10 best hiking sandals for women

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Our top-rated hiking sandals will keep you comfy on the trails

In this warm weather, we have the best lightweight, breathable walking sandals that will keep your feet cool and comfy while you hike. Our top ten picks of the best walking sandals for women offer great comfort and grip, and are stylish enough to wear on city streets and country trails alike.

A good pair of walking sandals should have rugged rubber soles and supportive straps, including a wide heel strap. Look for lightweight soles with deep lugs (these are the indentations in the sole) to ensure you have good grip when walking on uneven or slippery surfaces, and pick a pair of sandals with thick, padded straps across and behind your foot that can be adjusted for the perfect fit. Check the inner soles of your new sandals are springy, cushiony and breathable, to keep your feet cool and comfortable mile after mile.

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Consider how and where you want to wear your new sandals. Walking and sport sandals range from slim and simple designs to big chunky designs, and some can be rather smart. If you want a pair of sandals you can also wear out and about or even to work in the summer months, consider a pair designed with a leather or suede upper material. If you’re planning on exploring the coast or want a pair of walking sandals you can also swim and paddle in, pick a quick-drying fabric pair made with mesh or neoprene. And if you’re going hiking on challenging trails, choose a sandal with wider straps and thicker soles for more protection, or opt for a ‘shandal’ (half sandal, half shoe) with closed toes and heels but vents and straps for ventilation.

Try on sandals in person and, just like with hiking boots, check that there’s no tightness or rubbing anywhere, and that your feet don’t slip about when the straps are done up securely.

1, Vionic Jamie Flatform Sandal £130, Vionic

Best for: best smart sandal Comfy sandals don’t have to be chunky and utilitarian-looking. Vionic’s rather gorgeous Jamie sandals are made with plush leather and look smart enough to wear to work but have rugged rubber lugs for great grip on wet surfaces, plus orthotic footbeds that mould quickly to your feet for a cushiony custom fit, ideal for anyone who finds most sandals uncomfortable. A great pick for city strolls and weekends away where you’ll be clocking up distances but still want to look smart as you go exploring. 2, Keen Whisper Sandal £96.50, Keen

Best for: best protection Keen make a great range of comfortable, lightweight hiking sandals that are perfect for swapping to once the weather warms up, and their Whisper ‘shandal’ is our top pick for coastal adventures. Quickly adjusted bungee cords on the front and heel of the sandal make it easy to pop the Whispers on and off and we love the tough rubber toe box, which protects feet on rocky terrain. The webbing of the sandals also dries quickly if you wear them in water – ideal for a spot of mid-walk wild swimming or for water sports.

3, Helly Hansen Capilano F2F Sandal £75, Helly Hansen

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Best for: best lightweight sandal Helly Hansen include this sandal in their ‘Fjord-to-Fjell’ collection – the idea is that you can wear the Capilano anywhere from coastal paths to mountain trails. We definitely found this sandal to be a hardy, adventurous choice for hikers on test – the adjustable straps offer a good snug fit and the cushiony midsole feels comforting underfoot and makes long distances more comfortable. The Capilano also sports fantastic sticky grip thanks to rubber lugs, ideal for added confidence even on wet rocky surfaces.

4, Teva Walhalla Sandal £59.90, Start Fitness

Best for: best shandal Teva are the classics of the practical sandal world, ever since they made their first three-strap sandal back in 1982. You can still buy their Universal Classic design, but for hiking days and water sports we prefer the Teva Walhalla sandal, which might just be the perfect ‘shandal’. Tough rubber sections protect your toes and heels, bungee cords make for a snug cinched fit, while vents keep feet cool and dry in hot weather or in water. Ideal for aquatic adventures and summer walking.

Best for: mountain trails The third incarnation of Merrell’s popular Kahunas are sensible, no-nonsense walking sandals with plenty of support from a wide front strap and cooling ventilation from cut-out sides – if you’re looking for something that can tackle rocky trails and uneven ground, these are the sandals for you. The Kahuna IIIs also feature the best soles we tested, using trusted Vibram rubber technology and offering fantastic grip even when you’re on wet, slippery surfaces. We also like the easy to adjust and comfortable straps and the smart suede outer material of these good-looking sandals. Our pick of the pack for serious walkers.

Best for: best barefoot sandal. The minimalist’s sandal of choice. Vivobarefoot shoes are made with super slim soles designed to connect your feet with the floor as if you were walking, you guessed it, barefoot. These Opanka sandals, handmade from sustainable leather, are extremely light and comfy but still sit snugly on your feet thanks to well-placed straps. Despite their slimness, these sandals still sport very good grippy soles, and those soles are impressively flexible and pliable, too, which makes the Opankas easy to pack if you’re travelling light - they roll up into slim sausages and can be popped in your backpack.

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Best for: style points Super chunky soles are a bit of a footwear trend at the moment, but Sorel’s scalloped Kinetic Impact II is practical as well as stylish – it’s lightweight and very cushioning, so you feel like you’re bouncing around on a cloud as you stride forward. Wide, supportive leather straps and an adjustable heel strap hold your foot in place, and while the grip is limited, it’s good enough for groomed paths. We love the acid-bright colourways.

Best for: best all-rounder sandal Birkenstocks’ sandals have a cult following for a reason – once you break in their cork soles (which can take weeks of wear), you’re rewarded with a seriously comfortable sandal molded to your foot’s shape and that should last you for years. The Mayari has slim toe and top straps of soft leather and rubber soles with surprisingly good grip, so it’ll happily go from city to countryside. A good all-rounder for daily use on and off trails.

Best for: best fit Get a stay-put-all-day feeling with Columbia’s Trailstorm Hiker 2, which has super comfy adjustable Velcro straps that make for a snug fit. These sandals don’t look or feel chunky and are light and freeing to wear but still have great grip that feels more something you’d find on the bottom of a tough walking boot than a barely-there sandal – ideal if you don’t want to feel weighed down on the trail or if you have to be on your feet all day.

10, Merrell Terran 3 Sandal £75, Merrell

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Best for: best toe post sandal Another example of that rare thing – a walking sandal that also looks smart enough to wear casually. We love the Terran’s nubuck leather straps and stylish colourways, which look just as good with jeans as they do with walking trousers. ‘Toe post’ sandals are a bit like marmite, and you might either love them or find them uncomfortable. If you’re the former, this is a beautifully made choice you could wear to work as well as on weekend walks. The grip is fine on groomed trails but not tough enough for rough terrain.

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