Look on my sandals, ye Mighty, and despair!
May 10, 2010 12:04 PM   Subscribe

When a manly man absolutely must wear a skirt, there's Utilikilts. When a manly man absolutely must wear a purse, there's the messenger bag. When a manly man absolutely must wear sandals there's... what?

Hyperbole aside, I need sandals, preferably good, long-lasting ones that will protect my toes and not make me feel like a dweeb. I'm currently wearing flip-flops, but they leave my toes exposed to environmental damage.

Part 1: good sandals that will keep my toes intact when my daughter steps on 'em.
Part 2: I'm an ex-punk/rivethead who cringes at the thought of yuppie/hippie sandals*, no matter how practical they might be. What sandals would Mad Max wear?

*yes, I know this is a stupid opinion.
posted by lekvar to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (54 answers total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
fisherman's sandals, though your hippie sandals request makes me pause. in high school they used to call then "jesus shoes". i liked them.
posted by elle.jeezy at 12:07 PM on May 10, 2010

Every field biologist I know owns a pair of teva sandals for hiking / river walking. They make types with covered toes (in case of daughter's foot stomping).
posted by Peter Petridish at 12:08 PM on May 10, 2010

Are the Keen ones with the closed toes too hippie for you?
posted by 8dot3 at 12:09 PM on May 10, 2010 [3 favorites]

Are these too sissy? Imagine a Crass patch safety-pinned on...
posted by Beardman at 12:09 PM on May 10, 2010

Chacos. Worn by river guides and outdoorsey-types.
posted by craven_morhead at 12:09 PM on May 10, 2010 [4 favorites]

Heads up: I own a pair of Doc Marten sandals, which I got largely because I find Docs to be really comfy. The sandals, however, are way less comfortable, despite having the same type of footbed. So although I don't have a strong recommendation for you, I would say to stay away from Docs when it comes to sandals.
posted by Greg Nog at 12:11 PM on May 10, 2010 [1 favorite]

I think you might need to clarify how you want your toes protected in sandals?

Zappos has a wide selection of fisherman sandals. There are also these "mule" things which I would call clogs.
posted by knile at 12:12 PM on May 10, 2010

Yes, Teva. Though if you're manly enough, you should be able to wear pink jellies without a second though.
posted by small_ruminant at 12:12 PM on May 10, 2010 [2 favorites]

posted by small_ruminant at 12:12 PM on May 10, 2010

Best answer: Dr. Martens? Fluevogs?
posted by JoanArkham at 12:14 PM on May 10, 2010

I use a pair of Keen sandals (as linked above) for biking to work in warmer weather. Great toe protection and I've found nothing better for riding in the rain.
posted by mikepop at 12:22 PM on May 10, 2010

Sorry, but anything you get are gonna be granola (I don't wanna be a granola head either)- but that's what sandals are.

That being said- go for chacos- they are absolutely fantastic sandals!!! Chaco does have a closed toe shoe here. Embrace your inner granola-head.
posted by TheBones at 12:22 PM on May 10, 2010

Best answer: Here are some toe-covering sandals that I think wouldn't look out of place on an ex-punk/rivethead:




These definitely aren't the cheapest shoes, especially that last pair.

I also liked these, but they don't cover your toes:


posted by wwartorff at 12:24 PM on May 10, 2010 [1 favorite]

I like to wear my Camouflage Birkenstocks just to f**k with the hippies.
posted by doublesix at 12:33 PM on May 10, 2010 [1 favorite]

kick ass chacos
posted by spikeleemajortomdickandharryconnickjrmints at 12:33 PM on May 10, 2010

fwiw, I have trouble with sandals that have metal bits because they can heat up on a hot day and burn your feet. ymmv.
posted by small_ruminant at 12:34 PM on May 10, 2010

Why do you need sandals? It sounds like you don't like them much, and there are closed shoes that incorporate most of the things sandals are good for (breathability, fast drying, easy on/off.) What, specifically, are you expecting this hypothetical closed-toe, rivethead-style sandal to do that you don't get from your usual biker boots or whatever?
posted by contraption at 12:34 PM on May 10, 2010

Nthing Tevas. Not having broken and punctured feet makes you more manly than you think. :)
posted by Citrus at 12:37 PM on May 10, 2010

Mad Max would make his own sandals from some tire and a blowtorch. He wouldn't care what other people thought of them.
posted by whiskeyspider at 12:46 PM on May 10, 2010 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: What, specifically, are you expecting this hypothetical closed-toe, rivethead-style sandal to do that you don't get from your usual biker boots or whatever?

My feet + big stompy boots = swampfoot.
"Oh my god, what is that thing" swampfoot.
The kind of swampfoot that makes Baby Jesus cry.
posted by lekvar at 12:49 PM on May 10, 2010


They breathe, are very comfortable, last years, and can be thrown in a washing machine when dirty.

posted by Apollo's Favorite Mistake at 1:01 PM on May 10, 2010

My 6'5", size-15s, knife-collecting, Officer Travis Junior-loving mountain man friend Ed wears Keens, and he's not ashamed of them, goddammit!

If you want actual sandal sandals, Chacos are also adequately manly. The Z2 is perhaps more secure than the Z1 because of the toe strap, but some people can't deal with that. The nice thing, though, is that if you (like me) have decided that you don't feel like using the toe strap anymore, you can just pull it flat and get it out of the way with no ill effects. They're completely adjustable.

Chacos are sort of the more functional, more stylish version of Tevas.

Personally, I am attracted to big manly men, and I am of the opinion that nothing makes them look wussier than a cheap shoe or sandal. So don't skimp! You'll have these for years. Skechers and that sort of thing are okay, but you want something really sturdy and classic that can stand up to your stomping.

Go to it, sir!
posted by Madamina at 1:13 PM on May 10, 2010

Keens, definitely. I think the Venice with the all black sole is the way to go.
posted by oneirodynia at 1:15 PM on May 10, 2010

Every field biologist I know owns a pair of teva sandals for hiking / river walking.

IAAFB (field biologist), and I do indeed own a pair of Teva sandals for river walking. I have, however, witnessed Serious Discussions among other field biologists over the virtues of Tevas vs. Keens vs. Chacos. Each seems to have its proponents. I'm personally pretty fond of my Tevas, but I think all are good, and you should just poke around to see which brand has a design you like.
posted by pemberkins at 1:16 PM on May 10, 2010

Keens, if you want your toes covered. They are highly functional and have the added bonus of nobody having to see your toes, which is generally a bonus whether you have swamp toes or not.

Mr. padraigin and I both find them super-comfortable and wearable for a multitude of tasks, and they also seem to be really durable and they stay looking pretty good, especially the non-leather ones.

I find that any sandals with velcro start to look kind of beat after a while, the velcro just starts looking fuzzy and sad.
posted by padraigin at 1:25 PM on May 10, 2010

The Reef Fanning Sandal is stylish and has a frigging bottle opener in the sole. If that's not manly, I don't know what is!
posted by The Winsome Parker Lewis at 1:40 PM on May 10, 2010 [1 favorite]

Although, had I read the thread more carefully I would've realized you're looking for closed-toe sandals. Which I didn't even realize exist. Still... bottle opener!!
posted by The Winsome Parker Lewis at 1:41 PM on May 10, 2010

Chacos, Chacos, Chacos. Nothing is better.
posted by General Malaise at 1:43 PM on May 10, 2010 [1 favorite]

Another vote for Chaco's here too. I was never a sandals type of guy until my wife talked me into getting a pair a few years ago. They get more comfortable as you where them and are stable enough that your feet feel pretty well-protected. Plus, they are completely utilitarian and bombproof. It doesn't get more manly than that.
posted by ttrendel at 1:55 PM on May 10, 2010

Teva Alps. No velcro, all black, and they last forever.
posted by flowerofhighrank at 2:07 PM on May 10, 2010

Another vote for Keens. Super-comfortable from the get-go, sturdy enough for hiking. Never a blister, even if you wear them wet. I wore my Keens to hike the Subway in Zion. Toe protection: A++++

If they get stinky, throw them in the freezer overnight. Kills the little buggies that cause the stink.
posted by ambrosia at 2:09 PM on May 10, 2010

Just because nobody else brought them up:
They're not sandals, but they serve the same purpose for me, without the tripping-over-everything badness that sandals do to me. I'm now on my second pair, and wear them year round. They're cheap, breathe really well, and protect your toes as well as any sneaker can (ie, not steel-toed, but less toe-stubby than sandals).
posted by contrarian at 2:10 PM on May 10, 2010

A word of warning about Chacos: run far away from them.

I got a pair as a gift. Every single time I've worn them and walked more than 500 yards they've left me bleeding. The straps are like sandpaper. I have friends who are river guides, and they tell me that this is normal and after I've developed a layer of scar tissue I'll be fine. I'm not a fan of sandals which require the wearer to develop scar tissue. This post actually reminded me that I need to burn them.
posted by mullingitover at 2:19 PM on May 10, 2010


My hubby is super picky about his sandals, and he loves Keen. Head down to the store and try some on, I think you'll love them.
posted by TooFewShoes at 2:23 PM on May 10, 2010

mullingitover, that has not been my experience at all. My Z1s were comfortable out of the box, and after 5 years of daily wear through half the year, my second pair are just as comfortable.
posted by craven_morhead at 2:24 PM on May 10, 2010 [1 favorite]

Pair of reproduction Roman Legion-issue caligae?
posted by Abiezer at 2:26 PM on May 10, 2010 [1 favorite]

Okay. I love this question.

I wear Chacos for hiking and fucking around in the woods. Never had a problem. I adjusted them correctly the first time and they fit my foot. My wife is not so lucky. If they fit you, you're good. Get the ones with the toe loop. More control.

However, this still leaves your toe unprotected.
What you really need are huaraches. Mexican leather sandals with a used tire sole.
I bought a pair in Mexico because I had worn out the tire sandals my dad brought back from service in Taiwan 30 years prior.
I wore the new ones for years. I think the leather may have been waterproofed with old motor oil. You can get them in a slip-on style or with adjustable straps. The slip-ons seem to last longer.
Now I need a new pair.
And this question is giving me the motivation to look.

Well, I can't find any online that look like my old shit-kickers (protected toe, yet open at the front, adjustable back). I may have to head back down to Real or see if I can find someone to fix them here. Pisser.
posted by Seamus at 2:34 PM on May 10, 2010

Would a pair of canvas sneakers not serve the purposes of toe protection and swampfoot avoidance as well as a pair of close toed sandals? You have plenty of good answers, I'm just wondering why you passed over the sneaker on your journey away from big stompy boots.
posted by MadamM at 2:36 PM on May 10, 2010

I was actually wondering that, myself; I've been enjoying the hell out of my Palladiums since I got 'em a few weeks ago. They breathe quite nicely, and feel as stomp-friendly as heavier boots.
posted by Greg Nog at 2:52 PM on May 10, 2010

Best answer: Real men wear Huarache running sandals.
posted by Not Supplied at 3:03 PM on May 10, 2010

Response by poster: Nope, sneakers don't work nearly as well as sandals for me.
Why? Swampfoot.
The kind of swampfoot that makes dread C'thulhu reach for his security blanket.
The kind of swampfoot that makes the Florida Everglades feel like an underachiever.
posted by lekvar at 3:05 PM on May 10, 2010 [4 favorites]

I have the covered type and I'm very susceptible to Swamp foot (I've had to abandon shoes, including Teva's, due to odor). I've never had a problem with them. Mine are a size or two too large, which may increase my airflow, but they still fit great.
posted by Four Flavors at 3:24 PM on May 10, 2010 [1 favorite]

I accidentally ordered these Eccos a while back - the upper is open mesh, like see-your-socks-through-the-mesh kind of open mesh. Other brands have this as well, and with Zappos you can return things with no hassle and no cost.
posted by rtha at 3:42 PM on May 10, 2010

I've been wearing Chacos for maybe ten years, on my second pair, they just totally rock. I've got the type that wraps your toe and they absolutely are right there with you, not like wearing other sandals where you might trip over something when running, I can run full-out in these things no problem, and I know it because I have. They're simple, bombproof, decent looking, the straps totally adjustable, they clean up to look like brand new with a stiff brush and some soapy water.

When I travel, I wear a pair of hiking boots and put the Chacos in my bag but I hardly ever wear the boots except on the flight, usually; the sandals are super-comfortable and look nice enough to go anywhere I'd want to go, I'm not Mr. Black Tie, screw all that jive. People have walked the entire of the Appalachian Trail in Chacos and I don't blame them. As far as manliness, I'm pretty sure that JFK wore a pair each time he was in bed with Marilyn Monroe, and Abraham Lincoln wore them the entire time he was in office, Dwight Eisenhower wore a pair on D-Day, Jesus wore them when he did all of his better miracles, and when he was chasing around with Mary Magdalene, too...

Every sandal made by Chaco used to be made in Colorado, and all the people who worked for the company were paid a living wage, they really believed in keeping it all here and taking care of their people. All that is gone now, like every other sandal they are made wherever they can be made the cheapest, I'm pretty sure they no longer have any presence in Colorado at all; they were bought out by Wolverine I think, and who knows who owns Wolverine -- not I. But you can still get them re-soled and/or get new straps put on them when you wear them out -- the reason I didn't do so with my first pair is that I'd worn them too long, worn through the sole and into the rubber and they couldn't guarantee it to hold, if I recall correctly. It didn't hurt that I'd found a huge sale...

tl;dr -- Chacos
posted by dancestoblue at 4:00 PM on May 10, 2010

My ex- who removed gravel from his own eyelid with a needle after carrying his bike a mile with a broken collar bone after a crash, who got rid of leftover mine explosives by blowing up an abandoned car wore these Chacos. These cover toes.

The ones he wore look like they can be cleaned somewhat more thoroughly, if for some reason you were worried about swampfoot.
posted by salvia at 5:09 PM on May 10, 2010

i'm sorry, ya'll. the Chacos are very ugly. Please don't buy them. :)
posted by elle.jeezy at 5:59 PM on May 10, 2010

My favorite thing about Chaco flip-flops (barring cold or bikes or business casual, my default footwear) is that they facilitate staying barefoot most of the time.

If you want manly sandals, stay away from the colorful hippie-nylon-belt prints. I like all-black Chacos, but go ahead and consider Keens if your foot is better suited to the footbed. Maybe consider leather if you want to show your willingness to kill animals, or sticky rubber if that seems like something you'd appreciate. Teva partisans love 'em, but not me.

(If you like those Palladiums, btw, you might consider Israeli canvas combat boots.)
posted by box at 7:53 PM on May 10, 2010

Thank you for covering your toes. That is all.
posted by sdn at 7:55 PM on May 10, 2010

Keen. Keen. Keen. They are keen. They never give you blisters. Keen.

But you can just leave them in sunlight to disinfect rather than that crazy freezer thing.
posted by desuetude at 8:39 PM on May 10, 2010

Heh desuetude, I wore mine all over Indonesia and Viet Nam and my Keens must have picked up some microbe that was impervious to sunlight, because I tried that, with no luck. It figures that overnight in a freezer would do the little tropical buggers in, though.
posted by ambrosia at 10:37 PM on May 10, 2010

The Salomon Techamphibian is labeled as a sandal but I think of it as a water shoe (great drainage and superior ventilation). They're light and comfortable. I wear them all summer.
posted by JV at 7:14 AM on May 11, 2010

Response by poster: Thanks for all the replies. I realize on an intellectual level that Tevas and their ilk are probably best suited to my needs, but there's something so... suburban about them. I'm probably not going to be hiking the Appalachian Trail anytime soon. I'm a lot more likely to be dodging city hazards than jogging through the forest. And no matter how light and breathable they are, sneakers are sneakers.

I guess what I'm looking for is form, as opposed to function. <hangs head in shame>

Though I do love the sandals made out of recycled tire. Yes, those are the sandals Mad Max would wear.
posted by lekvar at 11:52 AM on May 11, 2010

Best answer: I am so late to this question, but do check out Cydwoqs. They're more expensive (and way less outdoors-y) than most of what's mentioned above, but they are incredibly comfortable, durable, and good looking. Some of them might be a bit too granola, but some of them are definitely much more Mad Max.

If you were going hiking, I'd cast a vote for either Chacos or Keens, but since you're not, Cydwoqs will fulfill both your style requirements and your toe-covering wear 'em all the time comfortable requirements.
posted by dizziest at 4:39 PM on May 11, 2010 [1 favorite]

It may not be what you're looking for, but a pair of Vibram Five Fingers has replaced my flip-flops forever.

Of course, you would have to get used to barefoot feeling and may not provide the rigidity you are desiring.
posted by damionbroadaway at 11:00 AM on May 12, 2010

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