No sandal wardrobe is complete without the comfiest pair: the pair that keeps up with your hiking or walking pace while still making you look stylish. We spoke with style and travel experts as well as podiatrists to find the best ones for comfort on long walks, in a wide range of temperatures and settings.
The right sandals will keep your feet comfy on the trails, in the surf and on the sand. They’ll also help you avoid stress fractures, plantar fasciitis and other foot pains. For these reasons, it’s important to choose a pair that are lightweight, cushioned, stable and flexible enough for everyday wear. Sandals that are woven, have a cupped heel and are thicker across the soles will provide more support, says Jacqueline Sutera, a podiatrist and founder of City Podiatry in New York. She adds that if you have high arches, a sandal with extra padding on the arch is essential to reduce over-pronation and keep your foot’s natural cushioning in place.
While open-toe sandals are typically a summer staple, closed-toe options are better for activities in the sun and on water. These include water sports sandals like Keen’s Newport H2 and Solr, which have drainage ports along the uppers to help dump water and flatter soles for grip on slippery surfaces. Other sandals, such as Hoka’s Hopara and Salt Water Original, offer the added protection of rubber patches on the front of the foot that guard against direct hits from rocks and other debris.
If you’re an athlete who prefers to hike in a light-weight sandal, try EVA (ethylene-vinyl acetate) styles. These are typically more durable than most leather sandals and are also machine washable for easy care. Podiatrists recommend them because they’re made to flex and conform to the shape of your feet for a comfortable fit that avoids blisters and other friction points.
For a sleeker take on athletic-inspired sandals, a slide silhouette is the way to go. These are typically sturdier than sandals with snaps, buckles or laces and have elastic straps that cradle your foot for a secure fit.
The rise of athleisure fashion has boosted the popularity of slides and other casual styles, including thong sandals that have elastic bands between your toes to minimize slippage. The best ones have no ties or fasteners that could irritate your skin and are lightweight, flexible, comfortable, and quick to dry. If you tend to have issues with pinched toes, bunions and hammer toes, consider a thong or slide with a lightly padded footbed that helps alleviate pressure on your feet, explains Sutera. A molded arch is especially helpful for people with high arches, since it supports the foot and reduces pressure on the big toe joint, she adds. best sandals