Vibram FiveFingers: Barefoot Travel Road Test

Vibram FiveFingers

Vibram FiveFingers - Barefoot travelling

The easiest way to increase your bag’s weight is to take extra pairs of shoes on your vacation, so you travel with the just the shoes on your feet. The problem is that no pair of shoes fits every occasion.

A good pair of leather walking shoes provide a comfortable home for your feet on long walking tours, and look good for dinner at a classy restaurant. They do less well as beach wear or to attempt more athletic activities like rock climbing or kayaking.

Enter the Vibram FiveFingers, a lightweight shoe that is perfect for the beach, water sports and wide range of physical activities. I bought a pair in Hawaii, and road tested them in a variety of situations there and in Italy.

Although they feel a little strange when you first pull them on, I barely noticed the Vibram FiveFingers once I started walking around Honolulu. They are truly like walking barefoot while protecting your feet from sharp rocks, thorns or the hot pavement. A major step up from the ubiquitous flip flops–a footwear I loathe–worn by most beach goers, the FiveFingers are as comfortable in the surf as they are crossing the hot sand to your towel.

At the local shopping centres, I did not feel out of place wearing the Vibram FiveFingers and felt more comfortable and better protected than wearing sandals. For a beach holiday, they could easily be your one pair of shoes unless your plans include fine dining or exclusive clubs (a friend wore his too many nightclubs in Honolulu without any problems).

In Italy, I wore the Vibram FiveFingers on long walking tours and I found the hard uneven footpaths took a toll on the soles of my feet after three hours. The Vibram FiveFingers KSO Trek is a more rugged version with a thicker sole and I suspect my problem would be solved with a pair of them.

Overall the Vibram FiveFingers provide plenty of grip and give you a much better feeling of the surfaces under foot, and I would use them for rock climbing, beach combing or any outdoor activity in a natural environment. For a long day sightseeing in a major city, I would leave these at the hotel and use my leather walking shoes. Should you buy a pair and take a barefoot vacation?

Yes, most people will find them more useful than sandals or flip flops, and certainly more comfortable. For a beach or nature vacation, they may be the only shoes you need but for most travel they will compliment your sturdier footwear and add little to your baggage weight.


Travel Tech – PGA Tour Performance Fabric Shirt

PGA Tour Dry ShirtPacking light turns many travellers into tourist hobos, wrinkled clothes worn once too often before wash day despite long sweaty days walking the streets of your vacation nirvana. I’ve always preferred natural fibres and my travel wardrobe is brimming with cotton shirts and pants that give me that slept in my clothes look in our travel photos.

We travelled with friends to New York last summer, sweaty days pounding the pavements of Manhattan but Phil maintained a cool refreshed look despite the heat. An avid golfer, Phil’s secret was the high tech shirts he uses on the golf course.

Finding similar shirts half price at JC Penny, I decided to give them a try and they now dominate my travel wardrobe. The soft polyester fabric wicks away the sweat leaving you cool and dry on even a demanding walking tour. My PGA Tour shirts are treated with an anti-bacterial formula that defeats the sweaty smell of your journey leaving them fresh enough for another day of duty.

The shirts performed well in Australia’s summer heat on my first test, and they came out of the wash or a couple of days packed in my bag without wrinkles and ready to wear. My cotton shirts become sweat soaked and stick to my body after a few hours in the heat but the PGA Tour Dry shirts wicked away the moisture very well. I chose a button down style that looks good for any occasion short of a formal event.

Have you tried this type of shirt? I’d like to hear what works in your travel wardrobe.


Travel Tech – These Keen Shoes are made for Walking

Travel is good for the soul but your soles take a pounding as you wander the back streets of London or climb to the splendour of Machu Picchu. Modern workplaces are relatively sedentary and most travellers walk several more miles a day during a vacation than a normal working week. The comfortable shoes you wear to work can blister your feet and ruin your vacation.

After mangled feet almost ruined one trip, my wife researched walking shoes and finally settled on a pair of Keen shoes in a Mary Jane style. All leather uppers with a moulded sole and patented toe protection combined into a stylish pattern that became her shoe of choice all summer.

Keen Walking Shoes

While taking this picture, Colleen heard another traveller explain to her son, ‘See there’s another woman taking a photo of her sore feet.’

Colleen quickly corrected her, ‘Actually I’m taking a photo because my feet do not hurt at all.’

Keen‘s range include running shoes, sandals and walking shoes in a range of styles that are both comfortable and attractive.