If there’s any lifestyle brand more synonymous with active Southern California living than Vans, we’ve yet to come across them. In fact, there might not even be a SoCal skate and surf scene if it wasn’t for Vans’ gear, pro teams, events, concerts, etc. And while the brand was started way back in 1966, they’re still going strong and innovating to this day.
One of the things Vans is most known for, perhaps, is their Slip-On sneaker — traditionally done up in an iconic black-and-white checkerboard pattern. Well, after nearly half a century in production, the brand still isn’t done with this signature silhouette. Rather, they’ve taken it back through numerous rounds of R&D and have updated it for the modern day into the Vans Trek Slip-On you see before you. We’ve been fortunate enough to get up close and personal with this new permutation in the following in-depth deep dive and, as we’ve come to expect, this is another stupendous off-the-wall release.
An Icon Evolved
Southern California Sneaker
As mentioned, the original Slip-On has been around for quite some time — roughly 44 years, by our count. Furthermore, it was originally released in that iconic black-and-white checkerboard that’s since become synonymous with Vans. We mention this because this new version stays true to that signature combination — retaining the original Slip-On silhouette and the accompanying checkerboard pattern, albeit in a significantly altered fashion. However, even with those inclusions, it’s clear that this shoe veers off the beaten path in some fairly noteworthy ways. The end result is an impressive balancing act of iconography and innovation that stays true to the Southern California brand’s roots (both in regards to the original shoe and the brand’s larger, more general design language) while simultaneously departing from the norm in a manner that explorers and adventurers, especially those with a flair for summer expeditions, will appreciate deeply. Yes, it’s still got the looks and style people have come to expect, but this new version is just… different. And that’s a good thing.
Though these sneakers do look just like their older brethren, those familiar with Vans will immediately notice some significant differences between the original and the Trek Slip-On. For starters, this sneaker actually has a unibody construction — meaning the entire thing, from sole to tongue, is constructed from a single, seamless piece of injected rubber. That means, in part, that there are no seams to rip, no fabric to tear, and no stitches to fray, making for a sturdier all-around sneaker than ever before. It also means the Vans Trek Slip-Ons are entirely waterproof, which makes them ideal for any water-bound adventures you might have in mind — be that a jaunt down to the river for a float, an all-day beach trip for some surfing, or even a lakeside hike. And, if you’re worried about getting bogged and weighed down by water, don’t be; they also have integrated drains to ensure you’re not carrying around any H20 with you.
To further adventure-proof these laceless sneakers, Vans has given them an extended toecap — which will help protect your toes from being hurt via any missteps. They’ve also turned that iconic checkerboard pattern into a system of vents to keep the shoes lighter and more breathable, and they even do double-duty as additional drains, should you be spending a lot of time around bodies of water. The brand has even taken the outsole to task, giving the Trek Slip-On an oversized reverse waffle sole — which ensures superb grip in any conditions (even underwater) and will keep you surefooted all day long (and then some).
A Step Ahead
The Wearability Factor
A clever construction that takes into account durability, weatherproofing/waterproofing, and adventure readiness isn’t going to mean much if the sneaker in question isn’t comfortable to wear, right? Well, as it turns out, Vans had taken that essential piece of the puzzle into consideration, as well. That is to say: the Vans Trek Slip-On is just as wearable as its counterparts. In fact, in some cases, it’s even more wearable. That starts with their weight. According to our measurements, the Trek Slip-Ons actually weigh slightly less than their standard counterparts. While that difference is perhaps negligible, the data still leans in the favor of the new version and speaks to their all-day wearability.
It goes further than that, however. While you could put on your favorite pair of socks and wear the Vans Trek Slip-Ons as a daily go-to sneaker — which gives wearers with a penchant for bright socks the added bonus of being able to show pops of color through the checker vents — they really shine when worn sans socks, like slippers or flip-flops. And while the reasons therein might seem obvious, we’re going to point them out anyhow. First, the vents allow for breathability — helping to keep your feet from sweating but also ensuring they don’t stink up the joint. Second, the enclosed design allows for far more security than, say, sandals — meaning you could run in them without losing your footing or leaving a shoe behind in the process. Lastly, their one-piece rubber design makes cleaning them incredibly simple. All you have to do is rinse them off, let them dry (or pat them dry with a towel), and then they are ready to go on another adventure. And that final bit is all the better when you realize they can collapse flat for easier packing, lending them credence as a go-to travel shoe.
Checking All The Boxes
Slip These On & See
If we’re going out on the town for the evening, the likelihood is we’re still going to reach for our standard Vans Slip-Ons. However, if there’s even a slight chance that our adventurous outings will take us near a body of water, the Vans Trek Slip-Ons outshine their classic counterparts in just about every way. And, for us, that’s the defining distinction between the two — which is going to make things all the more difficult as the weather continues to warm up and we more frequently find ourselves out at the beach, boardwalk bars, campsites, lakeside docks, etc. Perhaps the biggest benefit to Vans’ creation of the Trek Slip-On, however, is that they’re (at least in our opinion) a superb alternative to Crocs, which needs to be said considering how popular the aforementioned rubber “chef” shoes still are to this day. If you’re in the market for no-nonsense, all-weather adventure shoes that are as easy to wear as they are to clean, and you’re off-put by the prospect of looking into Crocs, you’ll find Vans Trek Slip-Ons a superior option across the board. Pick up a pair for yourself right now in four available colors for just $55.