The Only Athletic Shoe I’ll Pack. Ever. Again.

When I set off from the United States to Thailand, I was only planning on a trip of 10 days… which quickly turned into forever.

When I started traveling

excuse the blurriness and check out the clunky trainers as I depart from GRR for BKK

I had packed big, bulky running shoes that took up a LOT of space in my 40L backpack, but hey, I was only gonna be gone for a week 😉 . A few months into my solo backpacking journey in Southeast Asia, they were one of the first items I left behind. They took up too much space, stayed wet for far too long, and stunk up my clothes.

After settling in Bangkok, and with a little free time and an even littler amount of disposable income, I started researching better athletic shoe options for my travels. I struggled to find a comfortable yet small and lightweight athletic shoe that looked good, felt good, and fit well into my carryon-only packing strategy. I didn’t have much any luck, until I met Joe, a veteran backpacker wearing some weird toed shoes. He called them Five Fingers and swore they’d be the only athletic shoes he’d ever pack again.

I decided to try out these funky Five Fingers for myself, and ordered a pair to be delivered to my dad’s house back in the States, which I picked up on my annual trip home.

After my first trip with them to Vietnam, I knew that like Joe, they’d be the only athletic shoe I’d ever pack. I had found my PERFECT shoe that met all of my criteria (bonus points for being ecologically friendly and a bit out-there in terms of looks).

Two years, almost a hundred hikes, and over ten countries later – my Vibrams Five Fingers are one of the most important items I’ll pack for any active adventure trip.

Biking Death Road (the World's Most Dangerous Road) in La Paz, Bolivia

rocking my Vibrams while biking Bolivia’s Death Road, considered to be the World’s Most Dangerous Road


Even from the moment I first pack them in my bag, their superiority to regular hiking or jogging shoes is clear. They are tiny, foldable, and take up almost no room. They’re also lighter than the lightest athletic shoe. And you don’t have to pack socks, saving even more room!

Out on the trail, or down the waterfall, or up the mountain, the nonslip grip immediately comes in handy. And as you’re not wearing socks, no wet sock syndrome. Water seeps right out of the sides as you walk, and the shoes dry quickly even in use, so you can walk through rivers with no worries. The thin yet protective sole allows you to feel the ground as you’re walking, and provides a more intuitive balance in slippery or uneven walking surfaces.

Ziplining, Canyoning, and Waterfall Rappelling Jaco Costa Rica

waterfall rappelling in my Vibrams

When it’s hot, the last thing I’d want to do is layer on socks and heavy shoes. Vibrams are breathable, so that your feet stay cool and don’t get hot and sweaty. This also saves you from stinky feet situations, during the trek, and after. When you get home from your hike, you can hop in the shower with your Vibrams to clean them off – and they’ll dry overnight, no dryer needed! And when it is time to pack up, there won’t be footy odors permeating all your clothes, no matter how small your bag is!

Even better is that I can enjoy wearing them, and buying from a responsible company. Vibram Five Fingers shoes are vegan, and use a percentage of recycled material in the rubber sole.

Send me an email by clicking here or leave your contact in the comments below, for a special 40% off coupon code and FREE shipping on your next (or first!) order of Vibrams!

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the ONLY athletic shoe I'll pack ever again!

This post was not paid for or requested by Vibrams. I just REALLY love their shoes!

Ziplining, Canyoning, and Waterfall Rappelling Jaco Costa Rica

Do you have a favorite pair of adventure shoes?


A short vacation in Thailand turned into a life abroad with a canceled ticket home. Nearly a decade later and after living in Bangkok, Rio de Janeiro, Puebla, and Puerto Vallarta, Steph is on to her next adventure and living back in beautiful, cosmopolitan Mexico City. She is living, traveling, and working (both as an expat therapist and an international health insurance representative) around the world to find the beautiful, inspirational, and interesting while sharing it with you!

Find me on: Web | Instagram | Facebook


  1. Nancy
    December 18, 2017 / 11:24 am

    Thanks for the article! would love to try out Vibrams. Do you still have a code for the discount?

    • Steph
      December 18, 2017 / 6:14 pm

      Definitely! The discounts are one-time use, so go ahead and send me an email ( and I’ll give you one 🙂

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