Best Travel Shoes for Backpackers – Top Picks for Men and Women!

Call me melodramatic but the right travel shoes can make or break your trip. If you want to be safe, comfortable and happy while exploring, choosing the right footwear should be the first thing on your mind. 

Yet all too often backpackers fail to put thought into choosing the best shoes for travelling. Instead of packing lightweight travel sneakers and flip-flops, they opt for chunky hiking boots that hardly get used!

To save you carrying around bulky kicks you’ll never wear, we’ve drawn on our years of travel experience, and the combined knowledge of our Facebook community, to put together this all-encompassing guide covering the best shoes for backpacking! 


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Best Travel Shoes: Quick Answers!

ImageProductFeaturesPrice
Best Overall Travel Shoe
Tropicfeel Canyon

Tropicfeel Canyon

  • Versatile
  • Water-friendly 
  • Slip-on
Check Price On Tropicfeel
Best Walking Sandals for Travel
ECCO Yucatan

ECCO Yucatan

  • Supportive
  • Comfortable
  • Excellent traction 
Check Price On Amazon
Best Minimalist Walking Sandals for Travel
Bedrock Cairn Adventure Sandals

Bedrock Cairn Adventure Sandals

  • Vibram outsole
  • Built for hikers
  • Excellent strap system 
Check Price on REI
Best Minimalist Walking Shoes for Travel
Vivobarefoot Primus Trail II FG

Vivobarefoot Primus Trail II FG

  • Ultra-packable
  • Wide toe box 
  • Amazing ground feel 
Check Price On VivobarefootCheck Price On Amazon
Best Walking Shoes for Travel
Merrel Nova/Antora

Merrel Nova/Antora

  • Supportive
  • Protective
  • Responsive cushioning 
Check Price On Merrell

The Best Shoes for Travel

You’ll require different shoes depending on the length of your trip and your chosen activities. If you’re on an extended backpacking trip, chances are you’ll need multiple pairs. 

Most travellers opt for three: 

  • Flip Flops/Sandals
  • Sneakers/Trainers
  • Walking Shoes 

This range of footwear will cover you for most activities, terrain and climates. 


The Best Travel Sneakers 

Sneakers made specifically for travel are typically lightweight, quick-drying, supportive and super comfy. They can be used in a variety of situations from running and hiking to swimming or lazing on the beach. 

They’re mostly made from sustainable materials and use eco-friendly methods. Some are waterproof while others are made of super lightweight mesh.


Tropicfeel Canyon Sneakers — Best Travel Shoes 

Tropicfeel Canyon, Grey, Product Image
Pros
  • Water-friendly
  • Lightweight
  • Slip-on
  • Made from recycled bottles 
Cons
  • No ankle support
  • Very little protection
  • Versatile — The Canyon sneakers feature Tropicfeel’s 4-in-1 versatility. In real terms, this means they’re as comfortable as athletic shoes, can be used as water shoes, are made of technical materials like hiking shoes and are stylish enough that they don’t stand out in town. 
  • Comfort — With a dual-density footbed, the Tropicfeel Canyons offer comfort and support. The top layer is soft and squishy while the bottom layer is more rigid, improving stability. The upper is stretchy and super lightweight. It grips your foot, creating a sock-like feel – plus, they can be slipped on and off, so you don’t need to mess about with laces every day. 
  • Packable — At just 200g per pair, the Tropicfeel Canyons are some of the lightest shoes on our list. You’ll barely notice them in your bag! The upper compresses down well too, so they take up much less room than a standard pair of trainers. 
  • Kickstarter — Tropicfeel fund all research and development through Kickstarter. By avoiding outside investors, Tropicfeel remain in full control of the creative process. This also allows customers to become part of the development journey of each product!
  • Other Models — Tropicfeel’s once small range of travel shoes has grown in recent years and now includes:
    • Sunset Sneakers — More formal than the Canyons but still suitable for hours of walking around towns and cities.
    • Monsoon Sneakers — A casual look but still super comfy. 
    • Jungle Sneakers — A variation on the Canyons, the Jungle sneakers are a touch lighter and feature a different heel counter for more support. 
    • Lava Sneakers — Tropicfeel’s most rugged shoes with enhanced support and extra reinforcement. 
    • Dune Sneakers — Ideal for urban environments with their classy shape and Tropicfeel comfort! 
    • Geyser Sneakers — Tropicfeel’s waterproof shoe is available in mid and low-cut variations. 
Best Overall Travel Shoe
Tropicfeel Canyon
  • Price Range: $$$
  • Best Feature: 4-in-1 versatility 
  • Feature To Improve: Only available online
  • Read:Tropicfeel Canyon Review

Loom Shoes — Merino Wool Travel Shoes 

Loom Shoes, Black
Pros
  • Waterproof
  • Sustainable
  • They look great
Cons
  • Unethical pricing practices
  • Sizing is a little out (refer to size chart)
  • Merino Wool — Loom use the highest quality Merino Wool in their shoes. One of the most popular materials for outdoor clothing, Merino Wool’s use in shoes is still in its infancy. But don’t let this put you off. It has excellent temperature regulation properties, is moisture wicking, quick drying and naturally odour resistant – sounds like the dream material, right?!
  • Waterproof — While the inner layer of Loom Shoes is Merino Wool, the outer layer is made from proprietary H2-Go technology. It allows air to flow in and out of the shoes while repelling all water. 
  • Sustainable — Although Loom use animal products in their shoes, the Merino Wool is sourced from eco-friendly farms that adhere to strict cruelty-free practices. By working with innovative farms, Loom have reduced the carbon footprint of their shoes by over 500%! 
  • Excelcast Sole — Loom work with podiatrists to create the perfect midsole. It’s supportive, offering maximum energy return and shock absorption to keep you going for days of exploring! However, the outsole lacks an aggressive tread pattern meaning these shoes are more suited to urban areas and well-worn trails than rugged terrain. 
  • Price — Loom Shoes’ questionable pricing practices mean the sneakers officially retail at $250USD, although we’ve never actually seen them sold at this price. They always seem to have a 60% sale which means you can pick the shoes up for $90USD. 
Loom Shoes
  • Price Range: $$$$$$
  • Best Feature: Waterproof yet breathable 
  • Feature To Improve: Sizing is a little off – consult the sizing guide 

All Birds Tree Dasher 2 — Travel Shoes Made From Eucalyptus

AllBirds Tree Dashers
Pros
  • Comfortable out of the box
  • Sustainably made
  • Excellent traction and support
Cons
  • Not water resistant
  • Sizing is inconsistent
  • Eucalyptus — The All Birds Tree Dasher 2 features a one-piece knit upper made from eucalyptus fibre. As it’s made from a single piece of fabric, the upper has no seams to rub and cause blisters. 
  • SweetFoam Midsole — Made from sugarcane, All Birds’ proprietary SweetFoam midsole is the world’s first carbon-negative EVA foam. It’s comfortable, offering excellent cushioning, support and fantastic energy return with each step! 
  • Lightweight — At less than 300g per shoe, the Tree Dasher 2 trainers are easy to pack. They compress down well, taking up only a small amount of space in your travel bag
  • Sustainability Practices — All Birds have sustainability at their core. The Tree Dashers feature a TENCEL Lyocell upper (made from eucalyptus trees), insoles made from castor bean oil and laces made from recycled plastic bottles. The outsole is made from natural rubber and the midsole from sugarcane. All Birds are fully transparent about the environmental cost of each item made and offset their emissions to make each shoe carbon-neutral. 
All Birds Tree Dasher 2
  • Price Range: $$$
  • Best Feature: Made using sustainable materials and practices
  • Feature To Improve: A unique look that some people don't like 

The Best Flip Flops for Travel 

When travelling in hot climates, flip-flops quickly become your best friend. They’re easy to slip on and off, they keep your feet cool and are easy to pack. They’re perfect for days on the beach or just for use in dodgy hostel showers. 

You don’t need to spend a ton of money on flip-flops. Popular brands like Havaianas or Reef are good quality and well-priced. 

But it’s cheaper to buy flip-flops when you get to your destination. Not only do they cost pennies on the dollar – especially in Southeast Asia – but this also saves you having to pack and transport them! Just ensure you’re getting a comfy pair that won’t tear your feet apart! 

If you’re interested in more premium flip flops that offer an element of arch support from their moulded footbeds, check out the Teva Pajaro for men or the Terran Post 2 from Merrell for women. 


Teva Pajaro Flip Flops for Men — Best Premium Men’s Flip Flops for Travel

Teva Men's Pajaro M Flip Flop,Dune,9 M US

Pros
  • Durable
  • Supportive
  • Great traction
Cons
  • Chunky
  • Take up a lot of room in your bag
  • Comfort — Ideal for short walks to the beach or long days perusing the sights, the Pajaro flip-flop from Teva is an ultra-comfortable choice. The leather, fabric combination means the strap is tough but kind to your feet. The footbed is contoured for support and has an anti-microbial treatment to reduce odours. 
  • Traction — The rubber outsole features a chunky lug pattern that delivers excellent grip, even in damp conditions. A nylon shank running through the sole offers excellent protection over rocky, or uneven terrain. 
  • A Word of Caution — Teva note that these flip-flops are not designed to handle extreme temperatures. Don’t leave them in direct sunlight. The footbed is prone to shrinking if it gets too hot. We’ve also noticed the glue holding parts of these sandals together begins to dissolve if it gets wet too many times. 
Teva Men's Pajaro Flip Flop
  • Price Range: $$
  • Best Feature: Contoured footbed offers excellent arch support
  • Feature To Improve: Not the most durable option 

Merrell Women’s Terran Post 2 Sandal — Best Premium Women’s Flip Flops for Travel

Merrell Women's Terran Post II Chili Sandal 6 M US

Pros
  • Comfortable
  • Supportive
Cons
  • Sizing is out
  • Prone to causing sweaty feet
  • Memory Foam — Merrell’s Terran Post 2 Sandal features a Remember Me memory foam footbed. It cradles your feet, reducing pressure and strain while offering a good level of arch support.
  • Protection — The air-cushioned heel works in conjunction with the footbed to absorb impacts and limit the strain of repeated footfalls on your body. The wide, neoprene strap and fabric toe post ensure the sandals stay on your feet, even over more difficult terrain. 
  • Grip — Initially, we were a little dubious about the traction offered by these sandals. The tread pattern appears more aesthetic than practical but its defined edges and deep siping actually hold up well in most environments. 
Merrell Women's Terran Post II Sandal
  • Price Range: $$$
  • Best Feature: Supportive with A LOT of grip offered from the M Select outsole 
  • Feature To Improve: They stand out more than 'normal' flip flops

The Best Walking Sandals for Travel

Chaco Z/Cloud — Most Supportive Sandal

Chaco Z/Cloud Sandal Women 8 Solid Black

Pros
  • Good arch support
  • Podiatrist approved
  • Customisable 
Cons
  • Straps can initially be confusing
  • Not suitable for all foot types
  • Footbed — Chacho’s Z/Cloud Sandals have a podiatrist-approved footbed. It’s contoured to match the natural shape of your foot. Plus, over time it moulds to the exact shape of your foot for maximum support. If you have high arches, these are the sandals for you but those with flat feet might find them a bit too much. 
  • Sole — The outsole is made from Chaco’s own rubber compound and tread pattern. It delivers reliable grip across a range of surfaces and flexes in all the right places. The dual-density midsole absorbs impacts and creates a stable base for your feet – protecting you from injuries and allowing you to walk long distances. 
  • Weight — At 400g per shoe, these sandals are heavier than most travel sandals. In fact, they’re heavier than most of the travel shoes on this list. However, along with the weight, you get a supportive, breathable sandal that can be your everyday shoe for most trips. 
  • Customisation Options — If standard colour options aren’t for you, Chaco have your back. The Z/Cloud can be customised with a huge range of straps and you can even upload your own designs to the website! After choosing your straps, add embroidery, change the colour of the outsole, footbed and even the stitching!  
Chaco Z/Cloud Sandal
  • Price Range: $$
  • Best Feature: Super comfy footbed
  • Feature To Improve: Straps take some getting used to

Ecco Yucatan/Off Road Sandals — Excellent All-Round Sandals

ECCO Men's Yucatan Sport Sandal, Black/Mole/Black Oil Nubuck, 9-9.5

Pros
  • Supportive
  • Comfortable
  • Plenty of grip
Cons
  • Take ages to dry
  • Microfibre footbed harbours bed smells
  • Yucatan vs Off Road — These sandals are sold in Europe as Off Road Sandals. In the USA they’re sold as the Yucatan Sandals. Both models are exactly the same! 
  • Straps — The three straps on these sandals offer a huge amount of adjustability. Each features a Velcro closure system, allowing for a custom fit. Once adjusted, they hug your feet well, limiting movement and preventing you from sliding too much inside the shoes. 
  • Comfort — The straps are lined with neoprene to ensure rubbing is kept to a minimum. The footbed is microfibre and feels amazing against your skin. It grips well to the bottom of your feet even when wet, so river crossings are a cinch while wearing these Ecco sandals! 
  • Outsole — The Yucatan Sandals feature a rocker sole. It subtly guides your feet through each step, making for a more efficient gait – allowing you to walk further with less effort. It also features an aggressive tread pattern that delivers excellent grip in a range of conditions!
Best Walking Sandals for Travel
ECCO Yucatan
  • Price Range: $$$
  • Best Feature: All round great sandals 
  • Feature To Improve: Footbed can get smelly 

Bedrock Cairn Adventure Sandals — Best Hiking Sandals

Bedrock Cairn Adventure Sandal
Pros
  • Vibram outsole
  • Built for hikers
  • Excellent strap system
Cons
  • Expensive
  • Look weird
  • Straps can take some time to learn
  • Lightweight — At just 250g per shoe, the Bedrock Cairn Adventure Sandals are easy to store in your backpack. They take up very little of your weight allowance and thanks to their minimalist design, can slip into just about any gap! 
  • Flat footbed — The zero-drop footbed is completely flat. It allows your feet to flex and move naturally, which improves their strength and dexterity over time. Gentle siping on the insole (the diamond pattern) prevents your feet from sliding around. Even when wet, these sandals offer unexpectedly high levels of stability. They can be used in a range of environments and are at home on trails, in rural areas and built-up cities. 
  • Strap Design — Bedrock’s own strap design takes some getting used to but once you’ve got the hang of it, it offers unrivalled levels of customisation. No matter the shape of your feet, you’ll get a pair of Bed Rock Cairn Adventure Sandals to fit! 
  • Different Models Available — Bedrock also sell sandals more suited to specific requirements. The Classic is their most minimal offering, delivering more sensory feedback with the same strap system. The Cairn Pro models create more grip in wet conditions and feature a more secure strap. The 3D models have a contoured footbed and are the most supportive Bedrock sandals available. 
Best Minimalist Walking Sandals for Travel
Bedrock Cairn Adventure Sandals
  • Price Range: $$$$
  • Best Feature: Versatile 
  • Feature To Improve: They're expensive 

The Best Walking Shoes for Travel

Skechers Go Walk

Skechers Women's GO Walk 6-Clear Virtue Sneaker, Black, 8.5

Pros
  • Lightweight
  • Breathable
  • Quick drying
  • Excellent soles 
Cons
  • Some models look a bit lame
  • Skechers generally run very narrow 
  • Range — There is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to the Skechers Go Walk range. But there is an option for everyone. Whether you’re looking for boat shoes, slip-ons, lace-ups, walking shoes, running sneakers or casual loafers, Skechers have you covered with their Go Walk shoes. 
  • Upper — Most models within the Go Walk range feature a mesh upper – although a few versions are available in leather or faux fur too. For travel, we recommend the mesh models. They’re lightweight, breathable and super comfy.
  • Sole — Skechers Go Walk shoes feature an air-cooled Goga Mat insole. It provides good support and cushioning to reduce foot fatigue and keep you comfortable. The outsole absorbs impacts, limiting the strain of walking on the rest of your body. However, it’s not the most durable and isn’t suited to rocky or rough terrain. 
Skechers Go Walk
  • Price Range: $$
  • Best Feature: They're like walking on clouds
  • Feature To Improve: Durability 

VivoBarefoot Primus Trail II FG

Vivobarefoot Primus Trail II FG, Womens Recycled Breathable Mesh Off-Road Shoe with Barefoot Firm Ground Sole

Pros
  • Wide toe box
  • Excellent traction
  • Amazing ground feel 
Cons
  • No support 
  • Barefoot — Vivobarefoot specialise in minimalist shoes for all walks of life. Whether you’re looking for comfy loafers, smart city shoes or boots for a rugged trail, there’s a Vivo out there for you. The barefoot design means you really feel the ground beneath your feet – there’s essentially no cushioning or support! It means your feet can work as evolution intended, using all the right muscles as they should. Barefoot shoes also deliver incredible sensory feedback which can improve balance and dramatically alter your gait. 
  • Traction — Even though the sole on the Primus Trail II FG is only 2.5mm thick, the well-defined tread pattern extends an extra 4mm for maximum traction. The lugs bite well into all but the softest ground and thanks to their clever placement, the flexibility of the sole isn’t limited. There’s also a textured tread pattern around the inside of your arch for efficient grip on even the most technical trails. 
  • Durability — The lightweight mesh upper and hardcore outsole can take a real beating before showing any signs of wear. This is a large improvement on the Primus Trail I model which had a tendency to blow out after 300-500 miles of hiking. 
  • Easy To Pack — All VivoBarefoot shoes can be rolled and compressed for easy packing. You can comfortably fit two pairs of Vivos in the same space as one normal pair of travel shoes!
  • Other Models — If you’re looking for barefoot shoes more suited to city life than challenging trails, the Primus Lite III features a much softer, less aggressive tread pattern that delivers even more ground feel!
  • Repairable — VivoBarefoot offer a repair program for most of their shoes. Although not all models are repairable, those that are can be sent back to VivoBarefoot to be reconditioned and returned to you as new. Although you need to pay for this service, it’s significantly cheaper than buying a new pair, plus it involves much less waste! If your shoes are damaged beyond repair, they can be recycled in return for money off your next order. 

Be Aware! 

It can take some time to get used to barefoot shoes if you’ve not used them before. Give your feet time to adjust to the shoes by wearing them for just a few hours a day initially. 

Best Minimalist Walking Shoes for Travel
Vivobarefoot Primus Trail II FG
  • Price Range: $$$$
  • Best Feature: Ultra-packable 
  • Feature To Improve: Quick lace system wears out over time 

Merrell Nova/Antora

Merrell Nova Product Image
Pros
  • Supportive
  • Protective
  • Easy to walk in
Cons
  • Bulky
  • Very wide
  • Supportive — In stark contrast to barefoot shoes, the Merrell Nova and Antora shoes are heavily built-up – they house a ton of cushioning and support features. 
  • Gender-Specific — The Nova is the model built for men while the Antora is built around the female foot form. Aside from this difference, all the features are the same between the shoes.
  • Breathable vs Waterproof — The lightweight mesh upper is ultra-breathable in the standard Nova and Antora models. However, if you’re after a more waterproof shoe, both are available in Gore-Tex versions which keep out water while still promoting good airflow. The Gore-Tex models weigh a little more so take that into account when making your choice.  
  • Sole — The Vibram outsole provides excellent traction, even in wet, rocky terrain. It’s durable too, so you don’t need to worry about the tread pattern wearing away too fast. The EVA midsole is well cushioned, providing plenty of comfort and support. It absorbs the repetitive impact of your footfalls to protect your feet, ankles and knees from long-term injuries. The shoes also feature a rock plate between the outsole and midsole, protecting you from rocks and other sharp objects without restricting movement too much. 
  • Packability — Both the Nova and Antora are good walking shoes for travel. However, despite being lightweight, they are quite bulky. You might have trouble cramming them into your backpack – they’re still easier to fit in than hiking boots though!
Best Walking Shoes for Travel
Merrel Nova/Antora
  • Price Range: $$$$ 
  • Best Feature: Responsive cushioning for maximum comfort
  • Feature To Improve: They're very narrow 

The Best Hiking Boots for Travel

VivoBarefoot Tracker

VIVOBAREFOOT Tracker Forest Esc, Mens Off-Road Hiking Boot With Barefoot Sole

Pros
  • Excellent ground feel
  • Flexible
  • Classic looks
Cons
  • Not supportive enough for some
  • Protection — The level of protection offered by VivoBarefoot’s Tracker II FG is unparalleled in barefoot shoes. The tough leather construction is waterproof and can take a real beating. It will protect your feet and ankles from knocks and scrapes. The leather comes from small scale free range farms. This means there can be unique natural marks and scarring on every pair of shoes. 
  • Traction — The outsole on VivoBarefoot’s Tracker boots is well-defined and bites well into most surfaces. It still delivers the excellent ground feel we’ve come to expect from barefoot shoes. 
  • Comfort — Thick padding around the ankles prevents rubbing and ensures the boots remain comfy day in, day out. However, in hot environments, the padding restricts airflow and can cause your feet to overheat.
  • Wide Toe Box — Like all barefoot shoes, the Tracker features a wide toe box for maximum comfort. It offers plenty of space for your toes to splay and allows your feet to swell without rubbing and causing blisters. 
  • Insole — These boots include a thermal insole. If you’re hiking in a cold environment, we recommend using this. Otherwise, pull it out to reduce the chance of your feet overheating! 
Vivobarefoot Tracker II FG
  • Price Range: $$$$$$
  • Best Feature: Allow you to feel the ground beneath your feet
  • Feature To Improve: Can get very warm in hot weather 

LOWA Sirkos Evo GTX Mid

LOWA Sirkos Evo GTX
Pros
  • Ultra-comfortable
  • Supportive
  • Monowrap stability frame
Cons
  • Too tight for those with wide feet
  • Longer than other hiking boots
  • Supportive — The Sirkos EVO boots from LOWA feature a proprietary Monowrap frame. This extension of the midsole hugs the edges of your foot, locking it in place – making the boots excellent on rough, uneven terrain. They have a contoured footbed which delivers a good level of arch support. However, the boots are very narrow, so aren’t suitable for users with wide feet.
  • Grip — The Sirkos boots offer plenty of traction thanks to deep lugs on the sole. The tread pattern offers optimal grip whether you’re climbing uphill or scrambling down a slippery slope. The shape of the sole also helps encourage an efficient gait! 
  • Weight — As far as boots go, the Sirkos are lightweight. But compared to travel sneakers or walking shoes, they’re heavy boots. Plus they’re much more difficult to cram into your backpack! 
  • Waterproof — While waterproof boots are generally unnecessary for backpackers, they sometimes come in handy. The LOWA Sirkos boots house a Gore-Tex lining, making them waterproof but breathable. They’re an excellent choice for trekking over rough terrain during rainy season but otherwise, they’re overkill.
LOWA Sirkos Evo GTX Mid
  • Price Range: $$$$
  • Best Feature: So much support
  • Feature To Improve: Very hard to pack

What to Consider When Choosing the Best Footwear for Travel

Where You’ll Be Travelling

The region you’re travelling in will play a big part in deciding the best travel shoes for you. 

If you’re expecting cold weather, leave the sandals at home. Likewise, if it’s going to be super hot, big chunky boots will be unbearable!

You should also be aware of local customs when it comes to footwear. 

Across much of Southeast Asia, it’s common practice to remove your shoes before entering temples, massage parlours and people’s homes. The practice literally and metaphorically keeps dirt outside, preventing it from contaminating safe, clean spaces. Opt for shoes that are easy to slip on and off.

Note

It’s normal to leave your shoes in large unattended piles while in temples or massage parlours. It’s also not unheard of for shoes to go missing – don’t take shoes you can’t bear to lose travelling! 

In some countries, you may be asked to remove your shoes on overnight buses. Again, it’s a good idea to have shoes that are easy to slip on and off. They make jumping off the bus for a midnight pee much less hassle. 

Finally, high-end bars and restaurants across the world usually have a dress code. If you plan on visiting the fancier establishments, you’ll need to bear in mind that men must be in closed-toe shoes. 

Waterproofing

You probably don’t actually need waterproof shoes. 

Sure, expats in Thailand will forever sing the praises of their waterproof boots but they don’t have to carry them around for months on end. Instead, they leave them at home until the monsoon season arrives — only really using them during bad flooding. 

Waterproof shoes are big and heavy. They also take an age to dry if they get wet. I’ve had waterproof shoes that took days to dry out after I fell into a deceptively deep stream – my lightweight trail runners would’ve dried out overnight. 

Waterproof shoes will protect your feet from any grossness floating in puddles, streams or flood waters but the average backpacker is unlikely to use them often enough to warrant bringing a pair. 

That said, if you’re travelling somewhere cold and snowy, waterproof shoes are an important bit of kit! 

Activities

Your travel activities play a big role in choosing the best shoes. 

If you plan to hike through a lot of rough terrain, sturdy walking boots or shoes will probably be the most suitable choice. But if your trip is going to be spent exploring cities and chilling in beach bars, a pair of sandals or trainers are a better idea! 

For water sports like rafting, kayaking or tubing, a pair of quick-drying shoes are ideal. Trail runners, minimalist hiking shoes and travel sneakers are all good options.

Think about what you need from your shoes for each activity you undertake while travelling!

Shoe Weight and Packability

Remember, every pair of shoes you’re not wearing will need to go in your backpack. 

If you’re travelling with a single small bag, you’re going to be limited on space. And even if you’re travelling with a huge backpack, you don’t want an extra 4kg of shoes weighing you down everywhere you go! 

Lightweight shoes are a backpacker’s best friend, especially if they can be squashed or compressed. 

When it comes to packing, keep an eye out for backpacks built to carry shoes. The Shell Backpack by Tropicfeel has a compartment designed specifically for this – it can also be zipped away when not in use! 

Comfort vs Fashion

We all want to look good while travelling – especially in the world of Instagram and social media. 

But feeling good is always better. 

Having sore feet and blisters is guaranteed to drop your mood. Avoid this by choosing the most comfortable travel shoes you can find. 

Thankfully, most shoes designed for travel are made to look as good as they feel! 

Versatility

The more uses you get out of your shoes, the fewer pairs you’ll need to take. 

If your water shoes are the same as your hiking and relaxing shoes, you’re onto a winner! 

Socks

When it comes to avoiding blisters and keeping your feet happy, good-quality socks are as important as shoes. 

Look for socks with good thermal regulating properties. Merino Wool or synthetic socks are best. Cotton socks hold too much moisture and take an age to dry. When wet, they’re prone to rubbing which causes blisters.

It’s usually worth opting for a couple of different styles of socks. Eg, normal length, quarter crew and ankle socks. Compression socks are great if you’re concerned about the effect of long flights on your body

Our favourite socks for travel come from Darn Tough and Injinji

Darn Tough socks are pricey but come with a no questions asked lifetime guarantee – wear them out and Darn Tough will replace them free of charge!  

Injinji make Merino Wool toe socks which prevent blisters, allow your toes to splay and wick moisture away from your feet. These are the best socks to wear with barefoot shoes!  

Cost 

Good shoes aren’t cheap but they don’t have to cost hundreds of dollars either — unless you’re buying specialised technical boots!

For $50-$150USD you can expect to buy a durable pair of shoes with great travel features. Any less than this and you’re either getting a great deal or you’re going to regret the purchase. 

Spending more than $150USD on shoes for travel is overkill. 

Break-In Shoes Before Leaving

As with all footwear, make sure to wear your travel shoes at home before taking them abroad. This gives you an idea of how they’re going to feel, plus it begins to mould them to your feet. 

By breaking shoes in slowly, you reduce the odds of getting a painful blister! 

Support Level

From barefoot shoes to built-up hiking boots, the level of support offered varies from shoe to shoe. Know what you need from your shoes before you choose which to buy. 

If you wear orthotics, make sure the shoes you’re looking at have enough space to accommodate them. Sometimes you may need to go up a size to get the best fit! 


Travel Shoes FAQs

Do I need waterproof shoes for travelling?

Most travellers don’t need waterproof shoes. However, if you’re travelling somewhere with a lot of rain or snow, they’re a good option. But, as a general rule, lightweight quick-drying shoes are a better choice. 

Waterproof shoes are usually heavy and bulkier than their non-waterproof counterparts. This makes them difficult to pack and means they’re impractical in warm conditions as your feet can easily overheat. 

How many pairs of shoes should I take travelling?

Most backpackers say you should take two to three pairs of shoes when travelling. One pair of flip flops/sandals, one pair of trainers/sneakers and one pair of walking shoes/boots.


Round Up of the Best Shoes for Travelling

Choosing the best shoes for travel will depend on where you’re going and what you’re doing, as well as what style or type of shoe you prefer to wear!

Versatility, weight and comfort are the most important things to consider and for that reason, the Tropicfeel Canyon is our top pick. However, it’s not the only option. Both Loom Shoes and All Birds make excellent travel shoes. 

If you’re already hooked on barefoot shoes, the Primus Trail II FG is an excellent hiking shoe while the Primus Lite III is a great choice for stomping around towns and cities. 

And for those needing travel sandals, we recommend the supportive Chaco Z/Cloud and the more minimalist Bedrock Cairn Adventure Sandals. However, our all-round favourite sandals that perform well in all conditions are the Ecco Yucatans
As for flip flops, the best option is generally to buy them when you arrive at your destination. They’ll usually be cheaper and it saves you having to carry them. However, if you want a more premium pair, we recommend the Teva Pajero Flip Flops for men and the Merrel Terran Post 2 for women!

Tim Ashdown | Gear Specialist

After a life-changing motorcycle accident, Tim decided life was too short to stay cooped up in his home county of Norfolk, UK. Since then, he has travelled Southeast Asia, walked the Camino de Santiago and backpacked South America. His first book, From Paralysis to Santiago, chronicles his struggle to recover from the motorcycle accident and will be released later this year.

3 thoughts on “Best Travel Shoes for Backpackers – Top Picks for Men and Women!”

  1. I was trying to reply to your reply but it didn’t let me! 😅
    First of all thanks for replying and so quick! Second, I was curious because we’ll probably start an extremely LONG trip around south east Asia, visiting cities, also going to viewpoints, swimming, maybe on treks I guess, etc. Normal stuff you do while there, probably not rock climbing 😂 And were looking for something that looks nice either with a dress or pants, but can do everything, that’s why I was curious about the Sunset shoes, since they look a bit nicer to wear with everything, but obviously if they’re not as good as the Canyon, or not exactly for what we want to do, no point haha

    Thanks again! 😁

  2. Hi! Loved this!
    I really love tropicfeel shoes, and I was wondering if you think the Sunset ones would be good to do everything you said you can do with the canyon.
    🙂

    1. Hi Micaela!

      Thanks for taking the time to comment. The Tropicfeel Sunset shoes are super lightweight, quick-drying and can be worn in water like the Canyons. They feature a bit less padding in the midsole and have a less aggressive tread pattern so are more suited to easy terrain, like in towns or cities. You wouldn’t want to be running down a muddy trail in them!
      The back of the shoe is soft and can be folded down, meaning you can slide the Sunsets on and off like slippers! This is a nice addition for quick trips outside or for particularly lazy days.

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