Bringing one pair of shoes on a backpacking trip isn’t possible, in my opinion. I suppose a pair of Tevas might be as close as you can get in versatility, but for longer adventures, you need a bit of variety.
Though my own method of carrying around three types of footwear seems counterintuitive to my constant mantra of packing light, they each serve a purpose, are lightweight, and take up almost no space in my bag.
Tom’s are my all-around, daily use shoe. I wear these the most and slipping them on and off is perfect for situations like airport security. A pair in black or dark gray work perfectly for more formal events and nights out thanks to their simplicity and they look fine with or without a pair of socks.
Purposes served: Primary all-around shoe, semi-formal occasions
My pair of Vibram Biklila are great for trail running and hiking for extended periods of time on all types of terrain.
People are turned off by the way these look, but once you walk around in a pair, it’s easy to understand what the hubbub is about. They make you use the balls of you feet and toes, actually making running a lot of fun. That’s an endorsement from someone who hates running, or rather, used to.
Purposes served: Jogging, trekking
Okabashi makes a higher-end, more stable flip-flop that doesn’t break or fall apart as easily as flip flops generally do. Flip-flops are required for showering in hostels and come in handy as beach footwear, but are often a shoddily made piece of footwear.
These are a bit thicker than cheap flip flops you can buy on the street or at Walmart and offer more of an arch that curves to your foot so they don’t slide around under my feet when walking. They’re also made out of a single-molded piece of recycled rubber, which leads to a simpler product, and simpler is always nice.
Purposes served: Communal/hostel showers, beach
Wanted: Combine Them All
Want I really want is a shoe that combines all of these into one. The quick drying material and solid treads of my Vibrams, simple look of my Tom’s, and the slip-on ease of a flip flop.
Maybe the upcoming Nike Flyknit is a step in that direction, but for now I’m very happy with the ground my trio covers. Pun intended.