Summer Sandals for Runners

It’s a problem shared by many of us.  We wear ~8mm running shoes (or “work” shoes) for many hours a day during the fall and winter, then transition to spending a lot of time in sandals during the spring and summer.  Often times, those are flip flops with a zero drop, and before long, we’re limping out of bed with sore Achilles tendons.  

Just like transitioning to zero drop running shoes, you have two options: Make the change slowly and carefully, or don’t do it all. After wearing 6-10mm drop shoes for months on end then trying to wear my old school Flojo sandals 12 hours a day, my Achilles flared up and took me off the trails for awhile so I started looking for summer footwear with a real drop–something more similar to my running shoes. I’ve been wearing “real” sandals for 8 weeks now–a combination of the examples below–and have noticed an incredible improvement.

Unfortunately, I quickly found that sandals don’t offer “drop” information on websites, so I’ve done the legwork and provided info that’ll hopefully help ease some (leg) pain.

Here are a few options:

HOKA Ora Recovery Slides

hoka ora

Price: $50

Drop: 6mm, per the site. (The only example on this list where the drop was listed. All others I had to go thru manufacturer to try to find info.)

Feel: Very similar to Oofos, but a bit less cushy.

Trail Usage: Not recommended for trail or wet surfaces.

Durability: Bottoms have held up pretty well, but unfortunately I caught the upper webbing on something and tore it in the first week.  It hasn’t spread.

Overall: I like them, but they seem too similar to Oofos. 

Purchasing Info: Please visit your local owned, independent run specialty store. If they don’t carry them, hit up this affiliate link. Amazon has a great return policy and it’ll drop a few nickels into the URP bucket. Thanks.


Chaco Z/Cloud

chaco z/cloud

Price: $110

Drop: Not sure, but guessing ~6mm. Surprisingly, Chaco’s are all 0 drop per their Development Team. “What you see when you look at the side profile of our product is the midsole heel raisers which is part of the heel cup support system, but the bottom of our heel cup is not higher than our forefoot.”

Feel: Excellent. Quite heavy, but hugs feet well.

Trail Usage: Excellent. Proprietary outsole is great for all conditions.

Durability: Fantastic. This is my first pair and I’ve worn them a lot over varied conditions for the past few months. Zero sign of problems.  Very positive expectations.

Overall: Only example on list where I have to “put them on” rather than “slide them on.” Excellent overall. Creates funky tan lines.

Purchasing Info: Please go see your local, independently owned running store.  If they don’t carry them, check out this affiliate link. Amazon has a great return policy and it’ll drop a few nickels into the URP bucket. Thanks!



Oofos Ooahh Sandals


Price: $45

Drop: 6mm, per manufacturer.

Feel: Super soft they’ve earned the nickname “HOKA sandals.”

Trail Usage: Not for trails or wet conditions. 

Durability: I’ve had mine for 3 years and though they’re getting worn down, they’re still wearable.

Overall: I got these at Outdoor Retailer a few years ago and still have them. They’re beat up, but they’re light, they float, they’re still semi-cushy, and the drop still helps relieve my Achilles.

Buying information: Please visit your locally owned independent run specialty store. If they don’t carry them, please visit this Affiliate link.


Keen Waimea H2

keen Waimea

Price: $60 (but $30 on Amazon right now)

Drop: 6mm per manufacturer.

Feel: Flip flop feel with the added benefit of the covered toe.

Trail Usage: Not great. Minimal tread, but the covered toe does protect you when you kick rocks. Much better than standard flip-flops.

Durability: I had a pair of these a few years ago and wore the hell out of them. Probably 200 days out of the year for a few years straight. Seriously bulletproof…unless you leave them on the beach in Moloka’i and they fall victim to tides. D’oh!

Overall: For “slip-ons” these are my favorite. As someone who’s been called clumsy on not just one occasion, the toe guard really is a nice feature. Highly recommended.

Purchasing Information: Please visit your local, independently-owned running store. If they don’t carry them, hop on over to this affiliate link.  Amazon has a great return policy and it’ll drop a few nickels into the URP bucket. 

Have you experienced the painful transition from shoes to sandals? If so, what helped mitigate the problem? 

Did I miss any major–or particularly effective–brands or model of sandals in the list?


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