When I went travelling for six months in 2008 I was under pressure to pack light – and those who know me will tell you I have a bit of a shoe fetish – so my shoe decision was rather traumatic.
In the end I packed a pair of flip flops and a pair of Teva walking shoes. That little combo saw me through treks on the Inca Trail, around the Outback and down the length of New Zealand without any problems and I became quite an advocate of Teva footwear as a result. It’s been a few years since I finally had to say goodbye to my trusty shoes so I was rather pleased when I was told I would be receiving a pair to review.
The Sky Lake Mids are a 3/4 boot, meaning that they offer more ankle support than a shoe but are not as enclosed as a full boot. This additional support was certainly noticeable when slipping and sliding my way down a muddy, leaf strewn hill with the hound earlier this week. They felt snug, but still very lightweight compared to a more sturdy full walking boot.
The blurb on Teva’s website tells me that the boots are made with Spider 365 rubber soles… I have absolutely no idea what this means [Ed: it’s Teva’s name for their soles which are longer lasting, but less sticky than their water-shoes] and they certainly didn’t save me from a muddy backside on the aforementioned slope. However, they did the job just fine on the rest of my usual hound walking routes with consists of heavy stone/rubble and fine gravel and mud.
A peak at Teva’s site reveals these shoes possess all sorts of logo-worthy gizmos including a ‘Mush’ insole which aids comfort, a ‘Shoc Pad’ in the heel and eVent waterproofing. I’m not one to be wowed by logos and bar the eVent waterproofing I’ve not been consciously aware of either the Mush sole or the Shoc Pad. That could either be a sign that they are doing such a good job that I haven’t noticed them (bit like how you don’t notice a good goal keeper/baseball backstop when they don’t let the ball through) or it could be that they are a bit of techie wow to slap around your website and maybe charge a bit more for… but that would be cynical of me wouldn’t it?!
The eVent waterproofing is very good – the boots have stood up to some pretty horrid downpours and if that wasn’t enough I also stuck them in a puddle to make doubly sure. Somehow in my wee brain a boot made of mostly mesh can’t be waterproof – well these most definitely are!
The way the eVent technology works also means that it helps move the sweat out of the boot which I can testify works as by rights these boots should be stinky with the amount of walking I’ve done recently and I quick nose test reveals them to be still fragrant. They don’t feel particularly sweaty when worn either, so eVent gets a thumbs-up here.
I made mention during the Hi-Tec review that I was impressed with the lacing and as this boot has the same built-in eyelet system I was also pleased to note that they stay done up equally as well.
I’m afraid to say though that is where my plaudits end. I’ve really struggled with the fit of this boot. I’ve found that it is very narrow, not just around the foot part but also at the opening and I have to really loosen the laces and wiggle my foot around to get them on. They’re not the boots I would reach for if I had to leave the house in a hurry. I do have a wide-fitting foot and this was no problem with my old Tevas – they were super comfy straight out of the box. However, these have felt really rather snug and show no signs of giving. They aren’t as tight/narrow as the Brasher Lithium GTX boots I reviewed a little while ago but certainly snug enough that I’m not feeling the love. [Ed: we always recommend you try a pair of shoes on before buying, even if you plan on buying online]
Interestingly one of the selling points on their site is that they have specifically built these boots with women’s feet in mind, i.e. they are not simply scaled down men’s boots. So I think its important to say try before you buy as what doesn’t work for me might be perfect for you.
£100 seems appropriately priced for this type of boot but I’m afraid that, as subjective as these things are, I have to mark them down slightly because of the rather narrow fit and particularly the hassle of getting your foot into them in the first place.
SUMMARY: Teva’s Sky Lake Mid boots are a good-looking, very lightweight pair of crossover shoe/boots which would be suitable for walking on well-made tracks, wet grass and shallow stream beds. The soles are not massively grippy but perform OK on milder stuff. The whole boot is narrow, making it a bit of a job getting your foot in, but once in they are snug and supportive.