Treat Your Feet
Footwear is one of the most important pieces of gear a hiker can invest in. These three choices will make sure you get to camp in comfort.
At the end of a long hiking day—especially when you're on a multiday backpacking trip—the best thing you can do to preserve your feet is to get them out of your hot, sweaty hiking boots. So you're not walking around barefoot on twigs and stones, or wearing holes in your Thorlos, pack along a lightweight pair of camp shoes to change into.
Something breathable is best, so your feet can dry out while you set up camp and make dinner. If your hike requires water crossings, you may even be able to change into them to keep your boots dry. Here are the top three choices by Washington Trails magazine editor, Eli Boschetto.
Chaco Outcross Evo 2
Lightweight and sturdy, these durable crossover trail shoes can take on just about any terrain—on trails, crossing creeks, across sandy beaches, and even mountain biking. Okay, maybe not mountaineering. They're even light enough to pack along on multiday trips for use as spare trail shoes or comfy camp shoes. Designed to be worn sockless, the upper mesh paneling allows maximum ventilation for keeping feet cool and dry (on land), and quick-drying after treading through water.
The rugged Outcross Evo outsole has good tread for handling a variety of tough surfaces, so if you need to ditch your boots to cool your feet, these will do the trick—as well as keep you on your feet through slippy water crossings. Plus, the Luvseat footbed makes them trail-comfy right out of the box. M/W $110
Bonus Points: The neoprene sock liner keeps debris out.
Columbia Bahama Vent II
Perfect for slipping into when you roll into camp, these ultralight canvas shoes let your feet breathe and relax after long days on the trail. The unique Techlite mesh footbed works in confunction with mideole ventiliation ports to keep air flowing through the shoe, keeping your feet dry and comfortable. You just may find yourself wearing them around town as much as in camp—we did. M $70
Bonus Points: The Omni-Grip outsole keeps you steady on wet surfaces.
Years ago, KEEN revolutionized the water shoe. Now they've done it again with the Uneek Sandal. This truly unique trail and water shoe combines KEEN's uber-comfy metatomical footbeds and high-traction outsoles with a laced paracord upper. Loop them on a carabiner and carry them along with you for creek crossings, water play or just lounging around in camp. M/W $100
Bonus Points: The bungee lacing system makes in and out easy.
This article originally appeared in the July+August 2015 issue of Washington Trails magazine. Support trails as a member WTA to get your one-year subscription to the magazine.