3 of the best walking sandals for cool, comfortable feet

We put three top walking sandal brands – Keen vs Teva vs Columbia – to the test to help you choose the right pair for you.

On a warm, sunny day, the last thing you want to do when heading out for a walk or off to the beach is don socks and shoes. This is when walking sandals can come in handy.

The best walking sandals are designed to keep feet cool and comfortable. Over the past few years they’ve have become more popular, more technically advanced and can take you almost anywhere.

Choosing the right sandals for you depends on various factors, not least where you plan on wearing them. To help you decide, we’ve put three of the UK’s most popular brands – Keen, Teva and Columbia – to the test. So, which pair walks the walk?

Single Keen Newport H2 walking sandal on a white background
Editors Choice

Keen Newport H2 Walking Sandals


RRP: £100
Who’s this for?
Active walkers and water lovers wanting a sturdy, protective sandal.
Single Teva Hurricane XLT 2 walking sandal on a white background
Recommended

Teva Hurricane XLT 2 Walking Sandals


RRP: £65
Who’s this for?
Outdoor lovers after a cool-looking sandal for light hikes and water fun.
Single Columbia Via walking sandal on a white background
Recommended

Columbia Via Walking Sandals


RRP: £60
Who’s this for?
Holidaymakers after a super-lightweight sandal for cushioned walking.

Testing method

How we tested the best walking sandals

We tested our three pairs of walking sandals for a month. We wore them all day for work and daily chores, we pounded the pavements in them and then took them on countryside walks, both tracks and grass, for up to 10km (6.2 miles).

Finally we got them wet to find out how fast they dried and whether the wet materials rubbed before they dried.

We specifically considered the following criteria:

Advertisement

Comfort

Comfort is vital in a pair of walking sandals especially as they are designed to be worn without socks. How did they perform after hours of use? Did they rub? Was there any cushioning? Was the fit adjustable? Did they dry quickly when wet, or get sweaty in hot weather?

Grip and protection

Walking sandals need to offer more protection for your feet than a fashion sandal. Did they protect our toes and provide decent support? What was the grip like on the sole; did it have a decent tread for off-road walks? If the sandal can be used in water, how did it perform?

Value

Did they justify their price tag and offer good durability?

Looks

Were the sandals good-looking enough for both day and evening wear? Were they more at home on the trail or on city pavements and in bars?

Read on to discover how each sandal fared in the battle of Keen vs Teva vs Columbia.

Advertisement

Keen Newport H2 Walking Sandals Overview

Keen Newport H2 Walking Sandals

Single Keen Newport H2 walking sandal on a white background
Editors Choice
Competitive

A great workhorse for land and water. The sandals protect your feet and are lightweight, but they aren’t the prettiest.

Comfort

Grip and protection

Value

Looks


Who’s this for?

Active walkers and water lovers wanting a sturdy, protective sandal.

Our likes and dislikes

  • Comfortable and supportive
  • Grippy even when wet
  • Quick drying
  • Not very adjustable

Expect to pay

RRP: £100 We occassionally see these sandals on offer, but you’ll have to be quick as popular sizes sell out fast.

This is one of Keen’s biggest sellers and sets the standard for closed-toe walking sandals. The Newport is supportive and lightweight, and is designed for hiking or watersports.

Specs

  • Women’s sizes: UK 2.5-8.5
  • Men’s sizes: UK 8-11
  • Weight: 715g (size 7)

We liked

As a hiking sandal, the Newport has a closed toe box to protect your tootsies from being bashed as you walk. The spongy sole makes it super-comfortable, but it is also supportive in the right places: under the instep and around the foot to stop it slipping.

The sandal feels stable as you are walking, although the tread isn’t as aggressive as a regular hiking shoe or boot, so these won’t perform as well in mud or loose gravel.

In the water it has good grip on wet surfaces and the straps are quick-dry. With the vents it goes without saying that it is fast draining.

We didn’t like

The Newport is not a thing of beauty – it might remind some of the Start-Rite sandals they used to wear as children, with their rounded toe box and sensible styling. The vented design also means that debris can get in and it doesn’t have an easy exit – you may need to remove your sandal.

Another issue is that it may not suit people with narrow feet. The elastic laces tighten, but there isn’t a huge amount of adjustment to cinch it in. And there are no half sizes, so be sure to check the fit before you buy.

We say

All in all this is a real workhorse of a sandal. You can take it from trail to beach and it is super-comfortable and very lightweight. And while not the best-looking footwear you’ve ever seen, there is a great choice of colours, and it would be fine for casual evening wear.


Teva Hurricane XLT 2 Walking Sandals Overview

Teva Hurricane XLT 2 Walking Sandals

Single Teva Hurricane XLT 2 walking sandal on a white background
Recommended
Competitive

A great-looking rugged sandal which is great for use in water and light off-road use. But it can get sweaty.

Comfort

Grip and protection

Value

Looks


Who’s this for?

Outdoor lovers after a cool-looking sandal for light hikes and water fun.

Our likes and dislikes

  • Good grip in wet and dry
  • Quick drying
  • Good adjustment
  • Sweaty underfoot

Expect to pay

RRP: £65 These sell out quickly in popular sizes every summer, so don’t wait to grab a bargain otherwise you may miss out.

The Teva brand is synonymous with walking sandals and the Hurricane is its best-selling model. We’ve been wearing Tevas for more than 30 years; the style is essentially still the same but it has been updated with better treads and recycled uppers.

The Hurricane XLT2 is another update with improved traction and a softer heel strap. It’s designed for both wet and dry use, whether you are hiking, enjoying water sports or just for beach play time.

Specs

  • Women’s sizes: UK 3-12
  • Men’s sizes: UK 3-13
  • Weight: 525g (size 7)

We liked

This is a great holiday sandal, suitable for the beach, sightseeing and exploring lighter trails.

It’s comfortable, thanks to a rubber sole and an EVA foam shock-absorbing midsole. Not only are the sandals vegan, the straps are made from recycled PET webbing as well as being adjustable and quick drying.

They do need a bit of breaking in so the straps can soften to your foot shape.

The adjustability means your foot feels secure, but there is less support underfoot and around the top of your foot than the Keen – but it is a more open design.

They also look attractive, so less of a workhorse and more something to have fun in and be seen in.

As the sandals are more open, debris does get in, but it doesn’t get stuck like with the Keen model.

Overall, our tester enjoyed wearing these out walking. They were comfortable on concrete and light trails, and in water they come into their own. The grip is great on wet surfaces and the sandal dries fast.

We didn’t like

We found the soles of our feet got sweaty, and this seems to be a common complaint with this sandal. Once the sweat started to gather, we found our feet started to slip.

Also, like the Keen, there aren’t any half sizes, so make sure the sandal fits before buying.

We say

The Hurricane is a great sandal and can take you from town to light country hikes and to the beach. It’s also more stylish than the Keen, but the soles of your feet may get sweaty.


Columbia Via Walking Sandals Overview

Columbia Via Walking Sandals

Single Columbia Via walking sandal on a white background
Recommended
Competitive

A super-lightweight sandal, perfect for a holiday suitcase. But shop around to get the best price.

Comfort

Grip and protection

Value

Looks


Who’s this for?

Holidaymakers after a super-lightweight sandal for cushioned walking.

Our likes and dislikes

  • Uber-lightweight
  • Nice-looking
  • No support
  • Not suitable for tougher terrain

Expect to pay

RRP: £60 We’ve seen these online for as little as £36 on ASOS, which is great value.

A seriously lightweight sandal with a chic design that is designed for pavements and trails. The Via boasts adjustable polyester webbing straps and an EVA cushioned midsole, and the rubber outsole gives extra traction. There is additional padding in the heel and ankle for all-day wear.

Specs

  • Women’s sizes: UK 3-9
  • Men’s sizes: UK 6-12
  • Weight: 492g (size 8)

We liked

These are very lightweight, so perfect for packing in your suitcase when you go on holiday. They’re smart in appearance too, and if you choose them in black they look like a pair of classic flatforms. They could take you from day to dinner without missing a step.

We didn’t like

We wouldn’t wear these sandals on terrain more challenging than a hard packed easy trail. They do have a bit more grip than a pavement sandal, but not much. There isn’t a lot of support around the foot, so rough ground would be tricky to navigate. They’re not really designed for water either, so keep your feet on dry, solid ground if you chose these.

We say

If you are after a holiday sandal that’s really lightweight, or to wear on pavements and hard tracks, then these could be perfect for you. It’s also worth shopping around as we’ve seen them online at ASOS for as little as £36

Walking sandals summary

Keen vs Teva vs Columbia: which is right for you?

The Teva, Keen and Columbia sandals are all very different, and all great as long as you choose the right one for your needs.

The Keen Newport H2 is a sturdy workhorse of a sandal, more like a vented shoe than a sandal. For a virtually go-anywhere shoe, this is a great choice. However, it’s the heaviest of the three and it’s not the prettiest to look at.

The Teva Hurricane XLT2 is the latest update of the brand’s classic sandal. It’s ideal for all sorts of summer activities and will take you from beach, to rambles and then out to dinner. It’s less sturdy than the Keen sandal, so not suitable for more technical treks. It can also end up being a bit sweaty and slippy underfoot in hot weather.

The Columbia Via is a lovely cushioned sandal. It’s incredibly lightweight and looks like a fashionable flatform. If you’re looking for a holiday shoe for sightseeing, this could be perfect for you. But it’s not supportive and isn’t great in the wet.

Walking sandal considerations

3 things to ask yourself before buying

When you are looking at buying a pair of walking sandals, ask yourself the following questions:

Where will you be wearing them?

Are you looking for a cushioned sandal for all-day pavement pounding? Or something with a tougher, more rugged sole that can cope with light hiking on rough ground in dry weather?

Are looks important?

Do you want a sandal that can do its job, but still looks great? If you’re packing a pair for a holiday, you may want them to work both during the day and when out in the evening. Some sandals are definitely prettier than others.

Will they get wet?

Some walking sandals are designed to be used in the water and feature quick-dry materials, soles that grip in the wet and are easy draining. If these are qualities you want, check the spec before you buy.

Advertisement
Phillipa Cherryson

Written by Phillipa Cherryson she/her

Updated:

Phillipa Cherryson is a senior digital editor for Saga Exceptional. Phillipa has been a journalist for 30 years, writing for local and national newspapers, UK magazines and reporting onscreen for ITV. In her spare time she loves the outdoors and is a trainee mountain leader and Ordnance Survey Champion.

  • instagram
  • Email