Yeah, Crocs are some of the lightest footwear you can get. But. On a man, Crocs look like something specifically designed for the enhancement of impotence. Indeed, who knows what goes into the things as they’re molded by robots from some weird mix of foaming chemicals (don’t wear without socks).
Forewith, a few ideas for hut shoes a bit heavier than the footwear foamies, but just might get you more than a laugh from that attractive single Sweedish girl you just happened to end up sitting across from during strudel and coffee. Perhaps, after she glances at your footwear and realizes you are the real deal, cinch the knot by quoting some WildSnow official haiku:
warm, noisy hut in bloom
a hummingbird joy-stained shoe
in the halls wanders
And then describe how you picked your shoes by some astute data mining, mainly, at the ever lovin’ WildSnow.com.
We’re considering shoes you’d haul to or between huts during backcountry skiing and ski mountaineering. If you’re using full-service huts such as most in Europe, you can get your pack down to phenomenally low weights by ruthless gear selection. About all you need beyond normal day-trip kit is a sleeping bag liner, minimal self-care stuff, hut lounging clothing and a pair of shoes you can wear while your boots dry (some huts provide shoes, but do you really want to spend 20 hours in ski boots during an unplanned train trip because of a trip route change?) Beyond weight, comfort and walkability are factors that play in hut shoe selection. You want something you can jog to a bus or train in, and use for wandering around outdoors in the snow for photographs and fresh air.
Sad to say that Crocs are the clear winner in terms of weight, as they’ll save you a half pound (226 grams) or more in mass over any of the more “shoe like” choices out there. But try jogging in Crocs, or yes, impressing the ladies.
The reward for carrying that eight more ounces is great. Our favorites for such are the Lizard Kross M (summer version) and La Sportiva Vertical K.
We reviewed the Kross M winter version last season. It’s a good shoe, quite snow and water resistant, but was too hot for us during indoor use. The Kross M summer model is much nicer at the dinner table after a day of backcountry skiing. It’s made from an air permeable mesh that still has some snow penetration resistance, but ventilates perfectly even when you slip them on over a pair of damp socks. The Kross sole is a grippy Vibram brand compound that helps avoid accidents on slippery stairs or icy patios, and they wear comfortably without lacing. My pair of size 42 mass at exactly one pound (452 grams). Kross W makes an excellent hut shoe, very comfortable and packable. Not much can be trimmed for weight reduction. The sole is the heaviest part; perhaps the small lugs could bet trimmed down a bit with a disk grinder.
I should also mention that Kross makes a “croc-like” shoe called their Agile. These have various configurations of instep and heel straps, sort of a hybrid croc/sandal. The model pictured here isn’t snow and dirt resistant, but they sell another model with a mesh liner. I prefer a more “shoe like” unit than these, so I didn’t test. Weights forthcoming.
Our other fave is the La Sportiva Vertical K. Actually a trail running shoe, with their springy sole and feather weight these zapos make you feel like sprinting — and will indeed help you catch that bus back to Cham with seconds to spare. At 15 ounces (424 grams) the Vertical is my lightest choice, and actually feels the most like a “shoe.” The sole is a sticky climbing rubber that’s said to possibly mark floors, but my pair do not have that problem. Test before purchasing; perhaps my pair have a different rubber compound than other production runs. Vertical K can be modified to drop a few grams. Cut off the lace protector, and grind some rubber of the soles. An impressive shoe — I even used them for a day of chain sawing at WildSnow FHQ, though I’m not recommending that!
For comparo I included an old pair of folding “traveler” Reeboks and New Balance runners I still have kicking around. As far as I can tell the Reeboks are discontinued, and I was never that impressed with them. They’re made out of a non-breathable synthetic and quite bulky, though fairly light in weight. As for running shoes, some folks do opt for those as a hut shoe for backcountry skiing travels; heavy and bulky.
We can’t find any etailers for Kross footwear other than their own website. Shop for the La Sportiva Vertical K here.
WildSnow.com publisher emeritus and founder Lou (Louis Dawson) has a 50+ years career in climbing, backcountry skiing and ski mountaineering. He was the first person in history to ski down all 54 Colorado 14,000-foot peaks, has authored numerous books about about backcountry skiing, and has skied from the summit of Denali in Alaska, North America’s highest mountain.