After a long trail race, a weekend spent toting a backpack, or even just 8 hours on your feet, the last thing you want to do is keep your dogs strapped into the shoes that have gotten you to the end of the day. But tossing on a pair of flip-flops comes with its own problems: In a 2008 study, researchers at Auburn University found that unsupportive flip-flops can permanently alter wearers’ gaits and cause a decomposition of proper posture.
But recovery shoes and sandals that utilize shock-absorbing foam, supportive footbeds, and a low heel-toe drop ensure that your feet are comfy and protected. Podiatrists commend styles with low heel-toe drop, plush EVA cushioning, and memory-foam footbeds to offset force on metatarsophalangeal joints.
So regardless of if you love stiff hiking boots or swear by minimalist trail runners when you’re out on the trail, kicking back and getting some quality cushioning under your feet after high-load activities can be the difference in recovering well or not. These 5 BACKPACKER-tested and -approved pairs are as good for you as they feel.