When warmer weather arrives, it’s time to give your feet some breathing room. Sandals are the quintessential footwear of summer, offering open-air comfort and laidback versatility. With so many styles and options, how do you choose the ideal pair? This comprehensive guide will showcase the top sandals for women and men while providing expert tips for the perfect fit. Whether you seek cute flip flops, comfortable wedges or sporty athletic sandals, we’ve got you covered.
Sandals are one of the most ancient shoe types, dating back to ancient Egypt, Greece and Rome. Their minimalist, breezy design keeps feet cool in hot climates while allowing the wearer to easily slip in and out of them. Today, sandals come in a dazzling array of varieties to match any activity or outfit. Read on to discover this season’s top picks!
Strap In: The Best Sandals For Summer
After extensive research, wear testing and review analysis, we spotlight the 4 best sandals to match any need.
Sandal 1: Teva Original Universal Sandal
Teva’s Original Universal has been a sport sandal icon since 1984. With its signature Velcro straps and shock-absorbing sole, this versatile model easily transitions from rivers to trails to city streets.
The upper combines waterproof synthetic webbing with an open-toed design for breathability. Two adjustable Velcro closures allow a customized fit. Underfoot, the sturdy EVA foam midsole absorbs impacts while the Spider Rubber outsole ensures dependable grip.
- Excellent traction on wet and dry surfaces
- Quick-drying webbing upper
- Supportive cushioning for all-day wear
- Roomy toe box
- Runs narrow
- Limited arch support
- Straps may rub sensitive skin
Price Range: $50 – $60
Sandal 2: Birkenstock Gizeh Thong Sandal
For timeless comfort and quality, the Birkenstock Gizeh thong sandal delivers. This minimalist leather sandal includes the brand’s renowned contoured cork footbed that molds to your feet.
Two adjustable buckled straps give a secure, customized fit. The straps are threaded through a leather toe loop for added coverage. The anatomically shaped cork footbed provides signature arch support and shock absorption. A lightweight EVA sole adds flexibility and durability.
- Extremely comfortable right out of the box
- Moldable cork footbed
- High quality leather ages well
- Versatile, stylish look
- Narrow fit
- Cork footbed requires break-in
Price Range: $100 – $120
Sandal 3: Crocs Classic Clog
For lightweight comfort, the Classic Clog from Crocs can’t be beat. This slip-on foam sandal includes ventilation ports and pivot points that flex with your foot.
The soft, cushiony Croslite foam midsole contours to your foot for personalized comfort. The heel strap allows for a secure fit. The multi-traction tread outsole handles wet or dry surfaces with stability. The clogs are also waterproof and buoyant.
- Featherlight foam cushioning
- Roomy, adjustable fit
- Waterproof and easy washable
- Affordable price
- Minimal arch support
- Runs large, order down in size
- Some find unappealing aesthetics
Price Range: $40 – $50
Sandal 4: Merrell Siren Traveller Sandal
Merrell’s Siren Traveller offers versatile style and performance comfort. It transitions seamlessly from city streets to country trails thanks to its sporty yet fashionable design.
The leather upper features a sleek instep strap and buckle closure for a customizable fit. The anatomical footbed includes arch support and bounce-back padding. The grippy M Select traction outsole ensures stable steps on varied terrain.
- Slip-resistant traction
- Padded leather footbed
- Attractive, versatile styling
- Great for travel and everyday wear
- Runs small, order 1/2 size up
- Leather requires break-in
- Heavier than typical sandals
Price Range: $60 – $100
Picking the Perfect Sandals
Sandals may seem simple, but choosing a properly fitting pair requires some considerations. Use these tips to select your ideal match.
Match to Primary Intended Use
Sandals fall into categories like dressy, casual everyday, hiking/outdoors, and athletic. Determine your main activity first, then zero in on appropriate styles.
For example, Tevas work well for water activities while Merrell sandals can handle multiday trips. Make sure features align with your needs.
Consider Your Ideal Style
From sleek high-end leather sandals to sporty everyday types to fun embellished flip flops, sandal style variety is endless. Decide what silhouette and embellishments suit your personal taste.
Those wanting a bold look can choose gladiator sandals while minimalists may prefer a simple leather thong pair. Your sandal style should align with your wardrobe palette.
Prioritize Comfort Technologies
Cushioning, arch support, and adjustability all affect sandal comfort. Seek out footbeds, midsoles, and closure types offering your ideal comfort level.
For all-day wear, choose contoured footbeds like Birkenstock’s cork version maximizing support. Athletic sandals feature more bounce-back cushioning. Figure out what your feet need.
Compare Sole Thickness and Cushioning
Thinner soles like flip flops are flexible and packable while thicker soles offer more cushioning. Evaluate sole materials like foam, EVA, and cork that provide different comfort properties.
Performance sandals have rugged yet cushy outsoles for trail resilience. Dressier leather sandals need only light padding. Match sole profile to intended activity.
Examine Straps, Closures and Coverage
Straps and closure types determine fit adjustability and coverage. Consider options like buckles, Velcro, elasticized, or slip-on when selecting secure fit.
Wider hook-and-loop sport straps accommodate swelling feet on hot days. Slender leather straps and buckles provide precise adjustments. Analyze your needs.
Assess Upper Materials Carefully
Leather, synthetic webbing, canvas and more – sandal uppers vary widely in properties. Leather molds over time while synthetics have stretch. Cotton canvas allows maximum air flow.
Also inspect linings if present. Plush leather footbeds prevent irritation while some synthetics may rub certain skin types. Find your ideal material match.
Determine Arch and Foot Coverage
Do you need full foot coverage or is a open-toed minimalist style ideal? Those wanting toe protection should avoid thin flip flops in favor of secure straps. Arch height also varies fit needs.
High arches require elevated support, like Birkenstock’s contoured footbed. Flat feet do best with cushioned, molded soles providing stability. Gauge your unique proportions.
Try Sandals On with Intended Hosiery
Test sandals while wearing the socks or hose you plan to pair them with. This ensures proper roominess to account for the increased bulk. Walk around and simulate real-world conditions.
No hosiery should bunch up or cause rubbing. For athletic sandals, bring the same activity socks you’ll wear. Trying sandals barefoot can compromise fit later.
Read Reviews to Guide Sizing Choices
Reviews from verified buyers provide feedback on how certain sandals fit wide, narrow, small or large. This collective wisdom gives more accurate sizing insights than company charts alone.
If multiple reviews call a sandal small-fitting, size up accordingly. Expert reviews also highlight ideal user types for a model based on testers’ experiences.
Compare Brand Reputation and Warranty
Reputable athletic and outdoors brands like Teva and Merrell typically offer product guarantees against defects. Leather sandal companies may cover craftsmanship flaws as well.
Choose established brands known for quality construction. Check what warranty coverage excludes, like normal wear over time or improper use. This provides peace of mind.
Assess Budget and Cost Per Wear
Simple flip flops can cost as little as $10-15 while premium leather options run $100+. Set a budget but also think about cost over expected lifespan – a pricier but long-lasting sandal can ultimately save money.
Sale shopping at the end of season allows big discounts on clearance styles. Quality pairs you wear frequently are worth investing in.
How Can I Break In Stiff Leather Sandals?
Wear them with socks around the house to stretch and soften the leather gradually. Apply leather conditioner to help soften and speed break-in. Pay attention to potential rub spots.
For active sandals, walk shorter distances at first to build up the cork footbed or EVA midsole. Break-in allows the straps and sole to perfectly mold.
What are the Most Comfortable Sandal Brands?
Birkenstock, Merrell, Teva, and Naot consistently earn high marks for wearing comfort. OluKai and Vionic also specialize in active foot support.
Prioritize contoured footbeds, cushioned straps, and adjustable closure systems when seeking all-day or long-distance comfort in a sandal. The most comfortable brands balance these key elements.
How Should I Clean Sandal Soles and Straps?
Use mild dish soap, warm water and a soft brush to gently scrub soles and upper straps, then rinse clean. Avoid harsh chemicals or hot water that could damage materials.
For leather straps, use a specially formulated leather cleaner and conditioner. Make sure sandals dry fully before wearing again.
How Can I Prevent Sandal Straps From Rubbing My Feet?
Wider strap placements distribute pressure to lessen rubbing. Cushioned foam and fleece-lined straps also prevent irritation. Adjust closures so straps aren’t overly tight.
Applying petroleum jelly or moleskin to typical rub points creates a barrier. Breaking in leather straps softens their edges over time.
Are Sandals Appropriate for the Office or Dress Wear?
Gladiator, ankle-wrap and slimmer thong sandals can work for dressier occasions when paired with chinos, skirts or dresses. Opt for neutral leathers without heavy embellishments.
Casual flip flop styles are best limited to extremely casual offices only. Check workplace guidelines on open-toed shoes if unsure.
Can I Wear Socks with Sandals?
Socks visually lengthen the foot profile inside sandals but are quite common with sport sandals. Opt for low-cut socks that don’t stick out visibly above straps.
Pairing socks with sandals allows you to wear them in cooler weather. Stick to minimalist patterns and colors aligned with the shoe tones.
What Sandals Offer Good Arch Support?
Brands like Vionic, Oofos, and Birkenstock incorporate supportive footbeds that properly elevate arches. Look for molded, contoured shapes. OluKai also offers removable arch support inserts.
Cork footbeds like Birkenstock’s mold to your arch over time. Avoid flat, unstructured soles to prevent arch and heel pain.
How Long Should Sandals Last with Regular Wear?
Well-made leather or sport sandals typically last 1-4 years depending on care. Use shoe trees and clean regularly to maintain shape and prevent deterioration.
Replace styles like flip flops more often if wearing daily in warm months. Signs of excessive wear include misshapen straps, compressed cushioning and smooth treads.
Are Athletic Sandals Good for Walking and Running?
Sport sandals from brands like Teva and Merrell provide necessary traction and shock absorption for moderate exercise. Look for soft midsoles and structured straps.
They offer adequate support for short runs and training but lack the protection needed for regular distance running. Wear athletic socks to reduce friction.
How Do I Choose Between Flat and Heeled/Wedge Sandals?
Wedges and heeled sandals add glamour but can strain feet over long periods. Opt for lower block heels or wedges under 3 inches when needed for dressy occasions.
Flat sandals provide better arch support and slide on and off easily. Have both flat and heeled pairs depending on activities and outfits.
Who’s Ready for Sandal Season?
Now that you’ve got the inside scoop on selecting fabulous sandals, it’s time to slide into summer! Keep comfort, support, and quality in mind as you shop the amazing variety of styles.
Whether you go for the versatility of Tevas, all-day comfort of Birkenstocks or lightweight cushiness of Crocs, take the tips in this guide along to find your perfect pair. We covered complementary styles suited for every need.
Remember to move in the sandals as you try them on, wear your typical socks or hosiery, and follow sizing feedback from reviews. Your warm weather adventures will be that much more enjoyable with the ideal sandals on your feet!