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It seems that everyone I have read about taking a round-the-world backpacking trip wears some type of shoe that looks like this:

Keen sandal

They are like a hiking shoe/sandal hybrid, made by Keen, or Merrell or Chaco. And this is really only for warm weather climates, obviously not for snow and winter.

Are these really the best type of all-purpose shoe for a backpacking trip that consists of 80% walking around, 20% hiking?

They are just about the ugliest things I have ever seen, and scream tourist, but I imagine that tennis shoes/sneakers would give me away just the same.

What types of shoes have you used for a long-term trip?

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I'm glad you didn't come knocking for advice asking whether you should wear Crocs when travelling. THAT is a punishable offence in many corners of the developed world too. –  Ankur Banerjee Oct 16 '11 at 14:22
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This question as it's worded in the title strikes me as either subjective or not a real question. The wording in bold is better than the wording in the question title. –  hippietrail Oct 16 '11 at 16:26
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it almost looks like an advertisement question –  Jacco Oct 16 '11 at 19:09
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Crocs are far uglier, in fact I'm glad I found the one place on earth where people seem to agree with me on the point that Crocs are hideous. –  hippietrail Oct 16 '11 at 20:26
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@jjeaton I would recommend you find something comfortable. I prefer ankle support, but not everyone does. Although, it seems silly to have a sandal style shoe as your main footwear. In some paces, things get sprayed on your feet that you are better off keeping away from your skin... such as in some bathrooms. –  Ginamin Oct 17 '11 at 6:04
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5 Answers

up vote 7 down vote accepted

In my opinion these half-shoe/half-sandal models are not too practical. On a round-the-world trip you certainly need proper walking shoes or even boots and also something lighter.

So unless you want to carry three pairs, I would recommend a pair of good walking shoes and some good sport sandals. That's how I do it.

In South East Asia for example I wore the sandals 95% of the time, even they were sometimes too 'warm'. The shoes I would only wear when going out clubbing or to some fancy restaurant where sandals are not allowed (We usually went to rooftop restaurants of high rise hotels for cocktails and the views).

In South America on the other hand I wore the shoes 95% of the time. In the city, while hiking in the mountains and in the Amazon jungle. Sandals were only used on hot days in the city or on the beach.

I also carry very light flip-flops (thongs for you Australians) for indoor and bathroom usage.

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and 'Jandals' for Kiwis ;) –  Mark Mayo Nov 20 '11 at 19:42
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I find your question a bit funny. But since you ask, the answer is no, you absolutely do not have to wear shoe-sandals for your trip. Whether that kind of footwear is the best is highly subjective, but I wouldn't choose those as my main shoes.

This is what I wore for my RTW trip. I walked around a lot, mostly in cities, but also did e.g. some (easy) mountain trekking etc. A definite plus was that the shoes worked fine in restaurants and bars and clubs too.

Somewhat worn out Timberland shoes

I also had sandals (similar to these but not as new) in my backpack, for warm places and beaches. I was happy with this choice of shoes. (I certainly didn't have lots of space for stuff; just one 38-litre backpack, i.e. hand luggage.)

My trip took just a couple of months though, and in any case your mileage may vary.

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(I bought those shoes from a Timberland retail store in Palma de Mallorca. No idea what the exact model is called, and I couldn't easily find it out by googling...) –  Jonik Oct 16 '11 at 16:25
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Thanks for your answer! Hopefully some more people will post the shoes they have used. These are much better than the sandal-things –  jjeaton Oct 17 '11 at 2:00
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phew This is a question with highly subjective answers.

During travel, and while actually moving from one place to the other I always wear my hiking boots. Usually I have light boots, like the Lowa's "B" class of boots: They have soles that prevent you from slipping, protect ankles, have some hard (rubber-like) protection on the side of the shoe and are padded in all the relevant places. I don't want to advertise any particular brand. You can get these type of light hiking boots from lots of places, and lots of brands. I always wear them when actually moving around with my backpack because they are the heaviest.

I then sometimes - always on the long trips - some very light sandals for the beach and warm areas just as Jonik mentioned already.

Both are bad for any "elegant" ventures. But I never had trouble getting into a restaurant or even casinos. (Well, the more traditional casinos in Germany, where I live, would not let you in with shoes like that).

To be honest, I believe most backpackers don't venture into such "high-class" establishments and therefore don't need "elegant" shoes.

Consider good socks as well: Thick hiking ones for the boots, and thin for elegant shoes.

But most importantly the shoes (and socks) have to be light (for carrying around the world) and comfortable! Take only what you absolutely need.

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Thanks for the info! I suppose it can be subjective, but I really just want to see what people have worn for long-term travel. –  jjeaton Oct 19 '11 at 17:02
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It depends where you're going and what season it is.

For walking around cities, walking shoes are a good option. New Balance makes some good ones. Make sure they're waterproof, you don't want to get your only pair of shoes drenched in the rain.

For the OP, if you're doing a bit of hiking as well, you can use waterproof trail runners for the whole trip. Salomon and Merrell are some good brands.

If you're staying in hostel, I'd bring a pair of sandals for the shared shower.

For a hot climate like Southeast Asia where you're visiting a lot of beaches, the sandal/shoe hybrid is good. One downside is that some places get really muddy when it rains, and you end up getting street slime all over your feet. So think about bringing a pair of backup "real" shoes.

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I agree with Rog182, I still have my Merrell Continuum with Vibram sole after a year of travelling.

I reckon with a pair of trekking shoes *not boots and some sandals you are sorted for most cases.

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