Travel Tuesday: Suavs Zilker Travel Shoes Review
There’s a certain danger in establishing myself as someone who reviews products. Despite also being a personal finance writer, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen ads for items on Instagram and thought “I should buy that to review.” In some cases, I can shake off this feeling after a few days — but, in the case of Suavs shoes, the thought (and repeated ads) kept gnawing at me until I gave in. If you’re keeping score, this is now the third pair of shoes I’ve reviewed under the framing of a “travel shoe” — which means I may have more pairs than my wife at this point.
In any case, what makes the Suavs Zilkers so unique that I felt the need to try them for myself? And why do I think they may or may not make for a great travel option? Let’s take a closer look at them, including how they were brought to my attention.
Suavs Zilker: The Perfect Sockless Travel Shoe?
As I mentioned, I first learned of Suavs via a deluge of Instagram ads that were served to me because, well, I click a lot of ads. More specifically, I’d recently purchased a number of pants from IG ads (a future article on all of those is in the works), so I suppose the algorithm figured I needed some new accessories to go with my wardrobe. Incidentally, they were right as some of the slacks I purchased lend themselves to an exposed ankle style that I’m just not equipped for. Because of this, the promise that Suavs could be worn without socks appealed to me. But they took it a step further.
The other major selling point of Suavs — and especially the Zilker model — is how minimalist and packable they are, making them perfect for travel. In fact, after joining their email list (in a bid to get $10 off my order), one follow-up email billed them as a “digital nomad must-have.” Now, I’m not actually a digital nomad and I don’t quite see how the shoe lends itself to working from your laptop while abroad, that framing proved that a review of these Suavs shoes was completely in the sweet spot for my site’s focus. And, so, I bought a pair.
Buying Suavs — Price and shipping
When I got to the Suavs site, I noticed that they had a few different models including a Classic Sneaker, the 247, and the Legacy. But, it was the Zilker that first caught my attention in the ads, so that’s the one I went with. There are actually two slightly different versions of the Zilker: the regular and the Zilker Gum, which has a gum sole. The regular price for either model is $95, but I noticed that some colorways were discounted to $76.
I ended up choosing the heathered grey ones not only because they were on sale versus some others but also because I really loved the color and design of them. For the record, my second pick would have been the Demin.
Since they were on sale, I was unable to use the $10 email list welcome coupon because that only applies to full-priced orders. Furthermore, being under the $120 free shipping threshold meant I needed to pay $5 for shipping. All things considered, that’s not too bad IMHO. By the way, Suavs’s site utilizes ShopPay, so you can earn rewards through that if you have an account.
As for the shipping itself, one downside is that Suavs uses DHL for its orders. If you’ve ever experienced DHL e-commerce before, you may have noticed that they tend to be a bit slow and light on the updates — as in you may be refreshing for a day or two wondering why your item hasn’t moved. The good news is that DHL doesn’t actually do the delivery as they turn that task over to USPS. With all of that said, my order was placed on July 13th, I received a shipping confirmation on the 14th, and they arrived on the 21st. In other words, the shipping speed wasn’t terrible but it wasn’t the best either.
Size and fit
When ordering my Suavs, one minor concern I had was that they didn’t have my typical size of 8.5. Although they have other half sizes available, in this case, I had to choose between an 8 and a 9. Knowing that I was going to attempt to wear these without socks initially led me toward the former — but, in the end, I decided to go up to the 9s. Thankfully, I think that was the right decision.
Even if this pair of shoes may technically be a bit big on me, I haven’t encountered any of the tell-tale issues that typically come with that. For example, despite my worries that my foot would slide around in the shoes, this hasn’t been an issue at all. I have to imagine that the fact that there are still laces on these slip-on shoes helps — although I haven’t even adjusted them from their arrival state. Additionally, the elastic “cuff” on the shoe also does a nice job without feeling overly tight at all.
So, while your results may vary, if you find yourself in a similar situation where your true size isn’t an option, I might advise you to size up.
Trying to go sockless
I’ll admit that I was pretty taken with the look of the Suavs off the bat. But, now it was time for the real test: wearing them without socks. While other shoes I’ve reviewed, including Allbirds and Baabuks, also advertise the ability to wear them without socks, I quickly determined that neither was right for me in that regard. That’s why I was honestly a bit shocked to discover something different with Suavs. I can now declare that these are the only shoes I’ve tried that I’d even consider wearing without socks. Taking it a bit further, I did so for several days in a row without incident.
This victory is mostly thanks to the material the Suavs Zilkers are made with. Whereas I found the other two options to be a bit scratchy and rough, the interiors of the Suavs are soft and comfy. Furthermore, the insoles are pillowy and delightful. Thus, I’m ready to say that these are pretty much a game-changer for me.
With that said, while I enjoy wearing the Suavs sans socks, they worked well with socks on as well. Depending on my plans and outfit, I’ll probably end up wearing them with socks just as often as without, so it’s nice to have that option. Still, I’m very glad to know that a major reason why I bought the shoes turned out to (finally) be true.
When I reviewed the Baabuks, I raved about how the high-top shoe still allowed me to take them on and off without untying/tying the laces. Admittedly, this was also something that the Suavs sold me on. Sure enough, they deliver on this front as they are easy to slip on but are supportive enough that you don’t feel like you’re going to kick them off. Of course, if you want to make them a bit tighter, there are traditional laces. Still, even with that adjustment, the stretchy heel should allow for quick application and removal.
As promised, the Suavs Zilkers proved to be incredibly packable. When stacked on each other, the main portion of the shoe essentially folds down. This means that you’ll really only have the thickness of the sole to contend with, which isn’t much. I’d imagine the size is similar to a pair of flip-flops, but you can see it for yourself in the photo (yes, that’s them to the right of my shirts).
I found that this makes the Suavs super easy to squeeze pretty much anywhere in my suitcase. Whether shoved into the side, laid on top, or even placed into a front pouch, they weren’t bulky or awkward in any way. Thanks to this feature, I definitely intend on making them my second pair of shoes on travels.
Walking and wear
Since I don’t have any major travels on the books just yet (I’ll be sure to update this review after I hit up a convention next month), I’ve just worn my new Suavs around town while running errands and walking the dog. During these trials, though, I’ve been impressed with how comfortable the shoes are. Given the minimalist sole, part of me wondered whether it might be too thin. Yet, during my strolls, they feel completely normal — although I may be able to feel items I’m walking over a bit more than I would if I were wearing bulkier shoes.
The only big concern I currently have in regard to the Suavs is what my famously sharp toes will do to them. For whatever reason, even when trimmed, my big toe loves to poke holes in my socks and, in the case of my mesh-topped Adidas Boosts, my shoes. Given that history and the soft, malleable material that makes up the Zilker’s top, I’ve been dreading the day when my damn toe does its damage. Well, not only have I been working hard to avoid such an issue, feeling the material again, it does also feel thick enough to stave off that fate. Obviously I’ll need to wait to see what happens, but here’s hoping for a positive outcome.
One thing I mentioned earlier was how great the insoles felt in the shoes. While that’s true, I do worry about how long that can last. Actually, it would appear that I’m not alone in that since Suavs sells replacement insoles (there’s even a recommendation to add some extras when you check out). Currently, you can purchase a one-time pair for $15 or subscribe to have them delivered every 3 months, every 6 months, or once a year for varying discounts.
On the one hand, the fact that they sell replacement plans with this frequency leads me to believe that my current insoles won’t be at their absolute optimal best for long. But, it’s nice to know that I can replace them ahead of a big trip or when it’s just time. Of course, you could also purchase these inserts to put into a different pair of shoes — which is something I may actually be interested in trying down the road.
Now that I’ve covered what the Suavs do well, let’s discuss one aspect that put them in contrast to at least one other pair of “travel shoes” I’ve reviewed. Unlike the Allbids Mizzles, the Suavs Zilkers are in no way water resistant. In fact, the breathability built into the shoe likely makes them even more susceptible to seepage lest you get caught in the rain or step in a puddle (though I haven’t tried either exercise for myself).
That would be more of a downside if it weren’t for the fact that my real beef is with wet socks — so, if I can wear the Suavs without socks, I might not mind it as much if my feet were to get wet. This isn’t to say that this would be the most comfortable situation, but I can’t imagine it being worse than the alternative. In any case, this is one trade-off of the Suavs and a reason why I’ll continue to pack an extra pair of shoes while traveling (which, of course, is easy to do for the aforementioned reasons).
All in all, the Suavs Zilkers live up to the hype that their Instagram ads created. Not only do these unique shoes look great and pack easily but they’re also incredibly comfortable — even without socks. For those reasons, I definitely plan on making them a travel staple alongside my weather-protected Allbirds Runner-Up Mizzles. Beyond that, I plan on wearing my Suavs to complete my newly-adopted casual look (both with and without socks), which may mean I’ll eventually need to replace the insoles to keep them feeling as nice as they currently do.
While I can’t quite speak to how they’d feel after a long, intensive day of walking, all other aspects of the Suavs Zilkers honestly makes them perfect for travel. So, if that’s what you’re looking for, then I think they’re worth checking out.