Helly Hansen Jaeger Shoe

written by: J.A. Caldwell

About Helly Hansen:

In 1877, Norwegian sea captain Helly Juell Hansen was tired of being cold, wet, and miserable after long days on the water. Traditional single layer canvas sea gear was not holding up to the weather or in longevity, causing a strain on the health and pocketbooks of Hansen and his crew. Armed with coarse linen fabric and linseed oil, Helly Juell applied the oil to the fabric and dried it in front of an open fire, to create the first waterproof raingear to hit the marketplace. Over the next 130 years, Helly Hansen would continue to lead the industry in design and technology innovations across the world. Highlights include the invention and evolution of waterproof rainwear, the development of fiber pile fleece, and the introduction of LIFA Stay Dry Technology. Now in more than 20 countries, Helly Hansen continues to be a global leader in technical clothing for work, sport and survival.

The Product:

Helly Hansen Jaeger Shoes (click to enlarge)

The Jaeger shoe was designed from the ground up to be a mountain biking shoe. Helly Hansen worked with top riders in the industry in order to design a shoe that featured many of the needed characteristics to perform in this discipline. The result is a piece of footwear with the rider in mind utilizing materials and features for a more enhanced biking experience.

Features and Materials:

  • External Heel stabilizer – creates balanced pressure around the heel allowing for the rider to put more power to the pedal

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  • EVA midsole – EVA is used for cushioning and support as well as adding controlled torsion and stability

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  • Helly Grip Outsole – designed to offer traction in rough and wet conditions with sculpted outside grooves for optional grip
  • Carbon Rubber Helly Wear and Genuine Suede upper – durable hard wearing materials designed to deflect errant branches and deter protruding rocks

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  • Storm Grip – gum rubber sole with a special design pattern in order to provide traction in multiple directions

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  • Lace Closure System – keeps your laces from getting loose, causing potential danger and decreased support

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Fit and Finish:

My pair of Jaeger shoes fit remarkably well. I had no problems with heel slippage or arch issues. Since the Jaeger is a performance based shoe the toe box is not very large. Helly has kept the feel of the shoe a little slimmer in order to support the foot while driving the pedals. If you are used to floppy skate shoes this may feel a little unusual at first but will be appreciated after a little riding.

The tongue is sewn to the shoe on both sides with elastic in order to keep it straight while riding. The lacing system is on par with most shoes using standard eyelets except for the very top, which are metal. The closure uses velcro to keep the laces tucked away and can add little bit of extra tightness if so inclined for more support on the top of the foot. Helly also included a spare set of laces if your’s become damaged. The laces themselves are a tight knit cord type that won’t get snagged on the velcro closure.

The outside of the shoe held up very nicely to all the punishment thrown at it. These shoes have been through all types of elements and didn’t show any real wear to the uppers. Much of the upper is double stitched for added durability and since a majority of the shoe is rubberized clean up is very easy. The sockliner can be removed as well if desired for replacement or cleaning.

Riding Results:

Traction:

The Jaeger shoe is an immense improvement over many other shoe choice alternatives I’ve ridden. I found that the shoe gripped remarkably well. The traction design of the sole and the rubber used stick to the pedals very well and never gave me much worry of slipping a pedal. The gum rubber used doesn’t have the slowest rebound of some on the market but it does have a relatively soft compound that sticks well to pedal spikes. The outsole itself is even sculpted to add extra traction if you get your shoe to the far outside or inside of the pedal.

While the Jaeger shoes did stick to the pedals well, they had a little bit of a problem giving good traction on muddy trails. Like most flat shoes they don’t have a tread pattern designed to offer grip in the mud. The Jaeger shoe worked fine when climbing on rocks and logs.

If you are used to shoes with less grip that allow you to reset your feet easily these shoes might take a practice run or two to get used to. For me once my feet were set it takes a relatively conscious move with my foot to get them unhooked. Once you have a good feel for the shoes this characteristic is a fantastic improvement over other alternatives.

Cushioning and Support:

I’ve worn the shoes riding and casually and they have ample cushioning and a slim performance feel. The sole is moderately stiff and allows for great power transfer to the pedal. The heel cup felt incredibly solid and really helps to support your ankle and provide a more solid pedal stroke. The closure system over the laces is great feature for adding a little bit of safety and added support as well as providing a place to stash your keys.

Durability:

The Jaeger shoe was highly durable during my testing with easy clean up and no real big scratches or tears. The shoe’s design kept my feet from getting injured by rocks and sticks. The upper is actually lightly padded in the suede areas in case a rock or other hard object were to come into contact. This little bit of padding is a nice feature and helps from getting hurt as badly.

Breathability:

Due to the shoes mostly being wrapped in rubber and suede to protect your feet the Jaeger’s have lack luster breathability. Some holes are added to the closure system but this doesn’t add that much airflow. I never felt that my feet were overly hot but I also never felt that they were all that adequately cool either. This also leads to another issue, which is once wet the Jaeger shoe doesn’t dry out very quickly and their aren’t many areas to let the water escape. However, the rubber does help in preventing much water from inadvertently entering the shoe during creek crossing and puddles.

Improvements:

Overall the Jaeger is great shoe with many benefits. There are a few things that Helly Hansen could do to improve the Jaeger shoe.

  • Breathability – Due to the design of the shoe and its emphasis on protection the Jaeger doesn’t breathe all that well. With the majority of the shoe wrapped in rubber there isn’t much room for venting.
  • Optional width’s – As mentioned previously the Jaeger is a slimmer fitting shoe. If you have wider feet or like a more open feel to your toe box the Jaeger might not feel as comfortable. An optional wider width version would be nice to see made available.
  • High top version – The Jaeger supports the foot well but some riders enjoy the protection and support of a high top shoe. A high top version could be offered for these rider’s.
  • More Colorways – The Jaeger is only offered in Black or a Clay/Black/Yellow version seen below.

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Pricing: $100 MSRP

Conclusion:

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The Jaeger shoes delivered very good performance during my testing and held up under all of the punishment I could give them. They provided some of the best traction I’ve ever felt from a shoe on flat pedals. I believe this was due to the pattern design and Storm Grip rubber used in the sole. The Jaeger’s supported my feet firmly and allowed me to put more efficient force to my pedals by providing a stiff platform and performance fit. I was impressed with the lace closure system and the added protection from rocks and debris.

While the Jaeger’s performed well for me there are a few issues. The Jaeger is a slim fitting shoe. I noticed this immediately and found that while great for support this could be an issue for others with wider feet. The breathability of the Jaeger’s is lacking due to the amount of rubber used in the upper and takes longer to dry out once wet. I also found that once the going gets muddy the Jaeger doesn’t offer the best grip when walking due to its flat sole. One of the other issues for some rider’s may be the price. At $100 the Jaeger is not a cheap shoe if you are used to riding in sub $60 skate shoes.

In the end the Jaeger sits very high on my list of suggested biking shoes. They have many biking specific features that actually work together to enhance your biking experience. Are they good enough to take the crown as the best shoes available? That I won’t say, but they’re at least in the running.

To find out more information about the Jaeger shoe or other Helly Hansen gear, check their website. We’ve also previously featured their Compass Shorts and Jaeger MTB jersey as well as their Racing Bag.

[Helly Hansen Jaeger Shoe Review Gallery]