They Say -Â A beautiful, winterized, demi-cut deck-shoe on a vulcanized tooling. Low and sleek, but still offering all the protection you need for a wetÂ and cold winter in the city.
Upper: Premium quality full-grain waterrepellant leather natural felt lining
Midsole:Â Rubber protective vulcanized toe/heel guard
Outsole:Â Gum rubber
We Say – I’ve been using these shoes for over a year, and during that time Helly Hansen have updated the shoes. When I got them, the style looked like this…
…and now they look like this; there are two styles, with a choice between dark brown uppers and a red sole…
…and a light brown upper with a black sole.
I got my pair just before heading off on a four month tour of Europe and North America that would begin in the November warmth of Athens andÂ take me via wet Venice and cold Vienna and Budapest to even colder Canada. I was traveling light and could only take two pairs of shoes. One would obviously be my running shoes, the other pair had to serve every other purpose.Â
It took a while to choose shoes that I felt were up to the job. I’d be spending most of my time in cities – museums, theatres, restaurants, art galleries, general sites – so they’d need to be very smart and capable of being polished, but I’d also be doing a great deal of walking so they also needed to be comfy and hard wearing.
Added to this were the wet, cold conditions I anticipated to encounter for over half of the trip; it was clear I was looking for an exceptional pair of shoes.
I settled on these Helly shoes primarily because of their look and the claims that they’re insulated against winter wet and cold. It’s impossible to tell if a shoe is going to be comfy unless you really put them to an extensive test (or you can look at reviews like this, where journalists actually test the shoes out for many months, although there are very few of those sorts of reviews to be found sadly), so I couldn’t rely on them being comfy, I’d just have to take a chance. I know from many years of experience that Helly Hansen make excellent products yet, these were advertised as a deck shoe and in my experience, deck shoes are often good for grip and a little bit of walking but not full on, 8 hours a day city touring on foot.
They were excellent, though, on all counts. From the cobbles, ruins (and the rocks on which the ruins stand) of Athens and Rome to the slippery canal sides paths of Venice and the sub zero pavements of Vienna and Toronto. It was such a varied trip, a typical day might be going on a 3 hour city tour in the morning, wandering around in the afternoon, doing a review at a decent restaurant in the evening (which would mean visiting it, eating and presenting a professional appearance as I did so) and then finishing at some sort of theatre, as this photo shows (in Venice, about to watch the Viennese Symphony Orchestra)…
It was so helpful to be able to wear the same pair of shoes for all activities. All it took was a quick visit back to the hotel after the day’s excursion to shower, get changed and buff/shine the shoes up a bit and they were set for the evening.Â
I can confirm that they’ve got excellent insulation; I was always wearing regular socks and yet my feet never got cold. Indeed, in Athens, at the start of the trip where it was an average of 18 degrees during the day, I was rather too warm on occasion. But I expected that so there were no surprises there, and as the month wore on and the temperatures dropped as I moved north the shoes really proved their value as I stayed comfortable all day, every day, whatever the conditions.
As for cushioning, I’d say they were intelligently cushioned, for the majority of people. About 2% of the population actually need special cushioning, the rest of us have regular feet that don’t need much cushioning at all. These will serve the majority, in my opinion. I like them as they’re comfy yet you also feel quite close to the ground when you’re wearing them. In reality what that means is that whilst you may feel a stone as you walk over it, it’ll just be a sensation rather than a discomfort. Personally I really enjoy this style of minimal cushioning as it allows my feet to respond better to the terrain. I do believe that if you respond better to your surroundings then you can negotiate them with less effort as you’re always in control on yourself and don’t have to constantly re-adjust your movements as the ground changes, which means by the end of the day you’re that little bit fresher than you would be if you have massively cushioned shoes that don’t allow you to respond to the ground directly.Â
I’ve still got the shoes now, over a year and many hundred miles of walking later. They still look great, in fact, perhaps better than when I first got them as they’ve got that lived in look now (slight creases in the leather, a deeper shine when buffed). I recommend them!