When it comes to keeping a light pack, shoes are the Achilles Heel of most travellers. Typically, shoes are heavy and voluminous; one pair is never enough. As a self-confessed shoe addict, I’ve found a versatile combo that meets all my travel related needs while keeping down on weight.
Your go-to mutli-purpose shoe should be a pair of lightweight urban trainers or flats so that you can dress up when need be. Something thin like Gola or Puma will do fine. You can slip them into the external side pockets of your pack when on the move. The key is to add an insole to the shoes to provide support when walking around the city. I highly recommend Superfeet insoles, which come in many forms to accommodate different foot types. If you’ve ever made the mistake of walking all day on thin unsupported soles, you’ll understand the importance of proper shoes. Superfeet insoles turn any shoe into a good shoe.
Next, depending on the activity level of your trip, take a pair of hiking boots or athletic shoes. For most people, beefy hiking boots are unnecessary. A nice pair of lightweight, low-cut, “cross-trainer” hiking shoes will fit most people’s needs, as would tennis or running shoes. These won’t fit into your bag as snugly as your trainers, but if need be you can wear them while moving between destinations. REI has a nice selection that will give you a better idea of the capabilities of this type of shoe.
Finally, be sure to pack a pair of flip-flops or thongs. Flip-flops are great for the beach and essential in hostel showers as an important precaution against nasty foot diseases like plantar warts. Havana’s are lightweight and durable option.