I’m a newbie at camping, so I never had to ponder the issue of camp shoes. Until recently, that is.
You see, while I’ve hiked all my life and have some 6,000 miles under my backpack straps, 99.9 percent of the time I day-hiked, getting off the trail at night to stay in a motel.
Some people say that’s not “real” hiking or backpacking. I disagree, as I’m a firm believer in hiking in the way that makes sense for you. For me, motels worked because I’m still employed and need to work on my laptop at night. And, to be honest, I also like hot showers and warm beds.
Things changed, however, once I set a goal of hiking all 11 of our National Scenic Trails. Many of these trails require camping because you simply can’t get off of them every night. And so I’d have to start camping.
Camping Means Gear, Like Camp Shoes
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 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 try Crocs on my next adventure hiking the Arizona Trail, mainly 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 camp shoes. The downside? They’re $80 at Vivo, although I scored a pair for $60 on Amazon.
How Are They?
I now have used the Vivo Barefoot camp shoes on my thru-hike of the Arizona Trail and on sections of the North Country Trail, and I love them! The shoes are super light and fit according to size. While the holes do let some dirt and grit in, it’s nothing major. And the holes make them great for fording streams and rivers.
I’ve also discovered that because they’re a closed-toe shoe, I can tuck things in them when they’re hanging off my pack, which is always handy. So yes, these will be my go-to camp shoes from now on.
Try Them Yourself!
Vivobarefoot Ultra III: Amazon
Disclosure: This entry contains affiliate links (among regular links) to products I own and like, or which I think you might like. There may be lodging links as well to places I stayed at and enjoyed. This means that, at no extra cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase.