Gearbox: Shoes a travel comfort
Porpet packable washable travel shoes (Hammacher Schlemmer/Chicago Tribune)
What it is: Lightweight (7 ounces) walking shoes that can be folded for packing. Unlike many athletic shoes, these can be washed. The nylon-mesh uppers allow air to circulate, keeping your feet cooler, and they dry quickly after washing. The shoes have a padded tongue and collar and a shock-absorbing midsole of lightweight foam for walking comfort. They slip on and off more like loafers due to their Ghillie-style elastic cinch ties. Sizing runs small. I wear a size 71/2 in athletic shoes to accommodate my orthotics, but the 8 fit me perfectly.
The good: I was surprised by the shoes' comfort even though they don't offer quite as much support as my Asics athletic shoes. Even though they packed easily, after wearing them once on a flight, I found myself packing my bulkier athletic shoes so I could wear the Propets through the security line and on the plane. Their lighter weight and breathability make them more comfortable than my Asics on longer flights, and they have enough support for walking long distances at airports.
The bad: I wish the midsole was slightly stiffer to help my orthotics keep me from pronating. My podiatrist recommends shoes that can't be twisted from the toes to the midsole. But then I might not be able to fold the shoes in half for packing. I wish there were additional color choices because the shoes look dressier than my athletic shoes.
Cost: $59.95 (men's or women's)
Available from: hammacherschlemmer.com, zappos.com and other online retailers