The 10 Best Sandals For Walking, Per Podiatrist Guidelines
The summertime practically invites activity, and especially while exercising during the warmer weather, it can be useful to curate a wardrobe that is both comfortable and functional. If you're going for a walk, you may be inclined to reach for a supportive pair of sneakers (check out our favorite choices here), but especially on days when the UV index is particularly high and you need some relief from the blistering heat, a good pair of sandals may actually be the way to go.
However, you can't be wearing any old flip-flops when you're spending time on your feet, and a well-crafted sandal that holds your foot in place and supports the arch and sole is going to be key for maintaining comfort, even while you're on a walk.
Support is the name of the game when it comes to shoes you'll be walking distances in, and that includes all areas of the foot. "One of the most important things I've learned to look for in sandals is that there is good support at the ball of the foot so that they don't overburden the submetatarsal area (the part of your foot right before your toes start that bears much of the weight along with the bottom of your heel)," explains podiatrist Michael Galoyan, DPM.
In layman's terms? Your shoe should not be able to bend at the sole, and it should be just as sturdy as any other pair in your closet.
Proper sizing is also a major factor in making sure your shoes adequately pad your feet as you walk, yet 50% of the population is wearing the wrong size shoe, according to Galoyan.
"There are four dimensions to take into account for foot size. You need to measure your arch length, your full length, your width and girth and go from there in determining your true size," he explains. Believe it or not, the right size shoe may actually be slightly too long, provided it fits the other dimensions.
How we picked:
We selected sandals that supported the entirety of the foot from arch to heel, making sure that straps will hold you in place throughout your walk.
A firm and sturdy shoe is key for comfort while walking, so we selected shoes that are well crafted and far from flimsy.
Flat shoes are more likely to cause discomfort, especially the more time you spend on your feet. Therefore, we bypassed flat flip-flops for sandals with built-in arch support.
We chose sandals that offer strong grip so you can feel stable and secure when you're spending the day on your feet.
mbg's pick for the best sandals for walking of 2022:
- Supportive heel strap
- True to size
- Not slip resistant
- Not orthotic friendly
Approved by the American Pediatric Medical Association (APMA) for promoting good foot health, these sturdy sandals are the perfect balance of style and comfort for a busy day on your feet. Their three-strap design holds your foot securely in place, while the latex and cork footbed provides ample arch support. The hardest part will be deciding which of the 25 colorways to purchase first.
Best adjustable: Vionic Amber Adjustable Sandal
- Easily adjustable
- Arch support
- Must break-in
- Runs large
Feet often swell in the summer as the temperatures begin to rise. This is where an adjustable sandal—like the Vionic Amber—comes into play. The four adjustable straps can be adjusted throughout the day to customize the fit of your shoe with any fluctuations. Designed with shock-absorbing EVA midsole, the breathable design even has a microfiber footbed to catch sweat and prevent your foot from slipping around as you sweat.
- Covered toe box
- Strong grip
- Not bunion-friendly
- Runs small
If you're especially active or plan on heading out for a hike or on wet pavement, this close-toed sandal design from Keen will be both practical and secure. You'll still get the breathability of a typical sandal without the fear of your foot slipping or sliding—and it's vegan. It's also a low-risk try on thanks to Amazon's Try Before You Buy feature, which lets you test items at home before committing.
Best eco-friendly: Merrell Alpine Strap
- Durable traction
- No half sizes
Prepare for any terrain with these comfortable, durable, and colorful sandals with adjustable toe and heel straps. The sturdy sandals opts for an EVA sole, neoprene upper, and sticky rubber outsole for a design that's equal parts functional and trendy. Whether you're going for a nature walk or hitting the pavement, you can rest assured you'll be well prepared to tackle any terrain.
- Heel strap not adjustable
- No half sizes available
Another APMA-accepted shoe, these Chaco are great for long days spent on your feet. Designed to feel as close to walking barefoot as possible, the strappy sandals have a slim profile and lightweight construction. The foam sole packs plenty of rebound, so it won't compress with regular wear—a given due to their versatility. Take them on a hike, wear them on your evening stroll, or even style them on a daytime excursion so you feel supported and secure without sacrificing style.
Best for trails: Teva Universal Trail
- Quick drying
- Good traction
- Heel strap not adjustable
Sometimes you might want to hit the trails in your sandals rather than hiking boots, and these are the perfect pair for doing just that. Made from recycled materials, they have a soft midsole for maximum comfort and a mega-grip outsole crafted for traction when trekking through any terrain. Bonus: You won't have to shy away from waterfalls or streams due to the sandals quick-drying design.
- Molds to feet
- Not waterproof
The classic Birkenstock never goes out of style—but this upgraded option adds a heel strap to keep them in place. Made in Germany, the unisex style has a contoured footbed that molds to your foot over time for a supportive fit, as well as a raised toe bar to encourage your foot's natural gripping motion. Another perk? A deep heel cup that encourages a more even distribution of your bodyweight to prevent pain or discomfort even during all-day wear. Made with real leather and undeniably sturdy, these shoe are sure to last for years, making it worth the investment.
Best breathable sandal: Hush Puppy Breathe Toepost
- Cushioned footbed
- Not waterproof
On the hottest summer days, the last thing you want is to feel like your foot is suffocating and slipping around in pool of sweat—but these strappy shoes guarantee you won't have to worry about either. Their microsuede lining absorbs sweat and prevents stench while adding underfoot traction. Secure and lightweight, they also feature a flexible outsole that expands and contracts as you walk, making every step feel more natural than the last. What's more, they provide ample cushioning to the soles of your feet, so you can run errands with the utmost comfort—even if that includes clocking a long walk.
- Supportive heel design and cushion
- Enhanced traction
- Less arch support
- Straps are not adjustable
A good pair of shoes doesn't have to do away with style, and this sandal strikes the perfect balance between cute and functional. The stretchy leather upper looks chic yet straps the foot firmly against the foam footbed, which also features a cushioned heel for added comfort. Available in nine colorways, the strappy pick bridges the gap between day and night, making it the most comfortable (and obvious) choice.
Best stylish option: Famolare Strapsody
- Padded leather insole
- Low carbon footprint
- Adjustable buckle strap
- Not slip-resistant
With thin, comfortable straps and a padded leather insole, these lightweight sandals pair well with nearly any outfit (and won't cause foot pain as you go about your day). Handcrafted in the USA, they feature a padded leather insole, recycled rubber outsole, and nickel-free buckles. Not to mention, they boast a low carbon footprint—making them the ultimate sustainable pick.
A good sandal is one that allows you to feel supported on both your quickest errand runs and your longest walks. It's first and foremost important that you're purchasing the correct size shoe (and it may be worth getting measured by a professional), but making the right choice for your specialized needs can make all the difference.
Prioritizing sturdy grip and selecting a secure, well-made sandal will make your investment worthwhile when you're wearing them summer after summer while feeling pain-free and looking as stylish as ever.