This is a thoroughly researched, factual source of guidance designed primarily to connect you with the optimal shoes for your travels– it’s about feeling good, looking good, and not having to break the bank.
Every backpacker and traveller has been there. You’re packed up, ready to go, and then you realize… are these really the shoes I’ll be wearing for the trip? If you’re like most of us, you go with what you’ve got, and the second you clock 20,000 steps every day for a few consecutive weeks, you’re profoundly regretting it. So it’s easy then, right? You’ll buy new shoes this time. The problem here is, of course, the wide variety of shoes that can be purchased.
That’s where we come in.
In this guide, we’ve included shoes that are a little more universal, rather than specific to gender. Every shoe on here is top notch, but there is an element of a hierarchy of course. We’ll get to that.
Basic Tips For Picking The Best Shoes for Travel
It should come as no surprise that choosing the right shoes makes a huge difference on your trip. I mean, just think about life in general, but amplified. The thing about travelling is that so many days entail walking for hours and hours, and sometimes the only thing that keeps you from walking even more is the pain in your feet.
Obviously, good shoes should be more of a priority…
Here’s what we think makes for “good” shoes:
1. Comfort wins, but this need not compromise fashion.
Just because comfort matters most doesn’t mean that you have to embarrass yourself with a brutal aesthetic. But, at the same time, style shouldn’t keep you from achieving comfort.
2. Socks, too.
Good socks are also vital for all sorts of reasons. If you don’t want to stink, and you don’t want to compromise your great new sneakers, don’t miss the point and buy cheap, horrible socks!
Why not? Insoles are typically reasonably priced, and they add all sorts of vital support, for health and comfort.
4. Remember the particularity of where you’re going.
Just because one pair of boots got you through a Canadian winter, doesn’t mean they’re right for the beaches of Argentina. In fact, they’re most certainly not. Different places call for different shoes. It’s just the nature of travel, most of the time.
5. Don’t forget to break them in.
Take some long walks before the trip begins to ensure that you’re not hanging yourself out to dry. Blisters are an enemy. Prepare!
Here are our top shoes:
We promised a hierarchy, and Vessi is at the top. Why? First of all: 100% waterproof. Seriously. Not only are they comfortable and stylish, but they will prevent the absolute nightmare of wet shoes and wet socks which literally haunts every traveller. These waterproof knit sneakers are waterproof, lightweight, breathable, and as an added bonus, fully vegan. So, there’s an ethical element to these beauties, too. There are specific models made for “Men” and “Women,” but they each share the same core principles that make Vessi the best.
That’s right. We believe so much in Vessi that they’re ranked, and the rest are not quite.
Though Ecco is not waterproof like Vessi, they’re absolutely stylish and extremely cozy. They’re a little off the board and might help you stand out from the crowd, whether you’re in Spain, Thailand, or New York City.
Whether you go with superstars or another, ADIDAS strike a pretty remarkable balance between style and comfort, right? They’re famous for making athletic wear that is also iconic in its 3-stripe style. Not a bad call, if not a little cliche.
New Balance is seeing a bit of an uprise in popularity, and can you blame folks?
What else can be said for Nike? They always find a way to stay relevant, and the shoes are undoubtedly iconic in style, as well as meant for strenuous use. Walking in Nikes has never been an issue, comfort-wise.
Converse are probably the worst in terms of comfort and health when it comes to the long, epic walks which often occur when backpacking and travelling. But… I mean, stylistically, it’s pretty hard to resist a pair of Chucks. Right? A pair of red Converse All-Stars absolutely makes a statement. For sure.
Puma is another mainstream option that has a pretty devoted following. Once people go PUMA, they either never come back, or they never buy another pair. Thin, stylish, and undoubtedly odd. They’re not our most recommended, but they’re comfortable and certainly make an impression.
What kind of article would this be if we didn’t include TOMS? They’re lightweight, they’re stylish, and they do some pretty cool things as a company. The shoes themselves don’t really strike the casual onlooker unless they’re familiar with the brand. But, at this point, who isn’t familiar with the brand?
If you’re looking for something a bit more heavy duty, and not so concerned about fashion, Merrell is great– specifically the “Moab” shoes. They’re like boots and shoes synthesized, and they are great for long walks. They’re waterproof, but they certainly scream “I’m here for the hiking” rather than any kind of fashion statement. Which, in a way, is a fashion statement in its own right, right?
Want to do something totally different? Like… sandals? As long as you vow not to wear socks with them, we’re into your decision. Chaco sandals are specifically made to be good for hiking, so they’re pretty ideal for warm climates.
Travelling takes a toll on the feet. It’s not even debatable. Even with the perfect shoes, this isn’t totally alleviated. It’s just aided. We suggest that you still prepare for blisters with planned rest stops and maybe even bandages. Wear good socks, and even consider formulas such as powders for your feet, or creams. Take care of your feet, yourself, and have a great time.