TRAVEL GEAR THAT WORKS – FOOTWEAR
Every time I head out on a new journey it seems I debate about what gear I should take with me. Each trip and destination is a bit different so I always adjust my gear accordingly. Still, it seems that there are certain items that always join me on my journeys. Why? They work for me and my style of travel. I’ve previously written about Travel Gear That Works – Bags & Luggage and Travel Gear That Works – Clothing. Check those articles for great information and recommendations. And now, continuing with more Travel Gear That Works, here is my list of my regular Travel Footwear That Works.
Travel Gear That Works – Footwear
As I’ve mentioned previously, I’m a pretty casual traveler. My main priorities when traveling are to visit and experience some awesome locations, meet some interesting and fun people, and make a few good photographs along the way. I try to keep the costs down and experiences up. On some days I may be walking through dusty lanes or exploring out back tracks for miles while on other days I may be wandering the streets of a major metro area for 8 hours in search of interesting photos. With my style of travel I’m looking for footwear that is casual and comfortable. My travel budget is limited so cost is a factor. My travel footwear needs to be durable and good value for the money. And before reading further I should add that I travel light. Shoes are heavy. Frequently I only take one pair of casual walking / hiking shoes on a journey. If I know there will be a need for a somewhat more upscale look I “might” consider taking something a bit more dressy.
Casual Walking / Hiking Shoes –
I’m constantly on the look out for the ideal light weight, comfortable walking / hiking shoe for travel. You know – the perfect shoe. I imagine you have looked as well. (BTW – If you find the perfect shoe – please let me know!) Currently I have two pair of such shoes which I think are great. One pair is by Merrell and the other is by Teva. But I travel light and certainly don’t need to take two pair of walking shoes with me on my journeys. As a result I have to choose. During my most recent 5 weeks to Thailand, Cambodia, and Vietnam I went with the Merrells.
Merrell Moab Waterproof Walking / Light Hiking Shoe
My Moabs by Merrell are the dark brown version, exactly as shown above. At 24 ounces hey are relatively light weight. They have great tread for traction on slippery and rocky surfaces and have good support for the arch. They are sturdy providing stability on uneven surfaces and they are waterproof. The color is subtle ( no neon orange or green for me please ) so even though they are casual they can be used in a “slightly” more dressy fashion in a pinch (at least if the event is not well lighted!)
Merrell has a great reputation for making quality footwear. The Moabs in dark brown worked really well for me. Merrell makes an extremely wide range of footwear for men and women. Available through Amazon.
Men’s Moab by Merrell – Click Here for Men’s
Women’s Moab by Merrell – Click Here for Women’s
Teva Men’s M Raith Iii Low Waterproof Hiking Shoe
My Teva Raiths are exactly as shown above. The more I wear them the more I like them. At 15.4 ounces they are very light weight but still provide great foot support as well as comfort for the entire day. Again the color works for me, avoiding bright neons, etc. The shoe is also available in a shade of dark grey. The more monochromatic color scheme also makes it easier to dress these up a bit when necessary. My only comment, and one other reviews have mentioned, this shoe seems to run a bit small and narrow. So keep that in mind and be sure that they can be exchanged if fit isn’t proper. I could no longer find this shoe on the Teva website but it is available on Amazon where they also list free returns.
Generally I am not a big fan of sandals for long term wear. They just don’t work for my feet and I usually end up with lots of discomfort at the end of the day. Still, there are times when sandals have advantages. Recently I discovered the Teva Sandals described below. I’m pleased.
Teva Omnium Closed-Toe Sandal
My Teva Omnium Sandals are exactly as pictured above. Sometimes travel calls for footwear other than standard shoes. For me that became clear when traveling in Myanmar, Thailand, and Cambodia. Unlike some other countries, when you enter Buddhist Temples in SE Asia. Shoes must be removed as well as socks. Sandals can be a big advantage in that type of situation. It’s good to be able to quickly get your feet “temple ready” and then be able to return to “street ready” mode after your temple visit. After much looking and trying I found the Teva Omnium Sandal. Problem solved. The Omnium is a substantial sandal with great tread and also arch support which I really appreciate. There is a cushioned quality to walking in these sandals as well. The Omnium has a closed-toe design which offers a bit of protection so they are also good for light “off road” work where you might encounter the occasional toe bashing rock or stone. I am especially pleased that this sandal has 3 different fit adjustments which allow for a great fit with essentially no slippage (as in no blisters for me!) The Omnium is available on Amazon and comes in several different color schemes.
SmartWool Hike Medium Crew Sock
Some have found it odd, but I always wear Smartwool socks for my travels. Wool can be warm and nice and cozy in cold weather. So the warm qualities of Smartwool are helpful on chilly hikes and journeys. However, and this may sound a bit counterintuitive, I also wear Smartwool in warm weather climates as well such as SE Asia and India. Why? Because that merino wool which keeps you warm in cool weather can also help you keep cool in hot weather. I know – I didn’t believe it at first either. But I’ve tried it and now I go with Smartwool wherever I travel. Smarthwool wicks moisture and perspiration away from the body creating an evaporative effect. I’ve worn these socks in some very hot situations – think 98 degrees F with high humidity. Yes, I was hot all over. But my feet were not any special problem. The wool material is comfortable, coming in various thicknesses to provide the degree of “cushion” that your travels (and your feet) require. I generally go with the Medium Crew weight shown above because I value some cushioning, but there are heavier and lighter thicknesses available according to your personal taste and need. The material also keeps oders to a minimum better than many fabrics. I find that I can wash these out in the late afternoon and they will generally dry overnight. If not dry in the morning I finish off the drying process with a quick hit from the hair dryer. Smartwool socks tend to be a bit pricey but for me they are worth it. Bottom line – for me I love the comfort and bit of cushion they provide. They work. Smartwool socks are available on Amazon and come in all sorts of colors and styles.
Footwear For Temple / Church / Mosque Visits –
Footwear frequently becomes an issue when visiting houses of worship. You can try to do advanced research on the countries and sites you will be visiting. But just when you think you have it sorted out, someplace will jump up and surprise you. Solution – best to be prepared for all eventualities. Here are four possible scenarios –
Shoes Are OK – This one is easy. Wear whatever shoes you want and enjoy your visit.
No Shoes / Socks Are OK – A minor problem with two possible solutions.
A) Take off your shoes and wear the socks you have on if you are wearing any.
B) Use “Temple Socks”. Sometimes floors can be a bit dirty. As a result some visitors prefer to carry an extra pair of socks with them which they can put on during temple or church visits. (Think about keeping them in a baggie before and after use.)
No Shoes / Shoe Covers Are OK – On occasion you will find a religious site which allows you to leave your shoes on if you wear shoe covers. The Taj Mahal is one such site. Occasionally they may provide you with shoe covers but the ever prepared traveler carries several pair of their own – just in case. Not expensive – a box will last you and your friends for many journeys. Available on Amazon.
No Shoes, No Socks, No Shoe Covers – We’re Talkin’ Barefoot Walkin’!
Travel enough and eventually you will encounter a temple or site where no shoes are allowed. For me this has happened most often in Myanmar, Thailand and Cambodia. That’s when you take off your shoes, socks, sandals, whatever and do the barefoot temple walk. You might want practice a bit at home before your journey to toughen up your feet a bit. Other than that all I can recommend is clean feet and perhaps a pedicure and / or toe nail polish if you are into that sort of thing.
Flip Flops –
Light weight and great for casual wear in warm climates, the ubiquitous Flip Flop can be a great option for travel footwear. Some travelers love to wear them all day and every day. That doesn’t work for my feet however. I wear them for brief outings where there is value to their easy on / off quality. Slip ’em on and slip ’em off. They work great this way when I know I will be visiting a number of temples or locations where I’ll be removing footwear a lot. They are also good for the beach. And if you ever need to shower in some questionable locations – simple waterproof flip flops are great to keep a bit of distance between your foot and the shower floor.
Flip Flops of various sorts are a favorite of many monks who “park” them outside their monasteries and temples
Flip Flops are light weight and take up very little room in your luggage so if you have a favorite pair you can always toss them in your bag. Amazon has many types and styles of Flip Flops available – Click Here. I rarely take flip flips with me. Instead I pick up a cheap pair at my destination ( they can often be found for a dollar or less / depending on your destination of course ) and then just leave them behind when I am ready to travel again.
Reader Alert –
I own and use all of the items mentioned above. I hope you found this information useful. And I should mention that if you are interested in these or any other items – any purchases made by clicking through the links above will help support this website – at no additional or extra cost to you. Sort of a “Win / Win.”
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