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Why your Sanuk will become your feet’s favorite traveling companion
/ 03:17 AM December 15, 2012

SANUK’S Yoga Mat sandals are made using yoga mat material. Photo by Tatin Yang

No thanks to a steady diet of flip-flops, my feet have turned into recalcitrant brats. Every time I try to stuff my feet into shoes, my feet protest, while my toes scream in agony at being pinched.

THESE Yoga Mat Slings out next season are a study in comfort. Photo by Tatin Yang

Because of this, finding comfortable shoes for travel has become a chore, almost an impossibility. There have been times when I’m tempted to cave in and wear good ol’ cross-trainers with my dress, but I still can’t bring it upon myself to wear something that screams “tourist” a mile away.

When Sanuk invited us to walk around Thailand in various pairs around the beach and around Hua Hin to experience the Sanuk lifestyle and to have a sneak peek at their Spring collection, we were hopeful and skeptical. Could Sanuk be the answer to our travel footwear dilemma?


We started at the airport with Sidewalk Surfers featuring Sanuk’s latest “Vulc-Lite” construction. Ordinarily, a new pair of shoes aren’t the best choice to bring to a trip since you have to break them in first, but there was no break-in period needed with the Sidewalk Surfers—by the time we landed at the Bangkok airport and made our way out, the shoes had molded itself to my feet, no pinch, no problem.

Photo by Tatin Yang

Our first activity of the evening was a scavenger hunt at one of Hua Hin’s many night markets. Two hours of walking and running around was easy-breezy; my feet showed no signs of fatigue or ache and I was able to go around comfortably (we also managed to find the required items!).

The next morning found our feet stuffed in a pair of Sanuk’s Yoga Mat sandals as we headed to the beach for early morning outdoor yoga (a shrill, tiny alarm clock was hidden in the sandal box to ensure we’d all be up and ready for yoga at 7:30 am).

Founder Jeff Kelley has a penchant for creating sandals that look like shoes using the most unlikely materials—his first sandal, the Fur Real, was constructed using indoor-outdoor carpet (it was a crazy risk that paid off handsomely, obviously).

THE SANUK lifestyle is laidback and comfy. Photo by Tatin Yang

The Yoga Mat sandal is another example of footwear made out of an unlikely material. In this case, the sandal footbeds were constructed using the same material used for yoga mats. I’m glad someone thought about doing this, because the sandals are unbelievably comfortable—it’s the closet you’ll get to walking on pillows, the cushioning is amazing, and it’s a nice break for feet that have been abused in heels and stiff leather shoes.

Must-have for the beach

We can’t wait for the Yoga Mat Slings to arrive in store this summer; it’s a dainty version of the current line of Yoga Mat sandals, and it’s already looking to be one of the must-have items to have for the beach next season.

Our next pair to try and abuse were the Castaway Sunbrellas. The shoes feature a water and fade-resistant Sunbrella textile upper, and just like the other pairs we tried, this was also ridiculously comfortable that I didn’t even notice I had already walked over 5,000 steps (I was measuring on my iPod’s built-in pedometer).


I liked how Sanuk’s insides allowed my feet to breathe, too, so I didn’t have to worry about icky, sweaty feet, especially as we walked around in Hua Hin’s 32-degree heat. Because Sanuk’s sandal construction tries to mimic your foot’s natural walking motion when barefoot, you’ll find that you’ll be able to cover more ground without experiencing fatigue or back or leg pain. We may have just found the perfect shopping shoe, as well.

Though the brand is associated with the beach and surf lifestyle, they have started to create more shoes for other lifestyle activities, all created with comfort still their number one priority. This season’s styles feature cute nautical-inspired striped versions of the Castaways, and ballet flats for women looking for something feminine.

The men’s styles feature the Sidewalk Surfers in a multitude of prints and fabrics, with the addition of styles that look more like loafers and boat shoes. It’s a nice gift to give to the men in your life, especially if you’re planning to go on a trip that involves walking long distances (they’ll never complain that their feet hurt during one of your marathon shopping sessions).

We ended the three-day walking trip with more walking around the airport as we were scheduled for a late flight. It was here that I truly noticed how energetic I still felt, considering the amount of walking we’d done.

Normally, I would just sit at a coffee shop and wait for our flight to board, but I found myself wanting to explore the airport’s observation deck and shops, marveling at how my legs and feet were still at it.

Sanuk means “fun and happiness” in Thai, but the brand can change their name to the Thai word for comfort and it’ll still be appropriate to the brand. The walking trip left me a Sanuk convert.

Sanuk is available at Sanuk shops and selected department stores. Visit to find a shop nearest you.

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TAGS: fashion, flip-flops, Sanuk, Shoes
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