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All the Best Women’s Sandals (That We’ve Written About on the Strategist)

Photo-Illustration: The Strategist; Photos: Retailers

A comfortable and supportive pair of sandals are a shoe-closet workhorse, perfect for everything from running errands to hiking to lounging at the beach. Here at the Strategist, we think of ourselves as pretty well-versed in the world of women’s sandals, considering how often we’ve written about them over the years — from established classics like Tevas and Birkenstocks to hidden-gem deep cuts spotted in celebrity pap shots. So to help you find the sandal that will become your new summer staple, we’ve combed through our archives and rounded up all our most stood-behind pairs.

Best slide sandals

The Birkenstock Arizonas have been recommended to us time and time again, and for good reason. They were voted one of the most comfortable sandals by professionals who are on their feet all day; actress Jamie Chung wears hers “year-round, even with socks”; and a panel of 1,000 seniors deemed the Arizonas their favorite Birkenstock style. We don’t see them going out of style anytime soon — one of the seniors we polled, Reena, a self-described “greeny” with “low-key style,” has been a fan of this classic silhouette since the early ’60s.

Best hiking sandals

The best all-around hiking sandals are Chaco Z/1s, according to several expert hikers and trail guides. “Chacos come with super-grippy Vibram soles that are heavy-duty and dense,” said Paul Ronto of RunRepeat, who does 90 percent of his hikes in sandals, and photographer Erika Skogg adds that they’re “incredibly weatherproof and seem to last forever, even after years of travel wear and tear.” Michael Hervey, a senior instructor with Outdoor Outreach, can vouch for their durability as well: He walked all 1,200 miles of the Pacific Crest Trail in just one pair.

Best water sandals

In our roundup of the best water shoes, Teva sandals were far and away the most recommended for wearing both around water and in it. Multiple people recommended sandals from its Hurricane line, which feature a chunkier sole that makes them grippier than Teva’s flatter sandals. Berty and Emily Mandagie, the husband-and-wife founders of travel website the Mandagies, each own several pairs; Emily Mandagie told us they’ve worn XLT2s when “crossing a river or jumping in a lake” on backpacking excursions.

Best rain sandals

Both Strategist writer Lauren Ro and columnist Chris Black agree that during the rainy summer months, the best shoe to wear is a rubber sandal. That’s why Crocs are a great solution, but rather than the fugly clogs, Ro prefers these rather “minimalist and sleek” thong sandals. “The thin T-strap thong,” which tapers as it approaches your toes, “is dainty but durable,” Ro writes. “The sandals have a closed heel, which means no flip-flopping, and they’re easy to slip on, with a grippy contoured foot bed.” Even after she’s worn them through “the most torrential of downpours,” they dry off in no time since they’re essentially plastic.

Best colorful sandals

Strategist contributor Diksha Basu has worn these colorful, clunky sandals “to brunch, to my kids’ soccer practice, while riding my bike, to cry in the car, and to Target.” Though the Sorel brand is more often associated with sensible hiking shoes and winter boots than fashionable footwear, Basu reports that her Kinetic sandals more than hold their own against dresses, jumpsuits, shorts, and “even the beloved old sweatpants I’m not yet ready to put away, which look a lot less shabby when paired with these sandals.”

Best strappy sandals

These strappy Tevas have been spotted on the feet of none other than Mary-Kate Olsen, so rest assured they’re cool-person-approved. They’re a packing-list essential for visual director Samantha Adler, and Strategist senior editor Simone Kitchens has found they work “in all kinds of warm-weather situations,” having worn hers both while wading during a canoe trip and dressing up for a dinner out. “There’s something almost delicate about the skinny straps, something vaguely Emme Parsons–ish,” Kitchens says.

Most comfortable sandals

These squishy slides have been purchased by no fewer than three Strategist editors, and though they may not be the most aesthetically appealing, they more than make up for it with their unparalleled comfort. The bell-shaped sole “forces you to put pressure on different points of your foot than a flat slide,” which is easier on your joints, explains veteran journalist SuChin Pak. Plus, Oofos’s proprietary OOfoam is said to absorb 37 percent more impact than traditional footwear.

Best budget sandals

Though the price of these Dream Pairs sandals has risen since Strategist contributor Fiorella Valdesolo wrote about them in 2019, they’re still the least-expensive option on this list — and they’re still guaranteed to “elicit questions of whether they’re Margiela or Demeulemeester.” And if your sandals might ever encounter unsavory substances like “warm sidewalk sludge,” do you really want to go for a pricey pair anyway?

Best leather sandals

New York features editor Katy Schneider professed her devotion to these Hoy Salt Water sandals during Feet Week, declaring that “I don’t think they’ll ever go out of style. I really believe that! And you should trust me, because I am a slave to trends.” She’s been sporting them every summer since her freshman year of college, and they’ve held up “unbelievably well” — they’ve faded a bit, but aren’t at all “trashed or broken.”

Best sandals for flat feet

Strategist contributor Merrell Hambleton’s flat feet make “almost all shoes mildly uncomfortable.” But she found these simple, wide-strap sandals so easy to walk in that she promises you’ll never need to take a cab in them — “They really do feel like sneakers,” she writes. They’re durable, too: Hambleton subjected them near-constant wear, including “10,000-step-count days, countless saltwater-soaked excursions to the Rockaways, two weddings, and a trip to Kenya.”

Best travel sandals

“I’m a very light packer, constantly striving to minimize my luggage,” says Strategist contributor Sadie Stein, which is why she went in search of “a shoe comfy enough for hours of sightseeing, but respectable enough that I can wear it with skirts and dresses in the evening.” She found it in these L’Amour des Pieds Brenn sandals, which are the only shoe she packs for summer vacations. She’ll wear them straight through airport security — they slip on and off very easily — and their laid-back, low-profile design means they “play well with a range of clothing styles.”

Best easy-to-clean sandals

Made with ecofriendly EVA (a dense polymer foam) rather than the brand’s usual cork and leather, these Birkenstock Gizehs are a breeze to clean, reports Strategist contributor Alison Freer. “My least favorite part of wearing sandals in the summertime is how dirty they get at the end of a full day of walking around the city,” Freer says. But since these slides are molded as one solid piece, they’re “effectively sealed against dirt and odor,” to the point where dirt and grime “literally refuse to stick.”

Best wedge sandals

When we surveyed stylish people to find the best espadrilles, Casteñer was mentioned as a reliable (and chic) option. “The only espadrilles I’ve ever owned are from Castañer,” says Sarah LaFleur, CEO and founder of M.M.LaFleur. “When I spent a year in Paris working as a bike tour guide, every cute Parisian girl seemed to be wearing them.” The canvas upper also helps keep the shoes breathable on scorching summer days.

Best mesh sandals

Arcopedico’s sandals have pulled off the unlikely combo of being both orthopedic and “extremely sexy,” proclaims Strategist senior writer Liza Corsillo. Their black mesh fabric makes her feel “cool and a little bit naughty, like slipping a health vest or fishnets over my toes.” Though the style she bought, the Antalia, is hard to find, these Ema sandals from the same company feature a similarly sensual design.

The Strategist is designed to surface the most useful expert recommendations for things to buy across the vast e-commerce landscape. Some of our latest conquests include the best women’s jeans, rolling luggage, pillows for side sleepers, ultraflattering pants, and bath towels. We update links when possible, but note that deals can expire and all prices are subject to change.

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All the Best Women’s Sandals (That We’ve Written About)