Best Shoes for Walking in the Desert

There is nothing more adventurous yet romantic than the scorching days, freezing nights, and dangerous reptiles in the desert. While such a place seems daunting, travelers from around the world still flock to the arid regions. What’s in store for travelers willing to brave the dry weather? As it turns out, time spent hiking to thaw out and enjoy the sun seems like the best escapade during the cold winter months. Given the meager precipitation and often high temperatures, however, it is extremely important to pack good walking shoes for the desert in your travel capsule wardrobe.

shoes for desert walking

Looking after your feet is paramount to your desert experience, and this starts with any of the following options:

  • Asolo Landscape GV
  • Salomon Outline Low GTX
  • Keen Venture Low WP
  • Merrell MQM Flex
  • Vasque Breeze LT Low GTX
  • Hoka One One Sky Arkali

Shoes for the desert are a good balance between fit, cushioning, ankle support, breathability, durability, lacing system, and price. These features are critical to what makes your feet happy. If your shoes don’t fit right, you can gain blisters from your desert expedition, especially that the hot temperatures, fine soft sand, and rough ground may excessively stress your feet.


The Asolo Landscape GV is the first pair of shoes from the Zanatta family that boasts a GORE-TEX lining. It is light in weight and is built like a hiking boot. To create an over-the-ankle design, Zannate utilizes quality Italian suede in the manufacture of these shoes. The shoes are also water-resistance and include a technical Vibram rubber outsole that comes with self-cleaning lugs. These lugs serve as raised bumps on the bottom of the Asolo Landscape GV and provide traction. In addition to that, the spacing and design of these lugs prevent mud build-up on the bottom of the shoes. The rocks remain in contact with the desert ground for maximum support.


From an internationally known brand to produce high-quality products, these shoes for the desert come with a gusseted tongue. This prevents debris from getting into the shoes. The outsole remains Contragrip, the brand’s proprietary rubber. No matter how slick, the outsole is designed to grip any surface. There are also protective rubber caps provided for the toes to prevent painful stabbing on rough surfaces. In anticipation of occasional rains in the desert, the Salomon Outline Low GTX is waterproof with a Gore-Tex lining on its interior.


Keen started with an iconic hiking sandal in 2003 and blossomed into a brand that provides products for both lifestyle and active options. Their Venture Low WP utilizes a lot of proprietary materials. These shoes for the desert are light in weight and DRY waterproof. The breathable membrane is designed to keep water out while still allowing moisture to escape the shoe’s interior. The outsole is made of rubber and provides a high-traction grip while you walk in the desert. The mesh uppers are further feature synthetic overlays to increase the Keen Venture Low WP’s lifespan and performance. 


The Merrell MQM Flex utilizes an array of proprietary materials and moves light and fast in the desert. Both its breathable mesh linings and synthetic overlays are designed to help keep your feet comfortable and protected. For excellent traction on the desert ground, the rubber outsole features the M Select Grip. 


Vasque was founded in 1964 with a singular mission to get Americans outside and hiking. Today, it continues to provide quality footwear with innovative technologies while remaining loyal to their humble beginnings.

The Vasque LT Low GTX’s outsole is a combination of Vibram Megagrip and Vibram Light base technology. It provides high-quality traction with a 25% reduction in weight. What surrounds the shoes is a GORE-TEX membrane that serves as a protective barrier from moisture and sweat. While the synthetic mesh outer is fully resistant to abrasions, the waterproof liner protects your feet from elements in the desert ground. For additional shock absorption and support, Vasque anatomically designed the footbeds of these shoes.


The Hoka One One Sky Arkali has excellent grip and traction, thanks to its climbing shoe technology and hiking boot engineering. It features Vibram Megagrip rubber outsoles and high-abrasion toe caps that provide you superior traction while walking on the desert ground. Hoka also designed the ankle and heel straps to be adjustable for a more comfortable fit.

Critical Considerations for Walking Shoes

When you’re going to invest in something personal, such as shoes for the desert, you have to ensure that they’re worth the money the first time around. Here’s how to do that:


Fit is one of the most important aspects of a pair of walking shoes as it is key to comfort. Take the time to find out which models fit you well and work for you specifically. If you are unsure of your size, good footwear stores offer you measuring and fitting devices. Below are what constitutes properly fitting shoes for the desert:

  • Wiggle Room: Your shoes should have enough room for your toes to wiggle. This means that when you slip on your shoes, your toes should not touch the front of the shoes and smoosh up against it.
  • Securely Held Heel: You can bet on blisters if your shoes lack securely held heel. Your shoes should fit properly while the heel should not be sliding up and down inside the shoes.
  • No Pinching: The shoes should fit you without compromising comfort. You must choose the shoes that will not constrain and pinch your feet at any place inside the shoes.


Desert expedition can be rough, especially when there is rough, jagged, and loose talus. Shoes with poor cushioning often lead to sore feet. Refrain from purchasing these shoes and settle for those tough midsoles and anti-bruising qualities.

Ankle Support

Ankle support is very necessary, especially if you have had experienced ankle problems in the past. Choose the shoes that are better at keeping out the sand while still offering superior ankle protection.


Your feet will sweat a lot, especially with the warm condition in the desert. If the moisture doesn’t have a way out, your skin will end up with blisters. For this reason, use highly breathable shoes. 


Your shoes should be used on other occasions such as strolling down the park or walking around your village. Do not buy the shoes that can only be used on a one-time basis. Rather, choose shoes with maximum durability for the pressure and tension against the unforgiving ground. Just like you, your walking shoes should be well-maintained and ready for anything.

Lacing System

The lacing system is essential, especially when you are in the wilderness. If your footwear’s lacing system does not keep a nice tight fit, you are most likely to trip over your shoes. Therefore, ensure that your shoelaces aren’t going to drag you down or become a tripping hazard.


While it is imperative to weigh what’s best for your feet and your wallet, quality shoes are directly tied to the enjoyment of your desert expedition. Understand that comfort and fit usually cost a bit more.

General Tips for Walking in the Desert

Retreat walking during the hottest part of the day

Avoid feeling like a desert animal and walking during the hottest part of the day. Make your move between ten in the morning and four in the afternoon. 

Drink a lot of water

Stay hydrated, and don’t wait until you feel thirsty to take a sip of water. Hydrate even before your hike. On hot, dry summer days, drink one liter of water for each hour of hiking.

Learn to recognize signs of health-related conditions

Spending time in the desert temperatures and high hiking activity levels can result in health-related illnesses. Before you embark on a desert expedition, educate yourself with the recognizable signs of health-related conditions. Start with online resources from the American Hiking Society

Stay within your physical limits

Do not push yourself too hard under the heat and rest often. Also, take advantage of the shade along your route.

Related Questions

What kind of socks should I wear with my shoes for the desert?

Just like shoes, socks are a very personal thing. Since blisters usually happen when walking in the desert, it is ideal to choose shoes that keep your sweat to a minimum. Also, shoes with moisture-wicking abilities are great. Socks made of wool and natural fibers are recommended as they don’t allow moisture to sit on the skin and combine with friction, thus protecting you from blisters.

How can I extend the lifespan of my shoes?

Shoes in tip-top condition can greatly extend their useful lifespan. Cleaning should be done after every muddy encounter to get the most out of your shoes. You can simply wipe your shoes with a wet cloth. For those parts that don’t respond to this type of cleaning, use an old toothbrush and some warm water. After cleaning, allow your shoes to air dry. Never be tempted to dry your shoes under the hot sun as doing so can hasten the aging of its materials and fabrics. 

Related Article

Best Ankle Support Shoes

Recent Posts