Campshoes: Thoughts & DIY

Some people swear by them while some people loathe them. I can’t say that I am completely in either camp, however, I have found that I do not prefer to carry them for the simple reason that I feel like I can usually make it just fine without them. Although, there are times in which I do consider bringing them, and that is when I know that I will be doing some sort of actual river crossing. By this I mean wading across a fair-sized “river”, not just rock hopping across a stream and just wetting the soles of my boots. So, I have found that if I ever do need to take camp shoes, they should also be able to also serve as water shoes as well.

So, what am I saying? I am saying that I have learned to pack for the hike ahead of me.

To date, most of my hikes have not required a water crossing shoe, so therefore I can usually leave the camp shoe behind. And now that I have started using non-waterproof trail runners (Inov-8 RocLite 315), I can still actually opt to leave behind the camp/water crossing shoes even if I am anticipating some sort of water crossing. I can just wade on through the river in my trail runners, and they will dry out quick enough as I continue to hike. However, if I decide to wear a pair of “waterproof” boot’s (say in the winter), then wading though a river in my boots is not an acceptable solution for me. Water could simply come over the top of my boots and wet my boots out. And once a “waterproof” boot wets out on the inside, it takes a very long time for them to actually dry out…

So, in the winter time, it will be harder for me to get around not taking a pair of water crossing/camp shoes on certain hikes. This I am still working on…so for the time being, I simply plan my hikes accordingly (meaning no water crossings). So, for the sake of this post, I am basing my camp shoes on warm weather hikes…

So far there have been 3 types of shoes that I have carried with me on a hike to use as camp/water crossing shoes:

  1. Crocs. These are a favorite among many hikers. They are fairly lightweight (I think around 10 oz), completely waterproof and does a fairly decent job at protecting my little feet and toes. Not to mention, they even float on water and they are very easy to slip on and off, which is definitely a plus. As well, they can be found pretty cheap at many department stores, and even at some drug stores and gas stations. However, after “evolving” my pack to a lighter weight, even these measly 10 oz shoes began to look way too heavy…
  2. Chaco Z/1. This was a step backwards, at least as far as weight is concerned. These are way to heavy to be carrying simply for a camp or water crossing shoe! But they do have their benefits…their soles were actually real soles, so they do a better job at protecting the bottom of my feet than the Croc’s (sticks would go straight through the Croc’s if stepped on). As well, the Chaco’s are robust enough so that they could actually serve as a back up hiking shoe in case of “emergencies” (such as a blow out on my main hiking “boots”). But, they also leave my toes exposed so I could easily jam one (or more) against a rock. Ouch! These came along on one single trip…then I wised up!
  3. Cheapo flippy floppy’s.  At 6.5 oz, these were lighter than my Croc’s and protected the soles of my foot better than the Croc’s. Plus they were less bulk than my Croc’s. But, they left my toes exposed as did the Chaco’s. However, of the “shoes” I used, these were the best mixture of light-weight, ease of use and function/protection, so these became my go to camp shoes if I ever needed to carry any.

However, none of these options left me feeling completely happy when it comes to water crossing shoes, and as I have mentioned, I am fine without separate “camp shoes”. So, I have pretty much neglected them over the last few months and have managed without them. Besides, the only time in which I would have concern is during the colder months in which I wear boots rather than my trail runners…but even then, it is easy enough to simply plan my hikes around large water crossings…

Then, this morning I came across a pair of insoles that I had removed from a pair of boots I bought a few years ago and the DIY bug bit me. They made me think about all of the DIY projects in which I have seen others make camp shoes from insoles…but not just plain ole camp shoes, but pretty dang light weight camp shoes! So, I decided I would try to make my own camp shoes and see what kind of results ( ahem…weights) I could come up with…

From what I remembered reading, some simply put the insoles from their footwear inside a sock and went, which is obviously the easiest and lightest choice. This would actually be the ultimate lightweight version of camp shoes, however, I was not too keen on wearing my socks to walk around on the ground with. Meanwhile, others attached cords to them and fashioned them after sandals or flip-flops. This method allowed one to wear them similar to actual shoes, and this was the method that I chose to follow…

So, at 1.2 oz, these DIY camp shoes are easily way lighter than anything else I have yet to use. However, they do have some serious limitations. Namely durability and the fact that they will probably not be worth a flip when it comes to crossing rivers, at least big ones. They may work ok for the smaller, slow-moving rivers about knee-deep as long as I can see the bottom, but otherwise, no way. As well, since I decided to imitate the flip-flop design these will not be ideal to wear with socks on, so cold weather use is out. I could insert them into socks still, but as I already mentioned, I don’t want to use my socks in this manner.

So, at this point, my DIY shoes are really only really good for use in camp, and not so much for water crossings. I may try out some other designs with the cords, and see if I can come up with something a little better. Heck, at this weight it may be worth a shot. But I will see…

So, I am curious, what are you wearing as camp/water crossing shoes?

And thanks for reading!

~Stick~

About Stick

My blog is essentially a record of my hiking career. Through it, I, and others, can see how I have evolved from a heavy weight backpacker, to a smarter, more efficient, lightweight backpacker. Through the use of video, still photos, and of course writing, one can see my progression, as well as check out some of the places I hike, and not to mention some cool, lightweight gear options. For me, my blog is a journal, but for others, I hope that it is an interactive learning tool to aid them in their own progression towards lightweight backpacking.
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35 Responses to Campshoes: Thoughts & DIY

  1. Aaron says:

    I’ve tried a few different versions of the ultralight camp shoe but have always ended up with bruised feet after river crossings or even around camp…So I basically now use my trail runners for everything. Maybe I need an ultralight camp shoe with a rock plate… 🙂

    Like

    • Stick says:

      Aaron,

      That is a good point. Sometimes walking across those streams can result in a sore foot or toes later. I will be treading through them with my Inov-8’s this year…and I look forward to it.

      ~Stick~

      Like

  2. Hey Stick, I had an idea for DIY camp slippers that I made. They are made from a tyvek envelope. Basically I cut a bottom larger than the shape of each foot, then I cut a top that covers about half the top of the foot. Pretty much what a slipper would look like. Then I just sewed the two parts together. I haven’t wore them outside yet but I’m leaving for a thru on the 28th and I’m taking them with me. They don’t really offer any protection, more just to keep the dirt and wetness off my socks. We’ll see how they hold up. I just can’t justify carrying anything else.

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    • Stick says:

      Phillip,

      That is interesting. What size is your foot and what does the weight come in at? I may have to try these as the “dirt and the wetness” is really all I am interested in avoiding while at camp…I may have to pull the sewing machine out…I know I have some tyvek envelopes…

      Thanks!

      ~Stick~

      Like

    • I wear a size 11.5 shoe but the tyvek comes out an additional inch past my heel. They weigh in at around .2oz for the pair. I can’t really get a very accurate weight since I just have an analog kitchen scale. I’ll try and keep you in mind and let you know how they fare on the trail. Can’t promise I’ll remember though.

      Like

    • Stick says:

      That is cool. I grabbed some Tyvek envelopes from out of a storage bin today but didn’t get far with the project…Did you just sit down and come up with it or did you have some help whether by pics/video/reading?

      Like

    • I made a similar pair of Tyvek shoes last summer, except I just split one envelope per foot down the middle, then resewed it up to make a “bootie” shape.

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    • Stick says:

      Laural Hill,

      I need to make some from the Tyvek envelopes I have…one day I will get around to it… Thanks for the info though.

      ~Stick~

      Like

  3. Dan says:

    I really enjoyed this post and the accompanying video. It gave me a lot of ideas for DIY type stuff for hiking and camping that I hadn’t thought about in the past. Question is: did you actually give these things a whirl on a camping trip? We’d love to hear how they did.

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    • Stick says:

      Dan,

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting. I am glad to hear that you found some of the information useful!

      As far as the “campshoes”, nope I have not used them…and to be quite honest, I am not sure that I will. I am not a fan of campshoes, but every since I have heard of others doing this I have had it in the back of my mind to try it out just to see what I come up with. In camp though, I am quite comfortable wearing either my hiking boots or even better yet, my trail runners. Plus, with my trail runners I would not mind just hiking right through a stream/river because they will dry out so quickly.

      So, with this in mind, campshoes are only unneeded weight. The only time that they would not be is during the winter at which times I would be wearing GTX lined mid-height boots. I would not want to trudge through a river and wet these boots out on purpose since they would take eons to dry out…so, if I am planning a trip with water crossings at this time I would have to plan in some water shoes, and in this case it would most likely be either a pair of crocs or flip flops.

      As far as my DIY “campshoes” though, I think that they would be fine for summer time trips in which I somehow knew I would not get any rain. For these situation I think they would be absolutely fine. Just my opinion though…

      ~Stick~

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  4. Stick,

    I loved the article. You covered many facets for the camp shoes. I can tell you though… Crocs, in fact IMITATION Crocs are the best and lighter than regular ones. I bought mine for 3.50 in Asheville thrift store before getting on the trail last year. I could NOT AGREE MORE, that Crocs are all around the BEST option (for me and IMHO). However, when you get to town, don’t walk around in them with no socks, they will tear up your feet.

    Just wait until someone goes to camp with those INSOLE camp shoes… and is heading to the water source, and they step in water or mud, and all that ends up going back into their shoe. Espcecially wet insoles. But hey, just my honest opinion as someone who was there and tried it.

    Always great articles Stick!

    Wallace – Supa Chef

    Like

    • Stick says:

      Wallace,

      I do like the Croc’s and think that they are ideal for trips that will consists of actual water crossings, but it has become hard for me to justify carrying extra shoes, especially just for use around camp. I really have no problem at all wearing my hiking boots/trail shoes when at camp. I would actually rather wearing my hiking boots/shoes for similar reasons that you said…stepping into something and it getting all over your feet. Staying clean can be a chore, especially on multiday hikes, so I just stick with what works.

      I only made these for something to do and to see how they would work out. Will I ever actually bring them? Probably not. But, if I knew that I was going on a dry trip and only using these for at camp, then I may think about it. But, as you know, it is not quite that simple… 🙂

      I have only ever had the Croc’s…never any of the knock offs…I may have to pick some up just to check out some weights…

      As usual, thanks for stopping by!

      ~Stick~

      Like

    • Dry camping or short trip = no problem
      Thru hiking = Crocs for me!

      Once we were crossing about shin high water in Maine southbound… and I had my shoes in my hand and my fake crocs on my feet. I went about 3 steps and my wife said, “Hey don’t you think you should put your shoes on your pack?” and BAM! I slipped and dunked my shoes as I fell to a knee. Yep. Those things happen!

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    • Stick says:

      Yeah, sometimes water can be tricky. Crossing through the Sipsey River near us can prove that so I use my trekking poles to help stabilize me. Also, with trail runners, I would just go right through that. However, if it were winter and I were wearing boots then I would bring some sort of water shoe…

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  5. Jesse says:

    Sounds interesting. I don’t think I’ve ever considered taking my boots off for a water crossing in winter though. Since I’m already wearing waterproof boots and pants, my gaiters are taking care of any water that would otherwise seep from the heel. The motion of crossing (not standing still) is quite enogh to keep any water out. Also since gaiters are normally a standard staple of worn gear during winter hikes, there’s to pack weight. 🙂

    As alwasys though, I appreciate another’s perspective and solutions to a common problem. Always enjoy your thougts and insights. Thanks!

    Like

    • Stick says:

      Jesse,

      The few times I have done actual river crossings it was actually winter time…and let me tell you…it was cold. 🙂 However, when I say river crossings I am talking about anything deeper than a typical mid-height boot is and that cannot simply be hopped across one way or another. In the winter time I just wouldn’t want to take the risk of soaking my GTX lined boots because they would never dry out…

      I have never tried crossing a stream while just wearing gaiters, but the ones I have had to cross I wouldn’t want to attempt it with them on. When it is up to my knees and about 15-20 feet wide, I just don’t see gaiters keeping the water out. So, this is why I would just have to pack according to my trip…

      ~Stick~

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  6. Thats pretty awesome! But I’m worried about the durability of such shoes. The idea is excellent though. I personally don’t wear anything else than my boots on trips. I am barefoot after the hike and put the boots on when i have to move around. Sometimes, I take my flipflops, but they’re not convenient for river crossings.

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    • Stick says:

      Orel,

      I agree, this shoe leaves much to be desired, durability being a big one. Actual protection being another big one, in my opinion. I am like you though…I just wear my boots, or better yet, my lighter, more breathable trail runners if I need to do anything around camp.

      ~Stick~

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  7. McDowell says:

    I ordered a pair of the Sprint Aquatics based on Jolly Green Giant’s recommendation and like them. Don’t order them unless you wear a size 9 or smaller, though. I wear a size 10 usually and it is difficult getting my feet into these things. They are sturdy enough to handle casual camp wear though, as well as creek crossings.

    Like

    • Stick says:

      McDowell,

      Yeah I was pretty sure the size 9 would be a loooong stretch to get my size 12’s in them… Thanks for the info though!

      ~Stick~

      Like

  8. Alan says:

    Hi Stick,
    The O1M’s are slightly oversize. I would say that an 11.5 will fit a 12. The good thing is, they are so cheap to buy you can sell them on if they don’t fit. I did a bit of a review here:-
    http://alanrayneroutdoors.blogspot.com/2012/03/o1m-lightweight-shoe.html

    Like

  9. Walk Natural says:

    Hi guys! 01Ms is a good alternative. They are very ligth so you can carry it everywhere and 100% biodegradables. You’ll feel the real barefooting. I got my 01Ms for almost a year and still perfect, even throwing it into the whashing machine 🙂

    Like

  10. brian says:

    http://www.sprintaquatics.com/prodinfo.asp?number=901
    these weigh 1/10th of a pound per pair, are comfortable for camp and have enough traction for stream crossings, and only cost $4! you won’t win any style awards, but the weight/cost/function can’t be beat. note the sizing is weird – order whatever sizes are available, find what fits you and give the rest to your friends.

    Like

    • Stick says:

      Brian,

      Yeah I came across these a while back. The Jolly Green Giant had a post about them on his blog. I agree, the sizing is kind of weird. The sizes listed on that site (sprint aquatics) would not even come close to fitting my size 12 foot though… But I know that on some other sites that list them as pool shoes or something there seemed to be some a little bigger…

      Anyway, thanks for stopping by and sharing the link!

      ~Stick~

      Like

  11. kuntryrd says:

    Nice job! I use a $3 pair of Mary Janes from Wally world. Lighter than crocs but still heavy at 8 ounces. I have been working on a plan to cut the entire upper from an old pair of light weight walking shoes and rigging those up for camp use & easy water crossings. I will let yah know if I can get that to be a good option.
    I do like your insole “shoes” though; good light option for “night maneuvers”.

    Like

    • Stick says:

      kuntryd,

      I would be interested in seeing what you come up with on chopping the tops off! And I agree, these would be good for “night maneuvers”…still might need to watch my step though… 🙂

      ~Stick~

      Like

  12. Shadowalpha says:

    I usually do without. was thinking about a DIY pair with CCF foam sole & make the bootie out of reflectix. this would be for colder weather. for warmer weather your diy sandles are great! 🙂

    Like

    • Stick says:

      Shadowalpha,

      That is an interesting idea. I have some old cut up pieces of ccf pad and some reflectix…I may play around with that stuff one day when I have nothing else to do… Thanks for the idea.

      ~Stick~

      Like

  13. Dave Jenkins says:

    The O1Ms look interesting…

    I have always carried Crocks and they served me well, but you are right they are quite heavy in relation to everything else. When your camp shoes are half (or more) of the weight of your shelter, that is a kinda odd.

    Like

    • Stick says:

      That’s a good thought Dave! Heck, they are even heavier than my pack! 🙂 But, I do agree, the Croc’s are good shoes. Like I said, I wear them everyday at work. They are very comfortable and I don’t feel so bad after standing around on a concrete floor all day. Too bad they can’t jsut make them lighter…maybe shave some of the sole off…

      Like

  14. Alan says:

    O1M’s.
    I like to get out of what ever shoes or boots i wear all day and these are fine. I even wear them around the house. Not as light as your insole plus cord but at 170 grams per pair, waterproof and the pack size, they are a good option.
    http://www.onemoment.es/en/

    Like

    • Stick says:

      Alan,

      Thanks for sharing those. They look interesting. How is the sizing? It looks like they only go up to a size 11.5 for mens (US) and I wear a 12.

      I have been looking at those nylon mesh shoes too…

      Thanks for sharing the link.

      ~Stick~

      Like

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