Finding that perfect travel shoe can be a quixotic quest. There are notions of slip-on convenience (ideally suited for quick off-and-on in the airport security lines, and easy off-and-on while seated on long airplane journeys), coupled with excellent foot support to see you through a day of racing through airports, luggage schlepping, or hours of sightseeing upon arrival (any shoe has to do triple duty!). A little style would be nice too (rubber clown-colored slip-ons need not apply). And did we mention compact and lightweight with excellent traction even on wet streets and cobblestones?

Men's Spenco Siesta in Java

Men’s Spenco Siesta in Java

While I would not say the search for perfection is over, the Spenco Siesta slip-on shoe ($80), available in both men’s and women’s styles, comes tantalizingly close.

For a company that is known for its after-market footbeds, I expected the support to be stellar — and I was not disappointed. The Spenco Siesta sole features a zero-drop heel lift, coupled with orthotic-like arch support, a metatarsal dome, and cushioned forefoot for excellent comfort even traipsing for miles on concrete walks and miles of airport linoleum. Therese, who is much pickier about foot support and footwear stability, and typically prefers full-wrap, lace-up shoes, found her pair provided unexpected comfort even after several miles of walking, albeit casual strolls with stops not up-tempo, non-stop striding. She did however find her feet would feel a little sweaty against the upper fabric and preferred to wear little no-show nylons or socks with them.

Traction is superb, and the canvas-like upper provided casual styling that I felt comfortable wearing even into a classy art gallery or nice restaurant. When not on my feet, the shoes stowed very compactly into my luggage. At 17 ounces for the pair — men’s size 10 – not too heavy either.

So why were they not perfect? Both pairs of Spenco Siesta slip ons we tested, mine in java (medium brown for the color-challenged) and Therese’s in straw (light gold-brown) began to show wear rather quickly, perhaps due to the ragged seam design – I kept mine looking clean with periodic snips and clips using my trusty nail clipper. Therese’s quickly began showing every smudge and scuff of dirt on the light fabric – and wiping it down didn’t remove it, but just lightened it up and kind of smeared it around, just stalling the inevitable.

Bottom line, if you opt for a dark color, like I did, the shoes might get a tad ragged around the seams, though with a bit of trimming maintenance, it is possible to keep them looking relatively respectable. Stay away from light colors, like Therese chose, as they get too dirty too quickly and don’t clean up well at all.

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