Jul 02, 2018

What's the Best Pair of Shoes to Take on Vacation?

Hey, ManMakers — Chris here. I'm the founder/editor of the site. Normally, we try to do our research and test things out so that we can help our readers be the best kind of creative and productive people they can be. But every once and a while, we like to ask for your thoughts, and tap into all the brilliance and experience of our audience.

So, here's the situation:     


In a few weeks, I'm headed to my first trip to Europe. We'll be visiting all the Nordic countries (Iceland, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, and Finland) as well as Estonia. It's mostly an urban vacation, traveling to cities by boats and trains, with some outdoor adventures and natural landmarks thrown in.

Most of the time will be spent walking and exploring. (I don't stay still on vacations very well.) So, I need to get a new pair of shoes for this, designed for moving about on both pavement, stone, and uneven natural surfaces. I don't want to take hiking boots, because I don't want to deal with the bulk nor wear out the tread on city streets. Plus, hopefully the weather will be warm enough for shorts.

My first thought was a pair of trail runners, but even those might be a little overkill for this. I tend to wear less sport-y stuff like in the street shoe/Puma/Onitsuka Tiger vein, with designs that echo the 60s and 70s. Classic sneaker look. I can't really pull off a basketball/running shoe/Foot Looker vibe. I have very high arches, and so I need something with a little more shape and support. (I do have a pair of sole inserts I will bring.) Honestly, the best fitting pair of shoes I own are my Chaco outdoor sandals, but I those are obviously reserved for camping and water sports. 

What would you recommend I look at? 

What kind of store should I check out? The outdoor retailer? Department store? Zappos or Amazon? I'll probably wear these with both shorts and liner socks and dark jeans, depending on the day. 

Thanks for your help! 




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JD on Jul 23, 2018:

Check out Clark's low boots, possibly desert style or simple leather laceup. I wore my leather Clarks (with the flexible rubber sole) for two weeks in England and Amsterdam, and was quite happy with them.

John H on Jul 17, 2018:

What are the shoes in the picture, if you don't mind sharing that?

Ben on Jul 16, 2018:

Check out the ADIDAS TERREX AGRAVIC GTX. It's a trail shoe, but the all black pair would easily look good with jeans or shorts. They have boost soles, so they are really comfy for all day walking.

Chris on Jul 10, 2018:

@Steve K - Yeah, fair enough. Maybe I chose vocabulary that's a little too specific, but as far as supportive shoes that work equally well with shorts and dark jeans, I can't imagine we'll get very far with leather ankle boots. So.. I'm looking for a pair of SHOES. Thanks for the Allbirds suggestions. I'll check them out.

Steve K on Jul 09, 2018:

Sneakers'? Isn't the bulk of your blog about being a man? I wore Vans in high school. Maybe update to Superga's if you want a sneaker. My favorite footwear to travel in are Blundstones. Yes they're boots, but they're stylish, subtl, last forever, and will fit your inserts. If you like Chaco's so much they make boots and shoes check those out. Check out Allbirds too. The nave no lateral support and are not waterproof, but look great. As far as purchasing them alway alway buy local. If you don't you're not going to have cool outdoor stores to go to anymore. The right shoes are the shoes that fit.

Charles on Jul 08, 2018:

Hi all,

If you wanted to go with something that could be dressed up with suit or down with shorts then a nice white leather sneaker. On the high end would be common projects Achilles love, on the lower end would be addidas Stan Smith all white leather variant. On the inexpensive side if you want to add a color pop the recently ressurected pf flyers American made shoe is great. Ive warn them all over the world. Have a good trip what ever you choose mate.

Jeff on Jul 07, 2018:

For me, I like travelling with a great looking approach shoe. They are rugged, fairly lightweight, super tacky grip for both on and off road, and they look great. Lots of options at REI, but I like the Scarpa Crux II model. Really I find that you gotta find a model that fits your style as there is a wide range.

David P. on Jul 06, 2018:

I recently switched my travel sneakers from a pair of Nike Free’s to a pair of Champion running shoes I found at Target. They’re styled like Nike Flyknits but are 1/3 the price, don’t have a large logo, and I think they’re more comfortable.

I also always travel with a pair of Lems Boulder Boots as my second pair of shoes. They’re lightweight and minimalist so they won’t be good for your high arches, but they’re ridiculously comfortable, packable, and work great on trails and pavement.

Chris on Jul 06, 2018:

Thank you Keir, Jacob, and Eric. I really appreciate all your ideas here. I'm headed out this weekend to shop.

I'd still love other things to keep my eyes open for!

Keir on Jul 05, 2018:

I'm a big New Balance 501 fan, stylish 70s/80s look and plush enough to keep your feet comfy with good insoles (same when it comes to high arches). Hopefully when you get back you'll write up a pro/con article on whatever you end up choosing!

Jacob MacMillan on Jul 04, 2018:

I would highly recommend the New Balance Foam Fresh. Classic looking shoe with some modern styling to go along with it if you so do choose and are extremely comfortable for walking long distances or simply standing around waiting for the train. If you choose the right style and colour they can also go with just about any outfit. They can be dressed up or dressed down depending on your liking.

Eric H on Jul 03, 2018:

Adidas sambas. Classic style. They look good with everything, and the rubber gum soles handle any surface. And as a bonus, they are indoor soccer shoes so locals will ask if you play. Even if you don’t play, you’ve started a conversation. Best thing I brought when I moved to northern Germany.