Hiking sandals ?
Hiking with sandals: ideas from a love story
Auguct 5, 2020
In an itinerary guidebook, not even very old , and dealing with not very rough places, it happened to me to read an old-style phrase, more or less like this: “And you must wear real mountain boots, not these shoes for pseudo-hikers, that are nowadays fashionable”. This is a quite sharp opinion… and I am here, instead, to write about hiking sandals.
And so, look at the picture: I am not afraid to advertise a brand, since they are unfortunately, since long time, out of production and they were not even sold as hiking sandals: I wore them for long time, for daily use.
My old sandals, with which I had a long lasting love story
Their flattened sole, that convinced me to put them apart, to avoid being obliged to throw them away
Then, once I was in Armenia, and hade the occasion of ascending to mount Azhdahak: how could I miss this ? But I had no hiking equipment, apart from the backpack that I uses for my hand luggage. My reaction to an offer of old borrowed shoes was without doubts: I chose my sandals. For the rest, I used my available trousers, the long sleeve top of my pajamas, to protect from sun (it has been fundamental, but it was blue: better if it were white), a borrowed hat, a jeans jacket and… go. Briefly: from 2000 to almost 3700 metres, with 20 km to go and 20 back (with the last stretch on the back of a providential UAZ truck).
Ok, the terrain was not so rough but they, the sandals, have been fantastic. Since then, I used them again few times, then I abandoned them, for love, to avoid losing them.
But, shifting from shoe to shoe, my desire to have my feet happy became stronger and stronger. I had already abandoned the classic mountain boots, even since, during winter, I basically stay far from places with real winter climate. About the rest, nowadays almost any kind of footwear is available: light hiking boots, high over the ankle, hiking boots not covering the ankle, of different weight, shoes with net-type upper, hybrids between shoes and sandals, more or less open and, finally, sandals. But, before going on, have a look again to the mythical ones: leather upper, protected front tip, a simple and tough clip, a cork coated sole, at these times already perfectly shock absorbing, with a well sculptured bottom side, flexible but robust (even if you see it consumed by the intensive use)
Nowadays sandals are available in plenty of models: in the picture you see the ones I use now, a bit dusty; in this case the brand is covered, since they are still in commerce; most present models also look much more fashionable.
But what about hiking ? Let’s see
– Let’s compare again the “old mythical ones” with my new model. The latter have a front regulation string: keeping it lose, you will have maximum comfort, like wearing flip-flops; if you make it tighter, on the contrary, it will be possible to apply a more vigorous push with the tip of your toes.
– Each season needs its specific shoes: as a matter of fact, sandals are not water proof. Some dew is enough to make your feet soggy.
– But sandals also dry down very fast; so, when you have to frequently cross small streams, with this respect, there is nothing better.
– Almost everything can obviously enter into your sandals; so when the ground is covered with thing gravel, leaves, twigs etc., this may be quite nasty; not to speak about chestnut shells, or cow’s poo.
– The tip of your toes MUST BE protected. I know, fashionable sandals are open in the front; but these models are appropriate to walk on ground without obstacles; with unprotected fingers tips, the risk of being injured is very high, even for expert walkers.
– Almost all models have now rather thin sloe, not very well sculptured; this depend on the need of keeping them light and flexible. On hard and stony grounds, however, thin sole could become a trouble, on the long term.
– Always wear sandal together with adequate socks, even if this may look a compromise with fashion.
In synthesis, this i my opinion: sandals can be a great resource and can be used in many occasions. Where the ground is not very rough, your feet will be happy and grateful, otherwise, may be they won’t. As a general impression, sandals could cause less bruising problems, but more impact problems.
So, I would say, consider what I wrote, if you wish, and try, and experiment. In my opinion, however, a part from the intrinsic quality of sandals, the ideal sandal is presently not yet available: it would still require some work.
Hiking sandals. Filippo D’Antuono. piudimille.com. All rights reserved