There is no getting that pair of socks clean from the red dust, they are dyed a tie-dyed rust color from the dry campground. My feet needed a good soaking, too — a walk on the beach in the surf took care of that. Sure, my feet were filthy, almost to an embarrassing degree. But they were happy, not too hot, free from blisters and fatigue. I attribute this to picking the right shoes for that camping and hiking trip.
Keen McKenzie Water Shoes
I spent two weeks wearing these shoes almost every day. I wore them for long walks, trail hikes, schlepping around the city, stomping about in gravelly, dusty, washouts and on grainy flat plateaus where the sun baked the top of my ears. I kind of fell in love with them on about day three of my camping and hiking and road tripping adventure. After all, these shoes treated me right.
Keen’s McKenzie’s are really comfortable, it was no trouble to walk in them all day long. They’re closed (but well ventilated) so I wasn’t constantly knocking tiny stones out from where they’d wedged in under my arches. (The shoe is essentially your standard Keen sandal with the open bits enclosed in a mesh upper.) They’ve got a collapsible heel cup, meaning you can wear the shoe as a slide without damaging it, perfect for legging it to the campground loo in the middle of the night or navigating the TSA. They’ve got a solid hiker sole, so they’re grippy on trails. My feet were supported, not too hot, dry, and totally content in these shoes. Cost? 90 USD, your choice of three earthy color combinations.
The only issue — which wasn’t really a problem because I was in desert like climates — was that they took longer to dry than I’d like. I’d have regretted putting my feet into cold, clammy shoes on chilly mornings. But no worries, I’d also packed a pair of sport sandals.Ecco Coba Performance Sandals
I’m not crazy about the look of performance sandals, the designs tend towards a bit too orthopedic for my tastes. But I tried on a pair of Ecco’s WAVE footbed sandals at the Outdoor Retailer show and was pleased and surprised by how comfortable they are — and I ended up packing a pair for my recent adventure.
Ecco’s Coba sandals feel like real shoes. Normally, I wear Chaco sandals, the model that’s not much more than a sturdy sole strapped to your foot with webbing. Ecco’s shoes gave me a lot more support. The foot bed has a waffle-y surface to it that aids in keeping your feet cool and it’s got a nice feel too it, a soft suede type finish. All three straps are adjustable and it’s easy to get them to fit just right — or to tweak them a little, if, like me, you find there’s a spot that needs a little breaking in. The sturdy soles were great for long walks or short trail hikes. And they’re light — I clipped them on the outside of my bag when I wasn’t wearing them and the weight they added was negligible. Cost? 130 USD. A bit steep; you might want to explore your options if you’re price sensitive. Two colors, white or “moon rock” — a natural light brown.
I caved and on the trip home, I wore my Ecco Coba sandals with socks. They were so easy to get in and out of in the airport and on the plane that I went for the full on dorky socks and sandals look. Hey, I was surrounded by strangers. I’ll pack these sandals again for camping and outdoor trips, but heads up — they are not a water shoe, you really want something else if you’re planning on getting your shod feet wet. That’s why you I also packed…
Cheap Flip Flops
You need them for campground showers (and, honestly, some hotel showers), beach walks, leaving propped outside the tent, wearing with a summer dress when you can’t bear the idea of shoes any more, and those long, long stints in the car or bus. You can always find space for them in your bag, and after you’ve had a good walk in the ocean for disinfectant purposes, you can pass them on to some fellow traveler whose had a blowout. There are few items I’d categorize as disposable travel gear, flip flops (zoris, thongs, whatever you like to call them) are one. Get a pair. Spend as much as you like, from 5 USD to, well, you want to spend 70 USD on flip flops, you go right ahead.