In many cases, hiking in the nature requires good footwear that can protect your feet, give you comfort and stability, and provide warmth. Usually, in winter you wear hiking boots, and in the warmer seasons lower hiking shoes. But what if you go hiking in hot weather and want your feet to breathe freely? What if the terrain is wet and muddy? Or what if you have to cross deeper bodies of water like rivers or ponds? The solution is hiking sandals- an attractive accessory of your special travel gear . Let’s take a look at the 10 best hiking sandals for 2021!
About the hiking sandals
Many people prefer wearing sandals in summer, including me. They are great for walking in hot weather. But most of the sandals in the market today are proper only for a city walk. But the sandals we are looking for are those that can be used in every kind of warm nature. At the same time, you can still wear them in the city.
So, the main difference between the normal city sandals and the hiking sandals is waterproof. You can walk on a trail that crosses a river that is deeper than every shoe, and you just go walking. And the sandals protect your feet from sharp and spiny things.
Then, you finish your hike, back to the city or other place of civilization, and just proceed to wear your sandals. And all the time your feet feel comfortable breathing.
Main differences between city and hiking sandals
In general, the city sandals are designed only for the “civilization”. They are not proper for use in nature. But the hiking sandals can be used not only in the “civilization” but in the nature too.
- Durability. Hiking sandals are more durable than city sandals, and it is normal- they should be used without problem on tough terrains.
- Waterproof. Hiking sandals are always waterproof, while city sandals usually aren’t.
- Stability. Unlike the city sandals, hiking sandals are designed for hiking, so their sole is made for uneven, even slippery terrain.
- Price. As a result, usually hiking sandals are more expensive than normal city sandals, unless you mean special city sandals by famous brands.
Additionally, like the city sandals, hiking sandals can be opened or closed-toe. The opened-toe sandals can be with a strap between your toe fingers, or without it.
Another important feature of all kinds of sandals is their lightweight. They are much lighter than hiking shoes and it contributes to the comfort. Besides, you can easily bring them in your backpack if necessary.
And finally, hiking sandals can look pretty, at least not less pretty than the city sandals. And if your feet are wet due to rain or crossing the river, they can dry quickly when you go to a dry place.
Pros and cons of wearing hiking sandals
I already explained the pros of hiking sandals- stability, waterproof, durability, and especially breathability. But let’s see the cons.
But there are cons of wearing hiking sandals:
- Your feet are much less protected. If you walk on high grass, especially with thorns, you can feel uncomfortable, even hurt. And if there are snakes or other venomous animals hidden in the grass, it can be dangerous for you.
- While you walk, many little stones, sand, or other little things can easily enter your sandals, disturbing your hike. You have to stop and take them out.
- Finally, although hiking sandals are relatively stable, they can’t be as strong as hiking shoes. Hiking on stones and rocks can be difficult.
Anyway, hiking sandals still can be a very good solution, so let’s see 10 of the best hiking sandals for 2021.
The 10 best hiking sandals for 2021
These are the 10 best hiking sandals for 2021. Like all other equipment, there are no perfect in everything sandals, but these are on the top. I haven’t arranged them in a chart, because every sandal has its own strong points that are different from the other sandals.
For a quicker look, see the table below:
Xero Shoes Z-trail EV
This is one of the lightest hiking sandals. It is opened-toe, and it features as minimal straps as possible. They are attached to the sole at both sides of your foot, so your toes are fully exposed. In fact, the main idea of this sandal is to feel the ground like in barefoot walking, but at the same time to remain protected.
The sole of Xero Shoes Z-trail EV is only 10 mm thick, so you can feel the ground below it. It is soft, but at the same time enough strong. Although the sandal looks like something that can be easily torn, is it enough strong to endure even tough terrain.
Anyway, it is most proper for shorter hikes, unless your feet are enough trained to feel the ground for a longer time. And it is perfect for walking in rivers, ponds or on the seabed. The main problem of Xero Shoes Z-trail EV is that it is less supportive than most of the other sandals.
Pros: Ultralight, comfortable, great for those who want to feel like walking barefoot.
Cons: Less supportive.
Bedrock Cairn 3D Pro
Bedrock Cairn 3D Pro is designed with four straps- one strap for your heel, and three straps on the front side- two of them to the left and to the right, and one of them- between your toe fingers. But it ends with a comfortable sling loop, so your toes can feel well.
In addition, the sole and the straps connections to the sole are enough strong, so you can hike on relatively difficult terrain, including steep slopes. There is also a Bedrock Cairn 3D Pro II version with a more rugged sole for a better clutch with the ground, allowing you to walk on wet and slippery surfaces. The only thing that these sandals are weak in is their arch support- it is not enough stable.
Pros: Comfortable, ultra-lightweight, durable, simple strap design, quick dry.
Cons: Arch support is insufficient.
KEEN Newport H2
This is one of the best closed-toe hiking sandals for 2021. In fact, it is like a hiking shoe, but just with apertures between its straps. This kind of sandals is made for those, who are looking for hiking shoe types of protection and stability, at the same time for the breathability and availability to walk in the water of the hiking sandals. In other words- this is one of the best water shoes in the market.
KEEN Newport H2 comes in men’s and women’s versions. The difference is entirely in the overall design.
The sole of these sandals is made in a hiking shoe’s model- it is razor-siped, designed for more difficult terrains, including steep slopes, made for excellent traction with the ground. And their toe bumpers provide good protection against stones or other potentially harmful things in the mountain. Currently, their main weakness is the sizing- you buy a larger size, but it is still too small for your feet.
Pros: Excellent combination between hiking shoes and sandals, stability, protection, comfortable.
Cons: Sizing is not well-fixed.
Chaco Z Cloud/Classic
This is another excellent sandal, in the type of Xero Shoes Z-trail EV- with an opened toe. But unlike the first one, Chaco Z’s sandal is designed with more straps for better stability. At the same time, it still remains ultra-lightweight, with the same feeling of barefoot walking on the ground.
There are two Chaco models that are very similar- Cloud and Classic. The main difference is the additional 5 mm Cloud cushion that lacks in Classic, and an additional three-strap option in Classic that lacks in Cloud.
Besides, both of these two models have an “option 2”- Chaco Z Cloud 2 and Chaco Z 2-Classic. In this option, they have an additional strap that separates your big toe from the rest of your toe fingers by a loop, for better stability.
Finally- all of these sub-models have men’s and women’s version, and in particular, the Classic models for women is presented with more color themes.
Pros: stable, comfortable for most people, stylish, and durable
Cons: a bit uncomfortable for flat-footed people, a bit difficult to adjust
Chaco Z Cloud for men:
Chaco Z Cloud for women:
Chaco Z Classic for men:
Chaco Z Classic for women:
Teva Hurricane XLT2
Teva is one of the best brands for hiking sandals, so in this Top 10, I present three of their models. The first one- Hurricane XLT2 is their most popular hiking sandal. It is an open-toe type of footwear, quite minimalistic and lightweight. But it still provides very good stability for sandals of this kind.
This sandal is great for light hiking or playing in rivers and beaches, as well as even swimming too. Its sole is excellent for traction with the ground. It is not as thin as some of the sandals above, so it is not the best choice for those who want to “feel” the surface of the planet.
It again comes in men’s and women’s versions. The sandals have 4 straps, designed to provide as much stability as possible. Their main weakness is the lower ability to neutralize foot sweat, although they are quick-dry.
Pros: Very stable for an open-toe sandal, good traction with the surface.
Cons: Can’t absorb sweat well.
Teva Terra Fi 5 Universal
This hiking sandal is much similar to Hurricane XLT2. It is open-toe, with the same strap combination. But Terra Fi 5 Universal is more focused on difficult terrain. Like the other sandals, no matter how great are they, this one is not proper for bringing a heavy backpack, but at least you can go on hikes with a higher level of difficulty- steeper trails, rugged surface, rocks, stones, sand.
Teva Terra Fi 5 Universal is quick-dry, features a molded PU midsole, ultra-grippy rubber outsole for better traction, and hook-and-loop closure. The whole system is enough strong to bear the terrain’s obstacles, at the same time it is comfortable.
Like most of the other sandals, it comes with men’s and women’s versions. Its main weakness is the need for break-in time. Also, some people find cushioning is poor, others find problems with straps.
Pros: Durable, strong for difficult terrain, comfortable.
Cons: Need of break-in time, problems with cushioning and straps.
ECCO Yucatan sandals feature a three-strap system. Thus, the outer side of your feet is covered by a strap, while the inner side is opened. After a lot of tests, this model is considered one of the most comfortable hiking sandals in the market today. So, comfort is its biggest strength.
Another strong point of ECCO Yucatan is its stability. Since the sandals are relatively high, their straps provide good support for your feet. Yes, it can’t be the same as hiking shoes, but as a hiking sandal, this model is one of the best.
The main weakness of this sandal is its poor sweat absorption. As a result, it begins to stink too early. Also, the front strap can’t be adjusted, which some users find inconvenient.
Pros: Very comfortable, with great stability.
Cons: Poor sweat absorption, the front strap can’t be adjusted.
KEEN Clearwater CNX
Another KEEN sandal- like the other one above (Newport H2), is a “water shoe”, with a closed-toe design. But Clearwater CNX is more like a sandal than a shoe with holes. It is just a sandal with more straps- a supporting ankle strap, and a central axis covering the toe, crossed by three straps.
Again, this model provides comfort and stability that is so necessary on rugged and rocky terrain. It has a PU midsole with a 4 mm midsole drop and hydrophobic mesh line. A good feature is its Eco Anti-Odour technology that prevents stinking.
The main weakness of KEEN Clearwater CNX is its width. This sandal is narrow and not comfortable for people with wide feet. Finally, some people find it not so stylish.
Pros: Anti-smell technology, comfortable, stable.
Cons: Too narrow, uncomfortable for wide-foot people, not so stylish.
Salomon Amphib Bold 2
Let’s take a look at one of the leading sports and outdoor shoes brands in the world- Salomon. How are they presented in the world of sandals? As you can see, they are still keeping close to what they do best- shoes. And when we speak about sandals, they are doing it with their Amphib Bold 2 water shoes.
Yes, these are water shoes- more than KEEN’s. At least it is how they look like. But by breathability and waterproof, allowing you to walk in water, Amphib Bold 2 are not “less sandals” than those offered by KEEN.
Salomon Amphib Bold 2 provides full ankle support like their normal hiking shoes. Their sandal features are achieved by a breathable, quick-drying mesh that provides comfort in hot weather. And with their good traction features, they allow you to walk on every kind of terrain. You can even use them as trail running shoes.
These shoes come in men’s and women’s versions. They are versatile, but they are not perfect in everything- their weakness is mainly in the poor adjustment and low comfort when you wear them barefoot.
Pros: Great water shoes, proper for walking in water and for trail running.
Cons: A bit uncomfortable for barefoot, poor adjustment options.
Finally, we back to Teva again. If you think the models above are too expensive and too “special”, and if you are looking for something more simple and “normal”, then your best choice is Teva Original. They are the cheapest of all other hiking sandals in our Top 10, and at the same time, they are still very good in all of the important features.
Teva Original is an ultra-lightweight open-toe sandal, with a simple strap system. It has easy hook-and-loop closures. Also, it dries quite quickly.
This sandal is good for an easy hike and walks in the water. And you can comfortably use it in the city. Their main weakness is their poor adjustability and poor wet traction.
Again, it has men’s and women’s versions. An interesting thing is that when you can’t use these sandals anymore, you can return them for recycling, so they are eco-friendly.
Pros: Cheap, universal, comfortable, with simple design.
Cons: Poor wet traction and adjustability.
Besides the hiking sandals of this Top 10, there are many other models with more or less good features. Some are cheap but with poor quality, others are too expensive, but still not so good for the money. Also, some people have more specific requirements for their feet and hiking style, other people are looking for something more universal, to use it comfortably in the mountain, on the beach, and in the city. And my choice of these 10 best hiking sandals is aimed at covering all of these requirements, as more as possible.
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