I wanted a pair of walking sandals that could cope with trails and look good in towns.
So, I buckled up, strapped on and came up with a shortlist of the stylish-but-sturdy summer hiking sandals to choose.
Latest update: January 2022
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First rule of good walking sandals
… forget the flipflops and slides
Without straps, you’ll slide out of your sandals and injure yourself, your knees and back will hurt from lack of support and your toes will become like claws.
Most walking sandal manufacturers claim some technological feature with power to make us pain-free, and we take those with a pinch of salt.
The proof is in the wearing – three hours on a rough country track and 10 miles around a city. It’ll be the boys’ turn next, we promise!
This is my sandals wishlist
- Good soles with grip
- Decent fastenings that hold the shoe properly and don’t let your toes slide forward (and into a rock)
- No uncomfortable internal seams
- No sweat
- Great looks with both shorts and skirts
Good old Clarks. Every year, they try out something a bit daring, but their range does tend towards sensible-shoe. We’ve found that some of the borderline styles look more up-to-date if your outfit isn’t also tending towards the sensible!
My pair of sandals from the Unstructured range have been going strong for a while now.
They update the Un Adorn shoe with new straps each year, it seems. VERY comfortable, pretty cool-looking and excellent non-slip soles.
Stylish. EVA footbeds, odour-eating insoles and good soles, Merrell are a safe bet for comfort and looks.
Our choices are the District Mendi sandals in a choice of unusual colours and the more sporty-looking Terran, again in a choice of colours. The Terran comes in either a cross strap as above or a lattice. I found the narrow lattice straps were a bit painful and preferred the simpler cross strap.
Keen’s closed-toe waterproof walking sandals have been a staple in our camping wardrobe for ages – men’s and women’s.
The Clearwater sandal is a real favourite because the sole isn’t as chunky as many of its type, so it’s a bit more ladylike (when you’re jumping from rock to rock in your flowery shorts in a ladylike way). Not a city shoe, of course, although there’s a great range of colours now.
The Danish brand Ecco has a huge range. Like Clarks, some of the styles are a bit off-the-mark, but many can be given an edge with the right clothes.
Sadly, the soles on the prettier sandal styles aren’t really hefty enough for off-road grip. The Flash is a decent compromise, but wouldn’t be our first choice for sturdiness.
Another option is the Cruise, which is more of a straightforward walking sandal.