When the temperatures start to rise and you’re looking forward to spending time outdoors, sandals are a great way to get comfortable in the sunshine. But not all shoes are created equal, and wearing the wrong pair can lead to foot fatigue and pain. That’s why it’s important to choose a sandal that can offer both protection and comfort. In our search for the best sandals, we looked for options that are sturdy enough to withstand walking on rough or uneven surfaces, while still being lightweight and comfortable. We also considered whether the sandals could be worn in water and whether they offered adequate arch support.
The result is a list of options that we believe will allow you to spend more time exploring, hiking, and enjoying the outdoors without sacrificing your feet’s well-being. We’ve included everything from sporty sandals that can be used for extended hikes to waterproof flip-flops that can be worn in the ocean and at the beach. And for those who are devoted kayakers, paddlers, and fishermen, we’ve also found some sandals that can be used on the water and in rough conditions.
To ensure that the sandals we recommend will offer both comfort and durability, we consider factors such as straps, footbed, heel height, materials, and width. The best-performing pairs have straps that are wide enough to prevent rubbing and pressure points, as well as back straps that adjust easily for all sizes. They also have a soft, flexible fit that allows for movement while preventing your toes from rubbing together and digging in. And they should be easy to clean, especially when they’re going to be exposed to wet and muddy environments.
The most popular sandals for outdoor activities are typically designed with bungee lacing, as it’s more resistant to the elements than Velcro or buckles. This type of sandal is particularly suitable for hikes, as it will keep your feet stable and supported when you transition from paved roads to trails or even rocky terrain. Some of our top picks, such as the Hoka Hopara and Keen’s Newport H2 and Solr, use this style. Others, like our budget-friendly picks, the Teva Original Universal Sandal and J/Slides Sevy, feature a more traditional strap design. The sandals we recommended with bungee lacing have an overall fit that’s snug but still comfortable, thanks to their stretchy mesh-lined straps. However, it’s worth noting that the bungee technology doesn’t always hold your foot as securely as a strap with a hook and loop closure system. That’s why we always recommend trying on a new pair of sandals before you buy them, especially if you’re going to be wearing them for prolonged periods of time.