Posts Tagged footwear
The weather where you are might not be making you think about sandals, but if you’ll be taking a vacation to a hot place or you want a truly original gift idea, check out this Keen custom shoes offering.
The original Keen Newport sandals were a revolution that launched a company and they’re still super-popular for several reasons. They’ve comfortable, functional, cool, and protective of your toes. Plus they’re terrific for water activities like kayaking and river rafting. Now they can come in whatever color combination you want as well.
Keen gave me a code to try this process out and it was a pure delight. Well, for my teenage daughter anyway. I knew she’d go crazier with the choices than I would, so I let her loose on the Keen Custom page so she could make her own unique pair.
After picking her size, she chose from 20 strap colors. Then from 13 stitching colors. Then from 14 microfiber colors for the tongue and sides. After that the lining, from four choices. She chose the woven tab colors (from 7 options) for the two pull tabs, then picked from 10 bungee lace colors and 5 colors for the plastic pull tab at the end. Last was the outsole and midsole, which produced the only bit of whining: sorry kids, gray or black there.
It gets topped off with a yellow and black Keen logo no matter what, but it would take a math club contestant a few minutes to figure out how many combinations you can get from all that. It’s a lot of choices. She went back and forth a few times trying different options, which is easy to do on the intuitive website. Each time you change something, you see the result on the screen and you don’t have to ever hit a back button and start over.
At the top of the screen is how hers came out. Here’s another pair I mocked up with random choices. Obviously a much different look.
This process takes 2-3 weeks, so order today if you want them by Christmas. (To avoid that stress, print the custom page and buy a gift card for $130 instead.) The process was very smooth though, with Keen keeping us updated: a verification e-mail that pictured the shoes as we’d ordered them, another e-mail later that it was in process at the factory, then one when the shoes were on their way.
Sure, these cost more than a pair of regular Newports you buy off the shelf, but how much is it worth to have bespoke travel shoes like nobody else’s? For now anyway these don’t come in kids sizes, but the women’s sizes start at 5 and the men’s at 7. See more at the Keen custom shoes page.
We’ve raved about super-comfy Sanuk shoes before, but unlike the others we’ve reviewed, these Schooner ones can go along for the ride to cold places in your travels.
Some travel shoes are serious, but Sanuks are for fun. It’s the essence of their brand, reinforced through their website, their packaging, and their smiling logo. In Thai the word roughly translates to “fun,” but in the manner of putting pleasure first and enjoying what you do, even if it’s work or chores. Land of Smiles and all that.
So of course these are shoes that make me smile. There’s nothing pretentious about them: they just look good with jeans or casual pants and they’re comfortable to walk around in. The construction is serious though. This starts with the leather laces, the padded cuffs, and the fabric lining. There’s a nice rubber sole that’s grippy, a midsole that’s stitched on, not glued, and inside is a very cushy EVA footbed with Aegis antimicrobial additive. So even if your feet are sweating up a storm, your Schooners won’t get stinky.
That’s a good thing too as these aren’t all that ventilated, like a summer shoe would be. The upper is waxed leather and waxed canvas: if you get caught in flurries or a drizzle, you’ve got some protection to keep your feet from getting wet.
I’ve done a lot of sidewalk surfing and stair climbing in these Sanuks and they feel like they’ll hold up for a really long time. They’re a bit too narrow for my wider feet, an issue that doesn’t come up with this brand normally, because these are designed more like Vans or Chuck Taylors in the sole construction. Once I rejiggered the way they laced up from how they came out of the box, that helped.
The Sanuk Schooner shoes come in two colors and whole sizes only. They’re lighter than they look and can squish down quite a bit for packing. They are $85 at the Sanuk website, or you can find them online at Moosejaw, Backcountry, and Zappos. And here’s a deal for our readers:
Have you heard of Icebug yet? If not, it may be because you live where the snow doesn’t fly. The Swedish shoe company is best known for their innovative studded shoes and boots for year-round trail running and hiking in wintry conditions. The Icebug Spruce, however, is certainly for the everyman (and woman)…no ice required.
This trail walking shoe is pretty enough to pass muster (and then some) while city touring, walking, and commuting, but also packs enough punch in the traction and weather-proofing department to transition to the trail. The lovely Easter egg colors don’t hurt, either. Bleak winter day, consider yourself cheered.
The Spruce features a low cut construction and comes in two different upper material versions: leather or suede. Both are 100% waterproof, due to the inclusion of OutDry technology (in which a waterproof membrane is bonded directly to the shoe’s outermost layer). At first glance, I could hardly believe the Spruce is waterproof; my suede opal numbers just looked to ‘nice’ to get wet and repel water. I tested them on many a autumn walk, and they stay true to their promise, all while staying breathable and soft.
You get a drop and roll sole construction, but let’s get to what you really want to know: does the Spruce sport Icebug’s signature studded traction? No, that would be overkill in a walking shoe. Instead, Icebug utilizes their traction technology for un-studded shoes. What that means: RB9X. What that means: Rubber 9 Extreme, Icebug’s latest rubber compound development, combined with a saw tooth outsole pattern, which sets a new standard in providing friction. In other words, these guys know traction, and no matter the shoe, they’re going to provide it.
Where my Spruce shoes have been: wooded trails, slick pavement, city streets, airplane cabins, stuffed in carry-on luggage, on wet soccer fields, and propped up on the couch (don’t tell). My point: this is an extremely versatile shoe that will get lots of game time out of your closet.
For low-top hiking shoes that will hold up to tough terrain and water, these Lowa Renegade II ones set you up with Gore-Tex, a Vibram sole, and quality Nubuk leather. And hey, they’re not made in China.
I’ve had far too many pairs of shoes in my review queue much of this year, so I’ve had my hiking housemate trying out the women’s version of the Renegade, one of Lowa’s perennial popular models. It comes in a variety of styles and heights, but she liked the look and functionality of the low ones in maroon.
These shoes are advertised as being comfortable right out of the box and on that claim they passed well. They didn’t go on a five-mile hike out of the box, but they probably could have if needed. (With some good travel socks that is.) The leather is supple, the tongue is not stiff, and the lining is soft. There’s plenty of support where it counts though, with serious tread that’s ready for rock-hopping, a PU midsole that is lightweight but with plenty of cushion, and a nylon shank for stability.
Speaking of lightweight, these certainly are. They might look like they’ll weigh you down, but they come in at under a pound each—great for leather ones. They come in a version with or without Gore-tex. This GTX model has it and it’s been useful since we arrived in hilly central Mexico during the rainy season. If you’re in an always-dry climate though, you might not need to pay the premium.
There is a premium no matter what though when you buy these European hand-crafted shoes. They’re well-made and built to last, so you’re looking at a list price of $170 to $200. A real investment for many people.
In the months she has been using them, my female tester has been happy with all but one aspect: the toe box is too narrow. She has what are usually deemed normal-sized feet, so try these on first before buying them if your feet are not very narrow. Some online reviewers have complained about this as well, so hopefully it won’t be a permanent issue in the series.
For those trips where you’ll be combining lots of walking, some light hiking, and possibly carrying a backpack from town to town, these rugged but lightweight Chaco Hinterland shoes will keep your feet happy and protected.
What do you think of when you think of Chacos? Probably some comfy flip-flops or sandals, maybe even their customizable ones that you can order in your favorite colors. The brand has a fanatic following from those buy one pair and then keep going back for more.
But Chacos does make shoes too, including some darn good ones for travel. I’ve reviewed the leather Tedhino Low ones in the past and lately I’ve been digging their new Hinterland shoes.
On the outside these look like a lot of these light hiking shoes we review here, with serious tread, toe protection, and a cushioned EVA midsole with a support shank inside. The upper—depending on which of two models you get—is either all nubuck leather and suede or a mix of that and some mesh for more breatheability. The tread is ready for serious trails and is made with 25 percent recycled materials.
Chacos fans will tell you though that what they like best is what’s next to their feet. The company likes their footbeds so much they’ve given them their own brand name: “Luvseat.” This is not your typical insole that you feel like tossing and replacing after a couple months.
Otherwise, you get what you expect in an outdoor activity shoe like this: a pull tab on the back, a gusseted tongue with padding, cushioning around the ankle, and a mesh lining. If you’re a long-term backpacker or someone who will be hitting some trails on your vacation, this is a good all-around travel shoe that’s not too heavy or clunky. Don’t take these if you’re going somewhere really rainy though: neither version is waterproof.
The Chaco Hinterland lists for $125 in the all-leather version, $120 in the mesh version. Each comes in several earth tone colors.