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
- Buy gender-specific sandals
- The quality of the materials
- Shock absorption
- Water resistant materials
- Closed vs. open toed sandals
- Weight of the sandals
- Your feet shape and size
- Brand name
- Bonus tip: Ankle support
- Ready for some hot weather hiking? Here are 7 tips to have a lovely hike!
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.
Ready for some hot weather hiking? Here are 7 tips to have a lovely hike!
For many destinations, summer is probably the perfect time to go hiking. Clear, sunny skies and long daylight hours ensure a wonderful hike almost every time. However, the days can get too hot at times and some cautious steps will have to be made. Just because it’s hot doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try a summer hike. Plus, you already bought your hiking sandals J
1. Start early
Many people don’t like waking up early, especially on weekends. If that’s the case for you, we recommend you try your best and have an early start for hiking. Remember that hiking is supposed to be fun and relaxing; don’t go if it’s a struggle for you to wake up really early in the morning.
Organize your gear the day before the hike to have a quicker morning departure. You don’t need to have a copious breakfast and long shower before your hike.
2. Stay hydrated
Irrespective of when you go hiking, you should stay hydrated when hiking. It goes without saying that hiking in the summer pushes your body hard and dry conditions speed up dehydration. The easiest way to minimize the risk is to drink plenty of fluids before, during, and after your hike. As your body gets hot, it will be challenging to cool on its own and you will feel exhausted pretty fast. Avoid heat exhaustion by staying hydrated and not hiking/climbing during the hottest part of the day.
Even if it sounds a bit gross, blowback into the mouthpiece of your hydration bladder once you’re done drinking. This way, water doesn’t remain in the drinking tube; the first sip won’t be hot, sun-soaked water the next time you drink.
Partially fill your drink bottles the night before you hike. Please put them in the freezer overnight and fill them to the top in the morning. It’s an excellent trick to have a fresh cold while hiking. You should also put a water bottle in the freezer and carry it in a perfect spot until your hiking spot. When you return to the car at the end of your hike, you will have a refreshing drink to hydrate.
3. Protect yourself from the sun
Even if we all love the sun as it’s good for our mental and physical health, we also need to protect ourselves from the harmful UV rays. Wear long sleeves and cover as much as you can to shield yourself from the sun. Put on loose-fitting long sleeves and pants and hat (wide-brimmed) for efficient protection.
Protect your eyes with UV-blocking sunglasses and apply sunscreen on every inch of the body that you cannot cover. Re-apply as often as you can, especially when hiking at high altitudes, where the sun is intense. You will get burned faster at high altitudes, especially if you sweat a lot. Look for a high SF sunscreen on the neck, legs, arms, and any exposed skin.
As for materials, please stay away from cotton as it gets heavy when wet and doesn’t dry quickly. Opt for merino wool and polyester fabrics that wick moisture away from the body, help with ventilation, and dry quickly.
4. Learn how to identify heat exhaustion
Physical exertion during high temperatures can generate unbalanced/inappropriate replacement of fluids and, eventually, heat exhaustion. When your body temperature increase, your body won’t be able to cool on its own and you will probably experience heat exhaustion. It happens right after dehydration and is not as severe as heat stroke.
As long as you pay attention to your body, you will be able to identify heat exhaustion and act accordingly. Here are the most common symptoms of heat exhaustion:
- Muscle cramps
- Weak, rapid pulse
- Intense sweating
- Cool, moist skin with goosebumps
- Feeling light-headed or dizzy when you stand up
If you don’t act when you feel these symptoms, you risk having a heat stroke. Here are the symptoms:
- Pulsing headaches
- Absence of sweating
- High body temperature
- Hot/dry skin
- Loss of consciousness
Should you feel these symptoms, you’re way too hot and your internal organs are slowly shutting down. You will need medical care urgently.
5. Have breaks
Hiking isn’t a competition, or it shouldn’t be one, anyway. Don’t forget to stop and have a snack break or a sip of water from time to time. Look to stay in the shade and get wet to cool down your body temperature. While you’re having a break, take a look around and enjoy the sights and nature. Observe the plants, animals, and birds and breathe. When you take a break, your muscles will recover, and your perspiration will evaporate. Tell your companions that you’re unwell if you feel that it’s more than tiredness. By the way, you should never go hiking alone.
6. Is it snake season?
If it’s snake season (depending on weather patterns and location), you should watch out for them. When hiking, stay away from areas where snakes prefer. Tallgrass is a big no when walking in snake season. If you don’t have alternatives, you should at least protect yourself by wearing long pants, ankle-high boots, and even snake-proof gaiters.
Pay attention when you enter areas where snakes like to hide, such as logs and under rocks. If you step into a place where you cannot see your feet, always kick ahead to scare the snakes away. Ideally, you should always be able to see your feet and hands, especially when collecting firewood and walking around rocks. Snakes don’t need to be close to you to attack. The safest way is to walk around or allow the snake to slip away.
If you hike on rocky tracks, carefully look where you put your hands, especially on sunny ledges. Many people think snakes like sunbathing during the hottest part of the day. However, many snakes avoid the heat and typically come out in the cool morning, evening, and night.
7. Be fire ready
One of the first things you learn about hiking is that you always have to check out the weather before hiking. While you check the weather forecast in the summer, you should also see if there are fire warnings at your hiking location. Don’t check only for the surrounding area of the hike but also in a 31-mile radius from the route. Fires will expand quickly in hot, dry conditions, especially if there’s wind. You need to be responsible and check more than one source of information.