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As much as we love our boots and sneakers, it’s easy to appreciate sandal weather and the cute summer sandals options that come with it. There’s nothing like shedding the socks, getting a fresh pedicure and donning some of the latest sandals trends.
The one wrench in this warm weather fantasy is the pain that can accompany summer footwear. “A sandal is the least supportive shoe because there is little material to it,” says Dr. Glenn Davison, owner of Advanced Podiatry in New York City and New Jersey and a fellow in the American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons. “There is very little to no hold in a sandal, so if you’re moving at a quick pace or walking on an uneven surface, it’s easy to slide and pull a tendon or sprain an ankle.”
Dr. Davison is a realist, however, and doesn’t expect his patients to skip sandals altogether in favor of the most comfortable women’s shoes like workout sneakers. “There’s nothing wrong with being style conscious; just give thought to how long you’re wearing certain sandals and how much you’re doing in them.”
There are also plenty of styles that promote good foot health, making them some of the most comfortable sandals that are ideal for walking and other activities.
Different Types of Sandals
- Flip-flops or Thongs. According to Dr. Davison, flip flops or thong sandals, which have two straps that connect between the big toe and second toe, are the biggest offenders when it comes to problematic sandals. “With flip-flops, there is nothing in the back,” he explains. “You’re counting on your big toe to grip and hold your foot in place. It’s a shoe that commonly causes people to lose their footing. It’s the least supportive shoe.”
- Slides. Slides feature straps that go across the shoe. Like a flip-flop, this style is good for wearing around the pool or short distances. Certain versions with arch support and anatomic foot contouring provide better stability for low-impact activities.
- Athletic or Sports Sandals. Athletic sandals feature several straps and grip the foot the way a sneaker does. Some even have closed toes and are ideal for hiking in warm weather because they offer support while keeping you cool.
- Slingback. Dr. Davison says a slingback, or the back strap in a sandal that helps keep feet in proper position with each step, is essential for a proper walking sandal. “The best sandal will hold the back of the foot like a regular shoe does. This holds the Achilles tendon in proper position and keeps the foot from sliding backwards.”
- Wedge Sandal. Wedge sandals can be flip-flop style or slingback style, but they’ll offer the wearer some height. A wedge’s solid base promotes equal weight distribution.
- High Heel Sandal. A high heel sandal features a skinnier heel to support the rest of the shoe. These are appropriate for short intervals but not ideal for walking.
What to look for in the best walking sandals for women
Sandal shopping, Dr. Davison says, shouldn’t be different than browsing for any other type of shoes, whether it’s the best walking shoes, slip-on sneakers or loafers for women. “It all comes down to being supported and preventing your arch from being strained, dropping and excessively pronating, which leads to pulling muscles and joints out of alignment,” he adds. That’s what causes issues like plantar fasciitis and even bunions. So, the biggest takeaway is that arch support is key.
Certain flip-flops and slides feature arch support, like the ones we’ve included in the below list. Completely flat surfaces are to be avoided, as they’re “exactly like walking barefoot,” Dr. Davison says.
Ankle support and heel support is also key to keeping the foot from sliding on the sandal’s surface. The more strapped in the sandal, the more comfortable you’ll feel. “Stick to a sandal that at least has a back strap and straps on the top and some kind of hold to prevent excessive motion,” Dr. Davison says.
For those suffering from bunions, pick walking sandals with straps that don’t rub against the aggravated area. For this group of sandal lovers, an orthotic flip-flop is worth a try for running errands, but look for a sportier sandal for hours of standing or walking.
As for the impractical but beautiful designer sandals you’ve been eyeing, Dr. Davison gives his blessing to indulge on occasion. “Wear them, but don’t wear them and go hiking through the city all day,” he says. “Wear them to dinner or stand around in them at a party. Be mindful of what you’re doing when you’re wearing a less supportive shoe.”
Below are the 15 most comfortable walking sandals for women that promote the best foot health, according to Dr. Davison and glowing customer reviews. After all, summertime is about being relaxed and comfortable. Featuring the best travel shoes for vacations, these are the perfect starting off point for your search for supportive warm weather footwear.
Crocs Women’s LiteRide Stretch Sandals
Best Summer Walking Sandals
Crocs Women’s LiteRide stretch sandals have foam insoles with sink-in softness. Anatomical shaping with arch support ensures feet have necessary support. Flexible straps are crafted to feel broken-in from the very first wear. Most importantly, they help keep feet in place for ideal support. The durable outsole will keep shoes in shape for days of running errands in warm weather. Score these in a bunch of different colors.
Skechers On-The-Go 600 Brilliancy Sandals
Most Comfortable Sandals for Bunions
It’s not easy to find sandals in different widths, but Skechers’ On-The-Go 600 Brilliancy sandal delivers with a regular and wide fit. Adjustable straps ensure a perfect fit, and the soft fabric doesn’t rub on skin. Lightweight, responsive cushioning makes this low platform comfortable for miles of walking. The subtle arch support is comfortable for low arches and helps prevent and alleviate bunions. There’s also plenty of room between the straps to accommodate existing bunion issues.
Teva Hurricane XLT 2 Sandals
Best Walking Sandals for Flat Feet
Clunky, retro sandals have been on-trend in fashion as of late, and that’s a good thing for our collective foot health. The Teva Hurricane XLT 2 Sandal accommodates wide feet with its adjustable straps. The chunky outsole is super-cushioned for superior comfort with every step. Moderate arch support is ideal for flat feet, giving them a boost without being uncomfortable. Hop on this trend and your feet will thank you.
Birkenstock Arizona Soft Slide Sandals
Podiatrist-Recommended Sandals for Walking
The Birkenstock Arizona Soft slide sandal is a classic style that just happens to be podiatrist-recommended, too. Dr. Davison lauds the brand as one of his favorites for its anatomical footbed. What’s more, ordering Birkenstocks through a podiatrist or custom orthotics lab allows them to create the sandal with an orthotic just for you. If you’re not in need of a custom insole but looking for comfort, test out regular Birkenstocks with their legendary footbed that hugs the foot’s contours and offers superior arch support.
Vionic Phoenix Brielle Platform Sandals
Most Comfortable Sandals with Arch Support
The Vionic Phoenix Brielle platform sandal is a fashionable solution to keeping feet happy and stylish in warmer temperatures. It features Vionic’s signature three-zone comfort system that addresses multiple parts of the foot. It has a deep heel cup, forefoot cushioning and mid-arch support. A hook-and-loop closure and back strap keep your feet perfectly positioned. The platform adds height without sacrificing proper ankle alignment. Wear these with skirts and sundresses or trousers to the office.
Dr. Scholl’s Sheena Wedge Sandals
Best Supportive Walking Sandals
From barbecues to date nights, the Dr. Scholl’s Sheena wedge sandal elevates an outfit while keeping you comfortable. The 2.5-inch wedge platform makes these summer-evening appropriate but super easy to walk in. The insole is anatomically contoured to promote proper foot alignment. With a large amount of strap material for a sandal, these help keep feet in optimal position. The durable outsole is scored for extra traction.
Clarks Women’s Breeze Sea Flip-Flops
Best Walking Sandals with Arch Support
Even podiatrists understand that every now and then, a thong sandal or flip-flop might make its way into our wardrobe rotation. “There’s nothing more comfortable on a beautiful summer day than shorts and a flip-flop,” Dr. Davison says, “but don’t spend too much time in them.” While these aren’t recommended for a long walk, the Clarks Breeze Sea flip-flop is adored by shoppers for making a thong-style sandal supremely comfortable. With nearing 50,000 five-star reviews on Amazon, the sandal is a bestseller, featuring Clarks signature arch support and Ortholite footbed. It comes in every color of the rainbow, and then some.
Sounity Orthotic Flip Flops
Best Beach Walking Sandals
Certain occasions, like a day at the beach, require a flip-flop that’s easy to slip on and off at a second’s notice. Flip-flops or thong sandals, however, are notorious for providing zero foot support. The Sounity orthotic flip-flops are trying to turn around the shoe’s reputation. High arch support helps prevent plantar fasciitis and Achilles tendonitis. The deep heel cup helps maintain correct foot positioning, while the cushioned midsole relives arch and heel pain. These are a solid option to throw in your beach bag when you want low-maintenance footwear but not the foot problems that come with thong sandals.
Naot Beverly Walking Sandals
Best Walking Sandals for Plantar Fasciitis
Dr. Davison recommends this Naot Beverly sandal for support while walking. “Straps on the top will keep your toes and top of the arch area from lifting up,” he says. Additionally, the excellent arch support is “key for those who suffer from plantar fasciitis.” With its optimal heel strap, these Naot Sandals are some of the best walking sandals for plantar fasciitis. Wear them on your next trip.
Ecco Yucatan Sandals
Most Comfortable Sandals for Problem Feet
The rugged sole on Ecco’s Yucatan sandal makes it a perfect pick for long walks across all kinds of terrain. The adjustable hook-and-loop straps ensure the perfect fit, even for wide feet. Ecco’s Receptor technology provides stability and support to minimize impact from every step. The insole is cushioned with arch support, so you can worry about sight-seeing and not foot pain. These come in a variety of colors.
Seearthen Easy Spirit Sandals
Best Sandals for Walking Long Distances
When you’re putting your feet to the test in hot weather and anticipating miles of trekking, try the Seearthen Easy Spirit sandals. They’re designed for the outdoors, with laces for an adjustable fit but an easy slip-on style for jumping into a lake at a moment’s notice to cool off. You won’t get more structure than this in a sandal, with ample back and side straps encouraging proper foot alignment. There’s also a closed toe for protection from rocks on a trail. These are equipped with cushioning and arch support. Grab them for your next summer hike and leave the heavy hiking boots behind.
Jimmy Choo Mirabelle Suede Wedge Sandals
Fashionable Comfortable Sandals
If luxury is your thing, but foot pain isn’t, don’t fret. Jimmy Choo’s Mirabelle wedge sandals fall on the comfortable side when it comes to summer sandals, offering much more support than a flip-flop or flat espadrille. The rope wedge platform offers height but keeps your feet and joints in better alignment than a dramatic stiletto heel. The straps encourage proper support and done in a neutral shade with crystal detailing, ensuring these shoes will go with virtually every warm weather outfit in your closet. Dr. Davison advises that rather than giving up wearing some favorite sandals, “just be mindful and don’t spend an entire day running around in them or participating in intensive activity.” For lunches and nights out, however, these are plenty comfortable.
Merrell Women’s Terran Convertible II Sandals
Most Comfortable Sandals for Plantar Fasciitis
Merrell is beloved for its ultra-comfortable styles that are ideal for conquering a day of running around in the city or a hike outside. The Merrell Terran Convertible II sandal is its answer to the hottest days of summer. The rubber sole is durable across a variety of terrains, while the molded nylon arch shank provides needed foot support. A cushioned heel absorbs shock and adds stability. The microfiber insole is sweat-wicking, perfect for hot temperatures. This top-rated Amazon sandal, called some of the most comfortable sandals for plantar fasciitis, has nearly 2,000 reviews and an average 4.5 star-rating.
Vionic Women’s Rest Tala T-Strap Sandals
Best Walking Sandals for Wide Feet
The Vionic Rest Tala T-Strap sandal comes in regular and wide fits, and is one of the best walking sandals for wide feet, at least according to hundreds of Amazon reviews. Vionic is a go-to brand for those seeking comfortable sandals and shoes they can walk around in all day. These are no different. They feature a thong strap at front, which is ideal for wide feet, but a sturdy mid and back strap for proper alignment. There’s support at the forefoot, mid-arch and heel for total comfort.
Burberry Buckingham Logo Leather Sandals
Best Walking Sandals for Travel
A little logo never hurt anybody. Perfect for tossing in your carry-on for a fabulous location, the Burberry Buckingham logo leather sandals will go with every outfit you’ve packed. A modest platform with mild arch support ensures comfort with every step. The straps, particularly the heel strap, keep feet in their proper place. This versatile style is a worthy closet splurge.