Fold-in-Half, Zip-up Backpacking Shoe

By STEPHEN REGENOLD

Style points and packability are hallmarks of the Radler Trail Camp, a unique outdoors shoe new this summer from Timberland. Made for campers and backpackers, the main “wow” function of the shoe — what makes it truly interesting — is a zipper that rings the entire upper, allowing you to fold the shoe in half and zip it onto itself to create a “shoe pod” portable enough to fit in a jacket pocket.

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Timberland Radler Trail Camp folds in half, zips into ‘pod’ for transit

There are small bungee loops on the back of each shoe. When it is folded up, these loops can be clipped to a carabiner for attaching each Radler Trail Camp on the outside of a backpack.

Timberland touts that backpackers and hikers can “forget about packing bulky Crocs or flimsy flip-flops.” The Radler shoes serve as a substitute to those popular options, though with more traction and a better fit. A cinch-up lacing system and rubber lugs on the outsole provide a tight fit and traction, two things sandals skimp on.

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Radler Trail Camp in ‘pod’ form

As a bonus, the Timberland shoes have uppers made of rip-stop nylon with a water-repellent treatment. This lets you use the shoes in three seasons, where sandals are often summertime-only.

The Radler Trail shoes, which cost $65, are not made for walking miles and miles. Timberland designed the shoe as an “around camp” model. You wear hiking boots or trail-running shoes during the day pounding miles. The Radler shoes unzip in the evening once you’ve made it to camp, serving as footwear for cooking, firewood and water collecting, and other around-camp chores.

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Radler Trail Camps are good-looking for everyday wear

Beyond the backpacking application, the fold-up shoes seems made for travel if you’re looking to save space. I found the shoes comfortable enough to wear all day in normal life, and they are good-looking, too. I got a few comments from friends along the lines of “what are those cool shoes?” (They were even more impressed when I took one off and zipped it in half as a magic trick!)

The shoes are on Timberland.com under the men’s category and sold in men’s sizes. But they are being marketed as a unisex shoe, a company rep told us. The fit is a neutral shape and semi-wide, and the shoes are low to the ground with no mid-sole and an overall minimal design.

My size 12 Radler Trail Camps weigh about 8 ounces per foot, which puts them in the “lightweight” but not “ultra-light” category in my book. Take out the felt insole and weight watchers can lose a few more grams for each “foot pod” bouncing and suspended on a carabiner as you hike down the trail.

—Stephen Regenold is founder and editor of www.gearjunkie.com. Connect with Regenold at Facebook.com/TheGearJunkie or on Twitter via @TheGearJunkie.

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