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Solving the Shoe Problem

by Adam Roy Oct 19, 2009

THE MORE SPORTS I PICK UP, the more I feel like Imelda Marcos: my shoe collection just keeps growing.

I’ve got hiking boots, basketball shoes, and boxing shoes. I’ve got running shoes, wetsuit boots, and snow boots. Shoes are always the one piece of sports equipment I can’t avoid buying, and they’re all too specialized to be interchangeable.

The problem doubles when you take the kind of active vacations that I take. Since I can’t afford to carry an extra suitcase just for my footwear, I’ve learned to compensate by bringing shoes that multitask.

No matter what I end up doing, these three types of shoes almost always keep me covered:

Leather Oxford Sneakers

Pairing a flexible leather upper with a thick rubber sole, there isn’t much these kicks can’t do.

Their heavy treads and solid support make them great for hiking. They’re light enough for a pickup game of soccer, but comfy enough for just lounging. With a little bit of polish, they’ll even pass for dress shoes.

Many major shoe companies make versions of this design. Skechers’ model is comfy and cheap, but lacking in the durability department. Timberland’s are well well-constructed, though a bit on the heavy side.

Canvas Hi-Tops

There’s a good chance this super-shoe is already in your closet – just about everyone and their mother has an old, ratty pair of Chuck Taylors stashed away somewhere.

Besides working on the basketball court, Chucks and other hi-tops are great for the gym.

Their flat bottoms have the balance and traction to handle weightlifting and boxing workouts, and they’re packable enough to squeeze into a backpack.

While Chucks have the brand recognition, the knock-offs in Payless and other discount stores work just as well, and cost half as much.


Flip-flops work for relaxing, but forget about moving in them. On top of being every bit as lounge-worthy as flip-flops, Tevas and other wrap-around sandals hike where sneakers can’t – across streams, through mud, or down the rocks at the beach.

When buying sandals, look for a pair that’s both comfortable and durable. You (hopefully) won’t be wearing socks with your sandals, so it’s extra-important to make sure that they protect your feet.

Community Connection

Matador Goods reviews another piece of multi-tasking gear in Less Bulk: Backpack and Photo Bag in One.

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