When I was a boy scout our troop went on a 50 mile backpacking trip every summer. Some of my favorite memories are from these trips. Now that I am a bit older and have become a scout leader I still like to participate in 50 mile hikes and other backpacking trips. I remember the first 50 miler I did as a leader I packed my sandals and clipped them onto my pack. One of the other leaders who was in his 70’s at the time looked at me with some skepticism and asked me why in the world I would bring such horrible footwear along. I ended up wearing my sandals for about 20 of the 50 miles plus almost the entire time at camp. As we hiked on day one he made sure to give me a lecture about proper footwear loud enough so that the boys would hear him as well. At the beginning of day two we hiked across a marshy area so I just wore my sandals even though it was pretty cold that morning. We had had an unusually large amount of snow that year so it was wetter than usual. After we crossed the marshy area and everyone had wet boots that they had to slosh through for hours and I had nice dry feet. Later that day we came to a stream that we can usually just hop over. It was flooding and had become a fairly wide and fast moving body of water. Nobody was happy about this since they had just got their feet dry and didn’t want to wade through hip deep water again. Well I went in and helped everyone over. My fellow leader never said anything else about backpacking with sandals but I think he realized that there are times when it’s appropriate.
In all reality I know that most backpackers will be wearing boots during their treks. I have been grateful for my boots many times as I hike through the backcountry where brush has grown over the trails or where there were no trails. Scrub and Poison Oak can make bare feet miserable very quickly. That is why I always carried sandals with me for the times when they are appropriate. Unfortunately the sandals that I carried had about two inches of dense Vibram rubber soles and weighed over two pounds. That adds a lot of weight to my pack! My boots are lighter than those sandals!
My Unshoes, however, are super lightweight (both weigh 14 oz, and I have quite large feet). They can be stuffed in a pocket, rolled up, or clipped onto a backpack. They still have the durable Vibram rubber but they are only 6mm thick as compared to the 2 plus inches that I had before. They could even be clipped onto a belt.
For those that will never ditch their boots to hike in a thin pair of sandals, Unshoes are still perfect for the downtime once camp has been reached. They can be used for lounging around, setting up camp, fishing, and sitting around telling stories.