Last updated: August 10, 2021

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Are you ready for long hikes or walks on hot summer days? Of course, you must have the perfect equipment. In addition to hiking clothes or a backpack, the right footwear is a must. Hiking sandals are a good alternative to sturdy, closed hiking boots. Without sweaty feet, you will have much more fun hiking over hill and dale on summer days.

Our hiking sandals test 2021 should help you find the perfect hiking sandals for you. To make your decision easier, we have compared the materials leather and synthetic and listed their advantages and disadvantages. We have also selected our favourite hiking sandals for women, men and children.




Summary

  • Hiking sandals are a good alternative to hiking boots on warm summer days. Despite their robustness and thick soles, they are air-permeable and prevent blisters due to moisture accumulation.
  • Hiking sandals can be divided into two broad groups based on the material. Sandals made of leather and those made of synthetic materials. Both have their advantages and disadvantages, but the price range is slightly different.
  • You can recognise the perfect hiking sandals if they fit tightly on the foot and do not pinch. They should not end directly at the toes and should have a non-slip tread.

The Best Hiking Sandals: Our Picks

Buying and evaluation criteria for hiking sandals

There are many different types of hiking sandals. In the next section, we will show you which aspects you should consider when comparing hiking sandals.

The criteria you can use to compare hiking sandals include:

Size

Size is always the most important factor when buying clothes or shoes. This is also true for hiking sandals, as they are used to cover distances of several kilometres and sometimes difficult terrain.

If the shoe pinches, you won't enjoy hiking.

Hiking sandals should ideally not pinch anywhere, not be too big or too small and fit tightly at the heel. It's also important that the sandals don't end directly at the tip of your foot, but are slightly larger. This is especially important for running downhill, as your feet will slide forward a little.

Common closures on hiking sandals are Velcro or a drawstring. These allow for a perfect and individual adjustment to your foot.

Hiking sandals, like hiking boots, are often bought half a size larger. You should also avoid trying them on in the morning, as feet can swell during the day. You should try on hiking sandals before you buy them.

Upper

One of the most important aspects of footwear is the material, as this requires care. Upper means the part of the shoe that is above the instep of the foot.

Most hiking sandals are made of either leather or synthetic materials such as polyester. Both have their advantages and disadvantages.

Leather always adapts easily to the foot, which prevents pressure points.

In addition, leather reduces the formation of odours. However, this material needs a lot of care and reacts more sensitively to wetness.

Synthetic materials are less sensitive than leather and do not require special care. They are also often light and comfortable. Synthetic materials are more robust in combination with water, but also lead to odour problems or pressure marks more quickly if they are not well made.

Inner material

The inner material of hiking sandals describes only the tread or the insole.

Just like the upper material, the inner material can be made of synthetic materials or leather. The most important thing is that it is durable and skin-friendly. Materials that are often used on the inside are:

  • Textile
  • Mesh
  • Neoprene

After using your hiking sandals, you should never forget to clean them. Long hikes can be strenuous and you may start to sweat. For cleaning, you should remove your insole if you need one.

Unlike the outer material, the inner material is invisible. Therefore, its appearance should not matter much to you. Since sandals are usually worn without socks, your main concern should be your skin tolerance and comfort.

Sole

The soles of hiking sandals are often made of rubber or synthetic materials such as polyester.

When looking at the sole, you should not only pay attention to the material, but also to the heel. Many hiking sandals have no heel, but some have a small one of a few centimetres.

The most important thing about the sole is the tread.

In contrast to normal sandals, the tread is rather coarse. A comparatively coarse tread provides an adequate grip, which is very important especially on difficult hikes.

Cushioning also plays a role when hiking, as you naturally want to experience a relaxed hike for as long as possible. Since you perform differently on hikes than in your leisure time, a lot of value is placed on a good sole.

Closure

The two most common types of closure for hiking sandals are the drawstring and the conventional Velcro fastener. You won't find laces on hiking sandals.

Many hiking shoes have a drawstring and a Velcro fastener.

For longer hiking tours, the drawstring is definitely an advantage. This type of closure is more robust, more durable and also of higher quality than the Velcro fastener.

The Velcro fastener, on the other hand, is suitable for lighter and shorter hikes. Sandals that can be fastened with Velcro are particularly quick and easy to put on. Sandy terrain quickly causes the Velcro to come loose.

The advantage of these two types of closure is that they allow you to adjust the shoe to your foot. You can fasten them individually and thus partially compensate for size and fit.

Water-repellent

Since sandals are open shoes, your feet are of course not protected from getting wet.

However, you should always make sure that your hiking sandals are water-repellent. This means that they do not soak up water.

Water-repellent shoes or clothing can be recognised by the fact that the water rolls off the surface and does not get inside.

Hiking sandals that soak up water not only become considerably heavier and increase in weight, but the wearing comfort can also become significantly more uncomfortable.

Protective cap

Colloquially, a protective toe cap is also called a steel cap, although it is not always made of steel. It is built into the shoe in a spherical shape and designed so that the wearer notices it as little as possible.

Particularly for children, toe protection is an advantage.

Hiking sandals come in many different designs and not all of them have a toe protection cap. This encloses the tips of the toes and ensures that the tips of your feet are protected from impacts, stones and injuries.

The protection can be made of different materials, all of which have advantages and disadvantages. Steel is the cheapest, but also the heaviest. Other materials include plastic or titanium.

If you decide against such protection, you should make sure that the sole of the foot is longer than the foot at the tip of the toe. This creates a kind of buffer zone.

Decision: What types of hiking sandals are there and which is the right one for you?

If you want to buy hiking sandals, there are two types of products you can choose from:

Type Advantages Disadvantages
Hiking sandals made of leather Fits the foot, No sweaty feet, Durable Requires a lot of care, Limited water resistance
Synthetic hiking sandals Waterproof, Easy care, Animal friendly Odour problems, Lower target comfort with poor quality

Hiking sandals with synthetic uppers can be made of polyester, for example.

Both types have their advantages and disadvantages. Depending on what you prefer in terms of care and comfort, a different type of product is suitable for you. To make your decision a little easier, we have summarised more details about the two variants in the next section.

Leather Hiking Sandals

Leather hiking sandals

Leather hiking sandals are a classic. The material is known for its good properties and pleasant comfort.

Leather has the property of adapting well to the foot, so that you have a pleasant feeling even during longer hikes. In addition, unpleasant pressure points or blisters can be avoided.

Advantages
  • Adapts to the foot
  • Low odour problem
  • Durable
  • Breathable
Disadvantages
  • Complex care
  • Only conditionally waterproof
  • Can stain

Since leather loses important nutrients and ingredients over time, you should care for it regularly. This is also one of the disadvantages of this material, as it is more difficult to care for than other materials. Hiking sandals should therefore always be dry, and you should remove coarse dirt and impregnate them.

Again, one of the advantages of leather hiking sandals is the low odour problem. Just like hiking boots, sandals can also lead to so-called sweaty feet. However, if you choose leather, it is rather uncommon for your sandals to quickly start to stink.

Leather is very sensitive to water. If you choose this material, you should be aware that your hiking sandals are only partially waterproof. Long-term wetness can stain the leather, but you should never dry them in the sun or under the radiator.

Hiking Sandals Made Of Synthetic Materials

Hiking sandals made of synthetic materials

Over time, synthetic materials have also become popular in the processing of shoes and sandals. This vegan and animal-friendly alternative also has its advantages and disadvantages.

Hiking sandals made of synthetic materials have a light weight and are comfortable to wear. However, you should pay attention to workmanship and quality to avoid unpleasant pressure marks or blisters while hiking.

Advantages
  • Animal-friendly
  • Hardly susceptible to dirt
  • Easy care
  • Waterproof
Disadvantages
  • Often less comfortable to wear
  • Tendency to smell
  • Often poorer quality

Hiking sandals made of synthetic materials are definitely easy to care for. If they get wet, simply let them dry. For cleaning, you often only need a cloth or brush and some lukewarm water.

As with the fit, it is important to pay attention to the quality of your hiking boots when it comes to odour. If they are not well made, you can quickly develop sweaty feet.

One of the biggest advantages of synthetic materials is that they have no problems in combination with water. They are waterproof and dry very quickly, which is why you can also use them in wet terrain.

Guide: Frequently asked questions on the subject of hiking sandals answered in detail

You certainly have one or two questions before you buy hiking sandals. In the following section, we have listed the most important and most frequently asked questions from customers and answered them in detail. We hope that our great hiking sandals guide will make your decision easier.

Who are hiking sandals suitable for?

Hiking sandals are versatile. As the name suggests, they are perfect for hiking, longer walks and excursions.

It's best to start with longer walks to see if you enjoy hiking. In the beginning, you can also use your regular sports shoes, but the sole should be non-slip and have a good grip.

Wandersandalen-1

Hiking sandals are particularly useful for warm summer days, as they are permeable to air and therefore very breathable.
(Image source: unsplash.com / Toa Heftiba)

If you want to go hiking more often and choose different routes accordingly, you should definitely get the right footwear. Hiking sandals are particularly suitable for summer.

Since hiking sandals are often not as conspicuous as hiking boots, you can also wear them for longer city tours without any problems. So it doesn't always have to be a long hike through the mountains.

How much do hiking sandals cost?

Prices for hiking sandals can vary greatly. They often range between 30 and 100 euros. Reasons why prices vary so much are:

  • Brand
  • Workmanship
  • Material

The prices for hiking sandals for men and for women are very similar. There are also unisex models, but they do not differ in price from the others.

Type price range
Leather hiking sandals approx. 60-100 euros
Synthetic hiking sandals approx. 30-70 euros

If you compare leather and synthetic hiking sandals, you will notice a small difference in price. Leather sandals are a little higher in the price range, synthetic materials are more in the lower range.

How do I care for hiking sandals?

Taking care of hiking sandals is very important. It doesn't matter whether you have leather or synthetic sandals.

Since you'll most likely be wearing them without socks, sweat will get directly onto the inner material. They also get dirty quickly on the outside when you're walking over hill and dale. Like all the other clothing you wear for hiking, your footwear needs to be cleaned properly and cared for if necessary.

In the video you got a small insight into the correct shoe care. We have summarised the most important points so that you have a clear overview:

  • Drying: If your hiking sandals get wet, you should always dry them. This is even more important with leather than with synthetic materials. Be careful not to let your footwear dry in direct sunlight or under a hot radiator.
  • Remove coarse dirt: Whether your hiking sandals are made of synthetic materials or leather, the first thing you do is remove coarse dirt from your footwear. You can do this with a simple brush or even by hand. But don't forget to clean the soles.
  • Clean properly: Get some lukewarm water and clean your hiking sandals thoroughly with a cloth. It is important to clean the inner material and remove sweat.
  • Care: If your hiking sandals are made of leather, you should care for the material after cleaning. Leather care is often sufficient. You should do this more often and not forget, otherwise your leather could become stained or even brittle.

What alternatives are there to hiking sandals?

An alternative to hiking sandals are hiking boots. Unlike sandals, these are completely closed.

Hiking shoes are often worn for longer and more difficult hikes or in stony terrain. Because of the high shaft, you have more support and it increases stability.

Unlike hiking sandals, hiking boots are completely closed and are therefore less permeable to air. However, they are often made of breathable materials. They are mainly recommended for low temperatures.

Wandersandalen-2

For hikes in snow or cold areas, you should definitely wear sturdy hiking boots instead of air-permeable sandals!
(Image source:unsplash.com / freestocks)

If you're planning to go hiking in the snow or low temperatures in general, then you should leave your hiking sandals right at home. You'll just freeze your feet off. For such hikes, you need proper hiking boots that are particularly high-cut.

Hiking sandals are no substitute for hiking boots! You definitely need sturdy, closed shoes for very long hikes with heavy luggage.

Do children need hiking sandals?

There is a reason why there are special hiking sandals for children. Wearing this special type of sandal definitely has some advantages.

Wandersandalen-3

There is a wide variety of hiking sandals for the little ones among us. Children also need adequate comfort and safety. (Image source: unsplash.com / François Verbeeck)

With the help of hiking sandals, your child is well equipped for longer walks or for romping around on unpaved surfaces.

Especially the toe protection is an advantage for children, as it reduces the risk of injury. At first, this might take some getting used to, but it is specially made so that you feel it as little as possible while wearing them.

Otherwise, hiking sandals for children have exactly the same characteristics as those for adults. They are designed to be comfortable to wear and offer sufficient safety.

The special thing about hiking sandals for children, however, is the variety of colours. Your child will be offered a wide range of colours and patterns and will probably not want to take these sandals off again.

Photo source: anzebizjan/ 123rf.com

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