After a day on the trail toting a backpack while pounding over rocks and dusty terrain, our dogs start barking to be let out so toes can wiggle and run free. Going barefoot is just not a good idea around camp -- too many opportunities to get a puncture or cut. We've tried just about every camp shoe imaginable, from simply loosening the laces on our hiking boots (tolerable, but not ideal), to sandals (secure and dry quickly, but still relatively heavy), to retired running shoes (bulky and they don't dry quickly), to water slippers (compact, comfy, but not much traction or underfoot protection), to the old standby, leather moccasins (compact, lightweight, but not much better than house slippers so forget hiking in them).
For the last six months, we've been testing a pair of Tecnica Pacmocs and are quite thrilled -- though we'd like a few modifications before we move on to ecstatic.
A pair of Pacmocs weigh just under 18 ounces, and provide slip-on comfort in a well-ventilated and relatively sturdy shoe. Cushioning and traction from the shallow-lugged and very grippy rubber outsole is superb, enough that during a week guiding a trip in Southern Yosemite, one of our testers went for afternoon hikes and rock scrambles with no difficulty -- sans a pack of course. The shoes compress together in a compact package that stows easily with a sleeping bag in a backpack's sleeping bag compartment, and the soft-brushed lining is supremely comfortable when worn barefoot. We really like the fact the shoes can be worn as slippers, or as slides (with the heel folded down comfortably underfoot).
All that said, we'd like to see a couple of improvements. First, lose the silly snaps. Granted, in the store, it looks nifty to be able to snap the shoes together into a stowable package, heel to toe, one on top of the other, but in reality, who does that in the field? Exactly! Each shoe is stowed separately anyway, lashed to the outside of a pack, or along the sides of luggage or a backpack. Second, while the shoes do fit quite securely, the addition of a strap across the top of the foot to provide extra security would mean the shoes could also be worn during stream crossings or in other situations to ensure the foot won't pull out of the shoe.
SNEWS Rating: 4 hands clapping (1 to 5 hands clapping possible, with 5 clapping hands representing functional and design perfection)
Suggested Retail: $50
For more information:www.tecnicausa.com