Are Hiking Sandals a Good Idea?

What I loved best about living in Florida was wearing flip-flops year round. Typically, my feet are too hot in sneakers or boots. Flip-flop weather is my favorite. Unfortunately, they are not appropriate footwear for hiking, biking, long walks, etc. You need sufficient arch support and sturdy soles for most trail activity to keep your feet safe.

I thought hiking sandals would be the perfect solution to keep my feet cool and well supported during outdoor activities.  After getting by with sneakers and frequent sock changes, I decided that I should just buy a pair. We were preparing for a family vacation to the Mouse in Florida, which seemed like the perfect test scenario for the sandals. 

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My first choice would have been Keens. It’s an excellent brand with great ratings on Amazon. Full-priced ladies sandals range from $120-140. To me, that’s a lot to drop on a pair of shoes that you fully intend to wear the stitching out of. However, you can often find them for half-price on Amazon. That’s a great value. My only other beef with Keens is that most styles are closed-toed, and I want my tootsies to really breathe. Perhaps I’ll invest in an open-toed pair sometime.

The next pair I considered were Skechers Women’s On-The-Go 600 Brilliancy Sport Sandal. These are another excellent option that retail between $50-60. I tried them on in the shoe store and found them very comfortable. My choice ended up being a toss up between these and the Dr. Scholl’s I purchased. Ultimately I put these back because they are not adjustable at the toes and are not hiking sandals. They have great support, so if you want to be stylish and supportive off the trail, I can’t recommend them enough. 

I chose Dr. Scholl’s Women’s Adele 2 Sandals in Navy blue. They looked to be the perfect combination of functional and stylish. They’re appropriate for walking around the park, sitting in a restaurant, and walking the trail. They turned out to be mostly what I wanted with one drawback. To explain, let’s explore some of the pros and cons of hiking sandals. 

Sandals generally cause fewer blisters than hiking boots because you have less skin surface in contact with fabric. If your shoes have less skin to rub against, then you won’t get as many blisters. However, sandals are more prone to hot spots under the straps, particularly in humid or sandy conditions. Many hikers use athletic tape under the straps to prevent this problem. 

I did get a blister wearing my Dr. Scholl’s sandals walking in the park. The caveat being we walked about 10 miles a day in hot weather. I think we exceeded the capability of most footwear to be comfortable. My blister, thankfully, went down overnight. My strategy after that was to change my shoes in the evening to give my feet air without walking as much while wearing my sandals for flip-flops.

Another feature I love about hiking sandals are their light weight and adjustability. Hiking boots can feel heavy and clunky especially if you are only going a short distance. Getting a pebble out means unlacing, removing, readjusting, and retrying. With sandals, you can usually just shake your foot to dislodge any stowaway stones. On short trail walks with my Dr. Scholl’s sandals I’ve been very happy with them. Many hiking sandals adjust at the ankle and the toes so you can find a great overall fit. 

Are you considering trying a pair of hiking sandals this spring or summer? I’d recommend them if you enjoy casual hikes and walks on the trail. They keep your feet nice and cool while still offering arch support and strong soles. If you are into distance hikes, sticking with your boots is a better idea.

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