Our guide to the best summer footwear

BBC Countryfile Magazine's resident fit expert Joe Pontin tests out the best summer footwear, from aquatic sandals to lightweight boots. 

Walkers on the Cleveland Way. (Photo by: Loop Images/UIG via Getty Images)


Cypress women’s sandal, Keen, £64.99


A supportive arch and grippy soles make these suitable for light summer walks, but they are also designed to cope with a soaking at the seaside.

Men’s Terra VG Cerro sandals, Ecco, £100

These sandals are designed to cope with long walks on rough ground. There’s a substantial toecap to protect you; chunky, grippy soles; and a supportive insole.

Women’s Offroad Lite Sandal, Ecco, £85

Designed built with a grippy rubber outer sole and comfortable insole, these lightweight sandals from Danish firm ECCO should keep your feet cool and comfortable on summer walks.

Hudson Rubber Flip Flop, Bogs, £30

I’ve never got on with flip-flops, but have to admit they come into their own when camping or spending time on the beach. These tough rubber sandals have a comfortable, resilient insole, which is treated to reduce odours. Lots of rather sober colour options available for men, brighter ones for women. The women’s version has a double strap.

All Out Blaze Sieve shoes, Merrell, £85

A shoe/sandal hybrid that copes with both dry and wet conditions, the Blaze is very comfortable and lightweight to wear. Well-ventilated leather and fabric uppers combine with a grippy and durable Vibram sole. Men’s and women’s versions available.

Approach shoes

Comfort Low GTX Surround Shoe, £140, Mammut

For many outdoor adventures big clumpy walking boots are unnecessary, especially in summer. Comfort and function are the watchwords with these shoes from Swiss firm Mammut. With soft, bouncy insoles and generous “upholstering”, it’s a little like wearing little sofas on your feet (well, lightweight sofas: just 725g the pair). Technically they have a lot to recommend them, including a waterproof membrane called GTX Surround, designed to protect feet from the rain while improving ventilation, keep them cool in summer. The soles are in Gripex, softer than Vibram, which makes for sure footing on wet rock.

Capra Sport Gore-Tex shoes, Merrell, £125

These shoes have chunky, hard Vibram soles with substantial rubber cladding around toe and heel, making them the most protective of the three approach shoes in this list. A Gore-Tex membrane repels water. They have a distinctly stiff construction and a rather quirky fit on my (admittedly) quirky feet, so try before you buy. If the racy – even muscular – styling don’t appeal, other colours are available.

X-SO 30 GTX Shoe, Meindl, £145

Distinctly nimble and sporty compared to the Mammuts above, these lean and low-cut shoes are ideal for travelling fast and light over rough ground. They boast the same Gore-Tex surround waterproofing, keeping feet relatively cool on the move in summer. They look and feel a bit like trainers, with supple, breathable uppers, but with a distinctly stiffer sole. The treads are not chunky but are slightly softer than Vibram, making them a little more grippy on wet rock. For walking in good summer weather on hard-ish ground, shoes like these are probably all you need.


QUEST ORIGINS GTX walking boot, Salomon, £170

Sometimes weather or terrain mean that only a pair of proper walking boots will do. Many walkers these days want the support and protection of a traditional boot – combined with lighter weight for use in mild to warm conditions. This Salomon boot is certainly supportive, with a high-ish ankle that feels particularly secure. With a stiff construction the priority is protection, but doesn’t compromise comfort; I wore them without breaking them in and suffered no ill effects. At 1280g the pair, they are lighter than my beloved old leather Zamberlans, which weigh more like 2kg.


Main image credit: Loop Images/ Contributor