7 Best Shoes for Long-Term Backpacking

Whether you are planning on gallivanting through European cities or scaling mountains in the Himalayas, the right footwear is an absolutely essential part of any journey. With the copious amounts of time you will be spending on your feet, finding the right pair of shoes could make or break your trip. There are 3 major factors that should go into your shoe buying experience.

The way that your shoes feel on your feet trumps everything else when purchasing footwear. It doesn’t matter if your shoes are waterproof, trendy or come with a bottle opener, if they aren’t comfortable it will seriously inhibit your trip.

During a long-term backpacking trip there is no doubt that you will face a wide variety of terrain and scenery. The right shoe is something that can hold up when climbing a mountain, but also works for wandering around a city.

While style is not usually something that the average backpacker cares about, there are parts of the world that will disallow you from entering their establishment with certain types of footwear. If you are trying to find one pair of shoes that will fit EVERY need you might have on the road, the style is also important.

Without further adieu and taking all of the above factors into consideration here is a list of the seven best shoes for the long-term backpacker.

Merrel Styria Waterproof
Running for $135 the Styria Waterproof shoes from Merrel are a fabulous choice for the long-term backpacker. This brand is known for comfortable shoes that are also very heavy duty. This shoes are not only waterproof, but made to withstand any type of terrain that could present itself during an adventure. They also have a fairly sleek leather design that at first glance might pass off as a dress shoes. This means you could potentially wear this shoe out hiking then off to a nightclub all in the same day!

New Balance 910
New Balance is another shoe brand that is known for comfort and function. The number of elderly people rocking New Balance kicks is proof alone of their superior comfort and ability to make feet smile. These shoes are very sleek looking cross-sport trainers that could easily get you in to a ‘dress-code’ environment. Don’t be fooled by their style though, these bad boys are made to endure the roughest of adventures!

Keen Austin
A very stylish shoes that is comfortable, waterproof and ready for any environment, the Keen Austin is a great all around shoe. The Keen Austin would be best suited for a more city oriented traveler who does a lot of walking. However, it is ready to venture out into the great outdoors at any time!

Timberland Super Oxford Hiker
This shoe looks like it could be made entirely for looks with a low-level high top and New England style. However anyone with the opinion that this shoe is solely about style couldn’t be more wrong. This Timberland’s would hold up on the toughest mountains out there so it makes for a fantastic choice for the long-term traveler.

ECCO Track 6 GTX
Another stylish leather shoes, this Ecco is somewhat of a multipurpose dress shoes. Ecco are known for their high quality shoes and this particular model fits the reputation. If you are looking to impress while staying functional with your shoes, this is the pair for you.

Cabela Perfekt
Cabela are known for very hardcore shoes that could accomodate everything from a Canadian dogsled driver to a boat captain. Function and comfort are the most important characteristics to their shoes and this model is a ‘perfekt’ example of that. The reason why these are great for the long-term traveler is that they look good while serving their purpose.

Salewa Alp Trainer Mid GTX
The Alp Trainer Mid from Salewa swept up several awards in 2011 including Editors’ Choice from Backpacker and Men’s Journal Gear of the Year. And it’s still around meaning it sells well enough to be a classic shoe in their lineup (which is nice since most shoes last a season or two before being replaced). This goretex footwear will keep feet warm and dry while the climbing laces leading to a nice tight fit. These stylish kickers also come with a two-year warranty, which almost feels like a challenge in itself. The Alp Trainer Mid are available for both men and women.

By Alex Vere Nicoll