By Walker Smith
I’m not a “shoe guy” so to speak. Whenever the situation allows, you can bet I’ll be standing barefoot on the front deck of my bass boat. I like to believe that being shoeless enables me to be quicker on my feet and better able to balance in rough water, but truth be told—shoes just bug me. If society didn’t frown upon my big ugly feet so much, I’d probably try to leave my boots at home to take my girlfriend on dates.
Unfortunately, my footwear disdain has led to a pretty painful case of plantar fasciitis. Basically, the tissue in the arch of my foot that connects my heel to my toes gets really swollen and hurts like the devil. Now that I have this pleasant condition to deal with, I have been on the lookout for some comfortable, lightweight and breathable shoes to wear while I’m on the water. Lucky for me, I got my hands on a pair of Zeko Shoes.
Jason and I really put these shoes to the test the last couple of weeks. The waves and wind were outrageous a few days last week on Kentucky Lake, and anyone who is familiar with Tennessee Valley Authority lakes knows that nimble footwork is a necessity on days like this. Whether we were jumping to different parts of the boat to land fish or simply trying to stay afoot in big swells, the Zekos were pretty good shoes for the task.
Perhaps the most noticeable feature of Zekos is their sheer weightlessness. Weighing in at just 5 1/2 ounces, these are the lightest shoes I’ve ever put on my feet. At the end of long fishing days, I usually look forward to taking my shoes off and putting my feet up—there’s not a more relieving feeling. After our trip to Kentucky Lake, dinner and organizing tackle, I actually looked at Jason and said, “I can’t believe I’m still wearing these dang things.” It was 10:30 p.m., which is a huge testament to the comfort of my Zekos.
I was especially impressed by how quiet these shoes are. “Quiet” isn’t usually an adjective people use to describe footwear, but there is nothing worse than sounding like a herd of buffalo when you’re fishing in shallow water. The Zekos’ sturdy compression molded EVA soles make virtually no noise in the boat, allowing anglers the opportunity to silently sneak up on finicky shallow fish.
It took me a few hours to get used to the breathability of these shoes, but not in a bad way. As we idled away from the boat ramp, I could feel the wind blowing right through the microfiber wicking mesh of the Zekos, which made it feel like I was barefoot. Zeko soles have some really cool, small air vents built into them which allowed for maximum airflow to my feet. As anglers, we all know that wearing shoes without socks is a recipe for some nasty-smelling feet, but that is not the case with these shoes. The built-in air vents and small holes in the insoles kept my feet cool and sweat-free during a hot day on the water. If your Zekos do get a little “flavorful”, throw them in the washing machine without worry of shrinking, stretching or warping.
With that being said, it is important to understand that these shoes aren’t designed to keep your feet dry. Although they dry quickly, if you’re planning to walk through puddles at a nasty neighborhood boat ramp or bank fish in dew-covered grass, you’d probably be better off with regular tennis shoes or boots. Due to the Zekos’ design that allows for extreme air circulation, they’re not ideal for cold conditions either. In warm, dry conditions, however, these shoes are excellent.
Finally, Zekos are flat-out comfortable—there is no other way to put it. The adjustable Velcro strap ensures a firm fit regardless of your foot type. Whether you are a socks or no-socks person, Zekos will fit snugly either way. The toes of these shoes do tend to be a bit narrow, but don’t fret— for those with wide feet, ordering a 1/2 size larger than your normal shoe size can easily make up for that. I have narrow feet and Jason has wider feet, but we have both been equally impressed with our Zekos.
You’d usually be hard-pressed to get a good review from me about a shoe, but Zekos are some serious shoes for serious anglers. As long as the weather stays warm, I’m going to be sporting my new Zekos on the water. The shoes retail for $74.99 and offer some very different, innovative features that will make your fishing days even more enjoyable. Take it from a guy with bad feet and knees—you need to check these shoes out.
To view the entire Zeko Shoes line, visit zekoshoes.com or order at TackleWarehouse.com.