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Reviews > Footwear > Sandals > Salomon TechAmphibian Sandals > Owner Review by Hollis Luzecky

SALOMON TECHAMPHIBIAN SANDALS
BY HOLLIS LUZECKY
OWNER REVIEW
May 25, 2009

TESTER INFORMATION

NAME: Hollis Luzecky
EMAIL: greengirlhollis AT gmail DOT com
AGE: 31
LOCATION: Silver Spring, MD, USA
GENDER: F
HEIGHT: 5' 9" (1.75 m)
WEIGHT: 150 lb (68.00 kg)

I started backpacking when I was 18 years old, mostly taking weekend trips. I have taken several one to two week trips. I enjoy kayaking trips also; so waterproof (or waterproofing) my gear is essential. I don't currently own the lightest gear, but would like to, and depending on the terrain I don't always pack light. I normally hike on well-maintained trails in hilly, rocky terrain, but also across creeks and marshy terrain. I'm a four-season hiker, encountering rain, snow, wind, heat, and freezing temperatures. I rarely hike in hard mountainous terrain, but expanded my horizons recently, climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro.

PRODUCT INFORMATION

Mesh Uppers
Excellent ventilation and rugged sole.

Item Name: Salomon Techamphibian Sandal
Manufacturer: Salomon
Manufacturer Homepage: Salomon Sports
Year of Manufacture: 2003
Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP): MSRP Not Available
Listed Average Weight (based on size 7): 1 lb 2 oz (510 g)
Owner's Measured Weight (size US 8.5 / EUR 40): 1 lb 3 oz (539 g)
Owner's Purchased Size: US 8.5 / EUR 40 (Fits true to size)
Material: Synthetic leather / nylon mesh upper; Nylon lining; EVA midsole; Rubber outsole
Country of Origin: China

Owner Description:
The Salomon Techamphibian Sandal ("Techamphibian") is an excellent water shoe that doubles as a light hiking shoe and sandal. It features a synthetic mesh upper that keeps rocks and debris out and drains water quickly. Salomon describes the Techamphibian as having 5 drainage portals, but with mesh sides serving as a drainage portal, I'm not sure how Salomon arrives at this number. At any rate, water flows freely out of the shoes. The shoes have an "air-mesh" top and tongue, which are very breathable. A strip of synthetic leather with drainage holes extends down the center of the tongue to the toe bumper. For support, the heel is synthetic leather, also with drainage holes. The heel is adjustable with a buckle and strap, which adds to the personal fit, and it is also convertible, folding down so the shoes can be slipped on like sandals. The "Quickfit" Kevlar lacing allows quick tightening and loosening with one slide of the tab. The soles are sticky "Contagrip" that provide good traction.

FIELD USE

Length of Ownership: 5 years

Field Activities and Conditions:
I have worn these shoes during a variety of activities both indoors and outdoors, including:
Hiking (with and without a day pack)
Backpacking (with a pack as heavy as 35 lb / 15.88 kg)
Salomon Techamphibian Sandal
Toe bumper and Kevlar laces

Kayaking
Road and trail biking
Beach bumming
River cleanups
Gardening
Urban sightseeing
Festival going
Gym workouts
Office work

I have worn these shoes on a variety of terrains, both with and without socks, including:
Sidewalks
Urban hikes
Paved trails
Rocky bike paths
Wood chip trails
Rock scrambling trails
Boulder jumping
Well-maintained forest trails
Overgrown forest trails
Muddy trails
The English country-side
Sections of the Appalachian Trail
Lake shores
Sandy beaches
Creek, stream and river crossings

I have worn the Techamphibians from spring to fall, but very rarely in the winter. I wear them in the rain, but not in the snow. I do not wear them hiking when temperatures fall below about 40 degrees Fahrenheit (about 4 degrees Celsius). But I have worn them kayaking in the winter with neoprene or fleece socks. I find them more stylish than most water shoes.

FIELD COMFORT

Fit
I have a very narrow foot and a very high arch. I find the Techamphibians to be extremely well fitting in width, but they lack good arch support. The toe box is wide allowing my toes to move freely. Despite the lack of arch support, I find the Techamphibians fit well overall, both barefoot and with thin and heavy socks. The light, mesh upper allows them be cinched down easier than most sturdier hiking shoes (but this provides less support). The heel tightness is adjustable with a strap and buckle mechanism for additional personal fit, and does make somewhat of a difference for my narrow heel and when wearing the shoes barefoot and also with thick thermal socks. On steep ascents I may tighten it or in a kayak I may loosen it, but it does not provide that much of a difference in fit. The "Quickfit" Kevlar lacing system is fantastic for tightening them down quickly and I never have to tie any laces. But, the laces tend to flop around because the hook and loop fastener doesn't tuck into the tongue pocket like it is supposed to (Salomon has changed the laces on the newer styles, replacing the Velcro fastener with plastic tips that do fit into the tongue pocket). Because my foot is very narrow the laces also hang on the ground (Salomon has also changed the length) unless I tuck them under the lace crossings.

Comfort
Despite the lack of arch support, I find them comfortable for most hikes. I replace the insole on more rugged or longer hikes for one with more arch support and cushion. I started off wearing the shoes around town and on day kayaking trips. The shoes were very stiff for the first month and I did not venture out on day hikes in them, but once the synthetic leather softened, they were comfortable enough to wear on longer hikes. I can't hike in them with dry bare feet all day because the lining causes blisters on the tops of my toes and the balls of my feet get sore. At most, I can go about 2 miles (3.22 km) with dry bare feet. However, in rain or water crossings I have no trouble with my feet getting blistered. As long as my bare feet are wet, the shoes are comfortable. The Techamphibians are very comfortable with both thin and thick hiking socks. I usually wear the Techamphibians with hiking socks on most of my day hikes and short overnight hikes because they offer enough support for most trails, and breathe very well in the hot summers.

Techamphibian Outsole and Insole
Heel converts to sandal. Laces too long.
The Techamphibians are very comfortable as sandals. I feared that folding down the heel would rub my skin too much, but I have never encountered sorness. I can quickly slide them on with or without socks and by tightening the laces, I don't worry about my foot slipping around in them or sliding out.

Performance
I have owned these shoes for 5 years (finally just bought a new pair a few months ago) and they are incredibly durable. I replaced the insole after two years, but the shoe itself has held up tremendously. I wear these shoes almost daily in the summer, not just for backpacking. The mesh sides give excellent ventilation, making them very cool and keeping my feet from sweating. I take them with me on every trip. For easy terrain, I will wear them over 8-10 miles/day (12.88-16.1 km/day) with hiking socks, and even with a 25 lb (11.34 kg) pack. On rougher or steeper terrain, I will wear them over 6-8 miles/day (9.66-12.88 km/day) without a pack. On rougher terrain with a pack over 20 lb (9.07 kg), I will hike in my Salomon hiking shoes and take the Techamphibians along for water crossings and as camp shoes. Having to wear socks defeats the quick drying benefits, but I take the insole out and my socks off for river crossing and reassemble on the other side. This is not a problem because the rest of the shoe dries so quickly.

After a stream crossing, the shoes dry in about 30 minutes, the insoles dry in about 4 hours if I remove the insole and allow it to dry separately (drying time is longer if it is humid). When the insoles are wet they do not feel too soggy to continue walking, but I find it best to remove the insole before crossing water so it does not soak my socks when I put them back on after crossing. The shoes themself do not get soggy, so putting my socks on immediately after crossing does not tend to impact my hiking in the shoes. The manufacturer does not recommend putting the Techamphibians or the insole in the dryer.

Because of the mesh sides, the Techamphibians are not good for hiking in sandy, small gravel, or thorny areas, but on most trails, I have no issues with debris getting in the shoes. In streams and rivers, sand and small rocks do have a tendency to get in the shoes but that would occur with any type of shoe worn in those conditions. The heel strap will loosen over time, which is why I normally don't bother with it. With socks on I don't really need this feature because the shoes fit well enough. When barefoot I will tighten it, but I don't travel over distance barefoot so the loosening does not affect me. I noticed that the laces do loosen a bit after a few miles, especially on steep ascents, but they are easy to re-tighten. I have never had the laces break on me after all these years. I have noticed replacement laces available at outdoor retailers I have visited.

Salomon claims that the "outsole features high-traction inner pods for maximum grip on smooth surfaces, and a hard rubber perimeter for edging." In my experience, the treads have been very reliable, leaving me surefooted crossing rivers, as well as on wet, rocky, uneven terrain. Climbing over rocks and boulder hopping, I have had no problems with slipping. I find the treads to grip very well in almost all conditions. However, in wet (squishy, sink into type) mud they do not hold traction, but I haven't found a shoe that does so I do not view this as a negative. The treads are finally starting to wear too much for lengthy, wet leaf, or rocky hikes, but they still make great camp shoes. I use them as camp shoes even in cool, fall weather with a heavier sock. Because the heel folds down flat, I can slip them on around camp or when getting out of my tent.
Techamphibian convertible heel
Contragrip sole provides excellent traction.

SUMMARY

The Good
Very comfortable with socks
Lightweight
Good traction in wet conditions and on rocky trails
Dries quickly
Durable
Converts from shoe to sandal
Stylish

The Bad
Poor arch support
Not heavy enough for long, rugged hikes
Mesh sides are not good in sandy soil or thorny brush

SIGNATURE

Hollis Luzecky

This report was created with the BackpackGearTest.org Report Writer Version 1. Copyright 2009. All rights reserved.

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