NOTHINZ CLOSED TOP SHOES
BY BRIAN STONER
September 24, 2015
Northeast Ohio, USA
6' 3" (1.91 m)
170 lb (77.10 kg)
I started backpacking in 2011, mostly enjoying moderate hikes of about 10 miles (16 kilometers) and a night or two in the woods. I like to pack lightweight to make the most of the few opportunities I get to be on the trail. So far, I've mostly done solo hikes. For these two reasons I've ended up getting into hammocks. Ohio has some decent hikes but is lacking on views. Western Pennsylvania has earned most of my miles, but I'm starting to branch out geographically.
Year of Manufacture: 2015
Manufacturer's Website: http://www.nothinz.com/
Listed Weight: 17.8 oz (503 g) (pair) Size 13
Measured Weight: 14.6 oz (414 g) (pair) Size 12
Manufacturer Description: "This popular alternative to our best-selling polymer shoe is a little less breezy than the original."
|The NothinZ Closed Toe shoe.
The NothinZ Closed Top Shoes are an all-polymer construction clog-style shoe. There is a zig-zag pattern of tread on the sole, and a smooth texture on the upper material of the shoe. The footbed has a dimple pattern for traction. The open back of the shoe is complemented by a removable strap that can be placed above the heel to aid keeping the shoe on the foot, or out of the way in front of the ankle to make slipping the shoe on or off easier. I think the shoe material is technically waterproof, although it does not keep feet dry.
Intended Use: I bought these primarily as lightweight camp shoes. I have found them to be useful footwear for multiple uses though.
Actual Experience: I have used these on trails in Cuyahoga Valley National Park, Ohio. The hiking I did here was late summer, elevation under 1,180 feet (360 meters). I also used these on a 5-day trip to French River Provincial Park in Ontario, Canada. This trip was in early fall and elevations were less than 720 feet (220 meters). I have spent many hours walking around in these shoes in many different environments including large rocks, mud, grassy areas, and standing water. I have seldom used these shoes in cold weather, and I have spent some time in very warm, humid weather with these shoes. I have spent roughly equal time with the strap behind my foot as well as ahead of my foot. I have not removed the straps for more than a minute or so just to try that feature. I have worn the shoes with socks and without on the trail and elsewhere.
|Removable straps are attached with a snap.
Sizing and Fit: Generally, I buy shoes in either 11 or 12 in men's (US) sizes. I bought a size 11. Shortly after trying them on and walking around a bit I decided a 12 would better suit me for comfort. I purchased the shoes directly from the manufacturer's website and received prompt support and the larger size. I left the shoes in the bed of my truck one sunny day and returned to find the shoes (particularly the right shoe) fitting more snugly than I remember. Upon measuring the shoes I believe the right shoe did contract some at least compared the left shoe. I believe it is most likely due to lengthy exposure to heat or sunlight.
Features: I selected the Midnight Black though there are other colors. The Closed Top version is appropriately named, and the manufacturer has other models available. I preferred the Closed Top to keep more dirt and water out of the shoe. The shoe is open at the back with a snap-on strap that can help keep the foot in the shoe. The strap is removable. The entire shoe is polymer material. The tread is adequately deep and has only shown minor wear over my period of use. I would prefer a rubber outsole but the added weight may actually detract from one of the key features. My opinion is that the external size of the shoes seems larger than other comparable polymer clog shoes. I have not found this to be a problem functionally and I don't particularly mind the appearance.
|Tread on my NothinZ is capable but has shown some wear.
I find these shoes extremely comfortable so long as my feet are dry. When the inside of the shoe becomes wet I prefer not to walk long distances as I begin to worry about blisters. Walking around on warm or sunny days, the toe area seemed to warm up quickly and my feet were sweating. I preferred the Closed Top model in that it does not have ventilation holes, to better keep out dust, rocks, and water splashing. The shoe performs as expected and does reduce the amount of material entering the shoe. Over time, use in dusty, muddy, or wet conditions, material or water does build up in the toe of the shoe. I can slip the shoes on easily in both strap positions. I was surprised and pleased to find that.
|I can slip these on in either strap position.
Wearing these shoes on the trail is better than I expected. I assumed they might suffer from a lack of traction or support in the back or sides. On the trail I was hiking there were small hills with maybe 25% grade and multiple layers of leaves under my feet. I did not notice a problematic loss of traction or support compared to tennis shoes. I was wearing socks at the time also.
I also considered the possibility of these shoes as useful for water crossings on the trail. Unfortunately I have not been able to test this on moving water, but in standing water (above ankle deep) I found that the shoes remain in place with good traction even without the strap behind my foot.
The shoes do not compress for easy packing, and for me at least, this is the biggest drawback for backpacking use. I have found that attaching them to the outside of the pack is simple using the strap as a loop. However, the strap is removable and could become disconnected on the trail and the shoe could be lost. I have yet to experience this, and I plan to find an improved solution for external pack attachment if I continue to pack them.
The shoes are extremely easy to clean just by rinsing with water. The polymer material of the shoe does not hold water so they dry quickly. The interior of the shoe can hold water for a little while however.
The NothinZ Closed Top shoe is incredibly lightweight, comfortable, and utilitarian option for camp shoes, and potentially water crossings. As a backup footwear option on the trail, these outperform flip-flops in wearability, and are about half the weight of tennis shoes. My expectations of the Closed Top feature were met, but all of my other expectations about the performance of the shoe were exceeded.
THINGS I LIKE
Useful for short hikes, water crossings, backup footwear
Traction and support exceeded expectations
Able to be attached to pack externally
Easy to clean
Material of shoe does not hold water
THINGS I DON'T LIKE
Unable to compress for internal packing
This report was created with the BackpackGearTest.org Report Writer Version 1.
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Open back still allows debris and moisture in eventually
Potential to shrink in heat or sunlight
Polymer material for tread
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