Hiking Sandals: The Best Friend You Never Knew You Wanted
When the average person thinks of hiking, images of huge backpacks, Clif bars, and (you guessed it) full leather hiking boots come to mind.
However, there has been a big switch recently to lighter and more breathable on the trail footwear. Lightweight trail runners and boots made of synthetic materials are currently some of the most popular picks for both day hikers and long distance backpackers alike.
On the very far end of this spectrum lies one of the lightest and most breathable options available: the hiking sandal.
Although hiking sandals are made by more than a few reputable companies (Chacos, Teva, Keen, and Bedrock to name only a few, many avid outdoor enthusiasts wouldn’t dream of trading in their trail runners for a pair of sandals.
Hiking sandals are definitely not for every hiker, or every adventure. However, I have found them to be an awesome alternative for summer hiking and an option that deserves a place in any hiker’s gear closet. Many come with full orthopedic support and traction comparable to the most rugged hiking boots. All of this paired with an open and airy top make hiking sandals are the best friend you never knew you wanted.
Do you have a few big water crossings on your upcoming hike? Sandals let you walk straight through the water without missing a beat. Instead of having to take your boots on and off for every crossing, sandals let you keep on hiking and let your feet dry on the fly.
Do your feet swell when you’re hiking? I know the pain all too well – instead of trying to find the perfect boot that allows your feet to swell without causing blisters, sandals let your feet swell as much as they would like without having to buy new shoes.
Are your boots too heavy or chunky? Sandals are lighter and smaller than a large majority of hiking footwear on the market. Lighter shoes means less weight for your body to carry up the mountain, and therefor more energy throughout the rest of your day!
Are you getting too many blisters? Blisters while hiking can come from any number of reasons, and many of them are all but eliminated while hiking in sandals. Aside from the straps, there is very little fabric to chafe from so say good bye to your hot spots! The open toe design prevents any toenails from being pounded away, and the open design let’s sweat or rain dry quickly instead of causing blisters on your feet.
The only cons I have been able to find are that you can’t wear these year round in most places because bare feet and snow don’t mix too well, and that depending on the weight of your pack you may require a shoe or boot with a little extra support than sandals can offer. You stub your toe way less than you think you will, but your toes will be nice and dirty at the end of each day.
Interested yet? There are tons of brands that make pretty awesome and durable hiking sandals. Plus those REI dividends should be coming in the mail any day now – so pick yourself up a pair of hiking sandals for this upcoming summer hiking season!
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