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5 of the best summer shoes, sandals and socks

5 of the best summer shoes, sandals and socks
SALOMON X ULTRA 3 GTX

I thought I would begin with the title of a jolly singalong Anglican hymn… ‘All things bright and beautiful...’ And now, the gospel according to Salomon… ‘If we are going to manufacture a multi-function outdoor shoe, let’s make it a best-seller.’ And that’s exactly what the company has done with the X Ultra 3 GTX.

Sandals

Salomon X Ultra 3 GTX

‘Bright’ certainly rings true with the Ultra 3. Should you get lost on the hill, simply take a shoe off and wave it in the air, and the rescue team is bound to spot you.  Verse 4… The purple headed mountain, The river running by, The sunset and the morning, That brightens up the sky.‘ No matter where you find yourself, you are guaranteed to walk with a spring in your step, thanks to the effective Descent Control technology, which helps the wearer effortlessly tackle a technical hike, and really comes into its own on tough descents, and even in wet conditions. Salomon’s lightweight advanced chassis, which is placed between the outsole and midsole, maximises motion control and energy management, resulting in an efficient, stable stride pattern. The OrthoLite insole wicks away moisture, and two different types of rubber are strategically placed on the sole, resulting in a more intense grip. With the protective heel cap and rubber toe cap, you can be as rufty-tufty as you like. I am not a huge fan of the Quicklace-style system, preferring this to found on shoes dedicated to water sports, but it works perfectly well for the Ultra, holding the foot securely in place. £125, www.salomon.com

Sandals

Oboz Firebrand II

OBOZ FIREBRAND II

I’ve yet to trial a pair of Oboz and find fault. That’s not to say I deliberately go looking for one, but it is important that if I am bringing a product to the table for you to consider, then the pros and cons should be highlighted. Well, there are no cons with the Firebrand II. For starters, this is an excellent choice as a 3-season shoe. They are comfortable, stable and durable, and, having trialled them for several months post Spring and there was still a chill about the countryside and the sun had yet to poke its head through the clouds, I found them warm, too. Come the warmer weather, and they are as sound as a pound, so no worries about them sitting comfortably as a 3-season offering. £125, www.obozfootwear.com

Sandals

AKU Libra GTX

AKU LIBRA GTX

Italian footwear specialist AKU recently launched the Libra and Libra GTX. These lightweight shoes make for the perfect multi-function option for summer-long easy day hikes, travel and leisure wear. Both versions feature AKU’s AIR8000 made fabric, which was specifically designed to increase the level of breathability over a period of 24 hours up to more than 11 times that of conventionally made textiles. I have been trialling the GTX version, and have been thoroughly impressed. As light as a feather (well, almost) and with plenty of flex, AKU have been at pains to design a shoe boasting a natural shape to the forefoot. Sliding a pair on for the first time, I was immediately impressed with the comfort, and almost forgot I had them on, such was the impact. The upper is made with recycled textiles and chrome free leather, and the collar with Zero Impact leather. AKU have also been busy manufacturing a new sole. The result: the Tenuta Grip, which is a special rubber compound designed to deliver stability, and it certainly delivers, with the forefoot of the shoe inclining inwards at toe-off and the heel inclining outwards at initial contact, thereby helping adherence on rough terrain. The GTX version also includes added GORE-TEX Extended Comfort elastic in the lining. I do like the fact that you can switch between the quick toggle lacing system or opt for the more conventional laces. This is certainly one of my go-to shoes for the summer. Libra GTX £149.95, Libra £129.95, www.aku.it

Sandals

Keen Evofit One Sandal

KEEN EVOFIT ONE SANDAL

Odd one, this. I am trialling the Evofit One Sandal, but the box says it is the Skyrider. Not that I will be jumping out of any aeroplanes any time soon, but then I realised the Skydiver/Steel Grey refers to the two-tone colourway. Evofit One is in small letters under the very small image. Anyway, I rather like the name Skydiver, so perhaps Keen should adopt that for any loonies that find it fun to jump out of fixed wing aircraft. Anyway, I digress. Comfort and flexibility are key to the One, with its Quick-dry Keen Evofit engineered synthetic upper, PU midsole, Aquagrip rubber for traction, and removable, metatomical PU footbed with arch support. With the fast lacing system adopted by a large number of manufacturers for this type of activity sandal, it has a rubberised toe cap and heel loop for easy access. £99.95, www.keenfootwear.com

Sandals

Oboz Campster

OBOZ CAMPSTER

Having completed a shore-based RYA Essential Navigation and Seamanship course, I spent a recent weekend following that up on a Powerboat Level 2 Handling course, when I also qualified for an Inland Waterways Helmsman’s Certificate and, guess what, the Oboz Campster was my chosen footwear for the RIB and motor cruiser. Well, Oboz did deliberately design the lightweight sandal for river use and, indeed, for anywhere else your next adventure might lead you. One design aspect that immediately struck me was the pivoting heel strap. You can drop the heel strap down and wear the Campster as a clog, or alternatively secure it over your foot. Lightweight and sturdy, the shoe has a two-piece protective toe cap and a Salida Outsole, which combines non-marking rubber and EVA for impressive traction in wet environments Not that I would know it, because I have never been there, but the map moulded in the bottom of the outsole features the Arkansas River Valley, which is apparently located near Salida, Colorado. Trek, rock-hop or break open a tinny round the campfire, it doesn’t matter. Just wear them and enjoy. £75, www.obozfootwear.com

sandals

(L-R) 1000 MILE 2 Season Walk Sock, 1000 MILE 3 Season Walk Sock, Bridgedale WoolFusion Trail Light, Darn Tough Crew Light, Darn Tough Micro Crew Cushion

1000 MILE 2 SEASON WALK SOCK – I have enjoyed 1000 Mile socks in the past, so am pleassed to bring you the latest iteration, designed for warm weather, and made with light COOLMAX fabric, which wicks moisture and enhances air flow. A neat touch is the mid-foot venting on the upper, which allows the foot to breathe. Other features include a padded heel which extends to cover the Achilles tendon, with additional padded zones to protect the ankle bone and toe box. The designers have thought of everything, with a flat tow seam to help minimise rubbing, plus arch bracing for a more customised fit. £13.99, www.1000mile.co.uk

1000 MILE 3 SEASON WALK SOCK – If you want to take things up a notch, let me steer you towards the mid weight version, which is also manufactured using Merino wool, which is simply perfect for regulating body temperature, thanks to its warmth and moisture wicking capabilities. You get the padded comfort and protection thrown in, too. £15.49, www.1000mile.co.uk 

BRIDGEDALE WOOLFUSION TRAIL LIGHT – Very comfortable for everyday activities and a summer’s day hike. Made from Bridgedale WoolFusion, the light and low design sock combines quality yarns with high performance microfibres. The sock also benefits from targeted cushioning and mesh panels. £14.50, www.bridgedale.com

DARN TOUGH CREW LIGHT – Here we have snazzy stripes and colourful touches fresh from the Green Mountains of Vermont. Made with a blend of supersoft Merino wool and nylon, the performance fit sock offers the wearer durability and all-weather comfort. £15.90, www.darntough.com

DARN TOUGH MICRO CREW CUSHION – If you are looking for a thicker offering than the rugged Crew Light, check out the Micro Crew Cushion, which will serve you well for 2/3-season use. £15, www.darntough.com

 

 

About The Author

Mike Cowton

Michael Cowton, an outdoors writer, editor and photographer with a passion for nature-based travel and wildlife. He is a former editor of EcoTravel, Outdoor Pursuits, Camping, Lakeland Walker and Which Motorcaravan magazines, and national newspaper journalist.

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