Ive been sort of pondering that same question myself, John. Of course, in this day and age of light-packing, and given the fact that nearly all hiking boots are far more comfortable today than their of counterparts 20 years back, we should be doing the right thing and simply wearing our trail boots around campmaybe going barefoot occasionally if need be.
But I have to agree that after a long, hot day on the trail, putting on something light and comfy and ambling around the campsite is a real treat. A few weeks ago, for instance, I opted to carry a pair of basic Teva sandals on a backpacking/climbing trip. Theyre fairly light and very comfortable, but this type of Teva has drawbacks. They dont offer a lot of toe protection, in the event you want to do anything more ambitious than loaf around camp or wander to the nearest stream for a water refill. And foot stability is a little problematic. They set out to combat this problem with a new sports sandal called the Karnali Wraptor ($100; teva.com), which has some toe protection and is very stable. Its worth looking into.
Beyond that, trail runners and things like that are too heavy, in my view. Water shoes, on the other hand, tend to be quite light while still offering decent toe protection, good traction, and a lot of comfort. Salomons Karma ($90; salomonoutdoor.com) is a good choice, with a mesh upper, tough toe camp, and grippy outsoles. Weight is about 20 ounces for a pair, so a bit over a pound. Tevas Sunkosi shoes ($100) are a touch heavier, with a little more polyurethane around the uppers and a little less mesh than the Salomon shoes.
One potentially intriguing choice is the Vibram Fivefinger ($70; vibramfivefingers.com). These are a sort of rubber five-toed sockthink of gloves for your feet. They slip right over your feet and toes for a very unusual footwear experience. They offer decent foot protection, good grip, and theyre very light at 11 ounces per pair. But opinions are mixed. Some people really hate the way they feel, and in my own experience it can be a little tough to get all your toes into the correct slots. But theyve improved from the pre-production models I tried, so worth a look.
Support Outside Online
Our mission to inspire readers to get outside has never been more critical. In recent years, Outside Online has reported on groundbreaking research linking time in nature to improved mental and physical health, and we’ve kept you informed about the unprecedented threats to America’s public lands. Our rigorous coverage helps spark important debates about wellness and travel and adventure, and it provides readers an accessible gateway to new outdoor passions. Time outside is essential—and we can help you make the most of it. Making a financial contribution to Outside Online only takes a few minutes and will ensure we can continue supplying the trailblazing, informative journalism that readers like you depend on. We hope you’ll support us. Thank you.