I hate wearing shoes. My preference is always barefoot, but that’s not the most professional or hygienic way to present myself.

So I was thrilled when Sanuk sent me a pair of Sidewalk Surfers with the tagline, “They’re not shoes, they’re sandals.” I was a little hesitant, as I always am with new shoes, of blisters and discomfort. I decided to put these “Sidewalk Surfers” to the ultimate sidewalk test: walking the entire length of Manhattan, 13 miles from 207th street down to the financial district.

I invited one of my more enthusiastic friends, Tiffany, to join me for the test and she showed up for our urban hike wearing Gladiator style flat sandals. “Are you sure you want to walk in those?” I asked, concerned. “I’ll be fine, I’m a great walker,” she replied, firmly.

Famous last words.

Sanuks are known for a patented sandal construction inside a shoe which allow feet to bend and flex naturally, as they would in a flip flop or without the support of a solid shoe. They are made from eco-friendly materials like old yoga-mats and indoor-outdoor carpets.

The first 200 blocks flew by, as Tiffany and I chatted and enjoyed watching the scenery change while we power walked through different neighborhoods. Broadway runs south through the western half of the city and its sidewalks took us through historic Harlem, frenetic Times Square, romantic Greenwich Village and shopping haven Noho.

By the time we got to the top of leafy Central Park I was deliriously hungry, but my feet felt fine. We stopped for sustenance and continued south through Times Square and Soho. This is where Tiffany’s feet started to blister. I suggested she take a cab back to her hotel and I would finish the walk alone, but she persisted like a champion, while I made inappropriate Trail of Tears jokes.

All photos courtesy of Sanuk

When we got to Chinatown, her feet were bleeding. Inside my Sanuks (the Thai word for “fun”), my feet felt a little warm and tired, but blister free and definitely not bleeding. The soles were standing up to the abuse as well, no signs of holes.

After completing our 13 mile walk, 7 hours later, Tiffany had blisters the size of quarters on the bottom of her feet and toes. She flew back to Los Angeles and her right foot swelled to twice the size of her left from internal bruising on the arch. I put my Sidewalk Surfers on when I walked to the post office to mail her a Get-Well Soon card.

Final Thoughts

Lightweight, resilient, eco-friendly, and beyond comfortable, Sidewalk Surfers are my new favorite shoes for travel or just kicking around my neighborhood. My only complaint is that the shoes are too casual to be professional and not cute enough to wear with dresses.

Priced at $48 to $60 and available in 17 different colors and patterns.