See also: Packrafting shoes or boots
It’s 2021 and after 5 years my second pair of Teva Omniums are looking pretty grubby and are very slowly falling apart. When the time comes I can’t think of anything better than replacing them with another pair of Omnium 2s. All I got to do is score them cheap in a sale! It pays to remember we’re not just ambling down to the sailing club for a drink, we’re balancing over slimy, head-sized boulders exposed at low tide, often while carrying a kayak, or walking through bogs or tidal mud which can suck off a shoe.
Not least because they were going for just $40 at REI, back in 2011 I was rather pleased with my Omniums. Like it or not, much of how something performs depends on what it cost. As a replacement for my old Keen Arroyos, the Omniums hold my foot much more securely, with a velcro adjustable heel strap, a velcro adjustable clip buckle strap over the top, plus those dubiously effective cinch lock laces over the front. It’s the over-the-top strap that makes all the difference to holding to foot securely. On the Keens the cinch lace lock laces loosens as you arch the foot so that they needed knotting to stay put (or reconfigure the shoe for conventional hand lacing).
The Tevas also have no wear-prone threading attaching upper to sole, and a solid and chunky-looking plastic-rubber footbed derived from one of their sports sandals and doubtless designated with some snappy acronym.
I have found a closed-toe water show much better for wading than a regular sandal, because the open front of a sandal drags through the water as you wade. Closed toe ‘sandals’ work much better here and elsewhere, plus on land or water the toe protection is welcome. They’re still only new, but my Omniums also feel more sure-footed than the Keen Arroyos ever were, mostly down to the fitting straps, but also due to what feels like a thick and less flexible sole which have not compressed and lost cushioning over time, as my previous Teva open sandals used to do.
We walked a couple of hours up The Narrows at the top of Zion park, following, crossing and wading along the Virgin River countless times. The Tevas gripped as well as anything here, drained readily and felt agile and secure when boulder hopping.
For regular dry walks up the side of Zion canyon and on a couple of longer dry desert walks in Canyonlands, they performed well enough, the softer-than-a-boot soles gripping very well on dry slickrock at the cost of letting some sand in in the washes. Lifting a foot behind you once or twice was an easy way to let the sand spill around the toe holes. At the end of a hot, 11-mile desert walk there was only a little soreness, but that could be due to my desiccated feet after a fortnight in this very arid climate. I feel that under the weight of a pack and clad in some seal skin socks, they’ll work well in northwest Scotland, though for an overnighter I think I’d sooner use the proper hiking boots.
With their wide snouts the Omniums are a bit clog- or Croc ugly, but wide shoes suit my feet much better. I haven’t read them all, but the reviews on Teva.com did complain of fast wear; no great surprise with modern sports shoes. I do wish they’s put a chunkier tread on their soles, but another plus: they float – always a good thing in the water.
So, I give a paddlepacking thumbs up for the Omniums. At less than half retail price, I presume they’ll be being superseded by the Schmomnium GT, or maybe REI just had too many lying around. In fact water shoes are no longer listed on Teva’s website but [remnants?] are still sold widely in the US. If you can grab yourself a pair for what I paid, I do believe you’ll have a great water shoe. We’ll see how long that adds up to, but I got a couple of years out of the Arroyos so two years from the Tevas will do me.
Two years later and my Teva Omniums are getting regular use for day paddles and are still hanging in there with no actual signs of breaking up. The soles are now too smooth to be useful on mud, but were never that good anyway. All in all, tougher than the similar Keens, but still limited for loaded overnight, all-terrain treks.
Four years later and nothing much more to report. Decay is gradual but they’re still hanging in there. Nothing has actually broken or worn out. The soles are getting quite thin and have lost just about all the tread.. To be fair most of the time these shoes are in a boat or on a pushbike which may explain how they’ve lasted so long. So a short time later I used them on a three-day walk in Italy – about 80km. I found the Tevas extremely comfortable on the mostly road and gravel track train (once I put some socks on). The thick, squidy heel really helped and the front sole wasn’t too thin for the gravel. They breath well of course (temps in the high 20s) and are easy to take off.
In 2016 I bought another pair in the US for about $60 and by 2020 the sole was peeling off here and there and I’ve just glued them up a second time. But they’re still my go-to paddling shoes.
Another five years later they’re doing OK. A bit more peeling going on. The Omnium 2 look a bit less clumpy; I’d better start eyeing up a pair.