Merrell Henna sandals: Solving my travel shoe dilemma

merrell henna sandal review

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 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 Englandโ€™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 Iโ€™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.

Megan in her Merrell Henna sandal
Megan in her Merrel Henna sandal

The Test

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.

Final Verdict

The Henna are more expensive than I would usually pay for shoes (ยฃ77/$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.

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Gear We Use

Organization

Packing Cubes – Organize your luggage with the lightweight, durable and compressible Eagle Creek Pack-It Specter Compression Cubes.


Backpacks + Daypacks

Pacsafe – Since they come with extra theft-resisting features, Pacsafe bags make you a more confident traveler. We especially love this bag.

Sea to Summit – Of all the Sea to Summit products, our most recommended is the fits-in-your-palm, super packable Ultra-Sil Daypack.


Personal Care

Nalgene Toiletry Bottles – These leak-free toiletry bottles and tubs come in all sizes – even super tiny, helping minimalists pack it all without bulk.

Turkish Towels – They’re thinner than most travel towels, and they actually cover your body! We can’t get enough of Turkish towels for travel.


Clothing

Speakeasy Supply Co. – They make the awesome hidden pocket infinity scarves that are perfect for stashing secret cash, lip balms, and passports.

Anatomie – Anatomie travel pants come with luxury prices, but they offer many benefits for travelers. See our review of the famous Skyler pants.

Travel Resources

Booking Airfare

Dollar Flight Club – Get flight deal alerts for your preferred departure airport. There is both a free and premium version (recommended for more sweet deals). Members save on average $500 USD per flight!

Skyscanner – Skyscanner is our preferred site for searching flights. They offer unbiased search results and are free from hidden fees. You can also book your hotels and rental cars.


Accommodation

Airbnb – Airbnb is the best place to book out apartments around the world. Sign up using this link to get $37 USD off your first stay booking + $14 USD towards an experience booking!

Booking.com – Search for hotels, hostels, and apartments using this one resource. Use it for flights, car rentals, and airport taxis as well.

Hostelworld – For hostels, Hostelworld remains our number one source for booking stays. Choose from straight up hostels, budget hotels and bed and breakfasts.

Trusted Housesitters – Save money on travel accommodation by becoming a housesitter. Housesitters often have extra duties, like caring for pets and gardens.

Reader Interactions

Comments

  1. Dianne W. says

    Two other excellent brands to try for travel sandals are Orthaheel and the Walking Company’s Abeo line. Both have a number of styles with orthotic-like arch support. I have terrible feet and have struggled with wearing sandals for years. Orthaheel and Abeo make me able to walk in comfort and style.

    • Mellisa says

      I 100% agree with Orthaheel. I have troublesome feet and get blisters very easily, plus with a blood condition my feet swell in the heat. I’ve never had a blister with orthaheel and while my feet still swell, they remain comfortable..

  2. Laurie says

    I’ve been looking for something cute and comfortable for an upcoming trip to Europe, and these would be perfect! When I couldn’t find them on the Merrell website I contacted Merrell Consumer Relations and was informed that they are discontinued. They suggested checking stores that sell name brands for less like Marshall’s TJ Maxx and DSW. The link provided in the post only has them available in sizes 6 and 8. ๐Ÿ™

    I did find some Merrell ballerina flats though, so all is not lost!

  3. Lucia says

    These sandals seem to be completely out of stock everywhere I check ๐Ÿ™ Does anyone know of any other websites that have this sandal?

  4. Kendra says

    After searching desperately, I just bought a slightly used pair on ebay for $20! It was literally the only pair I could find and luckily they were in my size.

  5. Hannah says

    I love mine! I was in the exact same category as yourself and these sandals are the bomb! Just about to buy another pair as I wore the last ones out. I have a funk foot tan too and the supported my heel spurs!! Win win I say

  6. Laura S. says

    Thank God for this article. I have been searching and searching for good footwear for my upcoming trip to Asia and IT’S ALL SO UGLY! I couldn’t find the Merrell Henna shoes as they’re discontinued, but the Merrell Flaxen sandal is still available and is also pretty cute.

  7. Britt says

    I’m so unhappy they are discontinued ๐Ÿ™ I swear all the good shoes get discontinued.

    Can anyone recommend any of the other Merrell sandals or can I kind of presume all of the sandals made by them will be just as comfortable? I’ve been looking at the Micca ones.

    • Erin says

      Hi Britt, I know this is insanely late to the game and at this point, who knows if you’ve already found another travel sandal, but better late than never if you are still traveling and looking for a good one! I backpacked Europe this past summer and for 51 out of the 52 days I was there, I wore the Merrell Whisper Bandeau sandal. I ended up with it after seeing that the Henna was discontinued. I LOVED my Whisper Bandeaus so much that as soon as I got back to the U.S., I went online and ordered the exact same pair again! Got so many compliments on them and they are super comfortable. I’m heading off for a month-long trip in South America next week and you better believe my Whisper Bandeaus are coming with me! ๐Ÿ™‚

  8. Bella says

    I was thrilled when I discovered these sandals a few years ago. I’ve travelled all over the world with them and got compliments everywhere I went. I bought a second pair when the first pair stretched out after being in too many rain showers.. I was going to order a third pair in a different color and was beyond disappointed when I found they had been discontinued. I wrote to Merrell and told them that removing this stylish and comfortable sandal from their line was a mistake. The gladiator type sandal they have now has a piece between the toes, which I hate. Anyway, I suggest writing to them and letting them know that they should reintroduce the Henna sandal. If they get enough feedback maybe they will bring it back. BTW I just did a search on e-bay and saw one pair in a US size 8. Not my size, but maybe good for someone else.

  9. Clariza says

    I swear by Merrell shoes and bought my first pair (hiking boots) many moons ago. Since then, I am happy to say that they have expanded their line. I have about 10 pairs of their shoes, including their sandals, breathable slips-ons, etc.. My favorites are my black ballerina flats and my dark grey suede, water proof low boots. The flats are my go to dress up shoe when traveling and wear them to work at home. The suede boots I wore all through Paris in the winter. Warm, comfy and waterproof!

    Merrells last forever, with only the liners needing to be changed on some pairs, especially if I wear them without socks.

    They are instantly comfy, which is what got my attention years ago.

    I’m lucky enough to live near a Merrell Outlet Store and an REI that often has them on sale!

  10. Barb says

    I bought 2pairs of the Merrell Henna sandals. Love. Love them… so comfy and look great on my feet.
    But I cannot find them any where now, and I would love to purchase about 4 more pairs.
    Why do manufacturers quit making the best selling items, don’t they research and find out what works and doesn’t. Terrible mistake by not keeping this sandal. I always get complements on my Henna sandals.. Please bring this sandal back…

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