The Right Travel Footwear
The footwear you choose to bring on your travels can truly make or break your trip. Whether travel plans include hiking, extensive touring on foot, water sports, biking, or just casual strolling, wearing the right shoes for your activities of choice is absolutely essential. Having comfortable feet is a luxury we all deserve!
All shoes are constructed out of basic components; an upper, midsole and outsole. Each of these elements can be made out of various materials dependent on the required support and durability. Support typically comes from a core of either polyurethane, ethyl vinyl acetate, or a blend of the two materials. Most lightweight footwear will be constructed almost entirely from these materials, whereas shoes intended for intense terrain, such as hiking boots, will include embedded metal or plastic rods to improve the shoe’s rigidity.
Match the Footwear to the Activity
All shoes are constructed out of three basic components – an upper, midsole and outsole. Each of these elements can be made out of various materials dependent on the required support and durability. Support typically comes from a core of either polyurethane, ethyl vinyl acetate (EVA) or a blend of the two materials. Most lightweight footwear will be constructed almost entirely from these materials, whereas shoes intended for intense terrain, such as hiking boots, will include embedded metal or plastic rods to improve the shoe’s rigidity.
Planning ahead will allow you to make the best decision as to what type of footwear to bring on your trip. It is considered a rule of thumb to bring at least two pairs of shoes – one to suit the majority of activities planned during the trip and one pair of casual shoes to provide comfort during downtime. If you’re going somewhere warm, always toss in a pair of sandals! Besides preparing for a variety of terrain and activities, having a change of shoes will give your feet some welcome relief and stave off fatigue over prolonged periods of movement.
Types of Shoes and Their Intended Use
Shoes can vary in construction from the most basic soles to engineering feats of cushioning, support, and weatherproofing, like hiking shoes or boots. All shoes can fit into three categories – casual, active, and terrain-specific. Choosing the right travel footwear is just a matter of singling out your preferred type.
Casual footwear includes sandals, lightweight sneakers and skate shoes. They are typically constructed out of soft leather, canvas, or synthetics, and provide light support. Such shoes are ideal for urban activities and everyday wear, with emphasis on style and comfort. For most vacations, it is essential to pack at least one pair of casual footwear. And remember, a new pair of clean casual shoes look a whole lot dressier than dirty, worn-in shoes!
Active footwear can be similar to their casual components, but are built with additional support and durability to suit more strenuous activities. This category includes running shoes, walking shoes, and cross-trainers. Brands like Columbia and Nike are known for comfortable and stylish footwear perfect for traveling. While still intended for urban travel or light terrain, these shoes feature improved arch support, shock absorbtion, and repel moisture to provide comfort during rigorous or extended activities.
Terrain-specific footwear is built with very specific activities or terrain in mind. Not intended for casual wear or urban terrain, this category of footwear includes hiking shoes and boots, water and boat shoes, and wake skate shoes. Hiking shoes and boots can vary in appearance from rugged sneakers to heavy duty leather footwear. They typically feature dense padding, protective materials, and heavily textured soles to provide footing on rough terrain. The soles of hiking footwear are often reinforced with metal or plastic rods and are far less flexible than their casual counterparts. Hiking shoes and boots are heavier than casual or active shoes, so only bring these if you plan on hiking for more than three or four hours on rugged terrain.
Water, boat shoes and wake skate shoes are built to withstand a lot of moisture with fast drying materials and soles that provide footing in wet environments. They often feature vents to allow trapped water to drain from inside the shoe.
Fine Tuning your Travel Footwear
After choosing the appropriate footwear and ensuring an ideal fit, it can be wise to add products which boost their comfort and durability. Before making any of these decisions, however, be sure to break you shoes in several weeks before your trip! Insoles can provide additional support while addressing concerns such as longevity, moisture-wicking ability and targeted comfort. Weatherproofing your leather footwear with a spray-on formula can also improve the shoes’ ability to withstand the elements allowing for longer wear in inclement weather. With a little planning, choosing the best travel shoes is an easy first step towards experiencing the trip of your dreams.