Boat Shoe Update
Testers try men’s, women’s Tevas on for size.
Following Teva’s top-ranked performance in the women’s athletic-style sailing shoes test (July 2007), Practical Sailor editors decided to try out the latest men’s Tevas and Teva’s new Sunkosi for women.
Teva, the California-based firm known for its strap-on sport sandals, manufactures seven different lines of water shoes, including four sneaker-style varieties.
At 11.5 ounces, the men’s Teva Helm 2 shoes are lighter than any other men’s shoe tested (June 2007), and they offer good drainage. There are mesh openings built into the shoe under the heel, behind the heel, beneath the ball of the foot, and on either side of the toe. Like most of the shoes we tested, the Helm 2’s foam insole is removable. It also is perforated with 1/8-inch holes to speed drainage.
The shoe’s upper uses unibody construction, with a laminate of foam and three different kinds of mesh reinforced with synthetic leather in the toe, upper tongue, and heel. The tongue is attached only at its base.
The Helm 2’s tread pattern comprises 11 broadly siped and contoured panels separated by deep channels. The siping is carried up on the sides and toe of the shoe for better purchase when heeled and on uneven surfaces. Teva has trademarked this sole material as "Spider Rubber" and claims that it’s superior for "high friction and good durability," particularly on wet surfaces.
Our grip test results bear that out. These shoes offered better traction on our two test panels when they were wet, particularly on the teak, but they proved slightly inferior to the best performers in our earlier test.
But, as we wrote in that June article, all else is superfluous if the shoe isn’t comfortable enough to wear for hours at a time. Luckily, Teva values comfort; the Helm 2 rated as high as any other shoes in that category.
Teva’s Helm 2 sells for $90 and comes with a one-year warranty.
The lightweight women’s Teva Sunkosi is a cross between a trail shoe and a water shoe. Its patented "Wraptor" technology integrates midsole-attached webbing into the lacing system. This allows wearers more support at the midsole and a better fit. The shoes’ thick, nonmarking rubber soles offer excellent support for those long stretches of standing (or hiking). That rubber extends up over the toes for good protection from those toe-stubbers on deck and also extends up the back of the heel section, offering better footing in awkward stances.
The Sunkosi did as well as or better than the top performers in the July 2007 women’s shoe review, which included the Teva Atrata, the
Practical Sailor Best Choice for nonskid, and the Helly Hansen Hydro Power W, the Best Choice for teak. (Our favorite overall was the Harken Trimmer, which was discontinued last year. However, Harken will be coming out with a new line of sailing shoes early next spring, so stay tuned for updates.)
The Sunkosi drainage system tops all the others, including the Atrata. Its upper combines panels of sturdy mesh framed by sections of waterproof synthetic leather. The perforated foam insole allows water to drain through to the shoe’s outer sole, which has screened drains under the ball of the foot and a large drain under the heel. Teva terms this "Drain Frame Technology." This unique drainage system also enables the shoe to dry quickly.
The Sunkosi laces are continuous lengths of non-stretching cord that are cinched up and held in place via a thumb cam. The cam on our pair of test shoes had no tendency to give. Buttoned flaps at the top of the shoes hide the extra laces and keeps them from getting snagged. In place of a standard tongue, the Sunkosis have a section of soft neoprene sewn to the upper on three sides. A neoprene "sock" at the foot opening and padded neoprene sections behind the heel help make the Sunkosis one of the most comfortable sailing shoes for women we’ve tested.
The Sunkosis also held their own in the grip test, notching Excellents across the board on wet and dry teak and nonskid.
The only weak point that we see in the shoes is the midsole webbing. It runs through the sole of the shoe, where it could be caught on something or worn through after extended wear.
The Sunkosis sell for $100 on www.teva.com.