Sanuk is one of those shoe brands I always wanted to try but never had the chance. They have a reputation for amazing quality shoes that are also ridiculously comfortable. So when Sanuk gave us the chance to check out their winter line, I was ecstatic to put their reputation to the test!
I mostly knew of Sanuk in the context of summery shoes like flip-flops and light slip-ons, and I wondered how this would translate to wintry wear. They sent me two pairs to check out, the AmBrrr boots and a pair of slip on style shoes called the PickPocket. The AmBrrrs are suede and wool, and the PickPockets are fleece. Both have what Sanuk calls a “high rebound, molded premium EVA footbed”, which is a fancy way of saying the footbed is rubber with some nice cushion-y feedback.
I’ll get into the attributes of each shoe below, but the footbed is the same for both, and it is AMAZING. It was comfortable, soft without feeling too mushy, and despite being fairly low profile the rubber does a great job of insulating your foot from the ground temperature — I walked in and on snow wearing both shoes, and didn’t feel the icy cold coming up from the bottom of the shoe, which is sometimes an issue with thin soles. There’s little to no support, so if you normally prefer a very built and structured shoe these aren’t the best, but if you like simplicity the footbed is excellent.
Let’s look at the PickPockets first. They’re called that because they feature a long stash pocket on top of the shoe, stretching from the midfoot almost to the toes. It’s not super deep, but you could easily stash an emergency $20 in there and have it go unnoticed (and it’s long enough that you can tuck it in and not worry about the money slipping out easily). I think you could probably hide a housekey in there, but depending on how it sat it might get uncomfortable or poke your toes. No comment on anything else you could sneak around in your shoes! 😉
According to Sanuk the upper is fleece, but it’s a very soft and strong fleece style for sure; it feels quite durable, and it’s incredibly warm. I wore these with and without socks, and found that they were equally comfortable, though with my very narrow heels I felt the fit was slightly better with socks. If it were spring here, and not 17 degrees, I’d definitely wear them sockless, though! There are no seams or other places that could cause pain and hotspots, and the inside is nice and soft, perfect for bare feet. I loved the look of the PickPocket as well as the construction. They’re a little bit casual, and I see them as being a comfortable alternative to sneakers.
(These are loaded with the dollar and key from earlier!)
There’s a slight lip of rubber that acts like a bumper around the upper, and that should help immensely with durability. If you’ve ever worn a pair of Toms or a Toms knockoff style shoe, you may have noticed the sides or heel getting worn down quickly because the upper and the sole feed right into one another. The slight edge of sole that the Sanuks have helps prevent this weakness, and it gives a little extra protection against the elements. I ended up past the soles in snow the other day wearing these, and my shoes barely felt wet. I attribute that in part to the fleece upper, which does a great job of wicking away moisture, as well as the construction of the sole, which helps keep the upper from coming in direct contact with the snow right away. Overall, the PickPocket is a fantastic shoe that can easily span fall-winter-spring, which makes it’s $55 price a bargain for such a versatile shoe!
Now, if you want to be really warm and a little bit more stylish, you could try the AmBrrr boots. These are suede and wool on the outside and faux shearling on the inside, so they keep you nice and toasty. They have a bit more style to them, with a shaped toebox and a lack of visible seams on the upper-I wouldn’t wear these with dress pants, but you could certainly wear them with a nice pair of jeans or even matching slacks if it were a very cold day. Like the PickPocket, the soles don’t leak cold air into the shoe, and they held up quite well against icy/wet/snowy ground. They aren’t waterproof, so splashing in a puddle will definitely have an impact, but you won’t be shivering all day with wet feet if you take a wrong step. The faux shearling lining keeps your feet extremely warm, and you could go sockless without irritation (though frankly if it’s cold enough to wear these shoes, you probably will want socks anyway!)
These are lace up instead of slip on, and I don’t love the laces. I’m not a huge fan of short laces because they feel like they’ll untie faster than longer ones; admittedly Sanuk heads this off by knotting the ends of the laces, but they aren’t my favorite. It does make the fit slightly tighter in the midfoot, which makes the shoe feel quite secure. Since Sanuks appear to only come in whole sizes, if you’re between sizes and go up to accommodate socks better the lacing system will help keep everything in place. These are definitely the more stylish of the two Sanuks I have been testing, and they manage to look great without sacrificing an immense amount of comfort. Plus, right now they’re on sale for only $56.25, as opposed to their regular price of $75!
Overall, I am quite impressed with my first Sanuk experiences. The shoes are incredibly comfortable; I keep saying this, but you really need to try on a pair to experience it for yourself. The PickPocket style is my personal favorite, but the AmBrrs were quite great too. My only hesitation in recommending the shoes is that they only come in full sizes, so people who are in-between will have to determine if they prefer a looser fit or a tighter one that will stretch. But if they fit your feet, your feet will be forever grateful for them!
Source: Manufacturer provided review sample
What I liked: Super comfortable; fit my feet well; kept the cold out; fun styles.
What Needs Improvement: Wasnt a huge fan of the lacing on the AmBrrr; only comes in full sizes.