What do you wear on your feet when you are camping? Do you have camp shoes? A dedicated pair, or just a pair of trainers you think are camp worthy? I’m one of these people who loves having exactly the right shoe for all occasions (my guilty pleasure…), and so in this post I want to share what I think are some of the best camp shoes around at the moment.
I mean, I could wear my hiking or motorbike boots all day and all evening, and sometimes I do. But to be honest, I don’t like to. Especially when motorcycle camping, having an option to wear something other than my bulky and heavy almost-adventure boots once the tent is safely erected and I’m in relax mode is definitely preferable.
And even when I’m not motorcycle camping, I’ve probably spent the whole day on my feet in hiking boots, and therefore I’d much rather have a pair of shoes to change into, that help my feet breathe and recover ready for the next day.
What is a Camp Shoe?
Okay, so if I’m completely honest, a camp shoe is really like any other shoe you might choose to wear. But because we’re talking about wearing them on camp, then they’re camp shoes. Right?
First and foremost, camp shoes need to be comfortable. Their main job is to allow you to both feel relaxed but also protect your feet. Depending on the time of year and weather, it might be that they need to keep your feet dry, or warm, or cool, or any combination.
I also want them to be quick to put on and take off. This helps with those middle-of-the-night trips to the ablutions block…
In this post I am asking, what makes for the best camp shoe? I offer up a range of options for you to choose from, from tough socks to wellington boots.
Have a read and let me know in the comments below which you like best, and why, or what you’d rather have on your feet when camping.
The North Face Tent Mules
These are the first kind of shoe that come to mind when I think of camp shoes, and I have had a pair of these in my life for probably ten years or more. My current pair, which I actually wear as my house slippers, are the Traction Mule V.
They are as comfortable and cosy as they look, like wearing a rugged sleeping bag on your feet. Using The North Face’s synthetic Thermoball insulation inside the puffy design, and made from partly recycled material (the ripstop uppers are 100% recycled, which is one step in the right direction), these have a decent grippy sole that will not soak through on damp grass.
The collapsible heel makes them easy to slip on and off, and the fleece lining makes them nice to wear with or without socks. They are definitely the outdoorsiest slippers I’ve ever come across, and make for an excellent and very popular camp shoe.
Trapsing across a field with long grass regularly will soon break the materials down and cause the mules to soak through, and if you don’t get them dry properly they will definitely smell a bit. I mean, they really are slippers designed for inside your tent (or house…), but they do well as a camp shoe if you’re fortunate to be camping in reasonably good weather.
Teva Ember Mids
Teva are best known for making the simple sandal that has something of a cult status both in the outdoor world and the fashion world. I’ve actually included their Original Sandals in this list a bit further down, as they are a great camp shoe in their own right, but here we’re talking about the Ember Mids, the newest shoe in my camp shoe arsenal.
I have the Ember Mids in the Deep Lake colourway (a nice bright teal colour). These are honestly the most comfortable camp shoes I have ever had. I absolutely love wearing them. They’re basically a slipper style camp shoe a little bit like the Tent Mules in some ways, with a quilted sleeping-bag style upper, and a trainer sole. They are honestly just perfect for mooching around after a day in hiking boots, and they also make the perfect driving shoe for when you’re heading out on a day hike and don’t want to drive in your hiking boots.
Down sides? Being booties, you can’t just slip them on and off like you can the Tent Mules, bit but I have to admit it’s a price I’m willing to pay. I’ve got my camping bag packed ready for our weekend away and these are the ones I’ve chosen to take with me –
Sadly the Mids are currently not listed on the Teva website, which is a real shame because I think you should all go and buy them, but you can check out the Moc versions of the shoes here, and you can still find the Mids on Amazon.
Skinners Tough Socks
As they say… and now for something completely different. I’ve wanted to try these sock shoes from Skinners for a while, and was very pleased when Wildbounds offered to send me a pair to try out on my camping trips this summer.
Wildbounds specialise in selling independent brands rather than the big guys, such as Tentree, Helinox (I love my Chair One and Table One) and Nemo. The focus is on craftsmanship and sustainability, and so the fact that they stock the most funded footwear project in crowdfunding history shouldn’t be a surprise.
Described as “a revolutionary sock-shoe hybrid”, Skinners have created their sock shoes “to fuse go-anywhere functionality with put-your-feet-up comfort” for “the ultimate outdoor slipper”. And outdoor slippers are my favourite thing to wear!
In short, these are very heavy duty-socks. They look like socks, are the size of a pair of socks, and go on like socks. The only clue that these are shoes is that they have a thick and rough feeling “sole”, which provides a decent amount of protection between your foot and the ground.
The sock shoes (or tough socks, depending on which website you look at), can work anywhere you would really rather be in bare feet but need some protection for your feet from the ground and the weather. I imagine they would be a big hit with those who enjoy being barefoot all the time, because they offer freedom with some security.
They might look a bit odd, but they are actually rather good, and I’ve been enjoying the feeling of wearing them at home and on the campsite. They are certainly comfortable – just like wearing socks, with all the flexibility you might need while keeping your feet warm and protected.
They have even included extra toe protection for those of us who have a habit of scraping our nails on the floor because we still haven’t learnt how to walk without cutting our feet. Yea, I know.
Taking up less space than a size of good hiking socks (4cm x 4cm when rolled), and weighing next to nothing (just 80g), they are easy to pack and carry. If you are travelling very light, perhaps on a multi-day hiking and wild camping trip, then these would certainly be ideal.
Oh, and they go in the washing machine, when you get home, so it really doesn’t matter if you get them muddy on the wettest camp you’ve been on in several years! What they don’t do, though, is keep your feet dry… these are not a waterproof shoe.
The benefit of having a pair of these is that they very easily double up as a pair of water booties for wild swimming, surfing or paddle boarding. I did just that with them at the weekend, wearing them when paddle boarding and kayaking over at Llandegfedd Reservoir. They were honestly absolutely ideal for that, and I was so glad I had them. The socks kept my feet warm, provided me good grip on the board, and protected my feet when I was getting in and out of the lake.
Skinners say they work as camp shoes, approach shoes, in the gym, as water shoes, on short runs, and anywhere else you fancy.
Skinners Tough Socks (or sock shoes), come in at £43, which feels like a lot for a pair of heavy-duty socks, but they really are a one-of-a-kind product I reckon will catch on. I honestly like wearing mine, they’re a great camp shoe option, especially when space is limited, and I’ll be adding them into my wild swimming kit bag for sure.
Teva Original Sandals
Is there a more iconic hiking sandal than the classic Teva Original Universal sandals? I don’t think so. And when it comes to camping in the summer, you cannot go wrong with a pair of these as your camp shoe of choice.
They really are an icon. They look so simple but they don’t need to be any more complicated than basic. They fully adjust to fit thanks to the Velcro straps, the foam footbed moulds to the shape of your feet, and they sit at exactly the right place across the toes and around the ankle to be comfortable all day. Everything I want in a sandal. And a camp shoe.
The thick sole means they are perfectly fine for morning walks to the loo block in the morning dew, and while you might get dirty feet, toes and sandals are very easily rinsed off when it’s warm outside.
Being sandals, rather than shoes, these pack easily in a backpack or duffel bag, and take up no space in the doorway of your tent. I totally understand why lots of backpackers and long-distance hikers choose to wear Teva Originals when they’re at camp, with or without socks, they are ideal.
Mine are a quilted version in plain black (read my review from 2018 here), but there are so many colours and designs to choose from on the Teva website, if you want a pair you’ll certainly find some to fit your personality. You’ll also find a handful of designs on the Schuh website.
If you’re looking for something that really is a basic camp shoe, that you can slip on and off in an instant whether you’re wearing socks or not, then a pair of slides (or sliders, you choose), such as these from Adidas, make an excellent camp shoe.
These are the Adidas Adilette Cloudfoam Sliders, and I wear them all the time. They stay by the front door for quick trips into the garden or garage, I take them on most of my camping trips as they’re easy peasy to pack and wear, and I always have them when I go swimming – indoors or outdoors – to make getting to and from the water comfortable.
I have replaced my old cheap throwaway flip flops (which for £2 have actually lasted a surprisingly long time), with these much sturdier pair. And while I might still take those cheap flexible flip flops when I’m really tight on space, slides are a much better camp shoe in my opinion.
They are also a great shower shoe; we’ve all walked in a campsite shower and looked at the floor with a feeling of dread, and so I always pack a pair of shoes I can wear in the shower. Honestly, this is a game changer if you have are still trying to dry your feet enough to put on socks and shoes in a campsite shower!
I can’t write a post about camp shoes without mentioning the humble wellington boot. Is there a more appropriate camp shoe for a wet and muddy campsite? Probably not!
I actually won these rather spiffing patent black short boots from Hunter (my choice of colour and style) in the big Ribena giveaway a few years ago. So not a pair of shoes I’ve bought, but one that I totally see as being a camp shoe.
Whether you have Hunter wellies or the unbranded ones you can buy from B&Q (nothing wrong with those), wellies will always be a great choice on camp. They are certainly easy to get on and off, they laugh off the morning dew, and unless you have extra holes in your boots, your feet will stay completely clean and dry whatever the weather and ground decides to do.
I have to admit I never actually take my wellies camping. While they’re great for trapsing around the campsite a bit, I just don’t find them that comfortable for walking around. That and the fact they do take up quite a bit of space, means I tend to leave them at home in favour of something else.
If you’re after an excellent pair of wellies that will last for years, take a look at the Hunter website, or you can get the ones I have from Schuh. If you’re looking for something a bit cheaper, or less branded, there are some decent options at Go Outdoors.
There are so many other great choices of camp shoes out there, but these are some of my favourites. What do you think? I’d love to know what you choose to wear on your feet when camping. Tell me in the comments below.
Huge thanks to Wildbounds for sending me the Skinners Tough Socks to try out. The Teva sandals were originally gifted back in summer 2018. All other shoes mentioned I bought myself or got as a gift from family (well, apart from the Hunter wellies, which I won in a competition years ago). And yes, I own them all. What can I say, I just love shoes!
Links to Amazon, Schuh and Wildbounds are affiliate thanks. If you buy something from these websites after clicking my link, I earn a teeny bit of commission to help buy my next pair of camp shoes…