Can I Hike In Toe Shoes

toe shoes are not the best option for long and rocky hikes

Every hiker knows the importance of proper footwear. Going on a hike is an amazing adventure and a whole-body workout. But, feet are the ones who carry all the burden. Hiking and trekking shoes are so popular that people want to use them daily. Luckily there are various hiking shoe options. Many people ask themselves “can I hike in toe shoes?”.

Some hikers say it’s okay to go on shorter hikes in toe shoes. But, after a while they reported soreness. Toe shoes don’t have strong soles, so they might not be the best option for long hikes on rough terrain.

So, today’s topic will cover more info about toe shoes and provide some alternative footwear.

Table of Contents

What Are Toe Shoes?

Toe shoes go under the category of minimalists shoes. Most famous on the market are Vibram’s FiveFingers. The idea was to make footwear that could fit snugly around feet.

These shoes have separate places for all five toes and they provide a person to move all of them freely.

For example, the sole of the FiveFingers is made of plated rubber so the feet can have protection and a better grip.

These shoes should be able to provide protection on various terrains and still obtain high comfort. They should give you the ability to recognize different surfaces.

It feels different to walk on grass and on some pebbles.

These toe shoes should give you the barefoot feel while still guarding your feet from nasty terrains.

Are There Benefits of Toe Shoes?

Some studies showed that wearing a traditional pair of shoes can lower the sense of the terrain and that it can lead to potential injuries.

But, as said, Vibram’s toe shoes can make a better feel for surroundings and therefore protect feet.

Given the history of human walking, people sometimes used to stroll barefoot, and the main purpose of our toes is to have a better grip on various terrains.

So, this means the foot can adjust to the surroundings. Toe shoes, such as FiveFingers can help you feel the ground better while you can walk steadily.

When feet come across some obstacle, a stone for example, if you’re barefoot the foot will bend over and you might be able to avoid twisting it.

But, with regular shoes, because of the lack of feeling it may happen to get some sprain.

Can You Hike in Toe Shoes?

When it comes to hiking in toe shoes the opinions are varied.

Some hikers say they enjoy doing this activity in these minimalist shoes, but others say they feel soreness and rocks hitting their soles.

So, is it okay to hike in these shoes? Well, that depends from person to person. But, it’s always best to have an additional pair of regular hiking shoes attached to your backpack.

That way if you get tired or sore in your toe shoes you can easily change into a more comfortable option.

With this in mind, never go on long and rocky hikes with just toe shoes by your side. If possible, generally have two pairs of footwear when hiking.

Are There Any Toe Shoes Alternatives?

For all those who aren’t fans of toe shoes, but still love to feel nature on their feet, there is a solution. Hiking sandals.

Even if it sounds a bit unexpected, they are legit and many outdoor enthusiasts use them. So, in the following text take a look at some useful info regarding hiking sandals.

Benefits of Hiking Sandals

Hiking in sandals really comes with some nice benefits. Check them out and see if they suit you.

Less Blister Risk

Having your feet in socks all day long within closed footwear eventually will result in feet sweat. This doesn’t have to do anything with footwear type or feet, all people get sweaty feet. Some more than others, but the sweat is inevitable.

So, feet’ sweat plus friction bring you a painful hike followed by blisters.

By wearing hiking sandals you will have more breathable feet and therefore they will sweat less. So by having drier feet you will be at lower risk of blisters.

You might still have some spots on your feet that can become sore from straps, but you’ll be able to treat them easier than with regular closed shoes.

Be sure to take an athletic tape with you, so you can make protection on your feet, and that way prevents blisters.


If you don’t like heavy footwear, then sandals may be a good option for you. They are pretty lightweight so they won’t add on more burden to your hiking trip. So, having some energy-saving sandals can come in handy.

Easier Debris Removing

Having tiny pebbles stuck in the soles is no one’s idea of fun. Especially when they won’t fall from your soles by themselves. So, you need to stop your hike, sit and remove them with your hands.

Well, with sandals say goodbye to stuck pebbles.

You may get some pebbles in your sandals but they will naturally come out while you’re walking.

Easy Water Crossing

Do you hate when you need to completely remove your footwear in order to cross a stream? Plus, after this event, comes another – waiting for your feet to dry. It can be a quite dull and slowing-down-your-hike process.

But with hiking sandals as your best friends, you won’t need to wait for your feet to dry, neither you would need to remove footwear. Instead, you will happily splash your feet with refreshing water and move on.

Note: Be sure to pack a towel for your hike, that way you could dry your feet faster if you want. Plus, you will prevent a blister from forming, as it can be a result of wet feet.

Hiking Sandals Downsides

Like everything in life, hiking in sandals comes with some downsides. But, if you’re aware of them, you’ll be less frustrated. So, take a look at some common sandal issues you may experience.

Exposed Toes

A freedom that comes with your toes wiggling freely may come with a price. You must beware of potential danger, that way you can protect yourself. Various things in nature may come across your bare toes. So, check out some of them.

  • Rocks. Have you ever stepped on a Lego? Well, this is a hundred times worse. Stepping with almost bare skin on a rock is very unpleasant. In the best-case scenario, you’ll end up with a bruise, in worse, with an open wound. So, to prevent this from happening, make sure to watch as you step and hike carefully.
  • Sunburned skin. Don’t think your tootsies are sun-resistant. You can get really bad sunburns on your feet. So, it’s best to have a good sunscreen with high SPF. Apply it thoroughly on top parts of your feet every few hours.
  • Cold feet. Most people think about cold feet when they hear about hiking sandals. That’s true, you can get really cold from bare feet during colder months, or just colder days. Luckily, you can prevent this, but under one condition. You would need to wear sandals and socks – together. Yes, we know, not pretty. But, like every true outdoor lover, you should have comfort and safety as a top priority and leave fashion trends at home.
  • Snake bites. Even though snake bites are not that common, bare feet carry greater risk for this to happen. It’s important to know that snakes don’t want to harm you, they do it because they are afraid of you. So, stay away from them and don’t interact. That means for all wildlife you may come across. Give wildlife space and respect nature. Be sure to check this snake bites fact sheet.

Broken straps

Having a broken hiking shoe is not that bad, but if you break any strap on your hiking sandals, you have a problem. That’s why it is important to have some high-quality hiking sandals, that way you can lessen the risk of a broken strap.

But, be sure to have some duct tape by your side, that way you might be able to repair sandals if they break. Also, always take hiking boots with you, that way you can swap footwear for whatever reasons.

Hiking Sandals or Toe Shoes?

If you love to be in touch with nature, you’ve probably considered hiking sandals or toe shoes. They are quite different, but still, both of them make feet freer than standard hiking boots.

If you don’t love bare feet, but want to try more natural footwear, you can try toe shoes. But, bear in mind they are a bit pricey, and your feet won’t be safe as with standard hiking shoes.

On the other hand, if you love to wiggle your toes in the light breeze, try some hiking sandals. Have in mind, you need to pay attention to hot spots, and keep your feet dry to avoid blisters.

The Bottom Line

Choosing proper hiking footwear is extremely important. If you plan to have a great adventure, you need to be fully equipped with the essentials. And shoes are one of those.

So, whichever hiking footwear you opt for, make sure it fits you right and make you comfortable. Always check for footwear options in the hiking shoe store. People who work there should be able to give you some great tips regarding hiking footwear.

Whether you choose hiking boots, sandals, or toe shoes, never go on a hike without an extra pair of regular shoes in your backpack. These can come in handy if those two types fail to support your feet properly.

So, take care, walk freely and enjoy your hike.

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