We’re liable to like any pair of travel shoes that has “wildly versatile” in its marketing description. Coming from Ecco, we’re liable to believe it too. After a string of thumbs’ up from me on past models I’ve tried, I had a pretty secure feeling these Terra Cruise Speed shoes would be winners.
After all, I’ve raved about other Eccos in the past and I’m still wearing the Biom Grip ones regularly after trying my best to pound them into submission over the past year and three months. They’ve got at least 200 miles on them at this point, on sidewalks in a half dozen countries.
The Danish shoes from this company aren’t cheap: a pair of Terra Cruise Speed ones will set you back $140 at list price, even though these are made in Thailand. They look and feel well-made though and I don’t worry that two months down the line they’ll compress to nothing and leave me with sore feet. With all the traveling I do (which always involves walking) and living in almost completely pedestrian-focused Guanajuato (even more walking), I need shoes that are going to hold up for the long term.
These are more than functional though, with a look that’s got a bit of Euro style, but not to the point of being dainty and impractical. They fit like a glove on top, partly thanks to the stretchy lace system, which I really dig. Slippery shoelaces are my biggest pet peeve with footwear companies and the system here is pretty much “set it and forget it.” Great for the security line at the airport. You can even slip these on and off without sitting down and messing with them—very handy if you’re headed to Japan or Korea.
Your feet will breathe well in these too, so you won’t clear the room when you take off your shoes. These are some of the most breatheable ones I’ve worn that aren’t meant for the water. All the moisture evaporates right out. No need to overheat first like you do with many membrane ones. The downside is they’re not waterproof, so don’t buy these planning for them to be your everyday kicks in Seattle or London.
Otherwise, there’s nice padding around the ankle, a tongue that stays in place, and a sole with some grippy traction. In short, good all-around shoes for urban travel and light adventure. The “speed” part of the name is because these are a tad lighter and more flexible than the regular Terra Cruise shoes, which sometimes have “sport” in the name. Yeah I know, it’s not real clear, but this company likes to design whole lines around one word or phrase, so pick carefully.
You can get the Terra Cruise Speed shoes in European and American stores, direct from Ecco USA, or online from Amazon. Also, Zappos carries the other Terra Cruise models, so they should have this one in by spring.
In my quest for the perfect apres ski boot and all-round, packable outdoor travel shoe, I gave Pakems a trial run. This brand new product designed by a single mom is marketed as a lightweight, compressible shoe designed for use after a ski day. Pakems come in two styles (for both men and women): a high top for winter use and a low top for summer. Both are made from water-resistant ripstop fabric with an insulated, DWR-coated upper, and EVA midsole, and a rubber outsole. Both tighten with a very simple single-pull lace system.
The shoes are undeniably simple, but that’s the point. They’re meant to get you from Point A to Point B in comfort, after changing out of your technical footwear (ski boots in winter, hiking boots in summer). The sole is quite flat, and you don’t get a terribly secure fit, which for me means I won’t be walking in them too far. However, they’re comfortable, and after a day of exercise, they’re certainly a relief to slip on.
How small do they pack down? My size 8 Pakems measure about 10 inches long by 2.5 inches wide by 2 inches thick. They weigh about 13 ounces (a size 10 weighs 15). They come with a small compression bag, but I ditched that pretty quickly in favor of simply squishing my Pakems down into my backpack or bag. If you do use the compression bag, it comes with a strap designed to attach to a backpack or even your waist…I found this overkill, but the strap does also work as a ski boot carrying device when you’re wearing your Pakems, which I’ll admit is pretty nifty.
In most cases, I have room in my ski boot bag for a standard pair of snow boots to change into, but for the days I don’t want to (or cannot) secure a ski locker and opt to carry a small backpack all day, the Pakems fit nicely. They’re also nice to keep in the car to slip your feet into for the drive home (from winter sport days or summer hikes). I’d also bring mine along for river rafting days in the early summer or late fall, when my feet get cold after being wet.
My Pakems are comfortable, but not very breathable…again, these are not designed for long-term wear or long distances. They’ll easily get you from the ski lodge to the parking lot or village, and look decent on your feet while grabbing that apres ski drink, but aren’t meant to go the distance. The low top version is ideal for backpackers who like to bring an extra pair of comfortable shoes for evenings around the campfire; I now favor them over my sandals for this purpose, as they keep my feet dry and clean in addition to giving them a much-needed hug after a day of hiking. Think of them as slippers for the backcountry.
The only difference between the high top version and the low top version: the high top covers to just above the ankle, whereas the low top is cut below. You’ll want the high top for winter wear. At the time of my review, Pakems came in only black, but they have now come out with a variety of fun patterns and colors. Pick up a pair at the Pakems website for $70 (high top) or $60 (low top) or Amazon for as low as $47 for the high top. They’re also available at Moosejaw.com.
Winter’s not over yet, and you need to stay warm. Whether you live in a cold climate or you like to vacation in them, one of your best bets for keeping toasty is the Big Agnes Shovelhead Hooded Jacket.
Down jackets have their problems: wet down doesn’t keep you warm (or dry, for that matter), down sometimes shifts within the jacket to create a weird imbalance, and a lack of fit can make you look like a sack of potatoes. But not so with this jacket. Here’s why:
The 700-fill DownTek water-repellent down that’s inside the jacket absorbs 30 percent less water and dried 60 percent faster than untreated down. It can also be washed without losing the ability to repel water. This water-repellent treatment is non-synthetic, environmentally safe and adds no measurable weight.
Vertical baffles in the Shovelhead jacket keep you warmer, and “Flow Gates” eliminate the down from migrating all over the jacket. The jacket’s lightweight nylon shell is wind and water resistant, and the contoured fit makes it look like the Shovelhead was made for you.
There’s ample pocket space, too. Two outside zippered pockets, two interior stash mesh pockets, and one interior zippered pocket are enough room for your cell phone, wallet, hands, gloves, hat, and likely a few other things. Just remember—the more you stash in the pockets, the less you keep that fitted look.
Need a good all-around daypack or hiking pack that won’t break the bank? This new Shrike backpack from Kelty includes a lot of features in its sub-$100 list price.
If you go on any message board frequented by people getting ready to take off on an extended bout of travel, you’ll find plenty of arguments about what size backpack is the right one to take. If you’re the type who can stuff everything you need into one that holds just 30 liters, go order this Shrike pack from Kelty right now. If you’re just looking for a great hiking pack or daypack to keep in the closet for when you need it, however, this is also the pack for you.
For those in the former category, this top-loading pack doesn’t have a lot of wasted space and you can still manage to fit in a laptop or tablet. You won’t get a lot of padding–it’s a two-pound backpack after all—but the way it’s stitched there is some space between the bottom of the laptop pocket and the bottom of the pack. Not enough to be fine if you drop it from shoulder height without a sleeve, but enough protection if you always set it down gently.
Even with the electronics stuffed in the various gadget pockets, you’d have plenty of room for days of clothing. It’s tough to manage getting everything into just 30 liters of space, but there are lots of loops on the side to hook on some extras.
For your average person using this as a daypack, however, it’ll be more than ample. It’s got all the things that are standard these days: water bottle pockets, a key clasp, lots of gadget pockets inside, adjustable shoulder straps, and compression straps to pull everything in tight.
There are a few nice touches with this Kelty Shrike pack though, including a zippered pocket section on the top for getting to things you’re going to need to find without digging. Like your camera, or a flashlight. There’s another handy zipper pocket on the front. I especially appreciated the “Dynamic AirFlow back panel” when I took this out for a hike. It’s not quite as cool as the netting-style systems that keep the pack completely off your back, but there’s plenty of separation and the extra cushioning makes this Kelty pack quite comfortable.
This Shrike 30 can be a serious backpack, complete with a strap to go around your waist, or it can be a casual daypack you can take on hikes in the nearby mountains. It’s hydration bladder compatible if you want. It’s rugged, well-made, and punches above its weight class when it comes to the reasonable $90 list price.
I wear flip-flops all spring and summer long, from spring break beach trips to end-of-August road trips. I know it’s well and truly summer by the ‘V’ shaped tan marks on the tops of my feet. But since my warm weather travel itinerary includes river rafting, hiking, rock scrambling, and extensive walking, typical flip-flops don’t always get the job done.
Made by the founder of Teva, Sazzi ‘toe-motion’ performance sandals bridge the gap between flip-flop comfort and active lifestyle support. Sazzi is not the first shoe brand to implement a toe-specific footbed, but as far as I’ve seen, they’re the first to do so in a flip-flop. This is great news for people like me, who adore flip-flops but need the support of a performance sandal.
Sazzi Decimal‘s four toe posts connect your feet directly to the footbed, adding stability as you’re running, jumping, or dipping your feet into a current. With four straps between four toes, instead of one between my big toe and second toe, I’ve found I can enjoy warm weather activities without fear of my sandals falling off my feet, sliding to one side, or tripping me up. Even without having to clench my foot, there is very little movement. The stability is aided by the one wide V-strap with a stitched organic cotton seam that fits over the top of the foot. Trust me, flip-flop lovers will really, really like this design.
I also like that all Sazzis are made of 100% recycled material with a closed-cell construction that resists moisture and bacteria build up. They go from water to dirt to pavement without a problem, and don’t smell when you toss them into the hot car at the end of a long day. They feature a zero drop heel design to help you walk comfortably when touring cities or walking long distances.
The women’s Decimal comes in black, blue/tan, or pink/tan in sizes 5-11, and the men’s version comes in gray/olive, gray/black, or blue/green in size 7-13. Either version is $79 on the Sazzi site, or the same price (with an additional women’s color option of brown) on Amazon. Don’t wait; the traditional sandal-style Sazzi Digit has already sold out.