The holidays are here and it’s time that we all embrace some footwear cheer. If this sounds as cheesy as Christmas music in early November then this Holiday Footwear Guide is just for you. Why might you ask? Chances are you feel fairly confident in your current gift list but we both know that’s far from the truth. Whether your recipients are avid wanderers, weekend warriors, trend-setters or casual gentlemen, we have a recommendation for you. After sorting through many shoes we landed on seven different options that are all highly recommended by myself and our team.
- Ahnu Broderick
Fashion comes in many forms these days and the Ahnu Broderick brings a multi-dimensional outlook to a once narrow boot market. This chukka is made with waterproof suede and full grain leather to give it a premium look at a very modest price. Whether you prefer jeans or dress pants the Broderick is willing to dress down or up.
What we appreciated the most with this shoe was it’s perfect fit. Normally we like to report whether or not sizing up or down is appropriate but this isn’t needed with this boot. The slightly pointed offers functional space for your toes while the heel area is snug enough to prevent rubbing. The Broderick has no problem accompanying a mid wide foot and offers a bit of arch support for those needing all day comfort.
The no-scuff outsole is thick for city streets yet deceivingly light to not cause fatigue. To add to its appeal Ahnu produced some very clean stitch work across the entire shoe. From the inside out you can expect premium quality without any loose ends. Although stinky feet aren’t a concern here this shoe comes equipped with an antimicrobial treated interior with moisture wicking abilities. This proved to help after standing in these boots all day with thick socks and lots of walking. You don’t want to be that guy who shows up at a friend’s house for drinks and has to cautiously remove your shoes in question of what might have been brewing all day.
If you are gifting to an individual who already has their style cues dialed and is a classic soul in a modern world then this offering is for them. All day comfort in a clean and fashion forward package is exactly what you will receive with the Broderick.
- VIVOBAREFOOT Gobi II Leather
On the other end of the size and support spectrum we bring you the VIVOBAREFOOT Gobi II mid top shoe. If less is more and value can be derived from simplicity then the Gobi II is right for you. For many, the needs of fashion and function incorporate a bit of work and touch of play. For those who don’t find all day comfort with a stiffer more robust shoe the Gobi II hits the spot with patented motion control technology. To understand how VIVOBAREFOOT accomplished such balance take a quick peek at our previous shoe review HERE.
The Gobi II is constructed from premium leather to act as a classy styling piece for a better-rehearsed wardrobe. The shoe is simple in every way yet looks so sophisticated when paired with a nice pair of denim or slim fit pant. A 3mm black outsole is enough to protect against the pavement and still allows the shoe to have extreme flexibility. The Gobi’s lace system is just as clean and simple as it looks and fits the entire design very well.
Bare feet may be the last thing that you think of when looking for a premium look but it truly works with this shoe. As an individual who always assumed that I would be miserable without all day support was pleasantly surprised when wearing these. The Gobi II is perfect for the individual who embodies the minimalistic approach but requires style and a premium appearance. Unlike many other options in our guide this shoe is both wide and flat foot friendly with its flexibility.
Or as winter builds to show wet side check out the Gobi II Winter proof option with watertight seems and a thermal toe seem.
- Ridgemont Monty Hi
Some people crave a suit and tie with freshly oiled loafers while others can’t stand the thought of it. If you align with that second crowd that avoids the term office or desk at all costs then the new Ridgemont Monty Hi is for you. Those who understand a shoe such as this one work to live and value their soles just as much as the happiness within their soul.
On the Monty Hi footwear, clean stitched oiled suede and premium nylon meet to form a weather resistant outer shell with classic styling. This rugged combination proved to work for the mild trail conditions of a local day hike after a day in the office. The added EVA foam midsole is a welcomed alternative when wearing the Monty for extended hours. This shoe truly integrates a light-hiking boot with a training sneaker for a versatile piece of gear. The half-cup outsole and heel stabilizer provide you with technical features that your everyday urban footwear simply can’t match. If you are gifting to an outdoor enthusiast who spends their weekends on and off of he trail chances are they will appreciate Ridgemont’s new creation.
The Monty Hi offered us plenty of support for our weekend trail hikes and held up exceptionally well for being much lighter than a traditional boot. Prior to owning these we would be required to remove our hiking boots before heading back from the trip. Thankfully this shoe has not only eliminated the need for hiding your gear but also has rebirthed a classic outdoor look in a much slimmer and more appropriate shoe for outfit. Due to its active nature we recommend sizing up a half size for use with the correct socks and foot beds. Go ahead and style them with jeans for the workday and hit them with the shorts for an afternoon hike.
4. Pearl Izumi EM Road N3
Running shoes come in all shapes, colors and sizes. With so many style points to be handed out it’s common to see everyday athletes running in flashy footwear that unfortunately may not be enhancing their performance. As much as we always want to look on point, running is one of those activities that really should be treated with a touch of science.
For the past few years I have been staying on trend while purchasing my running shoes based on appearance rather than fit and comfort. My neon racing flats may be uber lightweight and radiate temperature with their bright color pattern but they simply aren’t providing me with running comfort. On a similar note, no matter how hard I try I can’t seem to benefit from the minimalist running shoe like I can in a casual boot. This explains how we properly landed on our feet with the Road N3.
For training purposes (most of my runs) I don’t mind having a slightly heavier shoe at just over 11 ounces. In fact this only makes me a stronger runner for those days when I need to rely on the flats for speed. It’s important to note that the weight of the N3 is still lighter than much of its competition in the premium-cushioning category. Given that I wanted a daily road shoe that would save my feet and back from constant abuse I was shocked with how responsive this shoe still was. The elevated outsole and high-density foot bed definitely reduce agility but it’s all made up for with the enhanced comfort. To reiterate, I went into this shoe search seeking a comfortable shoe that could allow me to find joy in running once again even if it meant letting go of my super lightweight and agile racers. As the weather starts to cool significantly I have found myself dividing my running time between the local trail and the treadmill. So far these shoes have performed well indoors and have again taken more strain off of my knees from overtraining.
A standout feature that Pearl Izumi incorporates into this shoe is a seamless upper construction. Noticeably I feel more comfort than my past shoes as seams present issues with rubbing and irritation. Since these shoes are designed for both short and long runs it’s vital that they can adjust. The seamless design feels snug in all situations but actually provides an even stretch as the foot swells over time. As a neutral shoe runners with varying pronation can feel at home while running. There is noticeable arch support in the N3, which may or may not ideal for you in particular but I can say with confidence that it felt great to take my shoes off post run and not feel a bit of pain. When choosing this running shoe it’s common practice to size up a half size from your everyday footwear.
5. DZR H2O
The daily cyclist is a unique breed and one that requires a unique shoe. DZR is dedicated to creating urban friendly footwear that looks just as good with jeans or pants as they do with an SPD cleat slapped on the bottom of them. They may not be as agile off the bike as they are on the pedals but cyclists don’t care about life off of the bike. Many people who rely solely on their vehicle for all transportation needs simply won’t understand this shoe and that’s complexly acceptable, as it wasn’t designed for them in the first place. Instead the DZR H2O has opened up new doors since they can be worn around town once the ride is over and not look kooky in any way, shape or form.
The all-new DZR H2O unites dirt riders, commuters and gravel riders with its dynamic range of use and discipline across the pavement and trail. This new commuter friendly shoe starts with a new fully waterproof seamed sheepskin outer shell. One of the reasons why this shoe has worked so well for us can be attributed to its DWR coated supple leather that keeps our feet dry on morning rides into the office. Here in Southern California it has been a much wetter season than in previous years and we have been able to enjoy our commute with the peace of mind that our gear isn’t being destroyed. When lunch time rolls around and the dirt is calling this shoe can take us their as well. Do we even have to mention that once our ride is over we don’t have to change out of our shoes for the workday to begin? The H20 shoes look stellar with denim and pants especially with their high-end leather.
To perform under these more demanding conditions the H20 features a stiffer nylon shank to increase power transfer and rigidity while hovering over the saddle. From our initial wear test we could feel this support immediately. With this feature it’s important to remember that these shoes perform for the every day cyclist while making all day use possible. They may feel a bit clunky in comparison to traditional sneakers but then again DZR doesn’t design with tradition in mind. To really bring this shoe together the H2O rests on a thick rubber gum outsole for a large grip surface and protection from the elements. Beneath the gum outsole and co-molded power plate lie the true bread and butter with the SPD clip. With so many pedals to choose from why aren’t you riding more often? Since we can’t ride in the office most of the time we screw on the cleat plate and get back to business.