Ultralight Camp Shoes: The Best Packable Options for Bikepacking
Taking your riding shoes off after a long day of pedaling is one of the best feelings, especially when you have a backup pair for shuffling around camp. While hunting for most easy to pack ultralight camp shoes, we tested a bunch of popular models, from minimalist outdoor socks to superlight sandals. Find our thoughts and mini-reviews on six of them here, plus a list of other options…
For the longest time, I didn’t even consider bringing camp shoes with me while bikepacking. I got into the habit of riding early and finishing late and rarely ended up in situations where I needed different footwear, whether at camp or off the bike in between rides. These days, I find myself mixing more off-bike adventures into my bikepacking trips, appreciate time hanging around at camp in the mornings, and have been on a few of my longest multi-week trips that make an extra set of sandals or ultralight camp shoes essential.
The thing is, spare shoes aren’t always easy to pack. Even packing a pair of dollar store flip-flops or Crocs can be tricky, as they are bulky and usually end up strapped to the outside of a seat bag or pannier. On the other hand, proper sandals capable of light hiking and walking are bulky and heavy, and they rarely make the cut. The weight-weenies and anti-danglers can rest easy knowing there are a handful of camp shoes available that are both lightweight and packable, making them perfect for us bikepackers who want to air out our feet after a long day.
In this roundup, I got my hands (and feet) on six of the top-rated packable and ultralight camp shoes that seemed to have the potential to be perfect for bikepacking. Beyond being feathery light and easy to pack, all of them are sturdy enough to get around at camp. Find mini reviews for each, including photos, pros/cons, where we think they work best. And, find a list of even more camp shoes we identified below that.
260 grams/pair (Size 9) / Made in China / $45 at XeroShoes.com
Inspired by the barefoot running movement, Xero is owned by husband and wife team Steven Sashen and Lena Phoenix. They first launched under the name Feel The World, Inc. in 2009 and have since expanded their lineup to include a wide range of styles, including shoes, boots, and sandals. The Xero Genesis is inspired by their earliest DIY sandal kits and is one of the lightest and most flexible sandals they’ve produced.
I ended up using the Xero Genesis sandals on a number of quick overnighters this summer and found them to be some of my favourite camp shoes. They offer a surprising amount of protection from the ground considering the thickness of the sole, they have a slight contour that holds the foot, and the soft cord and achilles straps do a good job at keeping my feet in place. The sole is made from a super dense 5mm thick rubber and comes with a 5,000-mile warranty. Plus, they are easily foldable/rollable and burly enough for short hikes on easy terrain. If the fit isn’t quite right, Xero says you can simply trim the rubber to fit your feet. The only complaint I have is that the front of the sole, due to its flexibility, can sometimes catch the ground and fold back under the sandal. Although, since I’m not running marathons in mine like some people supposedly do, it’s not a deal breaker.
- Rollable and easily packable
- Comfortable cord closure and ankle straps
- Solid warranty
- Trim to fit
- Grippy sole
- Very flexible sole
- No arch support/minimal contours
- Front of sole can catch the ground
51 grams/pair (Size 9) / Made in USA / $40 at MayflyUltralight.com
Mayfly takes ultralight footwear to an entirely new level. Originally imagined while preparing to hike the Appalachian Trail, Jonny Waldman designed their sandals to be “absurdly lightweight” and perfect for ultralight backpackers, and they work great for bikepacking as well. The Mayfly Imagos are a “Chaco-style” sandal that weigh less than a Snickers bar and are so thin that they easily slide into a frame bag or hip pack. They are made from a Coroplast base, strong nylon cord, and have five adjustment points, which is impressive considering their weight and size.
The Mayfly Imago’s are comically lightweight. The size 11 I tested weigh in at just 54 grams, making them the lightest option in this roundup. However, their weight and construction also means they are the most minimalist and least comfortable compared to the rest. In my eyes, they are best reserved for hanging around at camp, quick walks to the outhouse, and not much else. Although the lack of support and grip isn’t ideal for longer walks, the adjustable corded closure is quite functional, and it allows the use of a camp sock on colder evenings.
- Lightest camp shoe ever
- Extremely packable, although not foldable or rollable
- Simple but effective cord closure
- Conversation starter
- No arch support or padding
- Very basic sole, practically no grip
- Coroplast construction doesn’t feel great on bare feet
Lucas Winzenburg link
255 grams/pair (Size 9) / Made in USA / $109.95 at ShammaSandals.com
I’ve been wearing various Shamma sandals since our 2016 scouting trip of the Tian Shan Traverse in Kyrgyzstan. Wanting a minimalist sandal that could work for river crossings and give my feet a break around camp, I took a gamble and bought a pair just a few days before heading off to Central Asia. I’m glad I did because they proved to be incredibly comfortable after a super short break-in period, light and thin enough that I could easily sneak them into my frame bag or seat pack, and adequately sturdy to wear on any terrain. They hit the sweet spot between a hefty Chaco I wouldn’t consider lugging with me and a basic Havaiana-style flip-flip I wouldn’t expect to survive the rigors of a bikepacking trip.
Designed as a cushier version of their ultra-sleek Warriors, the US-made Shamma Maximus sandals feature a reasonably generous 9mm tread thickness and weigh 255 grams/9 ounces per pair in size US 9 (my size 13s come in at 349 grams/12.3 ounces). They have two points of adjustment for a snug fit, gently padded straps, and a Vibram sole with a diagonal tread that has been impressively grippy. They’re priced at $109.95, making them the most expensive of the six sandals tested here, though I’d wager that they’re also the plushest and best feeling underfoot. I’ve been wearing the Ultragrip version, and they also have a brown leather option available for a small upcharge.
For folks who understandably aren’t ready to shell out $100+ for ultralight camp sandals, Shamma also offers the simpler Cruzers for $49.95. I wore them for years and don’t find their thinner profile as pleasant for long days as the one on the Warriors, but they’re even lighter and are certainly up to the task if you’re just looking for something to slip on occasionally.
- Minimal break-in period
- Well built in the US with quality materials
- Grippy Vibram sole
- Footbed thickness balances weight and comfort
- Available in a wide range of kid/adult sizes
- Expensive for a minimalist sandal
- Not all wearers will like the toe strap
- Sandal design inherently doesn’t offer full coverage/protection
- Leather footbed is a bit slippery at first relative to Ultragrip
240 grams/pair (Size M) / Made in Europe / €69 at Skinners.cc
Are they a shoe? Are they a sock? Yes and yes. Skinners combine the freedom of a sock with the protection of a shoe into a single package. They use a knitted body and highly abrasion-resistant polymer sole that is phthalate-free bonded without the use of glue or additional seams. They are machine washable, have a removable insole, and have an average lifespan of 800 kilometers (500 miles), which is pretty good if you’re just wearing them around camp. The Comfort model has a wider toe box and the Compression model I tested has a narrower toe box, higher ankle, and slimmer overall fit.
The Skinners functioned exactly how I imagined they would. They are a fairly thick knitted sock, so they aren’t the best option for folks expressly looking to air their feet out after a long day of pedaling, but they are easy to walk around in and provide some solid protection against the elements. I find they fit big, as my size 11/12 is a touch too roomy for me, but they are extremely packable and don’t weigh much. Although Skinners says it’s normal for some of the sole to crumble off when they are new, I’m not sure I feel great about leaving a trail of tiny bits out in the wild. If I was sold on the sock design, I’d probably take a good look at the Comfort 2.0 socks as they aren’t as tall and have a looser fit.
- Easily packable and lightweight
- Machine washable and quick-drying
- Minimal sole provides minimal protection
- Enclosed sock design doesn’t allow feet to air out
- Fit is big
280 grams/pair (Size L) / Made in China / $30 at Amazon Men’s
Fitkicks are described as being the perfect minimalist shoe for active lifestyles. They sport a light and flexible sole, are made from quick-drying fabrics, and feature a water-friendly neoprene insole. The look and feel similar to a water shoe, which makes them ideal for water crossings and hanging around at camp, and they offer enough protection and coverage for short walks. They have a reinforced toe guard, are foldable and machine washable, and the rubber sole is thin but still substantial enough to walk comfortably on rocks and gravel.
I’ve found the Fitkicks to be perfect for packrafting or when wet conditions are expected. Having some additional coverage on the top of the foot and over the toes is nice when it’s a little cooler out or when you’re trying to keep your feet clean at the end of a big day of riding. The upper fabric still allows your feet the breathe, which is an important feature for any post-ride camp shoe.
- Quick-drying and lightweight
- Full coverage design
- Great for water sports and wet weather
- Foldable and packable
- Less airy than sandals
- No laces or adjustable straps to dial in fit
Bedrock Classic LT
255 grams/pair (Size 9) / Made in USA / $70 at BedrockSandals.com
The Bedrock Classic LT sandals combine their original ultra-minimalist strap design with a lightweight Vibram sole and durable recycled polyester webbing. There were redesigned in 2023 with a wider fit across the entire size range, a flexible footbed that shapes to your foot over time, and a simple but effective strap system. They are Bedrock’s lightest weight and most packable sandal, making them a great option if you’re not as interested in riding and hiking in them.
I always want to take my Bedrock Cairn sandals bikepacking, but I find them a little heavy and large, making them awkward to pack on a bike. When Bedrock announced an updated version of their Classic LT sandals, it sparked the idea for this entire article. Those who like the Bedrock strap system will be able to get behind the lightweight design of the Classic LT. The sole is thin and flexible but does a good job at protecting your feet from rocks and thorns. I wouldn’t want to do go hiking or ride a bike in them, but they are great for around camp or resupply stops in towns and can be paired with their split-toe socks in cooler conditions. The best part is they are made in the USA from 100% vegan-friendly materials, and the size 11s I have weigh just 258 grams.
- Classic Bedrock webbing straps and fit
- Durable and grippy Vibram sole
- Thin and flexible makes for easy packing
- Made in the USA
- More expensive than other options
- Only a few colors
More Ultralight Camp Shoes
While the camp shoes and sandals we tested are some of the smallest and easy to pack models out there, there are a number of other options that are still reasonably lightweight and perfect for hanging around at camp. We like dollar store sliders, Birkenstocks, Crocs, and heavier sandals from Bedrock, Teva, and Chaco for when proper support for walking around is required. Find a handful of cozy but less minimal suggestions below.
QUOC Lala Slide
The QUOC Lala Slide is a good-looking, lightweight flip-flop constructed with an anatomically designed footbed that boasts excellent cushioning and airflow, extra-thick microfiber straps, and an anti-slip outdoor tread. The Lala Slide is QUOC’s first offering in their new “Athleisure” category. Logan included them in his Summer 2023 Editor’s Dozen, which you can read here.
287 grams/pair / £39 at Quoc.cc
Bedrock Cairn Sandals
If the Bedrock Originals aren’t sturdy enough for you or you’re looking for a sandal like can handle hiking, riding, and pretty much anything else you throw at it, the Bedrock Cairn like is worth checking out. We’ve been using their sandals for years on and off the bike, and they’ve proven to be well-made and durable. There are several models to choose from, depending on your needs. Read our review here.
Made in USA / ~250 grams/pair / $115 at REI
Bedrock Mountain Clogs
The Bedrock Mountain Clogs share the same zero-drop profile as their sandals with very subtle arch support, giving a kind of planted feel that’s akin to being barefoot. They use a similar strap system but provide more protection and pair up nicely with standard socks for cooler temps. They aren’t the lightest at 388 grams per pair (Size 11-12) but they could work on longer tours or for anyone who likes a proper shoe (or clog) when off the bike. Read Cass’ review here.
Made in South Korea / ~388 grams/pair / $160 at BedrockSandals.com
Crocs Classic Clog
Love to hate them, Crocs are perhaps some of the lightest and most practical camp shoes out there. This clog-inspired shoe is water-friendly, buoyant, easy to clean, quick to dry, and a pair weighs between 300 and 450 grams per pair. They are made from a proprietary resin material that’s lightweight, surprisingly durable, and quite comfortable to walk around in. Don’t forget to engage the heel strap when the terrain gets rough.
Made in China / ~300 grams/pair / $50 at Backcountry.com
If you’re looking for more support and a more sock-friendly design compared to the Genesis sandals we tried out, the Xero Z-Trek sandals are still lightweight but feature a more support strap design. They have a 6mm sole and use tubular nylon straps made from rPET recycled materials.
Birkenstock Arizona Core Sandal
Based on the classic Birkenstock sandal design, the Arizona Core Sandal is made from a lightweight EVA material that is better suited to summer-use. They are waterproof, easily washable, and have a grippy rubber sole.
Teva Original Universal Sandal
While it might not be the most packable sandal out there, the classic Teva Original is comfortable, durable, and functional for a wide range of activities thanks to its adjustable velcro straps and thick sole. Plus, they come in all kinds of fun colors and patterns, making them one of the most stylish models in this list (besides Crocs, of course).
Chaco Chillos Clog
Neil and Lindsay love the Chaco Chillos Clogs due to their lightweight construction, no-sweat design, sock compatibility, ability to get wet, and they fact that they’re much “cuter that Crocs.” They come in a bunch of fun color options, men’s and women’s sizes, and there is a low-profile slide version as well.
Earthrunners are super minimal sandals that have a reputation for being thoughtfully designed and well-made. They have several different models, all with varying sole thicknesses, and weigh between 280 and 334 grams/pair deepening on the model.
Made in USA / ~280 grams/pair / $68 at Earthrunners.com
Luna Sandals are all based around the premise that the simple sandal as the footwear of choice for many cultures past and present. They have a variety of models with different sole thicknesses and styles, many of which are made in the USA. The Oso Flaco, one of their best selling models, weighs in at ~400 grams/pair.
Made in USA or Vietnam / ~400 grams/pair / $105+ at LunaSandals.com
Decathlon Forclaz Trek 500 Sandal
The Decathlon Bivouac Sandal is a minimalist hiking sandal with a velcro strap system, grippy/flexible sole, and the sole, upper, and straps are all made from recycled materials. The sandals are made in Portugal and come with a two year warranty.
Made in Portugal / 356 grams/pair / $45 Decathlon
Decathlon Pool Sandal
The Decathlon Pool Sandal is a simple slip-on style shoe that’s water-friendly, lightweight, and sock-friendly. Plus, they cost under $10, so they are super affordable!
Made in China / $10 Decathlon
Dollar Store Flip-Flops
Nothing is more affordable than basic beach sandals, which usually cost just a few bucks and are widely available all over the globe. While they aren’t our first choice for walking around town or any type of easy hiking, they are perfect for folks who are just looking to air their feet out at camp.
Made in China / ~250 grams/pair / $5
Chances are, we missed some good options that are available in the marketplace. If you have a pair of ultralight camp shoes that you’d recommend, please drop us a note in the conversation below. Likewise, if you have experience with any of these, please let us know how you’re getting along with them.
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