Riding in the rain while touring isn't always the best part of a tour but there is a bright side if you are wearing sandals. One of my secret enjoyments while riding on the rain during a hot summer tour is the feel of pavement warmed water splashing off the tires and on to my feet. It's not quite a 100 km message but it comes mighty close and it makes the rain not only bearable but enjoyable.
Taking sandals on tour has numerous advantages. First of all they are light weight and they take up little space so it's entirely possible to take sandals along with another set of shoes when touring. In fact this is exactly what I do.
Sandals aren't limited to being useful on the bike. They are also very comfortable to wear around camp or while walking through a museum.
Many people think of sandals as only useful in warm weather. One option that many winter cyclists consider is to add Goretex socks to a set of oversized sandals to create an excellent set of cold weather footwear.
I currently use Shimano sandals. I plan to purchase a second set in order to be prepared for when the first set finally wears out.
Mark Boyd also enjoys using sandals while touring. Recently he obtained three sets of cycling sandals from three different vendors. His comments about each of the sandals follow:
"I got my Lake Sandals today. That completes my set with Shimano, Lake, and Exustar sandals. The Lake sandals have the same (Shimano) bottom sole as the Shimano sandals but have a thicker top. The Lake sandals weigh about 100 grams more per sandal, at 500 grams, than the Shimano and Exustar at 400 grams. The Exustar sandals are a bit narrower than the other two. The Lake sandals have a higher front toe guard and therefore offer more protection for the riders toes.
The two photos in this section show the top and bottoms of each type of sandal. As you can see from the pictures they all work with clipless sandals. The actual cleat shown in the picture is the one used with Crankbrother Eggbeater pedals.
In theses images, the Lake is brand new, the Exustar has about 200 miles of riding, and the Shimano has seen many thousands of miles of riding and many miles of walking. For my feet, the Shimano is the most comfortable, followed by the Lake, and then the Exustar. All three are quite comfortable while riding, but the Shimano sole 'walks' better than the Exustar sole. If your feet are not wide (D) like mine, the Exustar might be the most comfortable.
I paid $75 (list price) for those Shimano sandals, but one of my other pairs of Shimano sandals was only $55 on sale. I paid $37 for the Lakes on sale, and $25 for the Exustar sandals on sale. I think all three were good buys.
I have been amazed by how comfortable and long wearing the Shimano sandals are. I've bought three pairs over the last half a dozen years and worn them for a LOT of hours (two thousand + on the oldest pair) riding and a lot of miles walking. By virtue of some repairs with Goop and dental floss (great for gluing and sewing things back together on tour) my original pair is still in use.
The Lakes have the great Shimano sole which is very long wearing. I hope the Exustar sole wears as well. The Exustar uppers are a bit stiffer than the more expensive sandals, but look like they should be quite durable. I expect to get a lot of use out of all three pairs.
The Lake sandals will probably become my winter sandals because I think that protective lip on the front will cut down on the wind chill on my toes.
My newest pair of Shimano sandals and the Exustar sandals will go with me on tour next summer because the pressure distribution on the bottom of my foot changes more between those two pairs. I have had some long lasting numbness from that pressure, and, from experience, I know that I can prevent that problem by alternating between those two pairs of sandals while I tour."
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