"The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy." -Martin Luther King, Jr.
I began my review of "The Fin" shoes from SoftScience on Martin Luther King Day, and since SoftScience strives for ultimate comfort, I thought the quote was fitting. Are your knees and faith shaken when you're challenged, or are you on solid ground?
But on with the review...
First, let me say that these shoes are different. They look different - like a Sperry/Crocs hybrid. They feel different - like a soft but supportive slipper.
But I suppose the look shouldn't come as surprise once you learn who's behind SoftScience. The top two SoftScience executives have deep connections to Crocs. Scott Seamans is the Crocs founder and former chief designer while John Duerden is Croc's former CEO. Their goal at SoftScience was to create shoes that provide ultimate comfort in a stylish, fun and funky package. They were also striving for simple designs that minimize adhesives and layers of material. If you stop reading the review right here, know that they succeeded.
Check the photos. Yes, these are funky shoes but the look works for me, particularly with the woven, breathable microfiber upper and laces on The Fin, which I prefer to the more plain look of some other SoftScience models. That's about all I'll say in regards to the aesthetics, since you'll have to decide for yourself if you like the styling.
More importantly, particularly for a sailing shoe, is the comfort and grip that these shoes provide. The outsole and insole are both made with a proprietary material called Trileon, a closed cell copolymer developed by Scott, to provide lightweight cushioning and stability. The comfort this provides is outstanding, but the feel isn't as cushy as you might expect based on the chunkiness of the outsole and the "soft" in SoftScience. That's a good thing because it means you'll get a very comfortable footbed without sacrificing stability. I don't know the exact weight of The Fin shoes, but SoftScience says all of their models are between 6-10 oz., which is very lightweight.
One more important feature of the insole - It's self-draining. This is a must for a sailing shoe that's going to see time on deck (i.e. not in the cockpit) as well as in the dinghy and on shore.
I haven't had these on deck yet, but they feel adequately grippy on wood, cement and hard surfaces around my house. The Trillion (Feels like rubber to me!) on the outsole is non-marking and has small nubs built-in, which I'm assuming help with both grip and impact absorption.
So what about the "science" in SoftScience? Well, it comes from "Levelast" [Side note - Shoe companies and men's razor companies are overachievers at inventing new terminology to describe their products!], the footbed design which lies at the heart of all SoftScience shoes. Level = Minimal elevation change from heel to toe, to disperse body weight evenly across the sole and reduce pressure points. Last = A "last" is the mechanical form on which a shoe is constructed and allows for accommodating many foot shapes and sizes. I'm not sure if that qualifies for science, but just go with it.
If fit properly (All SoftScience shoes are only available in whole sizes), your heel won't rest against the back of the shoe and may ride up and down slightly. That's how mine fit and I'm a bit concerned that this will lead to heel blisters, but it hasn't during the two days that I've worn the shoes so far. The open heel design of my Crocs caused no such worries. If I find blisters to be a problem in the future, I'll update this review.
So to sum things up, The Fin from SoftScience checks all the boxes for a good sailing shoe: self-draining, fast drying, good traction, toe protection. And it manages to do so while providing all-day comfort and support. If you like the look and want better comfort and support than the many flat, thin soled more traditional deck shoes, these are worth a try.
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