Inside my Pack: Adventure Footwear

As I mentioned in an earlier post about our trek to the base of the Pacaya Volcano in Guatemala. I had an agonizing decision to make before this trip about what sort of footwear to take with me. Now, I´m a bit of a special case with my size 15 – double narrow feet. It´s not too often I find many pairs of shoes that fit well and are functional for all needs. But when you´re dealing with huge clodhoppers like mine, you also worry about the weight of carrying around heavy footwear that you may not need on your trip. That´s why deciding which shoes to stuff in your backpack and lug around your continent of choice is such a big decision…
Deciding which shoes to bring on your adventure depends on three main factors: 1. The length of the trip; 2. The climates you´ll be visiting; and 3. The activities you´ll be engaging in.

Also, with a few exceptions, at least one of your shoe choices should be closed toe. Unless you´re going to be on the beach for the duration of your trip and in some other environment where you know you can get away with sandals the whole time, you´ll probably regret not having a sturdy closed shoe that will keep the (pick one) snakes, broken glass, industrial material, sewage, sandflies, mosquitoes, etc..,  away from your bare skin.

Now  getting back to the main factors:

1. Length of trip: First instinct might be to bring those beaten up old tennies on your jaunt around the world. But odds are that they´re going to get beaten up more in six months of travel than in a year of usual use, so bring something that will last the duration. Use your upcoming trip as an excuse to splurge on a new pair. You don´t want to get stuck in China with a hole in your sole and in need of a Size 15. Just because they make everything there doesn´t mean you´ll be able to find it when you need it. Also consider how long you want to lug around your shoes. Be as weight efficient as possible. Bring what you need, for certain, but be mindful of what you´ll be carrying on your back for the next few months.

2. Climates  – Unless you´ll be journeying far north of the fortieth parallel or to elevations above a few thousand meters, odds are that you´ll probably spend a lot of time in Sandals. They´re cool, easy, light and can get wet without a problem. Get a good pair of Tevas or something similar with adjustable straps around the ankle and toes, flip-flops have many downfalls besides the annoying sound. For cold climates, you´ll have to weight the necessity versus weight equation again for warm boots. Experience has taught me that avoiding frostbite is generally worth the extra weight, but always look into fantastic light weight materials like Gore-Tex.

3. Activities – Again, those Sandals will come in real handy for activities where you might bet wet but dont want to be barefoot. But the main question in this category is how heavy-duty of a boot or walking shoe do you want to lug around for all the inevitable hiking you´ll end up doing. For my last six-month jaunt around Asia, I went with a solid pair of trail running shoes. More support than your average tennies, but less weight than hiking boots. For this current trip, a monther in Central America, I opted for the hiking boots for a few reasons: I had a relatively light load in the pack and could spare an extra pound or so, and the jaunt up the Volcano and through Mayan jungles would also seem to justify lugging them around.