Best Shoes For Sand Dunes: Complete Buying Guide & Key Points To Consider

“I don’t like sand.” said Anakin Skywalker in Star Wars II Attack of the Clones. “It’s coarse and rough and irritating and it gets everywhere.” Anakin may have been irritated by desert sands getting into the electronics he built. And people who walk on sand know irritating it is to have to get sand out of their shoes. Still, some people are still drawn to the sand.

These people are known as Team Dory due to something young Dory says in a flashback in Finding Dory. “I like sand. Sand is squishy.” Of course, Dory lives underwater, where sand would be squishy instead of being coarse and dry. Also, some fish swallow bits of sand to aid in digestion so naturally, a fish might like sand more than a desert-dwelling slave boy might.

I learned about different sand textures early. Like most kids, I had a sandbox to play in. My parents would put a tablecloth over it at sundown when it was time to go in. If it rained at night, the next day the sand would have the consistency of beach sand. It was perfect for making sandcastles. Not too muddy, not too loose and coarse.

Some sand dunes can be found on the beach and some can be found in the desert. Either one is an interesting landscape to hike across. Either way, you’ll need to bring plenty of water. (The seaside is a perfect illustration of “Water, water everywhere and not a drop to drink.”)

Whether sand is dry or squishy you don’t want it getting in your toes or burning your feet on, particularly hot days. If there are sharp objects hidden in the sand, even flip flops are better than nothing. You might want certain a kind of shoe for walking on sand.

best shoes for sand dunes

What to Look for in a Pair of Sand Walking Shoes

For the best beach walking experience, the most ideal shoes will be not only comfortable but safe and supportive as well. For walking short distances run of the mill rubber-soled thong sandals could work. However, for a good deal of walking seek out shoes that have a nice and flexible sole.

The upper part of the shoes can be open like a sandal or closed as with a gym shoe. That all depends on the individual’s preference. Closed kinds of sandals are very popular due to their ease of emptying out sand.

Waterproof materials such as jelly, rubber plastic, and Gore-Tex are perfect should there be an opportunity for the shoe to be exposed to a lot of water. The most stable of shoes generally are made with canvas and/or leather which will be fine wet but it is best if they are kept in the sand.

Beach shoes are for the beach, but for the desert, you may need boots. They don’t need to be heavy boots. You don’t want to wear boots that are so light they fall apart but a fabric boot should be both sturdy and breathable. Waterproofing will not be necessary in this case.

If the liner on your boots is Gore-Tex, you may have to change your socks several times during your trek to reduce blisters. It may seem counterproductive, but a pair of wool socks are great for hiking in the desert. They keep your feet blister-free. There are four very important things to remember when getting shoes for walking in the desert.

  • Fit Any good footwear should be the right size for your feet. If your shoes are ill-fitting and uncomfortable, you won’t get very far in them.
  • Cushioning The desert isn’t all soft sand. There are places that are tough and jagged. The most popular deserts to hike in have stones and petrified wood to climb over. You need cushioned shoes to get over them.
  • Keeping Out Sand Whether you walk in the desert of on the beach you want to keep sand out of your shoes. If you have a liner or gusset between the main body of the shoe and the tongue of the shoe that will make it harder for sand and other debris to get in.
  • Ankle Support. This is especially true if you have any previous problems with your ankles. If you have not had any previous ankle problems, mid-height boots will keep you from developing any.

The Reviews:

For this shoe review, we are going to do something a little out of the ordinary and go one step further. Instead of the usual five, let’s do six. The reason is that walking on desert sand is very different from walking on beach sand. So, let us review three desert boots and then three beach shoes.

For The Desert:

The best shoes to wear in the desert are, of course, desert boots. These shoes were first developed in World War II to assist British troops fighting in North Africa. Like the Breton sweater and leather bomber jacket, this previously military attire has become popular to wear for just about any occasion.

1. CLARKS Men’s Desert Boot 261382 Chukka

CLARKS Men's Desert Boot 261382 Chukka, Olive Suede, 115 M US

This shoe is a world-renowned cult classic. This iconic men’s desert boot made by the artisans at Clarks was largely inspired by the crepe-soled boots that were worn by the British officers in World War II.

Manufactured out of natural materials that include tumbled leather or suede for superior comfort, its perennial style, and crepe outsole has stayed the same for more than sixty years.

Features and Benefits:

The genuine plantation crepe outsole provides all-day comfort. The leather-covered EVA footbed keeps the feet comfortably dry. The suede counter provides stability to the heels.

The high-quality leather upper offers both breathability and protection. The two eyelets lace-up system is secure and adjustable without needing constant retying.

What We Like:

  • The shoes are extremely comfortable.
  • They are very durable.
  • The look is rugged, yet classy.
  • There is no break-in period.

What We Don’t:

  • They’re a little hard to get clean.
  • They tend to run large.

2. UGG ‘Leighton’ Chukka Boots

UGG Men's Leighton Chukka Boot, Chocolate, 9 3E US

Since the 80’s UGG has been a symbol of relaxed So-Cal culture. This particular Leighton Chukka happens to embody a sort of casual luxury, being snazzy yet comfortable and practical all at once. The boot is, in turn, timeless and traditional. It can be extravagant and yet somehow relaxed. It’s minimalist in a good way.

Features and Benefits:

The insoles are not only removable but interchangeable for convenience. The rubber sole is flexible and supportive. The wool insole lining wicks away moisture. The crepe outsole provides good traction on sand. The cotton laces are sturdy yet easy to tie. The high-quality leather is breathable.

What We Like:

  • The material is of very high quality
  • The boots are very versatile.
  • The interchangeable insoles are very convenient.
  • The shoes are very comfortable.
  • There is almost no break-in period.

What We Don’t:

  • The boots are not as supportive as they could be.

3. Lowa Men’s Zephyr GTX Mid TF Hiking Boot

Lowa Men's Zephyr GTX Mid TF Hiking Boot (10.5 Medium, Coyote Op)

Her is something supportive and lightweight yet breathable for light treks in the desert. These are shoes that were made for hot, dry climates such as the desert. It is versatile, yet comfortable.

For the past ninety years, the handcrafted LOWA boots have been favored by mountaineers, climbers, and hikers as the best outdoor boots ever. LOWA has put together a thoughtful design and superior materials that will do all the manufacturer says it can do with more.

Features and Benefits:

The split-grain leather and nylon mesh uppers offer durability and high breathability. The external polyurethane frames provide support and lessen the need for additional internal padding. The polyester mesh linings wick moisture away from the feet in order to keep them dry and comfortable.

The ankles and tongues are padded in order to relieve pressure and bring comfort. The removable footbeds offer light cushioning and support underfoot. The polyurethane midsoles provide excellent cushioning for day-long wear.

The three-quarter length nylon shanks provide an enhanced torsional rigidity that aids in protecting and supporting the feet. The Lowa “Cross” rubber outsoles offer outstanding traction on all types of terrain.

What We Like:

  • The boots are lightweight and waterproof.
  • There is no break-in period.
  • The boots are comfortable.
  • They are easy to take off and put on.
  • The fit is true to size.
  • They work on a variety of terrain.

What We Don’t:

  • The eyelets are fairly weak.

For The Beach:

These shoes are better suited for sandy beaches. Because they are waterproof, you can wear them to explore tidepools. Most people will just use them for long walks on the beach. A barefoot walk on the beach sounds like fun until you hit a sharp shell, a wayward jellyfish or a broken bottle from a careless litterbug.

1. WateLves Aqua Socks

Womens and Mens Kids Water Shoes Barefoot Quick-Dry Aqua Socks for Beach Swim Surf Yoga Exercise (TW.Black, S)

These are some very Zen shoes favored by yoga enthusiasts for their flexibility and all lovers of the outdoors. They are as comfortable as walking around barefoot but with none of the risks. These shoes are the beachcomber’s buddy. The high-quality material ensures that these shoes will be your traveling companion for a very long time.

Features and Benefits:

These shoes are made with highly comfortable rubber soles for the purpose of providing total flexibility for all movements. The traction prevents slippage. Extra cushioning adds to the comfort. A toe guard protects the toes.

The shoes are highly elastic for smooth comfort. The drainage holes aid in making the shoe dry quickly while ensuring a cool and fresh environment inside.

What We Like:

  • The cushioning keeps your feet comfortable and safe.
  • The shoes dry very quickly due to the drainage holes.
  • The smooth and flexible fabric allows free movement.
  • There are scores of fun patterns and bright colors to choose from.
  • The shoes are so flexible they can be rolled up for easy packing.

What We Don’t:

  • They are a little on the pricey side.

2. Tilos Sport Skin Socks For Water Sports & Beach Activities

Tilos Sport Skin Socks for Adults and Kids, Protect Against Hot Sand & Sunburn for Water Sports & Beach Activities

These live hard, die-hard socks are the favored footwear of beach volleyball players. Walk, run and jump on the sand all you like in these socks that fit as close as a second skin. If you like snorkeling or even just wading at low tide, these will protect your feet from burning sand and debris. They are light, yet provide the kind of protection you need.

Features and Benefits:

The Lycra is stretchy enough to fit perfectly. The cuff allows for an adjustable fit. The lightweight build provides breathability. The flat stitch construction prevents blisters and irritation.

The Supratex material helps the sock stand up to high temperatures. The socks can be worn with shoes and sandals. (if you dare!) The flexibility adds to the performance. They can be easily compressed for packing.

What We Like:

  • The socks are durable.
  • The comfort is akin to going barefoot without the vulnerability.
  • The socks are very lightweight.
  • They are great for protecting your feet from being injured by heat or sharp objects.

What We Don’t:

  • There are sizing issues.

3. Sand Socks Vincere Sprite Low-Top

Sand Socks Vincere Sprite Low-Top

It says so right there in the name, these are socks for the sand. These socks are bendy so you can run, walk and jump all over the beach. Wear them to play volleyball or beach soccer or just walking around. It doesn’t matter if the sand is fine, rocky, hot or cold. These socks are what you need for foot protection.

Features and Benefits:

The snug cuff keeps debris off of the foot. The Spandex is cool, breathable and lightweight and will protect the feet from sunburn and sand. The rugged Neoprene offers superb protection for the toes. The four-needle flatlock stitch is durable and adds to a comfortable fit. The Duratex sole is durable and flexible.

What We Like:

  • The fit is true to size.
  • They are easy to clean.
  • They slip on and off easily.
  • They are lightweight and comfortable.

What We Don’t:

  • The low cut means some sand may get in.


Whether you’re Team Anakin or Team Dory, you need a good pair of shoes for the kind of sand you tend to walk on. Even squish sand isn’t much fun when it gets stuck between your toes. (A problem Dory never has to worry about, of course.) Hopefully, one of these types of shoes will provide what you need whether you like dry dunes or wet dunes.

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