The toe-shoe craze may have peaked, but thin-soled shoes are sticking around. Xero Shoes, a Colorado-based start-up that was featured on Shark Tank, is making sandals and running shoes according to the motto "feel the world." I picked up a pair of their Z-Trek sandals, which feature a Chaco-like webbing system, because I thought they'd be the perfect shoes for warm water kayaking. In tight playboats, creekboats or even sea kayaks, bulky shoes can be uncomfortable and neoprene booties don't always match the weather. The Z-Treks fit well into every kayak I tried them in, but I also found myself wearing them off the river on side hikes or around the house. Feel the world you can, and it makes simple walking a more interesting experience. And when not in use, they pack smaller than any sandal around.

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The complete holiday gift guide from our editors.