One of the newest products from Sandugo, a local company known for its sandals, is the Tootega—a footwear somewhere in between sandals and shoes. It offers the lightness of sandals and the protection offered by shoes.
The Tootega comes is available in three colors: black, brown, and blue. While it isn’t really as eye-catching as similar products on the market, its price makes it a very practical choice for those on a budget. The craftsmanship of the product is good but could be much better, especially in the choice of materials.
My Tootega got the ultimate test during the recent TNF100 Philippines held in Sacobia, Clark. I got a pair to complement my trail running shoes, specifically for the numerous river-crossings along the trails. While it was not my intention, the Tootega performed surprisingly well that I used it for the entirety of the 100K trail route. Here are my thoughts on the product:
- Excellent traction. Tootegas have excellent traction on soil, mud, and surprisingly even on pavement.
- Easy lacing. Tootegas use a lacing system that is easy to tighten or loosen, like a crude version of TNF’s BOA.
- Price. Similar products are easily double the price of a pair of Tootega making this a very cheap alternative.
- Design. Not as eye-catching as similar products but not really an eye-sore.
- Comfort. Sandugo have been known for their comfortable sandals so it was a big disappointment that this wasn’t brought to the Tootega. Tootegas are very rough—it’s not comfortable which was probably the biggest fault of this product. It also feels hot which could probably be attributed to the materials used.
So how did I survive 100 kilometers on an uncomfortable pair of footwear? An excellent pair of socks. The soles of Tootegas are hard—any cheap sandals on the market could be softer, so a good pair of socks helps a lot in making this product “bearable.” For the first 60K I was wearing a pair of Nike Run Fast socks which dries fast and was excellent for river-crossings. This pair protected my feet for that duration but due to some unforeseen circumstances I was running without any socks for the next 30K. This resulted in record-breaking number of blisters for my feet (which swelled after the race). I had an opportunity to put on my Nike Pro Cushioning socks for the remaining 10K of the route and that made running with a Tootega more manageable.
Better Than Sandals
Trails present many hazards to your feet that sandals can’t protect you against. My Tootega took the damage that the trails brought, instead of my feet. While trail or trail running shoes can also offer the same level of protection (with much better comfort) Tootegas are much cheaper so the collateral damage is less.
Sandugo Tootega are excellent if you’re looking for an affordable pair of trail shoes/sandals with excellent traction on most surfaces. It’s for those that you could say are “hard-core” or those who like it “rough.” If you’re looking for a comfortable ride then better look elsewhere.
Product Rating: Good