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6 Aug 2010

Summer Sandals in Extra Large Sizes

One of my stranger experiences last week made me aware of the benefit of specialist sandals. And when my mind turned to sandals, I realised that I was long overdue to sort out some sandals for the summer vacations. Having spent time looking online, I thought I'd share some results.

But back to last week. With some friends, I had my first taste (literally) of river swimming, an activity that takes place on rivers including the Charles River in Boston and in Switzerland on the River Rhine or in the capital, Berne (video). Half exercise, half relaxation, the idea is that you swim or float downstream for a mile or so in a large river with your clothes in an inflatable plastic bag enjoying the unique viewpoint and the open air! It was certainly great fun, although I have two top tips for anyone considering it: (1) keep your mouth closed wherever possible as water in large rivers turns out not to taste that good, and (2) to avoid stubbing your toe on the way in and out, wearing waterproof sandals while you swim is strongly advised.

Merrell Cambrian Strap Men's Extra Large Sandals - Size 15 Teva Hurricane XLT (Men's) - Navajo Blue
Scott Hawaii Leahi (Men's) - Brown Ocean Minded Scorpion (Men's) - Chocolate

I have spent several comfortable years in a pair of Merrell walking sandals, so the fully waterproof Merrell Cambrian are a purchase I am seriously considering. As well as being waterproof they are well padded for when you're out of the water and would look good in whichever element you happen to be. They are available in three color schemes up to US size 15 and the reviews on shoebuy.com were very positive. If you need larger sizes or a price under $50, Teva Men's Hurricane XLT goes up to a US size 16.

If you're not planning to jump in a river the next time you put on a pair of sandals, both Merrell and Teva make some excellent casual hiking sandals in large sizes that combine high-tech materials with a look that would work on a mountainside or a sidewalk.

However, if you're likely to be spending the vacations on the beach rather than on the trail, something a bit smarter and less functional is a better bet. These days, sandals are seen worn not just with shorts, chinos or linen, but even (if you're willing to make waves in the fashion sense) with a suit. For 'vacation casual', whether at the barbeque or in the Bahamas, a pair of Born sandals is a safe choice. You can buy them via the Born web site but they are typically more expensive than the online-only suppliers. A similar combination of modern materials and classic style is seen in the Clarks sandals (second picture below).

If you're really determined to chill out on the beach, a pair of flip-flops or Hawaiian 'slippahs' is your footwear of choice. Check out the styles from Scott Hawaii, one of the longest established producers of traditional flip-flops located in Hawaii.

Shoebuy offer one of the biggest selections of shoes and sandals online with large sizes plus free shipping and returns, but you can also try zappos.com who offer a wide variety of performance sandals and flip flops in sizes up to US 18.

Outside the US

Shoebuy.com do deliver outside the US via DHL, and for some brands they are probably the best source.

For the UK, Walktall is an excellent source for large sizes of men's shoes.

Born Aaron (Men's) - Tan Full Grain Leather Clarks Charles (Men's Large Sandals) - Brown Oily Leather

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