10 Best Camp Shoes for Backpacking, Camping, and Stream Crossings

10 Best Camp Shoes for Backpacking Camping and Stream Crossings

Many backpackers carry camp shoes for greater comfort in camp that can serve double duty as stream crossing shoes, so they don’t have to get their hiking boots or trail shoes wet. Sandals, water shoes, slides, clogs, and minimalist footwear are all popular choices but it’s worth giving some thought to their strength and weaknesses in different environments and climate conditions. Check out our Camp Shoe Selection Guide below for a full discussion of the factors you should consider.

Here are the 10 Best Camp Shoes that we recommend.

Make / ModelBest ForWeight (Pair)Price
Sockwa G4 Water ShoesCamp | Water6 oz$50
Crocs Classic ClogsCamp | Water13 oz$30
Hoka One One Ora Recovery SlidesCamp12.8 oz$50
OOFOS OOriginal SandalsCamp11 oz$50
Sockwa G Hi Water ShoesCamp | Water7.5 oz$65
Speedo Surf Knit ProCamp | Water9 oz$36
Bedrock Sandals Cairn 3D SandalsCamp | Water17 oz$115
Vibram FiveFingers V-AquaCamp | Water12 oz$90
FitkicksCamp8 oz$25
Sea-to-Summit Ultra Flex Water BootiesCamp | Water9 oz$45

1. Sockwa G4 Water Shoes

Sockwa G4 water shoe
The Sockwa G4 is a lightweight slip-on water shoe with a non-slip 1.2mm TPU sole and a stretch Lycra and Neoprene upper that conforms well to different shaped feet. They’re lined inside with thin fleece for comfort and have a 2.8mm insole so they can be used for light hiking, in camp, and for water crossings. The G4 is hand-stitched for durability and machine washable.  They also fold flat, which makes them easy to pack for the trail.

Check for latest price (Unisex)
Amazon | Walmart

2. Crocs Classic Clogs

Crocs Classic Clogs
Crocs Classic Clogs have been a hiker favorite for decades. They make good camp shoes to help your feet recover and provide enough protection and support for easy stream crossings. Easy to clean and quick to dry, they have built-in ventilation ports for breathability and drainage. They’re best attached to the outside of your backpack since they’re on the bulky side. You’ll also want to wear them with socks when the insects are out.

Check for latest price (Unisex)
REI | Amazon | Zappos

3. Hoka One One ORA Recovery Slides

Hoka One One Recovery Slides
Hoka One One’s ORA Recovery Slides will help cool and dry aching feet and put a little spring back into your step after a hard day of hiking.  Their dual-layer construction, cushioned, oversize midsoles, and soft EVA top layers provide step-in comfort and durability. These are best used in camp but don’t have the protection of stability you’d want for stream crossings where you can’t see your feet or underwater obstacles. They’re not insect-proof, but make good shower shoes at campgrounds and in hiking hostels.

Check for latest price (Men’s)
REI | Amazon 
Check for latest price (Women’s)
REI | Amazon

4. OOFOS OOriginal Sandals

Oofos Original Sandals
OOFos OOriginal Sandals are waterproof recovery sandals made with a super comfortable foam that helps your feet recover after high mileage hiking days or trail runs. They have a non-slip footbed and sole that provides excellent arch support and relief from plantar fasciitis. They even float! These sandals are best used for camp and for easy stream crossings but don’t provide the protection you’d want for deeper streams.

Check for latest price (Unisex)
REI | Amazon | Zappos

5. Sockwa G Hi Water Shoes

Sockwa G Hi Water Shoes
The Sockwa G Hi Water Shoe is similar to the G4 listed above, but provides more protection and support around the ankles, more warmth, and insect protection. They’re made with 2mm neoprene for warmth and protection, with lycra tongue for breathability and flexibility. The TPU sole is anti-slip, provides great tactile feedback when walking and excellent wet-slip grip. The G Hi also folds flat for easy packability and is machine washable.

Check for latest price (Unisex)
Amazon | Walmart

6. Speedo Surf Knit Pro

Speedo Surf knit Pro
The Speedo Surf Knit Pro Water Shoe has a porous woven upper that sheds water and dries quickly between uses. It’s hydrophobic rubber EVA insole and grooved outsole provides anti-slip protection and traction, while a rear heel pull strap makes them easy to put on. The Surf Knit Pro folds flat for ease of packing and has a roomy toe box. They run large so size down a 1/2 to a full size.

Check for latest price (Men’s)
Zappos
Check for latest price (Women’s)
Zappos

7. Bedrock Sandals Cairn 3D Sandals

Bedrock Sandals Cairn 3D Adventure Sandals
Bedrock’s Cairn 3D Sandals are so well-fitting that some people hike in them instead of wearing shoes or boots. But they also make great camp sandals with anatomically molded footbeds that provide excellent arch and toe support to help your feet recover after a hard day of hiking. They pack well because the straps fold flat, but lack toe and side protection for deeper stream crossings.

Check for latest price (Men’s)
REI
Check for latest price (Women’s)
REI

8. Vibram Five Fingers V-Aqua Water Shoes

Vibram Five Fingers V-Aqua
Vibram Five Fingers V-Aqua Water Shoes are great for water crossings because they provide an excellent grip on wet or slippery surfaces. They drain quickly when they get wet and provide good toe protection against underwater obstacles. They also make good recovery shoes in camp, giving you a minimalist and barefoot feel while protecting your feet from insects and debris. The V-Aqua runs large, so size down when purchasing.

Check for latest price (Men’s)
Amazon | Zappos
Check for latest price (Women’s)
Amazon | Zappos

9. Fitkicks

Fitkicks
Fitkicks are simple minimalist slip-on shoes with a highly breathable upper and a thin sole that is relaxing to wear in camp. They have a flat sole and front toe guard along with a top grip strap to prevent them from slipping off when worn. They’re not durable enough for sustained hiking or challenging water crossings, but they feel like you’re walking barefoot only with good sole protection.  Machine washable and they fold flat for easy packing.

Check for latest price (Men’s)
Amazon | Walmart
Check for latest price (Women’s)
Amazon | Walmart

10. Sea-to-Summit Ultra Flex Booties

Sea to Summit Ultra Flex Booties
Sea-to-Summit’s Ultra Flex Booties are low profile water shoes with 3mm Neoprene uppers that provide extra warmth in cold water with a rubber laminated sole that provides good foot protection around the toes and sides of your feet. A hook and loop top strap secures them to your feet and provides extra support. They’re lightweight and fold fairly flat for each packing.

Check for latest price (Unisex)
Sea-to-Summit | Amazon | Campsaver

Camp Shoes 101: Selection Guide

There are a wide range of factors that make good camp shoes or water shoes for stream crossings. While almost all stream crossing shoes make acceptable camp shoes, many camp shoes lack the protection or traction needed for more challenging stream crossings, where you can’t see your feet or the bottom. Packability, stream crossing protection, weight, warmth, and insect protection are also important factors to consider when choosing a camp shoe or one that can serve double duty for stream crossings.

If you hike in well-drained hiking boots, shoes, or trail runners, it’s worth asking yourself if you even need camp shoes or stream crossing shoes or whether you’d rather not carry them and use your existing shoes as camp shoes and stream crossing shoes instead. There’s no right or wrong answer; it all depends on what your priorities are. There are times when it’s really nice to slip on a warm and dry pair of camp shoes while cooking dinner in camp.

Packability

If you plan on backpacking, it’s best to get a camp shoe or water shoe that’s easily packable with an upper that folds flat against the sole. Shoes with folding uppers are easily packed in pockets, and if they’re wet, in the front stretch mesh pocket of many backpacks. While you can hang bulky camp shoes on the outside of a pack, they can get torn off by passing vegetation or simply fall off because you didn’t secure them well.

Protection While Crossing Streams

Shallow streams are usually easy to cross because you can see your feet and the streambed bottom. But you’ll want camp shoes or water shoes that provide more foot protection if you have to cross deeper streams where you can’t see the streambed or sunken obstructions like sticks and logs. Water shoes that provide more protection around the toes and sides of your feet have a firmer sole, and better ankle support are advantageous in such circumstances. We never recommend crossing barefoot.

Weight

Many backpackers are obsessed with the weight of their backpacking gear and leave comfort items behind because they’re not strictly necessary or carry lighter weight alternatives. In general, shoes that can only be used in camp tend to be lighter weight than those that are designed to be water shoes.

Warmth

If you’re camping or crossing streams in cold weather, you may want to opt for camp shoes or water shoes that encase your foot and your ankle more like a wetsuit bootie rather than sandals or slides. Don’t underestimate how cold mountain streams can get even in summer, especially if you have to ford wide streams. The same holds for standing around camp in colder weather. Camp shoes/water shoes with fewer ventilation ports will be warmer.

Insect Protection

If you’ve ever gotten a mosquito bite on your foot, you know how itchy and unpleasant they can be. Unfortunately, insects become more prevalent in the evening, just as you’re cooking dinner in camp. Water shoes with neoprene or lycra uppers are generally more insect proof than sandals, slides, and clogs. Wearing a sock with a relatively open shoe my still not provide enough insect protection for your needs, something to consider.

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36 comments

  1. I tried Sockwas several years ago. Lightweight and compact, but really uncomfortable for me because I felt every rock and stick through the soles; I’m cursed with sensitive feet. I have a pair of Fitkicks that I like but I think they weigh more than four ounces. I’ll weigh them this afternoon to confirm that.

    • You won’t be happy with Fitkicks then. They are really for camp and very gentle water. Very thin soles.
      I’m sitting here wearing mine. Just weighed them again too.

      • The soles are much thicker than Sockwas, but I could not swear that they are less “tranismissive” of pokey objects. I’ll have to test them some more. With regard to weight, perhaps I’m confused by the quantity being measured. Mine weigh 8.4 ounces for the pair, which is approximately four ounces per.

      • Bound to be some variability on sizing.

  2. Saw a suggestion on YouTube recently that I’m going to try. Use my trail runners for crossings, then use my sleep socks with “hospital” shoes (a few grams) over them around camp. We’ll see…

    • Reserve PPE for the next Pandemic wave? Sounds like bread bags would work just as well. Or you could whip up some reflectix booties.

  3. Whatever happened to the Crocs knockoffs called Hounds or Dawgs?
    Comfy, lightweight and a decent sole.
    Around $10 if I remember correctly.

  4. Do any of the water shoes have an insole that can be lifted up and a second insole added underneath? I was thinking of a thin plastic shield like something cut from the side of a milk carton to keep rocks from penetrating.

    Thanks.

    • Most water shoes provide that level of resistance already.

    • I once tried to make thin titanium inserts for a pair of hiking shoes to keep rocks from bothering the bottom of my feet. They worked for a while but sounded like I was walking on beer cans and they fatigued and started to break. Next, I made thin Lexan inserts but they did the same, although they sounded better. I then splurged on a $40 pair of Superfeet and the day after I cut them to size, I found the same pair for $2 at REI’s garage sale. Later, I had to have a $550 pair of orthodics made because of my extremely flat feet (should have webbing between the toes) and myriad other foot problems, which even required a visit with a surgeon yesterday. The orthodics are waterproof and do take care of the rock problem and weigh about as much as the Superfeet did. That problem of mine is solved… but the unsolved list is, well…

  5. Anthony Passero

    I will stick with using last years vans with the liners ripped out.

  6. I saw a solution mentioned in the comments section on this blog in a different article at some point, but worth mentioning again.

    Seal Skins waterproof socks. I purchased the low cut version. Simply change into your dry socks at camp, put the Seal Skinz over them, and move back into your trail runners. It’s a brilliant camp shoe solution that works really well.

    My modified pair (I cut off the useless rubber upper ankle portion and hemmed them) come in at about 2 ounces.

  7. There are pretty cheap, light, no-name water socks on Amazon, super comfy after hiking since they’re more of a minimalist design. One problem I found out last week–be careful with neoprene around fires. Got some melted shoe stuck to my foot when an ember landed on the shoe without notice.

  8. I got a pair of foam slides at WalMart for about $10 . They are lightweight, breathable and very comfortable. Crossed mid thigh Red Creek in Dolly Sods WV with no problem.

  9. I picked up some lightweight flip flops out of a hostel hiker box and after a week of these ‘camp shoes’, left them in the next hostel hiker box I came to. I’ve thought about taking my super light (1lb) Payless sneakers I use for yard work but Grandpa gave me a pair of some stretchy mesh covered soles that I doubt could weigh more than 3oz per pair. These are excellent for late short night trips to your favorite trees and around camp. They’re maybe too light for streams with larger rocks (egg size and up) and definitely not waterproof, in fact the mesh may stretch when wet. They ABLE to also fit in any pack pocket that is already stretched to the max and they look very flimsy but have proved actually quite tough. But we’ll have to get grandpa to tell us their name? Those sockawas g4, are nice to know about though.

    • I think those are what I’m looking for. I keep my shoes on for water crossings but want something to slip on at night and more importantly, to use in hostel showers.

    • If you Google “mesh shower slippers”, the first image that comes up is a pair of what I gave to Islandwheels. They can be purchased for about ten bucks from many sources. One brand is “Easy Comforts”. We wore them in camp on our section hike last year, even in brutally cold, snowy, windy conditions. The sole, although quite thin, insulated surprisingly well from the cold ground and when I had a pair of warm socks on, my feet didn’t get cold at all.

      I’m such a wimp I can hardly cross carpet bare footed and the soles on these will definitely let you know what’s underfoot but they are perfect for camp shoes since they are so light and easy to pack. I bought several pair about a decade ago to try to make stream crossing shoes (this was before I switched to trail runners). Since the soles were so thin, I cut up Gossamer Gear SitLight pads and glued them on the bottom of the soles of one pair to give me more padding for walking in rivers. They were not very good stream crossers because my feet would slide in the mesh as I walked on uneven rocks in the water and eventually the mesh tore. They are best for showers and camp.

  10. I use a pair of slip-in Sketchers – add a Velcro strap to secure and I’m good. Good solid bottoms, super light weight and the dry quick.

    • I convert my existing trailrunners into campshoes by removing the foot beds and going sockless.
      Trailrunners dry out faster,feet have more room to splay,and also more weight saved.

  11. I looked for quite awhile too find a good camp shoe for light weight backpacking. I discovered Xero Shoes Z-Trail Sandals. I like then a lot. They are light weight and not bulky like crocs. Great for river crossings. Small company but they are now available at REI.

  12. I’ve been pretty happy with my Shamma Warrior Sandals as camp/stream shoes. They have Vibram soles and are quite lightweight at 6 1/2 oz. They’re marketed as running sandals, but I don’t run in them. They are a bit expensive, but are also great just to wear around the house in the summertime.

  13. Phil, aren’t you glad you and I killed 2 birds with 1 stone when we purchased the Crocs Swiftwater River Sandal for backcountry fly fishing? Challenge is how to pack ’em!

    • I upgraded to orvis fishing boots for deeper water. for shallow, I just slosh right in in trailrunners.

  14. I got so tired of taking my shoes/boots off (remember Vasque?) and slipping on my Crocs at every stream crossing which also involved removing my pack, resting my poles against a tree, finding a suitable place to sit, removing said shoes/boots and socks and tying them to pack, removing crocs from carabiners, slipping on Crocs, re-hoisting pack and crossing stream, praying I wouldn’t fall in or my hiking shoes somehow become unleashed only to see them laughingly swim away downstream at 25 mph. After doing this several times and in the southern Appalachians what seemed like every 100 yards or so, my joyful hiking heart would begin to sag. Now that I’m older (62) I have graduated to Altras and just slog right through without missing a beat. I still stop of course, and evaluate the crossing before I attempt it but being able to “just keep truckin’” is very liberating to this old man. I still carry Crocs to wear in camp while the Altras dry out. This is all very new to me so the jury’s out on wether this will be my go to, but I don’t think I’ll ever go back to changing out footwear at every stream crossing except for winter. Best to all!

  15. May I suggest the Oboz Campster deserves a spot on you list. It meet and excels for most of your criteria. It also has the benefit of being an emergency hiking footwear on all be the most challenging terrain.

    I normally only use them around camp because I hike in non waterproof trail runners or light hikes. Thus I do not bother changing footwear when crossing water courses. But I have carried a 30 lb pack for miles with them.

    They are grown up Crocs.

  16. Phil would welcome any advice you have on winter camp shoes. Planning some multi-day climbs above tree line this coming winter and am looking for something lightweight but suitable for walking around on packed snow once the tent is all set up.

  17. I have used camp shoes for years starting with “Flip-flops” (Jandals?) and now winter and wet treks a pair of Quicksiver beach shoes These are mesh with a sticky rubber outsole and a neoprene removable innersole total wt 10 oz. Summer a cheap pair of sandals similar to the “Bedrock” which cost $9.00 I also use these for wading when fishing as gravelwashes straught through.

  18. As a 72-year-old runner and walker I bless the day I bought a pair of OOFos which have proved hard wearing as well as soooo comfortable.

  19. My criteria for choosing camp shoes were as follows:

    1. Able to be worn with socks (my feet get cold easily, especially when they are sweaty from hiking)
    2. Lightweight (duh)
    3. Waterproof so I can use them for stream crossings if necessary
    4. Roomy, not tight
    5. A heel strap or something to keep them on my feet; I do not walk well in flip flops or clogs

    For these reasons I went with the humble Croc. All those water shoes like the Sockwa look like they would be really uncomfortable after a long day of hiking when I just want to air out my feet. Sure, Crocs aren’t the lightest thing you could carry, they are super ugly (I literally only wear them on backpacking trips because I’m afraid to wear them in public), and they are bulky, but they cover all my checkboxes. I also like that they are easy to get on and off, which is nice when getting in and out of the tent. That wasn’t one of my must-haves, but it’s a nice bonus.

    • Crocs are the most comfortable shoes I’ve ever worn, period. They don’t work well for me for stream crossings because my feet slide around too much in them. I’ve used Crocs as camp shoes in the past, however, the mesh shower shoes weigh so little in comparison that I switched to them as camp shoes.

      • Grandpa, I agree, they are super comfortable. It’s too bad they’re so damn ugly, though! :-)

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