The Claim: Anti-slip outsole, adjustable straps, and a molded footbed make for a sandal that is both comfortable and sturdy enough for mountain living.
Field Test: When visiting Vermont’s watering holes, most of which require some sort of hike-in, beach sandals don’t cut it. I wore the Olukai Holomua for a week in and around Stratton Mountain, eventually giving them a true Green Mountain test on a hike to Pike’s Falls. Tightening the velcro straps kept the shoes snug as I navigated the steep, narrow path to the falls, while the segmented outsole kept me from slipping on large, slick boulders. The molded footbed, which is similar to a custom orthotic, added serious support to my arches throughout. The takeaway: Pricey, but worth the investment.
Why It’s Timeless: The Holomua is tested and approved by the Hawaiian Lifeguard Association, which trains and works on the mountain trails and beaches of Hawaii’s North Shore. —Rich Stoner
The Claim: Tread meets trend with the ’Upena, a leather sandal with a grippy, durable rubber outsole and comfortable, customizable fit.
Field Test: The ’Upena is a good-looking shoe, but there’s more to it than style: The leather straps offer ankle support, while the sole was immediately comfy. On a weeklong trip to Alaska, my hiking shoes and these sandals were all I brought—after long treks in the rain, not only we’re these shoes easy to slip into, but they also offer real support and traction in a downpour (make sure to treat the leather for additional weather protection).
Why It’s Timeless: Most leather sandals I’ve owned don’t last two festivals without warping, let alone an entire summer’s worth; my ’Upenas are still in great condition, and I wouldn’t hesitate to wear them out to dinner or to a casual summer wedding. —Kiran Herbert
Men’s Nohea Moku
The Claim: A nautically inspired shoe that’s made for movement thanks to its lightweight, canvas mesh upper and nonslip outsole.
Field Test: Although not technically a mountain shoe, the Nohea Moku’s quick drying and non-slip properties work whether you’re boating on a high Alpine lake, bouldering on slippery rock, or playing in a swimming hole. The shoe’s sturdy outsole, gel footbed, and bootie-like fit made them ideal for walking around under waterfalls, or any other situation where sharp, tiny wet rocks make up the ground.
Why it’s Timeless: Even when completely soaked, the Nohea’s mesh canvas drains water efficiently—mine dried completely in around 15 minutes. —R.S.
Unisex ’Eleu Trainer
The Claim: Olukai calls the ’Eleu a lightweight, agile, amphibious shoe that provides cushion and support, and sheds water fast.
Field Test: With a pair of socks the ’Eleu are sturdy enough for light trail jaunts, yet they’re also comfortable enough to slip on for walks around town. Make no mistake though, the ’Eleu is made for the water, ideal for kayaking, waterfall hikes, or any combination of hot weather and uneven ground. On a recent rafting trip on Colorado’s Arkansas River, I easily navigated the slippery, rocky bank—throughout the trip, these shoes felt like an extension of my foot and when we were done, they dried quickly with no residual odor. The best part though? Small pebbles and gunk can’t get in.
Why It’s Timeless: At half a pound or less, there’s no reason to not clip these on to your pack. —K.H.