Sandals are those all-purpose shoes you HAVE to own. They're perfect for use around the house, they're your best friend at the beach, and they're the ideal feet-saver if you travel often. After hours with your feet trapped in shoes and socks, there's nothing more wonderful than walking around in a pair of men's sandals.
But finding the right pair of mens sandals is easier said than done. There are dozens of brands and thousands of different shoes to choose from. You can go with men's slide sandals, slip-ons, or strap sandals. Heck, there are even gladiator leather sandals for those men who like to show off a bit!
Below, we've compiled a list of the best mens sandals for you, ranked according to quality, purpose, durability, and use. You'll find all the options below are truly the best for both your feet and your wallet.
Disclaimer: We've simply REFUSED to add Crocs to this list. You still have something to live for!
INCREDIBLY affordable, comfortable once broken in, easy to replace, available in multiple colors, found at any Old Navy store, created using synthetic material, and feature a waterproof, no-slip design.
Thin outsoles and toe strap can be uncomfortable.
If you want a no-frills pair of sandals that are worth every penny, these are the ones you want. They cost less than a cup of coffee, but they'll give you at least a year or two of daily use. They're comfortable to use around the house or on the beach, and they're lightweight enough that you can take them with you as you travel.
They're made from synthetic materials, so not the "greenest" product. However, they do what they're designed to do: protect your feet as you walk around, and give you a solid, stable platform. The textured footbed keeps your feet from slipping around, and the outsole is thick enough that you can walk for hours without feeling discomfort.
At around $3, how could you argue against these shoes? Each pair will last for a year or two, and you'll always have a comfy pair of sandals on hand.
Affordable, comfortable, good heel support, designed to conform to your feet, made from water-resistant synthetic nubuck leather, cushioned, and great for water use.
Sizes run small.
For those who want a good pair of men's slide sandals, these flip-flops are just the thing for you! Built out of synthetic materials—including a water-resistant nubuck leather upper—these shoes are perfect for use on the street, on the beach, at the pool, and even in the water. They've got good traction even when wet, preventing your feet from sliding around.
The footbed comes with added cushioning to keep your feet comfy as you walk around. The heel also has an airbag built into it to absorb shock. They're the perfect pair of sandals to use to explore beach towns. There's decent arch support, and you'll love how durable the sandals are. As a bonus, there's even a bottle opener built into the underside of the shoe so you never need to scramble to open your beer!
The price for these shoes is a tad high—around $55, depending on your size. Always buy these shoes a size larger, as more than a few users have complained that the sizes run small. For the price, they're a pretty good choice.
Very solid footboard and leather uppers, adjustable straps, comfortable contoured footbed, thick sole, and no chafing between your toes.
Heavy and only come in European sizes that run small.
If you're looking for a pair of sandals that will last, look no further than these Birks. The Arizonas come with the classic Birkenstock cork and rubber sole, with a comfortable footbed that adapts to the contours of your feet. They're amazingly comfortable once broken in, and you'll find that few pairs of sandals last as long as these bad boys.
The leather upper won't handle water well, but the shoes are designed for home and dry outdoor use. The straps can be loosened or tightened according to the shape and size of your foot. It may be hard to find them in the right size—they are sold only in European sizes, most of which run small—but once you get the pair that fits, you'll never want to try another brand.
At around $135, these are the priciest of the men's sandals on our list. The fact that they're German-made means they're high quality, so you'll buy one pair of sandals that will easily last 5 to 10 years.
Amazing traction, excellent for hiking, built for active wear, comfortable, won't slip off, and doesn't hold water. The Keen H2 water sandal has a multi directional pattern on the sole for improved traction on wet surfaces. As an added bonus, they keep your feet smelling nice and fresh wear after wear.
Difficult to put on.
For those who intend to explore tropical islands, play beach volleyball, or do some hiking, these are the sandals you want. They're built to be aggressive, with a sturdy sole that offers excellent traction and support without sacrificing comfort or flexibility.
The bomber lacing system (tightened via bungee cord) will keep the sandals firmly on your feet, no matter how much you run, jump, and play. They can be a bit of pain to slip on, but once they're on, they're never coming off. You won't have to worry too much about offensive odors coming from these shoes either thanks to it's Aegis Microbe Shield. The Keen H2 water sandals also feature no mark rubber outsoles that dry fast.
At $80, these are a pricey pair of sandals. However, with these bad boys, you won't need to bring hiking or walking shoes when going to the beach town or a tropical island. They're the all-terrain sandals you need for any vacation.
Comfortable, decent arch support, cleaner and more elegant looking, durable, non-slip bottom gives you excellent traction, and available in great colors.
Very uncomfortable during the 1 to 2-week break-in period.
If you want a pair of men's leather sandals to class up your summer outfits, these Rainbow sandals are just what you need. The double-stitched leather straps are highly durable, but they look clean and neat with your bermudas, board shorts, or even regular pants. The polished top sole makes them feel more dressed-up than a simple pair of sandals.
The design is more than just classy—it's also highly durable and built to survive years of regular use. There's decent arch support built into the shoes, and the non-slip bottom will be perfect for poolside and beach use. Though they take a week or two to properly break in, they're a pair of sandals that combine fashion, comfort, and durability into one.
The price of these sandals varies between $35 and $70, depending on your size choice. However, the average price of $40 is well worth paying if you want a durable pair of sandals that will enhance your wardrobe's elegance.
Excellent arch support, thick soles offer great traction, elegant leather uppers, durable design, classy sandals, comfortable, and adapt to your feet.
Break-in period (1 to 2 weeks) can be painful.
For those who plan to do a lot of walking (such as on a cruise ship or around a beach town), these are the sandals for you. They're double-layered, which means they have a thicker sole AND extra arch support. You can walk for hours, and it will feel like you're wearing your favorite pair of walking or running shoes.
The shoes are built with durable double-stitched leather that can handle a lot of outdoor use, but they look elegant. They'll match with any beach outfit—perfect for use in the nightclub, by the poolside, or on the boardwalk. Once you get past the painful break-in period (which lasts up to 2 weeks), you'll find they're some of the most comfortable shoes you'll ever wear.
$50 isn't too steep a price for such a great pair of flip flops. You get the durable and elegant addition of leather mixed with awesome arch support and great traction. What more could you ask for in a pair of sandals?
Good traction, lightweight yet durable, very comfortable, strap securely on your feet, fairly affordable, great for beach and outdoor wear, low profile, and provide decent arch support.
Slippery when wet and may cause blisters.
If you want a comfortable pair of men's sandals that can keep up with beach and outdoor wear, these Tevas are the ones for you. They're incredibly comfortable, with a supportive footbed that adapts to the shape of your feet for easier walking. The shoes are an upgrade from the Hurricane XLT, as they have a thicker sole, reinforced triangle rings to give the straps a longer lifespan, and a very deep tread for excellent traction.
The straps are padded for maximum comfort, and they pull tight around your feet to stop them from slipping around. They may rub a bit if they get wet, but they're great to use with or without socks. Though some users have complained about sizing, you'll find these Teva sandals are just what you need to keep up with your home and active use.
The price of these sandals is surprisingly good considering how durable they are. You'll pay just $40 or so for a pair of these bad boys—not the cheapest around, but definitely worth the price for a pair of men's sandals that will last you for years to come.
Sandals come in a few different types:
Sport sandals are designed for active, outdoor activity, and they are typically made with more durable synthetic materials that can handle water (leather wears out quickly when wet). They tend to have a thicker sole, protective straps around the feet, ankles, and heels, and decent arch support. In addition to generic "sports sandals", there are two sub-types:
Fisherman sandals are a real old-school style. They tend to be made of leather, and they offer a lot of coverage for the foot while still providing an open-toe design that promotes good drainage. They feature a center strap that runs from the big toe up the top of your foot, connected by multiple straps to the sandal's outsole. A strap around the back of your ankle keeps it firmly in place.
These sandals are ideal for boating and water use, and they're a fashionable choice (given that they're made from leather).
Fashion sandals are more form than function, designed to be as stylish as possible without the durability you need for active use. They offer very little arch support, cushioning, stability, or foot protection, but they are a highly stylish option for wearing with summer outfits. They're what you wear to a beach wedding or summer luncheon!
Huaraches are a more rustic style: a lightweight sandal made with a rubber sole, with narrow webbing to split at your big toe. It may feature a wrap around your heels to keep your feet in place and provide stability. Huaraches were originally made from leather, with soles of wood or woven string. Now, huaraches have rubber soles and uppers made from real and synthetic leather. To truly be considered a "huarache", the shoe has to be hand-made.
Slide-In sandals, also known as "slides", are a mix between a flip flop and a sandal. They have the thicker sole and wider strap of sandals, but just one that runs across the top of your foot. They're designed to be easy to slide your foot in and out of. They're very casual, but offer enough padding to be comfortable for walking.
Closed-Toe sandals are sandals that have a closed-toe design, highly effective at protecting your feet. Ugly as they are, Crocs are a perfect example. Closed-toe sandals are designed to offer good support and comfort for walking around town, and they can even be used for light hiking or water use. However, they're definitely the ugliest of the sandal styles!
Flip flops are simple rubber sandals that have a thin, V-shaped strap that goes between your toes. They offer very little support and no protection, making them ill-suited for active use. They're best used for short trips to the beach or pool.
When evaluating sandals, here are the most important features to keep in mind:
Straps – The more straps a sandal has, the more active the shoe. Casual sandals have just one or two straps, while sport and hiking sandals tend to have lots of different straps. However, in addition to offering better foot protection and stability, these sandals also increase the risk of chafing and blisters. If the straps aren't placed well, they could also cause blisters and irritation.
Cushioning – Thicker sandal outsoles usually equal better cushioning, but some sandals will have extra cushioning built into the insole. These offer good reduction from impact, making them easier on your joints. If you're a larger or heavier person, extra cushioning is always something important to look for.
Flexibility – Thinner soles are usually more flexible, but they offer less cushioning. Thicker soles are good if you're hiking over rugged terrain, but you want flexibility from your water and sport sandals. Your foot should be able to bend naturally as you walk.
Closed or Open Toe – Some hiking sandals are built with the closed-toe design, offering you maximum protection against rocks and better stability. However, be warned: closed-toe shoes tend to have poor water drainage, so the shoes won't dry out as quickly as open-toe shoes.
Size – Obviously you need to take your shoe size into account when shopping for sandals. Most sandals and flip flop are sold for TWO sizes, rather than one. For example, instead of a 9 ½ size sandal, they'll be sold as a "9-10". They tend to be more versatile in their sizing, but that versatility increases the risk of the sandal being too small or too large. If the sandal is too large, it can make walking uncomfortable. If the sandal is too small, it may cause chafing in your heels and be painful for your toes.
Material – Leather is the more comfortable and stylish option for sandals, and it's usually more durable—for dry use only. For any activities that could cause the sandals to get wet regularly (water sports, beach use, poolside, etc.), consider sandals that are made with synthetic materials, such as nylon webbing. Synthetic leather and fabrics can handle water without damage, making them better for water use.
One of the features that ALL shoe shoppers—yes, even those looking for sandals—need to consider is arch support.
Your feet are the foundation of your body, meaning all of your weight is resting on your feet. Without proper support, you can wear out the various parts of your foot.
Oddly enough, the arches of your foot are one of the weakest structures in your body, and in need of the most support. The arch of your foot handles most of the pressure of your movement, with anywhere from 200,000 to 300,000 pounds per mile walked, according to The Podiatry Center.
People with flat arches tend to pronate more with each step, while people with high arches pronate less than the average person. If the arches aren't supported, your body will try to compensate, shifting your stride or the way you step in order to accommodate it. This could lead to skeletal imbalances in your hips, knees, lower back, ankles, and even your neck and shoulders. Over time, these problems can lead to inactivity, or potentially even disability.
Most types of sandals do not offer thick arch support, though some hiking and sport sandals include some manner of support. Arch support isn't vital if you're just going to use the sandals at the pool, at the beach, or to lounge around the house. However, if you're going to do any kind of walking, you MUST have a pair of sandals with some form of arch support.
If you're going to buy and wear sandals, it's important that you understand a few rules:
If you're the kind of guy who is daring enough to try wearing sandals as a fashion choice, you're definitely in for a tough time. Here are a few tips from the experts on how to wear man sandals stylishly:
Pair with shorts. Shorts and sandals are a classic combo, especially during the summer months. Bright-colored swim shorts/board shorts are a good option for pairing with sandals, but you can even use them with cut-off jeans or chinos. Pair chinos with leather sandals, and lightweight cotton or denim jeans with flip flops.
Be wary of pairing with pants. Sandals and trousers are an iconic summer look, but it's hard to get the pairing right. Khakis are a definite no-no, but a good combination is leather sandals, chinos, and a basic T-shirt. If you have the legs for it, you can use cropped or rolled-up pants with a nice pair of leather sandals.
Go beach formal. Such an odd combination—a blazer, cotton chinos, and leather sandals—but it's just the right way to look professional with that laid-back beach vibe. DEFINITELY not an outfit to wear to work, but it's good for a working vacation by the ocean.
Go black. If you're not sure how to pair leather sandal colors with the right pants, belt, and watch, opt for black sandals and black jeans. The combination will go well with any bright-colored T-shirt, and it will be a muted, appealing style.
Flip flops are the "ugly cousin" when it comes to sandals. While many sandals can be highly stylish (not to mention pricey!), flip flops usually denote the word "cheap".
Here's a simple guide to help you figure out where and how to wear flip flops:
If you are any of these places, it's totally appropriate to go ahead and break out the flip flops.