Ion-mask has been around for a while now. We first saw it on Hi-Tec's walking range a few years back, Timberland has it too and now Teva has followed up its ion-mask-treated, flat-pedal mountain bike shoes with a new model, the Fuse-Ion - geddit - which it's touting as 'The Ultimate Water Shoe'.
Nano-Technology In A Plasma Chamber...
We're intrigued by ion-mask. Initially it was sort of mis-sold as a 'water proof' agent, which it isn't. In reality it's a sort of permanent, nano-technology, water-repellent treatment that stops leather or textiles absorbing water as fast as it otherwise would, in fact, it repels the stuff.
But what really makes it different, is that the whole object which is to be treated is placed in a plasma chamber and done all in one. So with footwear, that means the laces, stitching, uppers and so on, should all be treated. And that's what's done with the Fuse-Ion.
Ultimate Water Shoe
Talking of which, it's a fabric-uppered water shoe with fold-down heels so you can wear it as a slip-on and mesh and fabric uppers for comfort. The sole unit, it says here, uses Spider Rubber + JStep for tenacious grip on wet surfaces - it was apparently originally designed to give purchase on 'a grease-covered aluminium ramp'.
It's relatively light and comfortable - 364g is the weight of a dry one on our digital scale - but it's not really aimed at walking long distances, more for hanging out in bars, barbecues by the lake and a bit of messing about on boats really. The sole should grip on beer covered floors too...
And we can imagine trekking through dewy long grass to the pub from a lake-side campsite on a sun-soaked Lakeland evening maybe.
A Gentle Shower...
So does ion-mask really work? We grabbed a hose to try and find out and soaked the left shoe to within an inch of its life. Then we weighed both the wet and dry Fuse-Ion after a good wet dog shake, to see how much water the wet shoe had absorbed - bear in mind that it was filled with water.
The dry shoe weighed 364g, the saturated one, 407g - so that's an additional 43g of water - quite a bit of that seemed to be in the thin foam liner on the inside of the shoe - it was also noticeable that the outside of the shoe barely retained any water at all and beeded nicely during the soaking session. Not bad and we suspect wearing the thing would help to squeeze the water out and without the padding, it would retain even less water.
To see how quickly it recovers, we're leaving the wet shoe to sit outside for an hour to see if it dries noticeably in that time, which if ion-mask lives up to the hype, it ought to and we'll weigh it again. Then we'll leave it overnight and repeat the process.
Update After one hour sat in a cold garden, the shoe's weight has falled from 407g to 401g, the outside is completely dry, but the soft padding inside the fabric is still wet.
In the mean time, while we're waiting and contemplating a tea and cake expedition to the local shop for local people, we can tell you that the shoe feels light and comfy. That the May weather in the Peak is still 'disappointing' in the sense that it feels like autumn rather than spring. And that the Fuse-Ion in both men's and women's versions, retails for £75 in the UK and is out now.
You can find more info and a product video at www.teva.co.uk.