Story & Media: Ben Rubin
For any kind of long-term trip, shoes can make or break an adventure. Most days you'll probably be on your feet - rain or shine - tramping through urban jungles, sandy beaches, muddy wilderness, and who knows what else. Fashionista sneakerheads who need hired sherpas to cart along color-coordinated wardrobes, be advised: you want to be wearing as many shoes as you're carrying, so aim for an all-in-one pair of kicks that can take a beating.
Finding the right adventure footwear becomes even more tricky if you ride a skateboard; it'll chew holes in your shoes every chance it gets - a nice invitation for perennially wet toes and trench foot if you're trekking through cloudy weather. Here are some tips for the adventure-bound, with skateboard in tow or not.
- It Takes Two
As hard as I tried, I couldn't find a single pair of footwear that covered all the bases, so I ended up with two pairs - daily sneakers I can skate in, and some hike-friendly sandals I can take up mountains or in hostel showers if I wanna keep the athletes foot at bay. It's good to have a spare.
- Style Takes a Backseat
- Your crispy new sneaks will go from fresh to mush pretty quick when you're wearing them everyday - trust me. I lean towards black - hides dirt and is an easy color to find patches for.
- Cobbling with Glue and Patches
- If I tossed my shoes each time I got a hole I'd be buying shoes every month. Shoe Goo is nice, but most all-purpose adhesives are flexible enough to work. I picked up some Uhu universal glue in Helsinki and I'm still using it 5 months later, along with some suede patches I scooped up from a friend. If you ask around, most cities have old school shoe cobblers or leather shops where you can pick up scraps. If all else fails, use duct tape - that should be in your bag already anyways!
- Other Stuff I Look For:
- Rubber Toe Caps
- Even with my own harrowing history with my toes aside, i'm a big fan of shell toes, or any shoe with a rubber toe cap. They won't lose their shape after an accidental dip in a puddle, and as a plus for the skateboard pushers they won't explode after a session of flip tricks.
- Mid Tops
- You can always cut them down later if you need to, but there's been a handful of times I was happy to have the extra support. Not something you can always find though, so this one if optional for me.
- Getting full grain leather (or some hippie friendly alternative that is equally as thick and water resistant) is a big plus. I began my trip with a pair of shoes that met all my requirements but was made of canvas and they self-destructed in a month. Lesson learned.