Whether you’re hiking a desert canyon or navigating the streets of a European city, you need shoes that won’t rub your feet raw. A good pair of sandals can help with that, but it’s not always easy to find a comfy, practical shoe that strikes the right balance between style and comfort. We consulted fashion experts and podiatrists to find a few pairs of comfortable sandals that will take you from brunch with friends to the beach without your feet feeling like you’ve been on an epic trek.
One thing to consider when shopping for sandals is the footbed: “Look for a soft cushion that will absorb shock and support your arch,” says Anthony Weinert, a board-certified podiatrist in Troy, Michigan. Sandals without enough support can cause the plantar fascia to stretch excessively and lead to heel pain, he adds. He also recommends looking for shoes with a wide base that will provide stability.
When it comes to materials, leather and suede are smart options because they tend to be more breathable than other types of footwear. They also hold up well to weather and don’t require a lot of breaking in, says senior review editor Maggie Nichols, who wears her favorite pair on repeat while traveling for work and play. “Leather doesn’t rub against your skin or snag your toes like synthetic materials, and it’s easier to clean than canvas,” she notes.
Foam is another common sandal material, but it usually doesn’t last as long. “It can deteriorate with time,” says podiatrist and fashion blogger Dr. Parthasarathy. “Sandals with foam footbeds should be replaced at least every year.” He suggests a more durable material that’s breathable and can resist moisture—like rubber or leather—or a molded, polyurethane sole that will help your feet feel supported.
The most comfortable walking sandals should have a moderate heel-to-toe drop and be flexible, says Dr. Sutera. They should also be lightweight by design so your feet don’t feel weighed down while you walk. She also advises checking that any straps, buckles or hardware don’t dig into your skin.
PureWow assistant commerce editor Natalie LaBarbera loves these Gigi sandals from Sam Edelman, which have a padded footbed that makes them supportive even after a long day on the go. The criss-cross ankle straps can be adjusted to fit your personal preference and the platform maintains two inches of space from the heel to the ball of the foot, ensuring you won’t get any blisters or foot pain. comfortable sandals for women