Sanuk Vagabond Sandals Review – The Best Lightweight Travel Shoes

Last Updated on 10/08/2023

Sanuk Vagabond Sandals Sidewalk Surfer Review

Sanuk Vagabond Sandals Review

9.5 Total Score
Relaxation Footwear

When I first saw somebody wearing the Sanuk Vagabond Sandals I thought it looked like a cross between a slipper and a pair of flip flops

When I first saw somebody wearing the Sanuk Vagabond Sandals, I thought it looked like a cross between a pair of slippers and flip-flops, after owning three pairs over the past 5 years, that is still how I would describe them. You might think that having bought three pairs in 5 years that they must wear out pretty fast, but I still wear all 3 pairs. After my first pair, I loved them so much I decided to get a pair for work and a pair to go out in. They are lightweight, extremely comfortable with or without socks, easy to pack and are the perfect spare pair of shoes to take traveling.


  • Flexible
  • Fast drying
  • Easy to pack
  • Comfortable
  • Lightweight


  • No arch support
  • No ankle support

Why Sanuk Vagabond Sandals?

When you go traveling with adventure in mind, a solid pair of comfy walking boots should be your first priority for carrying a heavy pack and walking on rough terrain. The problem with wearing walking boots all the time is that your feet don’t get a chance to breathe, and what about the times when walking boots aren’t appropriate? If, like me, you aren’t too fond of the thong-style flip flop but aren’t quite ready to make the leap to full-on sandals then Sanuk Sidewalk Surfers are the only spare pair of shoes you will ever need for backpacking.

Sanuk Vagabond Sandals Review

Casual Style

Available in dozens of different styles, colors, and materials, the Sanuk Vagabond Sandals are incredibly versatile, and it is easy to find a pair that you like. You can also get a version with a more rigid cuff called the Chiba, which is a popular summer footwear choice among surfers and beach dwelling folk.

I am no expert when it comes to style and fashion, so long as it’s comfy and functional, it will do for me, but for what it is worth I actually think these look great with jeans, and I love wearing them all the time. I have the Sanuk Vagabond Sandals in gray for everyday use, black with print for work, and the Hemp / Poncho canvas version for smart-casual affairs, which I try and keep clean.

Comfort and Fit

The fit is great, they arrive slightly tight but soon stretch out to fit your feet, so order as you would any shoe with standard sizing. The first thing I thought when I tried them on was, “These are comfier than my slippers,” as I wiggled my toes and tested the flexibility. You can wear Sanuk Sandals with socks on for extra comfort and less sweat, or as most people do – barefoot. The soles are made from super lightweight and tough material that fits like a flip-flop that is molded to your feet with lots of cushioning. The elasticated patches at the top help keep the sandals on your feet and give you a comforting feeling when you slide your feet all the way in, much in the same way a good pair of slippers do.

Sanuk Vagabond Sandals Review


As for wearing the Sanuk Vagabond Sandals in hot climates, the loose fit and natural materials make them highly breathable and even has 6 drain holes on the side for extra air circulation. Walking around in these with no socks on does tend to make the bottom of your feet sweat, but I dare you to find a pair of sandals that don’t.

For extra freedom and sheer convenience, you can also just slip your foot straight into the sandal by flattening down the back fabric with your heel so you don’t even have to bend down to put them on. I actually find myself wearing them with the back down like this more often than not, and I have seen others do the same at the beach.


Sanuk Vagabond Sandals Review

Because the materials are so tough and flexible, you won’t have a problem using them in unusual circumstances or along a jagged rocky shoreline. While hiking across New Zealand, I often walked a couple of mile-long stretches along the side of rivers where multiple crossings were necessary, and I didn’t want to get my lightweight hiking boots wet. I normally pack a pair of wetsuit boots for river crossings but on this trip, the Sanuk Vagabond’s did the job just fine and dried out in a couple of hours to wear in a DOC hut. The grip is better than you might expect and even has little smiley faces on the sole to leave trails of joy in the sand.

All that being said, they are not a hiking sandals like Chaco’s or Keen’s


Overall I couldn’t be happier with the Sanuk Vagabond Sandals, and I use them all the time around the house, to the shops, and on every backpacking trip I take. Weighing just over 300 grams and taking up next to no space, you can roll. Tuck or pack them flat into an already full backpack without much struggle.

Comfier than any slipper/sandal I have ever owned (I don’t buy them anymore), you feel like you are walking on soft moss they are that good. Easy-going and casual are the words that spring to mind which make them ideal for kicking back and relaxing in the sunshine or replacing those haggard slippers.

After years of use and abuse, the soles show a little wear, and they are still odor-free thanks to the EVA footbed with an antimicrobial additive designed to reduce odor-causing bacteria. The light-colored fabric does tend to get dirty every now and again but always washes out like new. If you wondering what kind of footwear to take traveling, my advice is both a good pair of hiking boots and a pair of Sanuk Vagabond Sandals.

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This article has been written and/or edited by Andrew N. 20+ years of hiking, mountaineering, and camping experience, with access to all the latest outdoor gear.

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