The weather’s warming up past the point of balmy, you sense the humidity in the air and feel like you want to go barefoot. Of course, whether you’re walking down the block or have a lengthy day trip planned, that’s not always possible (or safe). Here’s where the best sandals for men come into play.
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For men, sandals don’t necessarily make a style statement. They can, but their primary function runs practical. They give you traction and a layer against the pavement, gravel, and all other rough surfaces out there. A top strap or two helps it remain in place, ensuring you can move, if not run. Then, more importantly, you feel the air on your skin helping you stay cool and cutting down on perspiration.
All men’s sandals, to some degree, start from this spot but then take off in a multitude of directions based on where you’ll be and what you may be doing. For 2021, the following should be on your radar:
This Summer’s Best Sandals for Men
You’re getting gym class or sports team vibes. We know the association. After all, that’s how slides started: An easy-to-slip-on solution for athletes that cushioned their strides and held up through the shower.
Now, though, the cushioning and open-toed design have made them a must-have, particularly as streetwear brands play around with the silhouette. If you’re on the search for an easygoing pair of summer house shoes (or simply want something defined by nothing but effortlessness), you can’t go wrong with one of the following styles.
The North Face manages to bridge comfort for the campsite or home with durable materials build for journey after journey and throws in a bit of recycled materials, sourced from the brand’s own Base Camp duffels.
You can’t get any more classic than this shower slide, built with a shaped footbed and cushioned strap featuring the brand’s distinctive 3-Stripes combination.
Under Armour has been giving Adidas some fair competition in terms of slides, and the Ignite series shows it through adjustability, foam cushioning, and an anatomical shape.
2. Sport and Hiking Sandals
You’ve got to move – but you also want to stay cool and have the best sandals for men that hold up when you take a detour through that creek.
Enter the hiking sandal. Brands known for their trail-faring styles, like Merrell and Keen, take all the best features of their boots and modify them for warmer weather. The result gives you a grippy outsole, water- and UV-resistant materials, and shock absorption that helps you go the distance.
Get the breathability and freedom of the sandal with the performance of a hiking shoe. Keen brings the two elements together through water-resistant nubuck leather, a lugged outsole for traction, stability shank, and metatomical EVA footbed for natural-feeling comfort.
These saw their profile rise in the 90s for a reason: Teva are some of the best sandals for men – they are comfortable, freeing, and last through a range of activities with quick-dry straps, an adjustable design, stability shank, and cushioned yet durable outsole. Upgraded for the present, Teva has been utilizing traceable recycled plastic to construct this line.
Merrell’s hiking boots are sought after, and these sandals travel in that direction with an adjustable, cushioned design with enough traction for low-key to moderate outdoor activities.
This 90s hippy/stoner sandal has been back over the past few years. Now acknowledging its broader appeal, the brand has gone beyond its cork-soled, leather-upper design to offer a greater degree of support and more configurations for everyday wear.
This is the pair you remember, even if you didn’t wear Birkenstocks way back when. Here, their contoured cork footbed sets the stage for a two-buckle suede upper, giving you front-to-back freedom.
Need to get going? The Milano takes the classic Birkenstock sandal and adds a strap on the back to help it stay in place.
A break from tradition, these clogs add a more flexible, cushioned footbed, complete with traction pods on the outside, to the expected two-strap open-toe design.
4. Leather Sandals
In 2021, the leather sandal has appeared on runways, exaggerated with crisscrossing straps and a platform-like outsole. Beyond the intentional magnanimity, this style has launched the world of men’s dress sandals. No, that’s not a paradox, but instead a stylized, more supportive version of the traditional summertime canvas silhouette.
With their almost basket-like shape, a fisherman’s sandal seems like the perfect solution for breathability and support. This Dr. Scholl’s pair couples that design with an adjustable back and supportive memory foam insole.
It’s unexpectedly expected. No, Dr. Martens would usually be one of the last brands on our list for the best sandals for men, but the construction here reflects everything for which their brand is known, including sleek high-quality Brando leather, Goodyear welt construction, and a cushioned AirWair sole unit.
We associate Stacy Adams with dress shoes, and these men’s sandals add a breathable interpretation that doesn’t compromise on texture and ultra-refined style.
5. Closed-Toed Sandals
Are they sandals, clogs, or slippers? What you get is a bit of everything – lightweight like a sandal, with the coverage of a slip-on clog, with the unassuming ease of a slipper, finished with an outsole you can take outdoors. If you simply want one sandal for the entire summer, this option does it all.
Birkenstock strives for a more transitional silhouette. Here, their cork footbed is joined by a clog-style, solid closed-toe upper.
Although they’re ripe for streetwear collaborations (including multiple by Post Malone at this point), Crocs’ Bistro clog makes a reliable, cushioned, and easy-to-clean closed-toed sandal at any point during the year.
If you’re looking to keep it simple, these clogs stick to the basics with a paneled, rounded leather upper made with textured materials.
Pass the ones at the drugstore that’ll break after a few wears. If you’re truly serious about flipflops, seek out something with a more supportive base – they’ve got to withstand the sidewalk and provide some coverage against rougher surfaces.
At the same time, make sure the straps and thong are durable and thick enough to remain in place, no matter if you’re someone going to the beach every weekend or looking for a lighter sandal to wear around the home.
Although Reef sandals have a bit of a frat bro reputation, they up the ante on traditional flipflops with water-friendly materials, including sturdy synthetic nubuck, an anatomical fit from the get-go, and a durable traction outsole.
The materials that make Teva’s adjustable sport sandals ready for everything get dialed down to a casual interpretation here, ready for more relaxed adventures where quality remains a priority.
Although these have a worn appearance, they’re cushioned from the moment you slip them on and stay that way with an EVA footbed, grippy outsole, and breathable liner.