Trailblazers, explorers, and record-breakers who made history from the Amazon Rainforest to the surface of the moon all had to put their shoes on in the morning. Neil Armstrong famously waxed poetic about footprints in his “One Small Step for Man” quote. Long before, Lao Tzu left us his adage that a journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step. We often leave nothing behind but our footprints.
The most critical tool for getting wherever you’re going is the right pair of camp shoes that will protect your feet and let you keep moving without having to worry about blisters or discomfort. Anywhere the going is tough, the path is wet, or the distance is long, you’ll want to make sure you’re wearing shoes that are comfy, waterproof, and breathable. Whether you’re keen to try hiking or backpacking, foot protection is key to making sure you can walk as far as you want.
Of course, utility isn’t the only factor to consider when looking for a pair of shoes. A little style certainly doesn’t hurt! Depending on whether you’re looking for a pair of hiking boots or water shoes, you may want to look for lightweight camp shoes or you may want a larger boot with some extra weight. Traveling through rough terrain is a cinch if you have shoes with the right arch support and toe protection.
In a hurry? Here’s the test winner after 10 hours of research:
And here’s an overview of the best camping shoes on the market today:
Most of the time people don’t think about their shoes until they give out or start to feel pain in the middle of a trek. Wise campers know preparation is key, especially when it comes to footwear. Nature has a way of hiding her best secrets in hard to reach places, and if you want to be able to get there you’ll need shoes that won’t give out.
What makes a good camp shoe
Like most of the other equipment you take with you into the outdoors, you’ll want shoes that can handle bad weather and rough conditions. Great camping shoes fit snugly but offer breathability so you won’t feel like kicking them off during a long hike. The lacing should be durable but not too complicated, so you can slip them on instead of flip-flops if you feel like a spur of the moment jaunt to the lake.
Most of all, camping shoes should be effective enough that you don’t need to think about them again once you’ve purchased them. Long-lasting, comfortable shoes will take a load off your mind before, during, and after a long outdoor trek.
Best Camping Shoes – Overview
1. Xero Shoes Prio Trail Runners
These well-designed camp shoes are both sturdy and comfortable. They’re lightweight and flexible so you can stay on the move for a long time. The sole is really flexible and leaves your foot close to the ground, which is great for balance and agility. You can maintain the proper posture with these shoes because the heel isn’t elevated.
The sole is made of FeelTrue rubber and lets your feet get ground feedback in any situation where you need to take tactical steps. There’s an optional 2mm insole for added cushion. They have an eye-catching heel strap and side-straps that are adjustable so you can tighten the shoe around your foot without cramping around the toe.
The toe box, which is a piece of stiffened material between the lining and the toecap of the shoe, is really wide on these Zero trail running shoes, which means your toes can spread out and relax. Having a toe box that’s too slim or a shoe that’s too tight around the toes can cause hammertoe, a name for the condition where a toe becomes crooked from cramped conditions. One nice feature of their design is that it allows you to wear these shoes without socks if you prefer.
That’s handy if your socks get wet, or if you just prefer to go without them. For the ethical consumer, these shoes are made without any animal products whatsoever. The only significant drawback of these shoes is the price, which is a little high at about $95. However, they do come with a 5,000-mile sole guarantee. They’re meant to last, so if you’re willing to spend a bit more for a long-lasting shoe, these might be for you.
- Wide toe box
- Can be worn sock-free
- High Price
- Not waterproof
2. Crocs Swiftwater Mesh Sandal
- LIGHTWEIGHT, SPORTY AND ADVENTUROUS: The Swiftwater sandals for men are all about comfort and functionality The sporty and minimal design allows you to move through life swiftly
These Crocs are great lightweight water shoes. They’re designed to channel water away so your foot will maintain dryness better than with other models. They also slip on fairly easily, but won’t slip off your foot when you’re out walking around. The mesh material is constructed to remain flexible and comes with an adjustable strap for the best fit. The outermost part of the bottom of the shoe, called the outsole, is designed with flex grooves for increased traction. They’re non-marking and odor resistant, so you can walk across interior floors and you won’t be bothered by the smell after prolonged use.
Like all other shoes from Croc, these are made with their proprietary resin called Croslite, which is soft and lightweight but still durable enough for use outdoors. Great for water crossings or any situation where you might find your feet exposed to water, these Crocs are perfect for fishing, boating, and river sports enthusiasts. They’re reasonably priced at $45, and they dry really fast after use so they’ll be ready for the next round sooner than other models.
The arch support offered by these Crocs is also among the best in the market, so they’re comfortable after a long day of standing up or walking around. Their ingenious fabric-free design makes them great for water exposure but also means that your sweat won’t soak in and damage the shoe. It also makes them really easy to clean. These Crocs offer all of the lightweight comforts of their famous clog style shoe but they’re more closed which makes them more effective as outdoor shoes for more intensive activities.
- Easy clean
- Odor resistant
- Not great for hiking
- No sole insert
3. Keen Targhee Vent Hiking Boot
These Keens are specially designed for hiking in warmer climates. They offer the same solid construction as other Keen models and aren’t quite as expensive, although they may still be a little pricey for those who are only looking for an occasional-use hiking shoe. There’s leather on the upper part of the shoe and the whole surface is water-resistant so you can attempt river crossings during your hike without worrying about damage. There’s mesh material for breathability, which is how they stay cool in warmer climates. Keen boots have speed hooks for easy lace adjustment so you can tighten them for a snug fit quickly, even on the move.
They aren’t the lightest shoe on the market but that’s the trade-off for their durability. The grip on the outsole is really good so you won’t find yourself slipping on smooth surfaces. While some Keen models have a steel toe, bear in mind that these are the hiking model so there isn’t any toe protection on this model.
However, if you’re going hiking or else won’t be handling anything heavy, these boots are a great combination of comfort and versatility. There are other Keens more specialized for different purposes, but these Targhees are the most useful for general applications. They also offer good ankle support and toe box space. For the price, and especially for those going outdoors in warmer places, these Keens are just right.
- Built for warm climates
- Moderately priced
- No to protection
- Not lightweight
4. Vibram Trek Ascent
- High-tenacity nylon water resistant fabric treatment
One of the five-toe designs that lets you wiggle your toes while you wear them, these Vibrams also let you grip things if you’re going climbing or walking up a steep incline. The sole has a good grip as well to prevent slipping. They are insulated for additional comfort during the hike. They have a wool lining which is both comfortable and warm if you’re walking in a chilly climate.
They’re also water-resistant and you can machine wash them in cold water. The design may seem a bit strange at first if you’re not used to wearing the type of shoe that traces the individual toes, but once you get used to it they can be really useful and you won’t have to worry about toe boxes or having a cramped feeling at the tip of the shoe, since there isn’t really one.
These are shoes for the dedicated outdoor enthusiast, not only because the features are built for such a person but because the price tag is nearly $125. If you only need a shoe to wear on quick jaunts to the pool, these are probably too expensive. But if you’re going somewhere at a high elevation or plan on a long day of walking, these are a good fit for you.
Unfortunately, they aren’t waterproof, so if it’s snowy or you plan on being near a lot of water, you should probably look for shoes that are at least water-resistant. But for avid walkers and hikers with the money to invest in a pair of shoes, these should do the trick.
- Good grip
- Machine washable
- Wool lining
- High Price
- Not waterproof
5. Chaco Harper Lace Hiking Shoe
This Chaco model is as straightforward as they come. Not many frills or extra features, these shoes are great slip-on hiking shoes. For a shoe you won’t have to think twice about, or for a secondary pair of shoes, while you’re out camping, these should do nicely. They have a good rubber sole and a leather upper body for some weather resistance. They’re non-marking and skid-resistant so you won’t leave behind any mark besides your footsteps while you’re out walking.
Chaco has what they call a “cloud comfort” insole which makes these shoes really comfortable for walking and hiking, but it is a very pared-down shoe, so they aren’t promising anything extra like waterproof capability or toe protection. They don’t heat up after a long walk but they aren’t the most breathable shoe either. But for the price, which is right around $45, this is a good shoe for general use outdoors.
- Good grip
- Not waterproof
- No toe protection
6. Vivobarefoot Primus Trail Shoe
- Versatile off-road shoe constructed for durability and robust flexibility, each pair uses recycled PET bottles to create a breathable mesh upper
Definitely the most futuristic-looking shoe on this list, these Primus off-road shoes are super lightweight and highly functional. They’re durable and the material they’re made of is really flexible which adds comfort while also giving you a better feel for the terrain you’re crossing over. One standout feature of these Primuses is their quick drain zones, which lets water out if it does get in.
They dry fast and they’re not waterproof but splashproof at least, which means you can still wear them around the campsite, even in the rain, without worrying about damaging them. They have excellent grip and there’s no slipping. They weigh almost nothing but they do have just the right amount of cushion.
The minimalist design might fool you into thinking the $160 price tag is overblown, but these shoes are meant for serious use and they’re meant to last a long time. They have a breathable mesh upper which maximizes breathability while you’re wearing them. For the eco-conscious, these shoes are made out of recycled plastic bottles, which is a much better use for them than sending them off to the landfill. These shoes are right at the crossroads of lightness and utility, great for avid campers, backpackers, and hikers alike.
- Made from recycled material
- Drain zones
7. The North Face Storm III
- MEN'S STORM III WATERPROOF HIKING SHOES: Waterproof, breathable hiking shoes that offer rubber soles for traction and protection on wet and dry surfaces, and breathable mesh.
The North Face is one of the most reliable brand names in outdoor apparel, but they are mostly known for their jackets and sweaters. These shoes prove they have much more than that though. They are solid and durable, but they haven’t sacrificed any comfort. Unlike some of the other options on this list, these North Face shoes are designed with running in mind, so not only can you walk across uneven terrain without worry, they’re also constructed so you can move quickly and your heavier footfalls won’t cause you any discomfort. The construction of these shoes is very sturdy, from the thick laces and lace straps to the ankle and arch support. They should last you a long time.
Even with all these advantages, these shoes come in under $80, which makes them one of the less expensive options in this guide. They are light enough to wear for general use, but definitely better suited for hiking. It might be overkill to wear these to a beach or on a boat, but for camping and hiking in the mountains or woods, these are a great bet. Bear in mind that North Face tends to build their shoes a little narrower than other brands, so if you tend to experience tightness in your footwear, better to try and get one of the wider sizes. Other than that, there aren’t many drawbacks to this pair of camping and hiking boots.
- Designed for running
- Not slip-on
- Not waterproof
8. Merrell Moab II
Get ready for a shoe that has it all. These Merrells are everything you need for camping, hiking, and climbing. To start with, they are waterproof and they have a dry seal that keeps water out. If water does come in somehow, they also have a draining system so it won’t sit around your foot. They’re made of a performance suede leather than doesn’t show damage after prolonged use and maintains a stylish look as well. There’s a protective rubber toe cap for protection and the arch support is great. They keep out cold well enough, especially if you wear thick socks with them.
The price is between $90-$130 but these shoes can last for years and years if you take care of them well. They aren’t difficult to slip on when you want to move fast. The tongue of the shoe is also made of a tight-knit material that keeps debris from getting into the shoe. For the fair price, longevity, and forethought that went into the design, these Merrells are our Top Pick for best camp shoes.
- Toe protection
- Moderately priced
9. Troadlop Trail Shoes
These Troadlops are quick-drying and super convenient for running and hiking. The rubber sole has a good grip and doesn’t slip, plus the toe box is wide which provides maximum comfort. The mesh top makes the shoe breathable and durable. There’s also a soft and padded sock liner that gives protection for your foot. They are lightweight but that does take away from their toughness. While they perform well on flat surfaces, sharp rocks may poke through. They aren’t waterproof but they can get wet in the rain with no issue. They drain very quickly, but probably shouldn’t be worn into bodies of water.
With a price under $50, these shoes are a good option for anyone who doesn’t want to pay the price of our top pick or doesn’t need a shoe to do heavy work beyond walking around the campsite. They would also make a fine secondary pair of shoes or light slip-ons to use in tandem with flip-flops or heavier boots, depending on the weather. If you aren’t the greatest enthusiast but you still need a nice pair of camping shoes, these might be the ones for you.
- Not waterproof
Because of the various features and the longevity of the product, our Top Pick is the Merrell Moab II. They’re stylish enough to wear without looking like a gearhead, but they offer all the comfort and durability that you need from a camp shoe. They’re waterproof and the grip on the sole prevents any slipping and grips the ground well. You can wear them just about anywhere since they’re light enough to run and still solid enough to hike with.
Anywhere you go, shoes can make or break the trip. Flimsy shoes could cause discomfort or even cause injury, or you may find yourself unable to reach your intended destination if your shoe is damaged or so uncomfortable that you can’t walk well. The Merrell Moab II is a perfect solution to all these problems and sure to keep you enjoying the outdoors as long as you care to stay out there.
Bonus tip: Check out this how-to guide for a DIY foot-warming sole insert!