I think camp shoes are stupid. With most backpackers wearing running shoes or lightweight hikers, camp shoes are a thing of the past. But recently I found myself in need of camp shoes. But wait. You just said they were unnecessary... When we went bikepacking I was wearing a pair of Five Ten Maltese Falcon clipless shoes. They are great on and off the bike for hike-a-bike sections but I knew that after a day of wearing them I would be ready to slide into something else. The most common alternatives are crocs or slippas' (see Hawaiian translation) for hanging out around camp. But those options are too heavy and hideous. Some of the barefoot forums were talking about the Sockwa G4s. Basically a beefed up version of a sock. I figured I would give them a try, but was skeptical with the harsh desert ground.
Initial Thoughts- The Sockwa G4 is designed to fit like a sock with a neoprene upper. The upper is sewn to a TPU sole that is thin enough to allow for ground feel, but designed to protect your feet from the harsh environment. The upper has a stretch opening that allows you to slip them on where they create a seal around your ankle. Because of the basic design, the Sockwa can be bend, rolled, stuffed and bounce right back. Another added perk is that when they start to get rank you can toss them in the washing machine. As expected these have a zero drop design adding to the minimalist experience. Sockwa also makes multiple different version depending on what you are looking to do with them, but the G4 is the lightest available.
Use- I was looking for a minimalist and lightweight option for those times when camp shoes are a must. The Sockwa G4 seems to have perfectly filled that void. In my bulging bikepacking setup I was able to stash the G4s in a void, not even noticing they were there. Although the Arizona desert can be harsh on bare feet the Sockwas did a great job of protecting my feet from sharp rocks and twigs. Now, that doesn't mean I didn't feel everything I was stepping on. But it was definitely a large improvement over walking around barefoot. The upper material stretches to easily slide your foot in, but retains a tight grip around the ankle, which helped to minimize pebbles working their way in. It should be noted that I went with the same size as my standard shoe size, but would size up if I were to wear them more often. They fit snug and my toes do make contact with the front of the toebox (a sensation I am no longer use to).
Final Thoughts- The Sockwa G4 is a excellent option for the weight and space saving backpackers or bikepackers. The ability to stuff these camp shoes anywhere in your gear, makes not bringing them hard to do. The weight, and design create a protective layer to avoid stepping on hazards when ducking out of your tent in the night for a bathroom break or just lounging around the fire. With other options available Sockwa has something that will fit with your specific adventure. Checkout the Sockwa collection here.
*These were purchased for testing.