Whether you spend your summer days on the trail or in the water, a quality pair of hiking sandals is likely on your must-have list. Designs run the gamut from backcountry-focused offerings that prioritize comfort, support, and grip to everyday-friendly models with attractive styling and affordable price points. To reflect the variety of designs and intentions, we break down our picks for the best hiking sandals of 2022 below into three categories: trail, water sports, and everyday wear. For more information on choosing the right sandal, see our comparison table and buying advice below the picks.
 


Our Team's Hiking Sandal Picks



Best Overall Hiking Sandal

1. Bedrock Sandals Cairn 3D Adventure ($115)

Bedrock Cairn 3D Adventure sports sandalBest for: Everyday wear/trail
Closure: Strap (buckle/Velcro)
Weight per pair: 1 lb. 1 oz.
What we like: Light, easy to adjust, and very grippy with a premium Vibram outsole.
What we don’t: Lacking in arch support and Y-shaped strap takes some getting used to.

For many summer adventurers, the ideal pair of sports sandals is light, grippy, and looks the part for wearing both outside and around town. Bedrock Sandals’ Cairn 3D Adventure checks all those boxes, combining a reasonably low weight (1 lb. 1 oz. per pair) with a flexible and low-profile design that’s easy to move in and good all-around adjustability via a buckle at the front and Velcro at the rear. But the real highlight is the premium Vibram outsole, which is reminiscent of a hiking shoe and grips incredibly well on everything from packed dirt to slick rocks and blowdowns along the trail. All told, these sandals are top sellers year after year and a great all-around pick for everything from daily wear to light outdoor use.

That said, after testing the Bedrock Cairn, we did come away with a couple performance gripes. Most notable is the lack of arch support due to the thin, zero-drop design: we foolishly wore the sandals while walking around Mexico City recently, and our feet were noticeably sore and achy after the 8-mile exploration. Another area of concern is the Y-shaped strap at the front, which can cause irritation between the toes (this does get better over time) and uncomfortable rubbing where the foot meets the ankle. To be fair, we have fairly finicky and wide feet, but those with arch problems will likely want to upgrade to a more supportive option like Chaco’s Z/Cloud or Teva’s Hurricane XLT2 or Terra Fi 5Universal below. But if you like the more natural feel and can get a good overall fit with no pressure points, the Cairn 3D offers a hard-to-beat combination of weight, flexibility, and grip, earning it our top spot for this year.
See the Bedrock Cairn 3D Adventure

 

A Close Second (With More Support)

2. Chaco Z/Cloud ($100)

Chaco Z Cloud sports sandalBest for: Trail/everyday wear
Closure: Strap (buckle)
Weight per pair: 1 lb. 14 oz.
What we like: Excellent durability, support, and traction over a wide variety of surfaces.
What we don’t: A little heavy and bulky-feeling.

Chaco is one of the biggest names in outdoor sandals, and their adjustable Z-strap models are legends in the hiking and water sport markets. Stacked up against the Bedrock Cairn above, the Z/Cloud listed here is noticeably heavier at 1 pound 14 ounces per pair but gets the clear edge in hiking capabilities with a comfortable and well-cushioned midsole, deep lugs for digging into softer surfaces like mud and sand, and thick straps that effectively secure the heel and forefoot (the Bedrock feels notably loose at the front by comparison). Added up, the Z/Cloud has a very premium fit and feel with an excellent track record to back it up—we’ve had pairs withstand up to three full years of consistent use before needing to be resoled or replaced.

As we touched on above, the Chaco Z/Cloud is far from a weight leader and can feel fairly bulky underfoot as a result. In other words, it wouldn’t be our first choice for strapping to the outside of a pack and lugging deep into the backcountry as a camp shoe, nor would we advise wearing it for long-distance day hikes (for reference, many hiking shoes weigh less). That said, the long-term durability and all-around support are great for most easy to moderate trail use, and Chacos look the part for wearing around town too. In the end, if you like to hike in your sandals, the Z/Cloud is one of the most capable and hardwearing designs on the market. And should you run into any issues, Chaco offers an in-house repair service (called ReChaco) to fix or swap key components including straps, buckles, and even the outsole, which can be upgraded to Vibram rubber.
See the Men's Chaco Z/Cloud  See the Women's Chaco Z/Cloud

 

Best Budget Hiking Sandal

3. Teva Original Universal ($50)

Teva Original Universal sports sandalBest for: Everyday wear
Closure: Strap (Velcro)
Weight per pair: 13 oz.
What we like: Great comfort and fun styling at a budget-friendly price.
What we don’t: Lacking in support, durability, and adjustability.

Best known for their eye-catching styling and vibrant designs, Teva’s Original Universal Sandals are one of the most ubiquitous models on the market today. At just $50, it’s around half the price of many of the more premium picks on this list but still reasonably capable for light outdoor uses like camping, paddleboarding, and short, easy day hikes. We especially love the well-cushioned EVA foam construction, which does a nice job at keeping weight low while offering good all-around comfort and durability. And unlike the buckle-equipped Bedrock and Chaco above, the Teva’s Velcro straps are a cinch to tighten and release, and we haven’t had any issues with them loosening or coming undone throughout the day.

However, while the Teva Original Universal is a fun and stylish pick for everyday wear and casual outdoor outings, it falls noticeably short for more demanding pursuits. Although soft and nicely cushioned, the EVA midsole is lacking in support and structure for covering long distances. Further, the outsole is pretty thin and cheap-feeling, and the shallow lugs lack the bite needed to dig into trickier surfaces like wet rocks and mud. For a sizable step up in traction, Teva does offer the Universal Trail Sandals, which boast a tacky Vibram Megagrip outsole with a more trail-ready tread pattern, although those will run you an additional $50. On the other hand, if you’re looking for an everyday sandal and care more about looks and price than hiking performance, the Original Universal has a lot of appeal.
See the Men's Teva Original Universal  See the Women's Teva Original Universal

 

Best Lightweight/Minimalist Hiking Sandal

4. Xero Z-Trail EV ($80)

Xero Z-Trail EV sports sandal_0Best for: Everyday wear/trail
Closure: Strap (buckle)
Weight per pair: 10.8 oz.
What we like: Feathery feel underfoot and great flexibility.
What we don’t: Noticeably loose and sloppy-feeling.

Inspired by the barefoot running movement, Xero Shoes offers a healthy selection of minimally padded sneakers, boots, and sandals for those that like the low-profile feel. One of the biggest benefits is weight: at a scant 10.8 ounces per pair, their Z-Trail EV is the lightest option on our list—great for rolling up or strapping to the outside of a pack and carrying in on backpacking adventures (there’s nothing worse than having to keep your sweaty hiking shoes on after a long day of walking). All the materials are supple and flexible, giving the sandals a barely-there feel, and the zero-drop shape means that your heel and forefoot are positioned the same distance from the ground to allow for a natural gait. And a final bonus: the sandals float, which makes them viable for wearing while kayaking or paddleboarding too.

If it isn’t obvious from the specs, the Xero Z-Trail EV is decidedly less performance-oriented than designs like the Bedrock Cairn 3D and Chaco Z/Cloud above (it even falls short of the Teva for light hiking). The streamlined build that makes these sandals so flexible and light translates to major compromises in areas like durability, support, and stability. They're noticeably looser and sloppier-feeling than the picks above, and after just a few months of relatively light use, our pair is already showing considerable wear along the thin midsole, and the lugs have started to deteriorate. In addition, the narrower straps don’t lock your foot down as well as Chaco’s thick Z-strap layout, and the TrailFoam midsole is decidedly basic and lacking in structure and all-day comfort. To be sure, the Z-Trail EV has its place for dedicated minimalists and barefoot enthusiasts, but the lack of support and longevity are undeniable drawbacks.
See the Men's Xero Z-Trail EV  See the Women's Xero Z-Trail EV

 

Best Closed-Toe Sandal for Water Sports

5. KEEN Newport H2 ($110)

KEEN Newport H2 sports sandalBest for: Water sports/trail
Closure: Bungee lace
Weight per pair: 1 lb. 12 oz.
What we like: Generous toe coverage is great for water sports and river crossings. 
What we don’t: Sizing can be tricky; less everyday-friendly than the options above.

If your ideal summer adventure involves being out on the water all day or hiking through brush and stream crossings, a closed-toe design like KEEN’s Newport H2 makes a lot of sense. In contrast to the open-toe models above, the Newport sports a generous rubber toe cap that covers the front and top of the forefoot to guard against direct hits from rocks and roots. In addition, the polyester webbing upper and quick-dry lining don’t grow heavy when soaked, and the bungee laces make it easy and quick to snug things down with a single pull. Finally, as we’ve come to expect from KEEN, the Newport H2 is comfortable enough to wear all day thanks to its well-cushioned build and good arch support.

What are the downsides? First, the Newport H2 runs notably small, and we advise trying the sandals on before buying to ensure a good all-around fit (or purchasing from a retailer with a good return policy). Further, despite the use of KEEN’s Anti-Odor technology, we’ve found the Newport tends to hold onto a stink, especially if worn frequently during the hot summer months (they are machine-washable, which helps). Finally, some users have reported premature durability issues with the sole and stitching in particular, although we’ve had pairs last multiple years without issue. In the end, the Newports aren’t for everyone and lack the everyday appeal of many of the open-toe options above and below. But for uses like fly fishing, kayaking, walking along rocky shorelines, or even riding your bike around town (the toe coverage is a big draw), it’s a winning recipe. For a slightly cheaper and lower-profile option from KEEN, check out their Clearwater CNX sandals.
See the Men's KEEN Newport H2  See the Women's KEEN Newport H2

 

Best of the Rest

6. Teva Hurricane XLT2 ($70)

Teva Hurricane XLT2 sports sandalBest for: Trail/everyday wear
Closure: Strap (Velcro)
Weight per pair: 1 lb. 4 oz.
What we like: A viable competitor to the Z/Cloud above for $30 less.
What we don’t: Not quite as comfortable or secure.

The second Teva offering to make our list is their Hurricane XLT2, which is a sizable step up in performance from the Original Universal above and a direct competitor to Chaco’s Z-strap designs. Like the Z/Cloud above, the Hurricane is trail-ready with good cushioning for covering longer distances, a capable outsole and tread pattern for navigating variable terrain, and a strap layout that allows you to get an even fit around the foot. And despite costing $30 less than the Z/Cloud, Teva didn’t skimp on the details, including a nylon shank for added stability on uneven surfaces and small patch of soft fabric along the inside of the heel strap to cushion the back of the ankle (an area prone to blisters and hot spots). Taken together, the Hurricane is a thoughtfully built and well-executed hiking design at a great price.

Why do we have the Hurricane XLT2 ranked below the Chaco Z/Cloud? In contrast to the Chaco’s Z-shaped strap design that effectively locks the entire foot in place, the Teva’s layout leaves a large portion of the midfoot exposed, which can make a big difference on trickier terrain when you want a locked-in feel. In addition, the Velcro straps are a little less confidence-inspiring than buckles and more prone to coming loose throughout the day. They also give the Teva a fairly stiff feel overall, and some users have experienced uncomfortable rubbing at the front of the sandal where a small piece of plastic connects the straps (this has not been a problem for us). But these are relatively small gripes for an otherwise capable all-around design, and you’d be hard-pressed to find better hiking performance for less.
See the Men's Teva Hurricane XLT2  See the Women's Teva Hurricane XLT2

 

7. Chaco Z/Volv 2 ($90)

Chaco Z Volv 2 sports sandalBest for: Trail/everyday wear
Closure: Strap (buckle)
Weight per pair: 1 lb. 10 oz.
What we like: Lighter than the Z/Cloud above with no major compromises; toe strap adds a nice boost in stability and support.
What we don’t’: Pull-through adjustment system takes time and effort to tweak.

No one does hiking sandals quite like Chaco, and the second model from their collection to make our list is the Z/Volv 2. In contrast to the fairly heavy and bulky Z/Cloud above, the Z/Volv 2 shaves off a respectable 4 ounces per pair and has a noticeably lower-profile look and feel. You also get an additional loop at the front for your big toe, which adds a nice boost in overall stability and gives the shoe a very secure and buttoned-down feel. It’s a bit of a polarizing feature—some love it (ourselves included), while others will find it bothersome and uncomfortable (note: you can get the same loop for the big toe on the Z/Cloud 2). But the rest of the design is largely similar, including great all-around comfort and a grippy rubber outsole for hiking and water crossings.

Like the Z/Cloud, Chaco’s Z/Volv 2 is hampered by a pretty well-known issue: a non-intuitive fit adjustment system. The straps are all connected within the sandal, meaning that each area must be tweaked in a specific order, which can take some time and effort. To be fair, you should only have to go through this process once when you first buy the shoes, and Chaco does have a detailed tutorial on their website (there are also a handful of very helpful YouTube videos). Another potential downside is cushioning: compared to the Z/Cloud, the thinner Z/Volv 2 doesn’t offer as much arch support or padding underfoot, which might be an issue for those with finicky feet or when hiking on especially rough terrain. But overall performance is otherwise very similar, and the Z/Volv is a lighter-weight yet still highly capable option for day hiking and everyday wear. Finally, if you like the toe loop but want something a little more supportive, check out Chaco’s Z/2 Classic.
See the Men's Chaco Z/Volv 2  See the Women's Chaco Z/Volv 2

 

8. KEEN Targhee III Open-Toe Sandals ($120)

KEEN Targhee III sports sandalBest for: Trail/water sports
Closure: Strap (Velcro)
What we like: A summer-ready take on one of our favorite hiking boots.
What we don’t: Leather build takes some time to break in.

KEEN makes some of our favorite hiking boots and shoes on the market, and their flagship Targhee has been near the top of our rankings for years. Taking cues from that boot’s burly construction, their Targhee III Open-Toe Sandals retain the excellent out-of-the-box comfort and tough design that we love in a summer-ready package. The premium leather upper is hardwearing and confidence-inspiring for long-term outdoor use, while the EVA footbed and midsole offer great padding underfoot for long days on the trail or in the water. Coverage is another highlight, with thick leather straps protecting a good portion of the outside of the foot where you might come into contact with rocks or branches. And the straps are all lined with a soft neoprene fabric, minimizing the risk of blisters or problem areas. 

The most notable drawback to the KEEN’s leather design is a longer break-in period. In general, leather is much stiffer and less malleable than more commonly used synthetic materials (especially out of the box), but the good news is that it will conform to your foot better over time. Due to the amount of coverage, the Targhee is also less breathable than more open designs like the Bedrock Cairn, Chaco Z sandals, and Teva picks above, but the tradeoff is better protection against scrapes and scratches. All in all, if you prioritize long-term durability and coverage and don’t mind the initial break-in, the Targhee is a decidedly premium and classy option for everything from hiking to paddleboarding and wearing around town.
See the KEEN Targhee III Open-Toe Sandals

 

9. ECCO Yucatan ($135)

ECCO Yucatan sports sandalBest for: Trail
Closure: Strap (Velcro)
Weight per pair: 1 lb. 4 oz.
What we like: Highly adjustable, comfortable footbed, and excellent support for hiking.
What we don’t: Decidedly dated looks and the priciest sandal on our list.

Taking the Targhee III’s high-coverage leather design to the next level is ECCO’s Yucatan. Right off the bat, we’ll note that this sandal is the priciest option on our list at $135 and overkill for many. But for hikers that value top-notch protection and a supportive fit, there’s a lot to like. Similar to the KEEN, the ECCO boasts a soft nubuck leather upper with a neoprene lining that give it a very comfortable and fine-tuned feel, while the molded footbed and cushy midsole nicely isolate your foot from harsh impacts on the trail. And with three easy-to-adjust Velcro straps, it’s quick and simple to get a locked-in and confidence-inspiring fit around the entire foot.

Unfortunately, however, the ECCO Yucatan looks a lot like hiking sandals of old, with a decidedly dated design that’s far from sleek or streamlined. Unless you need the added coverage and protection, we’d prefer to stick with a more breathable and open design like the Chaco models or Teva Hurricane XLT2 above, which provide similar hiking performance and security in a more minimalist and everyday-friendly package. But looks are just one part of the equation, and the Yucatan’s effective combination of comfort, support, and coverage continue to make it popular year after year.
See the Men's ECOO Yucatan  See the Women's ECCO Yucatan

 

10. Teva Terra Fi 5 Universal ($100)

Teva Terra Fi 5 Universal sports sandalBest for: Trail/everyday wear
Closure: Strap (Velcro)
Weight per pair: 1 lb. 12.5 oz.
What we like: Soft and comfortable underfoot, solid grip, and rugged construction.
What we don’t: Less stable and secure than Chaco’s Z/Cloud above.

Choosing the right sports sandal is an exercise in prioritization, and Teva’s Terra Fi 5 Universal is a nice option for those looking for an effective balance of weight, comfort, and long-term durability. For reference, at 1 pound 12.5 ounces, the Terra Fi undercuts options like Chaco’s Z/Cloud (1 lb. 14 oz.) but checks in considerably heavier than designs like Ecco’s Yucatan and Teva’s own Hurricane XLT2 above (both 1 lb. 4 oz.). However, with the added heft come upgrades in all-around quality and hiking capabilities, including a molded PU midsole with a notch at the back to keep your heel in place (and provide a touch of protection), a thick and tacky rubber outsole with deep lugs, and a TPU shank for added stability and support while hiking over uneven terrain. And a final bonus: these sandals are recyclable via Teva’s TevaForever program, which ensures they don’t end up in a landfill.

Overall, the Terra Fi 5 Universal is a well-rounded option for summer hiking with good arch support and a nicely padded build, hardwearing construction, and effective strap layout that’s lined for added comfort and blister prevention. That said, the large bracket that connects the straps on the outside of the ankle can cause some pinching and rubbing (this will certainly vary based on foot and ankle shape). And from a value perspective, we have a hard time recommending the Teva over Chaco’s Z/Cloud, which costs the same but does a better job locking the entire foot down (the Teva leaves much of the midfoot exposed) and comes in a wider assortment of colorways. But the Teva is no slouch, and if you like the styling or prefer Velcro over buckle adjustments, it’s a perfectly viable alternative.
See the Men's Teva Terra Fi 5 Universal  See the Women's Teva Terra Fi 5 Universal

 

11. Merrell Breakwater Strap Multisport ($85)

Merrell Breakwater Strap Multisport sports sandalBest for: Everyday wear/trail
Closure: Strap (Velcro)
What we like: Light and flexible for casual outdoor use.
What we don’t: Lacking in arch support; not ideal for covering long distances.

Like KEEN, Merrell makes some of our favorite hiking boots and shoes on the market, and that expertise has transferred over nicely into their sandal collection. From their current lineup, we like the Breakwater Strap Multisport, which bears a strong resemblance to Teva’s Hurricane XLT2 above. In parsing out the differences, the Merrell has a similar strap layout but uses stitching rather than plastic detailing to connect them, which helps minimize potential problem areas. You also get Vibram’s proven Megagrip compound for grip, which is overall more capable than Teva’s in-house Durabrasion design, especially on slick surfaces. Combined with a light and flexible build that’s easy to move in, the Breakwater Strap checks a lot of the boxes we look for in an everyday-friendly option that still hikes well.

Why does the Merrell Breakwater Strap fall toward the bottom of our rankings? Despite the upgraded outsole, the Merrell is on the thinner side and lacks the arch support of models like Chaco’s beefier Z/Cloud and Teva’s Terra Fi 5 Universal above. This likely won’t be a deal-breaker for some folks, but it does make them less ideal for all-day wear and when covering longer distances. And quality-wise, the Merrell is a step down from more premium options from Chaco and Teva, with cheaper-feeling materials throughout and a decidedly barebones feature set (there’s no neoprene lining on the straps or a pull tab at the back to help with the on/off process). To be fair, the Merrell does undercut most of the competition by around $15 and is perfectly serviceable for daily wear and light outdoor use, but those looking to get a lot of use out of their sandals will likely want to upgrade.
See the Men's Merrell Breakwater Strap  See the Women's Merrell Breakwater Strap

 

12. KEEN SOLR ($120)

KEEN SOLR sports sandalBest for: Water sports
Closure: Bungee lace
Weight per pair: 1 lb. 4 oz.
What we like: A capable and comfortable all-rounder for water sports like kayaking and paddleboarding.
What we don’t: It’s easy for sand and debris to get inside.

KEEN’s Newport is their flagship offering and brought the company to the forefront of the water sports market at its release in the early 2000s. However, the H2 model above is on the heavier end at 1 pound 12 ounces and arguably over-built for many. Enter their SOLR, which is lighter by a significant 8 ounces per pair and noticeably more flexible and forgiving, which is largely due to the thinner PET upper and detuned outsole. From a performance perspective, there’s still a lot to like: the Aquagrip tread, while not particularly aggressive, should be adequately grippy for walking along slick surfaces like boat decks and boardwalks or even portaging your rig on land. Further, the drainage cutouts are large enough to shed moisture, the materials are known to dry out quickly, and the stretchy neoprene lining gives the sandals a supple feel and helps with the on and off process.

Why do we rank the Newport H2 higher? Despite the added heft and bulk, the Newport’s beefier and grippier outsole is better-equipped for mixed use on dry ground and in the water, and the even larger cutouts along the upper make it easier for sand, pebbles, and other debris to escape without having to remove the shoes and shake them out. On the flip side, the SOLR uses softer materials and has a cushier feel that’s great for comfort-seekers. In the end, these advantages aren’t enough to dethrone the Newport H2 as our favorite closed-toe design, but the SOLR nevertheless is another high-quality option from the Oregon-based brand. Note: like the Newport, the SOLR runs small, so it’s best to try it on before buying.
See the Men's KEEN SOLR  See the Women's KEEN SOLR

 

13. Hoka One One Hopara ($130)

Hoka One One Hopara sports sandalBest for: Water sports/trail
Closure: Bungee lace
Weight per pair: 1 lb. 9 oz.
What we like: Typical Hoka comfort and max cushioning in a summer-ready build.
What we don’t: Not everyone will like the thick padding; heel is prone to durability issues.

Hoka One One is best known for their wild-looking, max-cushioning running shoes, and that influence comes across clearly in their Hopara sandals. Like many of their tried-and-true running and hiking models, the Hopara boasts the brand’s signature thick padding with a generous (5mm) heel-to-toe drop, giving the sandal a noticeably bouncy and energetic feel. Inside, the neoprene collar limits friction and is soft and flexible enough for all-day wear, while a thick rubber toe cap protects against direct hits to the front of your foot. A final highlight is the outsole, which sports deep, multidirectional lugs that are designed to bite into most surfaces, from packed dirt and slippery rocks to thick mud and sand. All told, the Hopara has appeal for activities from easy to moderate day hikes to water sports like fly fishing and navigating slot canyons, where you’re frequently alternating between wet and dry conditions.

As we touched on above, Hoka is known for going against the grain and bucking modern style trends. The Hopara is no exception, with unique drainage cutouts along the upper and a busy-looking design overall, especially in the brighter colorways. Another polarizing feature is the beefy heel, which many like for the added cushion underfoot but does translate to less of a natural, connected feel on the trail (you’re pretty isolated from the ground). And some users have reported durability issues with the heel, which is only connected with a thin layer of stitching that’s prone to tearing over time. But if you treat them well and don’t mind standing out, the Hopara’s running shoe-like personality and generous coverage are undeniably enticing.
See the Men's Hoka One One Hopara  See the Women's Hoka One One Hopara

 

14. Teva Tirra ($80)

Teva Tirra sports sandalBest for: Trail/water sports
Closure: Strap (Velcro)
Weight per pair: 1 lb. 2 oz.
What we like: Unique strap layout maximizes comfort and makes it easy to dial in a precise fit.
What we don’t: Only sold in a women’s version; subpar traction on wet surfaces. 

The fourth and final Teva pick to make our list is their women’s-specific Tirra. Our favorite feature is the strap design, which consists of overlapping horizontal straps at the front for locking down the forefoot and a beefier strap at the rear that secures the heel and ankle in place. We also like the generous pull tab at the back, which is a small but thoughtful touch for making the on/off process quick and easy. And all of the straps are backed by a cushy neoprene lining, which does a great job at minimizing friction and preventing hot spots from the straps rubbing against your foot throughout the day. All in all, it’s a well-rounded outdoor sandal with a highly effective fit system.

Why do we have the Teva Tirra ranked here? In addition to only being offered in a women’s model, the Tirra’s sole is a little underbuilt for hiking over slippery surfaces like wet rocks and logs. The grippiest rubber is concentrated at the center of the outsole directly underneath the heel and ball of the foot, while the lugs along the sides are noticeably less pronounced and prone to slippage if your foot placement isn’t precise. And with a recent update to the footbed, some users have noted that sizing has changed (many have needed to size up a half to full size compared to past models). To be clear, the Teva has its place for easy hikes and casual days on the water, but the subpar grip, lack of availability in a men’s version, and fit intricacies are enough to push it toward the bottom of our list. 
See the Women's Teva Tirra

 

15. KEEN UNEEK ($130)

KEEN UNEEK sports sandalBest for: Everyday wear
Closure: Bungee lace
What we like: Braided construction promotes a foot-hugging fit and slipper-like comfort.
What we don’t’: As the name suggests, these sandals certainly are unique (you’ll either love or hate the styling).

In stark contrast to KEEN’s traditional-looking Targhee III sandals above is their UNEEK, which very clearly isn’t built to blend in. Rather than standard straps, the UNEEK utilizes an innovative braided nylon construction that weaves in and out throughout the upper, giving the sandals a very flexible, stretchy feel. It also promotes a close, foot-hugging fit, while a single bungee cord at the top of the foot allows you to snug things down with a single pull. It doesn’t have the same locked-in feel of many of the strap-equipped models above, but for wearing casually, the tradeoffs in suppleness and all-around comfort might be worth it.

That said, we hesitate to recommend the KEEN UNEEK for anything more intensive than light day hikes on well-maintained trails. In addition to the less secure fit and feel due to the braided construction and bungee laces, the UNEEK’s outsole is fairly basic with shallow tread that won’t bite well on trickier surfaces like wet rocks, mud, or steep inclines. Again, it’s a fun option for wearing casually, but you can get better breathability in a less polarizing package by opting for a design like Teva’s Original Universal. And at $130, you’re paying a steep premium for the unique styling and materials (for reference, the Teva is a considerable $80 cheaper). But if you like the looks and don’t mind the lack of versatility, the UNEEK certainly pumps some flavor into the sandal market.
See the Men's KEEN UNEEK  See the Women's KEEN UNEEK

 

16. Birkenstock Arizona Essentials EVA ($45)

Birkenstock Arizona Essentials EVA sports sandalBest for: Everyday wear
Closure: Strap (buckle)
What we like: A lightweight and streamlined design for everyday and light outdoor use.
What we don’t: Lack of rear strap limits appeal to casual outings.

Birkenstocks are a bit of a status symbol among outdoor enthusiasts, but the flagship suede model is pricey and underbuilt for wearing on outdoor adventures. Enter the Arizona Essentials EVA sandal, which costs just $45 (for reference, the standard Arizona is a steep $135) and swaps the leather upper for a cheaper EVA foam build. The slip-on design is decidedly basic and lacking in features, but the wide assortment of colorways—from neon pink and yellow to classy silver and gold—and cheap price tag make it an excellent and stylish option for around-town wear, beach days, and other casual summer outings.

In addition to their undeniable everyday appeal, the Birkenstock Arizona Essentials sandals also make for a surprisingly great belay and camp shoe. We have several climbing and hiking partners that wear their approach or hiking shoes on the way in and then whip out the Arizona for use while belaying, walking around the crag, or hanging around camp after a long day on the trail. They’re feathery-light for shuttling longer distances, incredibly quick to get on and off, and one of the easiest options here to pair with thick socks on cooler days. The lack of rear strap limits the Arizona to easy terrain when you don’t need your heel locked down, but as an everyday staple and backup pair of footwear to wear after you’ve reached the crag or campsite, the value is hard to beat.
See the Birkenstock Arizona Essentials EVA

 

17. Chaco Odyssey ($100)

Chaco Odyssey sports sandalBest for: Water sports/trail
Closure: Strap (buckle)
What we like: Hiking shoe-like coverage and protection but with better breathability.
What we don’t: Difficult to put on and stretching the definition of “sandal.”

The final sandal to make our list is also arguably the most unique: Chaco’s Odyssey. Right away, we’ll note that the Odyssey is stretching the definition of “sandal” with a mesh upper that covers nearly the entire foot and synthetic overlays for added protection and durability. However, Chaco retained many of the features we love about their more traditional offerings like the Z/Cloud and Z/Volv 2 above, including an effective strap layout for dialing in a secure fit, comfortable and well-padded midsole, and capable in-house rubber outsole that's water- and trail-ready. 

The styling isn’t for everyone, but the Chaco Odyssey does balance its priorities quite well. Chaco describes it as an “all-terrain” sandal that can pull double duty for activities both on land and in the water, and we appreciate the versatility and season-long appeal, whether you’re headed out on a hike or spending the day paddling a local river or reservoir. The Odyssey doesn’t have the around town-friendly looks of the open-toe models on our list, is a little less breathable due to the added materials and coverage, and can be tougher to put on. But as an all-around outdoor shoe, it certainly has its place.
See the Men's Chaco Odyssey  See the Women's Chaco Odyssey

 

Hiking Sandal Comparison Table

Sandal Price Best For Closure Weight Closed Toe?
Bedrock Cairn 3D Adventure $115 Everyday wear/trail Strap (buckle/Velcro) 1 lb. 1 oz. No
Chaco Z/Cloud $100 Trail/everyday wear Strap (buckle) 1 lb. 14 oz. No
Teva Original Universal $50 Everyday wear Strap (Velcro) 13 oz. No
Xero Z-Trail EV $80 Everyday wear/trail Strap (buckle) 10.8 oz. No
KEEN Newport H2 $110 Water sports/trail Bungee lace 1 lb. 12 oz. Yes
Teva Hurricane XLT2 $70 Trail/everyday wear Strap (Velcro) 1 lb. 4 oz. No
Chaco Z/Volv 2 $90 Trail/everyday wear Strap (buckle) 1 lb. 10 oz. No
KEEN Targhee III $120 Trail/water sports Strap (Velcro) Unavailable No
ECCO Yucatan $135 Trail Strap (Velcro) 1 lb. 4 oz. No
Teva Terra Fi 5 Universal $100 Trail/everyday wear Strap (Velcro) 1 lb. 12.5 oz. No
Merrell Breakwater Strap $85 Everyday wear/Trail Strap (Velcro) Unavailable No
KEEN SOLR $120 Water sports Bungee lace 1 lb. 4 oz. Yes
Hoka One One Hopara $130 Water sports/Trail Bungee lace 1 lb. 9 oz. Yes
Teva Tirra $80 Trail/water sports Strap (Velcro) 1 lb. 2 oz. No
KEEN UNEEK $130 Everyday wear Bungee lace Unavailable Yes
Birkenstock Arizona EVA $45 Everyday wear Strap (buckle) Unavailable No
Chaco Odyssey $100 Water sports/trail Strap (buckle) Unavailable Yes

 

Hiking Sandal Buying Advice


Best Uses: Trail, Water Sports, and Everyday Wear

Trail
The first and most important question to answer when choosing a pair of sports sandals is how you intend to use them. For hiking on trails, we look for designs with well-cushioned midsoles for all-day comfort, effective and secure fit systems for locking your foot in place, and capable and grippy outsoles with deeper tread for navigating variable surfaces from hardpack dirt to wet rocks and logs. Some also boast features to maximize stability, including TPU or nylon shanks that provide additional structure for your foot. One of our top picks in this category is Chaco’s venerable Z/Cloud, which checks most of those boxes and is a great match for covering longer distances. Other favorites include Teva’s Hurricane XLT2 and Chaco’s Z/Volv 2, which are a little lighter and less bulky but still fully capable for trail use.

Sports sandals (Xero%2C Chaco%2C and Teva lineup)
Testing some of our favorite hiking sandals from Xero, Chaco, and Teva

Water Sports
If you typically spend your summer days out on the water or hiking along coastal beaches, a water sports-specific sandal might be a better bet. Models like KEEN’s Newport H2 and SOLR are purpose-built for the job, with drainage ports along the upper for dumping water, flatter soles for maintaining grip on slippery surfaces like boat and paddleboard decks, and closed-toe constructions that protect the front of your foot against impacts from rocks and other obstacles. Some of the picks above can also pull double duty for both extended hikes and water activities, including KEEN’s open-toe Targhee III and Hoka One One’s Hopara, which boasts toe coverage but has a hiking boot-like outsole for maintaining grip on both wet and dry surfaces. To be clear, you can likely get away with wearing any of the sandals above while out on the water, but for committed kayakers, paddlers, fishermen, and rafters, the added protection and specialized features can be very helpful.

Everyday Wear
A final category is sandals that excel for everyday and around-town wear. These designs generally are less specialized and more well-rounded than hiking and water sports-specific options and put more of a premium on styling over functionality. Some of our top picks include Teva's Original Universal, KEEN’s UNEEK, and Birkenstock’s Arizona Essentials EVA. You don’t get the all-out grip, support, or protection of models tailormade for hiking or water use, but most of these designs are perfectly serviceable for light outdoor use and look the part for wearing casually and around town. In the end, if you’re looking for a sandal in this category, a decision will likely come down to preferences on styling and fit over performance and technical features.

Sports sandal (Bedrock Adventures Cairn 3D Adventure on beach)
Enjoying some beach time in Bedrock's Cairn 3D Adventure sandals

Closure Systems: Straps (Velcro or Buckles) and Bungee Laces

In terms of closure systems, sandals typically fall into one of two categories: designs that secure with straps or bungee laces. Straps are the most common closure type and sport Velcro and/or buckles for dialing in fit. This is largely a matter of personal preference, but we’ve found that buckles tend to be the most effective and secure option for customizing fit and locking your foot in place. Velcro closures are often quicker and easier to tweak but can fray, lose their stickiness, and are more prone to loosening over time.

Sports sandal (adjusting buckle on Chaco Z Cloud)
We prefer buckles for maximizing security while hiking

Finally, sandals equipped with bungee laces are often (but not always) designed for water sports where Velcro or buckles might deteriorate over time from the exposure, including KEEN’s Newport H2 and SOLR, Chaco's Odyssey, and Hoka One One’s Hopara. KEEN’s everyday-friendly UNEEK also has a bungee system, which makes it easy to get a snug all-around fit with a single pull. However, keep in mind that bungees don’t keep your foot as snugly in place as straps, which is why we typically don’t recommend them for hiking, where you’ll want your foot as secure and locked-in as possible.


Toe Protection: Closed-Toe vs. Open-Toe Sandals

A decision between a closed-toe or open-toe sandal comes down to your objectives and how you prioritize protection and coverage. Most closed-toe designs on our list are built for water sports or river crossings, including KEEN’s Newport H2 and SOLR, Hoka’s Hopara, and Chaco’s Odyssey that boast rubber patches at the front for guarding against direct hits. This is because spending time around water often involves navigating rocky creeks, riverbeds, or shorelines, where stubbed toes are par for the course if the front of your foot is exposed. Open-toe designs are more common for hiking and everyday use, but they’re a considerable step down in protection and leave your toes vulnerable to scratches and scrapes. In the end, many people choose sandals for the added breathability and flexibility and don’t mind this tradeoff on more casual outings. But for serious outdoor use and covering long distances, it may be best to leave your sandals behind and don true hiking shoes or boots for the additional coverage at the front (we cover this in more detail below).

Sports sandals (hiking in Xero Z Trail EV)
Open-toe designs like Xero's Z-Trail EV leave your foot exposed to rocks and other obstacles

Fit and Sizing

As with any pair of footwear, getting a good all-around fit is key to maximizing your sandals’ performance and comfort. Whenever possible, we advise trying on before you buy, as sizing can vary considerably between brands and models. For instance, KEEN’s SOLR and Newport H2 are known to run on the smaller end, and many users need to size down a half or full size. Straps can also cause pressure points and hotspots, and the only surefire way to ensure a comfortable fit is to try them on first. Whether the sandal has strap or lace adjustments, make sure you can get a snug (but not overly tight) fit around the entire foot with little to no movement inside the shoe as you walk. And those with flat feet or conditions like plantar fasciitis will want to pay particularly close attention to the overall feel of the shoe—if it feels a little unsupportive the first time you try it on, comfort will likely only deteriorate as you wear it for longer periods.

Sports sandal (putting on Teva Original Universal in van)
As with all footwear, it's important to get a good overall fit with your sandals

Hiking Sandal Weight

Outdoor sandals run the gamut from minimalist designs with basic feature sets to purpose-built options for hiking and water sports, and weight varies considerably as a result. For reference, the lightest option on our list is Xero’s Z-Trail EV, which checks in at a scant 10.8 ounces per pair but has very limited support and padding and wears down much quicker than heavier options. At the beefy end of the spectrum are models like Chaco’s Z/Cloud (1 lb. 14 oz.), KEEN’s Newport H2 (1 lb. 12 oz.), and Teva’s Terra Fi 5 Universal (1 lb. 12.5 oz.), which sport thick cushioning for all-day comfort on the trail or in the water and offer a major step up in areas like protection, durability, and stability for more demanding outdoor use. In general, we’ve found the sweet spot to be around 1 to 1.5 pounds, including designs like Bedrock’s Cairn 3D Adventure (1 lb. 1 oz.) and Teva’s Hurricane XLT2 (1 lb. 4 oz.) and women’s-specific Tirra (1 lb. 2 oz.), which combine a reasonable weight with well-rounded builds for light hiking and general outdoor use.

Sports sandal (carrying Teva sandals on beach)
We look for sandals that effectively balance weight, durability, and support

Outsoles and Traction

In addition to weight, traction varies considerably between sports sandals and largely depends on your objectives. For hiking, we look for deep and multi-directional lugs for biting into softer surfaces and variable terrain, with Vibram rubber at the forefront of the market in terms of all-out grip and capability. From our list above, Bedrock’s Cairn 3D Adventure and Merrell’s Breakwater Strap Multisport both boast Vibram outsoles that perform well whether you’re hiking over packed dirt, crossing slick streams, or navigating slippery blowdowns on the trail. Chaco’s in-house rubber compounds have also proven to be impressively capable. Chaco does offer the option to resole their sandals with Vibram rubber should you have any issues, but we’ve worn their Z/Cloud and Z/Volv 2 models for years and found them to be very confidence-inspiring over nearly any type of terrain, from boulder-hopping through streams in Hawaii to hiking on dry and rocky trails back home in Colorado.

Hiking sandals (Chacos on wet rock)
We've found Chaco's outsoles to be very versatile

At the other end of the spectrum are sandals designed for water sports, which trade aggressive tread patterns for flatter and less pronounced lugs for maximizing grip on wet and slippery surfaces like boat decks, water crossings, and boardwalks. For instance, KEEN’s SOLR has a smooth patch of rubber under the forefoot with tiny, low-profile cubes covering the rest of the sole. While they don’t bite into dry or muddy terrain nearly as well, these models do an excellent job at keeping you stable on hard, slick, and glossy surfaces that are prone to getting wet. And most of the everyday-friendly models on our list fall somewhere in the middle, with lower-profile tread designs that are a step up from water sports sandals but less aggressive than hiking offerings.

Sports sandal (Teva Original Universal outsole)
The outsole on Teva's budget-friendly Original Universal sandals

Stability and Support

Regardless of their intention, sports sandals inherently offer limited stability and support compared to beefier hiking shoes or boots. That said, there still is a wide range between models, with hiking-focused designs like Chaco’s Z/Cloud and ECCO’s Yucatan at the front of the pack. These sandals are fairly thick and bulky, but the tradeoff is great arch support and a confidence-inspiring feel while navigating variable terrain. Some designs also incorporate TPU or nylon shanks for additional structure and stability on uneven ground, including Teva’s Hurricane XLT2 and Terra Fi 5 Universal. At the light and more minimalist end of the spectrum, options like Bedrocks’ Cairn 3D, Xero’s Z-Trail EV, and Merrell’s Breakwater Strap Multisport are thinner and noticeably less supportive for all-day wear and covering longer distances. Whether or not you need the added support of a beefier design is up to you, but if you anticipate doing a lot of walking or hiking in your sandals, it’s a good thing to consider.

Sports sandals (walking along rocky shoreline in Xero Z Trail EV)
Light and minimalist options like Xero's Z-Trail EV lack support for covering long distances

Build Quality and Durability

All the picks on our list are made by reputable brands and use quality materials that should stand up well to regular use. That said, some will fare better than others, and weight can be a good place to start. Light and minimalist offerings like the Xero Z-Trail EV are inherently less durable and more tear-prone than thicker and more hardwearing sandals like Chaco’s Z/Cloud and Teva’s hiking-focused designs. For reference, after just a few months of use, our pair of Z-Trails are already showing considerable wear along the footbed and outsole, while our 3+ year-old Chacos are still going strong with just a few cosmetic scuffs and lightly worn tread (and others on our team have had Chacos last 10+ years). Price can be another good indicator of longevity, with more expensive offerings typically boasting higher-quality materials and more robust constructions that will stand up better to long-term outdoor use. Budget picks like Teva’s Original Universal are a great example: while they cost just $50, the basic foam build will wear down much more readily than their $100 Terra Fi 5 Universal.

Sports sandals (Chaco Z Cloud%2C Teva Original Universal%2C and Xero Z Trail EV)
Weight and price typically correlate with overall durability

Wearing Socks with Sandals

Taking fashion out of the equation, wearing socks with sandals can be a great way to boost warmth on chilly evenings at camp or after a long day on the water. However, some models are better-equipped for the job than others. For example, Chaco’s Z/Volv 2 has a toe loop that makes it nearly impossible to pair with traditional socks. Injinji does make designs that separate each toe, like their popular Trail Midweight Mini-Crew, but not everyone will like the looks or effort required to put them on.

On the flip side, Birkenstock’s Arizona Essentials EVA has a simple slip-on design with no heel strap that makes it very easy to wear even with thick, heavyweight socks. Strap-equipped models without a toe loop, like Chaco’s Z/Cloud, Xero’s Z-Trail EV, and Teva’s Original Universal can also accommodate socks, but you might need to loosen the straps to get a good fit. This likely won’t be a major consideration for many, but if you’re prone to cold feet or know you’ll want to wear socks on occasion, it’s a good idea to think about compatibility before making a purchase.

Hiking sandals (wearing with socks)
For extra warmth, pair your sandals with some wool socks

Sustainability

The outdoor gear market has seen a big uptick in the use of sustainable practices over the past several years, and hiking sandals are no exception. Recycled materials are one of the most common measures, with brands like Teva and KEEN at the forefront. For reference, Teva’s REPREVE polyester webbing is used in all of their designs we listed above and made from recycled plastic bottles. They also have a dedicated program (called TevaForever) for repurposing your old sandals—simply print a free shipping label, box them up, and send them in to be reused in other products. You’ll also see some models (such as Merrell’s Breakwater Strap Multisport) listed as “vegan-friendly,” which indicates they were made without the use of animal products. Finally, we appreciate when brands make an effort to extend the lifespan of their products, including Chaco’s ReChaco program that allows you to send in your old pair of sandals and get the straps, buckles, and soles fixed or swapped.

Hiking sandals (worn down outsoles)
We love the option to resole to extend the life of our Chacos

Hiking Sandals vs. Trail Runners and Hiking Shoes

As we covered above, sandals inherently offer very limited support, protection, and stability, especially when stacked up against trail runners and hiking shoes. In other words, if you anticipate covering a lot of miles in a day or venturing on multi-day outings into the backcountry, the vast majority of people should leaving their sandals behind (or throw them in a pack to wear at camp later). Covering rough and rocky terrain with a pack is already enough of a challenge, and sandals—even hiking-focused models like Chaco’s Z/Cloud—are simply underbuilt for those sorts of objectives. Not only will your feet likely grow sore and achy from the lack of support underfoot, but your toes will also be exposed to obstacles like rocks and roots, and the potential for rolling an ankle is high. To be clear, many people hike in Chacos all summer (ourselves included), but only on well-maintained trail networks and shorter day trips. For anything more intense, we throw on our trail runners or hiking shoes. 
Back to Our Top Hiking Sandal Picks  Back to Our Hiking Sandal Comparison Table

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