As a kid, you’d wait all year for the opportunity to dash out of the house barefoot. Sandals are the grown-up version of that free-wheeling feeling. Whether you’re lounging in the park, wandering the beach, or holding a work meeting al fresco, there’s nothing better than the feeling of the warm summer breeze massaging your feet while the sun kisses your toes.
But that childlike feeling doesn’t have to come at the expense of grown-up taste. For those summery occasions that call for a little more class, there is the leather sandal.
We’ve assembled the best flip-flops, slides, cross-strap models, and more, all crafted from companies we love out of fine premium leather.
Best Leather Slides
The Frye Company Evan Slide
If like me, you spend your life finding justifications to purchase just one more pair of Frye shoes, you’re in luck. The definitive name in leather footwear boasts a sandal collection crafted with their understated yet unmistakable signature leather. While the honest truth is that we want them all, we’re extra partial to the Evan Slide. It features a hefty band of vegetable-tanned leather (lined with fabric on the inside so your feet don’t chafe), grippy rubber soles, and (best of all) a comfy molded footbed that means — gasp! — no breaking in needed.
Best Leather Flip-Flops
Rainbow Sandals Navigator
There’s a reason this flip-flop can be found in surf shops from Ventura to Omaha to Cape Cod: It’s simply the best. Rainbow’s layered construction combines sponge rubber, 2,000-pound test nylon webbing, and a triple dose of Rainbow’s in-house glue for deliriously squishy comfort and arch support that lasts way longer than you’d expect. While you can’t go wrong with their standard single-layer sandal, we’re pretty impressed with the Navigator model, which features a molded orthopedic footbed that requires no breaking in and a serrated bottom for extra grip and support.
Best Leather Huaraches
Nisolo Huarache Sandal
Channel centuries of style tradition in these woven Mexican huaraches. Handmade in Peru, these breezy kicks by Nisolo feature traditional construction from soft leather strips and a leather insole but are updated with microporous cushioning, a lined heel, a foam midsole, and a grippy crepe rubber sole. We’ve featured the brandy color, but there is also a lighter tobacco tan option.
Best Leather Hiking Sandal
If you think of Chacos as exclusively for use in watery terrain, think again. The brand took their Z Sandal, ubiquitous on creek trails and lakeshore around the country, and elevated it with full-grain, broken-in leather straps, and an antiqued brass buckle. While you won’t want to wear these in the water, you can be confident of the same cushy comfort and hard-working performance we all expect from our Chacos—the Wayfarers come equipped with their signature LUVSEAT footbed and non-marking ChacoGrip outsole.
Best Classic Leather Sandals
Birkenstock Gizeh Oiled Leather Sandals
You can’t go wrong with a classic. The anatomically contoured cork footbed is to your foot like bucket seats are to your butt—built to cradle you in perfect comfort with a deep heel cup, roomy toe box, and pronounced arch support. The lightweight, shock-absorbing EVA sole makes you feel like you’re walking on clouds. Most pertinent to our theme, though, is the oiled leather upper, whose color and patina just get better over time.
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