SHOES & BOOTS

The Best Running Sandals: Run, Forrest, Run!

Circle of running sandals
Jerry Mueller
Written by Jerry Mueller

Many outdoor enthusiasts make a daily routine of running, jogging and power-walking. Doctors say that one of the best physical activities to take up is running, however, the footwear you run in determines the detrimental or beneficial physical impact on the body, over the long term.

The sustainability of your health and the amount of fun you have in nature depends on what you put on your feet. It is important to choose footwear that will enhance the enjoyment of your activity while providing you with the most comfortable and conducive features available for your specific needs.

Morning road work

Why Should You Run in Sandals?

First and foremost, all active footwear is not created equal. You’ve already determined that you are a person who cares about his mind and body. You enjoy communing with the earth through being with nature because it feels good.

Maybe you are an adventure lifestyle pro, or maybe you have made the hard choice to make a change in your daily routine for the better. No matter who you are, newbies and vets alike, the biggest jump is the decision to change how you live your life for the better.

Its a matter of health

Whether you’re over the hill or you’re just walking up to it, it is an every day choice to take another step towards your prolonged health and longevity. To achieve your health goals and create lifestyle habits that are sustainable, you must not overlook the details of the equipment you choose to buy. The right footwear is an invaluable asset to your goals, whereas the wrong shoes, sandals or flip flops will be a great detriment.

Let your blood flow easily

The most common problem for the start-up runner is that of blood circulation. Shoes and boots have a tendency to cut off or slow down the circulation in the feet. Have you ever been sitting after a long walk or even just moving around and you find your toes getting all tingly as if your foot is falling asleep?

Run and be fit

This is due to the fact that for some reason the veins and arteries in and around the feet are being constricted. One doesn’t even need to be engaged in rigorous cardiovascular activity to experience this problem. Many times this happens when physical excursion has ceased because the blood is now pumping from the heart at a decreasing rate.

Its not you, its the shoe

Imagine holding a garden hose and attempting to kink the line with the pressure all the way up. Its near impossible to prevent some of the water from squeezing through. If you turn the pressure down significantly and kink the line, it becomes much easier to cut off the water flow. So, when running in shoes or boots, often your feet will not experience the cessation of blood flow until you have come to rest.

At which point the heart must work harder to squeeze blood through restricted passages instead of efficiently returning to a resting state. This can cause one to feel more taxed than seems healthy, often incurring the statement, “I hate running, its so hard.” For this physical reason, we advocate non-restrictive footwear, instead of the traditional running shoes.

Running shoes replaced with sandals

Several active footwear companies have introduced sandals designed to enable natural blood flow while engaged in cardiovascular activity, as well as provide runners with the impact support and comfort required for prolonged engagement in running, jogging and walking.

Aren’t all sandals the same? Absolutely not

Like most things now-a-days, the footwear market is flooded with products that look identical and unique all at once. Without determining ones specific needs, the consumer walks into a store looking for a tool and often leaves with a headache and the cheapest thing on the shelf- or worse- whatever the store salesman convinced you was the best option, which could be the most expensive thing on the shelf.

Choosing the right running sandal is a decision based on your individual needs and circumstances.

Types of sandals

Like deciding between a Square-bit or a Phillips-head, 90% of every undertaking is choosing the right tool for the job. Here are several factors to consider-

Your ENVIRONMENT

Do you live in a city or in the country? For someone living in Chicago, they might be more interested in a thicker sole designed for constant impact with concrete.

For someone living in on the rural west coast, sandals that feature rigid soles might not be as important as flexibility and durability designed to traverse a naturally variant landscape. It’s probably smart to pay attention to the heel support the sandal offers, as well as how flexible the sole is.

Your CLIMATE

Do you need something that can endure the rain and colder weather of the American Northeast, without cracking and splitting? It might be a good idea to look for a sandal that is water resistant and quick-drying.

Your TOPOGRAPHY

Are you hiking the Grand Canyon or jogging over the Brooklyn Bridge?

Grand canyon hiking

Your local terrain can either work with your sandals or rip them apart. For areas with jagged, sharp rocks, a sandal with tare resistant material could be a lifesaver.

Your LIFESTYLE

Do you need footwear that is purely functional or fashionable as well? Perhaps you want something that you can walk five miles to your office in and seamlessly sit down to a board meeting.

Maybe, you want sandals that tell the world that you live an active, adventurous lifestyle that set you apart from the common clave. If you use your sandals at the gym, for Yoga or at the office, it’s probably smart to look for non-marking soles.

So what should you look for in running sandals?

Though there aren’t really a lot of features that set running sandals apart from each other, given how minimal they are in construction and design, there are things you can look out for to ensure that you’re finding one that not only fits but won’t be a hassle to wear.

  • look for sandals with adjustable straps – feet can swell and shrink with climate, humidity, and how far you’ve been walking/running. Having adjustable straps will ensure that your feet are always comfortable.
  • traction – this is important, as the last thing you want to do is slip, fall, and injure yourself on the hard ground. Even if you’re just running in sand, it can be a bit embarrassing.
  • having a mesh upper – promotes air circulation so that your feet won’t get sweaty
  • midsole cushioning – nothing is more painful than fallen arches, so look for sandals that promote maintaining their shape.
  • flexible forefoot – having a flexible forefoot will help your toes to bend as they need to when you’re running, minimizing your risk for pain.

Wading through the internet or a shoe store to find the right sandal is an arduous and time-consuming task. No one wants to buy active lifestyle footwear so that they can shop the mall or sit at there computer for hours on end.

Chose white running sandal

That’s why we’ve taken the liberty of doing the “foot work,” so to speak. These are our top choices for running sandals on the market.

Running Sandals Reviews

Xero Shoes Barefoot Sport Sandals

Xero Barefoot UmaraMaterial: Tubular webbing, rubber, Latex-free

Surface Area/Sole: 10mm thin sole for maximum flexibility, 5.4 ounces

Shape/Toe/Heel: Z-shape strap, non-elevated heel, open-toe

Best Use: Walking, running, yoga, rafting, boating and fishing

Specific Features: zero-drop non-elevated heel for natural posture, non-marking rubber sole, water-resistant, fast drying, can be rolled up and stored in backpack.

Description: A versatile sandal for men, suitable for a wide range of activities. Its water resistant and fast-drying material makes it useful for water activities and climates which cause feet to sweat. It’s ultra-light weight and flat heel design is ideal for endurance activities which require natural posture.

Xero Shoes Barefoot Sport Sandals all-rubber sole and flexible construction give it good grip and traction and the Z-style webbing holds securely on the foot through any conditions, while providing minimum constriction of the toes and ankles. The open-toed design might make running in sand more difficult since there is nothing to keep sand from making its way under one’s foot.

The ultra-thin sole might not last indefinitely against tough terrain and jagged rock, so this might not be the sandal for rock climbing. However, for lower impact terrain such as city sidewalks, wooded areas and water wetlands, this sandal is an ideal choice. The seller also includes a 5000 mile warranty, for the heavy duty user.

Vivobarefoot Women’s Achilles Sandal

Vivobarefoot Womens Achilles SandalMaterial: Nylon, Synthetic, Rubber

Surface Area/Sole: 3mm out-sole

Shape/Toe/Heel: Split toe, adjustable heel strap

Best Use: Running, Beach, Climbing

Specific Features: nylon straps, Vegan, split-toe guard, comes in four colours, honeycomb pattern along the sole

Description: The Achilles Sandal for Women by Vivobarefoot is elegantly designed for control and comfort. One of the most defining features is the ankle-free, adjustable strap. Instead of wrapping the strap around the ankle, cutting off circulation, a thin elastic band is effortlessly draped over the top of the foot, below the ankle, and connects to the adjustable strap connecting behind the heel.

The strap is nylon and fully removable. The Achilles is perfect for the urbanite, looking for a sandal that will seamlessly take you from the trail to the board room.

However, this sandal has a unique feature, which is the split-toe design. This enables easy descents down steep slopes, perfect for climbers and the beach runner wont find sand getting between the sole of their foot and the sandal.

For those traversing rocky terrain, the Achilles provides superb control and protection from debris making its way into tight crevices and the out-soul keeps the foot protected and free, all at once. The possible downside is that the split toe design assumes that all women’s feet are naturally accommodating. That being said, it comes down to a matter of preference.

If you find those cheap, thick, rubber flip flops that you buy from tourist stores on the beach uncomfortable to your toes, this sandal might take some getting used to, but if that’s not a problem for you, this sandal might just be your match. And don’t be surprised if you get some compliments on their sleek look.

Xero Shoes Amuri Cloud

Xero amuri cloud sandalsMaterial: Non-latex rubber, silicone

Surface Area/Sole: 6mm sole, duel-direction tread

Shape/Toe/Heel: 3mm forefoot insert, heel support, thong sandal

Best Use: Recreation, Beach, Water, Walking

Specific Features: non-latex non-marking rubber, Barefoam forefoot insert, adjustable lacing, can be folded to place in a backpack or purse.

Description: Built to look more like a flip flop than a sandal, the Xero Shoes Amuri Cloud is a clever cross between a water-shoe and a slipper, but with the support of a sandal. The toe strap might look like a flip flop, however Xero has designed the lacing system to take pressure off of the toes and transfer it to the ankle.

While this frees the toes from gripping the sole to the foot, it could place more strain around the ankle, limiting blood flow. Materials are minimal on the Amuri Cloud, which, though it has a carefree yet elegant look, the lack of foot protection might not be ideal for high-intensity activities like biking or climbing.

However, for fashion forward beach goers and summertime city-dwellers alike, the duel-direction chevron tread gives adequate grip against slippery and sandy terrain And the heel strap and heel cup might prove perfect for keeping debris from slipping in under ones heel. No one wants a pebble in their shoe.

Vivobarefoot Men’s Ulysses Active Sandal

Vivobarefoot Ulysses for menMaterial: Synthetic

Surface Area/Sole: Thin, puncture-resistant out-sole

Shape/Toe/Heel: Adjustable hook-and-loop strap, thong sandal

Best Use: Beach, Recreation, Walking, Jogging, Urban

Specific Features: flexible rubber strap, synthetic materials, side reinforcement, puncture-resistant outsole.

Description: The Vivobarefoot Men’s Ulysses Active Sandal is the right sandal for the urbanite who desires freedom and security. It may look like a flip flop, but the Ulysses is, in fact, a hybrid. This sandal will discreetly be your support as you traverse the running paths of the city and lounge on the beach.

It doesn’t seem to offer much in the way of protection for the action sportsman, however Vibrafoot has created what might be the urbanite males perfect sandal. Though it seems to offer little resistance against the natural elements, the Ulysses provides a stylish and secure alternative to the flip flop. It’s toe-thong design gives it a familiarity at the beach, while enabling its user to break out into a sprint without loosing a sandal.

The inner-sides of the sandal are reinforced for maximum control while reducing resistance while in motion. It might not be the sandal for the mountain climbing, boulderer, however, it could be perfect for jogging on urban streets.

Vivobarefoot Men’s Eclipse Sandal

Vivobarefoot eclipse sandalsMaterial: Imported, Vegan, Rubber

Surface Area/Sole: Puncture resistant, breathable

Shape/Toe/Heel: Adjustable Toe and insole strap

Best Use: Walking, Recreation, Dry, Hiking

Specific Features: rubber sole, breathable, Vegan, comes in three colours, wide to accommodate most feet sizes, breathable.

Description: Overall, the Eclipse is a very nice looking sandal that appears to provide a barefoot feel. The Vivobarefoot Men’s Eclipse Sandal is advertised as a running sandal, which is interesting because the design seems to offer little security for the toes and heel.The elastic that is used on the toe and insole strap might have a tendency to lose its tension when it gets wet.

This could be detrimental for water activities and intense cardio activities that cause sweaty ankles. However, unlike some other sandals on our list, it features significantly thicker, heavier soles. This can be beneficial for those traversing rocky terrain or stepping on sharp materials.That being said, the Eclipse might not be the safest high-intensity activity sandal, since it does not feature a securing strap around the heel.

It is designed with an all-in-one adjustable strap that wraps around the ankle, however, though it does not seem to obstruct circulation, it might slip off the foot easier than desired. Still, though, a good sandal for walking and lounging.

Xero Shoes Barefoot Sport Sandals – Amuri Z-Trek

Xero amuri ztrekMaterial: Tubular webbing, rubber, Latex-free

Surface Area/Sole: 5.5mm sole, Water resistant

Shape/Toe/Heel: Z-shape strap, heel support, open-toe

Best Use: Walking, running, yoga, rafting, boating and fishing

Specific Features: non-marking rubber sole, comes in three colours, flexible enough to be folded and placed in a backpack, water-resistant, fast drying, zero-drop non-elevated heel for natural posture.

Description: The Amuri features a much thinner sole than some other of Xero’s sandals. Similar to the the Umara by Xero, the Amuri Z-Trek has been designed with a z-strap, but, it uniquely has a heel guard which could be more beneficial for runners and uphill climbs.

Downhill descents could prove more difficult since the open toe design offers no resistance. Also, like the Umara, the Amuri is built with water-resistant and fast drying materials, which might be just the thing for the water-sportsman and cardio-junkie. Also, the Amuri offers a sleek look which can be conducive for business casual environments.

Overall, the Amuri seems to be a well rounded sandal which can be conducive for runners because of the ankle strap which comes closer to the top of the foot than the ankle. This could be useful for enabling easy circulation while engaged in activity. It doesn’t seem to offer much in the way of toe protection, however, the heel guard might prove extremely beneficial for runners.

Ready, set, lace-em-up!

Now that you have an idea of what to look for and what is out there, you can go sandal hunting with confidence and efficiency. Whether you are gearing up to climb the next mountain, packing the kayak for the island across the sea, or going off the grid in the great unknown, there is a higher road to take.

Lace up and run

Giving your feet the support and freedom they need will transform how you travel your world. Make the next adventure you take a journey, not a destination. The world outside your door is calling. Take a step, commune deeper, run further, live larger and love doing it.

Your feet, mind and body will love you for it, and, you might just love yourself a little bit more. See you at the top of the mountain, and don’t forget to leave a comment with us in the section below.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jerry Mueller
Jerry Mueller

Jerry ‘Boy Scout’ Mueller spends 99% of his time camping or teaching others how to live in the wild. He became an Eagle Scout which is the highest rank attainable in the Boy Scouting division when he was 17 and after that he still lives the scout life. Jerry always plans neatly every trip, takes leadership very seriously and if you listen to his tips and stories, you can learn tons of useful things.

  • Zoey Hansen

    I can’t say that I have tried to find or run in a running sandal before. But I am a fashionable woman, and in the warmer months it can sometimes be a bummer to wear clunky running shoes with a cute outfit just because I know I’m going to be on the move a lot. None of the pairs above seemed to be priced out of reach, so I think this could be something I could potentially try as it warms up. My mind goes to worrying about how easy it might be for rocks or twigs or dirt to get in there though, did I see you mention models with mesh? I’m not sure how those would look.

  • Jerry Mueller

    They look great! Besides, your feet are going to thank you for the opportunity to breathe and be comfortable. Depending on where you live and do your running regimen, choose sandals that are comfortable and handy , as wll.

  • John Jacobs

    I agree it can definitely be a bummer to be wearing running shoes and sweaty socks. Sometimes, where I live now, in the Arizona heat, you absolutely can’t even go running but when it’s a little cooler I definitely want to wear something more comfortable but you can’t really run in flip flops. I think after reading this article I will be getting a pair of running sandals. My only concern would be blisters?

  • Veronica Archer

    Perfect article! I have been looking for something. I actually just started training for a 5K in June. It is going to be HOT HOT HOT. I am looking for something good to use. Would you have any specific kind of sandal you would recommend for doing a 5k, say, up the side of a small 9k ft mountain? I know it sounds crazy but it’s what they do here! When in Rome.

  • Jerry Mueller

    Hi John! I wonder why you thought of blisters? The beauty of using sandals is that your feet are not constricted. So, that means less friction between the materials and your feet. The materials of the sandals are really awesome and innovative.

  • Jerry Mueller

    Pay particular attention to the traction and other special features of your running sandals. There are a lot here in this review but it depends on your own particular requirement.

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