All photos by MatadorU student Loretta Maticke
While having been lucky to be a part of the sailing world for a number of years, I don’t recall owning a pair of Sperry Top-Sider’s. This is only unusual because in 1935, Paul Sperry, an avid sailor, was the first to design a shoe specifically for boating. When the company asked me to review some of their new Spring ‘15 line, I was happy to find out what I might have been missing all these years.
When I opened the box, I was immediately impressed by the rugged look of the Voyager Sandal. Normally, when I think “sandal”, I usually think of pretty strappy things. This shoe has a sturdy vented grey leather upper, small green accents and good overall foot coverage. I was happy to see they weren’t too “girly”, but not too boyish, either. I like colorful shoes, but not when I’m sailing. (I shouldn’t care, but I do). These were right down the middle, nicely neutral. The mesh on the vented toe box looked like it could keep out sand and rocks and the side open vents would let the water flow through. I couldn’t wait to give them a splash on my upcoming trip to the Galapagos. I was also grateful to be able to tuck them neatly into my small bag – they didn’t hog hardly any room.
Hopping on and off the transport boats to the Galapagos can be slick and wobbly, especially when carrying luggage and being shuffled around. The Voyagers made it seamless and solid. Wet decks, soft sand, slippery rocks and rugged terrain proved a good match for the well-designed treads, and the Voyagers defeated the conditions like a champ. The heel being slightly wider allowed me to move faster and with confidence. On and off planes, transport buses, small boats and big ferries, there were no stumbles, toe bites or blisters. At the end of each day, not having to deal with sore feet was great.
Touring mainland Ecuador, I slid into them with socks for a nice long bike ride in Banos, went down the mountain and hiked to a waterfall. Unfortunately, the rain didn’t stop at all that day. Quickly, I was good and soaked, head to new kicks. I can only compare the thorough drenching to when I sailed across the Atlantic in massive waves and rough seas. The foot-bed did get some water trapped between the inner sole and the removable foot bed, but with the bungee ties, I was able to slip them off easily and remove the water by turning them upside down and giving them a good shake. The traction held firm and my foot stayed well planted on the pedals of the bike. I rode for miles, hopping on and off at various viewing points and walking on slippery terrain with no slips or falls.
Parking the bike, I continued hiking up the trail that led to the waterfall. The out-soles gripped nicely over the wet leaves and mud covering the trail. When I reached the stairs to go up to the viewing platform, the entry became slippery and required a crawl through a space in the rocks behind the falls. At one point, standing too close to the pounding rush of the waterfall, a swell came and spat a nice healthy dose of rushing water at me. More than a bit shocked, my feet stayed firmly planted. Lesson learned: the Voyager’s definitely helped me escape unharmed.
Overall, the Voyager Sandal proved to be my “go to” shoe for the month I spent in South America. The leather upper took a bit to dry out when the rain continued for a few days. In cooler temps, I found that socks helped keep my feet warm, but only until they got soaked. There was also a bit of chaffing from the top of the tongue, but that part softened up nicely with a few more outings.
The Voyager definitely lived up to the promises made of a sandal “built for adventure.” I’ll be keeping these for future trips, by land and sea.
Sperry sent me complimentary shoes for review. As always, all opinions are my own.
Sperry Top-Sider Voyager Sandal
Best For: Boating, Fishing, Multi-Watersports, Active Lifestyles
Weight: 7.9 oz Men, 6.4 oz Women
Sizes: Men: 7-12, 13; Women: 6-10