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Are Hiking Sandals Good for Hiking?

Hiking sandals have gained popularity in recent years as a viable alternative to hiking boots. While some hikers swear by their sandals, others remain skeptical. So, are hiking sandals good for hiking?

The answer is not a simple yes or no.

In this article, we’ll explore the pros and cons of hiking sandals and help you decide if they’re the right choice for your next hiking trip.

Then, we will go for a short comparison of hiking boots and sandals to make sure you will choose the right gear for your safe and comfortable trip.

And if you decide to choose hiking sandals, don’t miss my guide to choosing the right one for your next adventure.

Key Takeaways:

  • Hiking sandals can be a great option for hikers in the right circumstances. They’re perfect for light, even, and easy hikes.
  • They’re not the best choice for every hiking trip. On the other hand, hiking boots offer more protection and support, making them the better choice for longer hikes or hikes on rough terrain.
  • The decision to choose hiking sandals or hiking boots depends on the individual hiker’s preferences and the specific conditions of the hike.
  • With the right pair of hiking sandals and careful consideration of the conditions, you can enjoy a comfortable and enjoyable hiking experience.

Why Choose Hiking Sandals?

Here are some benefits that hiking sandals offer for your hiking trips:


a pair of hiking sandals for women

One of the most significant advantages of hiking sandals is their breathability. Hiking boots can be hot and stuffy, especially in warmer weather. Sandals allow your feet to breathe and keep them cool and comfortable, reducing the risk of blisters and other foot-related problems.


Hiking sandals are much lighter than hiking boots, which can make a big difference on long hikes or when carrying a heavy pack. Lighter footwear means less fatigue and a more enjoyable hiking experience.


hiking sandals on the stream

Hiking sandals are versatile and can be worn in a variety of environments.

They’re perfect for hiking on hot summer days or wading through water on river crossings. Plus, they can be used as casual shoes when you’re not on the trail.


Hiking sandals typically feature sturdy, slip-resistant soles that provide ample grip and support on a variety of terrains.

Some hiking sandals also have a contoured footbed that conforms to the shape of your foot, providing added comfort and support.

Quick-drying materials

man wears hiking sandals passing through a river

Hiking sandals are often made with quick-drying materials, such as synthetic fabrics and mesh.

This allows your feet to breathe and stay cool in hot weather, while also allowing water to quickly evaporate and keeping your feet dry in wet conditions.


Hiking sandals are typically lightweight and easy to pack, making them a convenient option for hikers who want to travel light.

They’re easy to slip on and off, which can be a big advantage when crossing water or taking a quick break on the trail. They’re also great for wearing around camp or on shorter day hikes.

Feel and enjoy the trip better

man wears hiking sandals to go hiking in a forest

One of the biggest advantages of hiking sandals is the feeling of freedom they provide.

With your toes and feet exposed to the air, you’ll feel more connected to the natural environment and can enjoy a more sensory experience. This can enhance your overall enjoyment of the hike and help you appreciate the beauty of your surroundings even more.

Overall, hiking sandals can be a great choice for hikers who value comfort, convenience, and versatility.

Whether you’re planning a short hike in dry conditions or want to take a break from your heavy boots on a longer trek, hiking sandals are definitely worth considering.

When and Where is the Best for Hiking Sandals (over Hiking Boots)? Terrains, Environments, Hiking Types

Below are when you can make full use of hiking sandals:

Day hikes

woman wears hiking sandals taking a rest

For shorter hikes, hiking sandals are a great option. They’re lightweight and breathable, making them comfortable for shorter distances. Plus, they’re easy to slip on and off, making them perfect for breaks and lunch stops.

Summer hikes

Hiking in the summer can be hot and sweaty, especially if you’re wearing hiking boots. Hiking sandals are a great way to keep your feet cool and comfortable in hot weather.

Water hikes

If your hike includes water crossings or you plan on spending time near a lake or river, hiking sandals are a must. They’re designed to get wet and dry quickly, making them perfect for water-based activities.

Dry environments

man wears hiking sandals on dry terrain

Hiking sandals are best suited to dry environments where you won’t encounter much mud or loose rock. They offer less protection than hiking boots, so you’ll need to be careful when hiking in areas with lots of loose rocks or steep terrain.

Trail hiking

Hiking sandals are perfect for trail hiking, but not so much for off-trail hiking. The soles of hiking sandals are not as sturdy as hiking boots, so you’ll need to be careful when hiking on uneven terrain.

To summarize, for hikes on easy to moderate trails with no significant elevation change, hiking sandals can provide enough support and protection for your feet.

This is especially true for minimalist sandals, which are lightweight and allow for a more natural feel of the terrain.

If you are going on a light backpacking trip with a small pack and relatively easy terrain, hiking sandals can be a good option.

However, for more challenging terrain or heavy backpacking, hiking boots are usually the better choice as they offer more support and protection.

man wearing hiking boots on rocky mountain

It’s important to note that hiking sandals are not always a suitable option for every hiking situation, and hikers should consider the terrain, weather conditions, and their own personal comfort and safety when choosing footwear.

Hiking Sandals or Hiking Boots: Some important notes to consider

While hiking sandals have many benefits, they’re not always the best choice for every hiking trip.

Hiking boots offer more protection and support, making them the better choice for longer hikes or hikes on rough terrain. Hiking boots also provide better protection from snakes and other wildlife creatures.

However, hiking sandals are a great option for shorter hikes or hikes in dry, flat environments where the risks of injury are low.

hiking sandals vs hiking boots

They’re also a great option for hikers who prefer a more minimalistic approach to their gear or those who want to reduce the weight of their backpacks.

It’s also worth noting that hiking sandals are not ideal for cold-weather hikes or hikes in areas with lots of snow and ice.

They offer little to no insulation, leaving your feet vulnerable to frostbite or hypothermia in cold temperatures. In these cases, hiking boots are the better choice.

Still wear Hiking Sandals? Here are GREAT hints to choose the right type of hiking sandals for your upcoming trip

There are several types of hiking sandals available on the market, each with unique features and benefits.

Understanding the differences between these types can help you choose the right sandal for your hiking needs.

Here are three common types of hiking sandals and the type of hiking conditions they are suitable for:

Minimalist hiking sandals

man wears hiking sandals and brown pants

Minimalist hiking sandals are designed for hikers who prefer a more natural feel while hiking. They are lightweight, flexible, and often have thin soles that allow for greater ground contact and a better feel of the terrain.

Minimalist sandals are ideal for hikers who enjoy day hikes on easy-to-moderate trails with little to no elevation change. They are not recommended for rocky, uneven, or challenging terrain.

Teva mens Hurricane Xlt2 Sandal, Chara Black/Grey, 11 US
  • Quick-dry webbing made from recycled plastic using traceable, verifiable REPREVE polyester yarn by...
  • Injection-molded strap ends for quick and easy grip and adjustability, Easy hook-and-loop closure...
  • Robust EVA footbed for enhanced comfort built for all-day wear

Last update on 2023-11-10 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Sport hiking sandals

woman wears sport hiking sandals walking on big stones

Sport sandals are designed for hikers who want a combination of comfort, support, and durability.

They typically have a thicker sole than minimalist sandals and may include features such as a toe cap, heel strap, and adjustable straps for a custom fit.

Sport sandals are ideal for hiking in warm weather, on moderate terrain with some elevation change, and for stream crossings or other wet conditions.

Skechers womens On-the-go 600 - Brilliancy Sport Sandal, Black, 9 US
  • On-the-go 600 - Brilliancy
  • Lightweight, responsive 5Gen cushioning
  • Sketchers Goga Max high rebound insole for maximum comfort

Last update on 2023-11-10 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Water hiking sandals

man wears water hiking sandals sitting near a lake

Water sandals are designed for hikers who want a sandal that can perform well in and out of water.

They are typically made with quick-drying materials and have a slip-resistant sole that provides traction on wet or slippery surfaces.

Water sandals are ideal for hiking in hot, humid weather, for stream crossings, and for water-based activities such as kayaking, rafting, or fishing.

KEEN Men's Newport H2 Closed Toe Water Sandals, Black, 11 US
  • WATER-RESISTANT: Quick dry washable synthetic straps and lining for active use in and out of the...
  • SUPPORT & COMFORT: Lace lock bungee capture system provides a secure fit while offering quick and...
  • TRACTION & PROTECTION: Multi directional lugs with siping channels provide superior grip on slippery...

Last update on 2023-11-11 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

That’s all! Hope you will enjoy the trip with suitable footwear! And don’t forget to send me some of your favorite picks.

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