Footwear for hiking Vietnam?

I’m going hiking for a week in Costa Rica this August, and on to China next summer and Vietnam after that, and I need some outdoor shoes or boots. It’s going to be hot, of course, so breathability is key, as well as ruggedness and comfort. I usually wear Ecco shoes around town and to work, but haven’t heard much about their boots. Maybe even something like those Keen sandals with the toe caps would work. Any suggestions?

I’m headed to Cameroon and I got some Keen’s. I got the Monterey style, mainly because I hate wearing dorky sandals all over town and try to wear as much “normal” clothes as possible while traveling. So far I’ve been pretty happy with them- the look decent, are rugged, can be worn without socks are are pretty comfy.

Abbie Hoffman writes:

The Vietnamese and people throughout the Third World make a fantastically durable and comfortable pair of sandals out of rubber tires. They cut out a section of the outer tire (trace around the outside of the foot with a piece of chalk) which when trimmed forms the sole. Next 6 slits re made in the sole so the rubber straps can be criss-crossed and slid through the slits. The straps are made out of inner tubing. No nails are needed. If you have wide feet, use the new wide tread low profiles. For hard going, try radials. For best satisfaction and quality, steal the tires off a pig car or a government limousine.

Hey, if it’s good enough for the people that live there…

My husband was there in the 60s during the war so all he wore were boots. I think he was pretty happy with that fashion choice, as he hasn’t worn anything but boots since then. I’d think boots would be a must if you’re tromping around in the jungle. But sandals would probably be fine in the cities.

Israeli Combat Boots.

*provide good ventilation for heat.
*they have the best arch supports of any reasonably priced boot available.
*Mold and Mildew resistant.
*Steel toes.
*Segmented steel plates in the soles [good for random punji sticks or other pointy problems]
*they come in a choice of tan, tan camo or black.

Well, to me hiking implies lots of walking, which includes the countryside between cities. I like protection for my feet. Nothing like being out in the middle of nowhere and damaging a foot to make life interesting.

Don’t know about Vietnam, but I wear Salomon Tech Amphibians to other parts of S.E. Asia. The are NOT waterproof. They drain and dry as quickly as sandals though.


That is to say: NO!

1)Israel is not too popular among certain groups of people.

  1. Wearing a piece of military uniform & announcing that you are going to travel in remote/isolated areas in somebody else’s country, can get you “special” attention from Customs & Law Enforcement, no matter where you are.

Right…because Israeli combat boots are so distinct from other combat boots or commercial hiking boots. And you never know when you might meet some rice farmer out in the bush who’s still pissed off over Israels involvement in the Vietnam war.

I bet you’re the type of guy who wears a Canadian flag on his backpack when he travels to someplace like Belgium (assuming that you are American and not, in fact, Canadian).

It is generally a bad idea to wear military clothing or things that could be mistaken as military clothing abroad. Avoiding camoflage, military backpacks, too much green clothing, etc. is standard practice for journalists, business travelers, embassy staff, etc.

At best, it signals that if they rob you they might find something really cool. At worst, it makes them suspect you may be an enemy, a spy, or somehow involved in region conflicts- when there are rebels in the hills, you certainly don’t want to emerge from the jungle out of nowhere in military gear. And most developing countries have all kinds of local conflicts you know nothing about and really don’t want to be a part of.

It’s also not at all uncommon for military-style gear to be confiscated. For example, Nicaragua has been known to confinscate green backpacks. Military grear just cries out "search me!’ and a search generally means they will keep whatever they find or “fine” you for various reasons. Your goal when around officials is to attract as little attention as humanly possible and get out of there before they start asking for bribes. ANYTHING interesting or unusual increases your chances of a shakedown.

The best thing to do in developing countries is to dress in practical but nice clothing- slacks, button-up shirts, modest comfy dress shoes, modest skirts and blouses for women. They don’t appreciate worn or excessively casual clothing, and too much adventure gear makes you stick out a lot and look very, very rich, expecially when you are full to the brim with cargo pockets, zip-off pants, complicated sandals with 20 straps, hulking backpacks, etc. and your guide through the jungle is walking around in shorts and flip flops. The goal is to dress like a respectable middle class member of their country would- like a small town banker or prosperous shopowner. Something they would recognize as “decent guy”.

High school teacher. That’s what I was looking for. Your goal abroad is to look like a high chool teacher- not rich, but respectable and well-groomed. Totally uninteresting and innocuous.

I ain’t never going to pass for a high school teacher in Vietnam, Sven. Sorry. I could shave my head and wear a saffron robe, and still be recognized at 50 paces as ethnically European. Is that uninteresting and innocuous? shrug

No, that makes sense. At least for third world countries. Most of Europe, pretty much wear whatever. Half the young people I saw in Germany were wearing camo paints or jackets or tank-tops and all the department stores sold them.

But is it better to wear an expensive pair of Timberland hiking boots than simple black army-style boots?

You don’t have to pass- obviously that’s not going to work. But there are backpackers that get the high prices in the backpacker-warehouses and pretended misunderstanding when they ask where that cool hidden temple is. Those are the ones walking around in dreds, Om tee-shirts and stained trousers. Then there are the backpackers that get invited in to people’s homes, offered the chance to see the back room of the temple or to participate in a ceremony and introduced to people’s families. Those are the ones that pay attention to what image they are projecting and respect the norms of the area they are in.

Good lord, are you that superficial? Don’t you think the difference probably has much more to do with the attitude and manners of the visitors? I would not give someone the advise that they should leave their well designed (if expensive) backpacks at home and bring something cheaper and less functional because that is their ticket to cultural nirvana. Because it isn’t. Ditto on footwear. I would, however, give someone advice on proper etiquette… but that is not what this thread is about.

Combat boots are so popular that nobody would notice what type you’re wearing.

This may sound jingoistically apropos, but I wear (and have worn for years) US Marine-issued “jungle boots” made by a company called Altama. They have nylon cloth uppers and vents in the mid-sole region to allow the draining of water and the free flow of air to dry the feet.

They were designed and manufacutured for… the Vietnam War.

So I’m willing to bet that they’re a good choice for hiking in Vietnam,

I think sven is right on the money, since your appearance is the most important element of the impression strangers get of you - and we all know that the first impression is everything.

Beg pardon, but my views apply to all military-issue clothing of any nation while traveling, or even at home.

If you haven’t earned the right to wear the uniform, do not do so.

  1. People who have been in that unit can jump to conclusions. They may resent you.
    2)People who do not like the associations that come with the uniform will definately resent you.

After all, would you be foolish enough to wear a Flying Tigers flight jacket on a tour of Japan?
Think about it.

Bosda seems to have a valid point, but is wearing combat boots really the same thing as wearing the “uniform,” as you put it? Is there something about Israeli boots that makes them stand out and broadcasts their Israeli origin? If not, a comparison to a Flying Tigers jacket seems a little overblown.

If there are identifying marks on the Israeli boots, and the wearer does not want to be identified with Israel, couldn’t the markings be removed or just blotted out with a black marker? Surely there’s a way of removing the tags and logos from the boots, and making them neutral.