August 16, 2016

Wet Test: the Converse Chuck Taylor All Star II Shield Canvas Braves the Elements

Having wet feet sucks. So much so that that we literally link the maxim to ‘have cold feet’ with ducking out on your loved ones. Wet feet can stop you dead in your tracks. They can dampen spirits, and even makes this thing called trench foot possible. The design geniuses over at Converse are obviously aware of this, and they’ve dedicated their considerable resources to solving this age old problem.

Enter the Chuck Taylor All Star II Shield Canvas. The most recent iteration of the beloved classic takes the instantly recognisable silhouette and tweaks it with ingeniously subtle water-repellent tech – ensuring your feet stay dryer than a well-timed dad joke. Well, at least that’s what the press release said – but over here at SF HQ we’re a hands on bunch. That’s why our senior editorial team acquired a pair of the sneakers, waited until a day of particularly inclement weather, and tasked me with pushing the shoes to their absolute limit.

‘My jeans were drenched – but my feet were dry. Water would bead on the surface of the canvas before wicking away, as if by enchantment’

Now, jumping around in puddles on company time sounds like a great deal. But testing the water repelling properties of canvas – a fabric so known for absorbing liquids that it’s a popular medium for watercolour paintings – seems like some type of hazing ritual. I definitely wasn’t without doubt as I approached a car park-sized lake that I was supposed to get busy in, and had resigned myself to getting my socks soaked. Converse’s solution to canvas’ water imbibing nature is to galvanise the fabric with DWR (Durable Water Repellent). I’ve covered many a shoe in water repellent solution before, but I’ve never managed to achieve the coveted ‘duck’s back’ level of hermetic seal. After some increasingly determined jumps, splashes and kicks – my feet were unusually dry. Our photographer copped a dousing, and my jeans were drenched – but my feet were dry. Water would bead on the surface of the canvas before wicking away, as if by enchantment.

At this point everyone who has owned a pair of Chucks will probably be noting that, even with an infallible water-repellent – All Stars have holes in them. There are two eyelet-shaped ventilation slots near the arch that tend to squelch out bubbles when they brave adverse conditions. Pragmatically the Shield Canvas collection does away with these holes, creating a unique design feature in the process that lends the design a sleek minimalist look.

I was convinced my dues were paid by now, but the team insisted that there was more testing to do. (Un)fortunately there was an unguarded fire hose in the immediate vicinity. The thinking was that holding up to water from below is one thing, but the ability to withstand monsoon-style deluges seemed like an ample test of a shoe that had already impressed us. My objections on the basis that it was already raining, and questions as to who would ever find in this situation in the first place fell on deaf ears – and the hose was turned at my feet.

Converse’s solution to airborne water attacks is the inclusion of a gusseted tongue that folds and connect to the side of the shoe. This fold has a sharp crease down the middle which, when treated with DWR, ushers water down the crease and out the front of the shoe. On a Chuck Taylor this equates to a sneaker that has all the abilities of a gumboot but looks bucket loads better. Despite the team’s persistent efforts, my feet stayed totally dry.

The Shield Canvas also makes playing in the rain a comfortable affair – as The Chuck Taylor All Star II has the enhanced comfort of the Lunarlon sock liner, as well as a perforated micro-suede lining. To keep you visible in low-lit streets, reflective heel webbing and barrel laces have also been incorporated on the All Star and All Star II. And the conclusion of our experiment? Well, as much as my superiors tried to douse me (and seemed to enjoy the process), I walked away with dry socks and a spring in my step. Whether you’re at the mercy of intensive testing, need a shoe to withstand temperamental festival conditions, or just want your feet to stay dry in inclement weather – I can personally attest to the fact that Converse’s new Shield Canvas Collection will have you covered.

The Converse Chuck Taylor All Star II Shield Canvas is available right now from the Converse Australia – in store and online

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