Birkenstocks, but for hiking?
June 5, 2015 10:48 PM   Subscribe

Hi, I am looking for hiking sandals that have a flat sole, like Birkenstocks.

I have tried Chaco's, but my size 14/47 feet are so narrow that blisters formed under the ball of my foot, and the heel is pronounced. Keens are probably the closest to what I am looking for, but they don't seem to last that long and the sole is still somewhat wedged. Thanks for sharing anything you've found. I suppose Vibram five fingers would also fit the bill, but I would prefer to have my toes unsleeved. Have you had any luck with a hiking sandal of this type?

I would use Birkenstocks but the tread is not very aggressive and I don't think they would hold up well.
posted by mecran01 to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (9 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Don't know if you are male or female, but Merrell makes some of the best hiking footware there is. At least 10 years ago. Hopefully, still.

You sound like you maybe want Tevas, but they have zero foot protection, in sandal form.

Better than Keen, are Jambu. Can't say if better than Merrell. Have heard great things.
posted by jbenben at 11:28 PM on June 5, 2015

I'm not sure about all there sizes, but Tevas are most likely to match your other requirements.
posted by DoubleLune at 11:31 PM on June 5, 2015

Response by poster: I like Tevas a lot, and the level of protection is not a problem, but they still have a bit of a heel on them, which can bother my old man back.
posted by mecran01 at 11:57 PM on June 5, 2015

Best answer: There's a cottage industry built around 'minimal' sandals which are completely flat, and come in a range of soles from Vibram-Fivefinger-like thin and flexible to much thicker and cushier. Some also come with leather or cork tops for the sole. Some companies: Some do custom sole sizes (by sending an outline of your foot). Others you can just trim them with scissors. I've got a pair of the Unshoes and I like them, although the 6mm sole is a bit thin for anything technical or rocky.
posted by meowzilla at 12:50 AM on June 6, 2015 [3 favorites]

Seconding Merrells. I lived in Tevas for lighter hikes (but grok your heel issue) and Merrells for longer ones, all the way. Merrells have never let me down. Context: lighter hikes = less than 10 miles, moderate terrain. Longer hikes = technical terrain and/or several days backpacking in the wilderness, mountains, lakes, rocks, mud, etc.

They've also started doing minimal shoes, FWIW. I have a pair and really like them. Amazon reviews can be really helpful as well; quite a few reviewers said they too liked the Merrells I got, but gave recommendations for other brands they liked as well or better, with reasons why.
posted by fraula at 3:26 AM on June 6, 2015

I knew a guy who used to attach, glue, whatever, "vibram" soles to his Birks. Looked funky and really, I don't know how well that worked, but an idea....

posted by WinstonJulia at 3:33 AM on June 6, 2015 [1 favorite]

I wear Xero's Amuri Cloud when it's sandal weather. I had a pair of their most basic sandals and like these better for the cup at the heel (it's not elevated, it just stays on better and keeps out little stones), the slight bit of squishiness at the front of the sole, and that the tying system isn't as prone to user error.
posted by teremala at 4:19 AM on June 6, 2015 [1 favorite]

I had a pair of Timberland's hiking sandals (women) a few years ago. I hiked everywhere in them. I slogged through mud a few times too many and wore them wet, stretching out the leather. If I hadn't have done that, I probably could have gotten another few years out of them. Best hiking sandal ever.
posted by myselfasme at 5:24 AM on June 6, 2015

Best answer: The term you're looking for is "zero drop", which describes a total lack of heel elevation over the forefoot. Many minimalist shoes are described in terms of their drop.

I hike in the old-style Merrell Trail Glove . I like them so much that when they redesigned the Trail Glove and the old ones went on clearance, I bought four backup pairs. The new Trail Gloves are super-nice, and I think they might work well for you.
posted by workerant at 6:00 AM on June 6, 2015 [1 favorite]

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