We’ve talked a lot about different shoe options here on Her Packing List over the years. One that I keep coming back to over and over again is the ever so popular Tieks fold-up ballet flats.
At the time of publishing our initial review of Tieks (in 2013), I’d had my first pair of matte black Tieks for a year and was in the process of making the final decision on my second pair (gold). I even bought a pair of cardinal red Tieks for my mom during that year for her birthday.
So, it’s safe to say I was then (as I am now) a big Tieks proponent!
But, the apprehension, questions, and concerns among many ladies still remain in regards to Tieks ballet flats. Are Tieks worth the money? And are expensive shoes like that the best idea for backpacking?
So, let’s discuss it all a bit further. Are Tieks a good option for female backpackers?
Tieks: The Fold-up Ballet Flat
Tieks ballet flats are constructed with durable, Italian leather (they have a vegan line, too) and designed to fold in half, making them a very packable addition to any female’s travel gear list.
But, Tieks flats also look great!
Not only do they come in dozens of fun colors, they also have a classy edge from that premium Italian leather. That means they can go from casual to dressy with the right ensemble. (Seriously, I’ve worn mine to many weddings!).
You know how we love versatility around here at HPL, so that’s a major tick for Tieks!
Why I Love My Tieks Flats
The benefits of my Tieks go beyond travel.
Tieks are versatile.
Since getting my pair of matte black Tieks 7+ years ago, Tieks have become my go-to shoes when doing anything that involves leaving the house and being social. This includes dinners, business-related endeavors, drinks, or even attending weddings (four in a single year – so much more comfortable than heels!).
Tieks look and feel great.
I have horrible feet these days. Long story short, shoes are a touchy subject.
However, when it comes to comfortable flats, Tieks are the best ones I’ve found regardless of the fact it lacks arch support. I love that the leather structure sort of molds to your foot shape after a bit of wear.
While my custom orthotics don’t fit in Tieks, some do. Of course, I wouldn’t wear this for an outing that involves walking or standing all day.
Another plus for the design is that, unlike some other ballet flats, Tieks don’t have elastic around the heel of the shoe that would otherwise cause an uncomfortable digging and blister feeling.
Tieks are durable.
I’ve been wearing my pairs for years, and while they are showing wear, they have gone above and beyond what I’ve expected! It helps they have a durable, non-skid rubber sole that provides a bit of space between the sole and the top leather portion of the shoe (unlike some other fold-up flats on the market).
Tieks are packable.
They are specifically designed to fold in half and fit in a tiny pouch! If you are after convenience, Tieks ballet flats could be your next pair of shoes.
Tieks and Packing Light
One traveler says that discovering Tieks has helped her to master the light and versatile travel wardrobe. Catch the podcast episode!
Coming in at no less than $175 a pair, Tieks are not a purchase you should take lightly. If you’re choking on your coffee right now, apologies for that shocker – but hear me out.
In my first year of ownership alone, I wore my Tieks frequently without much visible wear and tear whatsoever. During that time, they attended 2 conferences (that I traveled to) and 4 weddings (2 of which were international).
Seven years later – I may not wear my Tieks as regularly, but they still get packed on almost every trip I take!
But, you may still be asking…
Why are Tieks so expensive?
When you buy Tieks, you are definitely buying into the luxury brand name. However, you are also paying for quality construction and well-thought design.
Trust me – I still remember the first time I slipped into my Tieks ballet flats. They felt nice! My mom even said the same thing. You could tell these were high-end almost immediately.
It’s also important to look at the value of the product and the cost per wear. Since Tieks can pass in dressier occasions but also work beautifully with jeans and a t-shirt, you can potentially get a lot more use out of the one pair of flats than a pair of dress shoes.
Oh, and did we mention they are quite packable? Their versatility for many situations and compact size means you could pack fewer shoes for certain trips – saving both weight and space (and money).
Would I Recommend Tieks Ballet Flats to Backpackers?
Now this is where it gets tricky. Some women backpack (quite fashionably) across Western Europe; others backpack the backroads of Central Asia. Not every trip or traveler is the same, so I can’t say they are the answer for female backpackers.
I personally wouldn’t pack them when planning to take the Trans-Mongolian train from China to Russia. I also wouldn’t take them if I have an extremely heavy backpack and plan to walk around a lot with it while wearing them. You need some proper walking/hiking shoes for that…
However, I would pack them in the following situations:
- You’re on a long-term backpacking trip and know you will be stopping in the middle for a friend’s wedding, a travel conference or other major event.
- You’re backpacking from major city to major city. No real need for uber rugged gear there.
- You’re taking weekend or short-term trips and want to travel carry-on only.
- You’re a backpacker who loves to indulge in the finer things from time to time. Think splurge dinners and shows.
When it comes to taking valuable items on your travels, as one person pointed out on Facebook, it really depends on what you’re comfortable with.
I think what it comes down to is this:
Additional Tieks FAQs
Are Tieks flats worth it?
My opinion: yes. If you read the section on pricing above, you’ll see why I’m such a big believer in Tieks.
Do Tieks have arch support?
No, Tieks do not have arch support. My custom orthotics do not fit in them, but I have heard that some orthotics could… but I wouldn’t bank on that.
Are Tieks comfortable for people with plantar fasciitis?
I have plantar fasciitis and Tieks don’t seem to cause me any grief, believe it or not. I don’t know if it’s the way I walk when wearing Tieks, but I can go many hours of walking in Tieks before they start to cause discomfort for my feet. And that would happen with any shoes I wear.
Some ladies can wear Tieks all day everyday. I have worn mine while walking all over Sydney and been fine, but I wouldn’t plan on these being big everyday shoes if I have to consistently be on my feet.
Where can I buy Tieks ballet flats?
You can only buy Tieks on the Tieks website – the BOUTIEK.
How long do Tieks shoes last?
A long time from my personal experience! If you wear them consistently, many women have said they last from 2-3 years.
Can Tieks be repaired?
Good question… After doing some searching, I believe if you have defective shoes, you can contact Tieks customer support for some repairs.
Can you wear Tieks with socks or tights?
I have worn my Tieks with tights but never with socks. Depending on the size of the Tieks (like if you sized up), you may be able to wear thin socks.
However, if you are breaking in Tieks for the first time and find them a little snug, you can wear a pair of socks with your flats around the house to help the leather stretch!
Do Tieks come in half sizes?
No, unfortunately Tieks only come in full sizes. As a half-sizer, this is super annoying when buying a pair of shoes. I have actually had both a size 8 and size 9 Tieks.
For the first year, I wore a size 8. The toe box of the 8’s stretched a bit and molded to my foot shape, but when I bought my 2nd pair of Tieks (in gold), I got the 9’s and liked it better. I immediately replaced my initial matte black Tieks with 9’s that I’ve had ever since.
However, I found it helpful to put stick in heel inserts in the back of my 9’s to fill in the slightly looser shape.
Shoes Like Tieks
There are a number of fold-up, roll-up and squish down shoes on the market these days, and they tend to be on the cheaper (or super cheap) side of the scale.
Those cheap pairs also have their downsides as they are definitely less nice looking, less comfortable, and less durable. In other words, you would buy those cheaper options just for their occasional purpose whereas Tieks act as a proper shoe on their own.
For others, a pair of Toms might also work sufficiently as they squish flat and are fairly light.
Tieks vs Butterfly Twists
My final thought: Tieks work great for me! I find them to be a real asset on many of my travels, but they won’t come with me on every trip. I hope this information helps you understand better when and where they might be useful.
I should have put these up sooner, but here are my first pair of matte black Tieks, received back in October 2012. Photo taken March 21, 2014. The only cleaning I’ve done is wiping down with a soft cloth, so imagine what these babies would look like with a wipe of some leather cleaner right now!
After receiving my gold Tieks in size 9 in 2014, I realized how much better the bigger size felt. I replaced the Matte Black 8’s with 9’s shortly after.
I’ve predominantly worn my gold Tieks over the years, and they are definitely starting to show a lot more wear and tear around the edges, and even a bit on the top is being worn from the big toe. I think my gold Tieks could be on their way out.
That said, I have some Tarrago 507 shoe polish on the way to see if we can freshen them up. I’ll report back soon!
I also don’t wear my Tieks as frequently in my daily life, but I almost always pack them for trips! These shoes have truly served me well, and I’ve definitely gotten my money’s worth. I think a pair of the vegan Tieks could be on my birthday wish list!
I used my Tarrago 507 shoe polish to give my worn-out gold Tieks some new life! The polish made a huge difference.
What about you? Do you own Tieks and travel with them? Would you take them backpacking? Let us know.