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What are your thoughts on hiking in sandals ?

Seriously, I saw a thru hiker wearing some awesome sandals. Depending on the terrain, I wondered...... Do other backpackers use sandals ?

She only used socks when it got too cold.

Should I get a pair of hiking sandals? 

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6 Replies

@Redland77 I don't think it is common to backpack using just sandals but you can definitely hike in sandals that are made for it.  I always take some as "camp shoes" backpacking that I can use for water crossings, short hikes and as an alternate set of shoes I can wear if I was to get an injury that prevented me wearing wearing my main foot wear.

The type of sandals that I would recommend are Teva Originals, Teva Terra Fi , Xeros or Bedrock Cairns.  These are all fairly light weight but are pretty good to hike in.   Personally I'm not a fan of the toe strap on the Cairns since it means you need special socks and I'm only pointing them out because other people really like them.


@Redland77 backpacking in sandals is such a personal choice! At REI, we meet lots of folks who opt for sandals for backpacking (often Chacos), although we typically recommend shoes/boots for the additional coverage for your toes and additional ankle stability. For folks who choose shoes/boots, it is nice to have a pair of sandals as well to give you the option of switching it up on the trail/at camp.

At REI, we believe time outside is fundamental to a life well lived.


Thanks for the advice. So, I got a pair of Chaco’s Z2. And in my mind I’m thinking, the places I’ve been....and yeah, I would wear them on parts of the Appalachian Trail. But not while trying to skirt scree in the Tetons. My hiking boots are my security blanket. Now I have another choice, we’ll see.

The only footwear I own are Chaco Z1 sandals and mountaineering boots.  I have thru-hiked the Appalachian Trail using the Z1 sandals.  I will have to say that I thru-hiked it in 2000 and 2011 when  Chacos had vibram soles and I don't know if you can still get vibram sole anymore. I found that I could get about 1800 miles on one pair of Chacos, although I m don't have any idea how far you can go with the soles they use today.  I always carry a pair of ragg wool socks to wear when it is cool and raining.  I also carried a pair of waterproof breathable socks to wear over the ragg wool socks when there was snow on the ground.  Probably, fortunately for me the snow was never over 1-3 inches deep.  I have backpacked and hiked all over the US and parts of Canada using only Chacos.


My experience from traveling.

1. In Thailand and Vietnam, the guides recommended using sandals which I did

2. In Nepal Himalayas, the local porters were using sandals to go up and down 4,000m elevation everyday

3. I did use sandal doing a day hike in Australia when it was humid and rained occasionally. Worked great except for crossing a river


...and some folks run marathons barefoot.

I suspect one should not just jump into this, I believe you need to slowly build your feet up to the new environment.

If you are a frequent hiker, and if your feet are used to ONLY shoes and boots and you have built up callouses on your heels and you switch over to sandals, you run the very real risk of having the callouses split causing much discomfort (to say the least).  I personally have seen this happen on many occasions.

just my 2 cents

REI Member Since 1979