Why You Need To Have Camp Shoes

Since your camp shoes aren't the main hiking shoes you wear, why should you bring extra footwear with you?

It is because camp shoes offer several very important functions that help to protect the health of your feet while you are out in the backcountry. Camp shoes specifically:


  • Allow Your Feet to Breathe. After hiking all day long, your feet will be very steamy and potentially blistered. If you are going to be backpacking for more than one or two nights, then you must allow your feet to air out for a few hours before you place them in another piece of steamy clothing (sleeping bag socks, etc.)
  • Keep Your Feet Clean. While you are allowing them to breathe, your feet should be washed to eliminate any grime, blisters, bug bites, mud, or anything else. Use a wet wipe, hand sanitizer, or tea tree oil to quickly cleanse them. Wear our breathe camp shoes until your feet are completely dry.
  • Comfort. After hiking all day long, nothing will feel better to you than getting your sore feet out of your hiking shoes. Putting them into a much lighter shoe that has a different contour will feel very refreshing.
  • Allow Your Shoes to Dry. As your feet are drying out and relaxing comfortably in your lightweight camp shoes, also allow your hiking shoes to dry out and breathe. You don't want to end up hiking tomorrow in steamy shoes.
  • "Hikeable". You are still going to have to walk around camp in these shoes. Your source of water might be a quarter mile away down the hill. Having a heel strap can help to greatly stabilize your walk and help to prevent you from slipping and sliding. Powerstep insoles can add that extra comfort when you need it.
  • Waterproof. Along with wearing them in camp, these shoes can also be worn on river crossings. Therefore, you should try to keep these shoes water resistant with no or little possibility that they will absorb water. Having soggy shoes adds weight to your overall load and are a big pain to get dried out.
  • Lightweight. You will be carrying these shoes in your pack. So make sure they are as light as possible. They should not be over 1 pound or 16 ounces. The ideal is 6 to 12 ounces.
  • Easy to Slip On. If at all possible, you don't want shoes that have to be laced up. Preferably the shoes should have a strap or be a basic slip on. One good rule to follow is to find a shoe that you can put on with just one hand.

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1. Water Shoes

Boat shoes, kayak shoes, canoe shoes, water shoes, whatever. These are made to wear in water. Try to get a pair that come with well-vented top fabric that will allow your feet to dry.

2. Crocs

These are the king of all camp shoes. That is because they are practically indestructible, have a very durable heel strap, and don't absorb water. However, they do weigh quite a bit compared to some of the other options that are available. They typically weigh 12 ounces at least.

3. Vivobarefoot

This is the very best of all the ultralight camp shoes in my opinion. It has all of the same benefits that Crocs offer (durable and totally water resistant) but weigh several ounces less. The average pair of these shoes weigh about 8.5 ounces. They are a lot more like regular shoes as well and take on miles worth of trails if necessary. However, you will have to pay for this luxury.

4. Minimalist Sandals

There are some individuals who do complete thru-hikes wearing these ultra-thin sandals. However, for many hikers, they feel a little bare when on rough terrain and they frequently are better as camp shoes instead. Snug, open-aired, very durable and ultralight for a nice walk. What is even better is they are very compact inside your pack. There are some models that are affordably priced at around $40.

5. Tough Socks

Over the past year, this product has exploded in popularity. They are basically a sock that features a rough coated sole - or "glove for your feet." They are compact and very light. However, your feet cannot breathe very well, they must be washed on a regular basis, and might not offer enough support even for light hiking.

6. "Toe Shoes"

When it comes to this style, the most popular brand is Vibram Five Fingers. They are lightweight and are able to pack really small. Depending on which model you choose, the soles may be very rugged if necessary for hiking. However, these socks don't breathe as well as some other of the camp shoe options that are available and drying them out can be difficult.

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