When I first laid eyes on the Zilch sandals, I wondered exactly what they were for. There’s a lot of “casual” sports-sandals on the market, and none that I have seen have the purposeful, yet minimalist look of these Tevas. They must be designed for “something” were my thoughts.
So, I’ve used them for a while now, on various surfaces, and come to the conclusion that while the Spider Rubber makes them stick to anything, and the ultra-thin, highly flexible sole lets you know EXACTLY what genus the tiny insect you accidently just stepped on was, the Zilchs aren’t actually for much more than chilling out in*! Even Teva don’t list the Zilchs in any of the specific usage categories on their website.
With such miminal amounts of material Teva have gone for some pretty strong colourways with the Zilch sandals, the Spicy Orange pair I’ve been using are highly noticeable, and the others give just as good visibility, although with much subtler tones.
The two infinitely adjustable straps over your feet allow for any variation in foot shape and do give you a feeling of support, but in truth, as they’re really just micron thin plastic with a few pad-spots, I doubt they’re robust enough to support much weight. The non-adjustable toe-strap is comfy, I find it a little loose, but that’s a good thing as your toe moves a bit under the strap as you walk. The minimal sole isn’t firm enough for walking any great distance on hard surfaces. If I’m griping, I’d also add that the plastic construction makes my skin sweat where it touches – a bit more of the soft pads on the underside of the straps would be very welcome. The footbed is a suede-ey feel material that is very comfy under foot.
As far as sizing goes – I find that although they look a bit long when you’re standing there, when walking your toes are nicely protected by the slightly longer front part of the sandal. I think there could be a few more millimeters of material at the heel though. A couple of times I could certainly feel my heel touching asphalt if I was walking quickly. Teva’s website list a fair selection of sizes, and has a good sizing comparison chart. The pricing seems (to me) to be a bit high, but then all pricing is dependant on what the market will take, and the Zilchs are a well made, thoughtfully constructed bit of kit.
SUMMARY: I really do like the Zilchs, they’re funky and comfortable and supportive enough for a stroll to the bar after your hard days adventuring, and with the minimal weight and size they can be stuffed into a pack almost as an afterthought – but you’d be very irritated to have forgotten them on a hot evening. Walk any great distance though and the plastic straps started to irritate and pull at my skin; and your feet will get tired if you normally wear shoes. But that’s being unfair to what their purpose is – to look funky, purposeful and let you chill out in style!
*Ed: Teva sell them as grippy sandals for things which you’d normally do in bare feet, like certain watersports.