Best Shoes For Hiking Sand Dunes

If you love hiking, then you probably already know that one of the best places to do it is in a sand dune. They’re beautiful, peaceful, and quiet—the perfect place to clear your mind and enjoy the great outdoors. But what if you’re planning on going hiking in sand dunes soon and don’t have a pair of shoes that are made for it?

Well, worry no more! This article will give you all the information you need to find the best shoes for hiking sand dunes!

Best Shoes For Hiking Sand Dunes

Best Shoes for Sand Dunes | Gear for the Beach and Desert

Hikers love the thrill of a new path, and for some this passion brings us to the dunes. However, footwear that shines on forest trails may not function as well over desert or beachy expanses.  While will be an excited adventure, you will need the best shoes for sand dunes to ensure your feet are comfortable and protected. The ideal footwear for sand dunes needs to fit snug, keep sand out and reduce sweating and blisters for a comfortable hike.

What Makes a Great Shoe for Sand Dunes?

With warmer weather and unsteady terrain, hiking over sand dunes is sure to tire out your feet much more quickly than other walks. For this reason, it is vital that you always look closely at your chosen shoes to make sure that they will be up for the challenge.

  1. Good Cushioning: A heavily cushioned shoe is unnecessary as sand dunes absorb lots of the shock. However, a fairly cushioned midsole and formed insole will help propel the foot and keep you stable.
  2. Great Fit: The fit is just as important as a shoe’s function. For instance, a great fitting shoe will not only remain comfortable over long journeys, it will stop your feet from sliding and thus prevent fatigue. Thus, choose a snug fitting shoe to keep your feet stable.
  3. Lightweight: A heavy hiking or backpacking boot is not necessary while traveling over sand. In fact, you’ll become tired much quicker with the added resistance of sandy terrain. So, boots or shoes weighing less than 2 pounds each are ideal.
  4. Breathable Upper: Because sand dunes are likely to be hot, breathable mesh and non-waterproof materials will serve you well on the sand. Additionally, breathable materials will prevent excess sweat, and thus loads of blisters and pruny feet after a long day on the dunes.
  5. Ankle Support: For those with previous ankle strain or repetitive-use injury boots with good ankle support are ideal. Not only will a mid-height boot provide stability over long distances, it also keeps out sand. However, depending on your needs, a lightweight and stretchy water shoe may be just right for short hikes.

Our Favorite Shoes for Sand Dunes Are…

Sand dunes are tricky to navigate and quickly become fantastically exhausting, especially in the wrong shoes. Which is why we’ve put together this post. We’ve thoroughly tested some of the best footwear for the job, and the below deserve special mention:

Best shoe for long treks: Lowa Tibet LL Trekking Boot

Our favorite lightweight hiker: Adidas Terrex AX3

Best casual day shoe: Watelves Sport.5 Sand Shoe

While these are our top picks, we wanted to give you a more detailed run-down on our favorites below.

1. Lowa Tibet LL Trekking Boot

With a robust design and a snug fit, the Lowa Tibet LL Trekking Boot offers excellent durability and unparalleled comfort. 

Which is why this is our top pick for those taking the dunes seriously

Secure Laces and Ankle Stability

First, if you want to avoid sand getting into your shoes, you need something that has a secure closure. Fortunately, the laces on these boots are super snug and once tied, will not keep coming loose.

As well as offering protection from sand, the laces create an excellent level of support over the instep.

And, the Lowa Tibet LL provides an excellent amount of stability in the ankle. Which will help hikers avoid lots of lateral movement of the heel and thus avoid fatigue and injury.

We’ve found this boot to be a formidable opponent to the dunes, regardless of the journey’s length.

Vibram Sole

Additionally, one of the most important aspects of any shoe that its suitable for unpredictable terrain. Thankfully, these shoes are fitted with a Vibram sole which is one of the most remarkable in for hikers.

Not only does the Tibet LL grant excellent traction, hikers find this sole to be extremely durable.

As a result, hikers, especially those traveling on unstable ground, will find a great amount of flexibility and versatility in this boot.

Breathable

In addition, the Tibet LL upper is made from durable leather which results in a pair of shoes that are very long-lasting. However, couple this with the perforated lining and you have a pair of shoes that are also very breathable!

Not only this, but the footbed is super breathable too and prevents moisture build-up. Which, when you’re on the dunes, you’ll find is essential to prevent slipping and blisters.

Lowa Tibet LL Trekking Boot Pros and Cons

Lowa Tibet LL Trekking Boot PROS

  • Great for heavy packs
  • Contoured tongue for reduced debris in the shoe
  • Crampon compatible making them versatile
  • Good ankle stability
  • Comfortable arch support

Lowa Tibet LL Trekking Boot CONS

  • Size runs large
  • On the heavy side at 4 lbs per pair
  • May need breaking in

Who is This Shoe Perfect For?

For people who need a heavier, more durable, and highly protective pair of walking shoes, these would make the perfect addition to your outdoor wardrobe. Check out more information, including styles and current pricing, here: Lowa Women’s Tibet LL Trekking Boot and the Lowa Men’s Tibet LL Trekking Boot

2. Adidas Terrex AX3

Next on our list is our favorite lightweight option for hikers. The Adidas Terrex AX3 incredibly light and very stylish for hikers who want the best of both worlds.

Lightweight

Lots of us prefer to move lighter on our feet, especially when hiking over sand dunes. The Adidas Terrex are great for tackling challenging terrain without experiencing fatigue.

This is thanks to their lightweight design, using comfortable materials without compromising on support.

And, at just 15oz per shoe, this is an ideal hiker for those looking for a lighter option.

Extreme Comfort

Furthermore, those lightweight materials are fantastically comfortable.

These shoes are fitted with a light EVA midsole which provides wonderful comfort with every step.

While the ground underfoot may be soft, there is a chance of stepping on a buried rock or other pieces of debris. Especially when heading into the tree line or through a parking lot.

But with this shock-absorbing midsole, hikers feel confident on any terrain.

Waterproof

Looking at the design of these shoes you might be mistaken in thinking that they couldn’t possibly keep your feet dry. Visually, they look more like a pair of hi-top sneakers but that is merely a disguise.

What the Adidas Terrex really are, is a pair of highly waterproof and robust shoes that will take on every challenge that your adventures throw at them.

Thanks to a GoreTex lining, you won’t need to worry if the weather changes. However, this waterproofing may prove to be a little hot for some hikers. We found it to be just right, especially when paired with a good pair of merino wool socks.

Pros and Cons of the Adidas Terrex AX3

Adidas Terrex AX3 PROS

  • Stylish design
  • Lightweight at 15 oz per foot
  • Good traction
  • Waterproof

Adidas Terrex AX3 CONS

  • Fits narrow
  • Laces could be better
  • Waterproofing loses some breathability

Who Would Love This Shoe?

For people who don’t want a heavy or intrusive shoe, the Terrex would make a great choice. This shoe is comfortable, lightweight and offer a decent level of durability making it ideal for lighter hobby trekkers rather than serious adventurers. Check out more information, including styles and current pricing, here: Adidas Men’s Terrex AX3 and the Adidas Women’s Terrex AX3

3. Watelves Sport.5 Sand Shoe

For those searching for the freedom of an easy-going slip-on, the Watelves Sport.5 Sand Shoe is a great option. If you are going to be spending a lot of time on the beach then these shoes will provide you with the lightweight, waterproof protection that you need.

Quick-Drying

Time spent on a sandy beach won’t always be the dry, which is why we would choose a pair of shoes that prevents sad, saturated feet.

And, as the name would suggest, these are made from quick-drying lycra stretch that offers breathability and flex.

We find these to be super breathable and perfect for all weather; rain or shine! 

Great Control

Where a boot may provide ankle stability, a low profile shoe grants loads of control. We found the Watelves to be exceptional for running and quick maneuvering on the dunes. 

While this shoe isn’t the best for arch support an long hiking on hard ground, it shines on sand. Especially with its low tread and barefoot style, your feet can stretch and offer greater stability.

Versatile

We absolutely recommend these shoes for hiking sand dunes, but what really caught our eye is how versatile they are.

Thanks to their lightweight and barefoot design, these sand shoes are ideal for a variety of activities.

From the dunes to poolside, from yoga to cycling, you get so much more than expected with this shoe.

Pros and Cons of the Watelves Sport.5 Sand Shoe

Watelves Sport.5 Sand Shoe PROS

  • Lightweight
  • Breathable
  • Easy to put on

Watelves Sport.5 Sand Shoe CONS

  • Durability isn’t excellent
  • Don’t offer a great amount of protection
  • Sizes run small

Who Would This Shoe be Perfect For?

For anyone who needs a pair of shoes that can be easily stored in their pack, these lightweight sand shoes are a dream. The Watelves Sport.5 is ideal for those looking for a super breathable and agile shoe. View more information, including styles and current pricing, here: Watelves Unisex Sport.5 Sand Shoe

4. Lowa Zephyr Mid Hiking Boots

Next, we have the Lowa Zephyr Mid Hiking Boot. This awesome hiker offers a great amount of stability and are ideal for those who require something a little more robust.

Hikers love these for their great support and stability when walking across dunes. 

However, these are just as adept for hiking trails and other types of terrain.

Quick Drying Lining

If you meet unexpected wet sand or there is a sudden downpour, there is a good chance your boots may become wet inside. Not only is this uncomfortable but it could cause them to chafe.

Fortunately, these boots have a quick-dry lining that gives you the confidence that your feet will always be comfortable.

This is especially important for mediating sweat buildup.

Comfortable Footbed

Navigating the sand dunes could put a lot of pressure on your feet. While the sand may be soft, the terrain is tricky to walk on.

This means you need additional comfort inside the shoe and the Lowa hiking boots offer this by the bucket-load. 

This boot features a super-soft foam footbed that molds to your feet.

Furthermore, the this insole its equipped with a breathable lining so your comfort is increased with a fresh and airy feeling. 

Robust Design

For those who are serious about hiking, durability is one of the most important factors.

And, these hiking boots are made from tough materials including a robust rubber sole, reinforced seams, and a supple upper.

As a result, Lowa has made an incredibly reliable boot that hikers adore for their comfort and support.

Lowa Zephyr Mid Hiking Boots Pros and Cons

Lowa Zephyr Mid Hiking Boots PROS

  • Increased stability
  • Breathable
  • Very secure laces
  • Incredible support
  • Comfortable construction
  • Libghtweight at 2 lb 6.75oz per pair

Lowa Zephyr Mid Hiking Boots CONS

  • Need to be broken in
  • Can be squeaky

Who Would Love This Shoe?

People who are serious hikers and need something that will match their sense of adventure would do well with these boots. Check out more information, including styles and current pricing, here: Lowa Men’s Zephyr Mid Hiking Boots and the Lowa Women’s Zephyr Mid Hiking Boots

5. Merrell Jungle Moc Light

For those of us that don’t mind a bit of shoe-emptying along the trail, the Merrell Jungle Moc Light is one of the most comfortable for the journey.

With all the features of a heavier hiking shoe, the Merrell Jungle Moc is a lightweight option for those who want comfortable support.

Durable

The Merrell Jungle Mocs are made from a robust suede leather that is resistant to staining and marking. 

And, this is a very durable option for use in sand. Not only that, a solid upper will keep sound out of your toes, unlike a mesh athleticshoe.

Additionally, inside the shoe, there is a heavy sock lining for added comfort, durability, and protection.

Overall, this shoe is a fantastic option for a casual stroll on sand. However, expect a fair amount of shoe-emptying with their low ankle profile.

EVA Midsole

Furthermore, if you are looking for something that provides optimum comfort, then these are an excellent choice.

Thanks to the soft yet supportive EVA midsole, this shoe molds to the shape of your foot.

Hikers have found this shoe to be excellent for shock absorption. And, while this isn’t absolutely needed on the dunes, its ideal for the time in-between hikes.

Additionally, we found that the shape of this construction helps hikers push off from sandy terrain and gain momentum.

Excellent Traction

Finally, one thing that caught our eye was how grippy they are. The Jungle Moc features a rubber sole that comes right up the sides of the shoe, giving you grip from every angle.

Not only does this offer great traction, it also gives a decent level of protection for the arch and makes the soles incredibly durable.

Merrell Jungle Moc Light Pros and Cons

Merrell Jungle Moc Light PROS

  • Very durable
  • Easy to put on
  • Footbed molds to the foot
  • Great for heel strikers
  • Lightweight

Merrell Jungle Moc Light CONS

  • Not suitable for those with flat feet
  • Will require a bit of emptying in deep sand

Who are These Shoes Perfect For?

The Merrell Jungle Moc is a practical shoe that is great for people who want the advantages that a hiking boot can offer in a more lightweight and easy-on shoe. View more information, including styles and current pricing, here: Merrell Men’s Jungle Moc Light and the Merrell Women’s Jungle Moc Light

6. Timberland White Ledge Mid Ankle Boot

Finally, the Timberland White Ledge Mid Ankle Boot combines style with comfort and a waterproof design. Thus, these versatile, on-trend shoes are great for a day hike through even the most difficult sand dunes.

Secure Laces

Firstly, having laces that remain secure from the moment you tighten them is imperative in keeping the foot stable and protected. And, the laces on these boots offer excellent support that comfortably supports the midfoot.

As a result, the White Ledge is superb for keeping the foot seated properly when moving over arduous terrain.

Hikers find this boot feels like a glove when maneuvering and is a dream on all the common pressure points.

Excellent Grip

With strong rubber soles, these boots are able to get a very secure grip on the ground with every step.

This is excellent news for those tackling terrain like sand which can be notoriously difficult to find your footing on.

Not only do you get great traction but the soles are incredibly durable too.

Breathable

Finally, we’ve found this boot to be super breathable, which was very welcomed on the dunes.

The Timberland White Ledge features a leather upper with a mesh lining for breathability and moisture-wicking.

As a result, this makes them great for all seasons and prevents excess moisture, including sweat, from building up inside the boot.

Timberland White Ledge Mid Ankle Boot Pros and Cons

Timberland White Ledge Mid Ankle Boot PROS

  • Waterproof
  • Removable footbed
  • Lightweight at 18oz per pair
  • Comfortable 
  • Padded tongue
  • Durable construction

Timberland White Ledge Mid Ankle Boot CONS

  • Need to be broken in
  • Runs narrow
  • Size runs small

Who Would This Unit be Perfect For?

These shoes would make a great addition to your outdoor gear if you like to have full protection and waterproofing but need something a little more lightweight. View more information, including styles and current pricing, here: Men’s Timberland White Ledge Mid Ankle Boot and the Women’s Timberland White Ledge Mid Ankle Boot

Before Picking Your Shoes for the Beach or Desert

When heading to the dunes, you know you’ll need a great set of shoes for a comfortable trip. And, the task of choosing can be daunting. However, keep the following points in mind and be sure to choose shoes that offer:

  • Good Cushioning: A fairly cushioned midsole and formed insole will help propel the foot and keep you stable.
  • A Great Fit. A great fitting shoe will remain comfortable over long journeys and prevent fatigue. 
  • Lightweight construction. Boots or shoes weighing less than 2 pounds each are ideal.
  • A breathable upper. Breathable materials will prevent excess sweat, and thus loads of blisters and puny feet after a long day on the dunes.
  • Great ankle support. A mid-height boot provides stability over long distances and keeps out sand. However, a lightweight and stretchy water shoe may be just right if you’re not prone to rolling your ankles.

Whichever shoe you choose, be sure it’s comfortable and suits the terrain you intend to cross. 

The Dunes are Calling

Walking on sand dunes gives you a beautiful view and allows you to get back in touch with nature in its rawest form. However, the ground underfoot is anything but friendly so you need a pair of reliable and comfortable shoes. Choosing the right shoes for sand dunes will give you a better grip, greater comfort, and an overall more enjoyable experience.

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