Comfy walking sandals needed
August 28, 2012 1:02 PM   Subscribe

I guess it's been a long time since I've looked for walking sandals, but still I'm shocked that my old standby is no longer available. What should I wear now that Doc Martens no longer makes shoes I want to wear?

Really I'm just looking for very sturdy, very comfy walking sandals - something I used to rely on Dr. Martens for with no hassle. Over the past few years I've been buying Birkenstocks in stores just because of their immediacy, but I'd always assumed Dr. Martens would still be there online when I was ready to want them again - but looking at their website and Zappos now, it looks like I was sadly mistaken.

So now I turn to you, anybody else who used to view Doc Martens as the ultimate in walking sandals: what are you wearing these days? I hate shopping for shoes, so I guess my criteria here would be: easily available online, long-wearing, comfy, and not too stinky. The interim Birks I've been buying have been getting noticeably stinky so I would love a pair of shoes that weren't quite so quick to smell - and even though I've liked the Birkenstocks, they really never have met the comfort criteria that the Dr. Martens sandals provided ...

Anyway, I'm just hoping that someone other than me is missing the Dr. Martens of 10+ years ago and can suggest something in their stead. I guess my main criteria would be comfortable straps, low-to-no heels, durable make, and affordability ... any suggestions?
posted by DingoMutt to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (16 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
The best sandals are made by Chaco. Definitely the most comfortable and sturdy (and many models are for especially for hiking).
posted by General Malaise at 1:08 PM on August 28, 2012 [5 favorites]

Best answer: I've been very happy with the Chacos that I bought about a month ago (and have been wearing everyday since). They were recommended in another Ask Metafilter. I have the very simple, sporty style - waterproof, and a solid sole that doesn't smell much (because there is nowhere for the bacteria to grow, I suppose). The straps are very adjustable, and I've been walking to work, hiking in the woods for a couple of hours, and kayaking in these so far.
posted by jb at 1:09 PM on August 28, 2012 [2 favorites]

Best answer: These Keens are fantastic.
posted by MsMolly at 1:13 PM on August 28, 2012 [2 favorites]

To add: I went into Mountain Equiptment Coop (MEC) to look (kind of like REI in the USA) - they carried both Chaco and Keen brand sandals (and I would trust them to carry good stuff).

The woman helping me mentioned that she had had her Chaco sandals for about 8 years and they were still good; the soles are replaceable if they wear through. That said, the webbing on my brother-in-law's Chacos is starting to wear (don't know how old they are) - I don't know if you can replace the webbing.

Another friend recommended me to Tivas. According to reviews online, they can begin to smell, but some models are treated with anti-bacterial stuff to try to reduce/eliminate this problem. They appeared to have softer soles than the Chacos I got.
posted by jb at 1:21 PM on August 28, 2012

I will chime in though my answer is a little unorthodox. As a former fan of Doc Martens, Birkenstocks, and Tevas, these days I am wearing huaraches I made according to the instructions at

At first they will not strike you as sturdy or comfy, but I've worn them exclusively for quite some time and they show no signs of wear or odor, and I have never noticed my feet or legs to get more tired than they did in more constructed shoes. The straps are comfortable, there is no heel, and they are affordable!
posted by sudama at 1:46 PM on August 28, 2012

I never had Doc Martens, but I have tried Birkenstocks and Tevas without being very satisfied (not only did the Tevas smell, but they made my feet smell). I got a pair of Chacos earlier this year and so far I'm completely happy with them for comfort, durability, and non-smelliness.

I got mine for about half price from Sierra Trading Post. I was surprised that I needed a half size smaller than my "normal" size, but I'm not sure if that is usual for Chacos, since STP sometimes ends up with weirdly sized items.
posted by Kriesa at 1:57 PM on August 28, 2012

I've been wearing Keens for the last few years and I like them a lot. Honest to god I wear shoes and boots out like crazy, 3 years for boots, from Timberland, Merrel, etc etc before getting relegated to the only wear for shit work pile. I'm on my 5th year now for my current Keen sandals, 4th year for Keen boots, probably get 2 more years out of the sandals and 3 from the boots. FWIW I have a wide toe bed and Keen tends to make wider toe beds then many of the competitors.
posted by edgeways at 2:00 PM on August 28, 2012 [2 favorites]

I like Chacos, too -- comfy, sturdy, non-stinky, and washable... plus you can get the straps replaced for a pretty cheap price.

I like Keen's shoes a lot, but I have found that their sandals tend to run about a half-size small.
posted by sarcasticah at 2:46 PM on August 28, 2012

Best answer: Amazon still have Doc Martens sandals.
posted by essexjan at 2:57 PM on August 28, 2012

I went out and splurged on some awesome sandals when I wanted a really good, rugged pair last year. I have these Venice H2 Keens, which I love, because they are water-proof, have some kind of odor-canceling thing going on, AND I can even hike in them because the bottoms are nice and grippy. They're so comfortable they make me want to walk farther, too, which makes me happy.

They are also really expensive, but then, they'll last forever.

A cheaper alternative I stumbled across by accident are these surprisingly soft flip flops, Born Crowne Delilahs. I wore them for walking all over NYC (and parts of Europe) last month (partly out of vanity because the look makes them more versatile than Keens or Chacos, which, although comfortable, can also be pretty darned ugly when you *aren't* out in the wilderness).

I don't have the blue color but a more neutral shade, and I'm surprised how often I wear them, when normally I am very much a "flip flops are for the gym or the beach" type of girl. Really comfortable walking shoes!
posted by misha at 3:17 PM on August 28, 2012

I've been loving my Mephisto Sharks. I realized at one point that the $80/pair sandals I was buying were breaking down every 2 ~ 3 years, and it made more sense to spend a lot of money on something that could last for a decade. I've had the sharks about 2 years now, and they're still in perfect condition (except for the obvious surface wear).
posted by colin_l at 5:11 PM on August 28, 2012

I got Keen Whisper sandals in green, and they have great ankle support and cushioning—I bought them to use with my standing desk at work, and they've been great for that, as well as for things like the two-day outdoor music festival I went to this weekend (where there was almost nowhere to sit and it rained both days—the Whispers are water sandals). That said...I can't wear them more than a day or two before they start to smell. Days I wear them to work, I've taken to putting them on, stepping into the tub, and rinsing them on my feet before heading out for the day.

Like misha, my other go-to walking sandals are flip-flops, specifically two pairs of Reef Phantoms in black and a pair of Reef Fannings in white (I wore them to dance at my wedding). These are the most comfy flip-flops I've ever worn; if I hadn't needed more ankle support and heel cushioning to make the standing desk thing work, they'd still be my go-to for everyday wear.
posted by limeonaire at 5:23 PM on August 28, 2012

Best answer: I have these Teva Pretty Rugged Leather sandals and love them. I wear them to walk around campus all day to classes and my feet don't hurt.
posted by cp311 at 6:26 PM on August 28, 2012

Nthing Mephistos. I used to wear huaraches but they don't have enough arch support for me.
posted by brujita at 6:54 PM on August 28, 2012

Response by poster: Thanks so much for the suggestions, everyone - and thanks especially to essexjan for pointing out that there are still Doc Martens sandals to be had out there! I thought I'd covered all my bases in looking for them before posting this question, but somehow didn't think to look at Amazon.

I ended up buying these Doc Martens off of Amazon and am eagerly awaiting their arrival. I've also favorited a few recommendations for alternate brands that look promising - if I'm feeling especially wild I may end up buying one of them as a backup pair soon; otherwise it's great to have some ideas so I don't get caught flat-footed (heh) again if/when I can't find another pair of DMs. Thanks again for all the great suggestions!
posted by DingoMutt at 1:41 PM on September 4, 2012

Response by poster: One last update, in case any other sandal-hunter reads this in the future: after just a few months with the Doc Martens, the stitching on both have come undone in different areas, detaching the straps from the sole in one place on each. I'd realized prior to this that the quality of DMs was maybe not as high as it had once been, but in the past I've still managed to get at least a year's worth of wear out of them.

At some point I'll probably take the Doc Martens to a cobbler for repair - other than the busted stitching, everything else is fine - but in the meantime I bought a pair of Teva Tirras and holy cow do I love them. They've been comfortable since the moment I first put them on, they aren't at all 'frilly,' and they've stood up to miles of walking on a daily basis. I probably wouldn't have checked them out if it weren't for suggestions in this thread, so if by some chance there are any fellow Doc Marten fans looking for something new, I would enthusiastically recommend giving these a try.
posted by DingoMutt at 7:51 AM on June 21, 2013

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