When the time comes, slipping into a good pair of camp shoes offers the perfect cozy conclusion to your day. Check out our list of the best ones!
From sturdy backpacking boots to cramped climbing shoes, the best part of active recreation footwear is the moment you get to take it off. When the hike, ride, or climbing session is over, your priority shifts from performance to comfort.
We’ve all heard the audible sigh of joy that comes when feet are finally released from their sweaty, high-performance foot prisons. Because they’re made to be comfortable, camp shoes offer a soothing antidote. On many adventures and expeditions, camp shoes should be considered an essential piece of gear.
Historically, thru-hikers and other adventurists have simply repurposed pre-existing models of comfortable footwear as functional camp shoes. Many of these options, like Crocs Classic Clogs, weren’t originally designed to be used on outdoor excursions, but people in search of good camp shoes identified them as an excellent makeshift choice.
However, in 2021, many footwear companies are now making purpose-built camp shoes. Because there are more great options available than ever before, now’s a great time to pick up a pair of camp shoes that make you say “ahhhh” every time you put them on.
There are a few key characteristics that you should look for in a camp shoe. A good camp shoe finds the ideal balance between usability, breathability, weight, and waterproofing.
We’ve broken up this list into specific categories to help you identify the best camp shoe for your needs. Scroll through to see all of our recommended buys, or jump to the category you’re looking for:
The Best Camp Shoes of 2021
Car camping is all about luxuries. The Teva Ember Moc ($75) is a luxury that becomes difficult to go without as soon as you’ve tried them on.
This unique shoe is an innovative combination of an urban sneaker and a mini sleeping bag. It’s part-slipper-part-shoe, and it is absolutely perfect for brief hikes, hanging out around the campfire, or even running errands about town.
Since these durable and insulating shoes were released, they have quickly become the well-loved standard in campground footwear. Modern van dwellers are rarely spotted without a pair of the Teva Ember Mocs on their feet.
Notably, a collapsible heel counter allows the Mocs to be worn as easy-on camp slippers or secure semi-active shoes. With the heel counter in the up position, the Mocs easily handle a short day hike or a non-technical approach to the crag. When the heel counter is down, the Mocs turn into casual slides that are great for checking the mailbox or relaxing in camp.
The microfiber insulation provides noticeable warmth but never feels oppressively hot. As a defense against the harsh bite of cold floors in the morning, the Mocs are more than capable of keeping your toes warm and happy.
Aesthetically, the Mocs have a sleek and simple look that is perfectly suitable for roaming about in public. They’re easy to clean, and a rubber outsole is hardy enough for most non-technical paths and trails.
The Mocs are probably not the best camp shoes for backpackers and thru-hikers. The Mocs do not compress very well, they’re a little heavy, and they’re not waterproof. For car camping though, the Teva Ember Moc is unbeatable.
- Weight: Depends on size, but most pairs are about one pound
- Easy to clean
- Versatile enough for easy hikes and running errands
- Microfiber insulation keeps toes warm
- Collapsible heel counter
- Nice looking design
- A bit heavy for backpacking
- Not fully waterproof
- Not very compressible
Designed for watersports but adopted by the thru-hiking community, the Vivobarefoot Ultra 3 ($80) is the ultimate shoe for overnight backpacking.
These unique-looking shoes are everything that lightweight backpackers need in a camp shoe. The shoes are easily compressible, so you can stuff them in your pack if you want to. The Ultra 3s have an upper that is made entirely of EVA, an elastic polymer very similar to rubber.
Fully waterproof and breathable, this honeycomb-patterned upper makes the Ultra 3s a true barefoot shoe. The EVA fully conforms to the shape and movements of your feet. When you’re wearing these, you’ll hardly feel them on your feet.
Elastic bungee-style laces allow the Ultra 3s to tighten and loosen with ease. Also, the laces don’t absorb much water and dry quickly. Speaking of moisture, you’ll never have to worry about these shoes becoming saturated. With a quick wipe-down to remove surface water, they’ll be fully dry.
The Vivobarefoot Ultra 3 is built on a zero-drop platform and does not have a cushioned outsole. For people who are accustomed to well-cushioned shoes, the Ultra 3 will take some getting used to. Because the midsole and the outsole are the same things on this shoe, you’ll notice increased proprioception and ground feel.
Beneath the outsole, a clever tread pattern keeps up the hexagonal theme of the entire shoe. A strategic mixture of varied tread depths provides ample grip on a wide variety of surfaces. On gravel trails, paved streets, and even wet rock, the Ultra 3 offers reliable traction — an impressive trait for a “camp shoe.”
At $80, these camp shoes are more expensive than some other options on this list. However, at 8 ounces per shoe, the Ultra 3s are worth the investment, especially for lightweight backpackers. After a long day of crushing miles on the trail, these will feel like heaven on your feet.
- Weight: About 8 ounces per shoe, depending on size
- Packable and easily compressible
- Fully waterproof
- Good traction
- More expensive than other options
- Not very supportive
Most people will be familiar with Crocs. Since 2002, Crocs have been making variations of their injection-molded EVA clogs. Though their classic model ($45) was originally developed as a boating shoe, it has since amassed a large following with backpackers and other outdoor recreation groups as the ultimate camp shoe.
On any thru-hiking trail, a pair of Crocs dangling off of the outside of someone’s pack is a common sight. The classic clog is lightweight, durable, and fully waterproof. If the Crocs get wet, simply wipe the water off with a rag or towel. Boom. Instantly dry.
Crocs come with a heel strap that’s easily tucked out of the way when not in use. With the heel strap engaged, Crocs can easily handle short hikes without falling off. Without the heel strap in place, Crocs become a convenient source of slide-in foot protection.
Though Croc wearers often become the target of fashion-related jokes, we think they look pretty cool — especially when worn with pride. Crocs come in tons of different colors, and they are also available with an insulated liner.
Though many brands have developed high-tech camp shoes with all sorts of flashy features, the truth is that a classic pair of Crocs remains hard to beat. At just $45 per pair, they’re an excellent value, too.
- Weight: Roughly one pound per pair, depending on size
- Easy to put on and take off
- Heel straps add versatility
- Super comfortable with or without socks
- Plenty of color options
- Not very compressible
- May be a bit wide for those with narrow feet
Best Recovery Sandal: OOFOS Original Sandals
At the end of a strenuous day of activity, it’s wise to give your feet the gift of recovery footwear. With a super-soft footbed that cushions your foot and leg joints, these sandals ($50) from OOFOS help relieve soreness and prepare you for your next hike or run.
Though at first glance these sandals look simple and unassuming, OOFOS are not your average poolside flip flops. Their proprietary foam, which they call OOfoam, is designed to absorb shock. In the company’s own words, “OOFOS absorbs 37 percent more impact than traditional foam footwear.” A unique arch support system claims to “reduce exertion by 47 percent.” These figures were taken from a 2018 University of Virginia study, which assessed the effectiveness of OOFOS sandals.
Traction is not the primary focus of these sandals. Though there is decent tread on the outsole, The OOFOS Original Sandals aren’t great for walking around on slick and loose terrain. The sandals hold up well, but the foam does become flat and deflated after a few months of frequent use.
For those who are seeking an ultra-comfortable camp shoe, the OOFOS is at the top of its class. The demands of long backpacking or trail running days can be hard on the feet, and these sandals can help lessen recovery time. We especially recommend the OOFOS Original Sandals to anyone intent on taking good care of their feet.
- Weight: 12.8 ounces in a men’s size 10
- Super comfortable
- Absorbs impact and lessens recovery time
- Provides adequate traction
- Foam becomes less cushy with repeated use
- Not great for walking or hiking
Best Down Bootie: Feathered Friends
For cold-weather adventures, a plush pair of down booties can be the key to keeping your toes warm all through the night. Think of down booties as sleeping bags for your feet — insulation is their only job.
With ethically sourced 800-fill down and a soft inner liner, these booties ($109) ensure warm feet even when the temperature drops well below freezing. Mostly, these booties are not designed to be worn while strolling around, but they come with a fairly hardy shell that holds up to short walks through camp. Wear these booties to bed, and you won’t have to take them off when you get up to walk outside and pee. Remember though, they aren’t made to handle repeated abrasion. As Feathered Friends says “they’re built for warmth, not a marathon.”
Removable foam insoles provide a little extra support when you want it, but also add some extra weight that many backpackers will want to leave behind. The booties are highly compressible and easy to pack away, though they do not come with a stuff sack upon purchase.
For $109, these booties are certainly a bit pricey, but for those willing to pay the price for warm toes, these booties won’t let you down. For winter camping, they’re beyond worth their 9.3-ounce weight.
- Weight: 9.3 ounces (size medium)
- Super warm
- Removable foam insoles
- Hardy enough to walk short distances
- Will wear out quickly after regular walking
Best of the Rest
If you find your joints to be especially tired and achy after long-running or hiking sessions, slipping into these recovery slides from HOKA may offer significant relief. Though they are semi-bulky and perhaps not ideal for lightweight backpacking, they will surely be worth their weight to those who need a little extra recovery boost.
This is one of the most supportive options on this list, which is quite an impressive statement for a pair of slides. A soft UVA top layer soothes the feet, while a stiffer rockered midsole/outsole offers structural support.
An open-toe design allows your feet to stretch out and breathe, and the slides can be worn with or without socks.
For such comfort-forward footwear, the Ora Recovery Slides are impressively durable. Semi-deep tread offers reasonable traction for hanging out at home or wandering around the campsite. At a price point of $50, these slides are an affordable remedy for sore feet.
- Weight: 6.4 ounces per pair (size 9)
- Soft and supportive to soothe the feet
- Rockered outsole for anatomical support
This excellent camp shoe is one of the more traditional-looking footwear options on this list. Because it is a full shoe rather than a flip flop or sandal, it offers enough foot protection to roam around in.
Drain holes and a thin mesh upper material ensure that the Aleader Mesh Slip-Ons ($27) dry quickly after a thorough soaking. Though the dry time of these shoes is impressively short, they still take quite a bit longer to dry than some of the other options on this list, like Crocs, for example.
These shoes really thrive as water shoes. They’re a handy tool to deploy during water crossings, as their water grain outside ensures exceptional traction on wet surfaces.
Though they are not fully compressible, these shoes can fold decently well to take up less space inside of a pack. A Solyte midsole is soft enough to feel soothing at the end of the long day but firm enough to hold up well in the long term.
The Aleaders are a top choice for those in need of a camp shoe that is capable of exploration and activity. While we don’t necessarily recommend running or backpacking while wearing these, they can handle a lot more active use than many of the camp shoe options on this list. At just $27, they’re affordable too.
- Durable outsole
- Good traction on wet surfaces
- Easy to put on and take off
- Capable of active use
- Rocks and gravel can get stuck in mesh
- Not as breathable as other options
Buyer’s Guide: How to Choose the Best Camp Shoes
Good camp shoes should give you something to look forward to at the end of your day. Once you’ve identified the right pair, they’ll likely become an essential and non-negotiable part of your camping kit. That said, it is important to understand the differences between the available options before deciding to make a purchase.
In this buyer’s guide, we will cover the topics of comfort, weight and packability, support, durability, value, and other important considerations for those looking to purchase a pair of camp shoes. A frequently asked questions section is also included.
Comfort is an important consideration for any piece of gear that you will be using regularly. Camp shoes are meant to offer respite after removing a sweaty and stiff pair of hiking boots, trail runners, climbing shoes, or other active footwear. For this reason, camp shoe comfort should be at the top of your priority list.
While all of the shoes on this list are designed to be comfortable, certain shoes like the OOFOS Original Sandals are made with a super soft footbed to ease joint stiffness and maximum recovery. Other options, like the Teva Ember Mocs, offer a layer of insulation — which translates to comfort when the conditions are cold.
Weight and Packability
For backpackers and thru-hikers, the importance of weight and packability is paramount. Some of the camp shoes on this list are lighter and more packable than others. The Feathered Friends booties can pack down into tiny balls, and they only weigh 9 ounces as a pair. However, as is usually the case, these booties lose some durability as a trade-off.
For backpacking camp shoes that don’t compress, hanging them on the outside of your pack is an option too. Some backpackers even keep small items inside of the shoes to maximize space and utility.
Generally, camp shoes are not the most supportive shoes you will own. They’re designed for recovery and comfort rather than support and performance. Still, some camp shoes are more important than others. If you plan to also use your camp shoes in the gym or while hiking, it is wise to choose some that are supportive enough to handle more than just hanging out. On this list, the Aleader Mesh Slip Ons offers moderate support and good traction.
A durable camp shoe should last many years, especially because it likely won’t accumulate nearly as many miles as pairs of active shoes. Some camp shoes are more durable than others, which makes durability an important piece of a shoe’s overall value.
Some shoes on this list, like the Aleader Mesh Slip Ons, have a dense and sticky sole that holds up in the long haul. Other shoes, like the HOKA ONE ONE Ora Recovery Slides, have a very soft footbed that tends to flatten over time.
Shoes on this list range in price from $20 to well over $100 per pair. It is important to determine your budget as you consider which camp shoes to purchase. Often, a shoe’s value comes from more than just its price tag. If a shoe fills a tricky void in your kit, consider that to be a form of good value. Versatility is value, too. Shoes that fit well into your outdoor adventure kit but can also be worn at home or while running errands may go beyond justifying their price tag.
Car Camping vs. Backpacking
When car camping, weight and space aren’t likely to be a major concern. For car camping, we have recommended the Teva Ember Mocs because their limited packability won’t be an issue when you have access to the car.
When backpacking though, the ounces add up and you’ll likely want lightweight camp shoes that don’t take up too much space. The Vivobarefoot Ultra 3 shoes are light and easy to squeeze into an already stuffed pack.
Are Camp Shoes Necessary?
That depends. Camp shoes offer major relief at the end of the day when the activewear comes off and the comfortable gear goes on. In conditions where your active shoes or boots get wet or sweaty during the day, having a pair of dry camp shoes is a crucial part of good foot care.
We recommend a good pair of camp shoes as an addition to any kit, for backpackers to car campers and everyone in between. For those who are dealing with achy joints and tired feet, camp shoes may be non-negotiable and totally essential.
Should I Bring Camp Shoes Backpacking?
We recommend it. After hiking all day with a heavy pack, you’ll be immensely glad to have camp shoes. Also, feet often become wet or sweaty while backpacking, and camp shoes offer ventilation and a relaxed fit, which will help your feet air out. Camp shoes are an important defense against feet issues including blisters, fungus, rashes, and more.
Crocs vs. OOFOS: Which Should I Choose?
These two camp shoe options are similar but not exactly the same. Crocs have a slightly hardier outsole and include a heel strap which helps them stay on during short walks or non-technical hikes. OOFOS Original Sandals are designed to soothe aches and pains, but their plush footbed does tend to flatten over time. Also, the OOFOS lack a heel strap and fall off more easily when walking around.
Do I Need Waterproof Camp Shoes?
It’s good to have waterproof camp shoes. Wet camp shoes aren’t much help when you want to change out of wet active shoes at the end of the day. For this reason, we recommend waterproof camp shoes. Many of the options on this list are made of solid EVA or soft foam.
These materials do not absorb water, and they can simply be wiped dry if they happen to get any water on them. Dry comfortable shoes are a luxury that you will need and thoroughly deserve after a day of adventuring.
Have a favorite pair of camp shoes? Let us know in the comments, and we’ll check it out for future updates to this article.