I’m a newbie at camping. Oh, I’ve hiked all my life. And I’ve got some 6,000 miles under my backpack straps. But 99.9 percent of the time I day-hike, getting off the trail at night to stay in a motel.
Some people say that’s not “real” hiking or backpacking. I’m a firm believer in hiking the way that makes sense for you. For me, at this point in my life (namely, as someone who is still employed), I need to work on my laptop at night. But, to be honest, I also like hot showers and warm beds.
Nevertheless, I must learn how to camp and to enjoy it. Because I want to hike all 11 of our National Scenic Trails, and that means I have to camp some nights when it’s impossible to get off the trail.
Starting to Camp
My first shot at backpack camping came in January 2017, while hiking through Big Cypress Swamp on the Florida Trail. The camp shoes I brought along were my sturdy Keens. That didn’t work out so well. While the Keens are protective and durable, they’re heavy. Really heavy.
My next foray into the world of camping came while on the Superior Hiking Trail. This time I swapped out the Keens for lighter-weight (and)cheap) flip-flop sandals from Wal-Mart. Their lighter weight was a definite plus. But being flip-flop type sandals, a lot of dirt and grit collected in them. Yuck.
I was going to go with Crocs next, because I’ve seen a lot of experienced campers using them. However, they’re not cheap (about $45) and they’re probably as heavy as my Keens. So I polled a bunch of pro hikers and many recommended I purchase Vivo Barefoot shoes. The downside? They’re $80 at Vivo, although I got them for $60 on Amazon. Still pricey.
How Are They?
OK, so I haven’t used them yet and can’t give a definitive thumbs-up or thumbs-down. However, even though I haven’t used them yet, I can tell you they’re super light and fit according to size. The holes mean they’ll be good for fording streams and rivers, although that won’t be an issue on the Arizona Trail where I’ll be trying them out. The fact that they’re a shoe, and not an open-toed flip-flop like my Wal-Mart sandals, means I can tuck things in them when they’re hanging off my pack, which is always handy.
So I’m pretty darn excited about my new Vivo camp shoes. I think I made a wise purchase. I will find out in 47 days, when I begin hiking!
I’m back from the trail and these shoes are awesome! And yes, on the Arizona Trail this year I DID have to ford several streams. They were great in the water and great at camp. And light as a feather. I’m buy them again in a heartbeat.