I spent quite some time recently looking for a sufficiently light pair of sandals to wear around camp and for stream crossings. Previously I had used Vibram Fivefingers, which, though really comfortable, prevent the wearing of socks. Cold camp feet ensued outside of summer. I've seen some other options out there aiming at the same goal I was:
Both suffer from the same sock problem as my Fivefingers, although in the first link the creator also modified socks to wear with thong-style sandals. I guess that's one way to go, but I don't want a pair of specialty socks reserved for that purpose.
Since I found existing options lacking, I set about making my own camp/stream-crossing sandals. What I present here is my third version of sandals that I've been using for about 6 months now on various trips with good results. I figured that after milking these and other forums for MYOG ideas and techniques, it was time I put some of my knowledge out there for the greater good. Hopefully others find this design useful!
Here are the sandals on a professional foot model (ok...me).
They are made of 3/4" nylon webbing and a 1/2" thick closed cell EVA foam. The straps tighten down with velcro, and are sized to fit tightly on my bare foot (for stream crossings) at their smallest up to loosely over a sock for lounging at camp at their biggest. The left and right have different soles (I was testing two types). The right has a 1/64" sheet of plastic for stiffness and a 1/32" thick piece of rubber for traction glued to the bottom, and the left just has Shoe-Goo smeared across the bottom of the foam.
The one with the rubber sole weighs 2.1oz, and the one without weighs 1.1oz. Note those weights are for one sandal, not a pair of that type.
One thing that I learned really helps in terms of fit and keeping the sandal on your foot is this heel strap. It attaches to the footbed around the middle of the foot and wraps around the heel, keep your foot in the sandal when you're walking up a hill. Having it attach to the footbed where it does is very important; if you just attach it to the other rear strap, as with some commercially available (heaving, stiffer) sandals, the whole thing shifts backwards when walking uphill and your foot slides off the back. Having the little loops on the main rear strap also helps keep the heel strap up high so it doesn't slide down under your foot.
To make these, I outlined my foot and added some extra around the edges, especially in the toes. You can always trim down later if you decide it's too big. I then cut that shape out of 1/2" foam, and the rubber, and plastic. I cut 6 small holes with an Xacto knife in the foam: 1 on each side of my heel, 1 on each side just short of the middle of my foot, and 1 on each side just behind my toes. They should be right up against, or even a little under, the edge of your foot for best fit. These holes are for threading the nylon webbing through.
I then took two pieces of nylon webbing, longer than I thought I needed so I could trim them down, and sewed the plastic loops into one end of each (for the part where the strap doubles back before the velcro). I then threaded these two straps, plus the plain one for the heel strap, through the holes in the foam. The way I made it I used only three sections of webbing per sandal; the webbing goes over the foot, through a hole in the footbed, under the foam, and back up through the opposite hole. You could probably use 5 pieces (two for the front two straps and one for the heel) and the sewing/fitting might be a bit easier, but you have to make sure they are well anchored under the foam. Next I marked the webbing where I wanted the velcro to go to achieve my fitting goals described above and sewed the velcro onto the straps. You should add the retaining loops on the main rear strap (the ones that hold up the heel strap) now. Then I smeared Shoe-Goo on the bottom of both, and for the right one I added the additional layers, and the left I just let cure. That's it!
If you'd like to set about making your own, I'd recommend McMaster Carr for the foam and rubber. They sell about one hundred million different types of foam and foam rubber. Here's what I used:
foam: part #86095K44
plastic: part #8652K71
rubber: part #8445K141
They sell most of these in various thicknesses, so you can make the whole package lighter by going with thinner materials if you want. If/when I make another pair of these, I think I will skip the plastic, but keep the rubber, and see if I can get a thinner rubber. Maybe a thinner, stiffer foam too.
I would be interested to hear if anyone else makes a pair of these, and what they used, and how well it works.
If it turns out that people are really interested in making these and want more detailed instructions, I would be happy to post that too.