Caught between options for the best hiking sandals? Here's a guide to what may work well for different feet on different hikes!
Recently I’ve seen a few spirited debates about whether Chacos or Tevas were the best hiking sandal.
(Yes, these are the kinds of things I see when I scroll on Instagram.)
Some people are firmly team Chaco, others team Teva. Personally, I’ve been using Keen hiking sandals for years.
After considering the pros and cons of hiking in sandals, maybe you're wondering which hiking sandal is for you. We reviewed some of the most popular hiking sandals (and definitely had some favorites).
Here are the sandals we tested, by brand.
Chaco Hiking Sandals
- Best for feet with high arches
- Straps are (typically) one continuous strap that takes some practice adjusting
- Available in lots of fun color and pattern options
- Make great water shoes
Now for a couple of specific models:
Chaco Z/Cloud X Sandal
The Chaco Z/Cloud X sandals have a nice, sturdy base. I liked the color options available for the straps. Once they arrived, though, I found adjusting the straps to be a little cumbersome.
Unfortunately this shoe was both too wide for my foot and too high in the arch. If you have high arches this sandal might work better.
The Chaco Bodhi sandals were lower profile than the other pair of Chacos we tried, but the built-in high arch support was still uncomfortable on my foot.
Also, I was concerned that the toe strap would rub my skin. These are cute though!
- Best for feet with lower arches
- Available in lots of fun colors
- Generally adjusted with Velcro straps
- Make great water shoes
Here are two specific models:
Original Universal Sandal
The sole of the Teva Original Universal sandals wasn’t as sturdy as some other sandals, with limited traction grooves. I’m not sure I’d want to actually go hiking in this sandal.
But the fit was great on my low arches, and I love how small and light this sandal is. It would be great for bringing on backpacking trips for camp shoes or water crossings, or for water shoes.
Teva Tirra sandals have a much sturdier shoe base than the original Teva. It feels sturdy and grippy, and is a great fit with my low arches. I like these just as much as my Keen sandals, except that there’s less toe protection.
These are probably cuter than the Keens. I recently wore these hiking on a short day hike and they were wonderful!
Keen Hiking Sandals
- Most foot protection of any sandal we tried, especially for the toes
- Extremely comfortable
- Great traction in water, but take longer to dry than Chacos or Tevas
I tried two models from Keen:
Keen Newport sandals have been my go to hiking / camping sandals for years. These sandals are perfect for warm-weather water hikes (like in Zion), camp shoes or easier day hikes where you don’t need the full protection of a boot.
I like that these sandals protect more of my foot than the others.
The Keen Rose sandals are closed toe. They have a similar look to the Newport or Clearwater, but are, in my opinion, slightly cuter!
These did not fit my feet well; my small toe was outside the toe fabric area. But if you’re looking for a Keen brand sandal that can double as casual wear, this might be it.
I feel like you probably already know if you like Birkenstocks. These shoes are a whole thing, and always show up when I search for hiking sandals. Plus, maybe you want pink Birks like Barbie?
- Natural fibers (leather) instead of synthetic
- Not great water shoes
- They hurt (my feet)
The type of Birks I tried:
Guys, I’ve TRIED to like Birks but they just do not fit my feet. They manage to hurt even when I’m sitting, which is kind of an accomplishment.
But I like that these use more natural ingredients (leather) than most other hiking sandals, so if you love the brand and feel confident hiking in them, go for it with these Birkenstock Franca sandals.
I’ve used minimalist sneakers and hiking boots in the past, so I was curious about these!
- I want to be the kind of person who confidently hikes in these sandals
- Very little protection for the foot, but lots of toe room
- Great water shoes
Specific model thoughts:
If you’re looking for a zero-drop, minimalist sandal, Xero is a great option! The Xero Z-Trek Sandals have grippy soles and would be great for water shoes.
If you’re new to minimalist shoes, be aware that these sandals are little more than a thin sole with a strap, and don’t really provide any protection for your foot against the elements.
There are, of course, other brands out there, but hopefully this rundown gives you an idea of what to look for! Are there other hiking sandals you love? Let us know in the comments.