Shoes & Slippers

Hiking Shoes

Walking on rocky and uneven landscape, choice of shoes is important.

The trail can be very slippery when it rains (which is very often).

You must wear a pair of hiking or trekking shoes to climb Mt Kinabalu. Yes, HIKING shoes, not any other sports shoes like running or jogging shoes, badminton shoes, squash shoes, golf shoes, etc.

Hiking shoes give good grip to walk on mud, stones or slope and they protect your toes, ankles and knees. Without a pair of shoes with good grips, it takes more body energy to balance yourself while walking and, if you are unlucky, you could slip and fall.

Good hiking shoes wrap your toes and support your ankles in appropriate place. You will be less likely to hurt your toes or sprain your ankle.

Most people do not realise the stability of hiking shoes actually protect knees, especially during descending of a climb. The impact and shock placed on your knees during descending is tremendous. Read this article on protecting knee while running to understand how to protect your knees. Another two articles here and here on protecting your knees while descending from a mountain.

Kampung Adidas

The famous Kampung Adidas.

Kampung Adidas is actually the nickname given to a very inexpensive, locally made rubber shoes for hiking and mountain climbing. It is light, it is waterproofed (made of rubber) and it gives astonishingly good grip on ground. It costs between RM6 to RM10, which is less than USD$5.

My Kampung Adidas that I wore to the summit 
of Mt Kinabalu.
It was originally used by the local rubber tapers, estate workers, etc. During the climb, I saw many porters and mountain guides were wearing this genre of shoes.

Here is a detail account of Kampung Adidas.

However, to certain extend, I think the usefulness of Kampung Adidas is over exaggerated. My take is that:

1. It gives really good grip, even walking in the rain.
2. It is waterproof. You can just drain the water out and wipe it dry.
3. It is light.
4. It protects your knees. Since it does not have thick cushion, you will avoid landing on heels. As such, your knees are protected from impacts.

1. It does not give sufficient protection to toes.
2. It does not support your ankles.
3. Without sufficient stability, it does not give sufficient protection to knees.
4. It causes blisters, unless you wear two layer of socks.

A good pair of hiking shoes will not cause you to slip.

Very uneven and slippery trail.

I wore Kampung Addidas during my climb to the summit of Mt Kinabalu for its good grip. But for the long 6km hike from Kinabalu Park to Laban Rata and another 6km descending walk from Laban Rata to Kinabalu Park, I wore a good, comfortable and branded hiking shoes (Yes, the authentic Adidas. But anyway, Nike would work perfectly fine for me too.) to give reasonably good grip and protection to my toes, ankles and knees.

Look at the trail: wet, rocky, slippery, uneven and uphill.

(Edited on 30 Sep 2011: After my second climb, I changed my view. Expensive shoes with good cushion CANNOT protect your knees. My Adidas Kampung, cheap rubber shoes, is far more superior than my authentic Adidas and Nike in tropical mountain hiking. When we wear a pair of expensive shoes with good cushion, we tend to land on heel. And this hurts our knees unknowing to ourselves. When we walk with shoes without cushion, we tend to walk as such to protect our heels, and this protect our knees too.)

You can buy Kampung Adidas at a shop next to Reception Office and Transport Office of Kinabalu National Park's Headquater.

More on Kampung Adidas at wikipedia and this useful Mt Kinabalu guides website.

Wet trail.

Important Tips

  1. You must try your hiking shoes in practices, to know if you have problem with the shoes you choose.
  2. You can get Kampung Adidas in small shoes shop in the cheaper side of town or city in Malaysia. You may not find this kind of rubber shoes in popular high class shopping malls.
  3. Hiking poles will help in protecting your knees during descend.
  4. (Edited on 30 Sep 2011: Due to the experience of my second climb. I have changed my view. Now I believe that walking techniques will protect your knees, not expensive hiking shoes with cushion.)

Without proper hiking shoes, things can get pretty nasty when it rains.

Wet, uneven and rocky trail.
You really should not try this trail if you don't have proper shoes.


Kinabalu Park does not provide slipper. You may want to bring one pair for use in common bathroom, toilets or simply walking around comfortably.

However, slippers are provided in Laban Rata. Therefore, you don't need to bring slippers up to Laban Rata. You can leave it with your other luggage in Kinabalu Park.

Another rocky and wet stretch.

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My case on Shoes and Slippers

I wore a pair of real Adidas hiking shoes for the 6km hike from Kinabalu Park to Laban Rata. I switched to Kampung Adidas for the climb to summit. I switched back to real Adidas for 6km descending from Laban Rata back to Kinabalu Park.

For the purpose of bathroom and toilet, I use the Kampung Adidas as my slippers too.

(Edited: In my second climb, I wore Adidas Kampung all the way from Kinabalu Park Headquarters to Laban Rata, to summit, back from summit to Laban Rata and down to Kinabalu Park Headquarters. And this time, I did not have problem with my knees.)

Other information:

1. Differentiating hiking boots and trekking shoes.

More Resources