This Merrell Henna sandals review has been prepared by Megan Hogarth.
Women’s sandals seem to fall into two categories: comfortable, practical and ugly or stylish with paper-thin soles. I’ve taken both travelling and have never been happy.
I hated the ugly ones from the start and avoided wearing them because they looked so hideous. I adored the pretty ones and how they complimented my summer shorts and dresses while I walked through Paris, but regretted the purchase by lunchtime when my feet were sore, blistered and didn’t want to take another step.
I’ve spent years searching for a middle ground.
With an extended trip to Eastern Europe, France and Morocco approaching, I was determined to find the perfect pair of travel sandals. I made a shortlist, but felt I would still be compromising comfort or style. I was almost at the point of accepting I would have to look like a backpacker from the knees down for my entire trip when I saw a hiking store mannequin showing off the Merrell Henna.
They were exactly what I was looking for: stylish and practical.
The Merrell Henna Sandal
The Merrell Henna is a Roman Gladiator style sandal, so that was an immediate tick in the style column. The sandals are easily dressed up or down. During England’s recent heatwave I wore them almost daily, with casual khaki shorts, a nicer black satin pair and summer dresses. I love that they don’t look like shoes I bought for travel. The store I bought them from had only dark red in stock, but I’ve seen them online in various colours including black and brown.
While I love the look of the Henna, the most important thing for me is comfort. I walk a lot when I travel, preferring to explore by foot and easily clock up 10 or 20km strolling around a city. Merrell is a popular maker of walking and hiking shoes and it shows in these sandals. The Henna sandals have a strong rubber sole – not as thick as some hiking sandals, but a lot more solid than “fashion” sandals. The soft leather straps across the foot are wide and supportive without digging in and leaving a mark on the skin.
There’s another leather braid that also runs across the top of the foot. Although I don’t feel any irritation when wearing them, I have noticed a small red dot on my toes where this braid runs under the wider leather strap and obviously rubs slightly. One reviewer suggested cutting off the braid, which I can see would be easy to do without affecting the shoe. I have a lot of difficultly buying shoes of any style because of a 1/2 size difference between my feet (freaky, but surprisingly common I’m told), but I’ve found that tightening or loosening the Velcro strap around my ankle is enough to make the shoes fit comfortably on each foot.
I broke the sandals in around my hometown, before testing them on a day of sightseeing that including a lot of walking in hot weather. This would have been the breaking point for my previous, not-so-stable sandals: my feet would swell and I often felt like my feet were burning with every step. But in the Henna I walked in the heat for hours, including up and down hills, without discomfort. Having worn the sandals all day I kept them on for an evening walk that unexpectedly turned into a mini-hike through some hilly paddocks and gravel trails.
The sandals were almost as supportive as my hiking boots and gripped well on the climbs and descents.
A few stones crept under my feet, but that’s to be expected with open shoes. Although I don’t plan to wear the Henna sandals when hiking, I liked how sturdy they were. The rubbing point of the braid under the leather strap didn’t bother me and the mark on my toe wasn’t any more noticeable after a full day of wear than it is after an hour or so.
The Henna are more expensive than I would usually pay for shoes (£77/$128AUD), but they are so versatile that I’ll only pack three pairs of shoes with me for a five-month trip: these, a pair of light walking shoes and thongs (flip flops to the non-Australians reading this) for hostel showers.
>> If you like this review, you can purchase the Merrell Henna on Amazon
About the Author: Megan is a former Tasmanian journalist who left the island (by choice, she wasn’t voted off) to explore the world. She traded her career, house and dog for a round-the-world adventure. It’s been two years and she’s not done yet. Megan writes about her travels and her teacup at Pegs on the Line, and you can also follow her on Twitter @pegsontheline.
*All photos except for title photo by Megan Hogarth.