5 Light-weight & Compact Shoes for Travellers
I first took them on a month long trip to Mexico and practically wore holes in them.
My old black hi-top canvas Converse Chuck Taylor All Stars have been my travel shoe of choice for a long time; they squash down to a couple of inches, weigh next to nothing, and carry that old skool charm from decades of persistence. They’re perfect for stuffing into a backpack or suitcase.
Owning a pair of light-weight, collapsible shoes is one of the secrets to freeing up space in your luggage when you travel. With the same barefoot style shoes that took over the running world beginning to enter the everyday shoe market I’ve decided to take a look at a few of the options out there.
I’m currently easing myself into a more natural style of running with a pair of Newton Gravity, not quite as streamlined as the famous Vibram FiveFingers but a perfect transition shoe, and the light weight has been liberating. Intrigued by whether this compact design can work in an everyday walking shoe I jumped at the chance to review a pair of Teva Mush Flyweights. I’ve taken a look at what five different brands have to offer:
Converse Chuck Taylor All Stars
£15 and over, anywhere
An oldie but a goody. The retro option. As mentioned earlier these shoes are the original for me, I have a long standing love affair with their simplicity, affordability and unchanged style. I’ve worn them to near destruction at least once. Casual and classically old-skool. These shoes will always be respected for what they are. Available worldwide from budget to high-end shops, pay £15 or £50 for a pair of these depending where you buy them. Downside to these is that they really require socks to be comfortable.
Teva Mush Flyweights
£45, John Lewis
I received a pair of these in the mail last week to review. These shoes are the inspiration for this post. I’ve always associated Teva with sandals, I had no idea they transitioned into shoes, and that’s exactly what the Mush Flyweights are–a transition shoe– designed to be worn without socks and when the weather is too cool for flip flops. At just 153g the canvas uppers make these super light weight. The footbeds are made of EVA so mould to your feet over time much like a pair of flips-flops, and the fully collapsible heel makes them a cinch to pack away. You’ll be thankful for the two eyelets on the instep, the same as on the Converse All Stars, that allow your feet to breathe in warm weather.
My wife recently purchased a pair of these. They’ve been popular for a long time with the “One for One” philosophy that made them famous. (Now unashamedly copied by Sketchers’ “Bobs” range). These are unisex shoes, but I find the footbed too narrow and the canvas too tight across the front of my foot, although I’m sure there is a degree of stretch available with wear. I can’t imagine any shoes (well, except the Patagonia Advocates) being much more compact and lightweight. These have that same timeless, basic quality found in the Converse All-Stars.
New Balance Minimus Zero Life
$95, only available in U.S.
Like many of the shoes here, these have a zero-drop heel to forefoot, it’s like walking completely barefoot. The wide velcro strap and more substantial uppers make this shoe the heaviest and most cumbersome of the bunch, not exactly a minimalist shoe, but will appeal to those seeking a more durable shoe with a thin, flat sole.
$55, only available in U.S.
The most lightweight and flexible of all the shoes here, weighing in at just 113g, the weight of a single stick of butter. These shoes have a 15% recycled removable 2mm EVA insole and a 20% recycled footbed. If reusing and recycling is not enough for you, these shoes are also part of 1% for the planet, they’re are so pliable they can pretty much be twisted any way you want. My concern with these is durability and breathability.
Despite being sent the Teva Mush Flyweights for review purposes they are my new favourite shoes in this compact collection. The fact that they are designed to be worn without socks, have good ventilation and are super light weight and collapsible, edges them just ahead of my old faithful Converse. A true test still awaits, but I’m hopeful they’ll deliver on performance when I take them on the road.
With that said, we are creatures of habit, and I imagine the Converse will continue to find its way into my luggage due to the sheer fact that I can rely on them to still be available in 2 years when I need a new pair; they’re also easily replaced, even in the middle of nowhere you can probably find them, like the parts for a broken Toyota Landcruiser.
New shoe designs come and go each year, it’s how shoe companies stay in business; I probably can’t rely on the Teva Mush Flyweights to still be around in a couple of years so will refrain from falling too much in love with them.