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gear review: sanuk sandals/shoes

By ccrossen | July 28, 2010


One of the best (best!) things about summer in the mts, especially after a long winter of ski boots, Sorel’s, and cold toes, are sandals. There’s nothing like easing into a pair after a climb, ride, or run. Nothing feels so at ease with the world. I have tested out a lot of sandals over the years, and while many are good, few make it to these pages, let alone get praise. Well, I had the opportunity to try out some Sanuk sandals and shoes this summer, and I am happy to report that they are super-comfy, stylie, and durable so far. I’ve been really happy with the ahh! factor once slipping them on, which says a lot.

Sanuk makes both sandals and sidewalk surfers, aka slip-on shoes, which they call “sandals” as well, based on the comfort-factor. Sanuk boasts an incredibly deep line-up of sandals, from conventional to not-so. Two pair that I especially like are the the Chris Sharma-designed Crag sandal and the Hey Jute surfer. Both incorporate a lot of California, nouveaux-hippie, eco flair, especially the Crag, which is a vegan product, incorporating a partially recycled sole.


The Crag, designed in part with climber Chris Sharma, is billed as the Ultimate Approach Sandal, and while that title is a bit of hyperbole, I will definitely call it the best approach flip-flop, which it mostly resembles. Using a unique, modified flip-flop strap design, The Crag incorporates straps encircling the big toe as well as beefy side straps in an effort to keep the foot centered when scrambling, edging, and venturing off horizontal. The sandal does an ok job at this, but in reality, it’s a great flip flop, with an extra deep, beefy sole, that may help you out a little bit more on your approach to your favorite boulder or crag than the average flip. I like the fact that they are vegan, incorporate a new, very functional design, and use decent rubber to help get you over the rocks.

The Crag runs slightly large, and if you intend to use this as an approach sandal or for scrambling, it helps to get a tighter fit. Make sure you try on if you can before buying as you may want to go down a size for more control.

One very cool detail: the Crag uses Evolv climbing shoe rubber (Sharma climbs for Evolv) on the sole. EVOLV and TRAX Rubber developed eco-TRAX, a recycled content high friction rubber compound and started using it on products beginning Fall 2008, making EVOLV the first climbing shoe company to use a more environmentally friendlier rubber on climbing shoes. The technology comes from decomposing selective pre & post consumer rubber waste and then reprocessing it to make a useable compound. Currently, 30% of the eco-TRAX compound used on select parts of outsoles is recycled material, however we plan to use a higher recycled percent compound on other applications that don’t require maximum friction.


The Hey Jute sidewalk surfer takes shoe and sandal comfort to a combo level. These shoes feel like stepping onto a nice Tempurpedic mattress, way more comfortable than sandals. Simply put, they’re about as comfortable as a shoe can get and make you relax from the get-go. Sidewalk surfers are super-light, pack down flat, and can cover most of your shoe needs.

To start with, we need more slip-ons. In keeping with the summer nature, wearing shoes without laces is awesome: on in five seconds, and you just kindof feel a little more free. If you live at the beach or in the mts, or in the city for that matter, these shoes will get a lot of use. The sidewalk surfer line covers a lot of ground and can easily make the transition from slipping on to get the morning paper and post-ride to gallery openings and date night.

Despite being a slip-on, the Hey Jute’s utilize a real sole, one that provides a lot of shock absorption and will last for years. Also,the elasticized side panels that connect the tongue to the canvas sides do a great job of keeping the fit snug. The shoes stretch as you walk, allowing the shoe to flex and remain connected to your feet, so they don’t feel loose at all. These shoes do not provide much arch support, and that’s by design Barefoot Un-Technology™ which allows your foot to bend and flex the way nature designed. This unimpeded foot movement strengthens the small muscles that support your arch (makes you walk correctly).

The overall sole on the Hey Jute is wide, though Sanuk makes other similar models with a somewhat narrower profile that provide the same great comfort. The Jute has two small vent holes, but I found the canvas uppers a bit on the warm side some days, so if you have hot feet or live in really warm climes, you may want to look at a Sanuk made from lighter weight materials.

The Hay Jute does not come in half-sizes. I generally wear a 8.5 US and the 9 fits great.

From Sanuk:


The Sharma sandal! Ability to climb anything not included.

Super Soft, High Rebound, Injected Footbed

All New Pattern Developed with Chris Sharma for the Ultimate Approach Sandal

Canvas Strap Upper featuring Chris Sharma Signature

Super Soft Neoprene Liner
Molded Rubber Outsole Featuring EVOLV Sticky Rubber for Maximum Traction and Control
Vegan and Vegetarian

Hey Jute

If you love the white album, then you’ll love these sandals

Sanuk calls them Sidewalk Surfers—the year-round protection of a shoe with the comfort of a sandal bottom

Textured canvas upper with Jute wrap around detail and vented sidewalls

Ultracushiony molded EVA footbed brings your feet back to basics

Vented sidewalls enhance breathability

Stretch side panels for easy on/off and a secure fit

Rubberized EVA Happy-U sole

Barefoot Un-Technology™ allows your foot to bend and flex the way nature designed

Loose upper allows your foot to spread and absorb shock naturally

Unimpeded foot movement strengthens the small muscles that support your arch (makes you walk correctly)


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