Advice

Best Shoes For Backpacking Europe

One of the most stressful things we found when backpacking Europe was deciding on what to pack. There’s so much more to it than just packing a suitcase as you would on a holiday.

We’ve created this guide specifically to help you find the best shoes for backpacking Europe in the hope that you won’t be as lost and confused as we were back when we set out backpacking Europe in 2016.

The thing is, shoes can often be overlooked when packing for a backpacking trip. However, they can cause a big dent into your backpacking budget and cause you a lot of problems both in the long-term and the short-term if they aren’t right.

How Many Pairs Of Shoes Should You Take When Backpacking In Europe?

Women…. 72 pairs… No seriously, so many people ask us how many pairs of shoes they should take for backpacking Europe. The problem is shoes are big and bulky, and despite everything, you can only really wear one pair at a time.

There’s no right or wrong answer when it comes to how many pairs of shoes you should take when backpacking in Europe, however, there are some things you should consider that might help you with your decision.

Things To Consider When Finding The Best Shoes For Backpacking Europe

Investing In Quality

If you’ve zero half-decent shoes for backpacking in Europe with then we’d seriously advise you to invest in one or two good pairs over ten half decent but cheap pairs.

You’ll throw out half of the ‘half decent but cheap pairs’ as soon as you’ve realised you’ve overpacked, and because the shoes are cheap the other half will be wrecked, ruined, painful and damn right useless after the first couple of days.

Comfort Over Style

Now I’m not saying pull out the 1990’s velcro sneakers just yet… But consider comfort and practicality over style. It will take you around one week of your trip to realise you don’t care half as much about what you look like than you thought you would when you were back home packing.

Instead, you’ll care about being comfortable so you’re free to explore as much of your destination as your budget, time and feet allow.

Destination(s)

The destinations you’re planning on visiting during your trip are going to alter the number of shoes and type of shoes you’re likely to need. For example, you wouldn’t take the shoes you’d pack for to Iceland to Spain (that is unless you absolutely had to)

There's plenty of interactive objects as you walk around the park at Pugneys.

Activity Level

If you’re planning a specific activity or activity type during your trip then you’ll want to consider this when deciding the best shoes for backpacking Europe.

Some specific activities require specialist shoes all together so be sure you check whether you can hire (or purchase) those prior to the activity.

Add-On Items For Your Backpacking Shoes

Finding the best shoes for backpacking Europe is just one half of the battle. The other half is finding the best additional items that help in assisting and supporting your feet in the shoes. The two most common items are;

Socks

There’s a number of benefits to buying a good couple of pairs of socks to go with your shoes for backpacking Europe these include;

  • Keeping your feet warm
  • Protecting your feet from germs and blisters
  • Protecting the shoes from germs and stains
  • Minimising the stress on your feet
  • Managing the moisture within the shoes.

Insoles

Insoles can be used inside your shoes for a whole range of reasons;

  • Decrease the shoe size
  • Increase warmth inside the shoe
  • Help to prevent blisters
  • Correct posture
  • Help prevent foot related problems

Wherever you go when backpacking in Europe you’re likely to be doing a lot of walking so consider using some insoles to help you in doing so.

Breaking In Your Shoes For Backpacking Europe

Before you can set out backpacking Europe you’re going to want to break-in your new shoes. New shoes often need breaking in as no two feet are the same yet shoes are designed to conform our feet. 

The new shoes are likely to feel tight around the toes and rub at the heal but this is something that can quickly and easily be prevented.

Start by putting on a pair of thick socks (or two pairs of socks if you don’t have a thick pair). Next, get one shoe and warm it up with the hairdryer for around one minute until it’s soft. Then, put the shoe on your foot and repeat with the other shoe.

Once you’ve got both shoes on, walk around the house until the shoes have cooled. This should help them to mould to your feet shape.

Best Casual Shoes For Backpacking Europe

Superga

Superga trainers are great. Super affordable, super comfortable and suitable for both men and women. We’d recommend them as one of the best shoes for backpacking Europe.

Keds

Keds are high-quality plimsoles and are a great choice for casual shoes when backpacking Europe. Being plimsoles they compress really easily for packing and are available in both men’s and women’s.

New Balance

Finally, we’ve got New Balance trainers. These have quickly grown to be one of the most trendy and comfortable trainers in the world so it’s only fair they make it onto our list of the best casual shoes for backpacking Europe.

Converse

Helen’s personal favourite casual shoes are low-rise Converse. These shoes have been a staple for our trips not just in and around Europe but around the world.

Converse are available for men, women and children and can be customised and personalised to demonstrate your interests and personality should you require.

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Best Hiking Shoes For Backpacking Europe

Salomon X Ultra 3 Low

Super comfortable and great for hiking the Salmon X Ultra 3 low shoes are suitable for both men and women and come in a wide variety of colours and designs.

Merrell Moab 2 Ventilator Low

Designed from suede leather with an additional protective rubber toe cap these Merrel Moab 2 Vent hiking shoes are something you’ll find many avid hikers raving about. They are extremely comfortable, incredibly versatile and come with durable leathers, a supportive footbed – what’s not to love?

The North Face Ultra 110 GTX

Certainly, one of the more expensive pairs of shoes we’re covering in the best shoes for backpacking Europe is the North Face Ultra 110 GTX.

These shoes are available for both men and women and of course as you’d come to expect from such a high-end brand the shoes are very comfortable and provide amazing stability.

Best Walking Shoes For Backpacking Europe

Jack Wolfskin Vojo Hike Texapore

The Jack Wolfskin Vojo Hike Texapore shoes have been specifically designed for woodland trails, roads and gravel tracks making them a pretty well rounded and highly versatile walking shoe.

Suitable for both men and women and available in a wide range of colours these shoes are a great mid-range choice when looking for the best shoes for backpacking Europe.

Adidas Terrex Swift R

A couple of years ago it’s unlikely that the number two sports footwear brand in the US would make it onto our list of best shoes for backpacking Europe, yet here we are.

Adidas launched the Terrex range to take on the outdoor market, and it’s been a highly impressive start. Adidas is renowned for being a narrow fit, so if you’ve got wide feet then this option might not be best for you.

ASICS Gel-Lyte Keisei

Asics is one of the more affordable shoes we’ve covered on this list of the best shoes for backpacking Europe. With a range of colours, fantastic aesthetics and an insole that makes it feel as though you’re walking on clouds the Asics Gel-Lyte Keisei shoes are a great all-around choice.

Best Sandals For Backpacking Europe

Havaianas

Since I sliced my toe open on some stairs thanks to some cheap flip flops folding and not protecting my feet aged twelve I’ve had two pairs of Havaianas. That gives these flip flops the current life span of seven years each (although my second pair are still fully functional)

Young woman sat on tree in Sirinat National Park
My Havaianas haven’t just been to Europe, but across Asia and America too.

These flip flops are fantastic and have travelled with me not just around Europe but across Asia and America too. Suitable for men, women and children they come in a whole host of different designs and styles to suit your needs and personality.

Birkenstock

Something that certainly ticks more of the sandal box is Birkenstocks. A household name when it comes to footwear a pair of Birkenstocks shouldn’t be overlooked when you’re on the lookout for the best shoes for backpacking Europe.

Eco-friendly, incredibly comfortable and designed with a desirable minimalistic look Birkenstocks suit pretty much everyone!

That concludes our best shoes for backpacking Europe. Hopefully, we’ve covered enough options to allow you to find the right pair(s) for your trip.

As always we’d love to know what shoes you recommend when backpacking Europe, let us know in the comments below.

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