Hiking sandals ?

Hiking with sandals: ideas from a love story

Auguct 5, 2020

In an itinerary guidebook, not even very old , and dealing with not very rough places, it happened to me to read an old-style phrase, more or less like this: “And you must wear real mountain boots, not these shoes for pseudo-hikers, that are nowadays fashionable”. This is a quite sharp opinion… and I am here, instead, to write about hiking sandals.
And so, look at the picture: I am not afraid to advertise a brand, since they are unfortunately, since long time, out of production and they were not even sold as hiking sandals: I wore them for long time, for daily use.

My old sandals, with which I had a long lasting love story

Their flattened sole, that convinced me to put them apart, to avoid being obliged to throw them away

Then, once I was in Armenia, and hade the occasion of ascending to mount Azhdahak: how could I miss this ? But I had no hiking equipment, apart from the backpack that I uses for my hand luggage. My reaction to an offer of old borrowed shoes was without doubts: I chose my sandals. For the rest, I used my available trousers, the long sleeve top of my pajamas, to protect from sun (it has been fundamental, but it was blue: better if it were white), a borrowed hat, a jeans jacket and… go. Briefly: from 2000 to almost 3700 metres, with 20 km to go and 20 back (with the last stretch on the back of a providential UAZ truck).
Ok, the terrain was not so rough but they, the sandals, have been fantastic. Since then, I used them again few times, then I abandoned them, for love, to avoid losing them.

Approaching mount Azhdahak, where my sandals brought me

But, shifting from shoe to shoe, my desire to have my feet happy became stronger and stronger. I had already abandoned the classic mountain boots, even since, during winter, I basically stay far from places with real winter climate. About the rest, nowadays almost any kind of footwear is available: light hiking boots, high over the ankle, hiking boots not covering the ankle, of different weight, shoes with net-type upper, hybrids between shoes and sandals, more or less open and, finally, sandals. But, before going on, have a look again to the mythical ones: leather upper, protected front tip, a simple and tough clip, a cork coated sole, at these times already perfectly shock absorbing, with a well sculptured bottom side, flexible but robust (even if you see it consumed by the intensive use)
Nowadays sandals are available in plenty of models: in the picture you see the ones I use now, a bit dusty; in this case the brand is covered, since they are still in commerce; most present models also look much more fashionable.

The sandals I am using now: perhaps not looking very fashionable, but pretty efficient

But what about hiking ? Let’s see

– Let’s compare again the “old mythical ones” with my new model. The latter have a front regulation string: keeping it lose, you will have maximum comfort, like wearing flip-flops; if you make it tighter, on the contrary, it will be possible to apply a more vigorous push with the tip of your toes.

– Each season needs its specific shoes: as a matter of fact, sandals are not water proof. Some dew is enough to make your feet soggy.

– But sandals also dry down very fast; so, when you have to frequently cross small streams, with this respect, there is nothing better.

– Almost everything can obviously enter into your sandals; so when the ground is covered with thing gravel, leaves, twigs etc., this may be quite nasty; not to speak about chestnut shells, or cow’s poo.

– The tip of your toes MUST BE protected. I know, fashionable sandals are open in the front; but these models are appropriate to walk on ground without obstacles; with unprotected fingers tips, the risk of being injured is very high, even for expert walkers.

– Almost all  models have now rather thin sloe, not very well sculptured; this depend on the need of keeping them light and flexible. On hard and stony grounds, however, thin sole could become a trouble, on the long term.

– Always wear sandal together with adequate socks, even if this may look a compromise with fashion.


In synthesis, this i my opinion: sandals can be a great resource and can be used in many occasions. Where the ground is not very rough, your feet will be happy and grateful, otherwise, may be they won’t. As a general impression, sandals could cause less bruising problems, but more impact problems.

So, I would say, consider what I wrote, if you wish, and try, and experiment. In my opinion, however, a part from the intrinsic quality of sandals, the ideal sandal is presently not yet available: it would still require some work.       

Hiking sandals. Filippo D’Antuono. piudimille.com. All rights reserved