Posts Tagged footwear
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.
We review a lot of shoes for travelers who will be walking a lot. Or hiking. Or doing something where their feet will constantly be getting wet. But sometimes you just want to go on a lazy vacation and not do a whole lot, right? If you want some flat-packing shoes to pad around in at a beach resort or you’re just going from cars to hotel rooms, check out these Patagonia Advocate Lace smooth leather shoes.
A few years back I reviewed the Advocate Weave shoes from Patagonia, which apparently didn’t do very well and quickly disappeared. I’m with the wisdom of the crowds on this one as I like these lace ones a lot better. The big orange “1% for the Planet” pull tab was pulled from this design and these just feel more comfortable.
They fit like bedroom slippers though, without much padding or support besides the insole. There’s a wafer-thin midsole and an almost flat sole apart from a bit of tread. They’re crazy comfortable to wear around your house or a hotel, but you’re not going to want to walk to the other side of town in them. Think of them as the casual equivalent of barefoot running shoes.
The uppers are nice leather on these Advocate Lace ones though, which made them good looking enough to wear out for the evening. The equivalent of a woman’s packable flats. Although there are laces, they’re meant to be left knotted at the ends and you just slip these on and off like loafers.
This being a Patagonia product, many of the synthetic materials are partially made from recycled waste and though the big ad is gone, the company does still give 1% for the Planet.
The Patagonia Advocate Lace shoes come in brown or black, in full sizes only, and weigh just 6.5 ounces. They list for $90, which seems steep for made-in-China shoes without a lot of raw materials, so check prices at the following direct links to find them on sale: Amazon, Moosejaw, or Planet Shoes.
Are you tired of seeing a “Made in China” tag on most of the travel and adventure gear you buy? Well if you need some quality American-made socks for walking or hiking, these Farm to Feet socks will make you feel better twice.
There’s been a small but growing trend the past few years to bring more manufacturing back to the USA instead of making China our de facto factory. As expected, much of this is going on outside the apparel space, in big machinery and things that are heavy to ship, but one of the biggest categories for it has surprisingly been socks. Not dollar tube socks, no, but quality hiking and adventure socks from the likes of Farm to Feet.
During this recent cold snap my Farm to Feet Jamestown 73% wool socks have been one of my heavy rotation items, These are warm socks good for hiking—or for just keeping your toes toasty. There’s full density cushioning that’s especially thick around the heel and a seamless toe area. They’re some of the most comfortable socks I own and after attending a bunch of outdoor gear industry trade shows, I have ended up with a lot of socks.
Before the weather turned I was also trying out a pair of Greensboro Low merino wool adventure sports socks. They’re coming out in the spring and from what I’ve experienced, they’re competitive with the Thurlos and Lorpens in this space—but with Made in the USA cred.
Yes ladies, there are also some women’s styles with more pizazz in the design. Like these Concord ones pictured here.
In all fairness, this is one of several sock companies producing American-made ones. We did a whole round-up on Made in the USA socks way back in February of 2010. But with these guys the wool, spandex, and nylon is all sourced stateside, as is the paperboard and ink for the packaging. See the details here.
Be advised that these socks aren’t cheap. You won’t find 50-cents-an-hour workers in North America to shear the sheep or run the factory machines. So the Jamestowns carry a list price of $19 and others run up to $24. But hey, they’re guaranteed for life, which you probably can’t say for much else in your sock drawer. Or those t-shirts you paid more than $24 for.
Here’s a guide to retailers carrying Farm to Feet and you can find them at the Cabelas chain.
For my inaugural test of the GoLite XT Comp shoe, I laced up at a lodge near the base of Lake Louise, Alberta, and set out to hike the wet and steep trails of the Canadian Rockies in Banff National Park after an early October storm. At the lower elevations, I navigated through muddy sections and slippery rocks with ease, and by the time I hiked half-way to my goal of Little Beehive above Lake Agnes, snow was falling. Near Lake Agnes, the snow had accumulated enough that other hikers were slipping traction grip overlays over their hiking boots. Not me: the XT Comp shoe was performing nicely in the wet slush and light powder, thanks to its ‘rock absorber’ traction sole comprising of rubber nobs. My verdict: the XT really is the ‘state-of-the-art off-road performance shoe’ that’s advertised.
During the five mile round-trip hike in the above conditions, my feet never got wet, despite the fact that the XT Comp doesn’t look waterproof. Why: a low cut and plenty of ventilation in the mesh upper makes this shoe look like a warm-weather pick. However, the traction on the sole is seriously substantial. It’s touted as lightweight, but I’d amend that to say ‘as lightweight as possible for a shoe with this much stabilization and traction.’ I loved the substance I got from this shoe without sacrificing the low ankle rise. If you’re looking for a reasonably lightweight, ankle-length shoe that provides the traction and stabilization of a full above-ankle hiking boot, this may be the one.
The heel is zero-lift for a natural stride; I found I needed to play around with insoles to get the just-right fit. The XT fits me wider than most shoes, which is both a plus and a minus: I like how easy it is to slip on over wool socks, and the ability to loosen them while traveling (I wore mine on a commuter train and in the car on the same Rockies trip), but I also needed to adjust the insoles to get the support I wanted.
All GoLite shoes come with adjustable insoles, which I definitely utilize. Use the velcro base to add or remove layering to the sole as needed. I found that removing all but the base of the insole gave me the best fit. Pick up a pair at GoLite for $125 in bright tangerine, or at Amazon for five bucks less. Also comes in men’s sizing, in artisan gold or navy.