I got a very interesting question from reader Irene in her comment on one of my posts about what footwear I’d wear when I travel during colder or winter months, and I need to walk a lot. It was so interesting, I thought it merited a post all of its very own! (See why you should ask questions? You may help someone else and you give me blog ideas! Win! :D )
Anyway, I thought I’d quickly share the shoes I wear when I travel, most of which I’ve realised have been with me for quite a while. I walk a lot when I’m on holiday for some strange reason. I don’t walk very much here in Malaysia haha! I’m a lazy bum :P But I’ve worked out after quite a lot of trial and error that these are the shoes I feel more comfortable to travel in when its cold. I usually look for certain key traits in my travel footwear, not necessarily brands.
I don’t profess to know it all, of course, since I do come from a tropical country and this isn’t meant for those of you who are planning to travel to the cold outposts of Siberia or even to places that are covered deep in snow or where the weather drops into the negatives. I’ve never done that and I’d imagine you’d need something much hardier. If you do live somewhere which gets cold, I’d love to hear your suggestions. Never a better way to learn than from a local! :)
Wear shoes with rubber soles
I’ve found that shoes with rubber soles have better grip on the ground. Leather soles are a recipe for disaster if you are headed somewhere where it can be cold and wet and you can find yourself slipping. Its actually more tiring trying to keep yourself from slipping than to just walk confidently. So, I look for rubber soled shoes.
I have 2 pairs of ankle boots with thick rubber soles that do the job very well. One is a no name pair that’s worn to death but still going strong. The other is the funny yellow pair you see above which is by Clarks. It was on sale and not very expensive (about RM200 or under) and its been with me for years and years. Looks like a pair of Timberland hiking boots without the weight ;) Its clunky and not very elegant but its useful and hardy.
I recently got a pair of Geox leather sneaker type shoes from a discount outlet for under RM100 (bargain!) and I test drove it during my recent holiday to a country with cold weather and slippery cobblestones and it performed well, but I think sneakers don’t quite do the job if you have to walk a lot on uneven surfaces – I’ll explain below.
Wear leather shoes
This is a personal preference. I personally find that a good pair of leather shoes or boots keeps out the cold better than fabric. Leather is able to cut out the biting wind that can freeze our little toesies, and I also find that my feet don’t get as wet in snow and slush and rain, as they do in sneakers. With the latter, you might as well not be wearing any shoes. So I’d invest in a good pair of leather boots with a flat rubber sole. Personally I think Clarks makes affordable and good shoes and they sometimes go on sale or you may be able to get them online for much cheaper. They aren’t always the most fashionable, but they keep your feet warm and comfortable which is most important.
On left, I’m wearing my faithful Clarks suede flat boots up on Petrin Hill, Prague and on right my sneakers in Prague city. It was Spring but still very chilly with temperatures in the early teens for some parts of the day.
Wear boots – any kind!
I learned this through trial and error. If I know I’m going to a country/city where I know its going to be cold and I will have to do a lot of walking, I wear boots. A good pair of leather boots firstly, keeps your legs warmer. See point No. 2 above. Secondly, boots will protect your ankle as you walk so you don’t risk twisting your ankle as you navigate cobblestoned streets that you may be unfamiliar with. This is especially so when they are wet and slick.
Whilst my sneakers worked for running around, I found more than once, that my ankle would turn if I wasn’t careful. When I wore my boots, it happened less and if it did, my ankle was more protected. Doesn’t have to be high boots, even ankle boots protect your legs better than you realise.
Invest in a pair of high boots if you can
This is a luxury but there is more to it than mere fashion. I had been hankering after a pair of high boots for the longest time and I finally picked up a pair in Hong Kong. It was an impulsive purchase but I have been surprised at how comfortable they are and importantly, how much more comfortable my legs feel! It’s logical really. More of your leg is protected by the boots from the wind and cold so you feel more comfortable. They do have a bit of a heel so I do find I have to take a break from walking every now and then. But what a great way to stop for tea and coffee as I go along eh? ;)
I picked up my 2nd pair at a Clarks outlet store for about £25 (yes, I shop for bargains all the time!) and although it isn’t the most fashionable pair around, they are flat and very comfortable for walking. The inside is padded and lined so my legs feel much warmer and more comfortable. I’ve walked in both of these for what seems like hours! On one day when I was caught unawares in Prague and walked out in my sneakers into 6°C temperatures, I ran back and switched back into my boots and immediately felt more comfortable.
Don’t wear PVC anything
This is my personal view but PVC which is essentially plastic, does nothing to protect your feet. They do look very fashionable and the material is usually lighter so you may feel that its easier or more comfortable to walk in. But they don’t last and don’t do jack when its cold and your toes feel like they want to drop off. I’ve tried it and I highly do not recommend it. Just get a pair of good sturdy leather boots. You can often find them on sale even locally, if you wait for off season deals, and get it then.
Do you have some advice for cold weather footwear? What shoes do you wear when you travel or live in countries which get Spring, Autumn and Winter?
Autumn is my favourite season to visit a temperate country because the weather is usually most comfortable then without being too hot or cold, I get to wear my swanky boots without looking like I’m a try-hard, my winter/cold weather clothes get an airing and its not too cold for this tropical gal ;) Share a shoe tip for cold weather travellers!