Hiking in minimal footwear, such as sandals, appears to be an excellent approach to reducing the overall weight of your equipment.
The feeling of lightness and freedom compared to big, bulky hiking boots is an enticing idea, but that begs the question: are sandals suitable for hiking?
Sandals can be suitable for hiking, provided they are designed for it. The terrain you’re walking on shouldn’t be too rough, and weather conditions also affect their suitability.
The best trekking sandals in test comparison
I have selected the best brands that make high-quality hiking sandals and listed them here to save you time.
What are the types of trekking sandals?
Trekking sandals are specially designed to provide the best possible support for your feet while hiking or trekking.
There are different trekking sandals on the market, so it can be difficult to know which ones are right for you.
The best trekking sandal is the one that fits you and your needs. It can be helpful to categorize them:
- Lightweight trekking sandals: This type is suitable for people just starting long-distance hiking. The lightweight construction makes them comfortable. However, these sandals usually don’t offer much support, so they can feel wobbly when carrying a heavy backpack on rough terrain.
- Minimalist trekking sandals: These sandals are a good choice for experienced hikers looking for something lightweight and discreet. Most who own these types of sandals love them. However, some people need to adjust their walking style to the thin sole.
- Traditional trekking sandals: The best of both worlds. If you prefer a little more weight and cushioning, these sandals are great. The soles are a little thicker, providing better terrain protection.
- Heavy-duty leather sandals: this is the heaviest type of sandal available. They are long-lasting but not very flexible. If you’re looking for something that will last for years, this is a good choice.
- Trekking Sandals with GoreTex: This is a good choice if you want something that will keep your feet dry.
Info: Birkenstocks are exceptionally comfortable sandals, but they are not specifically meant to be hiking sandals.
They’re great for exploring downtown and light walking on well-maintained trails.
Stick to the sandals that are specifically designed for hiking.
How good are sandals for hiking?
Some sandals offer excellent traction – even on wet ground and riverbeds – but you have to ask yourself if you want to hike with wet feet.
I wouldn’t recommend using sandals for hiking in cold climates or during the winter months.
Now let’s get into the details of the advantages and disadvantages of sandals for hiking.
Advantages of trekking sandals:
- Ideal for warm weather: sandals can be a fantastic addition to your trekking inventory in milder climates and summer months. They dry quickly and are easy and quick to take off if you need to cross a river.
- Hiking sandals are ultra-lightweight: sandals could be the solution if you want to get around quickly or can’t stand having heavy boots on your feet. When you arrive at camp in the evening, you’ll already have your camp shoes on (maybe take off those smelly socks). This saves both weight and space in your pack.
- Less contact with your feet: if you’re used to wearing sandals, you’re less likely to get blisters than boots. However, as with all shoes, it’s recommended to break them in before hiking.
Disadvantages of trekking sandals:
- Hardly any support when walking: This is a somewhat controversial topic, but sandals offer less support while walking than traditional mid-height or high-heeled hiking boots. It is controversial because some feel that if the muscles and tendons of the ankle and calves are strong, no support is needed. Further, it is often claimed that wearing hiking boots decreases strength by taking the focus off of those muscles.
- Little or no toe protection: although some hiking sandals come with extra toe protection, most do not. So if you stub your toe on a rock, you won’t be a happy hiker. You may even be forced to leave the trail with a limp.
- Snakes: Chances are slim, but I’ve seen snakes on the sidewalk a few times, so I have to mention it – hiking sandals offer little protection from snakes and other creepy-crawlies.
- Rocks in sandals: Do you know how annoying it is when a small rock finds its way into your shoe? Depending on the terrain, this can happen more often when you’re wearing a pair of sandals.
However, you feel about it, I wouldn’t want to be out in the backcountry on rough terrain in a pair of sandals – to each his own!
If your ankle and calf muscles are strong, you can try it.
If you’re used to hiking in high boots, get used to it slowly and start with short walks around the block.
Are trekking sandals waterproof?
Trekking sandals are lightweight and breathable, making them an ideal choice for hot weather hiking.
However, some people wonder if they are waterproof? That depends on your definition of what you mean by waterproof.
If you’re planning a desert hike where water usually comes in puddles and streams, trekking sandals may be a good choice.
It’s a good idea to be prepared for the worst, especially if you’re visiting an area with unpredictable weather.
So is it safe to wear trekking sandals in the rain?
This is a common question, and the motivation to switch to your boots may be to safeguard yourself from slips and falls.
Can children wear trekking sandals?
When planning a family hike or outdoor trekking adventure, parents often wonder if their little ones can keep up in terms of footwear.
Trekking sandals provide excellent support and comfort for hikers of all ages and can make the hike much more enjoyable.
Trekking sandals are perfect for kids! They provide good support and protection yet are comfortable enough that kids love wearing them.
Before you head out, check out my list of the best trekking sandals for kids. I explain everything you need to know as a parent in this article.
How to properly care for hiking sandals?
Sandals are a great alternative to traditional hiking boots for short day hikes and warm weather.
Still, proper care is necessary to ensure their longevity.
Follow these tips to get the most out of your hiking sandals:
- Rinse your sandals with fresh water after each use. This will remove dirt and debris that may have accumulated during your hike.
- Apply a waterproofing agent if needed. This will protect your sandals from getting wet and deteriorating over time.
- Store sandals in a cool, dry place when not in use. Direct sunlight or extreme heat can damage the materials they are made of.
- Check the sandals regularly for wear or damage that may affect their integrity.
Do you have a question about trekking sandals too?
Contact me at @outdoormeta on Twitter. I’ll be happy to help you out.
Have fun with your new trekking sandals!