Stylish and very capable in wet environments, the superlight, quick-draining Helly Hansen Ahiga V4 HP water sneakers excel on boats and beaches, and they’re versatile enough to be worn in the bar after you get off the water too.
Stylish and versatile
Lots of recycled content
Not especially warm
Low toe protection
Women’s equivalent is more expensive
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Helly Hansen Ahiga V4 HP Sneakers: first impressions
Comfortable straight out of the box, Helly Hansen Ahiga V4 HP Sneakers (for men) and Skagen F-1 Offshore (for women) are handsome-looking deck sneakers that feel very light on the foot.
With a lightweight, quick-draining design, these shoes are ideal for wearing on yachts and other boats, as well as being versatile enough to be at home on the beach and at the bar. Besides looking great, they perform well when it matters – on rolling seas – and we rate them as some of the best water shoes around.
• List price: $110 / £90 (UK)
• Gender specificity: Men’s (women’s version is the more expensive Skagen F-1 Offshore)
• Weight (per shoe, men’s size 11): 310g / 11oz
• Materials: Lightweight synthetic textile and mesh upper, EVA midsole, siped HellyGrip rubber outsole
• Colors: Off-White / Azurite / Charcoal / Jet Black
• Compatibility: Sailing, boating, coastal exploring and general wear
The mesh-dominated upper is highly breathable and lets water in and out like a sieve, but it dries very quickly, so the shoes are best worn sans socks (an antimicrobial treatment helps prevent the buildup of odor).
The EVA foam midsole supplies support to the underside of the foot in all the places where it matters, and the outsoles are impressively grippy on all sorts of surfaces. The lace eyelets extend right to the top of the tongue, so you can be sure to get a really secure and tight fit.
The Ahiga are marketed for men, and for some reason the closest women’s equivalent, the Skagen F-1 Offshore, which are very similar in terms of construction and design, are significantly more expensive. The Ahiga and Skagen are both PVC free, and they are made with a significant amount of recycled material.
Helly Hansen Ahiga V4 HP Sneakers: in the water
I first wet-tested the Helly Hansen Ahiga V4 HP Sneakers during a mid-winter, rain-lashed sailing trip, amidst a proper feisty storm. It was an extraordinary experience, on board a Figaro racing yacht with professional sailors, but the conditions could hardly have been much more challenging. From the moment we stepped aboard the yacht, high winds were picking up salty spray and hurling it on our faces, a rollicking rolling sea threw us around, and torrential rain pelted us from start to finish.
There seemed to be almost as much water in the air as there was in the sea at times, and the deck was drenched all day long. Moving around felt precarious, but the grippy Ahiga V4 HP sneakers enabled me to keep my footing throughout the adventure, including when we had to leap over the waves between the yacht and the RIB that took us out to meet the sailing boat on the seam of the Bristol Channel and the Celtic Sea.
I wore Merino socks during that adventure, which helped supply some extra warmth (because, on their own the sneakers aren’t especially thermally protective) but on subsequent escapades I’ve jettisoned the socks and gone barefoot in these shoes. With quick-draining mesh uppers and comfortable insoles, these shoes are best worn sans socks.
They wouldn’t be my first choice of shoes to wear kayaking or SUPing, but on boats (the environment they’re designed for), beaches and in bars, they’re brilliant. Since the dramatic day on the racing yacht, I’ve worn the Ahiga V4 HP Sneakers on mostly beach-based walks, rockpool scrambling shenanigans and small-boat adventures.
Author of Caving, Canyoning, Coasteering…, a recently released book about all kinds of outdoor adventures around Britain, Pat has spent 20 years pursuing stories involving boots, bikes, boats, beers and bruises. En route he’s canoed Canada’s Yukon River, climbed Mont Blanc and Kilimanjaro, skied and mountain biked through the Norwegian Alps, run an ultra across the roof of Mauritius, and set short-lived records for trail-running Australia’s highest peaks and New Zealand’s Great Walks. He’s authored walking guides to Devon and Dorset, and once wrote a whole book about Toilets for Lonely Planet. Follow Pat’s escapades on Strava here and instagram here.