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Maybe because I’m a Los Angelino, but I intentionally avoid closed-toed shoes whenever possible. And when it comes to sandals, I always prefer practical slides. Why do I have to bend over to buckle my shoes, when the better alternative is…well, Not do it?
This is especially true when I travel. I like being able to easily take my shoes off once I buckle up my seat belts on the plane and then need to be able to easily wear them again for trips to the bathroom and when landing (when I have my bags and kids I keep my hands full a lot). Therefore, I was thrilled to find a pair that is just as perfect for transit days as it is for almost all purposes in a warm weather destination.
A must-have for my travels, the Naot Santa Barbara sandal is stylish, comfortable and versatile. This shoe really does it all—it’s perfect for sightseeing, hitting the beach or the pool, and can easily transition into the night. If I was really dressed up, I’d throw a wedge heel in my bag too—but my Santa Barbara alone does the trick in most warm weather scenarios (especially the kind where even fine dining is done on the sand).
I got my first pair in white about a year ago and have worn them everywhere. Months later, I added rose gold to my personal inventory. Both are neutral colors that would go with everything in my bag for a warm-weather vacation; Rose gold adds some elegance to zush things. I can wear it on my feet for hours upon hours and never get tired.
From a foot health perspective, the ideal summer sandal is a sandal that has a defined footbed where the heel sits well on the sole of the shoe and provides the shoe with arch support, says Elizabeth Dattrey, DBM, a board-certified podiatrist in North Carolina. Travel + Leisure. Not only should support and cushioning be considered, she adds, but microfiber cushioned footbeds can also help “wick away perspiration.” Sandals made of plastic or synthetic materials, such as hard canvas or synthetic leather, can cause the feet to sweat excessively, making this type of shoe unsuitable for foot health in the summer.
Regarding fit, “sandals should fit your feet well and have a wide enough base that the toes don’t pinch or hang off the edge of the sandal’s sole,” notes Dr. Doughty. What’s more, adjustable straps and buckles provide stability and control the movement of the foot,” she says. Plus – not surprisingly here – high-heeled sandals or thong sandals are clearly “not the best choice,” she says. “Due to the increased chance of slipping while walking and forming blisters.”
Dr. Dattrey says Naot Santa Barbara is a perfect pick for all of these reasons. It has two buckles to lock in for maximum adjustability, plus the “suede footbed is cushioned yet supportive and will allow excessive perspiration to escape the skin to prevent chafing and slipping”, and an EVA outsole supports anatomic cork and latex footbed that “allows arch support and molding to structure an individual’s foot.” .”
If you’re thinking that these sandals share the resemblance to an internet-famous pair, you should know that these aren’t just imitation Birkenstocks. Instead, Naot is a premium brand with a long history of its own. Its history dates back to 1942, when members of a small collective farming community in Israel began making shoes in a one-room workshop on a kibbutz.
Now 80 years later, Kibbutz Naut Mordechai continues to produce the widely distributed Israeli product, handcrafted by diverse artisans and ethically produced using sustainable methods. (If your full awareness of kibbutz life up to this point came from Adam Newman’s barefoot WeWork as photographed in WeCrashed, let these ubiquitous shoes expand your horizons.)
In addition to all of its podiatrist-approved qualities, the Naot Santa Barbara sandal is all-around functional, lightweight, and fully packable – flat with flexible tops that can snap into a bag without messing with its shape. For all of these reasons, they are my go-to when I travel – and they really should be yours too.