When summer arrives and it’s sandal season, there’s nothing like that feeling of excitement about frolicking outdoors in great style. However, that excitement can quickly turn to pain if you don’t pick out the right footwear. So, to make sure you’re avoiding common foot problems like blisters and chafing, Strategist editors consulted podiatrists about the best sandals that combine fashion-forward looks with actually-cool features like flexible straps that cradle your feet, cushioned soles for shock absorption, and wedges that shift weight off of tender areas like heels.
These slip-on sandals are an easy-to-wear alternative to flip-flops that’ll help reduce stress on your feet and ankles. The molded and contoured footbeds of the Vionic sandals are specifically designed to keep your foot in its natural neutral position, rather than pronating (rolling inward) or supinating (rolling outward). This helps reduce tension on the muscles and joints and can help prevent common issues like bunions and hammer toes.
If you’re planning on spending time around water, a closed-toe sandal is the best option for keeping your toes protected from rocks and other debris. Closed-toe styles also help shield your toes from stray branches, which can cause stubbed toes if you’re wearing open sandals. Luckily, outdoor brands like Keen and Hoka have both created sandals that are both comfortable and waterproof.
These hiking sandals are ideal for navigating rugged terrain on hikes or other adventures. A thick rubber sole helps absorb shock and the grippy traction keeps you stable as you walk. They’re also lightweight and machine washable for ease of care.
While these sandals aren’t as flexible or responsive as other options on this list, they’re a solid choice for light hiking and everyday wear. Strategist senior writer Liza Corsillo says the EVA (ethylene-vinyl acetate) construction and strappy silhouette of these sandals are both orthopedically sound and “extremely sexy” — plus they’re “perfect for wet-and-wild adventures or if you have to walk through warm sidewalk sludge.”
If you prefer more flexibility, check out our top pick for light hiking sandals, the KEEN Women’s Targhee III Sandal. The wide platform and squishy feel help you push off each step without tiring out your feet. If you’re looking for a more classic look, this pair of leather mules is just as functional as it is fashionable. The versatile mule silhouette will be your go-to this summer, thanks to details like wrap-up ankle straps and sculptural heels.
Slides have come back into popularity, and this versatile option from Teva is one of the most comfortable. The grippy sole and padded insole are good for walking long distances, and the adjustable ankle strap allows you to customize the fit. The lug pattern on the sole of these sandals is also ideal for navigating slippery or muddy surfaces. best sandals for women