Review by Coy Starnes
Review item provided by Sperry Top-Sider
Shock Light 2 side view
The Sperry Shock Light 2 is an athletic styled shoe that just so happens to be designed to be used in wet environments while offer good traction on both wet and dry surfaces. The website also mentions that the shoe is designed to absorb the shock and vibration associated with boating by as much as 30%. I don’t own a power boat but have a few friends who do so I know a little about getting bounced around while out on the lake. However, I am looking forward to seeing how this shoe performs on my fishing kayak. I know that kayaking is generally considered a sit down sport but my fishing kayak is actually designed to allow standing.
Here is a view of the Adaptive Wave-Siping™ sole:
view of the sole
I have already worn the shoe around the house a little and it is very comfortable for everyday wear. I also plan to use them when I know I will be getting my feet wet while hiking. And last but not least, as the name suggest, the Shock Light 2 is very light. It is not a minimalist shoe but they weigh in at only 17 ounces for the pair of size 12s which is 2 ounces less than my most recent pair of minimalist shoes (the New Balance MT110). All I know is I find them incredibly light in my hand and on my feet. I also like the fact that the Shock Light shoe does not require tying. The shoes are secured by a bungee cord that follows the same basic lace pattern as a normal shoe but is tightened with barrel lock arrangement.
Here is what the Sperry website says about the design:
- ASV Technology™ in the heel absorbs vibration and reduces shock by up to 30%
- Adaptive Wave-Siping™ disperses water underfoot to reduce slippage on wet or dry surfaces
- Removable full length compression molded EVA footbed maximized comfort underfoot
- Nylon and mesh uppers and linings promote ultra fast drying
- Adjustable bungee allows for secure wear and easy on and off
Care Instructions from Sperry:
- Hand wash with mild soap and water
- Stuff with newspaper and let air dry
- Dry removable insole separately for thorough drying
- Rinse with fresh water after any use in salt water, and dry as above for storage
My Own Fit & Sizing
I am testing a size 12 medium width. I did not see any other widths offered. I normally wear a 11.5 or 12 depending on the the shoe manufacture. I suspected these were not really wide and my number one criteria in any shoe is that it does not pinch my toes. I am happy to report that the size 12 seems to fit very well and my toes have plenty of room. This was while wearing a pair of thin low cut socks but I will probably be going sock-less in the shoes when I am kayaking. I will see if this works but I suspect the laces of the shoes will allow them to be tightened to adjust for varying foot widths, or in my case, whether I am wearing socks or not. Here is a closeup of the lace system:
Sperry Shock Light 2 Lacing System
When I think of Sperry Top-Siders I generally think of those moccasin looking shoes with almost flat white soles. The Shock Light 2 shoes are certainly a departure from my preconceived notion of what a Sperry Top-Sider shoe can be. I have not worn the shoes enough to make an educated guess as to the long term durability or how they will perform on varying terrain. But I do know that they are very comfortable just walking around the house and yard. Stay tuned for my follow up report to see how they have performed.
Update: May 6, 2014
Author testing the Sperry Shock Light II on some slick rocks down in the holler.
I’ve been wearing the shock Light 2 shoes fairly regularly for the past month. For the first several weeks I was not really able to wear them doing the kind of things they are designed for as much as I would have liked but was still able to use them for some pretty jobs. Topping that list would have to be when I wore them on 7 different days as I helped someone move. On some days we only worked 5 or 6 hours but on a couple we worked 9 and 10 hours. I was on my feet pretty much the whole time and toting heavy stuff a good bit of the time. I found the shoes were very comfortable for this kind of use.
I did manage several walks in the woods but when it was cool I avoided getting my feet wet. However, after a recent round of stormy weather and warming temperatures I finally went wading down at the creek. But first, I must mention just how steep the trail leading down to the creek really is. A trail has to be pretty steep for me to feel the need to use my trekking poles. This trail qualifies! Anyways, when I would hit a particularly steep section I did notice my feet sliding in these shoes a little more than I like. And by sliding, I mean I could feel my feet moving towards the front of the shoe. However, this never caused my toes to hurt which is kind of surprising. I think that the extra volume in the toe area of the shoes paid of in that regard. I also noticed that when the trail was steep and damp the shoe itself would tend to slide a little. However, I could cross a slick rock and the grip was actually better then in most shoes. When I got down to the creek the shoes were simply amazing. I almost could not make my foot slide in places where I normally need my hiking poles just to keep upright. I took a short video
of me wading across these rocks, and as can be seen, I’m not taking my time or worried about slipping. So as a creek wading shoe the Shock Light 2 gets an atta boy award!
I wanted to use the shoes in my kayak before this first update but life seemed determined to stiffly my plans. Fortunately, I finally found a few hours of free time to enjoy a short paddle. I was paddling my Jackson Big Tuna which is a sit-on-top kayak designed for fishing and to be stable enough to stand in. It can be paddled tandem or solo but I was in the solo mode on this trip. I had planned to fish but had some reel and rod issues so instead just took a leisure paddle for fun, After I had paddled for about an hour I found a cove that got me out of the boat traffic and wind and waves for the most part. I spent about 10 minutes standing before heading on back to the dock. Long story short, the Shock Light 2 allowed for excellent traction on the deck of my kayak! Now if they would just make getting stood up and sitting back down easier… Here is a photo of me standing in my kayak.
I also found they stayed put on my feet while launching and landing the kayak. This was the only time I wore them without socks so they were a little looser on my feet but I was not in any serious mud, just enough to feel it pull on the shoes a bit. I never felt like there was any danger of them coming off. My only complaint so far has nothing to do with the shoes while wearing them, but rather when I took them off a couple of times, and only then because it was late afternoon. Let me explain. When I got them wet and I placed them on my deck to dry. Each time they only had a couple of hours in the sun so I guess I should not be surprised they were damp when I brought them back in the house.
Summary so far
I like these shoes! I found them comfortable when I was on my feet a lot more hours than I normally spend standing/walking in a day. They absolutely rocked on the slick rocks in the creek. Or perhaps I should say, they were rock solid. When I finally managed to use them in my kayak I again found they performed as well or better than I expected. I have not washed them yet but they still look almost new. I did take a garden hose to them after the lake paddle but no other special care has been needed. Stay tuned for my final update to see how the Shock Light’s continue to perform.
Final Update: June 27, 2014
Walls of Jericho (click for full size)
The Sperry Shock Light 2 shoes have continued to perform very well as water shoe but I have worn them during a verity of other activities and conditions, ranging from just loafing around the house to backpacking on the toughest trail in Alabama. I have been most impressed with this shoes ability to tackle and thrive under any condition or situation I have asked them to endure. I won’t try to give a blow by blow account of my daily wear but suffice it to say, I found them comfortable when worn with socks as we’ll as without. On one backpacking trip I wore some sandals for a couple of miles but then switched over to the Sperry Shock Light’s for the last 3 miles of hiking. My feet were developing some hot spots due to the constant downhill nature of the trail. Instead of digging out my socks I just pulled the Shock Lights from my pack and after setting up camp contained on to view the Walls do Jericho, another mile and a half up the trail. I scrambled over rocks and roots and muddy spots until the trail basically turned into a rocky creek bed. I was glad I could just wade instead of hunting dry footing. The cold water really felt good on the hot spots I had developed earlier.
Author wading at the Walls of Jericho in Sperry Shock Light 2 shoes (click on image for full size)
I have also been impressed with just how tough Sperry Shock Light 2 shoes have been considering how light they are. The sole is beginning to show just a tad of wear all over and even more along the outside edge at the heel, however, this is how all my shoes look after several months of wear. They are also starting to show some discoloration from where I got them muddy while kayak fishging and on some of my hikes. I have not washed them in my washing machine but have wadded in some clean water recently and them hosed them off with the garden hose. In other words, they are clean enough for my taste.
I find it hard to surmise the performance of these shoes without sounding redundant but here goes. Number one would have to be comfort, they are just flat out comfortable to wear, whether hiking on rough uneven trails or standing around on hard surfaces like asphalt and concrete for long periods of time. Number 2 would be the traction afforded. They grip wet surfaces amazingly well. This included slick rocks and the floor of my kayak. The only place the were not quite as grippy as I might like was when I encountered steep muddy places on some trails, and even then it was not a problem. 3rd would be the weight. I am still in “shock” that these shoes are lighter than some of my shoes that are classified as minimalist shoes. I was not reluctant to pack them along on my hiking trip to the Walls of Jericho and would have worn them the whole trip had I not just started testing some sandals. Last would be drying ability, I found they dried faster than a typical trail runner and my feet felt dryer in them as soon as I exited any water I might happen to step in. I did wish they dried better overnight while under my hammock but Alabama is know for hot humid conditions so perhaps I was expecting too much. They dried on my feet within an hour of putting them on the next morning and I managed to keep them dry for the long hike up the mountain. This concludes my testing of the Sperry Shock Light 2 shoes. I would like to thank Sperry and 4alloutdoor for this testing opportunity.
About the Author
I am from northeast Alabama where I spend a lot of my time divided among several hobbies that include backpacking and dayhiking, canoeing, kayaking, riding my bike or recumbent and just getting out enjoying nature.