With secure straps to hold the foot in place, quick-drying materials, and the same midsole technology used in hiking shoes, sport sandals can handle anything from the riverbed to the trail.
The lug pattern and outsole compound determine how grippy the sandal is in different conditions. Harder compounds will last longer but don’t provide the same level of on trail grip as softer options. Widely-spaced, multi-lugged soles are great for muddy trails, while narrower spacing is better for water-slicked rocks and tracks.
A stiffened shank offers support and protection to the foot. Arches are supported by a medial post that also reduces twisting.
Impregnated or coated with an anti-microbial treatment to reduce odours caused by sweat, the footbed is generally soft and anatomically-shaped.
Velcro is simple, reliable and durable. Pull-cord laces provide a better, more adjustable fit along the length and width of the foot.
Depending on the sandal’s intended use, uppers may be waterproofed leather, synthetic and/or a type of webbing. Leather is best for travel, casual and light hiking. Synthetic and webbing uppers dry quickly and are often used on sandals designed for water use. It’s common for uppers to fully enclose the foot to provide protection.
Width and fit
As with tramping shoes and boots, sandals require a thumb-width of space in front of the longest toe and the heel should be cupped at the rear to prevent it sliding up. Many brands offer wide and narrow options.
Keen Arroyo II $229.99
Washable waterproof leather upper, 4mm multi-directional lugs, heel support structure, secure-fit lace capture system, torsion stability ESS shank, non-marking rubber outsole, dual density compression-moulded EVA midsole, hydrophobic mesh lining, removable EVA footbed. 776g/pair (m); 664g (w). www.keenfootwear.co.nz
Merrell All Out Blaze Sieve $229
Waxy waterproof leather upper, Lycra neoprene stretch collar, antimicrobial treatment to reduce odour, UniFly midsole, Vibram outsole with hollow 3mm lugs. 595g (m), 481g (w). www.merrell.co.nz
Keen Evofit 1 $219.99
Quick-dry synthetic uppers, durable water repellent, antimicrobial treatment, PU midsole with removable metatomical PU footbed, rubber toe bumper, Aquagrip rubber outsole with multidirectional lugs and razor siping, secure-fit lace-capture system. Available January 2019. www.keenfootwear.co.nz
Keen Newport H2 $199.99
Trail/water sandal with polyester webbing upper, TPU stability shank, compression-moulded EVA midsole, metatomical footbed, hydrophobic mesh lining, secure-fit lace-capture system, non-marking rubber outsole. 805g (m), 595g (w). www.keenfootwear.co.nz
Keen Women’s Venice II H2 $199.99
Polyester webbing upper, mesh panels, ESS shank, Cleansport NXT natural odour control, compression-moulded EVA midsole, metatomical footbed, secure-fit lace-capture system, non-marking
rubber outsole. www.keenfootwear.co.nz
Merrell All Out Blaze Sieve Convertible $199
Designed for wet conditions and featuring a waterproof PU-coated leather upper, hook and loop strap closure, removable back strap, Vibram TC5+ outsole with hollow 3mm lugs. 572g. www.merrell.co.nz
Bedrock Cairn Adventure Sandal $190
Y-strap system with polyester and nylon webbing, three adjustment zones, paracord toe-post, Bedrock sole-hugger wings for stability, Vibram Regolith outsole. 550g (m), 400g (w). www.bedrocksandals.com.au
Keen Women’s Whisper $189.99
Polyester webbing upper, TPU stability shank, compression-moulded EVA midsole, metatomical footbed, Cleansport NXT natural odour control, hydrophobic mesh lining, secure-fit lace capture system, non-marking rubber outsole. 494g. www.keenfootwear.co.nz
Merrell Siren Strap Q2 $189
Women’s fit, waterproof nubuck mesh and webbing upper, dual density midsole with heel centering technology, Lycra neoprene padded lining, Merrell Air Cushion in heel, compression-moulded EVA footframe, M Select Grip outsole with 3mm lugs. 436g. www.merrell.co.nz
Chaco Z Cloud $159.95
Polyester webbing upper, high-tensile webbing heel risers, injection-moulded ladder lock buckle, dual density PU midsole, antimicrobial treated footbed, non-marking rubber outsole, 3.5mm lug depth. 594g (m/w). www.chacos.co.nz
Chaco Z Cloud X2 $159.95
Women’s sandal with double-strapped polyester webbing upper, toe-loop, high-tensile webbing heel risers, injection-moulded ladder lock buckle, dual density PU midsole, antimicrobial treated footbed, non-marking rubber outsole, 3.5mm lug depth. 594g. www.chacos.co.nz
Keen Kanyon School $109.99
Kids sandal with toe protection, washable polyester webbing upper, secure-fit lace system, non-marking rubber outsole. Suitable for school uniforms. www.keenfootwear.co.nz