Summer Days (And Summer Nights!!)
July 5, 2012 1:26 PM   Subscribe

Searching for the perfect summer shoe/sandal. Stringent requirements after the jump.

* comfort - a podiatrist would be okay with it
* I can't wear narrow shoes
* can be used for semi-formal occasions/not exercise-shoe-looking
* a low heel, if any
* weather-proof, either like a rain boot (keeps the rain out) or like plastic sandals (doesn't absorb water) /quick dry
* breathable - planning to bring these to several-month trip to Rwanda
* durability - I walk a few miles everyday, often run to catch the bus, and I want these shoes to last for at least a couple of years. I'm ok with either sandals or shoes, but I'm wary of the durability of sandals.
* and for sandals, I want a strap formation that secures both the front and back of my foot so it doesn't easily slip out, so no simple V thong
* soles that don't wear down - My two previous shoes were classic Crocs and Native Shoes, which were perfect up until the soles started wearing down since both of them were made of a similar rubber/plastic material.

Extra Pluses:
* on Zappos
* easy to put on - slip-on or velcro straps
* lightweight
* flexible
* none/very little branding

I've been looking at Keen La Paz Wrap, but I'm worried about how durable the straps are and whether the sole will eventually wear down.

Price is not an issue, but I don't want to pay a premium just for a brand.

Thank you!
posted by facehugger to Shopping (14 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
I have a pair of Merrell Stellablooms bought from Zappo's. I love them - hiked miles in them, many of which were hiking in a river. They're supportive, comfortable and still look decent after a lot of abuse in the desert. They replaced a pair of Clark's which looked almost identical but the Merrells have a better sole and they're on sale now for less than I paid for them. Your question prompted me to order a second pair in fact. These are a between the toe style but there are similar ones that don't go between your toes if you prefer that.
posted by leslies at 1:43 PM on July 5, 2012 [1 favorite]

Chacos has really high quality sandals. I live in mine all summer, including lots of hiking, and they stand up to a beating. Plus, some of them are fantastically good looking!
posted by Grandysaur at 1:45 PM on July 5, 2012 [2 favorites]

Best answer: For most people, I think they fail the "semi-formal" requirement, but just in case they don't for you or in case that requirement is a little futzable, I would highly, highly recommend Chacos. My favorites are the ones with the toe loop and double strap. The toe loop makes them incredibly secure on your feet, they're super-comfortable, and quite durable. When they do start to wear out, they're easily resoled. I linked to the newer "Updraft" version -- I haven't tried them myself yet, but they have a thinner sole and so look a little less like outdoor equipment to my eyes. The double strap helps with that as well. Chacos makes a number of more fashion sandals as well, but I can't testify to the quality of those.
posted by duien at 1:46 PM on July 5, 2012 [1 favorite]

You want to look at chaco's for saddles.
posted by BrodieShadeTree at 1:46 PM on July 5, 2012

One comment re Chacos - they have a very high instep - I like how they look but it's way too high an arch for me to be able to wear - I think one has to try those on. People either love them or can't wear them.
posted by leslies at 1:50 PM on July 5, 2012 [1 favorite]

Nthing Chacos for durable and great for extended outdoor walking/hiking, but if you have wide feet the straps will probably rub for a week or two until you develop callouses: If you decide on Chacos I'd recommend wearing them at home for a while until your feet are used to them before taking them on a trip & risking blisters from new sandals. That said, I've been wearing mine for 4ish years for camping/festivals/hot weather hiking & they're bulletproof.

I also just love love love these Adrina flats by Crocs. They look lovely in person (I have the espresso which is a muted brownish-greyish color that goes with everything): I've been wearing mine daily for about a year & a half & they still look great, they work with casual or a little bit dressier clothes, are the most comfy breathable summer shoe I've ever had, and I get tons of compliments on them. People are shocked they're Crocs. They don't get smelly, rinse off if they get dusty, & you can squish them into a suitcase easily. They're great.
posted by cuddles.mcsnuggy at 1:54 PM on July 5, 2012 [2 favorites]

The Updraft have a slightly lower instep than their previous models, according to Zappos reviews if that's something that might be an issue.
posted by duien at 1:55 PM on July 5, 2012

Alegria has some that meet your specifications. Can be found online at Amazon or in Nordstroms
posted by ramix at 3:43 PM on July 5, 2012

This might be out of your price range, even though you say price isn't an issue, but: I've had *excellent* luck with Think! shoes. They're designed in Austria, and generally made in Europe, and use the highest quality materials. I'm allergic to chrome-tanned leather, so they're one of the few shoe brands I can actually wear, but I'd recommend them to everyone. They're sold at proper orthopedic shoe stores, and I'm sure a podiatrist would be fine with them. On most of their shoes, you can remove and replace the footbeds (made of cork), for a new-shoe feel but with a broken-in comfort. The materials are really excellent: they have a leather-lined cork footbed, leather lining on the upper, and leather uppers. They tend to run on the wider side of normal, without being strictly "wide". I also think that most of their range is at least reasonably cute.

I recently was looking for shoes with pretty much all of your specifications, and I bought and have tentatively decided to keep this and this (or this). The first, the sandals, don't have a removable footbed, but are cute and really comfortable (so unusual!). The second two pairs (the mary janes) have removable footbeds and seem super durable, as all of my Think! shoes have been. I've tried them on and walked around in them in the houseand all three are very comfortable, and fit me well, and also seem to me at least marginally cute. You can scope out their other offerings on Zappos, although many won't fit one or more of your specifications as well as the ones I've linked above. Hope this helps!
posted by UniversityNomad at 3:43 PM on July 5, 2012 [1 favorite]

You will probably be dubious given the price but Salt Water Sandals (also) are very comfy and the sole is inexplicably indestructible. Popular with kiddies; reviews attest to durability.

Kork-Ease, Camper, and Frye are other brands that come to mind.
posted by kmennie at 4:48 PM on July 5, 2012 [2 favorites]

Check out Jambu shoes. They have some nice looking sandals that are very light and comfy. Seriously light!

I hate tight shoes and have a slightly wide foot and I really like them. I got my pair at REI but zappos has them.
posted by vespabelle at 6:04 PM on July 5, 2012

One comment re Chacos - they have a very high instep - I like how they look but it's way too high an arch for me to be able to wear - I think one has to try those on. People either love them or can't wear them.

They have different styles. My mother turned me on to Chacos about 10 years ago, and both of us have very flat feet, and she has very narrow feet, and both of us have found styles and soles of Chacos that are super comfortable for us. I don't know where you live, but depending on the lifestyle you may be able to find Chacos on consignment or garage sales. Actually my Chacos which look brand new 10 years after my mother gave them to me were a garage sale find of hers (for which I traded her my brand new ones that were slightly too narrow for me and uncomfortable).
posted by hrj at 7:43 AM on July 6, 2012

The Merrell Barefoot Train Pure are fantastically comfortable, lightweight mary janes. Being barefoot shoes, the support is minimal but they are undamaged by weather, machine washable and super-flexible. They have Vibram soles and I figure that I put about 2000 walking/hiking/running miles on shoes with the same soles and construction before I finally wore a hole in one.
posted by workerant at 10:07 AM on July 6, 2012

Response by poster: Thank you for all your replies! I think I'm going to go with Chaco's - the re-soleable factor is super cool. Ordering from Zappos right now!
posted by facehugger at 2:13 PM on July 9, 2012

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