One of the important considerations to make when preparing for a trip is the footwear to bring. You need to consider the activities you’re going to do during your trip to make sure you have the proper footwear, otherwise it may result in a miserable experience or even worse increasing risk of injury while you’re going on the trip.
Few years ago, I rarely went on hikes or long travels, so having the correct footwear was not really much of a consideration to me. It changed about three years ago when I was about to go on a trip to South Dakota for a couple of weeks, and I needed to have something to wear that was comfortable to wear in the hot summer, light to carry, and easy to clean. I had a pair of hiking boots at home, but they were quite heavy weight and better suited for going out during the snowy winter time. And my other pairs of shoes were good for work or formal occasions, but not for somewhat rugged use.
As I searched online to find out what people recommended, I came across a brand that I never knew before as I wasn’t really a serious hiker. Keen makes footwear that were designed to provide protection and comfort for various outdoor conditions. They had a line of sandals that looked like a hybrid between hiking boots and sandals that are rugged enough that you can wear them on a hike but light and comfortable enough to wear even when going out for casual outings. Their unique design includes a black toe protector in front of the sandals that would protect your toes well when you go hiking on rugged, rocky terrains. The sandals interior were made with antimicrobial material that reduces the possibility of bad odor forming when your feet are sweaty, and it’s made so it’s easily washable and quick to dry when it get wet. Many serious hikers recommended it. All of these came with a price however. At more than $100 for a pair, it was the most I had ever spent for a pair of footwear. After wearing the sandals for a while, I purchased another pair of Keen footwear, a pair of hiking boots that also featured the rugged toe protector and lightweight design. The big selling point for me was the comfort that came from having a wider footbed in Keen’s design. It makes a big difference especially when you wear it on long walks or hikes.
Now fast forward more than three years later, I still own both pairs of Keen footwear (I actually added a third one last year, getting a pair of ‘urban shoes’ that has some trait of the other Keen footwear — including the toe protector and the wide, comfortable footbed — to wear on day-to-day basis for work). I only wear the hiking boots during the winter time especially when it’s snowing outside since it provides a nice waterproof protection to keep my feet dry. But at other times I wore the sandals everywhere I go when I don’t need to wear any formal footwear — I would say about 80% of the time. Even during the cooler seasons (fall, spring, and even parts of winter) I often wear the sandals with socks layering. And even after the constant wear and tear, it’s still in good shape — I’d say well worth the amount I paid for it.
During the Southeast Asia trip, I brought both the sandals and the shoes. In most cases I had the sandals on, except when we went to Sapa, where I had the hiking boots on (which was a good choice given the wet and muddy condition that we went through during the trek). During the hike back to the town of Sapa after visiting the Cat Cat village, we were passed by the couple on the photo below. As the gentleman passed me, he said ‘nice shoes!’ I smiled, and when I looked, it turned out that he had exactly the same model of shoes on.