Limiting the number of shoes is one of the greatest challenges facing the packing light traveller. While the number and type will depend on the length, purpose and season of your trip, most people I know have a two- or three-pair limit. And more often than not, that includes a pair of good walking sandals. These limitations raise an important question: What are the best walking sandals for travel?
On a recent travel adventure with three friends, the subject of sandals came up. We were sitting on the deck of our apartment rental on the Greek island of Rhodes, having just returned from swimming off the spectacular rocky beach below. Someone lamented the fact she had not packed water shoes, and instinctively, we shifted our gaze to our feet. All but one person were wearing Teva Tirra sandals, still damp from our early morning swim. What followed was a discussion based on our collective experience about the many virtues of our Teva Tirra.
By the end of the conversation, our friend without this versatile travel footwear was thoroughly convinced. Here’s a summary of what we covered.
While the multitude of colours offers plenty of choices, I’ve found the chocolate brown or black versions blend better with most outfits. Although described as an athletic sandal, they’re stylish enough to take the traveller from an active day to an evening out on the town. They’re dressy enough to wear with a casual outfit.
Comfort trumps style when it comes to immersive travel experiences. We tend to be more active when travelling, and a comfortable pair of shoes is a pivotal part of a packed itinerary. Comfort is another area where these shoes excel. They function equally well on country trails, sandy beaches or city streets, remaining comfortable hour after hour.
The soles are thick and durable, with a shock pad at the heel and an elevated toe bumper. They have excellent traction in wet, steep or rocky conditions. Teva’s proprietary “Spider Rubber” likely has something to do with it. Ridges on the insole discourage sticking or slipping from perspiration. The fabric lining on the straps is smooth and soft. These contribute to great arch and ankle support. The straps are adjustable in three different places to achieve just the right fit for feet of all ages and characteristics. My own feet are a nightmare to fit with an angled metatarsal contributing to a right and left foot of different lengths and widths. But the Tirra handle these perfectly.
Chances are they can be worn comfortably straight out of the box. Just before leaving for Taiwan last spring, my chocolate brown sandals were looking a little tired so I ordered a new pair in black. They arrived a few days before departure and I wore them around the house for several hours. They performed marvelously on my trip, with no blisters, chafing or discomfort.
Teva Tirra sandals perform well in a variety of conditions and circumstances. They’re easily adjusted on long flights when feet tend to swell. Being water-friendly, they’re great for wading or swimming. While most people pack flip-flops for showering, in a pinch the Tirra will do.
Each shoe weighs 8.5 ounces (241 grams). The straps flatten so they take up little space when packed. Both fit comfortably in one shoe bag, or separated to squeeze into smaller spaces. They’re light enough to clip to the back of a daypack when going barefooted on a sandy beach, or to attach to a backpack to dry. The loop on each heel strap is a durable and secure attachment point.
They’re easy to slip into with no laces to tie or buckles to fasten. A quick tightening of the strap and they’re good to go. The Velcro at each adjustment point remains where it’s positioned. They’re also easy to clean. Trail dust or beach sand rinses off easily, or a quick scrub with a nailbrush or old toothbrush and dish soap freshens them up.
There are no “buts.” I honestly can’t find fault with any feature of my Teva Tirra sandals. If and when my current pair looks a little tired in a few years, I’ll purchase my third pair.
Mind you, there are likely other products that respond better to the unique needs of individual travellers. Other travel mates have recommended the Chaco ZX/2 Unaweep Sandal and Venice by Keen. But the reality is, once I’ve found shoes that are a good fit with my travel needs, there’s no need to make a change. For me, Teva Tirra sandals check all the boxes.
What are your best walking sandals for travel?