Sandals are a time tested form of footwear with all the comfort of walking around barefoot and the protection against sharp obstacles. There was a time that sandals were only appropriate at the beach and campfires. But, sandals have since made a name for themselves as a fashionable and attractive form of footwear suitable for ambling about town and working at the office – as well as scrambling through forest trails and across hot sand.
Types of Sandals
The first things to consider when getting any kind of footwear are where and how you plan on wearing the shoe. Will you be leaping across rocky crags in a forsaken mountain pass? Will you be thumping to the music at an outdoor music festival? Will you be wading through interminable reefs or rivers? There is a sandal to suit every situation, so choose wisely.
Flips: if you won’t be doing too many vigorous or various activities, you will find the simplicity of the flips, or thongs, a good option. These slip on and off in seconds and can be taken with you everywhere and anywhere. Keep them under the desk at your office for a comfortable alternative to spikes. Those who seek comfort need a leather flip, but please don’t get them wet as they will become slick and soon deteriorate. Rubber thongs are not as comfortable but a quality pair like OluKai Sandals is the versatile and practical option.
HIKING: Those hitting the tails are going to need something to protect against thorns, sharp rocks, pokies, stickers and stingers. Unlike your average flip-flop, the hiking sandal provides well rounded protection and sturdy support to the ankle with a cinch buckle. They also have a thicker rubber sole and platform that will provide the perfect balance of protection and flex to facilitate easy walking. Hiking sandals are also characterized by an extra tough toe section that protects against bumps and stubbing accidents. Because sandals are so adjustable, you may want to choose a half size larger just for some extra protection between the rough terrain and your delicate tossies.
HUARACHES: A recent arrival from the South, huaraches have taken over the market with their no-nonsense design and formidable nature. These are shoes made for walking and are a comfy cross between the heavy-duty hiking sandal and the lightweight flip. They are built on a heavy-duty sole but feature lightweight webbing that split the big toes and wraps around the ankle in a cinch. They are a simple and profoundly comfortable option and the best thing next to walking around barefoot. There are sports enthusiasts who complete 100-mile endurance competitions in huaraches and wouldn’t have it any other way.
CLOSED TOE: The frequent cries of agony as toes are stubbed have not gone unheeded. Some sandal manufacturers have created specially designed soles with extended toe areas to provide important protection for a wider range of activities. Closed toe sandals are the best option for fording muddy streams and wading through treacherous reefs. The only downside would be all the debris that can collect in the sandal by the end of the day.
MATERIALS: the materials your sandal is made of will ultimately determine the protection your sandals provide you. Take some time to consider how your specific needs determine which materials are best for you.
HIKING, RIVER, AND SURFING SANDALS:
If you plan on trekking through mud, gravel, sand and surf, you will want something hard and durable. Choose a sandal with tough rubber components and thick soles with deep tread for better traction. You will need a good grip on the surface if you hope to keep steady on wet surfaces and mossy rocks.
Then, the upper portion of your sandals should have a more open breathable design featuring nylon webbing and polyurethane. Needless to say, you will want all the materials of an all-purpose outdoor sandal to be water resistant. This way they will not become waterlogged or deteriorate throughout the years.
MIDSOLE: EVA or ethylene-vinyl acetate is the preffered material for the midsole. This spongy material ensures that the arch support for your feet is soft and cushy, making it better suited to longer hikes. Finally, the high quality material will not retain a bad smell after use.
OUTER SOLE: Vibram is a special type of rubber designed for increased durability when hiking and trekking across long distances in all types of terrain. Stealth Rubber is another good option for fording streams and wet surfaces. Five Ten and Astral use this rubber frequently in their products.