Tips for choosing the best shoes for a backpacking trip

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We know how complicated it can almost always be to prepare a good adventure. It does not matter the number of times we have travelled as backpackers to stress out about the pile of things we noted in the initial list of essentials. The experience, perhaps, allows us to start from a somewhat smaller list, but we do not know any backpacker who has the key to get it all in one go and specially without a preliminary list in order to perfectly fit each element that fits in our backpack. Even though, as explained in the previous article, we have clear the bases of any good backpack.


One of the biggest headaches, especially in the first trips as a backpacker, is the footwear. Indispensable at the same time that bulky, it often causes many dilemmas. What is the best footwear to travel? How many different shoes should I take? At unuk we have suffered it. In fact, we suffer it with each trip – especially with the number of pairs to bring – and also each time we have to renew them. Therefore, we thought that it might be a good idea to dedicate a post on our blog to the wonderful world of ‘backpacker’ footwear. Let’s step into it!

Practicality over aesthetics. First sacred rule of the backpacker in terms of footwear. It is impossible to wear appropriate footwear for each of the situations or moments on a trip. So, you have to assume that, perhaps, that unexpected night where you share laughs with friends on a trip, you might have to dance with flip flops or mountain sandals. No biggie! We have all done it sometime. Nobody will look at you weird or, at least, not a backpacker worth their while. Plus it is not just the space that the footwear takes that we need to take into account, but also the weight.


Our recommendation? Three polyvalent shoes: mountain shoes, mountain sandals and flip flops. And now we explain the reasons.

Mountain shoes

It is the most basic and main footwear in our trip. That is why we always choose shoes and not boots. Because of the weight and space, but above all because it is not comfortable to walk with them on flat land that is not mountain terrain. If your trip is exclusively involving high mountain hikes, go ahead. But if it is a trip that combines trekking, walking on flat land, beach and city or town, it is not practical at all to carry the pair of boots — neither inside the backpack nor on our feet. We have also made the mistake of walking through countries like Thailand, for example, with prime mountain boots and nope, it is not recommended.


Good mountain shoes are always the best option. Fully valid for both treks and excursions, as well as to kick it in the city with a pack on your back. It is important that they are light, but that they provide good foot support, have a good sole and do not compress your feet too much. Furthermore, if they are waterproof and breathable, even better. The socks worn when trying them on should be the ones that we will take with us on our trip.

Mountain sandals

The mountain or trek sandals offer us an alternative to the shoes in those moments in which we do not need so much support. They are perfect for tropical climates since they provide good foot support and protection while keeping our feet cool. We prefer the open kind, but to each his own.


Flip flops

Sandals or flip flops to go to the beach, walk through the hostel and, above all… to go to the shower. They can also serve to dress more casual at night. This type of footwear, in addition, occupies very little space in your backpack and is very easy to find at shops in the country of destination. So, with a pair should suffice. If they break or wear out you can always buy new ones there. Although, depending on the country we are visiting, they might even just fix them and have them almost like brand new.


As always, we are happy to receive your feedback. These are our recommendations, but we would like to know yours. Of course, whatever the footwear, we recommend you try it before with some walks around your city to avoid having your feet chafed, injured or blistered at the beginning of your trip. It’s better to prevent than to cure!


Happy travels!

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