 5 Universal sandals.
The amount of durability and support a hiking sandal has is usually related to its weight.
Footgear constructed with lighter materials may be easier to wear but lack the appropriate protection.
Oppositely, heavier sandals could be a hindrance on longer hikes, but compensate with increased sturdiness, protection, and stability.
Based on our list, it seems that most balanced sandals usually weigh around 1 lb.
So, if you can stay in that range while choosing hiking footwear with features that work for your intended use, then you should have a pleasant experience. The product that balances out performance and weight well is the ECCO Yucatan.
5. Toe Protection
Hiking sandals come in two styles: open-toe and closed-toe. Open-toe sandals have no toe caps and leave the forefoot exposed for more breathability.
They also do better at dislodging any debris that gets stuck.
This style is better suited on beaches and environments where you don’t have to worry about your toes banging against hard surfaces.
Closed-toe sandals, however, usually have rubber toe caps to prevent your forefoot from being scrapped.
However, note that if you plan on going on moderate hikes, you should probably go for traditional hiking footwear, such as a hiking shoe or boot. The best hiking sandals with the most toe protection on this list were the KEEN Newport H2s.
6. Closure System
Most Hiking sandals are usually designed with a strap or bungee lace system.
Sandals can be made with Velcro straps or buckles and are usually preferred among hikers due to their customizability.
Adjustable straps can be tightened or loosened according to your needs. However, a bungee lace closure system trades customizability for convenience, allowing wearers to tighten their sandals with a single pull.
Ultimately, it comes down to personal preference for the closure system, but since most people enjoy having the freedom to choose how their sandals feel around their feet, my team and I rated the Bedrock Sandals Cairn Adventure as the best due to its multiple adjustment zones.
The traction of a hiking sandal depends on the type of terrain you plan on using them for.
Usually, if you plan on using your sandals for hiking, you’d want an outsole that has a strong grip regardless of the surface, whether it’s wet rock, dirt, or concrete.
An outsole with good traction will prevent you from falling or slipping, in addition to being strong enough to prevent premature wear and tear.
The Vibram outsole is consistently a top performer on the market and excellent for all-terrain activities.
Once again, this made the Bedrock Sandals Cairn Adventure a good choice in this category due to the versatility of the Vibram sole.
Hiking sandals are made for different types of terrain and outdoor activities. Your sandals can either be used for trail hikes, watersports, everyday wear, or a combination of all three.
Most lightweight sandals will be better suited for easy and maintained trails, while heavier footgear made with more padding, stability, and sole durability will perform better on rugged trails.
Even though they aren’t intended to completely replace some quality hiking boots and hiking shoes, hiking sandals are ideal for light-intensity trips.
As another category that comes down to personal preference, the best hiking sandals for common outdoor activities are the Chaco Z/Cloud Sandals.
Should You Wear Socks With Hiking Sandals?
Whether or not socks should be worn with hiking sandals is dependent on the type of climate you’ll be hiking in, and whether or not the footgear you’re wearing is compatible with them.
If the weather is chilly, socks can keep your feet warm. Additionally, socks can add protection to your feet by shielding them from trail debris. However, in hot or humid weather, socks could be uncomfortable and result in sweating.
Some sandals may have a toe loop design or a toe strap, which could cause the socks to fold uncomfortably around the toes.
So, if you do decide to wear socks with hiking sandals, you’ll have more comfort with models that have an open-toe design with straps going over the forefoot, versus models that are made with a toe loop.
In the end, it all comes down to preference and what you intend to use your sandals for.
Our No. #1 Pick
For our top pick from this list, the Chaco Z/Clouds were the best hiking sandals overall. What makes the Chaco Z/Cloud Sandal better than the other shoes on this list is that it’s balanced in all categories.
Not only are they reliable for all outdoor activities, but their polyester uppers, ChacoGrip outsole, LUVSEAT midsole, and customizable strap system make them perfect for long hikes on all terrain.
Even though it’s the heavier option on this list, it makes up for it with excellent support and utility on moderate trails. My team and I enjoy using these sandals for hiking, watersports, and occasionally camping.
More Hiking Footwear Guides:
- Top Hiking Boots For Ankle Support
- Top Barefoot Hiking Boots and Shoes
- Top Lightweight Hiking Boots
- Top Hiking Boots for Plantar Fasciitis
- Top Hiking Boots and Shoes for Wide Feet
- Top Hiking Shoes for Flat Feet With Arch Support
- Top Water Shoes for Hiking
What Sandals Are Best for Hiking?
The best sandals for hiking depend on the type of activities you plan to engage in. However, from our selection, the Chaco Z/Cloud was the best hiking sandal and had the best overall performance across various terrain, while engaging in common outdoor tasks.
Is It Okay to Wear Sandals for Hiking?
It is okay to wear sandals for hiking. However, remember that in some cases hiking shoes and boots may be better suited for some trails due to their sturdier and less exposed designs.
Is It Okay to Hike in Tevas?
It is okay to hike in Tevas for some conditions. They’re best suited for traveling in warm and dry conditions, and usually in environments with a lot of sand or beaches. However, Tevas could be uncomfortable on rough terrain since they lack proper support and protection.
What Is the Difference Between Walking and Hiking Sandals?
The difference between walking and hiking sandals is that walking sandals are designed for light outdoor activities. Their flexibility makes them soft, but also vulnerable. Hiking sandals are designed with intense outdoor activities in mind, meaning they have thicker soles, waterproofing, and sometimes protective toe coverings.
Should I Size Up or Down for Hiking Sandals?
You should only size up or down for hiking sandals if the size of your foot requires it. Different brands have different manufacturing designs, so some sandals may be more narrow or wide than others. It all depends on how the sandal feels around your foot.
Last update on 2023-11-29 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API