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Comments, experiences, opinions, related to Camp Shoes or Sandals.
If I feel like taking some camp shoes the ones I use are thin-soled Chinese "Gentlemen's Shoes" basically a black canvas upper with side elastic inserts and typically a brown plastic/rubber sole about 1/8 to 1/4 inch thick. I get mine at a local martial arts store. Important to get the right size since the fit is very important - too large and they fall off too easily since the heel is just canvas - it is good to get a "snug" fit with these shoes. Sizes are in metric units I think - for example I am about a US size 11 and the size of these Chinese shoes that I use are size 43.
I'd love to find a pair of camp shoes that:[list=1] have thick enough soles to allow you to walk around camp
can stand up to limited exposure to mud
either enclose the foot or allow you to wear socks if it's cold out
weigh in at under 10 ounces (men's size 10)
[/list=1] The closest I've found is a pair of Lands End fleece slippers that I've sprayed with silicone to allow them to stand up to moisture a little (10.5 ounces). I tried some fleece slipper socks with a light leather sole, but moisture seeped in and they weren't I had to be careful to not step on any rocks (let alone that stupid log that jumped up and jammed my big toe as I was trying to take down the food bags before sunrise!).
Teva sandals weigh too much (about a pound), but you could hike in them in a pinch if your boots blow out and you can wear them around town without looking too wierd (of course, that's not much of a concern for most of you). Surprisingly, all of the plastic slip-on sports sandals I've weighed come in at over 14 ounces. Flip-flops should be lighter, but they're not quite as functional if you have to be wearing socks.
Seems like there's an opportunity here for some enterprising footwear manufacturer. At least I'd buy a pair if they met the above requirements.
Try Walmart, Target, Kmart, etc. and look for light weight sandals (without heel straps) that allow you to wear socks (no toe-thongs). You can usually find a pair that weigh in at 10oz or less and cost very little. My experience has been that Teva's weight about as much as my NB trail runners - 2lbs. :confused:
This past summer, many thru-hikers used plastic water sport shoe. it was sold by some of the outfitters along the trail down south. Can't remember the name of the shoe. Maybe someone can furnish the details.
I can second Peaks' observation of the prevelance of watersocks down South this spring. I don't know why they were so popular as they looked a bit uncomfortable. I use a pair of flip flops that I got at Walmart. I think they cost $4 and weigh about 7 oz. for the largest size. Wearing socks with them is a problem, however.
I started with nothing, had my 1 pound birkenstock sandals mailed to me in Hot Springs, sent them home again in PA and bought those cheap, $2 camp store flip-flops, sent those home and got my birkenstocks back in NY, and had them with me the rest of the way. Never underestimate the feeling of ultimate foot comfort at the end of a long, rough day. Especially in the PA rocks. Sometimes a little extra weight is worth the luxury :-)
I found this article on how to make lightweight flip-flops (1-2 oz) out of a pair of footbeds at Trailquest (http://www.trailquest.net/sandals.html).
Now just imagine if you could take the ones in your trail shoes and add the cord when in camp, then take it off and put the inserts back in to hike - weight addition would be about 0.1 ounces for some cord...
I have a pair of Acorn fleece slippers with suede soles. Very warm, very light, but as camp shoes they had some problems. If the ground was wet, the wetness soaked thru the suede soles and my feet became chilled. Also, if the ground was rocky, the soles provided little protection for my feet when walking over stones. Might as well have been barefoot. But at the end of the day, it sure felt nice to get my feet out of boots and into those comfy slippers. Good choice to save weight and overall comfort in ideal conditions.
I also have a pair of Teva Protons, which are slip-on water shoes, not sandals, made of plastic and/or rubber components. I use them with Sealskinz waterproof socks for crossing cold streams. I bought then for hiking out West when streams can be filled with melting snow as late as July and the water can be so cold it is downright painful on bare feet. They aren't light -- 15 ounces for the Tevas and almost another 4 ounces for the Sealskinz, but the combination is completely waterproof, keeps my feet toasty, saves my boots from getting soaked, and the soles have some special rubbery coating that seems to grip wet rocks so that I don't fall. They make great camp shoes in Wyoming, but are probably overkill for the AT. Can't wait to use them in Glacier NP next year!