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In a few months, I'm heading to Australia with a working holiday visa. I am planning to stay for around 12-15 months where I'll be visiting different parts of Australia, New Zealand and backpacking around SE Asia.

This will be my first long-term trip and I want to pack as light as possible. One of my biggest dilemmas is finding a decent pair of shoes to pack and how much/which type of shoes shall I take with me. I need something versatile for general walk around, some few light hiking trips, lots of walking and also for going out in the evening (either a restaurant or clubs)

Are there any types of shoes that would be suitable for all the activities I am interested in?

closed as primarily opinion-based by JoErNanO, Kate Gregory, VMAtm, Gayot Fow, Mark Mayo Jun 18 '15 at 20:49

Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

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    The phrasing of this come awfully close to "close as primarily opinion based". – CMaster Jun 18 '15 at 13:14
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    Just to expand on my close vote, the TSE Help Centre explicitly mentions questions like these as those one should not ask here: I use ______ for ______, what do you use? – JoErNanO Jun 18 '15 at 17:01
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    please don't close this. It's actually a very important question and one which I gave much thought to myself. I would argue it's not opinion based as (from a non-fashion point of view) shoes are tools, with features, and those features can be described and evaluated for a given scenario, in this case long-term backpacking. I think it's really great to able to share tips and experience with the community on this. – techpacker Jun 18 '15 at 21:16
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    I decided to write about my experience on this exact topic on my blog, where it's more permissible to discuss opinions, and where I have more room to discuss options at greater length. I hope it's of help to someone. – Flimzy Jun 19 '15 at 4:54
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    there is no "best". "Best" is purely opinion based. For me the best would probably be none at all. For others it might be steel jungle combat boots... – jwenting Jun 19 '15 at 5:41
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I like to use trail/approach shoes as my all purpose shoe. enter image description here

They're flexible and soft enough to be comfortable long term, you can buy them to different levels of breathability/enclosed to cater to climates, and you can walk all day in them with their grippy, hiking boot like soles and air cushioning. You might have some difficulty getting in to nightclubs with a "no trainers" policy though.

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    I've been thinking about buying a similar pair, I have Salomon and High-tech available in my town and then for nightclubs I might just buy a 'cheap' decent looking pair of shoes just for night out once I'm actually in Australia. Would you reckon similar shoes would be enough since most people talk 'ankle support' offered by boots which I'm not sure I really need when these are more lightweight and I've never had any problems with my ankle so far. – rikket Jun 18 '15 at 14:18
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    If you're doing long hikes over rough terrain, then proper walking boots help. But for walking around town, on park/low level trails, etc, then boots are sufficently heavy that they just make walking extra work. Also, by some flip-flops/sandals when you're there for the beach/pool/deck. – CMaster Jun 18 '15 at 14:21
  • Color matters. Get them black, or at least dark. You don't want them to stand out when you go to a bar/club. – Adrien Be Jun 19 '15 at 5:46
  • I also like trail running shoes, because designed for both hiking & running (in forest or else), they are super comfortable, waterproof, low ankle (not chunky), light, and even nice sometimes. I opted for the Salomon XA COMP 7 GTX, see m.rei.com/product/837420/… (color deep red) – Adrien Be Jun 19 '15 at 6:01
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I'm currently travelling long term. Your priorities may differ from mine, I'm a male and care about the look of my footwear to the extent that they don't stand out or look obviously inappropriate for whatever I'm doing. I'll tell you what's worked really well for me.

All-black running shoes. As in, specialist running shoes. personally I went for Brooks Adrenaline GTS. They're not the cheapest shoes, but when you get gait analysis at a shop and buy a really well fitting pair, you get the following features:

  • Very comfortable for walking long distances, in and out of urban areas. And of course, running. These things are built to support your feet and ankles for long-distance running, and will likewise give you a very comfortable walking experience over long distances.
  • Highly versatile temperature range. They cover your whole foot tightly, but are made with breathable material that ventilate the feet nicely - so wearing thinner or thicker socks makes them equally comfortable for a cold winter or hot tropical climate, and everything between. A further advantage of the thin material is that they dry quickly if you get them wet.
  • Light, and not bulky. Again, owing to the thin material. If you do find yourself packing them at any point, you'll appreciate this.
  • Extremely durable. With a good quality pair, you likely won't need to replace them for years, especially if you're mainly walking in them. They will easily last you for your entire trip of 12-15 months. I've been wearing mine every day, hiking and playing sport in them, for months, and they actually still look and feel pretty new.
  • They look right for most situations you'll encounter as a backpacker. Assuming they're all-black as mine are with no flair, they really don't stand out. You can wear them with pretty much anything. They look fine hiking, walking around town, in cafes, bars, restaurants. A really nice advantage you may not have thought about is that it's handy to be able to transition between these activities, without having to go home and change shoes (as you might have to with a separate 'scruffy/specialist hiking day shoes' and 'smarter night shoes' strategy).
  • Can be used for a wide variety of sporting activities. If you want to occasionally have a kick-around, go to the gym, a quick run, whatever during your travels (I've done all these), you have a pair of versatile sport shoes. Dedicated hiking boots, for example, might be great for walking or gym, but might be a bit cumbersome for ball games. Versatility is the key. Running shoes aren't the perfect shoes for playing football, for example, but they're good enough to do the job if you just want to play occasionally.

I'd like to add I also have a pair of cheap, throwaway canvas shoes for use at the beach, or at the pool or whatever, or when I'm actually prepared for a night out and canvas shoes will look slightly better than my running shoes. However, I have no attachment to these, I could throw them away, lose them, and re-buy another pair at any time without caring, and they pack really small. So they're there, but I don't consider them a pair of shoes I actually need, I could do without them fine.

Having one pair of 'proper shoes' rather than two is fantastic. I've made the mistake of packing day and night shoes on past trips, and this way, for me, is much better.

  • +1 for the canvas shoes. Light, compact, elegant enough, cheap (hence disposable), what else can you ask for? – Adrien Be Jun 19 '15 at 5:51
  • Not sure abt having running shoes though. What about trail running shoes: designed for both hiking and running (in a forest or else). – Adrien Be Jun 19 '15 at 5:57
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For a long term trip (12, 15 months), I would pack 4 pairs of shoes:

  1. Shoes you usually wear every day at home.
  2. trail/walking shoes (see CMaster's answer).
  3. flip flops (if you're already used to wearing them) it can be hot in these places.
  4. dress shoes, when going out in the evening; it is nice to dress up once in a while.

1 and 2 can/could be merged.

I assume have a "home base" where you can stash your belongings.

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    3 can be purchased locally for nearly nothing if one really intends to keep packing weight down – Calchas Jun 18 '15 at 17:01
  • No need for 4 pairs. You can compine #1 and #2 or #1 and #3, as I do. – Flimzy Jun 19 '15 at 3:39
  • Hahaha. 4 pair of shoes! Are you for real? 3 maximum! Flip flops, trekking, city (although prob not needed in many places) – Adrien Be Jun 19 '15 at 5:48
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Depending on duration and packing space, in order of importance:

  1. Comfortable shoes.
  2. Nice (dressup) shoes.
  3. Slippers.
  4. Sneakers (if the comfortable shoes are not already sneakers).
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When I travel I take a pair of (light) hiking boots and a pair of sandals or flip flops. While traveling, I might pick up an other pair, but most of the time those fall in the same category.

I do not bother with dress up shoes, (but I do not go out when traveling alone either) and I never use shoes to run in, if you do use those take one pair instead of your hiking shoes or sandals. But I expect you will add a pair of very thin open shoes (sandals or flip flops) as they are great for informal situations and easy on your feet after a day in shoes.

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  1. Casual shoes to wear when you go out in the evening.

  2. Flip Flops

  3. Running/Walking shoes

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