Basically the other water shoe producing company of repute that's on my radar is Astral, so naturally my thought was to check out what they have. I found the Hiyak, which is somewhat similar to the Tennie, and the Rassler 2.0, which I couldn't yet find a live version of to check out. The Rassler seems to have a harder sole thank the Hiyak, but I'm not too familiar with it. Wanting a new set of shoes before I head to Ecuador this season was my paramount concern, I saw a set of Hiyaks (one pair left that happened to be my size) at Trailhead Paddle Shack in Ottawa and knowing I'd be there 11 November, jumped on it.
Now, I've only used them once, but they've made such a good impression on me that I decided to do a writeup.
The Tennies have been great over the years, with one major downfall, they seem to disintegrate after a year or two tops. Whether it's the back tearing off, the sides falling apart or whatever.
The Hiyak feel somewhat similar to the Tennie, but nudge a bit more towards the bootie end of things than a true shoe. They seem to strike a 'good enough' balance between the two, though I still prefer the harder sole and toe/heel caps of the Tennie in this regard.
The Hiyak is definitely more comfortable, they have a wider opening and wider lace area. I have an easier time getting my wool sock/gortex drysuit sock/neoprene sock covered feet in them than the Tennie. They feel like a set of slippers walking around, and seem to have enough rigidity to cope with environments you'd see on the sides of a creek.
Grip was a huge selling factor of the Tennie, 5.10's Stealth Rubber is hard to beat, but the Hiyak has their own recipe of grippy rubber that seemed to work just as well! My feet felt warmer in the Hiyak (-4 centrigrade out), maybe this was just due to the comfort.
There is still a tab on the back, like on the Tennie, to help pull them on over thick socks, and another neat little feature is a velcro cover that goes over the laces, in theory this should offer additional reinforcement if your laces detach, and will probably help keep them from detaching as well.
I normally wear a 10.5 Tennie, which is a bit too small with thick socks, the Hiyak only comes in single sizes (10,11,12 for example), I got size 11 which seems slightly snug with all the socks in the world on, but a bit less snug than my 10.5 Tennies. They definitely have more flex, I'm satisfied with the size, 12 would probably be too big, an 11.5 might be ideal...
What's left to be seen is how long these puppies last, but let's just say they've made a great first impression, and I'll now confidently throw away my last old pair of tattered Tennies.
|The Hiyaks by my old Tennies|