Once you put away the snow boots and cold-weather hiking shoes, it’s time to break out all the best shoes for summer that are perfect for kayaking, summer runs and hikes, beach days, and other adventures where clunky, hot shoes would just be a drag.
Here’s a rundown of the best kicks for summer weather.
It’s not always necessary to have the most rugged or heavy-duty hiking boots, and in the summer, this can even cause serious discomfort when your feet start sweating and the blisters begin to form. Many hikers have found that taking a minimalist approach to hiking footwear is the best way to stay cool in summer while still protecting their feet.
One of the best options for this is to choose a men’s or women’s hiking sandal, which is one of your lightest options when it comes to hiking shoes. Hiking sandals are great for treks through mild terrain when you don’t have too much weight in your pack, since sandals don’t offer the same support as an actual hiking shoe or boot. Sandals are perfect for any day hike that traverses mostly packed dirt or even some rock, and are especially convenient for walking through stream-formed trails and river crossings.
The Right Fit
A good hiking sandal, like any good walking sandal, gives you adequate arch support and has a curved footbed to help keep your toes from sliding over the edge and give you better control overall. Although these sandals often come with good traction on the outsole, complete with deep, rubber lugs, slipping inside the sandal can be a serious problem if it doesn’t fit right. Make sure the footbed and straps keep your feet in place.
The best hiking sandals feature several straps that crisscross over your foot in many directions, and all can be adjusted to fit your foot exactly, whether it’s a women’s or men’s hiking sandal. Take the time to work with these straps to find a sandal that fits your foot snugly on all sides; otherwise you could potentially end up with blisters or discomfort once you’re on the trail.
These straps also give you the option of adjusting your shoe as the hike goes on. If your feet begin to swell, you can easily loosen them. Or, if you find you’re slipping while heading downhill, you can tighten them at the toe to accommodate for the changing terrain.
When you’re looking for a hiking or walking sandal, find one with an outer sole made of Vibram rubber, which is extremely durable and also gives you the most traction. Look for straps made of polyester webbing, which dry the quickest and are also strong enough to take any hit they may receive along the way. The right materials also ensure that you have the lightest sandals possible. A good pair typically weighs about 1.5 pounds.
Leather sandals can also work for hiking; however, if you decide to go with leather, be sure to waterproof the straps before taking them on a trail.
Sandals can certainly be used when kayaking, boating, or wading along riverbanks and shorelines, but most outdoor enthusiasts prefer water shoes developed specifically for these purposes. If you’re an avid kayaker, canoeist, or stand up paddleboarder, you’ll want to make sure you have the most protection and grip.
The most important aspect of water shoes is their ability to grip surfaces even when wet. The best water shoes have sticky rubber outer soles that are not only designed to stick to surfaces, but dispel water out from under your foot with each step. As with hiking sandals, Vibram is typically the best choice for gripping slippery surfaces, and any shoe with razor siping will give you the best traction.
When you’re walking along a riverbed, there’s always a chance of stubbing your toe on a rock or slicing it open on any sharp object. Water shoes give you the freedom to go where you want without worrying about these potential injuries. Although many are somewhat open and resemble sandals, others cover your feet in a neoprene layer. These are best for chilly waters, as they’ll heat up the water that gets into the shoe to keep you warm.
If you know you’ll be wearing your shoes on land and water, it’s best to choose a style that’s a water shoe/hiking shoe hybrid. These feature solid insoles that keep you stable on terra firma, but also give you the necessary traction in the water.
Whatever your summer sport is, there’s a shoe that will keep you comfortable and safe all season long.