The best lightweight, packable travel sandals – a comparison

By 3rd April 2015TRAVEL

We’re travelling to India in a couple of months, so we’ve been figuring out what we need to pack. Sandals have been one of the major considerations. They’ve also taken us the longest time to make a decision on (apart from the backpack).

I’m going to be wearing them the whole time, so they need to be right. And for future-proofing, they need to be light enough not to notice them in my bag.

Being the lightweight geek and spreadsheet lover that I am, I began my search.

The criteria

Waterproof – As my ‘go everywhere, do everything’ sandal, they’ll need to handle a monsoon and dry almost immediately.

Wide fit – I have flat feet (I over-pronate). They’ll need to have a wide footbed to keep me comfortable.

Lightweight – As nomads living out of a backpack, weight is critical. The lower, the better.

Support – This requirement changed 180 degrees during my research. I’ll explain later on.

Packable – They need to take up little room. On the SE Asia trip, I’ll be wearing them most of the time. For future adventures, they may be in my bag.

A good price – The budget for sandals started low. I had to increase it after some research, so I’ll be using all my internet skills to hunt down the best prices!

The 5 contenders

1 – Teva Toachi 2

Teva sandals perform well in water. This is the lightest pair my research could uncover.

Teva Toachi 2 sandal

Toachi 2 – Teva’s lightest, sports sandal

Specs

Criteria Comments Score
Waterproof …ish – while the sole won’t soak up water, the straps will 6
Width/fit Medium – Better than others, but still get in the way of my over-pronating foot 6
Weight 232g/8.2oz each 7
Support Very supportive, well-cushioned 7
Packability Shaped, rigid and thick sole, multi-layered webbing 4
Price £70 3

Score – 32/60

2 – Teva Terra Fi Lite

The Terra Fi is Teva’s most popular sandal, but too heavy for my needs. This is its lighter sibling.

Teva Terra Fi Lite sandal

Terra Fi Lite – A lightweight version of Teva’s most popular sandal

Specs

Criteria Comments Score
Waterproof …ish (see previous sandals) 6
Width/fit Medium/narrow – not for me 2
Weight 272g/9.6oz each 5
Support Incredibly supportive, very shaped, well-cushioned 8
Packability Very shaped, rigid, thick sole 3
Price £55 5

Score – 29/60

Next came a game changer

I stumbled across something fascinating. This flipped my ‘support’ criteria 180 degrees. It also helped me get closer to the ultimate lightweight and packable sandal.

Walking barefoot has a ton of health benefits. Greater balance, strength, and circulation. Retreating foot arthritis, dissipating bunions, and diminishing plantar fasciitis.

Don’t get me wrong – I’m not saying it’s a good idea to go walking through dark alleys with nothing on your feet. There are nasties in there, both sharp and squidgy!

Enter barefoot sandals.

They allow your foot’s natural movement. Unrestricted by structure and cushioning, your feet are still protected from danger. You land more softly because you can feel the ground beneath you (and not a super-cushioned sole). This means fewer injuries. You strengthen your arches because you use them. Your feet can splay and grip and bounce and pronate. Let them.

With these incredible benefits in mind, the next three contenders are barefoot options. I have included options from Xero Shoes and Luna Sandals here as they are available without import charges for UK customers. There are other companies such as Unshoes USA, which our American friends will find easy to source.

The final 3 contenders

3 – Luna Mono

These sandals have Vibram neoprene rubber soles that mould to your feet as you wear them.

Luna Mono Sandals

Luna Mono – Barefoot Ted’s company make these!

Specs

Criteria Comments Score
Waterproof Yes, but the straps may absorb a little 9
Width/fit Wide and completely flat, but uses a toe post design 8
Weight 130g/4.6oz each 10
Support None (as nature intended), but the 12mm offers some cushioning 9
Packability Awesome. 2 flat pieces of (thick) foam plus straps 9
Price £75 2

Score – 47/60

4 – Xero Shoes’ Amuri Cloud

These are joint lightest in this comparison, weighing the same as the drained contents of a tin of tuna!

Sandals by Xero Shoes

Xero Shoes Amuri Cloud – Seriously lightweight, but can you get on with a toe post?

Specs

Criteria Comments Score
Waterproof Yes, but the straps may absorb a little 9
Width/fit Flat and wide (uses a toe post design) 8
Weight 130g/4.6oz each 10
Support None. That’s the idea 9
Packability 6mm sole, plus a lip at the heel 9
Price £35 10

Score – 55/60

5 – Xero Shoes’ Amuri Z-trek Sport

These newly available sandals offer a secure ‘Z’ strap fastening. This removes the need for a toe post which so many find uncomfortable.

Barefoot sandals by Xero Shoes

Xero Shoes Amuri Z-Trek sandals – Minimal, secure and fun!

Specs

Criteria Comments Score
Waterproof Yes, but the straps may absorb a little 9
Width/fit Wide and flat. No post between the toes too! 10
Weight 187g/6.6oz each 8
Support None 🙂 Excellent, fully adjustable strapping system 10
Packability Awesome. 5.5mm FeelTrue® rubber sole plus a lip at the heel and strapping points 10
Price £40 9

Score – 56/60

The best lightweight travel sandals you can buy…

The scores of the final 2 were close, but I opted for the one without a toe post. It costs £5 more and weighs a little heavier, but the secure ‘Z’ strapping stole the show.

Xero Shoes’ Amuri Z-trek Sport

I’ve found a sandal that looks great around town, at the beach, or in a restaurant. It’s waterproof, incredibly packable, and lightweight. It’s much cheaper than most of the competition. It has no toe post and the straps fit comfortably and securely – no need to scrunch your toes to keep it on.

Xero Shoes sandal shown rolled up

Thats a packable sandal!

Having worn them for 2 weeks non-stop around the house (it’s cold in Scotland!), I’ve fallen in love – they’re so much fun. I was going to wear them with hiking socks to cycle into the village, but Janine said I looked like a douche! The real test will come in a few weeks when we land in India. I will update this post to let you know how I get on with them in those conditions.

Other great benefits of buying from Xero Shoes

Xero Shoes are a great company. They offer a 5,000 mile warranty on everything they sell. Apparently, nobody has ever worn a pair out, which is even more amazing! Their designs are inspired by the Tarahumara – a Native American people of northwestern Mexico who are renowned for their long-distance running ability. The Tarahumara use old rubber tyres, cut to shape and strapped on!

Xero Shoes upgraded it. They use FeelTrue® rubber – specifically designed (for barefoot sandals) to provide great ground feel and flexibility, plus strong protection.

They’re available in the UK with no import charges to pay. A lot of the companies that offer barefoot sandals are American and difficult and expensive to get hold of. Xero Shoes UK partnered with Steven and Lena at XeroShoes.com to be able to bring them to the UK as an independent reseller, providing significant cost savings. I made my order on Monday, and they arrived on Tuesday. Great service. And if you don’t get on with them after trying them on, you can return them for a refund.

If you’re interested in buying a pair, use this link

If you want to go for it and decide on my top pick, you’ll find them here – Xero Shoes’ Amuri Z-trek Sport. If you prefer the toe-post design of my runner-up (even more lightweight), you can get them here – Xero Shoes’ Amuri Cloud.

If you use these links, you’ll pay the same price and get the same great service (i.e the best. They’re twice the price on Amazon). It just means I will get a small fee for the referral. This will help me to bring you more gear reviews and comparisons for your lightweight adventures.

www.xeroshoes.co.uk

In conclusion

I have unearthed a truth during this research; my over-pronating flat feet do not need supporting or fixing. Neither do feet with high arches. Genetic differences allow for successful feet in all shapes and sizes. When our feet are left unrestricted, they’ll do what they were designed to do; feel the ground and adjust accordingly.

There is much research into the benefits of being barefoot. It’s fascinating and I recommend looking into it. You can get an overview at runbare.com.

“Feel the Freedom. Feel the Fun. Feel the World.” (stolen from Xero Shoes)

3 Comments

  • Dave M says:

    Great review and comparison of lightweight/minimalist sandals! Thank you for all the details! You just confirmed my decision to buy the Amuri Z-Trek sport sandals. The owner of the company is pretty awesome too! 🙂

    So… Did you go to India yet? I’m curious to know how the Z-Trek’s performed.

    • Lyden says:

      Hey Dave, glad it helped. Did you get them yet?

      Yes, we’re in India, and they’ve been awesome so far, wearing them as my sole (no pun intended, though it’s good, you have to admit!) footwear. We’ve not been in any rain yet, and not ventured into hilly terrain, but that’s coming in 2 weeks. We’ll see…

  • Oren Worthy says:

    Everyone loves it whenever people get together and share opinions. Great site, keep it up!

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