Best Camp Shoes for Taking the Load Off [2021 Update]

It's nice to have a little added luxury and comfort around camp after a hard day on the trails. Give your feet the post-hike relief they crave by adding a pair of the best camp shoes to your must-bring camping and backpacking kit.

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Our Pick of the 9 Best Lightweight Camp Shoes

Looking For The Best Pair of Camp Shoes?

You’re in the right place! In this guide, we will be covering the following:

    • What are camp shoes?
    • Why you need a pair for your backpacking trip
    • The most important features in shoes for camping
    • Which brands and models came out on top

For lovers of the outdoors, there are few things more satisfying than a good long hike through the wilderness. Aside from the feeling you get when removing your hiking boots after that good long hike!

But what then?

Wandering around camp in your bare feet is, of course, doable. But that doesn’t mean it’s advisable. Stubbed toes, splinters, cuts, insect bites, and repeated assaults by sharp rocks are some of the potential mishaps that might await.

So what to do?

Enter the camp shoe!

A good camp shoe is a nice, practical addition to any camping kit. The best camp shoe, however, will soon become an invaluable, non-negotiable feature, taking pride of place at the top of your pre-trip kit list. 

While they do add to your pack weight, they’ll help keep your feet clean, comfortable, and in far better health for when the time comes to strap on your boots and return to the trails.

Below, we’ll help you find the best camp shoe for your upcoming adventures with a detailed explanation of what to look for when buying, as well as a selection of our top picks.

Editor’s Pick

Chaco Z2 Classic Sport Sandal

Chaco Men's Z2 Classic Sandal, Stepped Navy, 11

For a camp shoe that’s multifunctional, lightweight, packable, and offers comfort in spades, look no further than the Chaco Z2.

This sandal ticks all the boxes for warm-weather camping. It weighs in at 1.15 lbs, takes up little room in your pack, has a podiatrist-certified footbed, and is more than grippy and robust enough to cover multiple miles on the trail. 

While many sandals lack the stability required for hiking, the Z2’s adjustable straps and toe loops provide you with extra control, while the aggressive tread and 3mm lugs bring hiking-shoe-like traction in all terrains. 

Being a sandal, these aren’t as cozy or protective as other lightweight camp shoes in our review. They’re also a little heavier than our top-rated featherweights. Nevertheless, if you’re looking for one shoe to do it all, the Z2 is a solid choice.

Bottom line: A versatile, practical, hard-wearing, and uber-comfortable shoe that’s ideal for three-season camping adventures.

At a Glance: Our Recommended Backpacking Camp Shoes

  • Best Overall:  Chaco Z2 Classic Sport Sandal
    “A highly versatile shoe combines faff-free convenience with wear-anywhere practicality.”
  • Best Value:  Crocs Classic Clogs
    “A long-term favorite of car campers everywhere. What they lack in style, they make up for in comfort and affordability.”
  • Best Sandals:  Xero Z-Trail
    “Not your average pair of sandals. The Z-Trail weigh a mere 0.7 lbs and take up very little space in your pack, yet are supportive, hard-wearing, and provide as much cushioning and traction as hiking shoes.”
  • Best Flip Flops:  Hoka One One Ora Recovery Slides
    “Specially designed to assist recovery, these superbly comfortable slip ons are the ideal foil for post-hike fatigue and aches and pains in your foot and leg joints.”
  • Best Budget:  The North Face Base Camp Slide III
    “A basic but perfectly functional slip-on shoe that’s ideal for occasional campers and bargain hunters.”
  • Best Slippers:  Teva Ember Moc Slippers
    “A next-level slipper that combines plenty of plush, cozy insulation with a trail-worthy sole.”
  • Best Ultralight:  Vivobarefoot Ultra III
    “This is one of the priciest options in our review, but it’s also the lightest, as comfortable as they come, quick-drying, and a good option for walking on well-maintained trails.”
  • Best Budget Water Shoes:  Aleader Men’s Mesh Slip-Ons
    “This affordable but surprisingly well-made shoe is all about versatility. It’s suitable for hiking, swimming, lounging, and even driving to and from your trailheads.”
  • Best for Cold-Weather:  Feathered Friends Down Booties
    “With 800+ fill power goose down on the inside and waterproof fabrics on the outside, these toasty-warm booties are a must-have for winter camps or those who suffer from cold feet.”

Best Camp Shoes Reviewed

Chaco Z2 Classic Sport Sandal

Best Overall

Chaco Men's Z2 Classic Sandal, Stepped Navy, 11

Over the last decade, the Chaco Z2’s have gained a rep as one of the comfiest and most trail-worthy camp shoes on the market – and with good reason. 

This shoe boasts a podiatrist-certified footbed to ease post-hike aches and pains, with robust yet supple straps that cradle the foot to mimic the supportive feel of a hiking sandal or shoe. Altogether these are among the most comfortable shoes we’ve ever had the pleasure of putting our feet in. 

They’re also among the most practical camp shoe options on the market, boasting a ChacoGrip™ rubber outsole that provides outstanding grip in any terrain, and quick-drying, antimicrobial fabrics that help keep your feet dry and stink-free.

If you’re looking for a little more toe and forefoot protection, we’d recommend plumping for closed-toe shoes like the Keen Newport H2 or Crocs Classic Clogs. But for wear-anywhere functionality and a shoe that lets your feet breathe like no other, the Chaco Z2 is hard to beat.

Specs

  • Type: Sandals
  • Weight: 1.15 lbs
  • Sole: Podiatrist-certified Luvseat PU footbeds and ChacoGrip™ rubber outsole
  • Sizing: True to size; no half sizes
  • PROs

    • Suitable for hiking
    • Grippy sole with deep lugs
    • Compact
    • Adjustable straps
    • Antimicrobial application for odor control
  • CONs

    • No toe coverage (a plus for some!)
    • Relatively heavy

Bottom-Line: Super-comfortable, packable, podiatrist-certified, and versatile enough for short hikes near your campsite, these sandals are the ideal pick for warm-weather camping.

Crocs Classic Clogs

Best Value

Crocs Unisex Men's and Women's Classic Clog, Black, 11 US

Once eschewed by “serious campers” as a shoe only fit for octogenarians and style-deficient soccer moms. However, campers just about everywhere have been won over by the Crocs Classic Clogs’ simplicity, practicality, and slipper-like comfort.

These aren’t the most stylish in our review, granted. Nor are they the most suitable for walking in rough terrain or anywhere near the most packable. They do, however, tick just about every other box. They’re lightweight, easy to slip on/off, dry in seconds when wet, and use a plush foam midsole and EVA outsole that provide ample protection and grip, and more than enough cushioning for campside tasks.

While the Keen Newport H2’s robustness, grippier sole, and softer fabric make it a better bet if you plan on wearing them for hiking, the Classic Clog is a far more convenient (and affordable!) option for days around your campsite.

Specs

  • Type: Clog
  • Weight: 0.75 lbs
  • Sole: Croslite™ foam cushioning midsole; EVA outsole
  • Sizing: On the large side (go a size down if in doubt); no half sizes
  • PROs

    • Easy to dry and clean
    • Lightweight
    • Durable
    • Versatile
    • Easy to slip on and off
  • CONs

    • Bulky
    • Wide fit

Bottom-Line: Versatile, comfortable, low-maintenance, convenient, and affordable to boot, you could do a lot worse than add a pair of these time-honored classics to your collection of camping footwear.

Xero Z-Trail

Best Sandals

Xero Shoes Men's Z-Trail Sandals - Zero Drop, Lightweight Comfort & Protection

This sleek, svelte, minimalist sandal is a great option for lovers of a low drop and barefoot feel. 

Despite its low-profile design, the Z-Trail is a surprisingly robust and trail-ready shoe. In addition to the quick-drying, Z-style webbing that holds your forefeet secure while on the move, it has subtle heel cups that prevent slippage without chafing, an aggressive tread pattern for grip, and 3-layer FeelLite™ soles for cushioning and foot support. 

They’re also adjustable, lightweight, and come with a remarkable 5,000-mile sole warranty, testament to the impressive durability with which all things Xero are made.

If you think the “barefoot” style of the Z-Trail might be a little too much for your calves to handle, a sandal with a more regular drop, like the Chaco Z2, is a better option.

Specs

  • Type: Sandals
  • Weight: 0.7 lbs
  • Sole: 3-Layer FellLite with chevron lug pattern and 5,000-mile warranty
  • Sizing: True to size
  • PROs

    • Lightweight
    • Excellent traction
    • Adjustable
    • Breathable recycled webbing and heel strap
  • CONs

    • No toe protection
    • Low profile can cause toe jams

Bottom-Line: A remarkably well-designed sandal that’s highly versatile and sure to be enjoyed by those who favor a low drop and barely-there feel. 

Hoka One One Ora Recovery Slides

Best Flip Flops

HOKA ONE ONE Men's Ora Recovery Slide Sandal

These ultralight Hoka Recovery Slides are probably the most comfortable option in our review. Designed to aid post-hike foot recovery and soothe sore feet, their high-density, soft EVA top in combination with a generously cushioned, oversized midsole and rockered outsole essentially massage your feet while you mosey around camp. 

While the Xero Z-Trail, Chaco Z2, and Keen Newport’s extensive webbing and heel strap makes them a better bet if you plan on putting in any mileage on trails, the Recovery Slides are ideal for letting tired feet air and enjoy some healthy R&R after a long day in your main hiking shoes.

Specs

  • Type: Flip flop
  • Weight: 0.4 lbs
  • Sole: Cushioned and oversized midsole; rockered outsole
  • Sizing: True to size
  • PROs

    • Ultralight
    • Crazily comfortable
    • High-density, soft EVA top
    • Supportive
    • Designed to aid recovery and keep feet healthy
    • Approved by American Podiatric Medical Association (APMA)
  • CONs

    • Bulky
    • Unsuitable for hiking

Bottom-Line: A superbly comfortable camp shoe that’s specially designed to keep your feet in trail-worthy condition. Not great for hiking; ideal for post-hike hanging around camp.

The North Face Base Camp Slide III

Best Budget

The North Face Men's Base Camp Slide III Sandal

The North Face Base Camp Slide III is a great choice if you’re the type of camper who values fuss-free functionality and value for money over fancy features and frills.

These simple slip-ons are the second cheapest option in our review, after the Aleader Mesh. They’re also, however, among the most comfortable, using TPU and polyester straps and cushy EVA-foam midsoles for arch support and underfoot protection. 

While the Base Camp III are less suitable for walking than other camp shoes like the VivoBarefoot Ultra III or closed-toe sandals like the Keen Newport H2, they’re also considerably lighter than the latter, more supportive than the former, and a fraction of the price of both. 

Specs

  • Type: Flip flop
  • Weight: 0.54 lbs
  • Sole: EVA foam midsole
  • Sizing: True to size; no half sizes
  • PROs

    • Great grip
    • Affordable
    • Compact and light
    • Versatile
  • CONs

    • Not the most durable
    • Not suitable for walking longer distances

Bottom-Line: A simple, unfussy pair of slip-on sandals that offer oodles of comfort and great value for money.

Teva Ember Moc Slippers

Best Slippers

Teva Men's M Ember MOC Slipper

These Ember Moc Slippers are the ideal pick for campers seeking the coziness and warmth of a slipper without compromising on convenience and practicality.

This sneaker-slipper hybrid has a cushy EVA midsole and a rubber outsole that offers similar traction to a hiking shoe. It also boasts an insulated upper and knitted collar for warmth and nearly unrivalled coziness.

With a host of other features including antimicrobial treatment to help them stay fresh, a footbed designed to assist recovery, and a collapsible heel for slipping on and off hands-free it’s no wonder these shoes won our best camp slippers award.

Compared to the Feathered Friends Down Bootie, the Ember Moc are heavier and offer less warmth but, thanks to that sneaker-like rubber sole, are a far more practical option.

Specs

  • Type: Slippers
  • Weight: 1.5 lbs
  • Sole: Cushioned footbeds, EVA midsole, rubber outsole
  • Sizing: Run small (size up if in doubt); no half sizes
  • PROs

    • Warm and comfortable
    • Rubber outsole
    • EVA midsole for cushioning and support
    • Antimicrobial treatment
    • Collapsible heel 
  • CONs

    • Not versatile – unsuitable for hiking or damp conditions
    • Quite heavy

Bottom-Line: If you’re looking for an option to provide you with warm and cozy paw protection around camp, these slippers are a “shoo-in” for your shortlist! 

Vivobarefoot Ultra III

Best Ultralight

Vivobarefoot Men's Ultra 3 Watersports Walking-Shoes

These featherlight, barefoot-style water shoes are the lightest and most packable in our review. As such, they’re also our top pick for multi-day backpacking or buyers averse to carrying extra weight.

The Ultra III tips the scale at just 0.33 lbs and could easily squeeze into the water-bottle pocket on most backpacks. They also have an impressively grippy sole and dry quickly, making them ideal for wet conditions, whether for dewy mornings at camp or for stream crossings on slippery rocks. 

While not the most supportive shoes out there, their sneaker-like design means they’re more than capable of putting in a few miles on the trail.

All in all, our favorite camp shoes for backpacking trips and the best ultralight camp shoes we’ve ever come across. 

Specs

  • Type: Water shoe
  • Weight: 0.33 lbs
  • Sole: Rubber
  • Sizing: True to size; no half sizes
  • PROs

    • Ultralight
    • Impressive environmental credentials
    • Quick-drying materials
    • Compact
  • CONs

    • Pricey
    • Ultra-thin sole offers little protection

Bottom-Line: On trips where every ounce counts, these ultralight but surprisingly comfortable and practical barefoot shoes come into their own.

Aleader Men’s Mesh Slip Ons

Best Budget Water Shoes

ALEADER Men's Mesh Slip On Water Shoes

The Aleader is one of the cheapest camp shoes in our review. Nevertheless, they are only a fraction behind the far-pricier VivoBarefoot Ultra III in the comfort stakes and run the Keen Newport and Chaco Z2 a close race in terms of practicality. This is thanks to their wonderfully grippy outsole, cushy EVA midsole, light weight, and full-foot protection.

As with all water shoes, the full-foot coverage means your feet won’t breathe as freely as they would in a sandal or open-toe slip on. However, the Aleader’s breathable mesh upper also means they provide a little extra warmth than either of these and far more ventilation than slippers like the Teva Ember Moc.

Specs

  • Type: Water shoe
  • Weight: 0.7 lbs
  • Sole: EVA; Water Grip outsole
  • Sizing: True to size; half sizes available
  • PROs

    • Nicely priced
    • Don’t absorb water – ideal for stream crossings
    • Grippy outsole provides good traction
    • Versatile
  • CONs

    • Bulky
    • Short on breathability

Bottom-Line: A versatile and practical pair of camping shoes available at a reasonable price point. Suitable for hiking, swimming, and lounging alike. 

Feathered Friends Down Booties

Best for Cold-Weather

Feathered Friends Down Bootie

Made with ethically sourced, 800+ fill power goose down insulation, these are our hands-down winners for trips in cool conditions or for campers prone to suffering from cold feet.

Unlike several other competitors in the camp slipper/bootie niche, the FF Booties offer a lot more than coziness alone. Using a water-resistant shell fabric and a tough, waterproof sole, these bootie slippers allow you to make the odd foray outside your tent without worrying about soaking your feet or rippage.

While the rubber sole on the Teva Ember Moc makes them a better slipper for moving around camp, the Feathered Friends are streaks ahead if keeping your feet warm and comfortable is priority.

Specs

  • Type: Slippers
  • Weight: 0.58 lbs
  • Sole: Waterproof fabric
  • Sizing: XXS-XXL
  • PROs

    • Very warm – ideal for winter camping
    • Water-resistant nylon outer shell and waterproof sole
    • Down insulation
    • Removable insoles
    • Lightweight and compact
  • CONs

    • Fairly bulky
    • Lack breathability
    • Unsuitable for walking

Bottom-Line: On cold-weather camps, these toasty booties are like sleeping bags for your feet and a great choice if you don’t plan on venturing too far from your campsite.

How To Choose The Right Camping Shoes For You

What are Camp Shoes?

In short, these are a lightweight second pair of shoes taken to improve comfort around your campsite. They’re ideal for providing your feet with a little bit of relief after a day on the trails in hiking footwear and protecting them while doing campsite tasks like pitching your tent and fetching water. 

hiking boots & sandals outside tent intext
Great for taking a load off, a pair of camp shoes allows your feet to breathe in comfort after a hard day on the trail.

Camp shoes are also good for your feet, allowing them to breathe and relax post-hike. Most models require a lot less fuss to get on/off than shoes, making them ideal for hopping in and out of your tent. Some are also versatile enough to be used for river crossings or short day hikes from a basecamp. 

Types of Shoes for Camping

The main types available are sandals, water shoes, slip ons, and slippers. Below, we’ve outlined the benefits of each type:

Sandals

  • Sturdier and more secure than slip ons
  • Some models are suitable for hiking in warm weather (just watch those toes!)
  • Usually very lightweight
  • Ideal for fording rivers
  • Allow feet to breathe (but offer little to no warmth)
hiker crossing stream in hiking sandals intext
Sandals are a common choice with backpackers due to their versatility

Examples: Chaco Z2, Keen Newport H2, Xero Z-Trail

Water Shoes

  • Designed for use in wet environments and activities like coasteering, canyoneering, or wild swimming
  • Protect the whole foot
  • More breathable than sneakers (but not sandals or slip ons)
  • Quick-drying and high-wicking
  • Not as packable as (most) sandals or slippers

Examples: Aleader Men’s Mesh Slip-Ons, Keen Newport H2, Vivobarefoot Ultra III

Flip Flops

  • Cheap
  • Lightweight
  • Reasonably compact
  • Let your feet breathe
  • Provide little to no warmth and very little protection
  • Easiest to slip on and off 

Examples: Hoka One One Ora Recovery Slides and The North Face Base Camp Slide III

Slippers

  • Available in shoe and bootie styles
  • Provide the most warmth
  • Most use soft soles that are unsuitable for walking around camp

Examples: Teva Ember Moc Slippers and Feathered Friends Booties

Benefits of Wearing Camp Shoes

The main benefits of packing a pair of camp shoes are as follows:

  • Gives your hiking shoes/boots more time to dry out
  • Aids recovery by letting your feet breathe
  • Keeps your feet clean at and around camp
  • Easier to put on/take off when moving in and out of your tent
  • More comfortable than boots or hiking shoes
  • Saves you getting wet hiking boots (and scuffed feet!) at water crossings

What to Look for in Good Camp Shoes

Comfort

The core purpose of a pair of camp shoes is to provide your feet with a little comfort and respite from stiff, sweaty hiking boots after a day’s hiking. As such, this should be a non-negotiable attribute to look for when buying. 

hiker climbing stone trail in hiking sandals intext

Comfort can be tricky to gauge when buying online. However, a few features, specs, and design characteristics can point you in the right direction. 

With sandals, slip ons, and some water shoes, for example, a plush EVA midsole will provide extra underfoot cushioning and absorb impact from terrain. And if you’re worried about straps being abrasive against the skin, a clog-style shoe like the Crocs Classic or water shoe like the Aleader Mesh may be the way to go.

While largely subjective, most users find that slip-ons and slipper-style options are the most comfortable of the bunch. 

It’s worth bearing in mind that comfort often involves a trade-off with practicality. The comfiest shoes in our review are slip ons and slippers, but the former of these are unsuitable for walking and the latter, in most cases, only suitable for use inside your tent – the rubber-soled Teva Ember Moc Slippers are a notable exception. Conversely, the most practical shoes are usually the heaviest and least comfortable. 

Breathability

All types of camp shoes are designed to give your feet the ability to breathe, but some do so better than others. 

As a general rule, slip ons like the Hoka One One Ora Recovery Slides and The North Face Base Camp Slide III, and minimalist sandals like the Xero Z-Trail are the top performers. Closed-toes sandals like the Keen Newport H2 and insulated slippers like the Teva Ember Moc are generally the least breathable.

Lightweight Materials

The weight of your camping shoes isn’t terribly important for car camping, but when backpacking, every ounce counts. 

The lightest backpacking camp shoe in our review is the VivoBarefoot Ultra III, which weighs a measly 0.33 lbs but offers little in the way of underfoot protection and isn’t a good option for walking in rugged terrain.  

The heaviest model is the Keen Newport H2 camp shoe, which weighs a hefty 1.57 lbs but is rugged, grippy, and protective enough to use instead of hiking shoes. 

Packability

When backpacking, every inch of space in your pack is a piece of prime real estate. As such, optional or “luxury” backpacking gear items like camp shoes should ideally take up as little of that space as possible. 

The most packable options in our review are the VivoBarefoot Ultra III and the Xero Z-Trail, both are compact enough to squeeze in your pants pocket at a push! The bulkiest are the Keen Newport H2, TEVA Ember Moc Slippers, and the Chaco Z2 Classics, all of which have more rigid soles and will take up not much less room than your average pair of sneakers.  

Waterproofing & Quick-Drying

In damp or dewy conditions around your campsite, having a pair of backpacking camp shoes capable of keeping your feet dry will be a blessing. 

Waterproof camp shoes will also allow you to keep your hiking shoes dry if you have to cross any shallow rivers or paddle into them to fill up water bottles. Failing that, finding a pair made with quick-drying fabric is the next best thing. 

hikers feet sandals in shallow river intext
Waterproof and/or quick drying camp shoes are a great option for river crossings.

The best options for wet conditions are quick-drying sandals like the Xero Z-Trail, water shoes like the Vivobarefoot Ultra III or Aleader Slip-Ons, and wipe-dry options like Crocs Classic Clogs. 

Those that are the least waterproof and take the longest to dry typically have the most fabric, like the Teva Ember Moc Slippers and Feathered Friends Booties – if you get either of these damp, they’re likely to remain that way for quite some time.  

Easy-on Easy-off

If comfort’s the most important thing to look for in a camp shoe, convenience is a close second. 

hikers feet enjoy rest by forest river intext

While all camp shoes are more convenient than hiking boots by virtue of using no lacing, the most convenient are those that can be slipped on and off with ease – or even hands-free – which usually means flip flops or slippers. Such models allow you to don and doff your footwear quickly and fuss-free when getting in and out of your tent.  

Last update on 2021-12-02 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Kieran James Cunningham is a climber, mountaineer, and author who divides his time between the Italian Alps, the US, and his native Scotland.

He has climbed a handful of 6000ers in the Himalayas, 4000ers in the Alps, 14ers in the US, and loves nothing more than a good long-distance wander in the wilderness. He climbs when he should be writing, writes when he should be sleeping, has fun always.

Kieran has taught mountaineering, ice climbing, and single-pitch and multi-pitch rock climbing in a variety of contexts over the years and has led trekking and mountaineering expeditions in the Alps, Rockies, and UK. He is currently working towards qualifying as a Mountaineering and Climbing Instructor and International Mountain Leader.

Kieran’s book Climbing the Walls—an exploration of the mental health benefits of climbing, mountaineering, and the great outdoors—is scheduled for release by Simon & Schuster in April 2021.

1 thought on “Best Camp Shoes for Taking the Load Off [2021 Update]”

  1. I think it’s good to also mention showers. Those coin operated showers at a lot of camp sites can be pretty gross. Having a pair of shoes to wear in to prevent contact with potential athletes foot and other fungus hoarding surfaces is another useful feature.

    Reply

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