How do I Choose the Best Women's Walking Sandal?

Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen

Choosing the right women's walking sandal can take some consideration. There are plenty of flat sandals available, particularly during the summer months, but that does not necessarily define a sandal fit for walking long distances. Instead, most women should look to stores or online sources specifically for “walking sandals.” These are designed to provide support for the feet and be durable while walking over a number of surfaces.

Women may want to consider whether they want a women's walking sandal with an open or closed toe.
Women may want to consider whether they want a women's walking sandal with an open or closed toe.

The most important element in choosing a women's walking sandal is comfort. Sandals should fit properly, have adequate cushioning, and support the feet, particularly along the arch of the foot. Some of the support should come from a sturdy sole, and many of the most of the comfortable soles are those made of polyurethane. They give some bounce to the step and provide cushioning when walking on hard surfaces.

The best walking sandals should be durable but comfortable.
The best walking sandals should be durable but comfortable.

There is an exception to the rule regarding soft rubbery soles. A couple of styles of shoes have a harder sole and are meant to be similar to walking in bare feet. Sandals made by companies like Birkenstock® can prove extremely comfortable, though they usually take an adjustment period to get used to them. Women may want to choose a sandal with a back strap if they plan to walk on uneven surfaces.

Some people have tried the women's walking sandal made by companies like Birkenstock® and find they are not as comfortable as they would like. There are fortunately many other companies to try that make a variety of sandals, in a more traditional style. Some of these have a very athletic look, and usually feature straps that attach around the ankle and over the foot. These may be adjustable, which is highly recommended as they can be tightened or narrowed as needed, and as during the day walking may swell the feet slightly.

Security in the straps is very important. They should be durable, and attach so that they don’t leave room for the foot to chafe against the straps. If straps seems inadequate to this purpose, move on to another style or maker.

Women may also want to consider whether they want a women's walking sandal with an open or closed toe. Closed toes can protect the feet against rocks, but they may be tighter on a wider foot. It’s recommended women think about the type of walking they want to do; climbing over rocky beaches is certainly different than a stroll along the boardwalk. In both cases, though, the sole of the sandal is important. It should be structured so it will grip surfaces instead of being slippery.

Naturally, there are many women who would prefer a women's walking sandal that is attractive and can be worn easily with skirts or dresses. There are a few styles suited to city walking that may answer this purpose. For more vigorous walking, styles are generally more athletic in appearance, in order to possess the features that will most adequately support the feet.

Some people suggest that it’s best to be fitted at a local shoe store for a good women's walking sandal. This may depend on circumstances; stores may not stock larger or wider sizes. If buying online to get the right size, consider heading to a shoe store first to get a look at the types of sandals available and write down the styles that seem most sturdy and potentially most comfortable. Choose an online shoe store that offers free returns, should the shoe fail to properly fit or not feel as comfortable as it looks.

Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen

Tricia has a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and has been a frequent wiseGEEK contributor for many years. She is especially passionate about reading and writing, although her other interests include medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion. Tricia lives in Northern California and is currently working on her first novel.

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Discussion Comments


MuffinMaker- I agree with you that Chacos are very comfortable. I took them with me on a recent hiking trip and wore them the entire time. They are light weight, but are very good for walking and hiking.

Chaco sandals can indeed be very expensive. They can cost over $100 at your local department store. I bought mine used online at eBay. The sandals were half the price, but they are made of high quality materials so they were still in good condition.


sunflower34- I love Chaco sandals. They are an open toed sandal that have a comfortable, rubbery sole. They have two straps that can be adjusted according to your foot size.

Chacos are similar to Birkenstocks, but I like them much better. They are very comfortable and my feet never hurt after I have been wearing them. They are also very good for participating in activities like hiking or sports.

Chacos can be purchased at most sporting good stores. I bought mine at REI. They can be pricey, but it is well worth the investment. I bought my Chacos five years ago and they are still in excellent condition.


I have tried Birkenstock sandals but am not overly impressed with them. They tend to hurt my feet.

Does anyone know of an alternative to Birkenstock sandals?

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