Sandals are perfect for hiking in hot weather because they are breathable and light in weight. When you know that you will hike on paved roads in town and in the state parks, tuck a pair of sandals in your backpack. But first, here are ten tips for how to choose the best sandals for hiking:
The fit of the hiking sandal
Unlike the other types of hiking shoes, the sandal has to fit just right. It can be neither too small nor too big. It has to be just right. You cannot have your toes hanging out of the sandal because that defeats the purpose of wearing the sandals, which is to protect the feet.
At the same time, it cannot be too small because it will hinder your walking ability. You foot will keep on slipping inside the sandal. Thankfully, for a perfect fit, the sandals come with adjustable straps. That way, even if they are not a true-to-size fit, you can strap them up to fit your feet perfectly.
Buy gender-specific sandals
Gender specificity does not apply to hiking sandals only, but to almost all of the other gear that you buy for hiking. There is a good reason for this. One of them is that women’s feet are slender and daintier, and smaller! Men’s feet are the opposite of that. They are large and thick. Thus, a woman’s foot cannot fit in the sandals made with men in mind.
The quality of the materials
Footwear has to take a lot of abuse all the time. This is why you should make sure that you only buy high quality materials. The trails you will be hiking with the sandals will not always be all paved and easy. Sometimes, you will find a gravelly stretch on the trail, elevation gain, pebbled patches, roots, rocks and other challenges.
If you buy a pair of hiking sandals made with low quality material, they will not last a considerable time. Some of the choice materials for durability include leather, rubber and ethylene vinyl acetate.
This has to do with the sole of the sandal. When you are hiking on the unpaved trails, you will step on rocks and roots and you cannot be looking where you step all the time. Thus, you want a sole that is thick enough to absorb all the shock. That way, the sole of your foot does not feel the impact when you step on a rock or a large pebble.
When your feet are cushioned from the hard terrain challenges, you can hike longer. It is recommended that you look for sandals that have soles made with ethylene vinyl acetate as such absorb the shock very well.
Water resistant materials
You might be caught in a shower when hiking in the city or village roads or you may have to ford a river or two. Thus, you want a water resistant hiking sandal. However, because of the open design, it is practically impossible to have a waterproof sandal. But you can have a pair that dries quickly with soles that do not retain water. The reason why you should insist on a water resist sandal is durability.
This is the most important consideration for hiking boots, hiking shoes and even favorite hiking sandals. When you are hiking on a trail with some elevation gain, you want a pair of sandals that can hold its own against tough patches on the trail.
Choose a pair of hiking sandals with thick treads because such are the best for muddy trails. Even if you will not be doing muddy hikes, just get thicker treads. They are better for almost all types of trails. Thicker soles will also last a longer time and you can hike with confidence knowing your feet are protected.
Closed vs. open toed sandals
When you know you are going to hike on rough trails with roots and rocks sticking out in some places, get a pair of hiking sandals with closed toes. They will be heavier than the open-toed ones, but you will definitely be glad you wore them. When you are walking in town, on paved paths or on the beach, you should get a pair of sandals with open toe design.
Weight of the sandals
When walking, you have to lift the weight of the sandal with you. Just make sure they are not too heavy because too much weight could make you feel more tired, faster.
You may have to compromise a bit on the weight, so that you can get the perfect design. For example, closed toe sandals are really good, but heavier. One thing you can count on is that the sandals will always be lighter than the full hiking boots.
Your feet shape and size
We all have different feet. Some of us have these thick and wide feet, irrespective of our gender. Some, even men, have thin and slender feet. In this case, you have to consider the type of your feet. If you have narrow feet, buy a narrow pair of sandals and vice versa. Just look for your hiking sandals in the online marketplaces where you will find everything that you need.
Some brands are more trustworthy because they have been in the market longer. You can also find many user reviews for such, as opposed to newer brands. Keen, Merrell, Teva Terra and Chaco are just a few of the most popular brand names in the market for hiking footwear.
The popularity of a brand can make you feel very confident that you are getting a good pair of hiking sandals. This does not mean that the new brands are not good. It is just that they have not been as thoroughly tested as the old ones.
Bonus tip: Ankle support
Ankle support in sandals does not really count for much. However, it helps to have it, even if it is minimal. Sandals with ankle support have the side straps joined to the sole. Some sandals also have higher straps, to offer some sort of ankle support. Unless you want town sandals with thin cloth straps, for the unbeaten trail, always go for sandals with some sort of arch support.
As you have seen, it is not too hard to know how to choose the best sandals for hiking. Mostly, the types of trails you will be hiking determine what you buy. Just order a pair online so that you can read a few user reviews first, see what they say about the sandals so that you do not buy blindly.