Key Considerations When Choosing the Best Travel Shoes
What is your budget? This is an important place to start, although you may need to re-think this once you take into consideration the points following in this article as you may have underestimated how important footwear is and, like anything else, you generally get what you pay for. You can get budget shoes from next to nothing (not recommended) going up to premium footwear into the hundreds of dollars.
Don’t leave it to the very last minute to purchase your shoes. This is important for two reasons. Firstly if you find out there are any issues with the shoes, the wrong size, they turn out to be really uncomfortable or even if there are any defects in them. If you only find this out on the eve of your trip or when you are already gone then it’s not going to be possible to return them.
Secondly, you’ll need some time to break in the shoes. They need time to soften up and mold slightly to the shape of your feet and it’s for this reason that if you wear brand-new shoes for too long on the first couple of times then it’s likely you’ll get blisters on your feet and this really sucks, so it’s best to avoid where at all possible.
Socks are also quite important, what’s the use of getting the correct shoe and not having a good layer in-between that and your foot. There are many types of socks designed for travel and walking in particular and you’ll want a pair that are comfortable, will last and are suitable for long trips. For these criteria, merino wool socks are ideal as they not only offer comfort and support but are sweat and odor resistant due to natural anti-bacterial properties in the material. There are various other types of walking sock available in such materials as bamboo, another natural option which is a little cheaper and not quite as good as merino and various synthetic options as well.
You have to take into consideration what features you want or need in your travel footwear. A key consideration is what type of travel you are going to be doing? If you are to be hiking along mountain ranges, taking in rough and challenging terrain then it’s key that you have a set of boots that are up to the task; this will mean high ankle support; full waterproofing and breathability as you’ll want to ensure that you are dry comfortable and blister-free.
If you are more looking to have the type of trip where you are traveling a lot, backpacking around cities then comfort is still critically important to be comfortable but it will not be as essential to have as high a level of waterproofing as you will be in the rain and wet at times but not trudging through puddles and will spend some of your time indoors.
If your trip is much more relaxing and slow-paced then you’ll have other features of your footwear that are important, maybe the look and style and even sandals if you are going on a beach holiday.
Shoes for Travel – The Best Brands
When picking which brands of shoes required for your travel it’s important to look at them regarding the different types of travel we’ve mentioned above. So let’s take each category in turn and look at which brands offer the best in terms of suitability, quality and value for money.
Casual Backpacking & All-Round Winners
This is most likely the category of travel shoes that most of us will need. What you want here is something stylish and cool but still well-made enough to last the rigors of extended travel.
Our personal favorite in this category is the fast up and coming Vessi Footwear boasting to be the “world’s first waterproof knit shoes” giving a waterproof feature that is intrinsically in the fabric of the shoe and not a coating, much like the merino socks we spoke of earlier, they are all lightweight and vegan friendly making them very much worth the price tag.
Ecco is another brand that is fairly popular and becoming popular all over.
The classic Adidas has never gone away and other old favorites such as New Balance and Nike are still a safe bet.
Extreme Walking, Climbing and Hiking
For these types of shoes you are looking at more active pursuits and so the level of sturdiness and waterproofing will need a higher benchmark, you should be checking things like types of material used, gore-tex or gore-tex pro rather than in-house waterproofing for example.
If you are more of a traditionalist and are looking for a heavy leather walking boot then we would recommend either the Scarpa Terra GTX or anything from the high-quality Yorkshire based traditional boot-maker Alt-Berg.
Sandals & Beach Wear
You can’t really go traveling without a pair of sandals, can you? But don’t be surprised to learn that you can get some that offer a lot more or less support, so don’t be tempted just to buy a cheap pair from your local discount store, especially if you will be wearing them a lot.
Birkenstocks are a great example of a good comfortable sandal and note that they pretty much all have support at the rear, a must for long worn sandals. Chaco is a good bet as well offering a really good level of foot support. A bit of a surprisingly good and very light-weight option are Crocs sandals which are actually very good.
It can be a good idea to add a good insole for various reasons. It can make a shoe much more comfortable and prevent an issue like blisters which are most commonly due to slightly loose shoes rubbing against the skin. There are various good brands of off the shelve Superfeet, Powerstep, SofSole, Sorbothane and Spenco, but there are also plenty of other brands available. Be sure to consult your doctor if you are looking at getting an insole due to an injury or if it is needed for a medical reason as they may well need to prescribe you a more specifically shaped pair for your particular needs.
Your footwear choice very much depends on what type of trip you are taking. We have seen that no matter what type of trip you are taking there is a chance you’ll be walking reasonable distances so comfort is key. You will now be aware of the kind of things to be aware of such as level of ankle support, do you need full waterproofing in your shoe and other such features.
There is always a choice between brands and some on the face of it look like they offer the same thing but it’s important to look a little closer to ensure you are getting the features that suit your particular trip.