When it comes to hiking, your feet are quite literally on the front line of combat from the trailhead to the end-of-day Epsom soak, and if you’re logging thousands of steps per day on any given hike, you’re going to need some tough footwear. This has traditionally meant a sturdy pair of boots—and indeed, many manufacturers have made their name in the hiking boot business—but an option that tends to be overshadowed and overlooked is the mighty hiking sandal.
A sandal? That floppy summer footwear worn by tourists on sightseeing buses and boardwalks? That senseless seasonal shoe made up of messes of straps and sparkles? Well, yes and no. Yes, hiking sandals are technically sandals. No, they are nothing like those frivolous espadrilles you bought on that weekend trip to Sarasota.
Today’s hiking sandals offer stability and support in spades, and many experienced hikers prefer them over a traditional hiking boot. Come along with us as we explore the merits of women’s hiking sandals and review a few of the industry’s most highly-rated brands.
|Product||Sole Material||Size||Footbed Design||Price|
|KEEN Whisper||Textile/syntheic, rubber||5 – 11 US||Metatomica design||Check price on Amazon|
|Chaco Zong X||Rubber||5 – 12 US||Z-Rivative classic outsole||Check price on Amazon|
|Chaco Zvolv||Textile, rubber||5 – 12 US||Luvseat polyurethane||Check price on Amazon|
|KEEN Uneek||Leather/synthetic, rubber||5 – 11 US||Macramé inspired upper and toggle closure||Check price on Amazon|
|Teva Terra Float Livia Lux||Leather upper, rubber sole||6 – 11 US||Hook and loop closure, float lite outsole||Check price on Amazon|
|Merrell Azura Strap||Synthetic, rubber sole||5 – 8 US||TP molded medial side stabilizer||Check price on Amazon|
Points to Consider When Choosing A Sandal
Let’s take a look at what all features makes a great hiking sandal. These are the points to consider before you scour the internet or the shoe store looking for your perfect pair.
Before we get down to the nitty-gritty, let’s take a step back and ask the broader question that will determine how you answer all the rest: where will you be wearing your sandals? On the trail? At the campsite? At the beach or sightseeing on the boardwalk? Narrowing down how you plan to use your sandals will help you make the most informed choice.
- For hiking: Support and tread will be big concerns, and lightweight, closed-toe options might serve you best;
- For everyday wear: You can relax a bit on the high-performance features and go more for comfort and fashion. Some sandals can even convert into flip-flops for super casual mode;
- For water-heavy activities: If you like boating or rafting, traction and water resistance are key.
Every hiker’s support needs vary, but you will want to make sure (and double-sure) that the sandal in question has the right amount of cushioning in the right places for you. Most hiking sandals come with ample amounts of arch support and a comfortably-shaped footbed to properly cradle your foot.
Just like with hiking boots, you’ll want a snug fit to avoid blisters and injury from slippage. Sandals with adjustable straps will allow you to find your perfect fit, and also give you the freedom to regulate it to make room for swollen feet or thick socks.
Even a gentle hike will require your feet to absorb shock, so make sure you choose a hiking sandal equipped to do the job. Foam midsoles are one of the most common shock-resistant features on hiking sandals.
Everyone needs a little bit of [sole], and your hiking sandals are no exception. Look for sandals that have sturdy soles with ample tread.
- Piggy Protection: If you’re a chronic toe stubber or just want to keep your toenails intact, opt for a sandal that has a closed toe box. As we mentioned before, a closed toe sandal will help keep some small rocks and other debris out, but the trade-off here is that if some bits do get in, the extra coverage of the toe box makes it harder for you to shake it out.
- Water Resistance: We’ve talked about the hiking sandal’s clear advantage to tackling streams and water crossings, so if you anticipate asking your sandals to brave any bodies of water, you should definitely choose a waterproof pair. Rubber soles and synthetic materials can also help ensure your sandal’s water-wearability.
Top Women’s Hiking Sandals
Now that your brain is loaded up with sandal facts and features, let’s take a look at some of the most popular women’s hiking sandal options on the market today:
Price: $49.95 – $100
Weight: 8.7 ounces
Size: 5 – 11 US
Specific features: Waterproof and washable, making it a truly robust choice for your adventures. The Whisper features a bungee lace capture system, hydrophobic mesh lining, non-marking rubber outsole, and a metatomical footbed design that provides ample arch support and a shape specifically contoured for a female foot. The Whisper features odor-reducing Aegis Microbe Shield to keep things smelling fine
Best use: The Whisper is a great all purpose sandal that is an ace in the water and on the trail
The lightweight KEEN Whisper Sandal makes it a versatile choice for the hiker who wants to go from trail to beach to stream without giving a second thought to her footwear. The Whisper’s elastic cording keeps the fit secure, and makes adjusting the sandal a breeze in or out of the water, and its washability and odor-resistant properties ensure it will stay clean and fresh between adventures.
This sandal is specifically designed to fit a woman’s foot, ensuring a minimum of slippage even during demanding hikes and fast-paced activity. The Whisper’s closed toe design, paired with its lightweight mesh construction, gives it the protection, strength, and airy lightness hikers have come to love in a sandal.
A cushioned footbed provides pillowy support with every step, enabling you to explore in utmost comfort. Consumers report that the Whisper is true to size. The Whisper can be machine washed on the gentle cycle and air dried.
The Whisper features a bungee lace capture system, hydrophobic mesh lining, non marking rubber outsole, and a metatomical footbed design that provides ample arch support and a shape specifically contoured for a female foot. The Whisper features odor reducing Aegis Microbe Shield to keep things smelling fine.
- Cushioned footbed
- Lightweight mesh construction
- Waterproof and washable
- Traction is not the best
Related: If you think that a sandal won’t cut it for your outdoor adventures, the KEEN Women’s Targhee II Hiking Shoe is a great alternative. It is made from waterproof nubuck and boasts a torsion stability ESS shank, for well, better stability.
Price: $79.95 – $85
Weight: 10 ounces
Size: 5 – 12 US
Specific features: Adjustable fit, adjustable heel risers, a LUVSEAT midsole specifically designed for women, a non-marking EcoTread 25% recycled outsole, and a 2 mm lug depth
Best use: The low coverage Chaco Zong is best suited for tame trails and everyday activities like sightseeing or summer party hopping
The cute and casual Chaco Zong X Sandal might not be the most heavy-duty sandal on the market, but don’t let its delicate design fool you: the Chaco features plenty of support for long-term wear, and an adjustable fit system customizable to every wearer’s foot. The double-strapped polyester jacquard webbing wraps around the foot and through the midsole for a snug fit, and the high-tensile webbing heel risers are also fully adjustable.
The Chaco has a toe loop for extra stability, along with an injection-molded ladder lock ankle buckle. This surprisingly rugged sandal boasts the Seal of Acceptance from the American Podiatric Medical Association, and the Chaco’s LUVSEAT technology ensures that you will have proper arch support and cushioning throughout your day.
The Chaco Zong sandal is not just great for outdoor activity; it’s a solid and fashionable choice for those who find themselves on their feet all day. Most consumers found the Chaco Zong to be true to size.
- Heavy duty sandal
- Solid and fashionable
- Extra stability
- You have to buy half a size bigger
Related: Chaco has a wide range of products to offer especially the foot wear and its Chaco Flip Sandal is one great choice that you should buy. It’s a durable product that can be brought for daily use. The antimicrobial properties in there help you keep the odor away. So, when bad odors are your problem in particular, this one is going to be your savior.
Price: $54.75 – $100
Weight: 9 ounces
Size: 5 – 12 US
Specific features: Polyester jacquard webbing, adjustable high-tensile webbing heel risers, an injection-molded ladder lock buckle, the characteristic Chaco LUVSEAT midsole, textured footbed grooves for traction, vegan-friendly construction, non marking EcoTread, and a 3 mm lug depth
Best use: The Chaco ZVolv is a multi use sandal that is recommended for light to moderate hiking, wading through streams, walking at the beach, or just everyday casual wear
The Chaco ZVolv Sandal takes the hallmark features of your typical Chaco sandal, like adjustable straps and the LUVSEAT midsole, and works it into a sturdy, ultra light sandal perfect for long hikes on mixed terrain. One of the biggest selling points of the ZVolv is its vegan friendly construction, which makes it a home run for consumers concerned with making a sustainable choice in footwear.
Though the ZVolv is an open-toed sandal, users have reported great success with it on long hikes, deeming them hike-ready right out of the box without any initial breaking in period. These sandals are built to last, and, like the Chaco Zong, the footbed is specifically molded to fit the physiology of a woman’s foot.
Although these sandals are fit for water use, they are not recommended for the washing machine. However, their durable construction makes them a resilient sandal that can be used on the trail for years at a time.
- Good for hiking
- They can run a bit smaller so buy a size more
Related: The Birkenstock Women’s Mayari Sandal is one of the most often bought products with this sandal. It comes with a rubber sole and the upper body is made up of polyamide and acrylic material. The material gives a textured look which gives a velvety feel and can be wiped clean with soap and water.
Price: $25.99 – $117.97
Weight: 8.9 ounces
Size: 5 – 11 US
Specific features: Cleansport NXT for odor control, a lightweight midsole, metonymical footbed, soft microfiber footbed cover and heel back, a non marking rubber outsole, and an 8mm polyester braided cord with free moving cord junctions for maximum adjustability
Best use: Light trail use, beach wear, or urban use
Upon first looks, you can see that the KEEN Uneek Sandal is truly a unique sandal, and its construction is just as original: its two cord system with a free moving cord junction enables the wearer to have freedom of movement while maintaining stability and structure.
A high-traction outsole keeps your step secure, while the silky soft microfiber lined footbed and heel back keep your foot in a cloud of ultimate comfort. These aren’t the ideal sandals to strap on before sloshing through a mountain stream, but if you’re on the lookout for the ultimate sightseeing sandal to take you through long days of museum tours and urban trails with ease, this product is your best bet.
This sandal is best cleaned by hand washing with a mild detergent and left to air dry away from dry heat. You can also brush dry dirt from your Uneeks with a stiff brush or soft cloth.
- Silk soft footbed
- Not waterproof
Related: The Balega Women’s Enduro No Show Socks is also a quick pick when you are surfing for foot gears. It is available for approx. $12 and gives a seamless toe finish that eliminates all the chances of abrasion on the top of the foot. The sock is manufactured with special ventilation panel to keep you feet dry and cool. We consider it good with running shoe as it doesn’t slip off and maintains day long comfort. Give it a try for sure.
Price: $57.96 – $118.79
Weight: 5.1 ounces
Size: 6 – 11 US
Specific features: Hook and loop strap, a cushioned footbed with a lightweight EVA topsole, a Float-Lite outsole constructed of an EVA and rubber blend, and excellent traction for wet and dry surfaces
Best use: All day urban wear, but as they are not waterproof, are not recommended for extended use in wet conditions, i.e., no stream wading in this one
Weighing in at only 5.1 ounces, the Teva Terra-Float Livia Lux Sandal is one of the lightest multi use sandals on the market today. Featuring the luxurious look of real leather straps, this sandal is perfect for a long day on your feet in the city, but not quite so suited for a day wading streams on the trail.
The Teva Terra-Float Livia Lux bridges the gap between hiking sandal and dress sandal, being outfitted with its extremely comfortable Float Lite footbed designed to keep you supported all day long, but also sporting a look that is just as appropriate in a restaurant as it is on a stroll through the park.
This sandal is a great choice for a casual adventurer — one whose idea of wandering through the wilderness means staying on a well-marked trail — and the sturdy cross-strap design of this sandal will make it your favorite go-to for long (sunny) days on your feet.
- Float lite outsole
- Hook and loop closure
- A little pricier
Related: If you are also on the hunt of a comfortable footwear for your daily use, then this ECCO Women’s Damara SP Dress Sandal is one great choice. It works wonders as a routine wear product. Although the sandals are made with 100% leather, the sole comes in rubber to maintain durability. With a heel measurement of approximately 1 inch, this is one excellent choice that also offers flexible usage.
Price: $35.97 – $120
Weight: 7.5 ounces
Size: 5 – 8 US
Specific features: Waterproof Nubuck, air mesh and webbing, a breathable mesh lining treated with Aegis Select Fresh odor control, a rubber sole, an EVA integrated footbed also treated with Aegis Select Fresh odor control, and a Merrell Air cushion in the heel
Best use: Perfect for full days on your feet on sightseeing or urban adventures on wet or dry pavement, also suitable for light to moderate hikes that include water crossing
A multi-use workhorse of a sandal, the Merrell Azura Strap Sandal can take you from a day criss-crossing theme parks to a solitary ramble through the forest. This sandal is fully waterproof and also features a footbed and mesh lining treated with Aegis Select Fresh odor control, which makes it worry-proof when it comes to wading streams and stomping through puddles.
The Azura Strap’s design allows water to drain freely, and the synthetic mesh and webbing enable the sandal to dry in almost no time. The signature Merrell air cushion in the sandal heel provides optimal shock absorption, and the M-Select GRIP tunes on the sandal’s outsole giving the wearer top-notch traction (and peace of mind) on various types of terrain.
The waterproof Nubuck is both functional and fashionable; the Azura Strap’s attractive design makes it a summertime favorite for female adventurers both on and off the trail.
- Odor control
- Fully waterproof
- The buckle can be hard to release
Related: You can also buy this one more product from the same manufacturer. This, Adhera Backstrap Sandal comes with all sorts of perks that you would look for an outdoor wear. It comes in wonderful colors and even the foot bed is considered soft. The best part about these sandals is they are rather dressier and chic than other sandals of the same type.
Now that you’re an expert on hiking sandals and come armed with detailed product reviews, the next step is grabbing your wallet and outfitting your own feet with a pretty pair. However, even with all these pointers in mind, the final decision will still come down to how each sandal feels to you once you slip it on your foot. Online reviews are helpful and a great place to start, but nothing can replicate the experience of letting your foot do the talking.
Are you hiker who swears by the lightweight and versatile hiking sandal and has a favorite brand to recommend? Are you a newbie considering your first pair? Are you a seasoned boot-lover not yet sold on the appeal of a sandal? Leave us your thoughts in the comments!