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Hiking Boots or Hiking Sandals?

Alabama
Level Contributor
1,940 posts
134 reviews
110 helpful votes
Hiking Boots or Hiking Sandals?

I have a pair of Keen hiking sandals that are very comfortable. I have mostly worn them when I've hiked in the mountains (Smokies and Glacier.) Would I really need something with more ankle support? I do have boots and it will be the first of October so I'm not sure which would be the best to wear. Keep in mind we don't plan on hiking all the way to the bottom but we do want to get "below the rim." So what are your suggestions?

Mesa, AZ
Level Contributor
1,402 posts
165 reviews
111 helpful votes
1. Re: Hiking Boots or Hiking Sandals?

I have never worn hiking sandals, but I would think you would have very dirty, irritated feet if you are hiking down into the canyon. And, I can't imagine making the hike without support.

Sedona, Arizona
Destination Expert
for Sedona, Arizona, Monument Valley
Level Contributor
71,629 posts
250 reviews
250 helpful votes
2. Re: Hiking Boots or Hiking Sandals?

The trails below the rim are all sand and dust. At the very least I would wear something with a closed toe. If having sand and dirt inside of your shoes or sandals might be uncomfortable, then I'd recommend traditional shoes or boots.

Foot comfort and care should be a top priority when hiking in the Grand Canyon. Foot discomfort or irritations and injuries will spoil a GC vacation faster than anything else. This includes walking and exploring above the rim as well. Visitors to the GCNP must be able to walk short distances on relatively level ground as a minimum. If you can't do this, you will not be able to view or enjoy the Grand canyon.

Ann Arbor, Michigan
Destination Expert
for Grand Canyon National Park
Level Contributor
8,668 posts
16 reviews
15 helpful votes
3. Re: Hiking Boots or Hiking Sandals?

When you say Keen "hiking sandals", are you talking about something like Keen Venice or Newports?

If you're comfortable hiking in them and you're talking about hiking down Bright Angel or South Kaibab for a mile or two, I think you'll be fine in terms of support. You can also use basic gym/running shoes as well. The trails are very dry with loose pebbles/dirt so open sandals like Keens, Tevas, etc. might get some pebbles in them.

Also, Bright Angel is very dusty and be aware that it's used by mule trains and you'll be stepping through/around their "business" on the trail.

Non-corridor trails like Hermit and Grandview, on the other hand, are much rockier. I'd wear something with a little more protection like a trail shoe or closed gym/running shoe.

Beginning of October will still be quite warm once you get off the rim. Chilly mornings and nights at the rim; T-shirts and shorts a mile or two down.

Alabama
Level Contributor
1,940 posts
134 reviews
110 helpful votes
4. Re: Hiking Boots or Hiking Sandals?

They are like the ones in the middle of this picture. coseegreatlakes.net/weblog/wp-content/upload…

They do have an enclosed toe and I normally put on a pair of socks with them (I know, fashion faux pas LOL)

Ann Arbor, Michigan
Destination Expert
for Grand Canyon National Park
Level Contributor
8,668 posts
16 reviews
15 helpful votes
5. Re: Hiking Boots or Hiking Sandals?

What I always recommend first is to wear something that you *know* you can walk 2-3 hours in. There's just no point in wearing something that someone *else* is comfortable hiking in.

Corridor trails are well maintained. No rocky scrambles that require boots. I think you'll find, though, that the trails are harder on your feet than the alpine (mountain) trails.

Alabama
Level Contributor
1,940 posts
134 reviews
110 helpful votes
6. Re: Hiking Boots or Hiking Sandals?

I feel much more comfortable in the sandals. I've worn them often but they aren't worn out yet. I did one 8 mile hike in the smokies in them and my feet felt better than the rest of me did. LOL

Chicago
Destination Expert
for Pompano Beach
Level Contributor
4,873 posts
85 reviews
72 helpful votes
7. Re: Hiking Boots or Hiking Sandals?

I don't know if you need to worry about hiker's toe, if you are only traveling a short way down. Some of the support you need is to keep your foot well aligned within your shoe.

Evanston, Wyoming
Destination Expert
for Page, Grand Canyon National Park
Level Contributor
5,689 posts
161 reviews
111 helpful votes
8. Re: Hiking Boots or Hiking Sandals?

If just going a short distance down the trail, I'd say the sandals are fine. I've done short walks in shoes like Tevas, but nothing more. Anything further than 1 mile down, I prefer to wear sturdier (close-toed) shoes. As others have alluded to, the trail gets very dusty the further down you go, and the Keens (which I love too) won't give you enough coverage to keep the dirt off your feet. Also, I personally have weak ankles, and the deeper areas of the inner canyon trails (even the maintained ones) can have deep ruts in them (a.ka. "ankle sprainers"). A pair of even light hiking boots will give you the ankle support you need.

Park City, Utah
Level Contributor
341 posts
5 reviews
21 helpful votes
9. Re: Hiking Boots or Hiking Sandals?

We hiked out from the river up Bright Angel Trail after our raft trip last year. My DH was insistent on wearing his comfortable Teva sandals rather than his enclosed hiking shoes. I thought he would pay the price (e.g. stones in them, blisters) but other than very dirty feet he had no problems. I chose my hiking boots which I thought were more suitable but I really think it comes down to it, wear what is well worn in, gives support and feels most comfortable for you.

birmingham, mi
Level Contributor
87 posts
6 reviews
4 helpful votes
10. Re: Hiking Boots or Hiking Sandals?

My wife used those sandles when we were at the Grand Canyon and Sedona last month. We hiked an average of 5-6 miles a day (most of it on the rim at the GC). She was absolutely comfortable in the snadles and had no problems at all.