I thought I would start a small and irregular series of Top Tips on this blog, but to clarify: I will not be advertising stuff I have been given or asked to review, I will only give the Top Tip stamp of pilgrim approval to products I have researched and bought myself, but which I have found to be excellent for my use or lifesavery in any way.
The item which gave me this idea is the humble Birkenstock EVA Madrid, simply a plastic slip-on sandal which seemed to be too flimsy to even consider. I was a firm fan of my Mary Jane style Crocs, which I could use with or without socks. Later I saw the sense in walking sandals, specifically Teva Terra Fis (original and later the light version), but that meant not having a quick-on-quick-off shoe to go to the bathroom in the night, and also they took too long to dry if I wore them to the shower. I thought about bringing three pairs of footwear but it never happened, not when I am packing light. Then when I walked with L, she had a pair of flip-flops we shared – she put them between our beds at night and we would both slip them on to make a quick dash to the bathroom. I liked the idea of flip-flops, but again it would mean three pairs of footwear …
Someone on the Forum mentioned the new Birkenstock EVAs, in durable plastic, practically weightless, takes hardly any room in the pack, can be strapped to the outside etc. I thought it might be worth a try and got a black pair (even though they do sell pink ones!) at a good price. They look quite classic and simple:
Not only did I take them to my Camino Sola in September 2015, but I wear them around the house all the time. They are soft underfoot, with some arch support, can be tightened or loosened to allow for socks, thick socks or no socks, are non-stinky and non-slippy and are perfect for in the shower, walking across wet or dirty floors or even wading through water, doing a spot of sightseeing, nipping to the loo and also for walking short distances on a flat surface. I do love my walking sandals, but the Birkies have knocked them down to third place in my pack now. They are also very lightweight and easy to pack – I keep them in the side mesh pocket so I can pull them out and pop them on as soon as I arrive. And if I know I’ll need sturdier backup footwear, I will still take these. Highly recommended!