Good travel shoe for young men
February 17, 2018 7:45 PM   Subscribe

Can you tell me if this shoe is good for a week in Germany? I'm concerned about slipping and comfort.

My teenage sons will be traveling throughout Germany for a week in March and tour director advises not to wear sneakers (which I think is a little odd since I think Germans wear sneakers and running shoes). I understand that it will be cold and the mesh on running shoes might let water and cold air through, and might not be practical.

We perused some shoes together and ordered Keen Austin and a Timberland Chukka.

I'm mostly concerned about the outsole of the Timberland. Do you this would be slippery?

We live in subtropical climate. They wear Vans, boat shoes, and Asics running shoes in their everyday lives, mostly Vans. My older son wants to wear Vans in Germany but probably not practical for rainy or cold weather.

I appreciate any footwear suggestions and advice. They will be walking a lot.
posted by loveandhappiness to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (9 answers total)
Those Timberlands do look like they might be slippery - not a lot of grip on those soles. Vans would probably have the same issue. I would recommend something like the Timberland Earthkeeper, or a similar boot with a bit of profile on the outsoles and a (somewhat) waterproof upper. My husband has Earthkeepers and has worn them on similar trips with success.

In general, I’d search for ‘trekking shoes’ and ‘hiking shoes’ and look for bumpy outsoles and a somewhat water repellent upper (usually leather but could be GoreTex, too).

Ideas in that vein:
Columbia Hiking Boots
Merrell Hiking Shoes

And yes, by ‘no sneakers’, your tour guide is probably referring to the standard American tourist mesh sneakers that really, truly do not work for German march weather. Germans do wear sneakers, but in Winter (and when not out for a run...), that would be mostly leather sneakers that are a bit more robust, like Adidas; and those are not great for hiking/walking on trails - they are fashion/city shoes. Footpaths in Germany can generally be a bit rougher than in the US, where even in National Parks you can expect to be OK in sneakers/flip flops as long as you don’t go on actual hikes. Source: I’m a German expat.
posted by The Toad at 8:45 PM on February 17, 2018 [3 favorites]

I am also pretty partial to Vans. I live in the midwestern US where we've been having a terrible winter and have mostly just been wearing these Vans sneaker-boots. They're comfortable, have good traction, and are warm and water-resistant. Walking is generally my main form of transport and these sneaker-boots have served me well.
posted by sevenofspades at 8:47 PM on February 17, 2018 [6 favorites]

If it were me I'd pick the Keens out of these two. Chukkas look to be more about style than function and don't look like they're meant for extensive walking. The Zappos reviewers of those shoes rate the keens as moderate-to-excellent arch support and the Timberlands as zero-to-moderate arch support. Kids are made of rubber so maybe it wouldn't matter as much as it would for older me, but it's a consideration. I don't know what terrain your boys will be on, but I'd want to be up for anything, and the Keens looks like they could do a least a bit more than just city streets. The Timberlands look like they want to stay downtown and inside. While I doubt the Timberlands would be slippery in an average range of conditions, it doesn't look like they'd win a tread-off with the Keens. I say Keens between the two when heading into the unknown.
posted by Askr at 8:50 PM on February 17, 2018 [1 favorite]

I’d go for the Keens. My ex wore those exact shoes for years, and slipping wasn’t an issue. I wear the more hiking shoe style Keens frequently, and those are great too. Some of them are waterproof also, which is nice if you know it’ll be wet and they have to wear them every day (so not a lot of time for wet shoes to dry out).
posted by cabingirl at 3:20 AM on February 18, 2018 [1 favorite]

The Keens are a good choice. He absolutely does not need hiking boots unless he plans on, well, hiking.

To be honest, though, if you didn't live in a subtropical climate, I'd say almost whatever shoes are fine for Germany in March. I wouldn't wear some styles of Vans in the rain (the ones that are all canvas) or running shoes that are 95% mesh, but that's about the extent of my "shoes that are a bad choice for your only shoes if you're going to Germany in March" thinking.
posted by hoyland at 5:12 AM on February 18, 2018 [1 favorite]

I suggest testing the shoes in the wet before you travel, to see if they might need waterproofing applied. I have a couple of pairs of Keens that are supposed to be water-resistant, but in fact become soaked in minutes with even a light rain. Also, the soles are slippery on wet pavement. It's really disappointing, because they fit well and are otherwise extremely comfortable.
posted by Weftage at 5:18 AM on February 18, 2018 [1 favorite]

German person who has lived in Northern and Central Europe all her life - unless they will be hiking the main concern is if shoes are suitable for lots of walking in wet weather. It will still be pretty damp and often cold and you do not want to walk around in wet shoes for hrs on end every day, especially in the cold. If they only have one pair that gets soaked through they may also not be able to dry these shoes fully for the rest of the trip.

In March there may still be the odd snow shower but by March snow is very unlikely to settle unless they are in the mountains. If it ‚settles‘ it will still be more wet and slushy than slippery. So my main concern would be comfortable and waterproof.

After that warmth may also be an issue with a lighter shoe. It may still be quite cold and thin soles and near frozen ground can be uncomfortably cold if you’re outside for a while.

There may well be shoes in the trainer category that would work but they are likely to be on the sturdy and heavy duty end of the spectrum and completely devoid of mesh in the outer layer.
posted by koahiatamadl at 5:47 AM on February 18, 2018 [1 favorite]

I came to recommend the water resistant, thick-tread Vans that sevenofspades linked— I have a pair myself, because I wanted the look of skate shoe but I walk a ton in winter weather. These are warm and sturdy and nonslip. They blow similar styles out of the water.
posted by kapers at 5:58 AM on February 18, 2018 [1 favorite]

Thank you all for suggestions and advice! We just ordered Vans SK8-HI MTE to try. I don't know how we missed these! Thanks sevenofspades and everyone for suggestions.

They will be walking in cities and towns. No hiking per se.
posted by loveandhappiness at 8:17 AM on February 18, 2018 [1 favorite]

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