For exploring trails and coastlines in warm weather, a pair of the best walking sandals can be the perfect footwear choice. They'll come in handy for everything from warm days of gentle exploring, to letting your feet breathe around camp after a big day out. Many of the best walking sandals are quick-drying and designed to let water drain quickly, making them a great choice for watersports or coasteering-style adventures, too (although if that's your priority, you should head to our best water shoes guide instead).
The main selling point of a walking sandal is that it provides enormous breathability – especially welcome on hot days, or if your feet have spent several hours trapped in sweaty boots. Qualities you should be looking for in the best walking sandals include top-quality straps to keep the foot secure on uneven terrain – either comfy leather or fast-drying synthetic – as well as good traction and some foot protection. This last point varies from a minimalist, super-breathable simple underfoot shank through to more enclosed options that incorporate toe protection.
While sandals will provide more protection than today's best flip flops for walking, they're really for gentle strolls at most. For tricky terrain or anything more strenuous, you should opt for a pair of the best walking shoes or even the best hiking boots.
Even in the rarefied world of walking sandals, there’s plenty of choice. Read on for our pick of the best walking sandals for a range of activities.
The best walking sandals you can buy now
An outstanding option in the lightweight walking sandal market is the Teva Terra Fi Lite. Available in men's and women's fits, as well as a leather alternative, this sandal features Teva's classic three-strap design, and adds a robust rubber sole and a comfy moulded footbed for general comfort and added arch protection. While there's no protection on your toes or heels, you do get maximum breathability and a light weight. Each of the three straps can be adjusted with velcro for a sung fit, and there's a 'Shoc Pad' feature in the heel that adds cushioning as you walk. These sandals are ideal for warm-weather walks or long days on your feet sightseeing. Head to our Teva Terra Fi Lite review for more info.
Walking a nice balance between airiness and protection, the Keen Venice H2 are next up in our ranking of the best walking sandals around. There's lots to recommend these for summertime strolls. A multidirectional tread pattern combines with razor sniping to deliver grip and traction on rough ground, while the bungee closure keeps your foot secure. The upper is made from washable polyester with a hydrophobic mesh lining, and the whole shoe can be chucked into the washing machine (on gentle) if it gets too grubby. The EVA footbed is moulded to provide arch support, too. A few people say these size up small.
The Ecco Offroad Walking Sandals use something fancy called Receptor technology that means they constantly react to the motion of your feet, maximising stability and reducing muscle fatigue. This should help you walk comfortably for longer. Rubber outsoles are there to provide long-lasting grip and durability on dirt tracks and beyond. We’re also fans of the three-point adjustability on the leather uppers, boosting airflow and breathability to keep slippery foot sweat to a minimum. Ecco has also added a neoprene liner to the upper, for extra cushioning and comfort.
The Keen Astoria West sits combines the breathability of a sandal with some of the extra protection you'd find in a shoe (note, if you want something more minimalist, this style also comes in an open-toed variant). These shoes are designed to take you comfortably and securely from water to dry land, with wide straps are adjusted easily using the bungee chord to ensure a snug fit. The thick, bouncy sole – not unlike the kind you might find on a pair of trainers –provides plenty of comfort and grip, although it might be a bit bulky for technical trails. Head to our Keen Astoria West sandal review to find out more. The Keen Newport sandals are very similar.
Sporty walking sandals are having a moment on the runway as well as the trail, and the Tri Walk is Clarks' answer to stylish summer walking sandals with an outdoors-friendly performance. The sandals use Clarks' Trigenic System, designed to optimise the natural movement of your feet to make walking more enjoyable, easier and better supported. One of the main benefits of wearing these walking sandals are the sheer ease of use – thanks to a riptape fastening they’re easy to pull on and off. The design is multi-adjustable too, so you can play around with the fit to make it work for you. This is handy towards the end of the day when feet naturally swell in size.
Clarks knows how to make comfy shoes, so it's no surprises to hear that these were a delight straight out of the box. The grip doesn’t have a patch on some of the other shoes featured elsewhere in this best walking sandals guide, but it’s plenty enough for hitting the park, countryside pathways and less challenging trails. We wouldn’t be brave enough to wear the White Combi version on the trail, though.
The Keen SOLR (Sea. Ocean. Lake. River.) is all about the water, as the name suggests. Designed with stand-up paddle boarders and kayakers in mind, the result is a great all-round sandal with plenty of protection for taking on the rough stuff. The sole unit not only protects the toes almost as much as a pair of walking shoes, but also is non-marking, and has key contact areas fore and aft designed for gripping wet decks or paddleboards. A slight down-side is that this focus on water-based activities does hinder land performance just a little. The webbing is fabricated from recycled plastic bottles, and gives good wrap-around support and protection too, while a simple bungee fastener locks your foot in place without fuss – we particularly like the retaining strap that keeps the end of the bungee in place.
These Merrell Choprock Shandals have visible 'cut-out' ports on the sides of the shoes that allow water to drain out and to boost airflow around your feet, making them ideal for splashing through streams or pools when you're out walking (we've tested the Choprock Shandals by clambouring in rock pools and traipsing through shallow streams). We were impressed by the level of grip dished out by the Vibram Megagrip tech and 5mm lugs, and they didn’t take an age to dry out either. Word of warning: if you plan on wearing them to the beach, sand will get into those drainage ports and build up on the bed of the sandals, but rinsing the shoes in the ocean gets rid of any residue.
The rubber toe bumper adds extra toe protection to make these a little more suited to hiking when compared to a traditional open-toed sandal style. They were comfy to wear from the first hike and have webbing loops to help you adjust the fit to your foot. These shandals still feel hot compared to walking sandals with a more open design, but that’s the trade-off if you want a super-protective sandal-type summer shoe on the trail. Check our Merrell discount codes page before you buy to make sure you don't miss a bargain.
If you want something you can kick on and off for strolls around the campsite, you might consider the Olukai Ulele. We have a separate guide to flip flops for walking, although note here that we mean short walks – the complete lack of ankle support, foot protection and the fact they can just fall off at any moment means that this style of sandal is not built for anything remotely strenuous. The Uleles are billed as the brand's most technical sandal, with a padded footbed that's moulded to provide arch support and a snug fit, and razor sniping (those thin cuts all along the rubber) along the sole to improve traction. They're water-resistant (actually, they float!), and have microfibre-lined straps and a soft nylon toe post to minimise between-toe chafing (the worst kind). Of course, because there's very little to them, there's loads of room for air to circulate, too.
The best walking sandals for kids
Your little one will love running, jumping, climbing and walking in these adventure-ready walking sandals from Keen. The Moxie Sandals for older kids have a protective toe bumper, and sport a secure fit lace capture system to prevent any trip ups. They’re comfy to wear too, thanks to a cushioned footbed, and boast Keen’s Cleansport NXT natural odour control. So even if your little one is wearing these all summer long, they should smell fresher for longer.
You can pick up your classic Crocs in kids and even toddler versions. Whatever you think about the look for adults, these clog-style sandals have plenty going for them: they're lightweight, flexible and easy to clean. There's also a huge range of colours to choose from, plus the possibility of further customisation via rubbery charms that pop into the holes – a way for your kid to express themself, as well as being good for easy identification.
If you're embarking on a big family walk, you'll need to protect your little one’s feet too. Keen has managed to cram an impressive amount of features into its super cute walking sandals for kids, which is why they’ve made this list. First up, metatomical footbeds are there to cradle the natural contours of your kid’s feet, working to keep them steady and in true comfort as they walk, run and climb. These hybrid water sandals also have non-marking rubber outsoles, so they won’t ruin floors. Even better, they feature an environmentally friendly water-repellent treatment and eco-friendly anti-odour insoles that don’t use heavy metals or hazardous chemicals. Kids being kids, though, they’ll probably be much more interested in the crazy-cool colour options.
- Heading to the seaside? Bring your own shade with one of the best beach tents
- ... and keep refreshments chilled with one of the best cool boxes
- Decided on shoes instead? Don't forget a pair of the best walking socks to help prevent blisters
How to choose the best walking sandals
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Are you getting excited about owning some dedicated walking sandals? Well, you should be, because they’re an absolute revelation for enhancing your walking joy outdoors during the spring and summer. If you're planning on a big hike, especially a multi-day hike where you're carrying a heavy load, choose proper hiking boots. For something in between, where you need more support and full foot coverage than these sandals offer, go for walking shoes. Unsure as to which of those you need? Take a look at our guide to walking boots vs walking shoes, and discover how they differ.
However, if you want a highly breathable open shoe for walking, and preferably one that can cope with some water (sea or rain) every now and then, go for one of the best walking sandals we’ve rounded up below.
When choosing a pair, consider the type of fabric they are made from. Yes leather can take longer to break in compared to synthetic materials, but both materials can cause blisters if they start to rub. Leather feels cool on hot days, but synthetic materials are faster-drying, making them a better choice for those who regularly hit the beach.
Also think about what kind of terrain you'll likely be traversing on the regular, and how much grip you'll need as a result. You may find that a pair of sports walking sandals are the best option for you, as these promote fast and light walking but have great grip to keep you steady. Ready to set your feet free? Then let’s take a look at the best walking sandals that are available now and discover which are the ideal pair for you…