With the warmer weather just around the corner or already here for some of you, it is time to start thinking about Summer footwear. And when those higher temperatures arrive, I ditch my heavy over protective hiking boots and shoes for the simple sandal, but not just any sandal, I prefer ones that offer proprioception (ground feel), the next best thing to being barefoot, but with the added benefit of underfoot protection. The best sandals keep weight to a minimum, offer protection from all things sharp and unpleasant and stay securely in place (none of that flip flopping business). All of which equates to a great minimalist sandal experience, below are my four picks that have come out on top in testing and will continue to see a great deal of use right into Fall.
Bedrock Cairn Adventure Sandals
Whether you’re traveling on the trail or hanging out at camp, you’re gonna want the lacing comfort and performance of the Bedrock Cairn Adventure Sandals underfoot. Designed as an all-purpose modern adventure sandal, it’s got that ease and comfort that will keep you picking them up again and again, even after long days of adventuring. The No-Slip Secure Fit strap design is an intelligent 3/4 inch wide strap system with three independent adjustment zones that deliver a quick, secure and optimal fit, and also dries quickly for travels on or near the water. On the bottom is Vibram’s exclusive REGOLITH Bedrock x Vibram outsole, which consists of aggressive, angular lugs that deliver maximum performance and durability, while shedding mud and debris with ease. The Bedrock Sole Hugger design cradles feet with side-to-side support, delivering stability in challenging conditions, all of this combined to keep you prepared and ready to take on any adventure.
Ideal For: Hiking, mountain trails, rocky terrain, backpacking, fast-packing, camping, everyday use.
Best Feature: Strap System: No-Slip Secure Fit – An Intelligent 3/4 inch wide strap system with three independent adjustment zones for a quick, secure fitting.
- All Cairn Sandals are made with 100% vegan materials and construction.
- Plug-less toe post and aluminum hardware for next-level durability.
- Ultra-grippy, exclusive REGOLITH Bedrock x Vibram® outsole. Aggressive, angular lugs massively increase performance and durability, while shedding mud and debris.
- Granite Grip footbed features grooved, triangular traction, that provides incredible grip in both dry and wet conditions, while simultaneously helping to aerate your feet.
- At 14 mm stack height, the Cairn Vibram® sole is just the right thickness – not too thin, for extra rock protection and increased durability, and not too thick, for maximum flexibility and weight/space savings.
- Weight: 8.5 oz (single sandal, men’s size 9)
- MSRP $105
Of note on Bedrock Cairn Sandals:
- Dry Environments – Go STANDARD with the all-around Vibram® Regolith lug
- Wet Environments – Go PRO, with ultra-sticky Vibram® Megagrip in non-marking grey
For more information on the Cairns and other Bedrock Sandals, visit bedrocksandals.com
Shamma Mountain Goat LE Sandals
The Shamma Mountain Goat LE Sandals are built tough for difficult terrain. The Mountain Goat’s sole shines on rough, uneven surfaces like gravel, muddy trails, and mountain passes. Allowing the Mountain Goats to excel over rugged terrain and slippery trails, is a special composite soling material that uses Shamma’s own method to bond and combine the Vibram Newflex with Vibram Morflex materials into a unified sole. This extra step yields a sole that has great durability and traction with a smooth lightweight ride that delivers foot forming properties. With the thicker stack height, there is a bit less ground feel that gets traded for a bit more stability. The tobacco brown leather footbed prevents the feet from sliding around, especially on humid days where perspiration is inevitable. The MGs use the Shamma Ultra Lacing System which comfortably and securely keeps the sandals connected to the feet. It is fully adjustable across the feet, down the feet, and in the heel. Adjustments are quick, easy, and secure with the hook and loop fasteners. For an additional layer of stability and performance, the Ultra Lacing can be paired with Shamma’s Power Straps. The Mountain Goats offer great underfoot protection bottomed with an aggressive tread, and the extra stack height giving this sandal a long-lasting, comfortable smoothness over almost any terrain.
Ideal For: Hiking, running, mountain trails, lightweight backpacking, camping, everyday use.
Best Feature: Tobacco Brown Leather – The comfy goatskin leather is great for most conditions. Very comfortable whether you are walking, hiking, or running. It is also great at managing small amounts of moisture like foot sweat.
- Total Stack Height: 12 mm
- Weight: 5 oz (single sandal, men’s size 9)
- MSRP $104.95
For more information on the Mountain Goat LEs and other Shamma Sandals, visit shammasandals.com
Earth Runners Alpha Adventure Sandals
The Earth Runners Alpha Adventure Sandal will keep you protected while leaving you free to flow through your environment effortlessly. Being a thicker sandal model, this a great option for those who are new to minimalist footwear or looking to go the extra mile. The Performance Lacing featured on the Alpha Adventure Sandals offers unwavering foot security. The wrapped construction of the performance lace stretches very little under load or when wet. Keeping the Alpha Adventure sandals planted on the trail is the Vibram Morflex Outsole delivering adequate traction and the perfect amount of ground feel while the performance lacing locks the foot in place and the heavy-duty cotton canvas footbeds grip the bottom of your foot. The Alpha Adventure Sandal is ready to take you anywhere the trail leads.
Ideal For: Hiking, lightweight backpacking, camping, everyday use.
Best Feature: Performance laces offer a single point adjustment for a secure fit (After the initial fitting).
- Weight: 5.2 oz (single sandal, men’s size 9)
- Total Stack Height: 12mm = 10mm base + 2mm tread
- Sole: Vibram® Morflex Outsole
- Footbed: Earth Grip – Heavy Duty Cotton Canvas
- Laces: Grounded Conductive Performance Laces™ 9/16” Wide – 1″ Mil-Spec Nylon Reinforcement (Wrapped)
- Conductive Stainless Steel Thread
- Copper Ground Plug
- MSRP $89
For more information on the Alpha Adventures and other Earth Runner Sandals, visit earthrunners.com
Unshoes Pah Tempe 2.0 Sandal
The Unshoes Pah Tempe (PT) sandal is designed to keep you comfortable as you hike, paddle, and explore. It features a sole that delivers durability and reliable traction that will keep you well-grounded in uneven terrain. The pull-through adjustable webbing straps give this sandal a completely customized fit, and the lock buckle stays secure when you are on the move. The Pah Tempe sandal was designed to perform better than the traditional huarache in water and on steep terrain. Its adjustable crisscrossed straps dry quickly and keep the feet secure even when wet. It is the best option for those who don’t like anything between their toes, as the strap goes over the top of the foot/toes and is designed to allow the toes to splay as needed. The durable nylon webbing and flexible footbed supply the lightweight comfort that is needed to tackle the trails or head off to the lake.
Ideal For: Hiking, water sports, lightweight backpacking, camping, everyday use.
Best Feature: No strap between the toes – for those that can’t stand the toe thong.
- Continuous strap design makes adjustment simple
- Rugged and secure design
- Weight: 6.5 oz (single sandal, men’s size 9)
- Total Stack Height: 10mm
- MSRP $72.00
For more information on the Pah Tempe 2.0 and other Unshoes products visit unshoesusa.com