Best Travel Shoes for Backpackers

Best Travel Shoes for Backpackers

The links to Amazon on this page are affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate South East Asia Backpacker earns from qualifying purchases.


Here at South East Asia Backpacker, we are often asked about the best shoes for travelling. Some people want to know how many pairs they will need for their Southeast Asia packing list and if they need to bring them from home, whilst others want to know if walking boots are really necessary.

With that in mind, we asked our community of globetrotting readers to see what they think the best travel shoes are. Using their insights, combined with the knowledge of our team, we have put together this guide which will tell you everything you need to know about choosing shoes for your next trip. 

How to Choose the Best Shoes for Travel in 2020:

  • Think about where you will be travelling, the type of weather you will encounter and the terrain you will be walking on.
  • Think about what kind of shoes you want, e.g. flip flops, walking shoes, trainers, etc. 
  • Think about how much spare room you have in your backpack or suitcase.
  • Stick to top quality brands such as Keen, Merell, Scarpa, Adidas or Teva.
  • In some instances, you can save yourself some money by purchasing your sandals or flip flops whilst you’re away.

Best Travel Shoes According to Travellers – Quick Answers!

Things to Consider Before Choosing Your Travel Shoes

Before we dive into the actual shoes and work out what suits you best, there are a few things you need to think about. 

Where and when will you be travelling?

Are you going to be travelling in a tropical climate such as much of South East Asia or are you going to be high up in the Andes of South America? Whatever your destination, you will need to pay attention to the terrain and the weather forecast to determine the most appropriate footwear. 

Flip flops on beach
Flip flops have long been a backpacker favourite!

Do you need waterproof shoes?

If you are going to be visiting a tropical climate in the wet season or hiking through mountains where the risk of rain is high, you may decide that waterproof shoes will be necessary. You would not be alone in thinking this but it may surprise you that there is a larger school of thought that argues against the need for waterproof travel shoes. 

One of our Southeast Asia Community members David had this to say on the matter;

“You definitely do not want Gore-Tex or waterproof shoes in places prone to flooding. Once they get wet, they can take days to dry out. A breathable, quick-drying shoe or sandals are best. Gortex is for snow or light rain and you should have spare shoes ready to switch them. They are absolutely not good for travel.”

As with all schools of thought though, there is an opposing view and Joseph had this to say;

“Waterproof hiking shoes are a must in Thailand. Thailand generally has poor drainage and to make it more fun, in the urban areas the storm drains tend to overflow, which is extremely disgusting. You don’t want to expose your bare feet in urban areas. God only knows what is in the storm drains besides trash, rats, and giant cockroaches.”

Ultimately, the choice is yours to make but I, belong to the lightweight, quick-drying camp. If nothing else, I don’t want to be carrying a big heavy pair of waterproof shoes with me for months on end!

It is also worth mentioning that wet shoes can be a real chore to travel with. 

Picture this: Your shoes get soaked, you don’t have time to dry them out before you are jumping on a bus to your next destination. You don’t want to wear them on the bus but likewise, you don’t want to pack them in your bag while they’re still soaked. 

This is a problem that all backpackers are likely to face at some point and until very recently, I was one of them. I used to wear my wet gross shoes to stop them stinking out my bag, but instead, they just made my feet smell like… let’s stop before it gets too graphic.

Waterproof shoe bags metaphorically saved my life and literally saved my nose. Just put your wet shoes inside the bag then pack them into your backpack as usual. They will prevent the smell and water from permeating the rest of your stuff! 

What are your overall plans? 

Are you going to be trekking through mountains, jungle, wandering around large temple complexes such as Angkor Wat or partying your nights away at the local beach bar? Will you be sightseeing during the day or sleeping off a monumental hangover?

Think about what kind of terrain you will be contending with and plan your shoe choices accordingly.  

What type of trekking shoes do you need?

If you will be doing multi-day treks over tough terrain, then hiking boots may be a good option. However, if you are comfortable, experienced and confident trekking in walking shoes or even trail runners, these are often a better bet.

If you are in the jungle you must think about the horrors that can be scuttling or slithering amongst the leaves and debris. Spiders, snakes and all manner of nasty insects can bite without warning so a pair of tough closed-toe shoes are super important. You may want to consider something that covers your ankles as well.

Girl turns around trekking in jungle
It is important to wear good travel shoes, especially when you are trekking through the jungle. 

Remember, when you are trekking, it is often just as important to have good, well-fitted socks as well as good shoes. These will reduce any friction and help reduce the chances of blisters. Blisters can become a real issue if you do not look after them, trust me. One of the blisters I got whilst on the Camino de Santiago, got so bad it actually became a pressure sore which took 3 months to heal…

It is better to reduce the chance of blisters occurring in the first place, rather than try to treat them in the field. 

What are the best beach shoes?

There will be very few occasions where you need more than flip flops or sandals on the beach. Sometimes the best beaches can be a little walk away so if your flip flops are not comfortable on varied terrain, take a pair of trainers or walking shoes to wear until you reach the sand! 

Will you be using a motorcycle?

Motorcycles are a common mode of transport across vast swathes of the world. Even if you aren’t planning on riding, you will surely end up on the back of one at some point during your travels. The first time I travelled to Thailand, I was adamant that I wouldn’t go on a motorcycle at all, knowing full well that I didn’t have an international driving permit and that my travel insurance didn’t cover it. That was until I got off a night bus at 5 am and needed to travel 6 miles to my hostel though. The only taxis available were men on mopeds! 

In Southeast Asia you will see many tourists sporting nasty looking injuries from motorcycle accidents and often these injuries would have been inconsequential had they been wearing good quality clothing. 

If you plan to use a motorcycle, wear your sturdiest pair of shoes (not flip flops) and make sure they done up tightly. Take a moment to read this article from the BBC if you really need it spelt out as to why this is so important.  

Local Customs…

It is common practice to remove your shoes before entering buildings such as temples, massage parlours and people’s homes across much of Southeast Asia. This is literally and metaphorically, to keep the dust and dirt from the street out of the buildings.  

It’s worth keeping this in mind if you plan a day of visiting temples in Bangkok, shoes that require a lot of lacing up will really get on your nerves by the end of the day!

Note: A lot of the time you will have to leave your shoes in large, unattended piles outside of various establishments. It is not unheard of for people to “accidentally” take the wrong shoes from the pile. With this in mind, don’t take any shoes you cannot bear to lose. Those Birkenstocks might be super comfy but you’ll be gutted if they end up going walkies. 

You will find in some countries, overnight buses require you to remove your shoes before you get on. This can make big walking shoes or boots difficult to deal with when you are hurried off the bus for a three-minute toilet stop at 4 am!

It is also worth noting that many of the swanky rooftop bars that have sprung up in large cities over the last couple of decades have strictly enforced dress codes. This can mean no flip flops and in a lot of cases no sandals for men. If you plan on visiting this kind of bar, then make sure you have at least one pair of presentable looking, closed-toe shoes. These don’t need to be proper shoes, clean dark trainers are usually sufficient.

Across other parts of the world, people worry less about wearing their shoes indoors but it is always best to check before entering someones home with your shoes on. 

You will be required to remove your shoes before entering many religious sites. 

Buying at home or on the road?

The more technical the footwear, the harder it will be to find at your destination. Whilst you might be able to find an outdoor shop in any major city selling Scarpa hiking boots, they will cost the same, if not more, as buying them at home. This is because the big brands set their prices for their main market and hardly ever change them for fear of devaluing their own product. If you find a pair of high-quality shoes for a price that is too good to be true, chances are that it is and these are cheaply made replicas. 

If you need technical walking shoes or boots while you are away, you are better off buying them before you leave your home country. 

It is cheap and easy to find normal sandals and flip flops at any market across South East Asia, South America or anywhere in the world for that matter, which negates the need to buy any before you leave. Just be aware that the cheapest, (we are talking sub $2 here), may be poorly made with hard plastic parts that can tear your feet up. Make sure you check for any sharp or hard bits before purchasing and if you’re not happy, don’t buy. There will always be another stall selling the same things a few meters away. 

If, however, you are looking for a specific brand of walking sandals, such as Keens or Merrell then you should look at picking these up before you leave for your travels as they will be much harder to come across once you are outside of the US or Europe. 

Remember, your local outdoor store is also likely to stock a cheap selection of own-brand walking shoes, sandals or boots. If you are based in the States, REI is the place to check out. When I am back in the UK, I do a lot of my outdoor shopping in Mountain Warehouse or Go Outdoors, both are well stocked with budget-friendly options.

How Many Pairs of Shoes Do I Need?

1 x pair of flip flops, 1 x pair of walking sandals, 1 x pair of comfy trainers/walking shoes/sneakers.

To get to this answer I questioned as many travellers as I could to see exactly what they thought was the optimum number of shoes to take on your travels. Whilst there was some debate on whether two or three pairs were ideal, most people said as long as they had room, they would stick to three pairs.

Karen had this to say, “We are currently doing a 7-month trip and only have 2 pairs. Trainers and walking sandals.”

Ryan had a very similar opinion, “Flip flops and one solid pair of trainers.”

And Jaimee also agreed!  “Flip flops/sandals (if they look kind of nice they can double for going out), and walking shoes. Depends on how you’re travelling and where. I’d never take more than 3 pairs.”

Gabriëlla’s opinion closely matched everyone else’s, “Traveling for 8 months and I brought 3 pairs: Flip flops, Teva’s and a pair of sneakers with good grip.”

Rory, a man after my own heart, simply said, “Are crocs still in?”

Items to pack for holiday
Deciding how many pairs of shoes to bring can be mindboggling!

Types of Shoe

Flip Flops – A must-have multi-purpose shoe!

Pros: 

  • Great for use in hostel showers when you really don’t want your bare feet to touch the floor!
  • Super lightweight.
  • Generally made of plastic or rubber so don’t get saturated when it rains and can be dried with a towel or just by leaving them in the sun for half an hour. 
  • Easy to take on and off, perfect when visiting temples, massage parlours or on the beach.
  • Allows your feet to breathe.
  • You can often find them for next to nothing when you arrive at your destination so you don’t need to worry about packing a pair.

Cons:

  • Offer very little protection from flying mucus, dog crap or broken pavements, not to mention overflow from storm drains…
  • Cheaper pairs can really cut your feet up with sharp edges or hard rubber.

Best for: Beaches, hostels, small walks around cities. Great for tropical climates, it doesn’t matter if you get caught in a storm or need to cross a river. Flip flops have you covered.

The best advice for travellers buying flip flops is almost always to get them at your destination, but if you really want to pick some up before you go, this article contains some of our favourites! 

Walking sandals – A great addition that should be included in every traveller’s backpack!

Pros:

  • Super lightweight. 
  • Allows your feet to breathe. 
  • Offers slightly more protection than flip flops. Closed-toe variants offer even more protection. 
  • Comfortable.
  • Really quick to dry.
  • Large variation in styles. 

Cons:

  • Not as much protection as offered by walking shoes, trail runners or trainers.
  • Take longer than flip flops to put on and take off.
  • More expensive than flip flops.  

Best for: Beaches, cities, any walking that doesn’t involve rough terrain. Great in hot climates but it goes without saying that they should be avoided if you are heading off somewhere cold. Sandals are easy to purchase both abroad and at home. 

Trainers/Sneakers – An easy, no thought required option.

Man in trainers by Austin Distel
Trainers are a safe choice for travel.

Pros:

  • Come in all shapes and sizes.
  • You probably already have multiple pairs at home.
  • Reasonably lightweight.
  • Quick and easy to put on or take off.
  • Comfortable.
  • You know exactly what you are getting with a decent pair of Vans, Nikes or Converse. 

Cons:

  • Can take a long time to dry.
  • Harder to pack than sandals or flip flops.
  • Not the most breathable shoes.

Best for: Walking around cities, to the beach or medium length walks over reasonably good terrain. Great for hot or cold climates but best to be avoided if there is a lot of water to contend with.

When it comes to trainers and sneakers, there really is so much variation and personal preference at play that it’s hard to pick out the ‘best’. 

You probably already know which trainers you like but in case you need some inspiration, read on to see what our team here at South East Asia Backpacker are wearing! 

Trail Runners – A good, lightweight alternative to walking shoes or trainers!

Pros: 

  • Lightweight.
  • Comfortable. 
  • Quick-drying.
  • Offer good support and grip over even the toughest terrain.

Cons:

  • Generally quite expensive.
  • Often come in very bright colours that really make them stand out.
  • Not the most durable shoes. Designed predominantly for trails so unlikely to last for a year if worn every day in cities to due abrasion on hard floors. 

Best for: Walking over rougher terrain where good grip is required. Particularly good for use in hot climates or where you would expect to encounter a lot of water.

If you are planning on hiking during your trip and have chosen trail runners over walking shoes or boots, buy a pair before you go.

Walking shoes – The versatile option!

Pros:

  • Lightweight.
  • More breathable than walking boots.
  • Comfortable.
  • Durable.
  • Offer good support and grip over all manner of terrain.
  • Available in many variations with a price range to match most budgets.

Cons:

  • Take longer to dry than trail runners or sandals.
  • Can be bulky to pack.
  • Can take longer to put on and take off while visiting temples etc. 

Best for: Walking over rough terrain, around cities or for long jaunts to the beach. Great in hot or cold climates.

Trekking boots – Great for long treks through tough terrain, otherwise don’t bother!

Trekking boots
Trekking boots aren’t always necessary for backpacking in Southeast Asia.

Pros:

  • Comfortable.
  • Sturdy.
  • Durable.
  • Offer good ankle support.
  • Generally waterproof to some extent.

Cons:

  • Quite expensive.
  • Big, heavy and bulky to carry when not being worn.
  • Get very hot when being worn, which leads to bad smells!
  • Can be a chore to take on and off.
  • Take an age to dry once they do get wet. 

Best for: Long treks over challenging terrain or for colder climates.

Walking boots are not necessary for travelling in South East Asia unless you are planning long, multi-day hikes over really rough terrain. If you are going to South America then it would be worth investing in a pair before you leave.

Crocs – A contentious fashion statement.

Pros:

  • Offer more protection than sandals or flip flops.
  • Allow feet to breathe.
  • Ultra-lightweight.
  • Comfortable.
  • Due to rubber construction, they never get saturated so never take long to dry.
  • Quick and easy to put on/take off.
  • Easy to pick up and replace while on the road. 

Cons:

  • Not the best looking shoes.
  • Although they are lightweight, they are very bulky and hard to pack.
  • Real Crocs are quite pricey whilst cheap alternatives are likely to hurt your feet. 

Best for: Beaches, short walks around cities, hostels.

Okay, I promise I’ll stop talking about Crocs just as soon as I have finished here… 

They might not be the most fashionable shoes available but a good pair of crocs will keep your feet happier than you might imagine! They allow your feet to breathe, dry super quickly and give the impression of walking over soft grass all the time! 

With prices starting at $45, they are not the cheapest shoes available but they are also nowhere near the most expensive!

Best Everyday Travel Shoes For All

All of the shoes listed below are unisex so we have included them here in their own little section! Scroll down further below and you will find specific travel shoes for men and women…

Tropic Feel

Cost: $99

 

Tropic Feel has aimed to design the best, all in one travel shoe. It can be worn on the beach, in the sea, around cities and through jungles.

The shoes are designed to be submerged in water and offer protection whilst swimming in murky waters or walking through rocky rivers. Do not expect a waterproof shoe, however, the ultra-lightweight mesh design is quick-drying which allows your feet to breathe. All of the fabrics are treated with powerful anti-odour technology.

The footbed is specifically designed to mould to your foot over time so provides excellent levels of comfort that only increase with use! The sole offers incredible grip even in wet, slippery environments.

Even though these shoes have laces, they are designed to be easily slipped on and off, making them a godsend for travel in Southeast Asia.

Some users do note that the fit is on the small side which can lead to blisters. They also report that the long term durability of these shoes is questionable.

New Balance FuelCore Nergize

Cost: Start at $50

 

Lightweight, breathable, slip-on, quick-drying, well priced and comfortable. The FuelCore Nergize trainers from New Balance tick all the boxes for great, comfortable travel shoes.

Coming in a huge variety of colours, these trainers will fit with any outfit in almost any environment. Sure they won’t stand up well to the severe pounding a long-distance trek over really rough terrain would give them but they are perfect for almost every other situation.

The memory foam footbed makes you feel like you are floating whilst the breathable mesh keeps air circulating your feet all day to prevent any odours or soreness.

Make sure you read the size guide carefully as many reviewers complain of the sizing not being quite right!

Converse

Cost: $55

 

It would be safe to assume that we all know what converse are, even if they’re a few of you out there who have never worn a pair. Coming in both low top and high top variations, these shoes are lightweight and small enough to easily pack in your backpack.

The grip offered by these shoes is more than adequate for use in cities and walks to beaches but will not be any good for use on rougher terrain.

Constructed using thin canvas, these shoes keep your feet cool, comfortable and will dry relatively quickly if you get caught out in a downpour.

The low top version of this shoe is quick and easy to put on/take off but the hightop version might be a bit of a pain if you are spending time touring temples.

Very little about Converse has changed in the hundred or so years since their inception because very little needed to change. They are a great, durable travel shoe that you will really not regret throwing into your backpack!

Best Travel Shoes for Men

Best Flip Flops for Men

Teva Pajero Flip Flops

Cost: Start at $36

 

Once again Teva has come through with a real gem. The Pajero flip flop is an ultra-comfortable choice for short walks to the beach or long days spent perusing Southeast Asia’s temples. 

The leather, fabric combination means the strap is tough yet won’t rub or cause sores. The rubber sole provides excellent levels of grip, even in the wettest of conditions. 

Teva note that these flip flops are not designed to handle extreme temperatures, do not leave them in direct sunlight on a hot day or the inner footbed is prone to shrinkage which renders the flip flop useless! 

Hammer Anvil Flip Flops 

Cost: $7.49

 

These budget flip flops are much more like the kind you will find on any market or backpacker street throughout your travels. 

With a foam sole and plastic strapping, you know exactly what you are getting just by looking at the picture. Lightweight, waterproof and comfortable enough, they may not last the entire length of your trip if you are wearing them every day but at that price, it really does not matter.

Best Men’s Walking Sandals

Keen New Port H2 Closed-toe Sandal

Cost: Start at $60

 

Keen are market leaders in walking sandals and for good reason. The New Port H2 are some of the oldest sandals available today and have changed little since their inception. 

With an enclosed-toe box, these shoes will keep your feet protected while allowing them to breathe through the ventilated straps. The multi-directional, rubber tread pattern will allow to you to keep your footing on even the most challenging terrain but the lack of support means you really don’t want to be hiking long distances over rocks or tree roots wearing these. 

The metatomical footbed, or insole, is specifically designed to mould to your foot over the first few uses to provide unrivalled comfort in the long term. 

If you are planning on ordering these shoes online, you should always get a size large than you would usually wear. Keen is known to make quite tight-fitting shoes. 

Some users report durability issues with these sandals if used every day for months on end.

Teva Ketavi Mens Outdoor Sandal

Cost: Start at $40 but rise quickly.

 

The Teva Ketavi Men’s Outdoor Sandals offer a masculine look, complete with quality and versatility. The suede velcro straps are fully adjustable while the open toe design will keep your feet cool and sweat-free.

The rubber sole is specifically designed to provide great grip whilst also being abrasion-proof, meaning that these sandals will last the test of time even if worn every day on your trip.

Good for all but the toughest terrain, these sandals are sure to be the shoes you come back to over and over again while travelling in Southeast Asia.  

KIIU closed-toe sandal

Cost: Start at $9.99

 

The KIIU Closed-toe Sandal doesn’t quite match the Keens for quality but for the price you won’t find a better shoe. 

The closed-toe design keeps your digits protected whilst the lightweight webbing allows the air to get to your feet. The fast drying mesh and ultra-grippy sole mean that no matter where you are, you will be prepared for anything nature throws your way.

These shoes can fold in on themselves for easy packing and are only sold in US sizes so make sure you convert your shoe size correctly before purchasing. 

Crocs Leather Fisherman Sandals

Cost: $45

 

“Again with the Crocs!”, I hear you groan but bear with me once more. These leather sandals bear almost zero resemblance to the rubber monstrosities your granddad wears while doing the gardening.

Your foot is almost totally enclosed by the thick leather and the toe box is reinforced with an extra layer of protection. That is not to say that these sandals will not allow your feet to breathe either. There are well-placed ventilation holes all around the shoe which keep your feet cool and make it easy to remove any sand or debris that can build up under your feet. 

The velcro strap means you can adjust to shoes to fit and the thick padding gives you the same great comfort you would expect from Crocs. 

One common customer complaint about these sandals is that they sometimes arrive faulty or already damaged. If you plan on ordering a pair of these, then make sure you leave yourself enough time to return them before your trip starts, just in case. 

Best Trail Runners for Men

Salomon XA Pro 3D Mens

Cost: Start at $129

 

Salomon makes some of the best outdoor shoes available on the market and the XA Pros are no different. 

These ultra-lightweight trail runners are designed for total comfort even after spending hours hiking through difficult terrain. The thick, multi-part footbed will keep your feet cushioned yet cool and the recently redesigned sole provides more grip than we ever thought possible. 

Breathable mesh makes up the majority of the shoe which makes them super quick-drying and stops your feet from sweating too much, which in turn helps to prevent bad odours! 

The quick lace drawstring means you can remove or put on these shoes in extremely good time and the innovative Sensifit system cradles your feet perfectly. It would be easy to forget you’re wearing shoes at all, such is the level of comfort provided!

Oberm Men’s Trail Running Shoe 

Cost: $26.99

 

This is another good pick for those of you out there looking for barefoot shoes. Worn by both men and women, the Oberm Trail Running Shoe is specifically designed for use in wet environments. The rubber sole provides excellent grip and protection whilst the synthetic mesh is super quick-drying. 

The wide toe box allows plenty of room which helps prevent blisters, especially when walking a lot on hot days!

When it comes to packing, these shoes are extremely flexible and can be squashed down to fit into almost any space you have left in your bag. 

There are some customer complaints about a lack of half sizes when it comes to these shoes but Oberm advises buying slightly too small as opposed to too large.

Best Walking Shoes for Men

Daner Trail 2650

Cost: $149.95

 

The Trail 2650 by Daner were specifically designed with long-distance hikes, such as the famous Pacific Crest Trail, in mind. The durability and versatility of these shoes are unparalleled. Both waterproof Gore-Tex and quick-drying mesh versions are available, depending on personal preference.

The level of support and protection offered by these shoes is equal to that of even the most expensive walking boots but this does not add to the weight. They are still a great lightweight choice for any tough treks you plan on taking on while travelling. 

Users report that the sizes run a little small so it is worth buying half to a whole size larger than you normally would.  

Daner also produces Trail 2650 specifically for women.

Skechers Go Walk 

Cost: Start at $30

 

Whilst Skechers isn’t known for creating top-quality walking shoes, they are known for creating great-looking shoes that disrupt the market and that is what this shoe was designed to do. 

The Go Walk is a super lightweight slip-on walking shoe that does not forgo comfort for style. The thick cushioning sole combined with the great, breathable mesh lining means your feet will feel great even after a long day spent wandering through the busy streets of Hanoi.  

Whilst these may not be the best choice for long hikes over tricky terrain, they are everything you could want from an everyday travel shoe. 

There is also a female-specific version of this shoe available, which could be one of the most stylish travel shoes available on today’s market! 

New Balance Men’s MW813V1

Cost: $89.95

 

Now we are all grown up, velcro might not be the coolest way to keep shoes firmly attached to our feet. However, it still comes with some huge benefits, namely; speed! 

If you don’t feel like wearing sandals or flip flops for your day of temple exploration then maybe a pair of velcro walking shoes are your best bet. 

These New Balance walking shoes are well-padded and comfortable on almost any terrain. Thanks to the velcro straps, they are quick and easy to remove so you won’t need to spend an age tying and untying laces. 

The main downside of these shoes is their lack of breathability. Thanks to a large amount of cushioning within the shoe, there is very little ventilation. With that in mind, they may not be best suited to the hot Southeast Asia climate.

MAlITRIP Men’s Ultra Lightweight Breathable Walking Shoes

Cost: $27.99

 

These walking shoes from Malitrip are very similar to the previous pair, the main difference being that they are sized for men rather than women, so are therefore a bit wider. 

The super lightweight, breathable mesh will keep your feet cool whilst the thick sole and footbed will keep you comfortable for hours. Be aware that the tread pattern is not designed for tricky terrain so these shoes are much more suited to long days walking around cities rather than treks over cold or rough terrain.

At the time of writing, Malitrip includes a free pair of socks with every purchase. Whilst I cannot comment on the quality of the socks, any freebie is welcomed!

Malitrip also offers great customer service so if you are not happy with your shoes, contact them directly and they will be happy to help you out!

Best Trekking Boots for Men

Navados Men’s Hiking Boot

Cost: Start at $46.95

 

The hiking boots from Navados come in both male and female variations and are some of the most budget-friendly boots available. This low cost does not negatively affect the quality of the boots which are sure to hold up to even the toughest challenge. 

They are lightweight and breathable which makes them perfect for long hikes over difficult terrain and whilst they don’t claim to be waterproof, users report that the boot can withstand a real soaking before any water gets inside. 

The aggressive tread pattern provides great grip whilst the thick sole and footbed provide excellent levels of protection and comfort. For even more protection, both the toe box and heel are reinforced.

The manufacturers claim no breaking in is required with these boots but I would always advise breaking in new shoes before taking them on a long journey! 

Scarpa Kailash Plus GTX Walking Shoe

Cost: Start at $215

 

Scarpa manufacture top of the range walking boots specifically designed for use on tough trails. If you are not planning on being on really rough terrain, then you do not need to spend this kind of money!

However, if you are going to be on long hikes through extremely challenging environments, then these boots are well worth looking at. 

Made using Gore-Tex, these boots can be almost completely submerged without letting in any water and are ultra-resistant to wear and abrasion. Likewise, the super tough soles provide excellent levels of grip that lasts and lasts. 

The reinforced toe box keeps your feet safe and secure and the ventilation holes still allow your feet to breathe. 

Not only will they keep your feet dry, protected and well supported but these boots have a reputation for lasting years, sometimes well over a decade before they need to be replaced!

Being such rugged boots, they really do need some serious breaking in, so bear this in mind and do not purchase them a day before you are due to leave!

Best Travel Shoes for Women

Best Flip Flops for Women

Merrell Women’s Terran Post 2 Sandal 

Cost: $59.95

 

When it comes to walking shoes, Merrell creates some of the sturdiest, most comfortable and most reliable out there. The Terran Post 2 is everything you would expect from a company with such a strong pedigree. 

The great-looking, flip flop style sandal is probably the most comfortable you will find anywhere. With a combination of soft microfibre lining and memory foam style footbed, these flip flops will you make you feel like you’re walking on a cloud!

Merrell claims the sandals are made of quick-dry materials but users report they can take days to dry out fully. Bear this in mind before paddling in the sea or splashing through puddles whilst wearing them. 

Crocs Classic Flip Flop

Cost: $24.99

 

These lightweight, flip flops are made from the same material as the Crocs we all know and love (or hate) so are super comfy, waterproof and provide good levels of grip across most surfaces and conditions. 

They also look nothing like the crocs you are imagining so don’t worry about your street cred being ruined!

Some users complain about blisters being caused if the flip flops are incorrectly sized so make sure you try them out well in advance of leaving for your travels.

Best Walking Sandals for Women

Keen Women’s Whisper Sandals

Cost: Start at $60

 

Keen has done it once again with their Whisper Sandals. Offering slightly less support and protection than their New Port H2 range, these sandals, aimed at women are still perfect for your travel needs. 

They are lightweight, breathable and still offer reasonable protection with the enclosed-toe box. The elastic drawcord lacing system means they can be taken on and off quickly and remain secure while being worn. 

Just like the New Port H2’s these sandals can be worn in the water with no problems and will air dry quickly. Whether you’re in Vang Vieng or Tena these are the perfect shoes to be worn for a spot of whitewater sports!

Remember, because they are Keens to order a size larger than you would normally wear. 

There are some durability issues reported with these sandals but they are few and far between. Keen has a great customer service team who you can contact directly if you have any issues.

Teva Women’s Tirra Sandals

Cost: $80

 

Teva’s Tirra Sandals look much more like your standard sandal but the tough build means they will last much longer

With three, fully adjustable velcro straps, these sandals are intended to fit all shapes and sizes of feet and the durable, rubber sole provides long-lasting grip for your whole trip.

Specifically designed for women, these sandals look great everywhere from the streets of  Barcelona to the beaches of Bali so combine that with the impressive build quality and you have some of the most versatile sandals, capable of taking on all but the toughest terrain.

If you choose these shoes, make sure that you spend some time working out the best fit for yourself as it will vary drastically from person to person. The main complaint about these sandals is about the complicated strap system but once it is set up they will be some of the most comfortable sandals for travel you will find!

Vivo Ultra 3 Women

Cost: Start at $80

 

Vivo is a huge name in the world of barefoot shoes. If you are looking for that naked foot feeling but still want the protection offered by shoes, then look no further. 

These sandals are very different from the others in our list and are certainly not everyone’s cup of tea. The synthetic materials that give these shoes their unique look also create an amazing level of comfort and they dry out in mere minutes.  

The holes throughout the shoes allow your feet to breathe and the tough, grippy soles provide stability across all but the toughest terrain. 

Remember though, if you are not used to barefoot shoes, then do not commit to wearing these for hours on end. Whilst barefoot shoes have long term benefits, they can take some getting used to and are likely to make your feet sore if you overdo it too early.

Best Trail Runners for Women

Adidas Terrex CMTK

Cost: $90

 

When it comes to Adidas, you know what you’re getting. Decades of work have gone into making them one of the most recognisable brands in the world and the Terrex CMTK are the next step in their range of shoes. 

Having worked closely with tyre manufacturer Continental, Adidas have designed a sole that is ultra-grippy on any terrain no matter the conditions.

The mesh lining that makes up the bulk of the shoe is breathable and quick-drying, whilst a slight layer of extra protection is added around the toe box and heel of the shoe. 

Intended specifically for fast hiking or running, these shoes will leave you feeling comfortable and pain-free even after a long day walking. 

Some users complain that the foam tongue is too long and causes irritation around the ankle but this can be easily rectified by making it slightly shorter using a pair of scissors.

Salomon XA Pro 3D Women’s

Cost: Start at $129.99

 

Salomon’s all-conquering XA Pro series (see men’s above) is also available with a female-specific design in mind. These shoes are slightly smaller, lighter and thinner than the male equivalent but still provide the same excellent quality, grip and support.  

Best Walking Shoes for Women

EYUSHIJIA Women’s Athletic Walking Shoes

Cost: $15.99

 

These walking shoes from Eyushijia are the ultimate budget choice. Coming in at only a touch over $15, you would expect them to be cheaply made from shoddy materials that won’t last but in reality, they are comfortable, hardwearing shoes that will likely last your entire trip. 

Made from a lightweight, stretchable mesh, the Eyushijia walking shoes will mould to the shape of your feet for a snug fit. They are quick-drying, breathable and easy to slip on and off.

The rubber sole provides plenty of grip but be aware that this shoe was originally designed for use in water and because of this there are small drainage holes in the bottom. These let in water and small amounts of grit or dirt which make the shoes less than ideal for trekking over long distances.

Vivo Primus Women’s

Cost: Start at $65

 

The Primus walking shoe from Vivo is another example of a great barefoot shoe. The rubber sole provides incredible grip and protection without hindering the sensory feedback from the ground.

The shoes weigh very little and can be folded up super small in your pack, making them the perfect travel companion. 

The breathable, roomy toe box allows your feet to move as well as keeping you cool and ready to take on the world, one step and a time!

As with all barefoot shoes, make sure you build up to wearing them for long periods. They have almost no padding but are designed this way to allow your feet to move and flex in the way they have evolved to. There is also a men’s version of this shoe available.

Best Trekking Boots for Women

Scarpa Kailash Plus GTX Walking Shoe

Cost: Start at $215

 

Scarpa has redesigned their award-winning Kailash Walking Shoe (see above) to be specifically aimed at women. The slightly tighter fit offers more support to thinner feet and smaller sizes mean you are bound to find your perfect fitting boot!

Vivo Barefoot Womens Tracker

Cost: Start at $200

 

As we know by now, Vivo makes some of the best barefoot shoes in the world and the level of protection offered by their Tracker walking shoe is unparalleled. 

The leather construction is almost completely waterproof and the grip offered by the soles will keep you upright no matter where you take these boots. 

Thick padding around the ankles keeps them comfy for hours on end but could also be a negative on hot days so I will once again stress; if you are not taking on a difficult hike, you do not need walking boots like these!

The wide toe box will not only help slightly with keeping your feet cool but also allows your feet to swell while hiking without any rubbing or discomfort.

There is also a men’s version available.

Join Our Community!

  • Join Our Facebook Group: South East Asia Backpacker Community.
  • Join Our Newsletter: Find out about opportunities to review trips for free.
  • Our Recommended Travel Resources

  • Travel Insurance: True Traveller and World Nomads.
  • Transport: Skyscanner (Flights) and 12Go.Asia (Local Transport).
  • Accommodation: Booking.com and HostelWorld.
  • After a life-changing motorcycle accident, Tim decided life was too short to stay cooped up in his home county of Norfolk, UK. Since the incident, he has travelled in South East Asia, walked the Camino de Santiago and is currently backpacking around South America. His first book ‘From Paralysis to Santiago’ chronicles his struggle to recover from the motorcycle accident that changed his life and will be released later this year.