Best Hiking Sandals of 2020: Complete Reviews with Comparisons
Many experienced hikers favor lightweight hiking boots even in the middle of the summer when the weather is at its driest. But just because more seasoned hikers use boots, does that mean that the even the best hiking sandals don’t hold a candle to them?
It’s hardly the case. While hiking sandals are not known for their ability to easily take you over pointy rocks, muddy streams, or shifting terrain, they do offer something that no other hiking footwear does.
That’s breathability and a safer environment for your bare feet. There’s no overheating and no humid enclosed environment where your feet can develop fungal infections or calluses. If you’re all about summer hiking and camping, high-end hiking sandals might be your most treasured companion.
Hiking Sandals Reviews
1. KEEN Newport H2 Men’s Hiking Sandals
The Newport H2 sandals are easy to maintain, available in a variety of colors, and made with high-end materials that ensure comfort and stability on your average trails.
A very important feature of the Newport H2 sandals is the secure fit lace system. It guarantees great fit and comfort for hours, even in the hottest environments.
The upper section is made from leather and features a high water resistance rating – in the sense that the leather won’t break down when wet (there are no such thing as water-resistant sandals). Breathable polyester mesh webbing is used to provide some cover and stability. The mesh is machine washable so it’s easy to keep clean.
An EVA midsole prevents you from feeling constrained. It provides good support and because it’s compression molded, it’s also long-lasting.
The outsole has a multi-directional lug pattern. It offers unparalleled traction on both wet and dry terrain.
And, as an added level of comfort, the removable footbed will mold under your weight and maintain your foot’s shape.
What's to like about the KEEN Newport H2 Men’s Hiking Sandals
Although virtually weightless, the Newport H2 hiking sandals offer solid protection on intermediate difficulty trails. The closed-toe design and the use of hard rubber can minimize the risk of toe injuries.
What's not to like about the KEEN Newport H2 Men’s Hiking Sandals
These hiking sandals have a slightly high price point for the casual hiker. If you’re not going to use them often, they might not be the right investment for you.
2. Teva Hurricane XLT Men’s Hiking Sandals
If you’re dying to do some light hiking during the summer, Teva’s Hurricane XLT sandals offer superior ventilation and good ankle support.
The Hurricane XLT features polyester webbing which dries quickly and can easily be washed on an automatic cycle. A strong rubber sole makes pebbles and small debris go almost unnoticed under the weight of your foot.
There’s a slight lift on the heel of roughly 1.5”. This helps improve your stability, traction, and comfort, especially when hiking on slopes.
The lugged outsole design is obviously what provides most of the traction. The nylon straps help secure the sandals and provide minor arch support. This comes in handy when carrying heavy camping gear.
The EVA foam cushioning is lightweight. It won’t offer much when trying to cross rocky terrain but it does allow you to push harder when facing slippery or shaky grounds, not a bad trade-off at all.
What's to like about the Teva Hurricane XLT Men’s Hiking Sandals
Although these sandals are as basic as they come, they have impressive durability. They can easily be used on a camping trip or as everyday footwear in the city, weather permitted.
What's not to like about the Teva Hurricane XLT Men’s Hiking Sandals
Because they feature a minimalistic open-toe design, the Hurricane XLT hiking sandals are not as versatile as some hikers may need them to be, especially at this price range.
3. Hobibear Men’s Outdoor Hiking Sandals
Apart from the sporty look, solid ventilation, and decent traction, Hobibear’s hiking sandals also feature very affordable pricing, which might be all that matters for some hikers.
These sandals use a combination of synthetic fabrics, rubber, laces, hooks and loops, all coming together to ensure traction and breathability in hot environments.
They are available in multiple sizes but each model is fairly adjustable in terms of width and overall support. Speaking of support, the arch support is very impressive and it allows the sandals to be used for hikes, bike rides, climbing, and crossing streams.
The outsoles have a solid tread for all-terrain, all-weather viability. The sandals are comfortable thanks to the arch support and the soft sole design.
What's to like about the Hobibear Men’s Outdoor Hiking Sandals
Although there are many nice technical features in these Hobibear hiking sandals, each and every one of them is perhaps outshined by the low price point. As you can tell by now, some hiking sandals can be as expensive as full-leather hiking shoes.
What's not to like about the Hobibear Men’s Outdoor Hiking Sandals
The rubber cap used for toe protection is not as hard as you would expect from closed-toe style hiking sandals.
4. Salomon Men’s Evasion Cabrio Hiking Sandals
Sometimes people have a hard time deciding between sandals and hiking shoes. If you’re one of them, the Evasion Cabrio sandals might offer the best compromise between the two different styles of hiking footwear.
Available in multiple sizes but only two color options, the Evasion Cabrio look more like hiking shoes than hiking sandals. Salomon takes the concept of closed-toe sandals to another level and offers more than just toe protection.
Although breathable polyester mesh is used in conjunction with lateral air vents and air holes, these sandals protect the better part of your foot (on the sides and from toes to ankles).
The toe cap is a combination of hard rubber and fabric. The heel straps are adjustable and provide you with superior ankle support to just about anything else in this niche. That said, overheating may become an issue.
The traction is also amazing. The hard rubber outsole has very good texturing and a rigidity that rivals that of some entry-level and mid-range hiking shoes.
What's to like about the Salomon Men’s Evasion Cabrio Hiking Sandals
Protection and viability on harsh terrain. That’s how you could sum up the Salomon Evasion Cabrio hiking sandals. The choices of materials, as well as the less traditional sandal design, are what help minimize injury risks and allow you to conquer nasty slopes and technical trails.
What's not to like about the Salomon Men’s Evasion Cabrio Hiking Sandals
Due to how well-covered the sandals are, socks may just be a requirement before hitting the trail. Although hiking socks offer good ventilation and moisture wicking, this would make the sandals less viable for crossing streams or hiking on wet trails.
5. ECCO Men’s Yucatan Offroad Hiking Sandals
The Yucatan hiking sandals can be as stylish or as sporty as you want them to be. They’re made of high-end materials with the requisite breathability for hot and dry climates.
The sandals are made from a combination of textile, leather, and of course high-end rubber for the sole. There are 19 finishes and most of them feature around 90% leather and 10% textile. This ensures impressive durability and resistance to wear and tear.
The sole design is very interesting. The ECOO Receptor technology features dual flex channels, forefoot propulsion plate, a midfoot shank, and a 20-degree lift for minimizing effort. The sole guarantees strength, shock absorption, good stability, enough flex, and superior traction on uneven and rocky terrain.
The nubuck leather is lightly cushioned and feels great against bare skin. The open-toe design is a great choice for hot and dry environments. They can more than handle crossing streams and the occasional light rain.
What's to like about the ECCO Men’s Yucatan Offroad Hiking Sandals
The forefoot propulsion plate is probably the main highlight of this hiking sandals design. It gives you extra torque with minimal effort when trying to climb steep slopes. Also, combined with the solid ankle straps, this also minimizes the risk of an ankle injury when tackling technical trails.
What's not to like about the ECCO Men’s Yucatan Offroad Hiking Sandals
Although there’s almost nothing bad to say about these hiking sandals in terms of material, style, comfort, and traction, the price point may be intimidating for some folks. They’re priced almost as much as a pair of hiking shoes, which seems to indicate lower value for money in this pair of open-toe sandals.
Hiking Sandals Buyer’s Guide
There are lots of materials used to make hiking sandals. Some are chosen for their durability, some are used to lower the weight, and others are chosen to cut down on the manufacturing costs. Whichever way you look at it, the materials affect price, comfort, and everything in between.
So, what should you look for in terms of materials? Hard rubber compound soles are the first thing to look for. Even if you’re only doing some light hiking on easy trails, hard rubber soles with deep treads will improve your traction and improve the shock absorption properties of your hiking sandals.
The next thing you should strongly consider is nylon webbing or polyurethane for the upper section. These materials are not only durable but also very breathable. This will enhance your comfort and prevent you from overheating on the hottest of days.
Memory foam is always a nice perk. It’s typically used for the top sole. Memory foam makes great cushioning which again, only serves to enhance the level of comfort.
Note that not all nylon webbings or memory foams will have amazing waterproofing. But as mentioned, you don’t have to go crazy with water resistance and waterproof ratings. All sandals will let water in.
As long as your sandals are quick-drying, a bit of water shouldn’t scare you. The improved air circulation will help dry your feet as well as the sandals as you keep on hiking.
Toe style refers to the amount of coverage and protection hiking sandals offer. There are only two designs available.
Closed-toe hiking sandals are designed for advanced trails. They offer more protection by reducing the risk of toe injuries. These are common when crossing streams, climbing steep rocky slopes, hiking in forest areas, canyoneering, rafting, and so on.
Although these sandals are closed in the front, the materials used still offer good ventilation. You shouldn’t shy away from them if you’re hiking in hot weather. However, they’re still sandals. They’re not ideal for cold weather, hiking in heavy rains, or climbing treacherous slopes.
As far as stability and traction go, closed-toe sandals are just as good as open-toe sandals. Don’t mistake them for hybrid hiking shoes, boots, or anything along those lines which offer toe protection as well as ankle protection.
Open-toe sandals are ideal if you’re not an avid outdoorsman. They strike a good balance between urban and off-the-grid comfort. They don’t offer much protection for your toes but they still come with solid straps that keep them in place even when hiking.
There are two main reasons why some hikers prefer open-toe over closed: ventilation and weight. More open sandals would have better air circulation. And, at the same time, the weight gets reduced, making it easier to pack them for a trip or wear them for extra-long hikes.
There’s not a lot to worry about when it comes to weight. Even most closed-toe hiking sandals are lightweight, some barely averaging 2 lbs. This puts hiking sandals way under hiking shoes in terms of weight, comfort, and portability.
It’s sometimes more important to gauge the flexibility of hiking sandals to determine how easy it would be to fit them in your camping backpack. Assuming you don’t intend to use them until after setting up camp.
Brands always matter when it comes to footwear for any activity or environment. Some manufacturers have been designing hiking gear for decades, which gives them the edge over newcomers in this niche.
However, buying only brand-name sandals will involve paying a little extra. You’re paying for quality craftsmanship but also for the brand premium.
That’s not to say that new labels may not have anything to offer. If you’re not an avid camper or hiker, then a budget-friendly pair of hiking sandals should be right up your alley. And, don’t forget that some fresh designs may come with innovative technical features. That’s pretty much the only way for smaller brands to one-up trusted names in the industry.
Pricing is usually indicative of quality. Not all the time, but often enough. In theory, hiking sandals shouldn’t come close in price to hiking shoes, and certainly not hiking boots. But that doesn’t mean that sometimes you won’t find outrageous price tags.
The fancier and the more durable the materials are, the more expensive the sandals get. It’s up to you to determine whether a model is worth it or not, based on how often you plan on using hiking sandals, where you’re planning on using them, the usual weather conditions, and so on.
Hiking Sandals FAQ
How should sandals fit?
There are two things to consider when judging the fit of hiking sandals. First of all, you have to account for your feet swelling. This could happen after long hikes, because of a medical condition, a bug bite, you name it. Your feet are also the smallest when you wake up in the morning.
It’s a good idea to get sandals which allow at least a finger to fit between the straps and your ankles. Straps are adjustable so you can always tighten them until you’re no longer comfortable. Another thing to consider is the feel of the sole.
You shouldn’t be able to feel small pebbles and debris when hiking in sandals. However, this doesn’t mean that the inside of the sole should be extra rigid. If you feel like you’re walking too stiff, odds are the sandals are not good for you.
One last consideration should be made for the closed-toe hiking sandal design. It’s best to opt for a wider instead of a narrower design because you will want some wiggle room for your toes. The good news is that most hiking sandals have a fit rating of over 90%, which is better than most hiking boots.
How to choose hiking sandals?
Choosing hiking sandals ultimately comes down to a few very specific features. You choose them by fit, material quality, sole toughness and traction, and various protective features, depending on the types of trails you usually trek on.
Protective features usually refer to the type of sandals: open-toe or closed-toe. The latter offers the best front and heel protection. But, they’re only really necessary in very specific situations. Most people tend to choose sandals for the extra ventilation which makes the open-toe design very desirable.
How to clean hiking sandals?
Use a bristled brush on the soles to remove dirt. Scrub the fabric with a mixture of baking soda and water. Alternatively, you may also machine wash your hiking sandals. Use a delicate washing cycle and a warm temperature.
Mild clothes detergents may work but a homemade water and vinegar cleaning agent will also help remove unwanted odors. Check the label for the manufacturer’s instructions before proceeding.
Not all materials are durable and some of them may not react well to commercial cleaning agents.
Are sandals good for hiking?
When it comes to hiking footwear, there’s no denying that nothing gives you more protection and durability than hiking boots. That being said, hiking sandals have some very interesting technical features that make them ideal for some hikers, especially during warmer seasons and in dry climates.
Sandals are lightweight so they’re easy to pack and very comfortable to wear. They also have superior ventilation to hiking boots. Breathability is mandatory in dry climates and hot weather.
Another advantage is that you don’t have to worry about the waterproofing quality when crossing streams, catching some light rain, or walking on watery trails. Some hiking boots may start to soak up water after a while. This leaves you with wet socks, wet feet, and a constant feeling of discomfort.
It also causes you to waste time because you have to rest, take off your boots, start a fire and dry them. Sandals have less material so they will dry faster. They have an open design which enables your feet to dry as you hike. On top of that, there’s no chance of creating a humid enclosed environment for your feet that’s a perfect breeding ground for bacteria.
Sandals are not for year-round hiking or for taking on steep slopes and very rocky terrain. But, they do have their applications, and even outclass hiking boots and shoes under the perfect conditions.
You can also pack a pair of hiking sandals for spare, in case anything happens to your boots.
Are hiking sandals comfortable?
Hiking sandals are very comfortable anywhere. They’re designed to allow maximum air flow, which helps keep your feet aerated and less prone to developing odors and bacterial and fungal infections.
Most hiking sandals are designed with thicker soles. This makes them superior to regular sandals in most situations. Keep in mind that hiking sandals are also lightweight, especially those with an open-toe design.
And, although they almost always feature some sort of ankle and arch support systems, you will feel less constrained than when wearing a pair of hiking boots or shoes. Still, using hiking sandals on very rocky terrain is not recommended.
They’re most comfortable and safe to wear on urban streets, easy trails, watery terrain, and even ground slopes. In addition, the cooling factor remains an important feature.
If you’re still unclear about why Keen’s Newport H2 sandals are the best hiking sandals, here’s a quick recap. They’re bulky, lightweight, flexible, quick-drying, and confident on any type of terrain. Also, for a closed-toe design, they feature more than enough ventilation, such that you barely notice the protective rubber cap.