Swapping your walking shoes for something a bit breezier? There are myriads of sporty sandals on the market, and it’s definitely a case of horses for courses. Some sandals are designed with good support and tough soles with walkers in mind, water sandals are a great choice if you’re planning a summer of sailing, kayaking or sea swimming, and smarter leather sandals are a good versatile choice if you want to wear sandals to work or to the pub. 

When trying on sandals adjust the straps and check they feel supportive and that your feet don’t slide around but sit snugly in the footbed. Heel straps are a must and shouldn’t rub or feel tight around your ankles. Some models leave your toes free (a better choice if you have wide feet or bunions), others are rather like holey trainers and have rubber toe caps – these are ideal for walking on rough terrain as you won’t stub toes. 

1. Columbia Men’s Ventmeister Sandal: £55, Cotswold Outdoor

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We like the thicker straps on the comfy Ventmeister – they help the sandal to offer the cushioned support of a trainer with a lot more breathability. Their soft suede colour may be unappealingly called ‘Mud/Wet Sand’ but they actually look rather smart when paired with jeans. Their grip is one of the best we tested, and feels as reliable as a hiking boot on tough terrain. Ideal for walking and travelling, and all for a fair price, too – job done. 

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2. Teva Terra Fi Lite Leather Sandal: £70, Teva 

Leather straps and suede inners add a bit of luxe to Teva’s classic C-shaped sandal. Tevas are designed with three adjustable straps to hold your feet snug over any terrain, and we like this smarter take that can go from peak to pub without a fuss. If you’re planning a coastal adventure and want something quick-drying, plump for a fabric pair like the Original Universal instead (£35).

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3. Keen Uneek sandal, from £47.99

You’ll either love or hate the look of the quirky Keen Uneek – it’s the new marmite of the outdoor shoe world. We think the two-cord design is pleasingly simple – one knots around your foot like a cage and the other draws the whole shoe tight, moulding to the shape of your foot. The adjustable fit and light, breathable materials might even trick you into feeling like you’re barefoot, while still providing plenty of support and structure. They size a little small so it’s worth getting a half-size bigger than your usual. 

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4. Clarks Jacala Mag Sandal: £45 Clarks

A solid and dependable walking sandal, the Jacala isn’t winning any prizes for innovation but if it ain’t broke… Our tester liked the thick, stay-put Velcro straps and reckoned the sheepskin-lined insole felt as comfy to wear as a pair of slippers. The soles also offer good traction. We found the magnetic fastening a little fiddly to use at first. A good choice for gentler country walking and gardening.

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5. Mountain Warehouse Crete Sandal, £14.99

A totally bargainous sandal – if you want to save your pennies these will do you proud. Our tester liked the plush padded backs on the heels, which are ideal if you find that sandals usually rub your ankles. The soles offer great grip and the uppers are very comfortable and quick to dry. A decent go-anywhere sandal. Just be careful with the velcro straps – they do stay put but their loose ends tend to flap about. 

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6. Crocs Swiftwater Sandal: £39.99, Crocs

No, not those Crocs. These water sandals aren’t fashion suicide, just super-useful water shoes for wild swimming, sailing, coasteering and weekends by the sea.  The chunky rubber toe caps and soles can take on any jagged rocks you encounter and the light, breathable mesh uppers and adjustable ankle support are well-designed and comfortable all day. A good fit for wider feet.  

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7. Birkenstock Milano Sandal: £60, Birkenstock

Hey, good-looking. Smart synthetic leather straps, light cork footbeds and a suede lining make this a premium option and the smartest-looking cookie in our round-up. The Milano is designed like a classic Birkenstock but with supportive ankle straps that are better suited to walking long distances. Birkenstocks’ soles are designed with deep heel cups and high arch support and feel noticeably more snug and supportive for it. Just don’t wear with socks – you’ll lose those style points. 

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8. Karrimor Marino Sandal: £50, Go Outdoors

Leather meets neoprene and good things ensue with this pair of sandals. They are all slick good looks on top, yet pack a hardwearing sole on the bottom. Karrimor reckons it offers a “moulded heel cradle” - it definitely does support your feet well. We liked the flexible yet tough soles, but the rubber insoles do make feet a bit sweaty and slippery in hot weather. 

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The Verdict: Men’s walking sandals

Columbia’s Ventmeister will do you proud on walking holidays and summer adventures and sit in the middle of our price range. If you’re after something smart, Karrimor’s Marino and Birkinstock’s gorgeous Milano look the business but still deliver on the technical front. And if you’re on a budget you won’t get better bang for your buck than Mountain Warehouse’s Crete

Sian Lewis is a travel and outdoors writer and editor of The Girl Outdoors blog

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IndyBest product reviews are unbiased, independent advice you can trust. On some occasions, we earn revenue if you click the links and buy the products, but we never allow this to bias our coverage. The reviews are compiled through a mix of expert opinion and real-world testing.

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