7 Best Eco-friendly Shoes for Travel


Travel + Leisure / Reese Herrington

Finding the right pair of sneakers to traverse this beautiful world of ours can be quite a challenge. Ideally, you need something that is versatile, packable, and (perhaps most important of all) comfortable.

As someone who has tested out thousands of sneakers in her career, I can be pretty particular about which shoes earn a spot in my luggage. In addition to all of the factors above, I’m also always on the lookout for sneakers that are made with sustainable materials and ethical practices. While some brands have made tremendous strides, and others have a ways to go — I tend to prefer brands, big and small, that are taking steps in the right direction. 

With all that in mind, and in honor of April being Earth Month, I’ve rounded up some of my favorite sustainable sneakers that are eco-friendly, comfortable, and also perfect for your spring and summer travels. Whether you’re in the market for something more sporty or sleek, consider going for an option with a lighter footprint like the Earth-friendly picks from Nike, Allbirds, On Running, and other top brands below.

Cariuma Oca High-Top Canvas Sneakers 


This celeb-loved sneaker brand is absolutely worth the hype. The brand was built with eco-conscience at its foundation to produce a smaller footprint: all of its shoes feature raw materials, their warehouses meet high environmental standards, and two trees are planted for every pair purchased. It makes a number of great sneaker silhouettes, but I’m partial to their Oca High-Tops. These are fantastic shoes with fun, stylish, retro vibes, which are available in canvas, suede, and leather options. I’ve worn these sneakers all over the streets of New York City and Los Angeles, and I’m always so impressed by the memory foam insoles — which make mile after mile feel like nothing on your feet. 

But don’t just take my word for it; see what some of the sneakers’ 800-plus five-star reviewers have to say about them. One shopper wrote, “They are really comfy and haven’t given me blisters on my heels like other new shoes do.” Another customer shared, “Each time I wear them, they get more comfortable…I’m on my feet all day as a high school counselor and I enjoy wearing these.” 

To buy: cariuma.com, $98

Adidas Ultraboost 23 Running Shoes


Adidas has been on a mission to expand its sustainable shoe offerings for years. In fact, it has begun its redesigning efforts to minimize waste by collaborating with brands like Allbirds and Parley, and by 2025, 90 percent of its products will feature more earth-friendly materials. One example of the brand’s revamped footwear is the Adidas Ultraboost 23 Running Shoes. These sneakers feature recycled materials — namely, Parley Ocean Plastic and recycled polyester — and yield a 10-percent lower carbon footprint than previous iterations. Again, I’m excited to see how Adidas continues to imbue even more sustainability practices into its overall design and production in years to come. 

Travel + Leisure / Susan Brickell

I’ve personally worn these super-cushioned sneakers all over the streets of Paris, in the hills of Napa, all over New York City, and through eight different airports. Through each adventure, these sneakers offered supreme comfort and levity, whether I was taking a long walk or running for miles. Other shoppers have also experienced this level of comfort. A Zappos customer said, “I got these and ran 5 miles out of the box with them. They’re incredibly comfortable and lighter than the previous version. They hug the feet, which is great.” 

To buy: zappos.com, $190

Xero Dillon Sneakers 


Shark Tank-famous brand Xero creates footwear that allows your feet to move more naturally. Each of its shoes feature minimal soles that give you the ability to bend and flex without restriction, and still feel the ground beneath your feet. Plus, they have a wide toe box to let your toes stretch out to their comfort. All of those signature design elements went into one of the brand’s newest sneaker style: the Dillon, which is designed to be a go-to, everyday sneaker with its minimalist low-top silhouette that’s ideal for pairing with every outfit in your everyday and travel wardrobes.  

I won’t lie, if you prefer ultra-cushioned sneakers, these aren’t the right ones for you. When I walked around in these shoes, it felt awesome, but also like I was nearly barefoot with only minor support to protect my feet from the elements. They can take some getting used to, but it does feel like a nice break from more restrictive sneakers. 

I also appreciate that, as a newer brand, Xero is very transparent about where it stands on its sustainability journey. Right now, its primary focus is building shoes that last for thousands (rather than a few hundred) miles, use less resources overall, and utilize eco-conscious materials wherever possible. As the brand states on its site, “We know we’re not perfect, and always strive to do better,” and I think that’s a mindset we could all benefit from. 

To buy: amazon.com, $99

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On Cloud X 3 Running Shoes 


For On, sustainability is at the core of the brand. Focused on creating less waste, using alternative materials, and maintaining sustainable production, the brand is all about having a positive impact on the planet. As for the shoes — there are plenty of high-performance sneakers to meet any of your needs or goals. My personal favorites are the Cloud X 3 Running Shoes, which I’ve worn for plenty of long walks, hikes, and runs on both the east and west coasts.

Travel + Leisure / Susan Brickell

Designed with bouncy zero-gravity foam footbeds, grippy zig-zag traction, and a unique Speedboard layer for fast energy return, I love that they’re lightweight, flexible, and totally breathable. As one Zappos reviewer wrote: “This is cheesy, but it really does feel like you are walking on a cloud. I have horrible heel pain with most tennis shoes, and these feel great. I can wear them for 10 hours, and [there’s] no pain.” 

To buy: zappos.com, $150

VivoBarefoot Primus Lite Sneakers


For another pair of barely-there sneakers that pack into any carry-on bag or suitcase with absolute ease, the Vivobarefoot Primus Lite Shoes are a minimalist traveler’s dream. They’re designed to mold to the natural shape of your foot with their thin-yet-protective soles. Again, these shoes might feel a bit bizarre if you’re used to wearing highly cushioned sneakers. But, whether you’re heading out for a nature walk or a stroll around a new locale, these shoes are up to the task.

The brand also puts the Earth’s well-being front and center by minimizing consumption during production, using eco-conscious materials, and creating products that last. The Primus Lite Sneakers, for instance, are constructed of upcycled plastic waste.

They’ve also earned high praise from Amazon shoppers. One reviewer wrote, “I can’t go back to normal shoes. I love these. They’re great for running and hiking, and they’re easy to clean.” Chiming in, a second customer called them, “the most comfortable pair of shoes I’ve ever owned. I love the fact that they are vegan and eco-friendly.” 

To buy: amazon.com, $112

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Allbirds Superlight Tree Runner Sneakers 


I’ve been pretty vocal about how much I love Allbirds sneakers for travel (exhibit A), so I was thrilled when I found out the sustainable brand was launching a new and even lighter pair of sneakers to its roster. Introducing: the Superlight Tree Runners, which showcase the brand’s new Superlight foam that’s made from carbon-negative green EVA material. 

While I haven’t had a chance to travel with these newly launched beauties just yet, I have taken them for a few spins around my neighborhood — both with and without socks — and Allbirds isn’t kidding with that “superlight” label. Walking around with these minimalist sneakers truly feels like wearing  supportive clouds around your feet. The uppers are barely-there thin and made from eucalyptus tree fiber with recycled polyester, but the soles still offer a solid amount of cushion and support. What’s more, as of the launch, these sneakers have the lowest carbon footprint of any pair of Allbirds sneakers currently on the market. 

To buy: allbirds.com, $115

Nike Air Force 1 ’07 Next Nature Sneakers


The Nike Air Force 1 Sneakers are perhaps one of the most iconic footwear styles around. I know, for me, whenever I need white lifestyle sneakers for a trip, this is often the pair I reach for. They look great with just about everything: jeans, dresses, shorts, the list goes on. The foam midsoles are also absurdly comfortable — I can’t even begin to quantify how many miles I’ve walked in these shoes (both internationally and locally) without a single ache or pain. 

Travel + Leisure / Susan Brickell

When I was first considering buying this classic pair, I was pleased to find a “Next Nature” version of the shoes, which are made with at least 20 percent of recycled materials. This design shift is part of Nike’s “Move to Zero” journey to fulfill its zero carbon and zero waste initiatives for all its products. While I’d love to see even more recycled materials and sustainable practices go into these shoes, I appreciate these eco-minded steps. 

One Nike shopper raved, “I really like these shoes… I’m a mom of four, so I need sneakers that are light and great for running after little ones.” Another reviewer added, “They are very clean looking and are super versatile. You can wear them with literally anything. They are also super comfortable and you can definitely wear them all day.” 

To buy: nike.com, $115

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