From sturdy backpacking boots to cramped climbing shoes, the best part of active recreation footwear is the moment you get to take it off. When the hike, ride, or climbing session is over, your priority shifts from performance to comfort.
We’ve all heard the audible sigh of joy that comes when feet are finally released from their sweaty, high-performance foot prisons. Because they’re made to be comfortable, camp shoes offer a soothing antidote. On many adventures and expeditions, camp shoes should be considered an essential piece of gear.
Historically, thru-hikers and other adventurists have simply repurposed pre-existing models of comfortable footwear as functional camp shoes. Many of these options, like Crocs Classic logs, weren’t originally designed to be used on outdoor excursions, but people in search of good camp shoes identified them as an excellent makeshift choice.
However, in 2021, many footwear companies are now making purpose-built camp shoes. Because there are more great options available than ever before, now’s a great time to pick up a pair of camp shoes that make you say “ahhhh” every time you put them on.
Car camping is all about luxuries. The Teva Ember Moc ($75) is a luxury that becomes difficult to go without as soon as you’ve tried them on.
This unique shoe is an innovative combination of an urban sneaker and a mini sleeping bag. It’s part-slipper-part-shoe, and it is absolutely perfect for brief hikes, hanging out around the campfire, or even running errands about town.
Since these durable and insulating shoes were released, they have quickly become the well-loved standard in campground footwear. Modern van dwellers are rarely spotted without a pair of the Teva Ember Mocs on their feet.
Designed for watersports
Designed for watersports but adopted by the thru-hiking community, the Vivobarefoot Ultra 3 ($80) is the ultimate shoe for overnight backpacking.
These unique-looking shoes are everything that lightweight backpackers need in a camp shoe. The shoes are easily compressible, so you can stuff them in your pack if you want to. The Ultra 3s have an upper that is made entirely of EVA, an elastic polymer very similar to rubber.
Fully waterproof and breathable, this honeycomb-patterned upper makes the Ultra 3s a true barefoot shoe. The EVA fully conforms to the shape and movements of your feet. When you’re wearing these, you’ll hardly feel them on your feet.
Crocs Classic Clogs
Most people will be familiar with Crocs. Since 2002, Crocs have been making variations of their injection-molded EVA clogs. Though their classic model ($45) was originally developed as a boating shoe, it has since amassed a large following with backpackers and other outdoor recreation groups as the ultimate camp shoe.
On any thru-hiking trail, a pair of Crocs dangling off of the outside of someone’s pack is a common sight. The classic clog is lightweight, durable, and fully waterproof. If the Crocs get wet, simply wipe the water off with a rag or towel. Boom. Instantly dry.
Crocs come with a heel strap that’s easily tucked out of the way when not in use. With the heel strap engaged, Crocs can easily handle short hikes without falling off. Without the heel strap in place, Crocs become a convenient source of slide-in foot protection.
OOFOS ORIGINAL SANDAL
At the end of a strenuous day of activity, it’s wise to give your feet the gift of recovery footwear. With a super-soft footbed that cushions your foot and leg joints, these sandals ($50) from OOFOS help relieve soreness and prepare you for your next hike or run.
Though at first glance these sandals look simple and unassuming, OOFOS are not your average poolside flip flops. Their proprietary foam, which they call OOfoam, is designed to absorb shock. In the company’s own words, “OOFOS absorbs 37 percent more impact than traditional foam footwear.”