Whether you’re roaming the ancient streets of Istanbul or pub-crawling in Paris, a good pair of shoes may arguably be the most important item a traveler can pack (or wear). On the other hand, these kicks tend to be the bulkiest item in your suitcase. Choosing wisely what to put on your feet can’t be understated. Here are the best travel shoes to consider for your next trip.
One big note here: a few of these companies are low or sold out of stock. All that we can say is that shopping requires patience nowadays. The times be what the times be.
Founder Mickey Ashmore created Sabah in the summer of 2013 after wearing out the pair of Turkish slippers gifted to him by his girlfriend’s family in Istanbul. Ashmore tracked down Orhan, a traditional shoemaker using techniques reaching back two centuries.
Almost a decade later, Sabah slippers are available in 48 colors and styles, many produced from butter soft leather. No matter the hue or the shoe, each Sabah pair offers hand stitched seams by one of the 10 shoemakers from the Sabah Workshop in Gaziantep, Turkey. Look close enough inside, and the initials of the maker appear in ballpoint pen.
Vivobarefoot Gobi III
Barefoot indeed. Made from finegrain Nubuck leather, Vivobarefoot’s Gobi III feels like walking inside footwear made for an ancient future.
Nubuck has a feel and style close to suede, but the former is more durable because it’s made from the hide’s top grain. This provides the base for a sleek look on stride to any semi-formal or casual occasion. A thin, honeycombed sole keeps walkers close to the ground and a roomy toe box gives breathing room for wide feet. The half ankle height tops give support to ankles. Handcrafted in Portugal, the Gobi II comes together with a potent mix.
Vivobarefoot offers a wide and sometimes funky range of Gobis including vegan versions.
Lems Boulder Boots
Men heading to more granola places might lean toward hiking boots. This is why some of the best are born in Boulder at Lems.
In 2008, Lems’ creator, Andrew Rademacher, was fed up, so he directed footwear frustration to design a boot that fit the foot’s natural shape. Relying on his own research, Rademacher studied shoe construction and pattern making to design “shoes to fit like no other on the market.”
The result? Perhaps the most comfortable footwear on the men’s market to go along with a classic organic look. Lems’ foot-shaped boot is a go-to for travelers who to need to save space and weight. Supple leather and tough nylon combine with a fleece lined inner and a comfy trademarked sole — all light material that’s able to compress into a compact space.
Salomon Speedcross 5
Speaking of the trail, here’s the platonic ideal of the trail shoe. They work pretty darn well on broken concrete, loose gravel, pothole cobblestone, or any other obstacle-ridden urban surface.
With the fifth edition of the Speedcross, Salomon dug back to the shoe’s roots, adding grip for better surface connection, and added a dynamic upper design. The refined look even goes classic with color scheme — black-on-black, phantom gray-on-black, a moss green grapeleaf-on-back, and a teal twist for those feeling the bright side of the street.
Versatile, aggressive, and lightweight, Speedcrosses wear almost anywhere.
Merrell Freewheel 2
Searching for the perfect blend of business and athletic? Well look no more because Merrell has got your back.
An aerodynamic take on the classic oxford, the Freewheel 2 features a full grain leather upper for style and a proprietary M Select Grip sole for pedal power. The suede shoes come in several different color lines that even reach to the Freewheel’s bottom. Flash duel-colored soles walking to work, riding to a coffee shop for remote work, or grooving on the parquet after a long day.
Be careful, Merrell’s suede is not waterproofed, so make sure to waterproof the shoe.
Allbirds Tree Runners
We’ve covered Allbirds a few times before here at The Manual, but they keep showing up in shoe wraps because of an incredible combo of look and comfort.
In addition to being sustainably constructed, Merino wool creates a comfortable world for feet. Runners feature a superfine Merino wool that’s softer and cozier than most. Allbirds also claims the fabric to be odor-resistant and makes this shoe to be worn with bare feet. More breathable than cotton or leather, Allbirds get going even in the most heated of situations.
Whether setting out for a weekend jaunt or heading out of town for a long walkabout, it's important to embark armed and ready. Great travel shoes set an excellent standard for comfort, utility, and style. They have you feeling great from the beginning to end of each adventurous day.