The days of strapping on a heavy pair of hiking boots are over! Make way for the hiking sandal!
I’ll tell you, the first time I put on a hiking sandal I was skeptical, but now hiking sandals are all I wear.
Hiking sandals are great for hiking because they are so versatile. With a good pair of hiking sandals, you can cross watery trails with ease, keep your feet much cooler in hotter weather all while feeling like your feet are as light as a feather.
If you are still on the fence on whether or not you want to make the switch, then read on. By the end of this post, you will know exactly what you’re going to choose for your next hiking adventure.
This page contains affiliate links. If you use these links to buy something I may earn a commission. Thanks.
Why I Will Never Wear Anything But Hiking Sandals
Water Crossings Made Easy
Many of the hikes I go on have a creek to cross at some point. The process would always be the same. Find a rock, sit down, unlace my boots, take them off along with my socks. Then cross the creek and do the same in reverse.
If you have a few of these crossings, the annoyance can start to creep up. In fact you may just decide “to hell with it” and walk straight through the creek with your boots on. Normally this leaves you with soggy boots for the rest of your hike.
With hiking sandals, that inconvenience is over! Now you can confidently go straight through the stream, without having to take anything off and without having to scramble over wet rocks in bare feet.
Only downside is that your sandals may be a bit slippery on the other end, but hiking sandals do a great job drying out pretty quickly. Worse comes to worse, you take them off after crossing the creek to dry your feet. At least you eliminated the need to stop on both sides of the creek.
Blisters Be Gone
I don’t know about you, but with hiking boots I would get blisters all the time. Even with a pair of boots that were well worn in. Moleskin would be a must item to bring on every hike.
With hiking boots, your feet are confined inside socks and then the boot. No matter how breathable they may claim to be, your feet do get sweaty, leading to blisters.
With hiking sandals that problem has virtually disappeared. Hiking sandals are very breathable and the fact that they are open air allows them to be dried out by the sun much easier. Because of this I barely get any blisters anymore.
As Light As Can Be
I used to wear a pair of hiking boots that felt like I had lead weights strapped to my feet. Did you know that weight on your feet will use up more than 4-6 times your energy than weight on your back? Needless to say, a light hiking shoe can make or break a hike then.
Hiking sandals can weigh as little as 1/3 of the weight of a conventional hiking shoe. I remember when I first made the switch, it felt as if I could walk for miles. No longer was I being dragged down by bulky hiking boots.
No More Nasty Pebbles
It’s inevitable, getting a pebble in the shoe is sure to happen at some point in any hike. You think you could just ignore it, but eventually, you’ll give in and sit down, remove your boots and shake that pebble out.
But with hiking sandals, you can just give your feet a quick shake or simply dislodge that pebble with a flick of the finger. It’s that easy. Think about all the time you’ll save not having to remove your boots every time a pesky pebble finds its way in.
What Are The Downsides To Hiking Sandals?
I wouldn’t be honest if there weren’t some downsides to switching over to hiking sandals. I feel as if the benefits certainly outweigh the costs, but I’ll let you be the judge. Read on!
No More Ankle Support
It may be pretty obvious, but hiking sandals do not provide much ankle support. With only thin straps instead of a supportive boot, it can be easy to twist an ankle on rocky or uneven terrain.
To alleviate this problem, I use an ankle brace for times when I know my ankle is going to need a little extra support.
If you have really bad ankles, you may want to stick to your hiking shoes, but for the rest of us, hiking sandals with the addition of a brace should work splendidly.
Ouch! My Toes!
If you tend to be accident-prone like me, then you may stub your toe from time to time when wearing hiking sandals. I don’t know what it is but one of my toes will always seem to meet head-on with a rock at some point during my hike. I guess I should really be lifting my feet higher when I walk.
A hiking sandal with covered toes can be a good option for you, but for me, I don’t like how sweaty my toes feel in those types of sandals. So, I just go with the occasional stubbed toe. The comfort is worth the pain.
Careful Of Those Snakes
One good thing about a solid hiking boot, if you ever run into a hostile snake on the trail you won’t have to worry about getting fanged in the foot. But with slippers, all bets are off.
Hiking sandals offer zero protection from snake bites, so you should try your best to avoid snakes on the trail as much as possible. If you are hiking in snake country, either go for a hike when snakes aren’t active or keep yourself safe and wear hiking boots. You never know.
The Straps Can Chafe
Hiking sandals aren’t perfect and neither are hiking boots. Both can cause a little chafing or blisters on the feet, but with hiking sandals, it can be much easier to manage.
Chafing tends to happen around the straps of a hiking sandal. Sometimes the Velcro can be rubbing against the skin or the straps are just a little too loose, but skin irritation can occur. To solve this you can place medical tape on your skin where the straps touch. This tends to do the trick.
With a little preemptive action, you can take care of chafing and blisters. Hard to say with hiking boots.
A Broken Strap Can Mean Disaster
This has happened to me more times than I can remember. Out on a trail when a strap breaks. Sometimes you can make a temporary fix, like using a rubber band or some string to hold it together just a little bit longer.
Other times, it’s all over. But this can also happen with hiking boots. If this is something you are concerned about, just know this, hiking sandals are a lot lighter than boots. You can bring 2 of them!
My Favorite Sandals
Here’s where I give you a short list of my favorite sandals. These are my 2 favorite hiking sandals. I have tried others, I always go back to these two. One of them is an open toed sandal and the other closed toe. I love them both for different types of hikes. Let me explain.
Cairn 3D PRO II Adventure Sandals
Sometimes you know that when you pay a little more for an item it is going to be worth it. That is exactly how I felt when I first got my hands, er feet, into one of these sandals. The straps adjust to fit perfectly and the sole has a good blend of support and comfort.
At first, I was a little apprehensive about the thong toe, but the design of the sandal makes it a non issue, they fit that well.
I like these sandals for hikes that I know will not bust my toes open or are too wet. If you are looking for the first and last hiking sandal that you will ever buy, then this is it.
Keen Clearwater CNX
These hiking sandals are so good that they can be everyday shoes. They are comfortable, fit well, easy to slip on and off and last forever. I had a pair that I wore almost every day for almost 2 years. Sadly it wasn’t too long ago that they met their demise, so I am in the market to pick up another and these will definitely be what I get again, Why mess with a good thing.
These sandals feature waterproof material as well as a closed toe, making it easier to navigate rock strewn creeks with ease. They are the ultimate all wheel drive for your feet.
If you are looking for a great all-around hiking sandal, you will not be disappointed with these.
Quick Note on the Vegan-Friendliness of Both Sandals:
The Cairn 3D Pros are specifically labeled as vegan sandals.
The Keen Clearwater CNX are not made from leather, but aren’t labeled vegan because the glue that they source cannot always be guaranteed as animal-free. Here is an article on them addressing this issue and while we understand that may be a turn off to some vegans, we are encouraged with Keen’s awareness of the issue and support them working towards even more vegan-friendly shoes and sandals.
If you’ve ever thought about getting a pair of hiking sandals before but weren’t sure if hiking sandals really are good for hiking, let me assure you, they are.
I love my hiking sandals and they are, by far, my favorite style of footwear to go hiking in.
If you’re still not sure if you’d enjoy hiking in sandals, you may want to check out our favorite hiking boots instead.
Either way, we hope to see you out on the trail!