What makes for great travel shoes?
First and foremost, they need to be comfortable. You’ll be spending a lot of time on your feet while you travel, and if you can only justify bringing one pair with you, the last thing you want is pain and blisters.
They also have to be well-made and rugged. You’ll most likely be wearing your shoes in a variety of climates and across a range of terrains, so packing a pair of shoes that won’t fall apart is of utmost importance.
The shoes need to be lightweight and compact, in order to save as much weight and space in your luggage as possible, and they need to be multi-purpose.
When you travel, you might be hiking mountains one day, walking around a city the next, and exploring a jungle soon after that. You’ll want to invest in a pair of shoes that can handle anything you put beneath them.
Enter: Maratown, which says it's created the world’s most cushioned sneakers. They come complete with a thick, soft, and bouncy sole that puts one-third less pressure on your feet. The company thinks this makes for an ideal shoe for travelers, and sent me a pair to review.
How do they hold up on the road? It was time to put them to the test.
Features and Specifications
Maratown sneakers come with a whopping 1.5 inches of cushioning, compared to around half an inch of hard rubber in traditional shoes. The company says its cushioning is super-soft, elastic, resilient, and lightweight.
They worked with foot specialists during the development stages, to ensure the shoes were as comfortable as possible. As a result, the heel is designed to be half an inch higher than the front, in order to spread pressure across the foot.
The thinner front allows the shoe to bend at the base of the big toe, the collar and tongue are padded at all pressure points, and the shoes are made with soft leather in an attempt to remove the breaking-in period.
There are six different styles, all of them in black and white. All styles are unisex.
Finally, the shoes also come with volume adjusters and heel liners, in case they're slightly too large for your feet.
It sounds great in theory, but how did they hold up during a day of travel?
Upon opening the box, I was happy to discover the sneakers looked better than in the online photos. Despite having such a thick heel, they didn’t look like something I'd have worn as a skateboarding teenager, as I had expected.
The shoes were well made and looked like they’d hold up while travelling, and when I applied pressure to the sole of the shoe, it was softer and spongier than those I’ve worn in the past.
They weren’t much heavier than the normal walking shoes I pack for travel, although they were bulkier.
Walking around my apartment wasn’t going to help me figure out if these shoes were any good for travelers, so I took to the streets of the Portuguese capital to thoroughly test them out.
I spent an entire afternoon sightseeing in Lisbon, walking up and down hills, and clocking up 25,000 steps, according to my Fitbit.
The first thing I noticed was that these shoes were lightweight, even while on my feet. Despite having a bulky heel, I didn’t feel like I had to exert any more energy with each step.
And they were seriously comfortable! It was like walking on cushions all day. I’m someone who usually ends up with pain in their feet and toes after a full day of walking, and I didn’t experience any of that with these sneakers. That alone had me convinced that these are great shoes for travelers.
The shoes are stylish and smart, and I’d feel comfortable wearing them in mid-range bars and restaurants without feeling under-dressed.They’d also be good shoes for a longer walk, at least as long as you weren't on a muddy surface. This makes them a great option for travel, as you can wear them in a variety of situations and countries.
Are There Any Downsides?
I’ve found just a few downsides.
First, the comfort of the Maratown sneakers comes at a price -- it's a much bigger shoe than normal. The thick heel of these sneakers make the shoe larger than other walking shoes you’d likely be looking to travel with. For travelers, for whom size is often the deciding factor when packing their bags, this could be a problem.
If these are the only shoes you're taking on your trip, and you're wearing them all the time, there's no issue. If you need to fit them in your suitcase, though, it's a different story.
Additionally, I found the tongue of the shoe to be uncomfortable when first putting the sneaker on. The leather wasn’t as soft as I had been expecting in that spot, and the tongue dug into my ankle and caused some pain.
After walking in the shoes for a while, this problem went away, but it’s something to keep in mind if you have wide ankles. They may not be as comfortable for you.
Based on the above, I'd suggest that although the breaking-in period is likely shorter than many other shoes, it's not eliminated altogether. Spend some time before your trip wearing the shoes in normal life, to avoid unexpected problems when you ramp up the walking on vacation.
If you have enough space in your luggage for Maratown’s sneakers, I can recommend traveling with them.
They make walking around new cities a more-pleasurable experience, and as long as they're worn in, make returning to your hotel room with aching feet a thing of the past. They’re stylish, well-constructed, and don’t leave you looking like a tourist.
Overall, they’re a good option for travelers who spend a lot of time on their feet while they travel.