The Best Camp Shoes for Backpacking in All Seasons

We’ve all been there after a long day of hiking: You get to camp and can’t wait to take off your bulky, rigid hiking boots! But once you get your hiking boots off, then what – sit around camp barefoot? If you bring a pair of camp shoes, you’ll have something nice and comfortable to wear while lounging around camp. In this article, we’ll take a look at some different types of the best camp shoes for backpacking and what situations to use them in.

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Why Do I Even Need to Wear Camp Shoes?

Hiking boots are great for roughing the trail. But for sitting around camp they are not too comfortable. I used to never bring camp shoes and would hang around camp wearing my socks. But socks can only provide so much protection. So I would always end up putting my hiking boots back on whenever I needed to walk somewhere. It was a nuisance to put my boots back on every time I went to collect firewood or went to the bathroom.

Bringing along a pair of camp shoes fixed all that. Now, the first thing I do when getting to camp is change into my camp shoes. Everybody knows the best feeling is taking off their hiking boots after walking all day. Putting on a nice pair of camp shoes is a close second.

Different Types of Camp Shoes and Their Uses

Camp shoes can be useful for all sorts of activities, not just sitting around the campfire. Your feet are the most crucial body part during a hiking trip, so it is smart to outfit them with a useful piece of footwear.

Sandals & Slippers

Camp shoes can double as an extra pair of footwear for crossing streams and rivers. If you are going to be crossing a stream, you don’t want to get your regular hiking shoes wet. This is where your sandals or slippers come into play. Most sandals and slippers are made of foam or rubber so they won’t soak up any water. They’re great for getting wet because they dry out in a matter of minutes.

Sandals are very lightweight. They can attach to the outside of your backpack, so they won’t take up any space inside your pack. Slippers are also a strong piece of footwear in and of themselves, so you will be able to hike a few miles in them if needed.

 

Insulated Camp Shoes

Insulated camp shoes are best for keeping your feet warm. This type of camp shoes is built to provide your feet with cozy warmth in the cold winter months. Nothing is better than having toasty feet in freezing temperatures (well, maybe there are a few better things…) 

Insulated camp shoes can even be warmer than a pair of hiking boots. Your feet will thank you.

Minimalist Footwear

Hopping on the latest trend of minimalism, footwear is no exception. Minimalist camp shoes are the lightweight, no-frills option for keeping your feet comfortable after a long day of hiking.

Most minimalist shoes are straightforward. You get a lightweight, compact piece of footwear that will take up very little space in your pack. The tradeoff is that they offer little in terms of support or insulation. If you need something to wear on your feet at the end of the day, then minimalist footwear will fit the bill.

How to Pick Your Pair of Backpacking Camp Shoes

There are a few things that you need to consider when choosing a pair of backpacking camp shoes. Picking a pair of camp shoes for the winter is much different than a pair for the summer. So you need to carefully weigh your options and figure out which pair is right for the situation.

Weight & Pack Space

Weight is one of the most critical factors in choosing a pair of camp shoes. If you are backpacking, camp shoes will weigh down your pack a little. Bringing along an extra pair of shoes will also take up extra space in your pack. For most backpackers, these tradeoffs are worth it to have comfortable, cozy feet after a long day of hiking.

Water Resistance & Quick Drying

Some hikers like to use their camp shoes to cross streams, so their hiking boots don’t get wet. If you are going to be using your camp shoes for this purpose, then you must get a pair that dry off quickly.

Slippers and hiking sandals are great because they dry off in a matter of minutes. Even better, slippers and sandals can easily clip onto the outside of your pack, so they don’t take up any space. Strapping them to the outside of your pack also gives them a chance to dry off if they get wet.

Hikers crossing a stream while holding hiking boots

Foot Support

It is also essential to consider how much walking you’ll be doing in your camp shoes. If you are going to be sitting around camp, then you won’t need a pair of shoes that offer support. However, if you want to walk any moderate distance, then you will want a pair that provide some support and will stay attached to your feet.

When deciding the amount of support that you need, be sure to consider the type of terrain that you will be camping in. If you are going to be camping in a rocky area, then you might want a pair of camp shoes that snugly fit your feet. But if you are camping in a nice flat area, then you don’t need to pay much attention to the amount of support that your camp shoes provide. Unless you plan to do a fair amount of walking in them.

Insulation

If you are going to be camping in the winter, then you will want your backpacking camp shoes to keep your feet warm. When it’s cold out, wearing a pair of socks just won’t cut it. You don’t want to be putting back on your smelly, stiff hiking boots to keep your feet warm either. A pair of insulated camp shoes will keep your feet toasty as you lounge around camp. Many insulated camp shoes are solid pieces of footwear and are capable of walking a few miles if needed.

Camp Shoes for Backpacking in all Seasons

Now that you know what to look for in a pair of camp shoes, you can choose the right pair for the job. Whether you are camping in the snow or crossing rivers, there is a pair that is right for your needs.

Crocs Swiftwater Wave Sandals

It’s hot out and time to make a splash in the water! The Crocs Swiftwater Wave Sandals are made for land-lubbers and water-lubbers alike. These sandals offer a moderate amount of support for walking around camp, or even down the trail if needed.

If your the kind of hiker that hikes in wet areas or likes to camp near the lake, then these sandals dry out in a matter of minutes.

Crocs Men’s Swiftwater Wave Sandal Flat

Best Camp Shoes for Water

 

The North Face Thermoball Traction Mule V

When the temperature dips below freezing, are your feet going to suffer? Not with The North Face Thermoball Traction Mule V insulated camp shoes. These shoes have a water-resistant outside with a cozy fleece lining inside to keep your feet dry and comfortable. Between these two layers is ThermoBall Eco synthetic insulation to keep all the warmth contained inside of the shoes.

These are some of the best insulated camp shoes that we’ve seen. Better yet, they have a rubber sole for support and traction on slippery surfaces.

The North Face Men’s Thermoball Traction Mule V

Best Insulated Camp Shoes

 

FitKicks Foldable Minimalist Footwear

So you’ve hiked all day and want to take your boots off, but don’t want to walk barefoot around camp. The FitKicks Foldable Minimalist Footwear is a simple solution to keep your feet protected. These shoes don’t offer much in the way of support, but they are lightweight and slim enough to slip into any pack.

If you are an ultralight backpacker that needs a small luxury item, then these shoes will give your feet a place to stretch out at the end of the day.

FitKicks Original Men’s Edition Foldable Minimalist Footwear 

Best Ultralight Camp Shoes

Teva Ember MOC Slippers

It’s hard to call these camp shoes since they can handle most trails on their own! The Teva Ember MOC Slippers are the most robust camp shoes that we reviewed. The rubber sole offers the most support of the roundup and can handle day hikes on rough terrain with no problem.

They also have a water-resistant coating to keep your feet dry if it starts raining. If the cold strikes, these slippers are insulated to keep your feet warm and cozy.

Teva Men’s M Ember MOC Slipper

Most Robust Camp Shoes

 

Locals Original Style Flip Flop Sandals

If Hawaii had official footwear, this would be it. The Locals Original Style Flip Flop Sandals are cheap, lightweight footwear that is surprisingly tough. Hawaii locals often use this footwear for daily use in all sorts of situations, such as hiking or fishing. These slippers perform best when dry, but aren’t afraid to get wet since they dry out quickly.

The best part of these slippers is that they are extremely lightweight, and you can just strap them on the outside of your pack for easy carry.

Locals Original Style Flip Flop Sandals

Best Budget Camp Shoes

Camp Shoes Comparison Table

Camp Shoes Weight (Pair) Water Resistance Insulation Support Material
~6.1 oz
Won't Absorb Water
No
Synthetic Sole
Foam Construction
~16.2 oz (Depending on size)
Partial
Yes
High-Traction Rubber Sole
PET Top, Rubber Sole
3.4oz~4.4oz (Depending on size)
Quick-Drying
No
No Support
Rubber Sole
~20 oz
Water Repellency Treatment
Yes
Rubber Sole
Rubber Sole, Foam Midsole, Microfiber Top and Lining
Lightweight
Won't Absorb Water
No
Rubber Bottom
Rubber

Better Than Barefoot

Bringing an extra pair of shoes may seem silly at first, but your feet will thank you later. If you will be hiking through wet terrain or need some extra comfort at camp, bringing a pair of camp shoes is a smart move. Especially since there are many options nowadays. And most camp shoes don’t take up much extra weight or space.

Just remember: The camp shoes that you use in the summer are not the same ones that you’ll use in the winter! Always reassess your needs and the environment that you’ll be camping in. Stay safe, keep comfortable, and have fun on the trail.

Trey

Trey

Trey is an avid outdoorsman and curator of Code:Outdoors. He enjoys discovering new places and learning new skills. He is an Eagle Scout and can be found both car camping and on rugged extended adventures.