I have been reading a lot lately about picking the right shoes and the right socks. These are all great things to do and you really need to focus on them, but have you thought about your after shoes? I’m talking about the footwear that you will use after you are done walking. It could be sandals, flip flops, slippers or something entirely different, but thinking about what it will be and testing it out, just like you’re doing for all your other 3-Day gear, is a good idea. You are testing out all of your 3-Day gear before you get there, right? Ok, now it’s story time.
On the first 3-Day walk that I did, I didn’t plan my after shoe strategy. I took a pair of street sneakers. Ok, I admit I probably wasn’t using my brain on that one, but it’s what I did and I was MISERABLE. It is not fun at all to walk 20 miles, get back to camp and get out of your sneakers only to realize that you have to get back into sneakers if you want to walk around!
Ok, let’s move forward a year. In 2008 I realized that sneakers probably weren’t a good bet for after shoes and got my head on straight and brought sandals. These were sandals I wore after every training walk, so I knew that they would work well. I called them my magical blister healing sandals because if my feet were even the littlest bit tender I could wear these sandals for a couple of hours and magically my feet would feel normal. My awesome sandals are very old and have made it through two 3-Day walks (in addition to the many years I have owned them) and they are on the verge of falling apart. I think they will make it through my first walk this year, but probably not through the second. I know I’m going to get some questions about this, so I’ll say right now that they were Dr. Martens sandals and they don’t make this particular model of sandal any more. I know, it’s sad.
So what should you look for when you are trying to find the perfect after shoes? A lot of this seems pretty intuitive, but obviously I missed it on my first year, so there is probably someone in my situation that it would help out to explain it all.
The obvious first requirement for any after shoes would be comfort. But I don’t mean lazing around the house comfort. They need to be comfortable to do a relatively decent amount of walking. I’m not suggesting that you go and walk 60 miles in your after shoes, but you do a lot of walking in camp, with going to and from the showers, to and from the bathroom, to and from the dining tent and also to and from the 3-Day pavillion and possibly the medic tent (let’s hope not!). So you need to have after shoes that are not only comfortable to wear but comfortable to walk the mile or so extra that you will do getting around in camp.
Depending on which 3-Day you walk in, this point may not be necessary, but when you walk in Dallas in November sometimes the nights get cold. So if you’re just wearing sandals or flip flops then your feet will get cold pretty quickly. I realize that it’s pretty dorky to wear socks with your sandals, but if your after shoes are sandals and you want to keep your feet warm, you do what you have to. This means that if you think that it might get cold in the city that you are walking in then you need to test out your after shoes with socks or other warmth preserving measures to make sure that they are still comfy after you add in the extra stuff!
Lastly, your after shoes should probably be small and easy to pack. You’re probably going to have a hard enough time getting your sleeping bag, clothes, toiletries and possibly inflatable mattress into your bag, you don’t need to add another large item to it. The good news is that most after shoes I have seen used have been pretty easy to collapse. Despite having the thick Dr. Martens soles, my sandals would compact quite nicely and fit pretty easily.
So keep an eye out for good after shoes. Do after training with them just the way that you would do training with all of your normal walking gear. This is one of those areas that I have been thankful about thinking about it, once I figured out that I needed to think about it.