9 Hiking Sandals for Women That Your Feet Will Love
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Hiking is a safe and fun way to get some exercise—as long as you've got the right gear. Here's what the experts want you to know when shopping for hiking sandals for women.
Why you should take a hike
Getting outdoors for a hike, whether it’s a one-mile loop or a month-long trek, comes with plenty of benefits, both for your health and general wellbeing.
And the only way to reap these benefits is to lace up a pair of hiking sandals or boots and hit the trails. Hiking helps you get aerobic (cardiovascular) exercise while building muscles and improving balance.
Going for a hike can also reduce stress, anxiety, and the risk of depression, according to the National Park Service. In fact, just simply being in nature and experiencing natural sights, sounds, and feelings can improve your wellbeing and sensory perception.
Research in Environmental Health and Preventive Medicine also found that “forest bathing,” or spending time in the forest, may reduce depression and improve things such as blood pressure and heart rate, too.
The benefits of hiking are so numerous and widespread that some doctors are now prescribing their patients ‘nature prescriptions’ to encourage more people to get out there and enjoy what Mother Nature has to offer.
But there are some important considerations to make before hitting the trail, one of the most important being is your choice of footwear.
If you’re hiking in warm weather, the experts all agree—you’ll need a good quality, durable, adjustable pair of hiking sandals. But which hiking sandals offer the best features and construction to make sure you have a safe and comfortable hike? Here’s what the experts want you to know when deciding on a pair of hiking sandals for women.
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What to consider when purchasing hiking sandals for women
There is no single hiking sandal or hiking gear that will be the perfect match for everyone because size, shape, and supportive needs can differ so much between people.
However, looking for a few specific features or brands may increase your odds of finding a hiking sandal that will give you the best chance of having a safe and comfortable hike.
According to the experts, the most important thing to look for when purchasing women’s hiking sandals is how they fit and feel on your feet overall.
To get the best fit, they suggest shopping at a store that specializes in hiking or footwear and asking a store employee for guidance. The experts also recommend trying on shoes later in the day, when your feet are more likely to be swollen.
Every expert interviewed said picking a hiking sandal with a good sole is one of the most important considerations for support, safety, and comfort. They suggest picking a sandal with a thick, sturdy, stiff, rubber sole that will absorb shock, cushion the feet, and create more stability when walking.
A thick, sturdy rubber sole can also help protect the feet from outside elements like rough rocks or twigs, says Lauren Wurster, DPM, spokesperson for the American Podiatric Medical Association (APMA).
Kelly Roberts Lane, DPT, with Fix It physical therapy in Minnesota, says it’s important to remember that the more stable and bigger the sandal’s sole, the more arch support you will need to control the shoe.
A huge advantage of most hiking sandals is that they contain several straps, bungee-cords, or cord-locking systems that are adjustable, allowing you to create a more custom fit that reduces the risk of blistering and slipping.
Being adjustable also means you can adjust to the sandal’s fit over time as the feet swell, become sore, blister, or grow a bit.
The experts say that generally speaking, the more straps or cords you can adjust on a hiking sandal, the better. But they add that it’s important to look at what type of connection or adjustable enclosures a sandal has.
Some hiking sandals connect their straps or cords with plastic buckles, which offer strength and may make cords or straps more likely to stay in place. But plastic buckles can rub against the skin or create a sweaty environment because they are not breathable.
Velcro patches or bungee-cord toggles may be slightly less secure but less likely to create friction or sweat, and they can be easier to adjust quickly on the go.
Most hiking sandals contain a mix of different materials or fabrics for different purposes or needs. Bruce Pinker, DPM, with Progressive Foot Care in New York State says most of the higher quality women’s hiking sandals feature some mixture of nylon, rubber, and sometimes ethylene-vinyl acetate (EVA).
Synthetic materials and fabrics like nylon and rubber are great features in hiking shoes because they are often light-weight and dry quickly after getting wet. Dr. Wurster says materials like meshing in the top of the sandal also allow increased airflow.
Yet synthetic materials are not always as comfortable as some natural materials or may cause more slipping or blistering because they do not absorb sweat. If you’re planning on a hike where there’s no chance of getting your feet wet, leather insoles and strapping may be a good option for you.
Having a good grip while hiking is extremely important. The experts recommend getting a hiking sandal with as much traction as possible.
Colin O’Connor, a senior podiatrist at ModPod Sports Podiatry & Physiotherapy in Australia says to look for soles with deep lugs, which are indentations or ridges in the sole. Sandals with the best traction also tend to have a series of differing patterns of ridges, bumps, or indentations that go in different directions to offer multi-directional traction.
Strapping or cording
The experts say that the number, location, and strength of a hiking shoe’s strapping or cord systems determine a lot about how stable, secure, and supportive the sandal will be.
“Sandals should be supportive, ideally [with] straps across the top of the shoe to hold foot in place and ideally a strap at the back of the heel to hold heel down,” says Dr O’Connor.
Some sandals create additional support and stability by offering a strap around the big toe or other parts of the foot, but this may not be the best option for everyone.
“You need to consider the straps on the sandals and where they land on your feet,” says Dr. Lane. “If a strap between your big toe and second toe is going to rub and cause and abrasion, it is best to skip that.”
How they handle water
Some hiking sandals are better equipped to handle water or wet environments than others. The experts suggest that for hikes with water elements, pick a sandal made out of materials like mesh and rubber that dry quickly.
They also suggest wearing enclosed or closed-toe sandals to prevent injury if you slip while hiking through water.
Having good traction is also extremely important when trekking through water. Dr. Wurster says some people may also be more comfortable with a lighter style of sandal that fits securely if traversing through puddles, streams, waterfalls, and other water-filled areas.
Many experts say that picking a hiking sandal with good, supportive arch support built into the shoe’s insole is important. In most cases, you can physically see the amount of arch support in a shoe by looking at it from the side. But Dr. Pinker and others say arch support may not be important for people with normal arches.
Toe box and cap
Experts say that a nice wide toe box that allows the toes to move around a bit is a great feature for all hiking footwear. But most toe boxes in hiking sandals are naturally wide and roomy enough to meet most people’s needs, through the strapping of some sandals may narrow this space.
A toe cap, or thick, rubber covering that encloses the front toe area of the sandal, may make some types of hiking more safe because it offers protection from the outside environment. “For those engaging in high intensity hiking, sandals with a toe cap may be preferred,” says Dr. Pinker.
Many sandal manufacturers use a different sizing scale to label their products, meaning your foot size may not always match up with the size the company claims their sandal is.
The experts recommend looking online to see whether a company explains if their sandals tend to run smaller, larger, or wider than normal sizes. Hiking or shoe store employees also tend to know how brands fit most people.
Dr. Pinker says fortunately the sizing scale most shoe brands use tends to be the same throughout the different styles or types of shoe they make. “Usually, each brand is consistent within itself,” he says, “so once one finds the proper fit, [you] can typically order other styles from the same company and those should fit well also.”
The best hiking sandals for women
Taking into account what the experts had to say above and other features they listed as important, here’s a list of the best women’s hiking sandals.
Chaco Women’s Z/Cloud X2
Almost every expert we interviewed listed Chaco as one of the top hiking sandal brands for quality, comfort, and stability. The Chaco cloud X2 has layers of double-strapping that wrap around most of the foot, including through the midsole and around the toe. This extra strapping allows you to further customize the fit of your sandals and adds extra security to prevent the foot from slipping.
These sandals also offer great traction with a 3 millimeter lug depth and the company’s trademark rubber outsole. They also come with a top layer of Chaco’s podiatrist-certified ultra-cushioning footbed in the midsole. Chaco’s sandals are available in medium width and extra wide to meet the needs of more people.
Viakix Walking Sandals for Women
These sandals from Viakix are made with soft, strechable strap webbing on the insoles that comform to the shape of your foot. Like most other hiking sandals, they also contain a series of strapping around the toe, front of the foot, ankle, and heel for good support and adjustability.
This sandal also comes with contoured arch support. At a $55 price point, these sandals are also a mid-cost product, and they are easily returnable if they are not the most comfortable hiking sandals you’ve ever tried.
Teva Women’s Ankle-Strap W Hurricane XLT2
Teva is another top brand of hiking sandals for women that the experts recommend. These versatile hiking sandals come with a thick rubber sole with heavy-duty traction and nylon shank stabilizers for extra stability on rugged or uneven terrain.
This sandal also has thick strapping around the front of the foot, ankle, and heel for good support and comes with a bungee around the heel for extra stability.
The sandal’s straps are also very durable, quick-drying, and environmentally-friendly, made from traceable, verifiable polyester yarn. Starting at $40, these hiking sandals also offer quality without the high-price of many top-end hiking sandals.
Cairn 3D PRO II Adventure Sandals
This hiking sandal markets itself as the best option for adventure seekers looking for a less intense sandal. These sandals from Bedrock Sandals come with straps that go through the middle of the toe in a flexible, easy to grip toe loop that connects to strapping that runs across the top middle of the sandal and wraps around the ankles and heel.
Three hook and lock buckles, one one either side of the toe before the ankle and one on the heel, lock-in the straps to create a very secure fit that should stay secure in almost any environment.
These sandals also come with extremely-sticky outsoles that many experts recommend for extra grip, even in wet and slippery terrain. They also have a anatomically molded 3D footbed for extra fit and built-in arch and toe support to make long hikers more comfortable. As a bonus, Cairn also donates 1 percent of their profits to environmental causes.
Keen Women’s Newport H2 Sandal
If you’re planning on doing more rugged hiking or hiking in wet environments these may be the sandal for you. These Keen hiking sandals for women have a thick rubber sole with very deep, multi-directional lugs for good traction and excellent built-in arch support.
Being close-toed, these sandals offer more stability while hiking and a large, thick toe cap helps protect the foot from environmental elements like rocks and twigs.
These KEEN sandals also have fewer buckles and enclosures than many other sandals, using a lace-lock bungee cord system that runs across the top middle of the foot that is held in place with a hook-and-loop system that allows adjustments.
These sandals also are made using PFC-free waterproofing repellent and contain eco-friendly anti-odor compounds. Be aware that KEEN sandals tend to run a bit wider than other sandals.
Merrell Women’s Terran Lattice II Sandal
These Merrell sandals have a microfiber, leather wrapped footbed and mesh and leather strapping for extra comfort, breathability, and sweat absorption. These Merrell sandals also have extra leather cushioning patches around the ankles and heel for additional comfort and less rubbing and air cushioning in the heel for extra stability and shock-absorption.
They also come with an inbedded nylon arch that is supportive, but less intense than some other sandals on this list and a trademarked memory foam footbed.
For some people, this sandal is also a more fashionable, less outdoorsy looking sandal that may also be useful in urban settings.
Teva Women’s Tirra Sandal
For those looking for excellent support with fewer movable or thin strapping, this may be the hiking sandal you’ve been looking for. Designed especially with a woman’s foot shape, this sandal from Teva has two double-straps near the front of the foot before the toes and a strap around the ankle and heel with Velcro closings.
They also have extra built-in cushioning on the inner sides of the straps around the toes, ankle, and heel and a heel loop to help get the sandals on and off. Like other Teva sandals, these sandals come with soft, durable, quick-dry straps made of recycled polyester.
They also come with nylon stabilizers in the outersole and extra traction for wet conditions. These Teva sandals are also in the lower-price-range options for good quality hiking sandals.
Xero Z-Trail EV
If you’ve been looking for a light-weight, more barefoot hiking sandal this Xero Shoe may be a great hiking sandal for you. It offers a thin, 10 mm trademarked sole that offers support, cushioning, and protection while still allowing you to feel the terrain you’re hiking on.
To further this barefoot feeling, the sandals have patented rubber grip pads on the outer soles and provide extra grip and traction by using two different lug patterns.
Unlike many hiking sandals, these sandals are also much more bendable, flexible, and lightweight weighing in at just 4.3 ounces per shoe on average, making them great for travel.
Atika Women Athletic Outdoor Sandal, Closed Toe Lightweight Summer Sport Hiking Sandals
These hiking sandals offers loads of foot protection for more rugged or rigorous hiking without the big price tags of some other closed-toe sandal options. These Atika sandals have a three-layer toe cap, which includes a inner layer for added comfort and an outer layer to help shield the toes and feet from painful natural elements, like rocks, twigs, and roots.
It also offers padding on the inner elastic lining of the sandal and two Velcro straps to help you get the best fit possible. This shoe is especially designed for water strikes and has great traction in wet environments because of its numerous different direction and shape lugs, this sandal will keep you safe and secure.
- Bruce Pinker, DPM, AACFAS, FAPWCA, DABPM, FACPM with Progressive Foot Care in New York State
- Colin O'Connor, Senior podiatrist with ModPod Sports Podiatry & Physiotherapy in Australia
- Environmental Health Prevention Medicine: "A comparative study of the physiological and psychological effects of forest bathing (Shinrin-yoku) on working age people with and without depressive tendencies"
- Kelly Roberts Lane, DPT, FACSM, Fellow with the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) with Fix It physical therapy in Minnesota
- Lauren Wurster, DPM, AACFAS, spokesperson for the American Podiatric Medical Association (APMA) with Foot & Ankle Clinics of Arizona
- National Park Service: "Benefits of Hiking"