There’s a story behind my camp shoes. After backpacking for several days on the Appalachian Trail, my friend and I headed to Damascus, Virginia, also known as Trail Town USA, due to the convergence of four scenic trails: the Appalachian Trail, Trans-America National Bicycle Trail, The Iron Mountain Trail, and the Virginia Creeper Trail. Damascus is also known for its annual Trail Days festival held in May each year, which draws roughly 4,000 hikers and 16,000 other visitors each year, making it the largest single gathering of Appalachian Trail hikers anywhere. We couldn’t resist checking out the funky trail town.
Cruising through town by car, we missed the Appalachian Trail (somewhat hard to do, but we were oblivious), so we stopped and asked a roadside vendor for directions to the trail. “You’re standing on it,” he replied while suppressing a chuckle, “see the white blaze?” Following his gaze toward a nearby power pole – I felt stupid. There was the blaze… right next to the sidewalk.
Feeling obliged, I checked out the piles of merchandise he had displayed on folding tables next to the sidewalk. It was a hodgepodge of stuff ranging from hunting clothes to kids toys. Then I noticed some lightweight shoes that looked similar to Crocs, but they were called Holeys, and priced at $6 bucks. I had been packing flip-flops to wear in camp, but they didn’t fit well with socks. The clogs were perfect and the price right. We each bought a pair and they have lived in my pack ever since. The normal retail price for a pair of Holeys clogs runs about $25 dollars, but I’ve found them on eBay for as low as $10 dollars. Clearly, I scored finding them for $6 dollars. Now whenever I wear my clogs, I look forward to passing through Damascus on foot when I hike that section of the Appalachian Trail.
Why pack camp shoes? I’ve found that it’s important to give feet a rest from trail shoes after 8-12 miles of pounding. In addition, trail shoes tend to get damp and gross during the day. Letting them, and your abused feet, air out in camp is a good idea. Lightweight shoes that protect the toes while allowing ventilation are best. (I hate to admit that I packed fuzzy slippers on one of my first backpacking trips along the Chattooga River….)
My size Medium Holeys weigh 8.4 ounces and hang on the outside of my pack using the heel strap.
Do you pack camp shoes? Or do you find them to be dead weight? Share your thought in comments below.
Trail shoes are a must. I usually wear Teva sandals as my camp shoe. I recently tried Vibrams, but they were given the pink slip for two reasons. They do not dry out very fast leaving wet feet for hours and the fabric is too thin allowing the ornery proboscis of a mosquito entry into the soft flesh of the feet. I now wear wool socks with Tevas to keep my feet warm, dry, and free from mosquitoes.
Tevas cost anywhere from $30-$80, so getting a comfortable camp shoe for $6.00 is a steal. Nice thing about the Appalachians is you don’t have to worry much about skeeters with the elevation. The holeys look great and an interesting story how they were obtained.
Ohhhh! I hate mosquito bites on my feet! Did you hike in the Vibrams at all? A few of my friends do, but say they take getting used to. The Tevas with socks sound like a good option. As long as I can have my socks on during cold evenings I’m happy.
I still just go with good-old-fashioned 2 dollar flip-flops for kicking it around the campsite, provided the weather is good. Anything other than that are my trekking shoes.
after a good hike, I like to rest my feet in those very comfortable and light weight Salomons: