For our summer double issue, we wanted to dedicate a product roundup to the one item that can truly make or destroy your vacation – the shoe. The last thing you want to be doing after shelling out thousands of dollars to explore, dine and shop in a land far away from home is be debilitated by blisters, rubs and aching feet. If you can’t get around, you’re not going to enjoy anything – a pedicure won’t even be enjoyable! The worst part of this equation is that you may have bought shoes that promised to be supremely comfortable and they’ve failed miserably. BN to the rescue – read on to discover the shoes that we’ve thoroughly tested and our honest opinion based on our experience. (Here’s the disclaimer: even quality shoes aren’t a cure-all. Try to remember that under extreme conditions, like if you’re hiking three days on the native trail to Machu Picchu, you’re probably going to be a little sore, good shoe or not).
Terrasole’s Cascade are a comfortable and cute option
Terrasoles: Cascade Ballet
We’ve all seen the ladies who wear their slippers out to the grocery store or other public places. You thought they were a little screwy, but maybe they were onto something after all. Meet Terrasoles, a line of shoes made by Dearfoam that are just as comfortable as slogging around in your slippers, but much more supportive and stylish. The slip-ons are easy on/easy off (great for navigating through security checkpoints sans shoelace hassle) and have cushy insoles that can be removed easily for cleaning. Other good news? They’re made with recycled bamboo and come in a variety of colors.
Available at www.terrasoles.com
Sanuk’s Avalon style is lightweight and easy to match to any outfit
Founded by a Cali surfer, this company has created the quintessential beach sandal. The thong is super skinny and great for minimalist packing because you can match it to a number of casual outfits – they’re available in blue, yellow and white. It’s pretty obvious, but keep in mind that there’s little support, so look for a thicker soled shoe if you’re planning a trek. Also, strangely, while 90 percent of the time the thin patent leather straps created no blisters or irritation, the other 10 percent of the time they did. Suggestion: Don’t wear on or after a plane ride or other occasions when feet can swell and create rubbing.
Available at www.zappos.com
The Ariat Bit, from the women’s casual footwear line
Ariat: Ariat Bit
Ariat has been providing elite riding gear to the equestrian community for some time now, and is making a foray into mainstream fashion with its high quality shoe line. This sandal is heavy stuff – a thick sole boasts “ATS Technology” a system to ensure the utmost comfort using a gel insole (which relieves stress and fatigue on the back, legs and feet). Indeed, the footbed feels like it has its own shock system when you take a step, and the substantial sole is thick enough to hamper rocks and other things from being felt underfoot. The downside? The bottom of the sandal is so heavy it creates pressure on the delicate skin on top of the foot, and can cause irritation there. If you’ve got some tough tootsies, we say go for it. Otherwise, we’d like to beseech Ariat to pad their beautiful full grain leather a little bit!
Available at www.ariat.com
Corso Como’s Posy shoe in Bone balances comfort and style
Brazilian shoemaker Corso Como has hand-crafted a winner – the Posy shoe is a flat that offers an advanced comfort system in its footbed, and is pretty cute to boot. The soft leather shoe hugs the foot and is a stylish option to pack if you’re traveling for work, as it easily makes the crossover between casual wear and business. The soft leather on the inside feels great on the feet, and the soft leather outer soles are great getting around.
Don’t have time to go shoe shopping before you leave? Here’s a few options that can amp up the comfort level of shoes you already own.
Beat Blisters: Slik Stick
Slick Stick is used as a preventative measure, applied to pressure points before you wear your shoes. It seems to work by limiting the rubbing that causes blisters.
Available at www.drugstore.com.
Nix Sweaty Sandals: Summer Soles
If you hate the slip-and-slide of sweaty feet in sandals, trim and stick a pair of Summer Soles in your favorite pair to eliminate the issue. Find them at www.summersoles.com.
Boost Comfort: Profoot Care Aero-3 Insoles
If you’ve got sneakers that just aren’t cutting it, add a pair of Pro-Foot Insoles to help revive and protect your feet. Get your pair at shopping.msn.com.