Are Sandals Bad for Hiking? Exploring the Pros and Cons

Sandals are a popular choice for hikers seeking a comfortable and lightweight option for their outdoor adventures. However, some hikers wonder if sandals are a bad choice for hiking. While sandals may be suitable for some hiking trails, they may not be the best choice for all types of terrain.

One of the main concerns with wearing sandals for hiking is the lack of support and protection they provide. Unlike hiking boots or shoes, sandals do not offer much ankle support or protection against rocks, roots, and other obstacles on the trail. This can increase the risk of ankle sprains, cuts, and other injuries. Additionally, sandals may not provide enough traction on slippery or uneven surfaces, increasing the risk of slips and falls.

Despite these concerns, some hikers still prefer to wear sandals for hiking due to their comfort and breathability. The decision to wear sandals for hiking ultimately depends on the individual’s personal preference and the type of trail they plan to hike. It is important to consider the terrain, weather conditions, and potential hazards before deciding whether to wear sandals or opt for more supportive footwear.

Understanding Hiking Footwear

Features of Hiking Boots

Hiking boots are designed to provide support and protection for your feet while you’re on the trail. They typically have the following features:

  • Sturdy construction: Hiking boots are made with durable materials like leather and synthetic fabrics to withstand the rigors of the trail.

  • Ankle support: Many hiking boots have high-cut designs that provide extra support for your ankles.

  • Traction: Hiking boots have rugged soles that provide good grip on uneven terrain.

  • Waterproofing: Many hiking boots are made with waterproof materials to keep your feet dry in wet conditions.

  • Breathability: Hiking boots often have breathable linings to prevent your feet from getting too sweaty.

Characteristics of Sandals

Sandals are a popular choice for casual summer hikes, but they may not be the best option for more challenging trails. Here are some characteristics of sandals to consider:

  • Open design: Sandals are open-toed and often have open sides, which can leave your feet vulnerable to rocks, roots, and other hazards on the trail.

  • Lack of ankle support: Most sandals do not provide much support for your ankles, which can increase your risk of injury.

  • Limited traction: Sandals typically have flat, smooth soles that do not provide good grip on slippery or uneven terrain.

  • Limited protection: Sandals do not offer much protection for your feet, which can leave them vulnerable to cuts, scrapes, and other injuries.

  • Breathability: Sandals are often very breathable, which can be a plus in hot weather, but can also leave your feet vulnerable to blisters and other problems if you’re hiking for long periods of time.

In summary, while sandals may be comfortable for short, easy hikes in good weather, they are generally not recommended for more challenging trails. Hiking boots offer more support, protection, and traction, which can help keep you safe and comfortable on the trail.

Are Sandals Suitable for Hiking?

When it comes to hiking, choosing the right footwear is essential. While some hikers prefer sturdy boots, others opt for sandals. But are sandals really suitable for hiking? Let’s explore the pros and cons of hiking in sandals.

Pros of Hiking in Sandals

  1. Breathability: Sandals provide excellent ventilation, keeping your feet cool and dry, which can be especially beneficial during hot weather or when hiking in wet conditions.

  2. Lightweight: Sandals are typically lighter than hiking boots, which can reduce fatigue and improve agility on the trail.

  3. Comfort: Many hikers find sandals to be more comfortable than boots, especially if they have wide feet or suffer from blisters or other foot problems.

Cons of Hiking in Sandals

  1. Lack of support: Sandals offer minimal support for your feet and ankles, which can increase the risk of injury, especially on rough terrain.

  2. Limited protection: Sandals do not provide much protection from rocks, roots, or other hazards on the trail, which can result in cuts, bruises, or other injuries.

  3. Traction: Sandals typically have less traction than hiking boots, which can make it more difficult to navigate steep or slippery terrain.

In conclusion, while sandals can be suitable for hiking in certain conditions, they are not always the best choice. Before hitting the trail in sandals, consider the terrain, weather, and other factors that may impact your safety and comfort.

Hiking Injuries Related to Footwear

When it comes to hiking, wearing the right footwear is essential for preventing injuries. Wearing sandals while hiking can lead to a variety of injuries, including:

  • Sprains: Sandals do not offer the same level of support as hiking boots, which can lead to ankle sprains on uneven terrain.
  • Cuts and scrapes: Open-toed sandals leave your toes and feet exposed to rocks, sticks, and other sharp objects on the trail.
  • Sunburn: Hiking in sandals can leave your feet exposed to the sun’s harmful rays, leading to painful sunburns.

Additionally, sandals are not designed for the rigors of hiking and can wear out quickly, leading to blisters and other foot injuries.

In contrast, hiking boots offer superior support, protection, and durability, making them the ideal choice for hiking. They are designed to grip the terrain, protect your feet from sharp objects, and provide the support you need to prevent injuries.

Overall, while sandals may be comfortable for casual walks or beach trips, they are not suitable for hiking. Choosing the right footwear is crucial for ensuring a safe and enjoyable hiking experience.

Choosing the Right Footwear for Hiking

When it comes to hiking, choosing the right footwear is crucial. Wearing the wrong type of shoes can lead to discomfort, blisters, and even injuries. Here are some factors to consider when selecting hiking footwear.

Terrain Considerations

The terrain you will be hiking on is an essential factor to consider when choosing footwear. If you will be hiking on rocky or uneven terrain, you will need shoes with good ankle support and a sturdy sole. On the other hand, if you will be hiking on flat or well-maintained trails, you can opt for shoes with less ankle support and a lighter sole.

Weather Considerations

The weather conditions you will be hiking in should also guide your choice of footwear. If you will be hiking in wet conditions, waterproof shoes or boots are essential to keep your feet dry. In hot weather, breathable shoes are crucial to prevent your feet from getting too sweaty and uncomfortable.

Personal Comfort and Preference

Ultimately, your comfort and personal preference should guide your choice of hiking footwear. Some hikers prefer boots for the added ankle support, while others find them too heavy and opt for lightweight shoes instead. It’s important to try on different types of footwear and walk around in them to find the most comfortable option for you.

In conclusion, selecting the right footwear for hiking is essential for a comfortable and safe experience. Consider the terrain and weather conditions you will be hiking in, as well as your personal comfort and preference, when choosing your footwear.


In conclusion, sandals are not ideal for hiking due to their lack of support, protection, and durability. While they may be comfortable and lightweight, they cannot provide the necessary stability and protection that hiking shoes or boots offer.

Sandals are best reserved for short walks or casual outings, where the terrain is relatively flat and there is no risk of injury. For more challenging hikes, it is recommended to wear shoes or boots that provide adequate support, grip, and protection.

Furthermore, it is important to consider the type of terrain and weather conditions before selecting footwear for hiking. For example, if the trail is rocky or wet, shoes with good traction and water-resistant properties are necessary to avoid slips and falls.

Ultimately, the choice of footwear for hiking depends on personal preference, comfort, and safety. While sandals may be tempting for their convenience, it is important to prioritize safety and choose the appropriate footwear for the activity at hand.