Lets talk about shoes. When I was planning six months of travelling one important question that came up again and again was, what clothes to bring. Especially the shoe question was quite tough because shoes usually take up lots of space within the luggage.
That’s why I normally try to travel with only two pairs of shoes. But travelling the world meant visiting very different climates and it wasn’t possible to stick with just two pairs for that time. I needed sturdy hiking boots, some casual shoes, which I could wear when going out and when staying in cities, some flip-flops for the warmer countries and shoes I could wear in and under water.
Fotunately there has been a huge barefoot movement during the last years. There are so many options of barefoot shoes out there and the good thing about those is that they are mostly very lightweight. Below you’ll find a quick overview of the shoes I brought onto the journey and how they performed.
Mammut Mercury Mid II GTX
The Mammut Mercury shoes (US, UK, GER*) are the only non-barefoot option I took with me. For longer hikes with a heavy backpack I find a normal sole more comfortable than a thin barefoot sole. But those shoes are still comparably lightweight.
There’s a tradeoff though. While they are light and super comfortable (at least for me) they are not quite as sturdy as other alpine hiking boots. The sole is a bit softer and the fabric too. But they held up great during the world tour. I used them during all travel days – yes, even on flights because there was no space in the luggage -, on many hikes in the Andes, the Amazonian jungle, and all the other countries we visited. And while they no longer look new, they will still last me through many more hikes and travels.
Through the use of Goretex they are also waterproof, which was especially helpful during our hike to Rainbow Mountain in Peru. This can become a problem in warmer countries though.
Vivobarefoot Aqua II
Vivobarefoot have a huge selection of barefoot shoes, which, I have to admit, are a bit pricey. Are they worth the money? Well, I bought a pair of Aqua II shoes with a rebate of 35% and considering the workmanship I’d not spend more than 100 Euro on such shoes. The glue they use on the sole isn’t very good. They held up good enough until we reached Vietnam but the sole was already comming loose in some areas. In Hanoi I got them fixed at some street corner. They guy who did it used a much better glue and also thicker cords to attach the sole to the rest of the shoe.
Now I would say, they are perfect and totally worth the money and it’s very sad that they don’t come out of the factory like this. They are comfortable after all, very lightweight and have a good sole.
Zeroshoes Amuri Cloud
My favourite shoes for warm countries. Well not real shoes but rather flip-flops. The Amuri Cloud were the best investment I made. I wore them during beach days, on hikes along the coast, when showering at caravan parks and even when climbing along the rocky coast of the beaches north of Sydney. They weigh next to nothing and also take up nearly no space in the backpack.
Fyf stands for Free Your Feet. Wearing those socks is as close to barefoot as it gets. So why wear them at all? When photographing at beaches I often get into the water or I have to climb on rocks. Without those socks I can quickly get my feet cut. This happened to me on our thid day on Isabella Island were I hit one of the many volcanic rocks with my big toe. Those rocks can be razor sharp and it was a bit ugly. From there on I always wore the socks on the beach and also during snorkeling and my feet were protected.
The dyneema fabric, from which they are made, is more robust than steel and while I can feel every stone, on which I step, I don’t have to worry about cutting my feet again.
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