The choice between hiking sandals and boots depends on the type of hiker and their preferred terrain. Those who frequently walk off the trail, who aren't careful and are likely to step on snakes and those who don't take care where they step are best off with more protective boots. However, those who stay on trail, are careful walkers, do plenty of hikes in more watery territory and are affected by the weight of their shoes will enjoy an open sandal.
When boots are worn to cross streams, they generally allow water into the shoe which, in the end, results in blisters. Since sandals are so light, they can be kept in a back pack for alternating during stream crossing, according to weather and at camp. Serious hikers are best off with both boots and sandals.
There are some aspects to look for in a good sandal. Nylon uppers are preferred by most because of their durability and ability to dry fast. However, leather can be chosen if the hiker is willing to look after it properly with regular application of a waterproofing agent. When leather gets wet it stretches and cracks.
Fabricators have developed some new materials for uppers, made from different types of plastics. These are generally durable and always water proof. Regardless of the type of upper chosen, it should have a number of adjustment points to assure a perfect fit and the ability to adjust straps according to steep up or down hill climbs.
Arch support is more important than most think. In the best hiking boots for women, an excellent supportive, padded arch support will play a large role in keeping the back straight during the walk. Padding brings a significant amount of shock absorption to protect the back, keeping the hiker free of pain.
The foot bed should be curved and its material as slip resistant as possible. The curve prevents the foot from moving around in the shoe, which becomes extremely important on long walks when blisters will spoil the day or even stop the hike. Of course, the sole needs to have excellent traction but the material its made from must be durable enough to retain that traction for years of long walking.
The durability of traction is one of the largest problems with shoes made for hikes. This is not because there is a lack of durable soles but because people don't know which materials they should be looking for. Today there are some remarkable new composites that retain the sole wonderfully.
Gum rubber loses its traction extremely quickly on long walks. It appears to be best to select one of the newer composite plastics on the market. They are usually branded with trademarked names, but generally it's quite easy to judge quality on sight.
Most sandals tailored for hikes don't come in half sizes. More often than not, people choose the smaller size to compensate for this but it's actually best to choose the larger one. This will be an efficient method as long as the upper fits perfectly. Hiking sandals that are half a size too large will provide better support.