Reviews You Can Rely On

Best Sandals for Men of 2021

We tested sandals from Cairn, Teva, Keen, Chaco, and others to help you find the best
The Teva Katavi 2 is a solid all-around performer at a great price, ea...
Photo: Nick Bruckbauer
Thursday September 16, 2021
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Looking for new sandals? For 8 years, our team of experts has purchased and tested over 20 of the best sandals on the market, with 11 of today's top models in our latest head-to-head analysis. For several months, we brought these kicks on our daily adventures from the Sierra Nevada to the California coast, on everything from hikes and boulder hops to water sports and casual beach strolls. All along the way, we scored and ranked each model across five rating metrics in order to help you differentiate between the comfort, performance, and value of each pair and choose the best option for your lifestyle.

Related: Best Sandals for Women of 2021

Top 11 Product Ratings

Displaying 1 - 5 of 11
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Awards Editors' Choice Award Editors' Choice Award    
Price $105 List
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Overall Score Sort Icon
82
77
75
74
72
Star Rating
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Pros Lightweight, versatile, excellent tractionVery comfortable, good support, grippy outsoleSolid construction, comfortable and adjustable, good traction, weighs less than typical ChacosComfortable, rugged, grippy on variable surfacesComfortable, good traction, water-friendly
Cons Not best for high archesPricey, dad-style designAdjustment can be tediousExpensive, somewhat heavySpongy sole lacks stability, can cause chaffing
Bottom Line A well designed minimalist sandal that is ultra-resilient and ready for the long haulClassic three-strap sport sandals that provide high-end comfort and solid all-around performanceWith solid all-around performance, this is one of the most dependable models we testedChaco takes a classic sandal and enhances it with a softer footbed materialA classic design with improved comfort and traction and solid all-around performance
Rating Categories Bedrock Cairn Adven... ECCO Yucatan Chaco Z/Volv 2 Chaco Z/Cloud Teva Terra Fi 5
Comfort (25%)
7.0
9.0
7.0
7.0
8.0
Traction (25%)
10.0
7.0
7.0
7.0
8.0
Stability (20%)
6.0
8.0
8.0
8.0
6.0
Adjustability (15%)
9.0
6.0
8.0
7.0
6.0
Versatility (15%)
9.0
8.0
8.0
8.0
7.0
Specs Bedrock Cairn Adven... ECCO Yucatan Chaco Z/Volv 2 Chaco Z/Cloud Teva Terra Fi 5
Weight per Pair (pounds) 1.10 lbs (size 10) 1.51 lbs (size 43 EU) 1.65 lbs (size 10) 1.81 lbs (size 9) 1.74 lbs (size 9)
Width Options Medium Medium Medium Medium, Wide Medium
Footbed Material Granite Grip rubber Dual-density EVA LuvSeat PU LuvSeat PU EVA
Midsole Material Rubber PU LuvSeat PU LuvSeat PU PU
Sole Material Vibram XS Trek Regolith Rubber Non-marking EcoTread ChacoGrip rubber Spider Rubber
Upper Material Premium webbing Nubuck leather Webbing Polyester jacquard webbing Recycled plastic


Best Overall Sandals


Bedrock Cairn Adventure


82
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Comfort 7
  • Traction 10
  • Stability 6
  • Adjustability 9
  • Versatility 9
Weight per pair: 1.10 lbs (size 10) | Sole: Vibram XS Trek
Excellent traction
Very light
Easily adjustable
Limited support and stability
Can't be worn with socks

The Bedrock Cairn Adventure once again separates itself from the pack and earns our highest honor with its dependable lightweight construction and excellent all-around performance. We were continually impressed with the Cairn's performance across any conditions, and this model seems to perform well across all of our rating metrics. Its strap system is simple and easy to adjust, yet provides plenty of security on uneven terrain. The footbed provides a nice balance of stability and comfort, yet it is lighter than many of the beefier models we tested. The star of the show, though, is the Vibram XS Trek outsole. This material is commonly found on much heavier duty trail shoes and hiking boots. We were blown away by the traction from such a lightweight offering — it gave us confidence in our footing in various conditions.

One of the potential drawbacks of this model is that the thong style strap system can take a little getting used to, and can't be worn with regular socks. There are also some cushier models we tested that are more comfortable and more supportive. However, the all-around performance, versatility, and high quality make the Cairn a worthy recipient of our top award.

Read review: Bedrock Cairn Adventure

Best for Comfort


ECCO Yucatan


77
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Comfort 9
  • Traction 7
  • Stability 8
  • Adjustability 6
  • Versatility 8
Weight per pair: 1.51 lbs (size 43 EU) | Sole: Rubber
Plush contoured footbed
Comfortable strap material
Good traction
Expensive
"Dad" style

The ECCO Yucatan impresses with its beefy construction and high-end materials. It has surprisingly capable traction and a host of features and technologies that make this our overall runner-up and our choice for the most comfortable sandal in our lineup. Right away, we noticed how the contoured microfiber footbed and nubuck leather straps nicely cradled our feet. Within the first few steps, we also noticed how the Fluidform midsole with Receptor technology supported and cushioned each step, and how the slightly rockered outsole helped encourage a natural footstrike and stride. While these kicks come at a premium price, their high-end features are certainly noticeable and provide excellent comfort and support across various terrain and conditions.

The Yucatan certainly make a strong statement with their high-end comfort and performance, but they don't quite earn the highest scores. While there isn't much we don't like about the Yucatan, our other top dog, the Bedrock Cairn Adventure, weighs less, provides better traction, and better adjustability. However, with much better support and stability and a more comfortable footbed, the Yucatan may be the right choice for users willing to make some slight sacrifices.

Read review: ECCO Yucatan

Best Bang for the Buck


Teva Katavi 2


69
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Comfort 8
  • Traction 6
  • Stability 7
  • Adjustability 6
  • Versatility 7
Weight per pair: 1.36 lbs (size 9) | Sole: Durabrasion rubber
Lightweight
Comfortable
Great performance for the price
Limited wet traction
Less stable and supportive

With competitive all-around performance at a surprisingly low price, the Teva Katavi 2 earns recognition for its solid performance and excellent value. Combining a plush contoured footbed, comfortable suede straps, and a durable rubber outsole in a lightweight package, these kicks hold their own against many other contenders with nearly twice the price tag. The classic Teva style with three adjustable velcro straps makes this model simple to get into and out of and easily adjustable. The durable rubber outsole holds up against the roughest of terrain.

A slight tradeoff with the lightweight design and nicely cushioned footbed is that these kicks come up a bit short in our traction and stability tests, particularly in wet conditions where we experienced some slipping on both the outsoles and the footbeds. We also found that the classic three-strap design is not as customizable as some more modern designs with fancier (yet more complicated) adjustment systems. However, with a low price tag that stands out and performance that crushes other contenders in its price range, the Katavi 2 provides a great value. This is an excellent choice for a comfortable, lightweight, and versatile sandal that won't break the bank.

Read review: Teva Katavi 2

Best for Closed Toe


Keen Newport H2


67
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Comfort 6
  • Traction 8
  • Stability 9
  • Adjustability 4
  • Versatility 5
Weight per pair: 2.01 lbs (size 12) | Sole: Non-marking rubber
Comfort
Support and traction
Ready for the water
Minimal adjustment

Admittedly, some of our testers are not particularly fond of closed-toe models. However, we all agree that the Keen Newport H2 is a worthy competitor in the performance sandal category. It's tuned up to be water-savvy with durable rubber outsoles and a hydrophobic EVA-foam footbed, though we also find the Newport to be grippy and versatile in most dryland activities as well. The molded insole is both comfortable and supportive while maintaining a relatively lightweight feel. The Newport's webbing structure is padded with neoprene backing and is both very comfortable and quick to dissipate moisture. As a closed model should, it also offers adequate protection from stubbed toes on submerged river rocks and on the trail.

One drawback of a closed-toe sandal is that it's easier for pebbles and sand to get stuck inside the shoe if you're hiking through a rocky stream bed or at the beach. We found that this is a minor inconvenience for the high-end wet-condition performance of the Newport H2. While it is ideal for watersports and our top choice for a closed-toe sandal, it also keeps up with some of the burlier models in our lineup regarding traction and stability. We give this model a seal of approval for trail use as well as watersports. This footwear style isn't most folks' first pick for wearing around town, but in the outdoors, it certainly gets the job done.

Read review: Keen Newport H2

Best for Ultralight Touring


Xero Z-Trail


59
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Comfort 7
  • Traction 5
  • Stability 4
  • Adjustability 7
  • Versatility 7
Weight per pair: 0.73 lbs (size 10) | Sole: FeelTrue rubber
Very lightweight
Comfortable footbed material
Adjustable heel strap
Lack of support
Not the grippiest

"Less is more" seems like a good philosophy for sandals, right? Sometimes you don't need over-the-top arch support or heavy-duty traction to reach your objective comfortably. Cue the Xero Z-Trail, a lightweight minimalist model that is so thin you could fold it into your back pocket. While barefoot-inspired footwear may not be your cup of tea, the Z-Trail is an undeniably great option if you're looking to save pack space or weight on your next big outing. Ounce for ounce, the 10mm sole and ultra-thin webbing are remarkably comfortable and capable on the trail, though not as bomber as a burlier hunk of rubber.

Xero, a leading company for zero-drop footwear, promotes the credo that feet are meant to move naturally and "Feel The World." While it may not be for everyone, we believe that the Z-Trail caters to this particular niche very well. While obviously not as traditionally comfortable as a thicker and more supportive sandal, the Z-Trail performs well across the board with its secure strap system and comfortable footbed.

Read review: Xero Z-Trail

Notable for Solid All-Around Performance


Chaco Z/Volv 2


75
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Comfort 7
  • Traction 7
  • Stability 8
  • Adjustability 8
  • Versatility 8
Weight per pair: 1.65 lbs (size 10) | Sole: Non-marking EcoTred
Lighter than most Chacos
Great adjustability
Good traction
Tedious adjustment

Although they didn't blow us away in any one performance metric, the Chaco Z/Volv 2 consistently resides near the top of the charts in every single rating category. This model has all the features that make Chaco a longtime user favorite: excellent foot security, good traction, and dependable construction, all in a package that's 20% lighter than Chaco's typical offerings. As we performed our testing, we found that going back to these shoes always brought us comfort and confidence.

As with most Chaco models, our testers noted that you typically have to adjust all of the pull-through strap system's interconnected straps to make a small adjustment to one part of this sandal. While this makes on-the-fly adjustments a little more challenging, it certainly isn't a deal-breaker and is part of what makes this brand and style unique.

Read review: Chaco Z/Volv 2

Compare Products

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Score Product Price Our Take
82
$105
Editors' Choice Award
This lightweight sandal is comfortable, durable, and capable of handling anything out on the trail
77
$135
Editors' Choice Award
Consistent performance and high-end comfort combine to make these classic sport sandals one of our favorites
75
$100
This sandal packages everything you love about Chacos into one of their lightest fully-featured offerings
74
$110
Tough to go wrong with a Chaco classic, especially when it's geared for comfort
72
$100
A solid performer in nearly every rating metric with classic Teva comfort and style
71
$95
The best option for people who need bombproof sandals that actually perform
69
$65
Best Buy Award
This affordable sandal packs high-end comfort and performance into a lightweight package
67
$110
Top Pick Award
Our favorite closed-toe design for water use
59
$80
Top Pick Award
A great balance of light weight, comfort, and security without sacrificing too much stability
58
$90
Our testers find this shoe adequate, but we ultimately prefer other models
51
$50
This throwback sandal is comfortable and lightweight with classic Teva style

From left to right: Teva Terra Fi 5, Chaco Z/Cloud, Keen Newport H2...
From left to right: Teva Terra Fi 5, Chaco Z/Cloud, Keen Newport H2, Xero Z-Trail, ECCO Yucatan, Bedrock Cairn Adventure, Teva Katavi 2
Photo: Nick Bruckbauer

Why You Should Trust Us


To test men's sandals, we enlisted the expertise of gear testers Nick Bruckbauer and Rob Woodworth. Both Nick and Rob are experienced outdoorsmen and understand the importance of quality gear and footwear. When Nick's not trekking in Nepal, skiing in Alaska, or scaling 14ers in Colorado, he makes his home along California's Central Coast where he can rock open-toed kicks practically year-round. In the winter, Rob is a Level 300 certified USSA Development Coach, but once the snow melts, you can find him partaking in any number of land or water-bound adventure activities in his favorite sandals.

We wore these kicks every chance we had throughout several months of field testing. We repeatedly walked and hiked the same routes to understand how each pair handles similar terrain. We took these kicks kayaking, running, on bike rides, skateboarding, and to beach barbeques. The result is a comprehensive understanding of where each pair shines or falls behind.

Related: How We Tested Sandals

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Analysis/Results


The focus of this review is on sporty sandals that provide the user with a secure fit and enough traction for active adventures. For a more casual option, check out our flip flops review. After a thorough examination of the market's current offerings, we settled on these 11 different models from some of the most trusted footwear brands. We're confident that our lineup has the best offerings available that blend performance, comfort, and value for whatever on or off-trail activities are in your future.

Related: Buying Advice for Sandals

Value


Not all footwear is created or priced equally. In our experience, lower price tags often come with cheaper materials. Bargain hunting will serve you well in some areas, but we typically wouldn't recommend it for shoes in which you plan to log lots of miles. When considering value in these models, we looked for products that balance quality and durability with reasonable affordability.


For a very comfortable model with respectable all-around performance that won't break the bank, our outstanding value award-winning Teva Katavi 2 comes in at roughly half the price of some of its higher-end competitors. While it isn't high-scoring, the Teva Original Universal is a comfortable classic at a nice price with everything you need for more casual, non-technical terrain. The Chaco models, while definitely a bit pricier, have noticeably burlier materials and construction and have a reputation for their longevity.

The Katavi 2 from Teva provides excellent value with respectable...
The Katavi 2 from Teva provides excellent value with respectable all-around performance with a list price that is half that of some of its competitors.
Photo: Nick Bruckbauer

Comfort


By nature, this type of footwear is meant to be casual and relaxed. Though we opted for models that could handle rugged conditions, we didn't want to sacrifice the comfortable, easy-going spirit of sandals exclusively for performance. We gauged this by paying close attention to how our feet interacted with the shoes, both out of the box and over an extended period of use. The contact points between the arch and the footbed and the straps, buckles, and attachments are all key influencers of comfort. Ergonomic and well-designed and ergonomic pairs receive higher scores on average.


We tested comfort in various activities, surfaces, weather conditions, and with socks when possible. After the initial unboxing, we noted whether the shoe requires any breaking in before rigorous use. If any hotspots or weaknesses became evident over time, we directed our attention to the design or materials that may prove problematic long-term.

Though it struggles a bit in more technical situations, the Original...
Though it struggles a bit in more technical situations, the Original Universal by Teva is one of our go-to picks for simple everyday comfort.
Photo: Nick Bruckbauer

Comfort is mainly dependent on individual factors like foot shape and intended use, so we aimed to include a broad spectrum of sports and activities while taking note of the shoe's overall 'feel.' If you're looking to tackle long, rugged hikes, your feet will be happier with greater stability and traction. And if you want a do-it-all travel model, you'll likely be more satisfied with a lightweight, cushioned design.

The Katavi&#039;s plush footbed material, subtle contouring, and soft...
The Katavi's plush footbed material, subtle contouring, and soft strap lining material make them one of the most comfortable models we tested.
Photo: Nick Bruckbauer

The Teva Katavi 2 and the ECCO Yucatan are the standout performers for comfort. They each have supportive yet cushioned sole construction that provides the highest comfort level in most applications. Furthermore, the added coverage of extra materials left our feet feeling secure as well as comfortable, though flat-footed individuals may want to look elsewhere. They both have decent arches.

The ECCO Yucatan wins our top choice award for the most comfortable...
The ECCO Yucatan wins our top choice award for the most comfortable sandal with its impressively cushioned and supportive footbeds.
Photo: Nick Bruckbauer

Rounding out the middle of the pack are the Bedrock Cairn, the Teva Terra Fi 5, and most of the Chaco offerings with their well-supported, molded footbeds. While not offering as much support as some others, the Cairn has such an ergonomic design and lightweight feel that we could hardly tell we were wearing them. The Terra Fi 5 is easy to secure and offers a very comfortable footbed, but falls short of our top scorers because the bulky strap mounting points caused us some chafing and bleeding the first few times out.

The bulky strap mounts on the Terra Fi 5 caused some chafing and...
The bulky strap mounts on the Terra Fi 5 caused some chafing and bleeding our first few times wearing them, negating the performance of an otherwise comfortable model.
Photo: Nick Bruckbauer

Traction


Today's top-performing sandals have come a long way from the slippery, spongy, bargain bin flip-flops that we wore to the pool as a kid. These days, it's not uncommon to find Vibram materials or other grippy rubber on the soles of many newer models. These top offerings provide excellent traction and are incredibly versatile and useful in a variety of situations.


We introduced our lineup to the "Slime Test," a wet, slimy set of concrete beach steps that pushed our soles to the limit. We also tested traction on mossy creekbeds, steep granite scrambles, and loose, dusty trails. Each model was subjected to wet and dry conditions, carrying a pack, walking uphill and downhill, and being pulled by an energetic puppy. We awarded high marks to models that left us feeling confident in even the sketchiest conditions.

The Cairn is our top performer for traction with their Vibram...
The Cairn is our top performer for traction with their Vibram outsoles, including making easy work of these wet, slippery beach steps in our "Slime Test."
Photo: Nick Bruckbauer

The Bedrock Cairn Adventure takes the cake in this category, which is not surprising when you consider its aggressive tread pattern and Vibram XS Trek outsole material. Our feet felt secure and locked-in no matter what conditions or surfaces we faced, and it excelled even in the Slime Test.

Stiff-soled models like the ECCO Yucatan and the three Chaco models receive respectable scores, though they lacked the raw gripping potential of Vibram soles across all conditions. They each feature various types of hard rubber molded into sporty tread patterns that maintained traction in most conditions, including loose pebble and wet rock. However, certain models received some deductions due to less confidence on steeper descents.

The Chaco Z/Volv 2 provides dependable traction in a variety of...
The Chaco Z/Volv 2 provides dependable traction in a variety of conditions.
Photo: Nick Bruckbauer

The Keen Newport H2 falls short of our top marks in this category but still stands out with its siped outsole reminiscent of winter vehicle tires and optimzed for wet conditions. Similarly, the Terra Fi 5, with its grippy Spider Rubber, provides dependable well-rounded traction, though it is bested by models with Vibram soles.

The small zig-zagging sipes on the sole of the Newport H2, a design...
The small zig-zagging sipes on the sole of the Newport H2, a design commonly found on winter vehicle tires, provide excellent grip in wet conditions.
Photo: Nick Bruckbauer

The underperformers in the traction metric were two lighter weight models, the Teva Original Universal and the Xero Z-Trail. Both of these products come with soft outsoles, shallow tread patterns, and flexible footbeds. While this provided comfort underfoot, they both struggled on wet, steep, or sketchy terrain.

The shallow tread design of the Original Universal from Teva can&#039;t...
The shallow tread design of the Original Universal from Teva can't keep up in rougher terrain or wet conditions.
Photo: Nick Bruckbauer

Stability


Stability is another essential consideration when reviewing the performance of technical footwear. A product that is not stable is more characteristic of a flip-flop than it is of performance footwear. To assess stability, we paid close attention to how balanced, sturdy, and secure our feet felt while wearing them across a wide array of terrain. Stiff (but not bulky) midsoles, secure straps, and pronounced arch support were the chief contributors to stability. High-scoring products provided the user with an overall secure and stable feeling in nearly all outdoor environments and activities.


Most impressive here are the ECCO Yucatan, the Keen Newport H2, and the three Chaco models (the Z/Volv 2, Z/Cloud, and Z/1 Classic). These models sport a stiffer and heavier sole that can withstand severe abuse and provide notable arch support. The adjustable straps and webbing offer excellent security over the instep, leaving the foot feeling very solid.

The protective upper material and a sturdy sole design make the...
The protective upper material and a sturdy sole design make the Newport H2 one of the most stable and supportive models in our lineup.
Photo: Nick Bruckbauer

The Teva Katavi 2 and Bedrock Cairn offer reasonable amounts of stability, albeit with considerably different designs. Flat-footed folks or barefoot enthusiasts who prefer a "trail feel" will appreciate the Cairn while those seeking more support ought to try the Katavi.

The Cairn Adventure from Bedrock provides a reasonable amount of...
The Cairn Adventure from Bedrock provides a reasonable amount of stability despite its thin sole design.
Photo: Nick Bruckbauer

We weren't surprised that the Teva Original Universal and the Xero Z-Trail earned less-than-stellar marks in this metric. These two models are intentionally more minimalist and sacrifice stability for a lightweight and simple design. In all honesty, we don't expect a lightweight, flexible, trail-running inspired model to provide exceptional stability. That said, the Bedrock model trends toward minimalism in design yet doesn't disappoint in this metric.

The sole of the Z-Trail lacks stability but is one of the most...
The sole of the Z-Trail lacks stability but is one of the most flexible in our test group. You can't do this with most other competitors.
Photo: Joanna Trieger

Adjustability


Like comfort, adjustability has much to do with how each model interacts with the foot, and correspondingly affects overall comfort. We designed this metric to evaluate each pair's ergonomic function and customization — specifically, how the sandal secures to the foot. We made a note of the total adjustment points, how simple they were to adjust, and how often they needed tweaking during use.


We were initially curious about which type of strap or material configuration offered the greatest utility. Generally, we favor models with multiple adjustment areas that can be worn in different fits or styles to accommodate multi-sport folks. Several adjustment areas also mean getting a more precise fit on odd feet or gnarly spurs from a season of ski boot brutalization.

Though tricky at first, we are very fond of how well the Cairn...
Though tricky at first, we are very fond of how well the Cairn adjusts to fit different foot types.
Photo: Rob Woodworth

The standout performer in this category is the Cairn Adventure, which, after a little learning curve, offers stellar adjustability and customization in fit. Its three-way strap configuration allows for a secure fit that can quickly and easily manage micro-adjustments on-the-go. After the Cairn is the Z-Trail and the Chaco models. Each of these brands offers very different strap systems with multiple adjustment locations to dial in a customized fit. Still, ultimately, the system designed by Bedrock for the Cairn is the most straightforward and intuitive.

The classic three-strap design like the Yucatan from ECCO is simple...
The classic three-strap design like the Yucatan from ECCO is simple to adjust but doesn't provide the level of customization found on other models with more unique adjustment system.
Photo: Nick Bruckbauer

Bringing up the middle of the pack are most of the Teva models and the ECCO Yucatan with their traditional three-strap sporty designs. These models can offer a very secure and customized fit, but not without a good deal of tinkering and adjustment. The closed-toe varieties we tested are boxy and not totally capable of getting a precise fit, though we preferred the two additional velcro straps on the Teva Omnium.

Versatility


With modern advancements and proprietary tech now mystifying the outdoor consumer market, sandals are becoming more and more ubiquitous as do-it-all footwear. A trusty pair should be capable of navigating craggy pursuits or river crossings with ease while cruising through town in style. It is challenging to strike the right balance between performance, functionality, and utility. In this metric, we favorably scored models that transitioned smoothly through a full spectrum of activities ranging from fishing and skateboarding to trailblazing and hitting the taco bar.


Overall, the Cairn Adventure is the most versatile model. It is strong and grippy but also lightweight, packable, and comfortable enough to wear even on the longest days — there is seemingly no situation it can't handle. Close behind are the Chaco models, which are a little bulkier and less packable than the Cairn, but ultimately well-suited for many different missions. The Yucatan is the most versatile traditional sport model with its outstanding comfort and support across any terrain or activity.

With impeccable traction, great stability, and a comfortable fit...
With impeccable traction, great stability, and a comfortable fit, there isn't much that the Cairn can't do.
Photo: Rob Woodworth

Certain models like the Original Universal and the Omnium (both from Teva) aren't sporty enough for tricky approaches but are well-rounded enough to receive a respectable score. Though practical for specific purposes, we awarded lower scores to minimalist models like the Z-Trail because they didn't give us total confidence in certain activities where more support is necessary.

Conclusion


This review is designed to pick out the nuanced strengths and weaknesses of the top-performing models available on the market. Providing more breathability and less weight than a typical hiking shoe, this category of footwear can bridge the gap between performance and casual. We hope our findings help you locate the perfect pair for your summer, spring, fall, or even winter adventures.

The proper sandals can take you from beaches to boulders to bars and...
The proper sandals can take you from beaches to boulders to bars and everywhere in between.
Photo: Nick Bruckbauer

Nick Bruckbauer and Rob Woodworth