Thoughts on footwear for overlanding…

When one has limited storage space and may travel to different landscapes and climates, one must ask, what footwear should I bring?  

Now I have traveled for long weekends, weeks, and months at a time.  I have experienced, sand, rock, gravel, dirt, snow, ice, rain and mud.  

If I had unlimited space, I would bring:

  • Winter boots with optional Yaktrax for snow and ice. Slipping on ice and breaking a bone can put an end to one’s exploring for a while.
  • Rain boots for rain and mud.
  • Hiking boots / shoes for rock, gravel and dirt.
  • Sneakers for walking around cities / towns.
  • Flip flops for sand and showers.
  • Slip on sandals like Birkenstocks or Crocs for easy on / off with and without socks.
  • A more secure sandal like Chacos or Keens for walking creeks or rivers.
  • And fuzzy boots for chilly nights by the fire.
  • A pair of dress shoes because you never know when you will need them.

Looking at the above list, I count 9 pairs of shoes.  Unless you have a 6×6 or 8×8 Expedition camper, chances are you will not have room for a luxurious 8 pairs of shoes.  So, what does one do?

As with all things travel and overlanding, it is all about compromise. I have found that the following have been the most useful to me over the years.

  1. Flip flops (Chaco flip flops for better arch support) for sand, easy on and off,  and most importantly, showers.  You never know what kind of shower you will find yourself using when you travel.
  2. Sneakers for cities and towns, or just walking around camp. They can also be used for light hiking if something like a trail runner.
  3. Fuzzy boots for keeping your feet warm on cold nights, and protect them from things that may get you in the dark, like cactus needles or acacia thorns, scorpions, and other creepy crawlies of the night.  Now ladies, you may have to fight for this one.  If your partner is anything like my husband, they will give you a hard time about this item. Fuzzy boots take up precious space in the vehicle.  For you guys out there who wear and appreciate these boots, good for you, you get it.

Now, my list could end here, but I like to sneak in a pair of shoes like Crocs or Birkenstocks.  They are easy on and off and can be worn with and without socks.  This is especially important for me at night, or when jumping out of the vehicle to check on something, open / close a gate, air up / down the tires, move an obstacles or speak to a local.  

My advice is to consider what terrain or conditions you will most likely encounter, and plan accordingly.  No matter what you choose to include in your shoe selection, there will always be a day when you say, “If only I had my rain boots” or “I wish I had my snow boots”. 

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