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A Sailing Shoe I'll Actually Wear

When I find a good pair of shoes I like to share, this even includes sailing shoes. Over the years, I’ve gone through my fair share of sailing and water shoes. Trying to find the perfect pair that combines comfort and function with a little pair of fashion.

I’ve always disliked the traditional style of sailing shoes as I’ve found them to be quite stiff or too clunky, heavy or the grip wasn’t up to snuff. When I was younger I wore Sperry’s which my parents picked out so I went with it but in reality I never wore them because I found them too clunky and heavy. The result: I went barefoot all the time and would stub my toes all Summer long.

A couple years ago I got myself a pair of the Zhik ZKG shoes when they came out. I’ve worn my ZKG shoes for all sorts of water activities – kayaking, catamaran sailing, SUP – and they’re great in the sense. (I still use them today as the versatility for non-sailing water activities is awesome). But I was still on the lookout for a pair of shoes I could use for sailing and sailing only. I wanted something lighter weight, bit better protection from deck hardware and with more flexibility so I could feel the boat better.

Enter the Hydropower 4 from Helly Hansen. I stumbled upon the Hydropower 4’s by accident really. Late night shopping online lead me to Helly Hansen’s website and (of course) the footwear page. What really peeked my interest in these shoes that nudged me to buy them was the low cut design and draw-string style lace up. I figured why not give them a try; nothing else on the market at the time was catching my eye.

The first time I wore them out, I was hooked. They instantly became my favourite sailing shoes. Mostly because of how lightweight they were and how intense the grip was – I didn’t worry at all while moving around and when you’re in a rib flying up and down a race course to capture photos, grip is a key concern in the back of your mind.

My favourite part? The draw string style lace ups! It makes them so easy to put on and off – plus you never have to worry about your laces coming undone. You just slip them on, adjust and off you go. Seriously they don’t move or loosen up. #Amazing. What really struck me while wearing these was the ankle mobility – no irritation or rubbing – just pure comfort. Finally, a shoe that got it right! Most sailing shoes on the market cut quite high around the ankle and tongue proving to be irritating and downright annoying when you’re crouching on the deck at the bow or crossing over during a tack. While the low-cut design is provides amazing mobility, it doesn’t compromise support or stability. An issue or concern that a lot of sailors have, which I get and is totally understandable. I didn’t find the level of support or stability an issue with the Hydrpower4’s.

Lastly, the breathability is on point! There is nothing worse than over heating in your shoes and being stuck in them all day. It makes for an unhappy crew and stinky end of day (let’s be honest now people). As I mentioned, I wore these all Summer long into Fall and even in the height of Summer with the unbearable humidity (yes July I’m talking about you), my feet were as happy as clams in my Hydropower 4’s. What more could you ask for?

A shoe that looks great and performs how it says, which means I actually wear it. Goodbye stubbed toes (because that ain’t a cute look). The bonus? They’re totally my colours – magenta + navy blue – YES PUHLEASE!

Bottom Line

  • Low-cut design --> no rubbing or irritation + amazing mobility

  • Fit --> not narrow, which is great for my fat wide lil feet

  • Drawstring Laces --> easy to slip on and off, don’t have to worry about laces coming undone

  • Grip --> out of this world

  • Lightweight --> you don’t even feel like you’re wearing shoes, they are so lightweight, not clunky at all

  • Fabric --> breathable & flexible

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