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12 Best Hiking Sandals for Men and Women: Avoid Sore Feet on the Trail

Summer birding means lots of hiking. If you want to keep your feet cool, you need some great hiking sandals. In this post, you'll learn how to choose the best hiking sandals. And we include our top choices for both men and women.

Best hiking sandals

Along with a great pair of binoculars, hiking sandals are a pretty important part of any birder's gear bag.

Guide to Best Hiking Sandals (for Birders)

What comes to mind when you think about sandals? If you're envisioning slides and flip-flops, you're in for a surprise. Sandals have come a loooong way – and are basically tanks that you can wear on your feet; especially if you're looking for hiking sandals that are specifically designed for rugged outdoor terrain.

Here's a selection of the best hiking sandals on the market. It isn't an exhaustive list by any means, but it's a vetted and verified collection of sandals that are worth the money. Let's get started!

This is a pretty big guide. If you're just looking for our top recommendation, I've put together this quick guide. Here are our top picks for the best hiking sandals for men and women.


Top Pick: Best Hiking Sandals (Men)

KEEN Men's Newport H2 Sandal: Made of comfortable, breathable materials like mesh and polyurethane, these sandals are strong enough to withstand all kinds of rocks, reeds, and rivers while you search for cool birds.

They have a hard rubber toe bumper to prevent stubbing. They boast a multi-directional lug pattern for traction. Their straps are reinforced with extra stitching for wear and tear.

  • Tread: Multi-directional lug
  • Toe Protection: Yes
  • Price: See current price.
  • Machine washable: Yes
  • Lace system: Single-pull
  • Antimicrobial (Odor Control): Yes
  • Weight: 0.88 pounds
  • Other features: EVA footbed, compressed EVA midsole, Cleansport NXT odor blocker

As their name suggests, they're also ideal for the water. Their webbing is non-absorbent, so they won't stay soggy after submersion. They'll dry out quickly. And they come in more than a dozen colors. There's a reason why the KEEN Newport H2s is our top pick. It doesn't get much better than this!


Top Pick: Best Hiking Sandals (Women)

KEEN Women's Whisper Sandal: Made with waterproof materials that won't retain moisture even if you've been wading in a riverbank all day.

They're light and breathable with an open-air design that encourages ventilation around your feet.

  • Tread: Multi-directional lug
  • Toe Protection: Yes
  • Price: See current price.
  • Machine washable: Yes
  • Lace system: Single-pull
  • Antimicrobial (Odor Control): Yes
  • Weight: 0.54 pounds
  • Other features: EVA footbed, TPU shank, Aegis Microbe Shield

Comes in more than 30 hues, including grape, gargoyle, sangria, shiitake, blue opal and rose dawn. All things considered, the KEEN Whisper Sandals are an elite option in women's hiking sandals. They might not be perfect, but as their thousands of reviews can tell you, they get pretty close to it.

Best womens hiking sandals

Buying Guide to the Best Hiking Sandals (6 Factors)

To help you make sense of the options, we've created this detailed buyer's guide.

You might have a vague idea of what constitutes a good hiking sandal, but before we get into the nitty-gritty of treads, laces, and outsoles, let's go over the basics. Here's what you need to know when buying outdoor sandals.

1. Grip

The bottoms of your sandals will need some kind of traction to keep them from slipping on irregular terrain. The most basic grips are just textured grooves that increase their friction coefficient, but the more advanced kind can come with everything from special tread patterns to expensive non-slip materials.

There's no right or wrong answer when it comes to the type of grip that you want. If you're just birdwatching in the woods behind your house, a basic grip will probably be enough. On the other hand, if you're scaling a mountain during a week-long camping trip, you'll probably want a grip that can handle things like cliffs and waterfalls.

2. Waterproof Fabric

There's nothing worse than soggy sandals in the middle of a 12-mile hike. Fortunately, there are many different footwear fabrics that can prevent this:

  • Rubber
  • Neoprene
  • Polyvinyl chloride (PVC)
  • Polyurethane
  • Silicone elastomer

Just know that there's a difference between waterproof and water resistant. The former can be completely submerged in water without absorbing it; the latter will provide some protection against storms and puddles, but it can't guarantee complete dryness.

3. Laces: Traditional / Single Pull / Velcro

There are three main ways that you can secure your sandals to your feet:

  • Traditional laces. You know what these look like. You know how to tie them. They aren't common in everyday sandals, but they're a feature of many athletic hiking sandals.
  • Single-pull laces. These can be tightened by tugging a single lace that weaves across the top of the shoe. When you're satisfied with the pressure, just secure the attached clip. Single-pull laces are a lot more convenient than laces that you have to tie, but they're also more expensive, so it's a trade-off.
  • Velcro. These might seem basic, but don't assume that all Velcro straps are alike! Some of them might have stronger stitches or more durable covers than others. You'll need to pay attention to make sure that you're choosing a decent Velcro system.

4. Antimicrobial

Are you prone to blisters? Or maybe you just hate dirty, smelly feet. Either way, you can save yourself a lot of stress when you buy hiking sandals with antimicrobial properties.

Antimicrobials are cleaning and purifying agents that can kill various types of bacteria and fungi. They're available in all kinds of household products, but for sandals, you'll want to look for inserts, linings, and sprays that have antimicrobial properties.

The great thing about antimicrobials is that using them can tackle multiple problems at once. Not only will you prevent the rash of a foot fungus, but you'll also reduce odors. You won't be letting the bacteria build up enough to become an issue.

6. Weight

Some sandals are heavier than others, and they'll get even more cumbersome when wet. Make sure that you're paying attention to the total weight of your chosen hiking sandals. This might mean multiplying their listed weight by two if the manufacturer only mentions individual shoe weights!

Be wary of anything that seems too heavy, too. A few ounces might not seem like a big deal when you're shopping online with your feet propped up on the couch, but when you've been stumbling through a muddy swamp for six hours in pursuit of a shoebill stork, you'll be glad that you went with the lighter sandals.

6. Protection

The best hiking sandals offer protection from anything and everything that you might encounter in the wild. You never know when you'll have to walk across jagged rocks or wade through a stream where you can't see the bottom, but stiff, multi-layered soles can prevent injuries in any environment.

Another thing to consider is toe protection. You don't want your big toe to be the first thing that greets a stone or stump, so look for sandals that provide hard rubber coverage for your toes even if the rest of the shoe has a light, airy design.

Best hiking sandals for men

Men's Hiking Sandals (6 Best Options)

You've learned a lot about hiking sandals, so it's time to put your new knowledge to the test. Which of these products will meet your needs? Let me know at the end of the post.

1. KEEN Men's Newport H2 Sandal

  • Tread: Multi-directional lug
  • Toe Protection: Yes
  • Price: See current price.
  • Machine washable: Yes
  • Lace system: Single-pull
  • Antimicrobial (Odor Control): Yes
  • Weight: 0.88 pounds
  • Other features: EVA footbed, compressed EVA midsole, Cleansport NXT odor blocker

Offering both fashion and function, the KEEN Newport H2s are the best of the best when it comes to hiking sandals.

Not only are they made of comfortable, breathable materials like mesh and polyurethane, but they're also strong enough to withstand all kinds of rocks, reeds, and rivers. They have a hard rubber toe bumper to prevent stubbing. They boast a multi-directional lug pattern for traction. Their straps are reinforced with extra stitching for wear and tear.

As their name suggests, they're also ideal for the water. Their webbing is non-absorbent, so they won't stay soggy after submersion. They'll dry out quickly.

Another great thing about the KEEN Newport H2s is that they're comfortable. You'll have arch support; you'll have an ergonomic footbed. You can adjust their fit to your own satisfaction with a single-pull lace system.

Finally, the KEEN Newport H2s come in more than a dozen colors. Whether you're feeling like a “feather gray” or a “Bombay brown,” these sandals can be matched to your wardrobe.

There's a reason why the KEEN Newport H2s is our top pick. It doesn't get much better than this!

2. Merrell Men's All Out Blaze Sieve Water Shoes

  • Tread: Vibram
  • Toe Protection: Yes
  • Price: See current price.
  • Machine washable: Unknown
  • Lace system: Single-pull
  • Antimicrobial (Odor Control): Yes
  • Weight: 1.5 pounds
  • Other features: Vibram outsoles, Unifly midsoles

These sandals are so fancy that they aren't even called sandals. They're classified as water shoes.

As you might expect from the name, these sandals are meant for people who spend a lot of time in or around water. They're made with a waxy, form-fitting material that will mold to the shape of your feet while still providing enough stiffness to protect you from harm.

The neoprene stretch collar makes it easy for you to toe the shoes on and off. The single-pull laces make it easy to adjust their fit while you're on the go. You don't even need two hands; you can reach down and fix it with a single tug while your eyes are on the distant horizon.

The best thing about the Merrell Men's All Out Blaze Sieves, however, is the outsoles. They come from Vibram, so they provide comfort, traction, and stability all at once. You won't have to worry about slipping on a wet dock or cutting your heels on zebra mussels. These water shoes are built for protection.

If you're in the market for hiking sandals that you can take into rivers, streams, lakes, and swamps, consider the Merrell Men's All Out Blaze Sieves.

3. Merrell Men's Tetrex Crest Wrap Sport Sandal

  • Tread: Vibram
  • Toe Protection: Yes
  • Price: See current price.
  • Machine washable: Unknown
  • Lace system: Traditional
  • Antimicrobial (Odor Control): Yes
  • Weight: 1.5 pounds
  • Other features: EVA midsoles and footbeds

Combining soft, breathable fabrics with heavy-duty athletic support, the Merrell Tetrex Crest Wraps are a great choice in hiking sandals.

For starters, they'll protect your feet during any kind of outdoor activity. They offer both toe and heel protection in the form of padded synthetic fabrics, and their bottoms will grip any kind of terrain thanks to their deep, textured grooves.

They're also supremely comfortable. They have soft removable linings instead of hard, rubbery insoles, and you can take out the linings at any time for things like cleaning and drying. The EVA footbeds are perforated for advanced moisture control. There are EVA midsoles as well.

These sandals even provide ventilation throughout the shoe to increase airflow and decrease odor. Instead of forcing all of the water and air out of a few holes, they have an open-form design across the foot and ankle to ensure that your feet can always breathe.

Merrell is one of the top brands in hiking sandals, and when you slip your feet into a pair of Tetrex Crest Wraps, you'll understand why. These sandals will be an excellent addition to your gear if you spend a lot of time in nature.

4. KEEN Men's Newport Sandal

  • Tread: Multi-directional lug
  • Toe Protection: Yes
  • Price: See current price.
  • Machine washable: Yes
  • Lace system: Single-pull
  • Antimicrobial (Odor Control): No
  • Weight: 0.95 pounds
  • Other features: Nubuck leather, EVA midsoles, TPU shanks

Available in grey, brown, tan, olive and navy, the KEEN Newport Sandals are some of the snazziest hiking sandals on the market. But don't assume that they're all style and no substance! They'll live up to the task of shielding your feet as well.

These sandals have top-notch tread control with both razor siping and multi-directional grooves to keep you on your feet in slippery conditions. They also offer rubber outsoles that wrap around the top and front of the shoe to create a tough toe bumper. Their midsoles are compression-molded to keep them stable and secure, and their single-pull laces ensure a perfect fit every time.

When you're done with them for the day, just toss them into the washing machine! The leather uppers have been designed not to crack, shrink or stain, so you won't have to worry about ruining your shoes if you need to get mud or sand out of their linings.

They're comfortable. They're convenient. They can even be matched to your wardrobe colors. Why aren't you wearing the KEEN Newport Sandals?

Best mens hiking sandals

Men's Budget Hiking Sandals

Are you unable (or unwilling) to drop $100 (or more) on hiking sandals? Here are just a few budget-friendly options.

5. Northside Men's Burke II Sport Athletic Sandal

  • Tread: Grooved
  • Toe Protection: Yes
  • Price: See current price.
  • Machine washable: Yes
  • Lace system: Single-pull
  • Antimicrobial (Odor Control): No
  • Weight: 1.25 pounds
  • Other features: EVA midsoles, TPR outsoles

If you don't have a lot of money to spend on hiking sandals, you might be wondering if there's anything worthwhile under $50. The answer is yes, and their name is the Northside Men's Burke II Sandals.

The Northside Men's Burke II Sandals have an open-air foot and ankle design that allows for breathability while you walk, run, swim and climb. A single strap wraps around your ankle, so they won't feel stifling, but don't worry about the sandals falling off. Their bungee cord laces can be adjusted until they're secure.

You'll have your choice of style options as well. In addition to standard colors like tan, olive, and charcoal, you can order the Northside Men's Burke II Sandals with camo prints or red-and-black embellishments.

The only downside of these sandals is that they don't have any odor or bacteria protection, so they might stink after heavy or repeated use. The good news, however, is that they're machine washable, so you can just start a rinse cycle to make them smell fresh again.

They might not have crazy features like some of their high-end cousins, but if you're just looking for a steady, reliable pair of hiking sandals, these are a great option.

6. ATIKA Men's Sports Sandals

  • Tread: Multi-directional lug
  • Toe Protection: Yes
  • Price: See current price.
  • Machine washable: Unknown
  • Lace system: Single-pull
  • Antimicrobial (Odor Control): No
  • Weight: 0.75 pounds
  • Other features: Hybrid toe cap, foot imprint molding

You might be surprised to learn that the ATIKA Sports Sandals are budget-friendly. They have such a complex design and construction that they could easily sell for twice as much.

If you don't believe us, take a look at their layers:

  • The mesh uppers provide soft padding and ventilation.
  • The midsoles have a “shell” construction to create toe support.
  • The outer rubber layer protects the wearer from sharp ground objects.

All of these things work together to bring you flexibility and usability, so the ATIKA Sports Sandals aren't a pair of shoes that you should brush off because of their low price tag. They're worth every penny … and then some.

Best hiking sandals for women

Women's Hiking Sandals (6 Best Options)

While there's nothing wrong with buying a pair of men's sandals if they suit your purposes, you might prefer something that was specifically designed with women in mind. Here are our favorites in women's hiking sandals.

1. KEEN Women's Whisper Sandal

  • Tread: Multi-directional lug
  • Toe Protection: Yes
  • Price: See current price.
  • Machine washable: Yes
  • Lace system: Single-pull
  • Antimicrobial (Odor Control): Yes
  • Weight: 0.54 pounds
  • Other features: EVA footbed, TPU shank, Aegis Microbe Shield

Another great product from the KEEN brand, these sandals have all of the features that you'd expect from outdoor sandals. However, they've been molded with a unique fit for female wearers.

In terms of specs, the KEEN Whisper Sandals are at the top of the pack. They have EVA footbeds and midsoles, so they're tough, durable and scratch-resistant. They're made with waterproof materials that won't retain moisture even if you've been wading in a riverbank all day. They're light and breathable with an open-air design that encourages ventilation around your feet.

They also come with odor control in the form of an Aegis Microbe Shield that will prevent bacteria from breeding. It'll be good for your foot health and your nose.

They come in more than 30 hues, including grape, gargoyle, sangria, shiitake, blue opal and rose dawn.

All things considered, the KEEN Whisper Sandals are an elite option in women's hiking sandals. They might not be perfect, but as their thousands of reviews can tell you, they get pretty close to it.

2. Merrell Women's All Out Blaze Sieve Water Shoe

  • Tread: Vibram
  • Toe Protection: Yes
  • Price: See current price.
  • Machine washable: Unknown
  • Lace system: Single-pull
  • Antimicrobial (Odor Control): Yes
  • Weight: 0.53 pounds
  • Other features: Vibram outsoles, Unifly midsoles

These comfortably cushioned water shoes are a lot like their male counterparts, but they're lighter and available in more colors. Whether you're looking for something in pink, blue, green or crimson, the Merrell Women's All Out Blaze Sieves can provide.

A nice thing about these water shoes is that they come with just as much interior technology as the men's version. From the hard rubber outsoles that will protect you on rocky terrain to the neoprene stretch collar that will hug your heels and provide a secure fit. The brand understands that their female customers are athletes as well.

Of course, there are some things that women might appreciate more than men. For example, the Merrell Women's All Out Blaze Sieves are primed to resist smells. They're made with patented M-Select antimicrobial interiors to keep away bacteria and other odor-causing growths, so they'll stay clean and sweet even after long days in the ocean.

All things considered, the Merrell All Out Blaze Sieves are a great example of water shoes that are suitable for both genders. They'll get the job done no matter what you look like.

3. Teva Women's Omnium Sandal

  • Tread: Grooved
  • Toe Protection: Yes
  • Price: See current price.
  • Machine washable: No
  • Lace system: Velcro and single-pull
  • Antimicrobial (Odor Control): Yes
  • Weight: 1.5 pounds
  • Other features: EVA midsoles, Shoc Pads, Microban Zinc treatment

Advertised as a “part-sandal, part-shoe hybrid,” the Teva Omnium Sandals combine the coverage of a sneaker with the flexible and lightweight fit of a sandal. They're perfect for environments where you aren't sure what you'll be facing. Will you get wet? Will you need to climb over rocks? The Teva Omnium Sandals will safeguard your feet in every scenario.

Part of their versatility is due to their grosgrain webbing. Not only does it allow oxygen to pass through the sandal, but it also assists with temperature control. Your feet will dry off quicker and stay warmer for longer periods of time.

Another great thing about the Teva Omnium Sandals is their height. With a heel measuring 1.25 inches, there's a thick, hard-soled layer between you and the ground, so nothing will be able to jab you.

Last but not least, these sandals allow you to customize their fit in multiple ways. In addition to single-pull laces, there are Velcro straps across the most critical parts of the shoe. You can tighten or loosen at will until these sandals are completely comfortable. What's not to love about a design like that?

4. Merrell Women's Tetrex Rapid Crest Water Shoe

  • Tread: Vibram
  • Toe Protection: Yes
  • Price: See current price.
  • Machine washable: Unknown
  • Lace system: Traditional
  • Antimicrobial (Odor Control): No
  • Weight: 1.1 pounds
  • Other features: EVA midsoles and footbeds

The first thing that you'll notice about these water shoes is their eye-popping collection of colors. From a bright, sizzling “blueberry” to a gentle pastel “purple rose,” the Merrell Tetrex Rapid Crests were definitely designed to be stylish.

Even when you move past their appearance, however, these water shoes have a lot to offer. Their siped soles are great for traction, and their mesh and neoprene materials will keep cool air flowing around your feet. They're known for their fantastic arch support. They're sturdy enough to be taken on all kinds of terrain.

One disadvantage of these hiking sandals is that they use traditional laces, and this isn't ideal in shoes that get wet. You might find yourself annoyed at their design when you're trying to double-knot soggy and floppy laces.

This is just one flaw, however, and the Merrell Tetrex Rapid Crests come with a lot of cool features to make up for it. They've more than earned a place on our list of high-quality hiking sandals.

Women's Budget Hiking Sandals

If your purse only stretches so far, you might be interested in something with a smaller price tag. Here are just a few of the best hiking sandals that won't break the bank.

5. Northside Women's Burke II Sport Athletic Sandal

  • Tread: Grooved
  • Toe Protection: Yes
  • Price: See current price.
  • Machine washable: Yes
  • Lace system: Single-pull
  • Antimicrobial (Odor Control): No
  • Weight: 0.75 pounds
  • Other features: EVA midsoles, TPR outsoles

From the front, the Northside Women's Burke II Sandals look like regular sneakers with a hard rubber toe bumper and a single-pull lace system. When you get to the back strap, however, you'll realize that you're looking at a pair of hiking sandals.

Their design is straightforward. For example, there are multiple drainage ports along the shoe body to ensure that they don't hold water, and there are also thick neoprene uppers that will wick away moisture and allow oxygen to move through the mesh.

Their EVA insoles are nice and cushioned. Their TPR outsoles will provide a firm barrier between the sensitive skin of your feet and the unforgiving hardness of the ground.

These hiking sandals aren't revolutionary. In fact, compared to some of the other products on this list, they're downright simple. But who says that simple is a bad thing? If you need an everyday pair of hiking sandals that won't break the bank, consider these from Northside.

6. ATIKA Women's Maya Trail Outdoor Water Shoes

  • Tread: Multi-directional lug
  • Toe Protection: Yes
  • Price: See current price.
  • Machine washable: Unknown
  • Lace system: Single-pull
  • Antimicrobial (Odor Control): No
  • Weight: 0.75 pounds
  • Other features: PU rib design, EVA midsole

It can be difficult to find hiking sandals that are equal parts comfortable and convenient, but the ATIKA Maya Trails manage it.

Like the ATIKA Men's Sports Sandals, these shoes boast a three-layered system that will guard every inch of your feet. From the reinforced uppers to the rubber toe guard that climbs up the bottom of the shoe like a protective shell, nothing will get through their barriers.

Another nice feature of the ATIKA Maya Trails is that they're easy to adjust to your exact specifications. They use a single-pull, quick-release lace system, so you can customize them as you see fit. It won't take more than a moment.

These are some of our favorite hiking sandals for people on a budget. Without spending a crazy amount of money, you can invest in solid, dependable footwear that's built to last, and it will take you wherever you need to go.

Hiking sandals for birders

The Bottom Line

It's hard to recommend the perfect pair of hiking sandals when so much can depend on size, purpose, budget and terrain type. If you've gotten this far, however, you've seen a little bit of everything, so here's hoping that you've found something suitable. Happy hiking!

Meet the Author

Drew Haines

Drew Haines is an animal enthusiast, travel writer, and content marketer. She loves to share her passion through her writing. She is the founder and owner of EverywhereWild Media, EverywhereWild, and co-founder and owner of JustBirding. She also guest blogs on LatinRootsTravel and GringosAbroad. She lived in Ecuador for 6 years and explored the Galapagos Islands. Currently based in N.S., Canada.

1 comment… add one
  • Rick Jun 4, 2019, 12:36 am

    The Bedrock Cairn/Cairn 3D sandals are the absolute best, most comfortable, and most durable hiking sandals available, period.

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