Hiking boots are an important roll in hiking. There are several good reasons to buy proper fitting boots. However, hiking boots aren't my personal choice on most hikes.
I've been using Tevas
since the early 1990's & I'll never turn back. True, sandals are potentially
more dangerous in some aspects. The key is "the user"
wearing the sandals and the ability to use them properly.
Yes, a firm sole is needed so you don't feel the jagged intrusions of
the trail. It's the ankle support I disagree with. First
of all, ankle support is important don't get me wrong. The
problem with boots is they do their job too well sometimes. When
you need to bend you can't. This causes you to slip and loose
control, this is were real injuries occur in my opinion. I've seen several air
evacuations and dozens upon dozens of injuries over the years. I
can't say I recall a sandal incident.
Tevas have a firm thick sole, yet maintain flexible enough to maneuver. Add the best sticky sole on the market and you're Spiderman in a sense. If you don't slip you're less likely to get hurt. Of course, this is all my opinion. I'm not a doctor or any specialist by any means. I have hiked Humphries, Wrightson, the Superstition Ridgeline, Brown's Peak, Devil's Canyon, most of Sedona and everything in-between in Tevas. National Geographic featured a doctor that walked across Africa. He walked well over a thousand miles through the meanest sections of the Congo. Yes, he did it in SANDALS! with a sixty pound pack on his back. In 1998 & 1999 I hiked Camelback or Squaw Peak 1-3 times a day, four times a week without a problem.
There are drawbacks. Your feet are exposed. Not good for
cold hikes below sixty degrees. The desert terrain can be a bit
prickly at times. Hot sand burns when it's hot. I've only
had blisters once. That was on a fifteen mile hike with
socks. I've done several eight to twelve mile hikes without a
I hear, sandals are bad on the knees. This may be true. I'm
not a doctor or specialist by any means, I can't say. I can say
that two of the most used trails in Arizona are Camelback and Squaw
Peak. Folks coming down these mountains tend to jump down rock to
rock. This is a technique issue in my opinion. You're going
to deteriorate your knees with or without boots if you do that.
I'll agree with many others that Vibram brand soles are among the best. I owned a pair of Merrell hiking sandals years ago with a Vibram sole. They were awesome.
Now lets talk weight. If you mountain bike or bike in general you know the importance of lightness. A ride on a carbon fiber frame and you feel like a pro. Same is true with sandals.
Heck, if you want to wear boots like the majority, that's great. I
get tons of e-mails asking me to share my thoughts etc. Plus it's
a big conversational topic when folks pass me on the trail. Just
don't knock it until you've given it a real try. Certain trails or
weather conditions may not be optimal for sandals. I've tried
going back to boots several times and I keep coming back to my tevas!