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Sandals for Summer Backpacking

John Hussey

Active Member
Sandals for Summer Backpacking


An article which appeared in Backpackinglight.com by a hiking and backpacking guru with the above title:

Article Summary:

Sandals for hiking? Even trail shoe wearers often find such an idea ridiculous or incomprehensible. I didn't take them seriously for backpacking at first either, carrying a pair for camp wear but never wearing them on the trail. Then, I went on a two-week trek in the Dolpo region of the Himalaya in Nepal, where I found my lightweight boots far too hot in the sub-tropical forests at the start of the hike. With only a light load to carry and good trails, I decided to hike in my sandals. The relief was enormous, and I kept wearing the sandals even when the terrain became rougher, steeper, and more mountainous, crossing three passes over 16,500 feet/5000 meters in them. I wore the boots in camp for warmth, as it was often frosty, but I walked the whole route in sandals, finishing with a long scree run. That was fifteen years ago. Converted, I've since walked thousands of miles in sandals, including a 500-mile hike in the High Sierra and 212 miles coast to coast across Scotland on the Southern Upland Way. I've also worn sandals on treks to Everest Base Camp and Makalu Base Camp, and for backpacking in the Colorado Rockies, the Grand Canyon, the Uinta Mountains in Utah and on the GR20 in Corsica (until a pig ate one), as well as on many summer trips in the Scottish Highlands. Sandals are my favorite footwear for hiking.

By Chris Townsend

So, heavy boot wearers, at least consider a lighter approach..

Chris Townsend on Wikipedia:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chris_Townsend
 
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I have been testing hiking sandals for a couple of weeks. They are great on street and path, even undulating terrain. They prevent toe jamming on downhill stretches. But when I hit the first traverse, my feet slid to the side of the sandals. Since they are strapped securely to my feet, it may be a case of getting used to the sensation of sliding off the sandals, and taking confidence that they will be under my foot at each step. One of the hardest stresses on my ankles has been sustained hillside traverses, where the terrain slopes sideways for as much as an hour. I think that sandals would aggravate the ankle roll. Boots with their strong side support are back on my favorite list. I would say, though, that if the path is senda, roads, or improved path, sandals are lighter and cooler.
 

Bridget and Peter

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
Home to Reims 2007
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I have just bought some Keen Newport 'sandals', which have toecaps. I wanted to cycle in sandals, for coolness and comfort, but worried about unprotected toes. When I found these, I was first struck by the wonderful broad shape - I have dumpy wide feet and high insteps, so often have to buy shoes that are several sizes too long to get a comfortable width.
I don't think I would get the toe-bruising if I walked downhill in them, either, because they have lots of elastic which grips the feet all round very firmly. The first day I wore them one foot looked as if the elastic had caused bruising itself, although it had not been hurting, but the purple mark wore off and has never come back!
I have been wearing the keens daily for the past two or three weeks, and they are THE MOST COMFORTABLE shoes I have ever worn. I had a reasonable long cycle ride in them and they are fine on the pedals, they look quite smart (in an outdoorsy sort of way) with casual work clothes, so all in all I think I will get my money's worth for them (£49.99)
 

paddycreaven

New Member
I have worn only sandals for a few years now...all year round. I have been mulling over what footwear to use next spring on my Camino. I really suffer in any type of closed footwear so I have decided to go with my sandals. I will be in no rush so can take it easy the first few days. So, if you see someone suffering without boots or socks, that will be me.... you may stop and patronise me...wish me luck
Bueno Camino
Paddy
 

fraluchi

RIP 2019
Past OR future Camino
One every year since 2007
paddycreaven said:
I have worn only sandals for a few years now...all year round. I have been mulling over what footwear to use next spring on my Camino. I really suffer in any type of closed footwear so I have decided to go with my sandals.
Falcon269 elaborates on his experience: [Boots with their strong side support are back on my favorite list. I would say, though, that if the path is senda, roads, or improved path, sandals are lighter and cooler].
The Camino Francés has only few stretches where sandals would not be a good choice.
Particularly on slopes during or after rain.
Depending upon the time of year and climate, sandals could well do the pilgrims job. :wink:
 
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Pieces

Veteran Member
paddy, do at least bring a pair of socks as they may be the best blisterpreventionoption you may have...

it is not advisable to walk sockless sandals or no sandals...
 

rickster

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
Camino Frances (2012), LePuy (2013), Coastal Portuguese( 2013), Norte (Fall 2014)
Still many opportunities on the Camino for stubbed toes. Best compromise for me would be the Keen type of sandal with the protected toe.
 

paddycreaven

New Member
Pieces said:
paddy, do at least bring a pair of socks as they may be the best blisterpreventionoption you may have...

it is not advisable to walk sockless sandals or no sandals...
Thanks for the advice. Have been walking further and with my backpack and in sandals and have had no problems yet, having said that, I am not repeating these long walks day after day like I will on the Camino.I also need some long walks on rougher terrain, but as you say, maybe I should bring at least one pair of socks. The upside of walking in sandals lie in the space/weight saved as well as the comfort I get in them...promise to let people know how I get on
 
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alipilgrim

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
Listed in my signature
Falcon, if your foot is sliding and the straps are tight, then the fit cannot be good. I wore hiking sandals on the VdP this Spring many days and loved them. Never stubbed a toe, no matter the terrain; got the occasional pebble between my sock and sandal but was gone with one flick of a finger; and very cushion-ey. I did, however, get one small blister under the 'pad' (?) of one foot but narrowed it down to having a slightly heavier pack that day. I switched back to my shoes for 2 more days, and with a lighter load (less treats), I wore my sandals again with no problem. I'm definitely taking them on my next Camino.
 

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