Frequent travelers know that picking the right shoes for the adventure ahead makes a world of difference. The wrong footwear can seriously make or break an otherwise epic journey if they prevent you from heading out on a hike, entering a temple, or going to a nice restaurant.
In choosing shoes for travel, there’s certainly a lot of factors to consider, like cost, weight, style, functionality, and durability. Of course, it also depends on if you are heading off backpacking in the South of France, climbing Japan’s Mount Fuji, wandering the pink sand beaches of Bermuda, or dining in style on the rooftop bar of Bangkok’s Banyan Tree Hotel.
Rain or shine, cold or hot, whatever epicness you have planned or not planned, you want to be prepared with the right shoes. Below are my wife and I’s top picks for travel kicks and why!
TOP 5 MEN’S
1. La Sportiva Bushido
I find that trail running shoes make for the best all-around travel shoes. They’re just more versatile than anything else. From strolling airports and cities to muddy, wet, rocky treks, they just handle it all, are low profile, comfortable. Plus, they’re running shoes, so you don’t have to fall out of Strava habit and can put up miles while on the go.
My La Sportiva Bushidos have been all around Thailand, through the Lake Tahoe Spartan Race World Championships, up Mount Kilimanjaro, and after 2 years through all that, are still in great shape as my go-to running shoes.
2. The North Face Endurus Hike Mid
If your adventures demand something more serious than a running shoe and you’re going to be packing a boot, try out The North Face Endurus Mid.
Tough enough for the mountains, sleek enough for a nice night out, and comfortable as anything, these hikers can handle most anything the world-traveler has in store. They’re supportive, breathable, have a waterproof Gore-Tex membrane, a Vibram sole, and feel like you’re hiking on a cloud. With wardrobe versatility and functionality for varied activities in mind, these boots are winners on the road.
3. KEEN Newport H2
My single pair of Newports are now 5 years old and they have kicked dirt through the approach to Aconcagua base camp, spent 4 months trekking through South and Central America, and through a volunteering stint at Chiang Mai, Thailand’s Elephant Nature Park. Through all that, these sandals are still going strong.
They’re trail ready, super durable, breathable, and quick dry. For shoes that will hold their own and keep your feet in good shape through rocky, dirty, wet, and specifically, when it’s HOT while traveling, trekking, or working, I’d say opt for the KEEN Newport H2 Sandal.
4. Olokai Ohana Sandals
I wear flip flops probably more than any other shoe, as long as the weather permits. Flip flops are light and packable enough that if I’m headed anywhere warm, they’re always in the bag. And the Olukai Ohana is my long-time favorite.
I’m on my third pair, and that’s not because they aren’t durable (they are actually super tough sandals!), but because I wear them so much. Not for just hanging at the beach either. If I’m out on a long hike, or spending a day rock climbing, my feet are very thankful afterward to break free of the boot and hang out in these.
5. KEEN Durand Polar
Headed off to chase the Northern Lights in Iceland or Norway? You’re going to want the KEEN Durand Polar boot. For extreme places notorious for extreme conditions, I’ve never worn a more bomber boot. With the exception of my serious mountaineering boots of course, but I’m not about to stroll around Reykjavik in the boots I climbed Denali in…
TOP 5 WOMEN’S
1. The North Face Women’s Ultra MT Gore-Tex
The North Face Ultra MT Gore-Tex trail runner is a great travel shoe. Alex bought them for our month traveling Thailand and was super impressed with them because they’re so multi-purpose. Running, hiking, and walking, of course, but they also crushed it at the Elephant Nature Park getting plenty wet and dirty, and they dry fast. Plus, they’re a sweet looking shoe.
2. Cheap Boat Shoes
These are the Twisted Women’s Bonnie Casual Fashion Boat Shoe, and they are less than $15 on Amazon. Alexandria is a huge advocate for cheap canvas boat shoes. They’re comfortable, small, light, and easy to pack, great for walking around to see a city, and you can dress them up or down to wear with most any outfit.
3. Teva Women’s Olowahu Flip-Flop
Again, flip flops are never a bad thing. The Teva Olowahu is perfect for heading to the beach, but they’re also great as no-hassle airport shoes, and of course for just lounging around the hostel or Airbnb.
4. Neutral Dress Shoe/Heel
This one may look a little out of place in this list, but, there will be times when you want to get a little shmancy! Adventure isn’t just about mountains, mud, sand, and surf. Adventure can also be a 5-course meal at the finest 5-star restaurant in Paris! So Alex likes to have a versatile heel for just those occasions. But a cheap one will do, like this dress pump by Soda.
5. KEEN Women’s Terradora Boot
The Keen Terradora Boot is pretty awesome. This, like the Endurus mentioned above, is for when you need something a bit tougher than a trail running shoe. If you know that you’ll be doing some serious trekking where you’re headed, then this is a perfect boot. Lightweight and comfortable enough for an all-day all-around trekker, but durable, waterproof, and solid enough for class 4 scrambling like across Mount Superior’s South Ridge in Utah’s Little Cottonwood Canyon.