Shoes to go from hiking trail to nightclub
September 2, 2018 6:11 AM   Subscribe

I'm looking for women's shoes or boots with a sturdy sole and arch support that are attractive to look at. Think something with the soul (and sole!) of a hiking boots but the good looks of a pair of Fluevogs or Docs. Can be a US or European brand. Details inside.

I have flat feet, which wasn't an issue for a long time. Now it is. I need support. I also need a female shoe as my foot is too narrow for men's shoes.

My partner and I are traveling around the world for the next indefinite period of time. For the past 6 months I've lived in Birkenstocks, which have been amazing. However, when the temperature dips too low for those to be manageable I've been using the shoes someone recommended as the "best shoes in the world!" Allbirds. They may be great for some people but they don't provide any of the support I need, and on cobblestone streets I might as well be barefoot. I've occasionally worn my Keen hiking boots, which are great from the support angle but just scream "I am a hiking boots! Look at me!" Also, they're a PITA in airport security lines.

Now we are going to be in a cold climate for the next 6 months and I need boots (and possibly a pair of shoes as well) to see me through.

My ideal boot will have a zipper on the side for quick removal in airport lines, but also lacing so I can tighten them around my spindly ankles. It will have the firm sole and arch support of a hiking boot, and ideally even be something I could use for a 1-2 hour hike in a pinch. It will be flat, or close to - no 2 inch heels please, my feet can't take those for extended periods!! (I did a hike in boots with a 3-inch heel - long story - and it sucked.) They will look awesome, like the sort of thing that I could wear to an 80s punk club. A shoe would...well, be the shoe version of that.

Price is absolutely no object for the right shoes; I have kept good shoes for up to 11 years so I really do get my money's worth out of them.

Any recommendations?
posted by rednikki to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (19 answers total) 19 users marked this as a favorite
They have no zipper or laces but Blundstone boots are waterproof, good for light hikes and pretty stylin’
posted by genmonster at 6:31 AM on September 2, 2018 [3 favorites]

I wore Chaco's Barbary on a winter European trip. Pure comfort, support and warmth. Good grip. No slipping. I wore them every day on my trip. Might be on the tad casual side for nightclubs. Although, mine are in black and could probably get away with it. I wore them with skinny jeans and pants and the boots got lots of compliments. I have a normal to narrow woman's foot. The wide toe box might make them appear less dressy but gives your feet room and can be worn all day. I have a more stylish pair of Sorels but decided not to bring because not as comfortable. I have narrow ankles, Chaco's easy to tighten. I have a narrow heel and when I first tried them they were slipping a tiny bit on the heel but with socks, never had that feeling again. I'm glad I bought my regular size. They were easy to get on and off at security.

The Chaco Skye might be easier to slip on and off, and more stylish.
posted by loveandhappiness at 7:03 AM on September 2, 2018 [2 favorites]

These Keens have quick release, ankle tightners, low heel, and would fit in at a punk club.

Most keens seem to be designed to allow a 2 mile hike in a pinch, but that’s just my overall impression.
posted by SaltySalticid at 7:03 AM on September 2, 2018 [4 favorites]

These Merrell Sugarbushes are waterproof, funky, and look like they could handle some real hiking. Merrells are generally extremely comfortable and have good arch support, although I add an aftermarket insole to all of my boots anyway. (I like Powerstep Pinnacle Maxx for my flat feet.) They do not have a zipper; Merrell does offer women's boots with side zips, including waterproof ones, but I think they're a little light on the punk styling. Maybe take a look through their catalog and see for yourself.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 7:52 AM on September 2, 2018

I got a pair of these waterproof HH boots and they're hella versatile and comfy - i love them! They don't have a zipper, but are a snap to take off and put on.
posted by speakeasy at 8:25 AM on September 2, 2018 [1 favorite]

I’ve found hush puppies to have good support and these or these are stylish and promise an “anatomically cushioned” footbed. I haven’t tried those particular styles but have been happy with the brand for wearing at a job at which I’m on my feet all day.
posted by Waiting for Pierce Inverarity at 9:04 AM on September 2, 2018 [1 favorite]

I have these Merrell Captiva Buckle-Down Waterproof Boots in black and they are very stylish and do not look like hiking boots, but perform really well on trails (the only issue I've had is that they are not great in really slick mud. The soles get a little slippery). They are also super comfortable both for hiking and just walking around in cities and also quite cozy, though I haven't tried them in super cold weather or snow. They zip up the sides, so they're easy on/off and although they don't have laces, but they do have a buckle at the ankle that you can tighten as well.
posted by primalux at 9:17 AM on September 2, 2018 [2 favorites]

Check out Ecco boots. They are also made for this hybrid area.
posted by Kalmya at 9:54 AM on September 2, 2018

Today I bought my fourth pair of Ecco Genna ankle boots, in waterproof black nubuck. They have zippered fastenings only but I find them a secure fit, and I regularly walk 5 miles or more in them. They were the only footwear I took on a recent 8 week trip, and I never regretted that decision.
posted by kelper at 10:07 AM on September 2, 2018

I personally only have sandals from Fly London, but I've tried on other shoes they make and they all had very comfy soles - mostly I didn't buy them because they were too narrow, so they might suit you well. My sandals are up to a LOT of walking.

Along the vein of Ecco, German brands Josef Seibel and Rieker both make boots for people with foot issues and they've upped their style game quite a bit in recent years. They still make the classic clunky orthopaedic stuff, but you can find some very stylish boots that have the comfort level of professional hiking wear.
posted by I claim sanctuary at 10:09 AM on September 2, 2018 [1 favorite]

You could still go the Fluevog route. I have been wearing my pair of 7th Heaven Michaels almost daily for 3+ years and they are so comfortable. Maybe not for a real hike in the wilderness where you might want ankle support.

They also a similar boot but I can't speak to the support.
posted by mephisjo at 11:05 AM on September 2, 2018

I've spent many years traveling, with 10+ trips lasting 6months to 30months. I don't think these are the right shoes for you considering the cold climate, but thought I'd share this here. My *single* pair of shoes on most of these trips is a Chaco Z1 sandal. For me, there are 3 basic shoe needs- shower shoes, general walking, light hiking. These sandals aren't fancy but they are less sport-sandal-ish than most Tevas and Keenes, and the lack of leather makes them quite washable. They wouldnt be my style while in the US but have returned to them over and over while abroad.
posted by maya at 12:41 PM on September 2, 2018 [1 favorite]

I can’t speak to longevity but I’ve walked pavement in winter, accidentally hiked in NH, and gone out to chic places in Brooklyn in the Cobb Hill Bethany. I see from the reviews that others have hiked in them as well. The sole is flexible, not stiff like a hiker, but it’s very thick and an incredibly steady ride. IMO nothing with the real hiking boot sole is going to look like club shoes.
posted by kapers at 2:53 PM on September 2, 2018 [2 favorites]

Style wise, a Chelsea boot would do it. I don’t have a specific rec, but a ton of people make them and a ton of price points.

I’d probably start at Zappos. I’ve no need for them, but someday my time will come.
posted by crankyrogalsky at 4:21 PM on September 2, 2018

Seconding Fly London---I have a pair of wedge-heel shoes that I could definitely do light hiking in but they are super fash. Very high quality.
posted by SinAesthetic at 5:40 PM on September 2, 2018

Seconding the Merrell Captiva boots. I have them in a slightly different style, the Captiva Launch 2. I’ve done some light hiking in them near waterfalls in Iceland, and they were slippery in mud but manageable on wet rock. They are a little roomy if you have narrow feet and ankles, though.

I also have these Kodiak Alcona boots which have more of a tread and fit skinny ankles better. The insoles are a little thin and I have sesamoiditis, so I replaced them with Naot insoles and have walked 10+ miles in them. They were also really warm and stable in an NYC snowstorm last winter.
posted by kiripin at 8:59 PM on September 2, 2018

I love Ariat riding boots. Definitely sturdy and definitely clean up real nice. They’ve been my everyday boot for a few years. They have a bunch of styles, tho I’m not sure about lace + zip. Check em out!
posted by wemayfreeze at 9:40 PM on September 2, 2018 [1 favorite]

Third vote for Fly London. In colder seasons I live in these Chelsea boots which don't have a zipper but are very easy to pull on and off (source: I also go through a lot of airports). You can wear them equally well with trousers or with tights and a skirt and they are really comfortable. I've walked all over Europe in them and they're holding up very well three years in. I also own and wear a number of other Fly London shoes and sandals because life is too short for footwear that makes your feet sad.
posted by tractorfeed at 1:46 AM on September 3, 2018

Birkenstock makes closed-toe shoes and boots.
posted by Iris Gambol at 6:26 PM on September 3, 2018

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