- Buyer's Guide
As the saying goes, “You’re either in your shoes or your bed – so it pays to invest in them both”. At Carryology, we don’t often focus on sleeping arrangements, but we do pay attention to footwear – we even had our first footwear collaboration this year! Shoes have always been important to me, and I have more pairs than I care to mention. So we set out to try and find a collection of the best summer shoes for men that will cover all of your adventures, big and small.
This isn’t by any means a catalog of every shoe available on the market, but a curation of products that fit our mantra of good design, good quality, and good value. Not only that, they encourage travel and exploration, which is hardwired into our DNA here at Carryology.
Here are the best summer shoes for men in 2021.
Carryology Credential: The most comfortable running sneaker you’ll ever wear.
Best for: 5k’s, 10k’s, whether walking or running.
HOKA One One (Ho-Kay Own-ay Own-ay) are the masters of comfort. Started by two Frenchmen from the Alps in the 2000s, Hoka wanted to mimic the momentum seen in outdoor sports (such as climbing, mountain biking, and skiing) and transfer it to the humble running shoe. In fact, the name HOKA One One comes from the Maori phrase “to fly over the earth/freedom to fly”. Their cushioned soles paired with a rocker midfoot have become ubiquitous with comfort and performance. Now in its eighth iteration, the Clifton is a powerhouse in their line and continues to be one of the most popular and awarded running shoes on the market.
The 8 features a new lightweight midsole hidden in the streamlined silhouette. This shoe will help you set new PB’s and look good while doing it. As I’ve mentioned before about my experience with HOKA shoes, the decrease in leg, knee, and foot fatigue is truly remarkable. Not only are these shoes excellent for high-performance running, but they are also exceptionally comfortable for casual strolls. I recently tore my hamstring somewhat significantly and the Clifton 8’s have provided me all the support and cushioning that I need as I get back to full speed. Not only are they comfortable, but they are also lightweight, breathable, and come in a wide variety of colors to suit your needs and taste. Once you get on the HOKA train, it’s hard to get off.
Price: $111.98 (On sale!)
Carryology Credential: The best of both worlds – style and comfort. Hand-made too!
Best for: Beach cabanas and cocktails.
If you’ve read any of my other reviews here, you’ll know my penchant for leather and waxed cotton in bags. And I get the same twinkle in my eye when I see good leather footwear. However, being from England, that’s usually led me towards well-made boots, boat shoes, or brogues. Since moving to the East Coast and spending more time in the sunshine, leather slip-ons have been on my radar. Huaraches have always intrigued me from afar. I’ve always gravitated towards them because of their craft. They are, arguably, the ultimate holiday shoe. They can pull double duty from the beach to the bar, and they only get better with age.
These hand-made slip-ons are crafted by indigenous artisans in central Mexico, using time-honored techniques to create a shoe that you never want to take off. The leather becomes more and more supple over time and conforms to your foot. The EVA midsole gives you some extra cushioning and I’ve put many miles on these over the last few months. The credentials are impressive – vegetable-tanned leather, hand-made, and lightweight. With the Chamula Huaraches you get both style and substance!
*Note: these run slightly large, order a size smaller than your standard size.
Carryology Credential: Island-inspired goodness.
Best for: All-day summer fun.
If it’s good enough for the lifeguards in Hawaii, it’s good enough for me. OluKai’s heritage stems from the varied terrain of Hawaii’s mountains and beaches, and they continue to create excellent and long-lasting products. Everyone loves a flip-flop, but the Nalukai Sandals are flip-flops elevated. A full-grain leather upper and footbed mean ultimate comfort, that only gets better with each wear as it forms to your foot. Straps lined with microfibres to stop that classic flip flop rub, and a cushioned PU footbed means these are easy to choose as you head out of the door in the morning. Simple yet classy touches such as embroidered logos and decorative stitching add to the aesthetic. The sole is a non-marking rubber with good wet weather tracking for any rock pools you need to explore or storms you need to run away from.
Carryology Credential: The modern boat shoe.
Best for: Adventures in the water.
If there is a crew who knows a thing or two about the water, it’s Alaskan natives XTRATUF. Their deck boots are famed for going to some of the gnarliest places on earth and keeping fishermen steady on their feet in the biggest of swells. However, we aren’t all stars of Deadliest Catch though! With their new Riptide boat shoes, you can adventure in the water freely without worry! Fitted with the same non-slip chevron outsole as their fishing boots, you’ll stay upright in the slippiest of conditions.
The Riptides are a quick-drying, easy on/off, comfortable interpretation of the classic boat shoe – a true 21st-century update. The air mesh upper is breathable, quick-drying, and allows for great drainage, while cinch lace closure allows for quick on/off and adjustments on the fly.
I’ve worn these out fishing, kayaking, and to the beach. They are comfortable enough to bounce around town in and they’ve been a really useful addition to my quiver. They pack almost completely flat too, which makes them an easy choice to pack for adventures – from one body of water to another! As you’d expect from XTRATUF, these are tough as nails and should last for many years to come.
Carryology Credential: Versatility is the name of the game!
Best for: Stylish sandals for trail to town adventures.
Bedrock Sandals are known for their exploration-ready, high-quality, and hiking-focused adventure sandals. These are truly excellent options for those who like to roam sock-free. However, not every day is about scaling peaks and bouncing through rivers. Their Cairn Geo line is the perfect summer sandal that covers all of the other social adventures! The stylish bristlecone brown colorway fits with everything in your wardrobe, and the webbing is made from Repreve® yarn – which is 100% recycled from plastic bottles. Underneath your foot you can choose a standard flat footbed, or go for the extra-cushioned 3D molded footbed – which I highly recommend. The Vibram® Eco-Step sole is 30% recycled and features less aggressive lugs for a more casual ride.
These have come with me everywhere this summer. They take up no room at all in your bag, and fit into just about every situation. No blisters yet – the stretch in the yarn has just enough ‘give’ to provide total comfort – I was very surprised by this! I’ve taken these on casual hikes, cycled in them, worn them to dinner, and done yard work in them. I’ve tried many sandals and not committed – until now! Bedrock are also a member of 1% for the Planet. Combined with the recycled materials, it’s always great to know that the company you purchase from has a big heart and a switched-on conscience. I think the Cairn Geo Sandal is the most versatile sandal I’ve ever worn, and it’s coming with me on all of my adventures from here on out!
Carryology Credential: Waterproof and breathable trail kings.
Best for: The Wild!
Danner are a footwear powerhouse, since their inception in 1932 – they’ve continued to create some of the best outdoor shoes in the game. The Trail 2650 is a newer direction for them, building off the success of their Mountain 600 line in the previous few years. The 2650 (named after the length of the Pacific Crest Trail) has made a great impression on me, and has become a go-to approach shoe for me. The 2650 comes in multiple variations, but I think the GTX is the most versatile and the most trustworthy for those adventuring in varied climates and conditions.
As a lightweight hiker (26oz per pair), the TPU shank gives you good comfort and stability on long day hikes, supported by Danner’s excellent OrthoLite footbed. The GORE-TEX membrane is breathable enough to let the sweat out, but keep the water at bay for any creeks you find your way through. The Vibram® 460 outsole is beefy enough to tackle most terrain, without being an eyesore for cruising through town. It provides excellent grip on both wet and dry terrains, something I really appreciated in the northeast.
The EXO heel system keeps your foot stable in the shoe. And although it felt a little tight on my first couple of outings, I grew to love the extra stability. Danner have executed the 2650 to near perfection. If you are a hiker looking for your next approach shoe, start and finish here.
Carryology Credential: USA-Made Vintage Lookers
Best for: Dinner with friends, long rambling walks.
Danner aren’t just about the hiking game though. Some of their vintage boots are workhorses that would have originally seen decades of use at the coalface in rural Oregon communities. Their Bull Run boot is a homage to those days. Made in the USA out of robust burnished nubuck leather, these boots look better and better with each wear.
The same OrthoLite footbed provides excellent out-of-box comfort (although it is removable if you prefer different insoles!) and the steel shank gives great support and durability. A Danner Wedge non-marking, oil and slip-resistant outsole gives great cushioning and makes these comfortable boots to wear all day – I was surprised at how lightweight they were! The nubuck leather is unlined for comfort in the warmer seasons of the year. And thanks to the stitch down construction these boots are completely recraftable – meaning they should last for decades to come.
I’ve received compliments galore when wearing these elegant boots. I feel as though they are the perfect marriage of rough and ready looks with the comfort to see you through a long day of food and drink! The flat laces add to the smart finish of the boot, and I can’t wait to see the leather patina more and more with each outing. I’ll be turning to these for the summers of the future!
Carryology Credential: Featherweight sock-like slip-on.
Best for: Mini adventures and errands.
Vasque are known for their burly hiking boots that have seen the top of some pretty incredible peaks. These boots have also always been known for their comfortable outsoles that minimize fatigue and increase your capacity for more adventure! With the Satoru Moc, Vasque have distilled that comfort mantra and created a featherweight slip-on that you’ll love and always want with you. A pair of these Mocs only weighs in at 11oz. You can stick these in your bag and not even know you have them with you!
The memory foam footbed feels like what you’ve always wanted for your feet – unadulterated comfort. It took me by surprise just how welcoming they felt! Combined with a sock-like knitted mesh upper, these form to your feet instantly. These are the type of shoes that I would bring with me on a trip for post-hike errands, popping to dinner in town, and even a casual trail hike in a pinch. After a day on your feet in claustrophobic boots or work shoes, these are exactly what you need. They pack down very flat too, so the decision to take them is an easy one. These Mocs are a dark horse that you want in your stable!
We know picking the right shoes can be a hassle. And we hope that this small sample of the best summer shoes for men has pointed you in the right direction for your needs! We think that this collection highlights great innovation from both the powerhouses and the boutique makers in the industry. Hopefully, some of these shoes will take you on the adventure you’re thinking of and make it a more enjoyable one at that! Carry on!