I am always on the lookout for sandals/shoes that I might choose to take on a year-long trip. I intend to add to this post as I find shoes that I’d consider for travel.
Here’s my shoe wish list:
- Good for walking long distances
- Light weight
- Packs into the smallest possible space
- Looks good with a skirt or dress, but not dorky with shorts or trousers (likely not factor for men’s shoe choices)
- Looks good with shorts or trousers, but not stupid with a skirt or dress (likely not factor for men’s shoe choices)
- Can stand up to rain or water
- Can be washed when they get muddy
- Have traction
- Aren’t hard on my feet
- Stay in place somewhat when walking on cobble stones or sliding in dirt or grass
- Will hold up for a year
(Don’t forget that the favorite shoes you’ve had for years were likely worn once every few weeks or were given wearing breaks during various seasons. A year of travel wear is more of an actual 250 − 365 days of use.)
- Can be worn without socks
(It’s one thing to bring a pair of shoes or sneakers that are worn with socks, but do you want to have to wear socks, which have to be washed and which take up precious space, nearly every day?)
It’s with this in mind that I evaluate any pair of shoes. Most shoes I’d buy in my everyday life don’t even begin to pass consideration for travel.
The Sanuk Yoga Sling — a flat, comfortable sandal
I don’t own this sandal yet, so I can’t announce a recommendation. I heard of them from a non-traveler so I looked at them in the Sanuk store in Santa Monica. I have yet to walk in this sandal on actual pavement or for a mile. But at first evaluation, I’d consider buying and trying this sandal. (There is not a man’s version of this sandal.)
- The base beneath our foot is made, they say, from an actual yoga mat material. Yoga mats absorb energy and are comfortable to stand on.
- The bottom that touches the ground is rubber and seems to absorb shock. Sanuk calls it “rubber sponge.”
- The top of the sandal is a light weight, 2-way stretch fabric.
- The sling design allows you to have a bit of variety in how well your feet are covered or where you place the straps.
They are vegan and vegetarian as well, which is critical for some and simply nice to know for others.
Before I visited the Sanuk store, I looked at this sandal online. When trying them, I was happy to discover that the fabric is soft and comfortable. The zigzag pattern of some of the fabric options had made me think the fabric would be an irritating rough weave.
What I still need to know:
- How they’ll feel when wet
- Whether they will be slippery or become slippery when walking on a wet street
(One online reviewer wrote: “tend to slip on some floors”)
- Whether they’ll be uncomfortable in extreme heat
(In LA where summers are quite hot, I met a woman buying them because her LA friend loves them, so that’s promising.)
- Whether the softness of the bottom will remain in a month or two or six
- Whether the knit will stretch out causing the sandal to no longer fit
- I am told they wash well, but I’d like to try that myself a few times.
My thanks to Bobby at the Santa Monica store for helping me get to know both the women’s and men’s line of shoes. He loves the men’s Sidewalk Surfers, by the way. No socks needed. He thinks backpackers would be very happy traveling with them. I’m guessing the women’s would be well liked by women too.