Versatile Ecco Terra Cruise Shoes for Men

Versatile Ecco Terra Cruise Shoes for Men | Practical Travel Gear 1

Terra Cruise Speed

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.

Terracruise black

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.

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Pakems Packable Boots

Pakems Packable Boots | Practical Travel Gear 2

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.

pakems-footwear

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.

Pakems boots

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.

Vibram FiveFingers Signa and Maiori Shoes

Vibram FiveFingers Signa and Maiori Shoes | Practical Travel Gear 1

Vibram Signa water shoesWhen it comes to athletic water shoes, it’s hard to get things right. Depending on what you need them for, water socks don’t have enough traction, but serious soles can be too heavy. With the Vibram FiveFingers Signa and Maiori shoes, you can have both warm-water and cold-water versions of truly versatile water shoes.

They may look funny, but the Vibram FiveFingers shoes provide a far better grip performance than bare feet along—yet you can still move your foot as if you were barefoot. This is especially helpful if you’re walking in uneven riverbeds and slippery surfaces like boat decks, stand-up paddleboards, and other such things that make up a water-based vacation.

The Signa shoes are the lighter of the two. Ultra-thin and made for warmer water, or use in wet places that aren’t likely to make your feet cold, these shoes are easy to pack up small and stuff in a suitcase or other bag. These are great for tidepooling, protecting your feet when snorkeling or swimming, or even while stand-up paddling. The polyester mesh fabric on top allows your foot to breathe, and Vibram rubber sole includes drainage holes, added slip resistance, and abrasion-resistance fabric.

Vibram FiveFingers MaioriThe Maiori shoes are your serious, cold-water friends. The neoprene upper will help keep your feet warm, whether you’re kayaking or surfing. The antimicrobial sock liner helps keep the shoes from being too stinky after a few wears. This shoe uses Vibram TC-1 rubber in the sole, and has a different pattern than the Signa, in order to provide increased flex and traction on wet surfaces.

I’ve used mine as surf shoes, to keep my feet warm while swimming, as mud shoes when foraging for mushrooms, and plenty of other travel activities.

The Signa shoes list for $80 on the Vibram FiveFingers website. The Maiori shoes list for $54 (on sale!) on the Vibram FiveFingers website. You can also find both at Zappos and get free shipping both ways.

Mountain Khakis Granite Creek Pant for men and women

Cozy but Tough: Flannel-lined Pants from Mountain Khakis | Practical Travel Gear 2

Mountain Khakis calls their lightweight, packable adventure pant the Granite Creek Pant. I call it the Do All, Go Everywhere, and Look Great Doing It Pant. (Wordy, but accurate. I’m sure Mountain Khakis will be calling me shortly to rename all their other pants, too.)

granite peak pantThe Granite Creek pant comes in men’s and women’s styles, and truly will perform for all travel situations and outdoor adventures. (By the way, we’re not Granite Creek newbies. Check out our reviews of other Granite Creek line clothing.) Unlike some trekking pants that get the job done but scream ‘outdoor excursion’, the Granite Creek looks downright casual while still featuring everything you’d need on said excursion. Both the men’s and women’s version offers a relaxed fit (women’s is called a contemporary fit), which gives you some style while still being comfortable. I’ve found all MK women’s wear to be a bit roomy; order a size down if you want a very slim fit. They are constructed of 100% brushed nylon, pack down small without wrinkling, and come to you Scotchgard treated. (Note: my husband and I took ours through the wringer on a multi-day backpack trip, and should have double-treated them with Nikwax stain guard in addition.)

The Granite Creek offers UV protection of 50, and wicks away moisture like a pro. Wear them hiking or in the rain, and keep your skin dry and your core temperature steady. As stated, the Granite Creek isn’t loud and showy with trekking pant features, but they’re there none-the-less: both men’s and women’s version offers five pockets, including a flat front and rear zip pocket, plus a cargo pocket with a hidden security compartment. Seams are triple-stitched to ensure the pants last you for years, and you get MK’s mudflap reinforced heel cuffs.

I took my Granite Creek pants on multiple travels, from an adventurous Alaska vacation to a Canadian Rockies tour via rail. My husband abused his backpacking and fishing. Both pairs enjoy frequent field trips out of the closet for everything from golf to dinner out to average work day use.

Pick up the Mountain Khakis men’s pant for $82 in four colors (see below), or opt for the convertible style with zip-off pants for just a few dollars more.  The women’s Granite Creek Pant can be had for the same cost, in ash, birch, pine, or mushroom. Find both on Amazon, Backcountry or Moosejaw for a few bucks less. Need something a little more polished for everyday wear? Opt for the men’s Teton Twill Pant or the women’s Everyday Chino Pant.