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). They are typically the bulkiest (and most often the heaviest) item in your suitcase, so choosing carefully can’t be understated. Here are eight of the best travel shoes to consider for your next trip.
Founded in 1870 on the island state of Tasmania, Blundstones (or Blunnies) may be the original perfect travel shoe. The slip-on, no laces required design are advantageous for all facets of travel. They easily slip off and on for quickly navigating security lines, the waterproof design makes them ideal for any environment, and they can be used for casual or dressy occasions. The 550 took what the Classic 500 brought to the table and amped it up with a longer lasting version that maintains the original’s style. The rugged sole is paired with a waterproof, leather upper and a strategically placed elastic patch creates a slipper like feel that will almost make you wonder if you’re wearing shoes at all.
Chacos have become synonymous with adventure since their humble beginnings in 1989. While the brand’s offerings have expanded since its inception, the iconic Z/1 and Z/2 are still staples in the outdoor, adventure, and travel markets. The main difference between the two styles is the presence of a toe strap in the Z/2 that provides extra stability and can be laid flat as needed to accommodate socks (if that’s the way you roll). Each season brings a myriad of new webbing patterns. Or, you can go the custom route and create a one-of-a-kind sandal that fits your unique style.
Founded in 1964, the Italian footwear brand knows a thing or two about making performance products for all outdoor pursuits. The Tikal is no exception. It is ideal travel or everyday use and is designed to be worn with or without socks. The modern design isn’t short on features and sports a reversed leather upper that provides optimal comfort and breathability, the footbed is comprised of cotton and coconut fibers, a cork midsole was added for enhanced comfort, and a Michelin Cross Terrain outsole protects your feet regardless of where they take you.
OluKai’s Nalukai Kala are pure paradise on your feet. The boots are crafted from double-sided leather to give a rough, natural outward appearance, while the full-grain on the inside gives an exposed, unlined refined feel. The lightweight midsole paired with the non-marking rubber outsole are sure to be at home in tropical destinations or European hotspots. As a bonus, for every pair of Olukai shoes sold, the brand gives back to its island-inspired roots.
A relative newcomer in the footwear industry, Allbirds is making great strides in the market in both materials and environmental impact. These unique kicks are an environmental story unto themselves. The shoe’s upper and padded insole utilizes New Zealand Merino wool which is advantageous for its ability to thermoregulate without the scratchy issues that plagued old school wool products. The brand’s proprietary low-density foam sole makes the sneakers ultra lightweight without compromising comfort. What’s more? The laces are made entirely from post-consumer recycled plastic bottles.
Designed in Portland, Oregon and utilizing an array of materials from all over the globe, the brand is redefining footwear for the active individual. Lined in ethically-sourced Merino wool, the foot is immediately enveloped in a micro cocoon of comfort and warmth while being protected from the elements via the full grain leather upper that is paired with the Defender® System without compromising breathability. No structure is complete without a firm foundation and this is achieved with an industry leading Vibram outsole to take you from trail to city (and back) with confidence.
Every facet of Lems Shoes’ Boulder Boot has been purpose-built for travel. The durable, leather and nylon upper is wind-, moisture-, and stain-resistant so it’s designed to withstand anything you can throw at it — from trail to city mud puddles. Unlike similar boots, however, the Boulder Boot weighs a scant 9.9 ounces and folds completely in half (toe to heel) for ultra-compact packing. Inside, a removable insole and soft cotton lining ensure they’re comfortable enough, even for a long-haul flight. All these features are wrapped in a simple brown exterior (other colors are also available) with classic styling that’s just as suited for hiking and exploring as it is for pub crawls and city sightseeing.
For some travelers, their best travel shoes are those that are decided with a simple question: what’s going to be the most convenient at airport security? If sandals aren’t a viable option, look to the classic espadrille. The hand-braided rope design sole dates back at least six centuries to the Pyrenees mountains that border France and Spain, but Spanish footwear brand Castañer has been perfecting them since 1927. Their C.JONATHAN/325 flat canvas espadrilles are a classic design with a washed canvas upper and stretch elastics to ensure a relaxed, comfortable fit. They’re designed to go just about anywhere, providing double-duty performance from the streets to the countryside. If these are a little too costly for you, however, you can always opt for a pair of Toms.
If you’re taking a plane to your next destination, treat yourself to this travel playlist.