For many years I have hiked wearing my Teva sandals in the picture above. Those shoes have many miles on them and have hiked in the desert, the woods, and beyond. I love them! Then one day I started to question whether or not it was the right thing to wear when hiking.
While I was taking the Florida Master Naturalist course we did a lot of hiking as a group. I wasn't sure what I should wear hiking, because I saw people showing up in hiking boots, including the class instructor. It made me wonder if my Teva's that I had worn for so long hiking were appropriate. Then I showed up to do the class hikes and what I saw taught me a lesson about what the bests shoe or boot for hiking is.
Several people in my class hiked completely barefoot. These people also didn't know each other. It was just something they happened to have in common. I'm talking nothing on their feet and we spent five hours hiking in the woods. They were stepping on twigs, roots, and more. They all said that's the way they like to hike - barefoot. They never once acted like it was uncomfortable or seemed to be slowed up by being barefoot.
At that point it hit me that the best shoe or boot for hiking is the one that you are comfortable with. Some people prefer boots, others prefer hiking in sandals, and still others prefer hiking barefoot. There is no right or wrong answer, despite any warnings that people may try to give you for doing one thing or another. Humans survived for thousands of years walking around in the woods and in nature barefoot. After that, many natives wore moccasins. They didn't have heavy duty hiking boots or anything specifically built for hitting the trails.
Wear what you are comfortable hiking in. After spending days and hours of hiking mile after mile alongside people who were barefoot, wearing hiking boots, and who were in sandals, I see that it's all personal preference. There is no right or wrong here if you are comfortable! As for me, I stick to my Teva sandals. They have been there through many miles of hiking in a wide variety of conditions and I love them!