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Blundstones and Birkenstocks


We will be doing the bulk of our walking in Rome and Munich, with an occasional day hike in Fussen and/or the Rhine area (nothing too strenuous). I am planning to bring my Birks (gladiator/thong style) to wear with capris and dresses/skirts, and was going to wear my Blundstones with jeans and for hiking. Does this seem appropriate?

Also, will we need SmartWool socks in early June?

My husband plans to just wear runners, and thinks I am crazy for worrying that they won't be supportive enough. Am I? If not, any suggestions for men?

Thanks very much.

Posted by
6078 posts

re: Smartwool. Just because it has wool in the name doesn't mean they are all heavy itchy grandma's-sweater-wool winter socks. Smartwool and similar wool-based brands come in all thicknesses and styles. Get the thin ones for summer. They are often recommended because they wear well, feel comfortable, and are easy to sink-launder and dry quickly.

shoes: IMO, to avoid foot problems, its more important to have shoes that fit well and are broken in, than to have any particular brand or style. I don't think runners are good for walking on cobblestone streets, hiking trails, etc., but I wouldn't buy special shoes for a trip like this if you don't have to.

Posted by
135 posts

My husband and I wear Birkenstock sandals exclusively in the summer, so our feet are very used to them. Both of us need the arch support. When we were in Italy for 2 weeks, including Rome for 4 days, we wore them every day. They were comfortable, and we had no problems walking on the cobblestones. We walked 10 miles one day in Rome, and our feet were tired, but they didn't hurt! We didn't receive any strange looks from locals for wearing our Birks.

Posted by
2525 posts

Medium weight merino wool socks are my choice whether traveling in a tropical, temperate or cold climate. Secure what works well for you.

Posted by
8429 posts

By runners I assume you mean running shoes? I have awful feet and for the last 4 years have worn only my Altra Zero Drop shoes in Europe. Last year I wore the low-cut Lone Peaks (which are heftier than some of the other Altra more minimalist shoes) for 2 month-long trips and will wear them again next month. I had no problem on cobblestones, thru fields, on dirt and rocky paths in both France and England but the soles are built for trail running.

To me the running shoes are way more supportive than my Birks which I would not be able to manage with on cobbles and the zillions of stairs in Rome. My foot slips too much in the Birks but that's just me.

Posted by
7996 posts

Like sibdaisy, I wear Birk sandals exclusively in warm weather, here and in Europe, walking 10+ mi a day. Cooler weather, I wear New Balance walking runners/tennis shoes and Dansko clogs, here and in Europe.

Similiar to what stan said, I think you should wear the shoes you wear at home, you know they work well for your feet. Everyone’s feet are so different, what works for one person does not work for another’s. Getting recs from people never helps me. Stick to what you know works well.

I wore my Birk sandals to “hike” in the Alps (groomed paths) and they worked well for me... : )

Posted by
232 posts

Thanks, everyone, for your input. I have been a bit stressed about needing to invest a few hundred dollars in special footware, then having to break it in.

It’s a relief to hear that what works here should work there.

Thanks again:)

Posted by
1663 posts

One possible consideration is the load being carried -- if you are used to trail runners but only when unencumbered,
and you (or he) will be carrying a pack around, then maybe sturdier shoes are in order. If you're not carrying much more than you do ordinarily, then disregard this comment.