It was a unanimous decision. At The Great Outdoors Award jury session, CEO of the of the Outdoor Industries Association (OIA), Andrew Denton, blogger Andy Howell, and The Great Outdoors Gear Editor Chris Townsend, Editor Emily Rodway and Digital Editor, me, there was little doubt who should win. There was a brief discussion how people would respond about giving the footwear of the year award to the Hi-Tec Zuuk, but there was little doubt in our minds. It fulfilled a clear need when backpacking and at camp.
So what is it? Well, it’s a posh slipper really! It is an extremely lightweight shoe with abrasive EVA outsoles and a breathable mesh upper. It has a toggle lacing system making it easy to pop on and take iff. An Orthorlite sockliner is part of what makes this show so comfortable.
For us, it was the use at camp, in tents, in Youth Hostels where it was clearly needed. I don’t want to be bringing my boots inside the tent or anywhere see after a day in the mountains, and there needs to be some other footwear to slip on. Like Andrew Denton, I’d always take the Vibram FiveFingers which are very light and packable – but also comfortable. However, they are a bit of a faff to put on. The Zuuk is even lighter at 374g for a size 11.
I now wear them all the time and throw them in my backpack wherever I go. And for £35 they could be the most useful piece of kit you buy.
Of the Zuuks, The Great Outdoors Award judge Andy Howell said: “The stand out nomination in footwear this year was an unusual one but the Zuuk really does fill a very useful gap in the market, a comfortable, packable and exceptionally light camp shoe. Everyone from backpackers to day hikers will appreciate this shoe. This is one product that I am genuinely excited about.”
Andrew Denton is also a devotee: “I used the Hi-Tec Zuuk shoes on a month long trip to Antarctic – not exactly what you would expect for this product! However this shows exactly how versatile they are, whenever you are on a serious trip you need serious foot wear – ski mountaineering boots, backpacking boots, climbing boots – all very well but what do you were the rest of the time? This is where the Zuuks come in, incredibly light, comfy, breathable, easy to wear and carry they are the perfect Outdoor compliment shoe – from a run over grass to a night slipper for popping out the tent, they are the perfect compliment to any specialists bit of footware.”