Death of the Dunlop Volley

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Death of the Dunlop Volley

Postby FatCanyoner » Sun 29 Jan, 2012 8:36 am

I'm not sure whether the Dunlop Volley has managed to build a big bushwalking following around the country, but here in NSW it has been a particularly popular shoe for many decades. It is light weight, doesn't leave you with soggy waterlogged feet in the wet, and most importantly has spectacular grip on wet rock. While outside of a few clubs they are probably seen less and less on bushwalks, they still remain the dominant shoe for canyoning (the price has helped with this fact too!)
Recently Dunlop has done a 'redesign' of the shoe, apparently moving to a much softer and cheeper rubber which is wearing out far to quickly. Dave Noble had an interesting post about this recently (http://www.david-noble.net/blog/?p=951). My first reaction was that people were over-reacting. My first use of the new shoes weren't too bad. I probably got lucky.
Last week I did a seven day canyoning trip in the remote Wollemi NP (http://fatcanyoners.org/2012/01/18/coorongooba/). This is not an area where you want, or can afford to have gear failing. On this trip my new style Volleys were terrible. The grip was gone within three days, they gave me serious blisters and the sole was so thin I was starting to plan ways to attach the soles of my thongs to the shoes for the long walk out.
Since my return I have sent a scathing email to Dunlop. I haven't had a response yet, but I intend to express my disgust at the failure of these shoes.
Now I am in a serious dilemma. For the last four or five years I have walked exclusively in Volleys. Whether it is a canyon, a bushwalk, caving or pretty much any other outdoor activity, this is what I strap on to my feet. But on this trip I was really seriously contemplating abandoning the old favourites.
It seems I'm not the only one. A good friend has just made the decision to move to specialist canyoning shoes. From his review of the 5.10 Canyoneering SAR's (http://fatcanyoners.org/bush-guide/5-10-canyoneer-sar/) I don't think he is going to switch back, even if Dunlop restores the old Volley.
I'm quite interested to hear what everyone else's experiences are? Does anyone else still walk in Volleys? Have you had problems with the new ones? Are you going to stick with them?
I'd also like to encourage any Volley wearers who have experienced a loss of quality to contact the company here: http://www.volley.com.au/contacts/
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Re: Death of the Dunlop Volley

Postby Craig D » Sun 29 Jan, 2012 10:09 am

I've been using a pair on rafting trips for the last couple of years and have found them to be great. The pair is still in good shape, a few signs of wear on the canvas uppers but the soles are as good as new.

Over New Year I went on an 11 day bushwalking & packrafting trip down the Snowy River, and decided to purchase a new pair of Volleys in case old ones fell to bits. Wore them for the equivalent of 3 full days walking at the start of the trip, then hit the river and found that they weren't gripping on the rocks like they should be. Checked the sole and sure enough, the tread on each heel was gone. The canvas at the side was also in a bad way, and the foam innersole/footbed is now a wafer thin, flacid piece of nothingness providing no support or cushioning whatsoever. Needless to say I used the Volleys very sparingly for the rest of the trip and did most of the mileage barefoot or in thongs.

Here are some photos of the damage (click to enlarge):

Image Image

I sent a message off to the company via their website over a week ago and, like Fat Canyoner, have yet to receive a response.

For the future I plan on sticking with my original pair of Volleys for when I'm in the river itself, and will probably use Keens or Tevas where walking is involved. If I do another major extended paddling trip then will then consider purchasing a specialised river shoe, as it is now clear that the Volleys simply aren't up to the task.
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Re: Death of the Dunlop Volley

Postby JohnM » Sun 29 Jan, 2012 10:46 am

They used to be made by Dunlop, but Pacific Brands bought the licence a long time ago. Pac brands couldn't give a damn about quality... The volley is nothing more than a cheap fashion/street brand to them, so don't waste your angst.

I know people who used to run ultra marathons in them, and they swore by them. These people stopped wearing them a decade ago, when Pac Brands first really meddled with them.

They were a classic for sure. But now if you want minimalist quality you have to spend 200 bucks on a pair of ugly monkey-feet (Vibram 5 Fingers). Those things are hideous.
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Re: Death of the Dunlop Volley

Postby wayno » Sun 29 Jan, 2012 10:52 am

thats what you get when bean counters get too involved with design....
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Re: Death of the Dunlop Volley

Postby JohnM » Sun 29 Jan, 2012 11:24 am

wayno wrote:thats what you get when bean counters get too involved with design....


Well, the thing is, people now demand insanely cheap prices for the things they buy. The expectation now is that everything will be dirt cheap and disposable... Thrown out due to boredom probably before it ever actually wears out. Back when Volleys were good, they were probably double or triple the price (in real terms) to what they are today. But ey were made well, and made to last.

He'll, they were probably once even made in Australia!

Can't just blame the manufacturers... It's just symptomatic of our whole consumer economy, and we all have to take our share of the blame: look at all the cheap c**p in all those catalogues that fill your letterbox; junk, manufactured chePly and designed to be disposed of when it's no longer new and shiny.

I love whats happening with the growth of cottage manufacturers in niche fields in the US right now, and hope it continues. I'll happily pay triple for something if I know it's well made and built to last, and will give me many years of use.
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Re: Death of the Dunlop Volley

Postby wayno » Sun 29 Jan, 2012 11:29 am

whoever originally designed the volleys and made the rubber have probably long gone, new crowd taken over, new ideas, less interested in quality.....
just plays into the hands of the companies who want to charge through the nose for better quality gear....
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Re: Death of the Dunlop Volley

Postby Rob A » Sun 29 Jan, 2012 1:01 pm

Theyve been gone before, but then there was nothing appropriate for roofers, so they got brought back.
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Re: Death of the Dunlop Volley

Postby buggeriamold » Sun 29 Jan, 2012 2:28 pm

Yep me too. 2 easy days Canyoning & this big knot has blown out of the sole.

Sad Volley.jpg
Sad Volley.jpg (62.71 KiB) Viewed 3977 times


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Re: Death of the Dunlop Volley

Postby DaveNoble » Sun 29 Jan, 2012 2:32 pm

I saw exactly the same thing yesterday on a canyoning trip - a knot like that on the sole of a friends pair of the new style volley.

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Re: Death of the Dunlop Volley

Postby juxtaposer » Mon 30 Jan, 2012 10:33 am

I'd like to be wrong about this, but has Dunlop/Pacific Brands ever put an advertisement for volleys in any of the bushwalking magazines? I can't recall ever seeing one, but I might not be very observant. By my understanding bushwalkers are only converted to volleys by hearing them recommended and seeing them in action on other walkers who swear by them. Perhaps bushwalkers are an insignificant percentage of overall sales, but I do wonder why the company has never trialled the shoes, or properly promoted them, to the bushwalking subset. If something is not done soon about the declining quality, then with the volley we might all be taking our final strides. Check out this cool poem about the death of a pair of volleys. http://greenaissance.com/html/the_final_stride.html
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Re: Death of the Dunlop Volley

Postby JohnM » Mon 30 Jan, 2012 10:48 am

Why would Pac Brands waste a cent marketing Volley's to bushwalkers? We're niche as hell, and definitely not the target market.
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Re: Death of the Dunlop Volley

Postby Maelgwn » Mon 30 Jan, 2012 12:10 pm

juxtaposer wrote:I'd like to be wrong about this, but has Dunlop/Pacific Brands ever put an advertisement for volleys in any of the bushwalking magazines? I can't recall ever seeing one, but I might not be very observant. By my understanding bushwalkers are only converted to volleys by hearing them recommended and seeing them in action on other walkers who swear by them. Perhaps bushwalkers are an insignificant percentage of overall sales, but I do wonder why the company has never trialled the shoes, or properly promoted them, to the bushwalking subset. If something is not done soon about the declining quality, then with the volley we might all be taking our final strides. Check out this cool poem about the death of a pair of volleys. http://greenaissance.com/html/the_final_stride.html


Dunlop apparently briefly had a product targetted at "our" market : http://www.bushwalking.org.au/FAQ/FAQ_F ... .htm#Field

Saying that, I haven't seen Dunlop advertise anywhere, whether to their target teenage market who think they are cool, stingy parents or bushwalkers. I think they don't market to keep costs down. (And given they are a pretty successful product, it seems to be working well for them.)

O, and nearly no body walks in Volleys in South Australia. We obviously have no use for grip on wet rock, and would find that we get very sore feet standing on pointy rocks in Volleys all day!
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Re: Death of the Dunlop Volley

Postby Nuts » Mon 30 Jan, 2012 1:39 pm

What about canvas guide tennies, same grip better protection??
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Re: Death of the Dunlop Volley

Postby whynotwalk » Mon 30 Jan, 2012 1:54 pm

On a lighter note, I once invented a bushwalker's variation on "Where's Wally?"

For decades now walkers from mainland Australia, in particular those from NSW, have run a noisy campaign against traditional leather walking boots, preferring Dunlop’s lightweight tennis shoes known as Volleys. Here’s an early example of their propaganda taken from the book “Paddy Pallin’s Bushwalking and Camping” (1985 edition, written by Tim Lamble, pp 48-49). “Intrinsic in the protection offered by a boot is the lack of care needed to place the foot on the ground. The picture of a relentless army, crunching its way across the country, is not far removed from the practice of some walkers. The lighter shoe reminds its wearer of the sensitivity of both foot and countryside.”

This high-sounding rhetoric dissolves before the acidity of the peaty mud underlying buttongrass, which will soon remind the wearer that Dunlop Volleys were never made to stand up to Tasmanian conditions. They deteriorate rapidly on such trips, soon gaping, and leaving the tender mainland foot open to the elements. Even legendary NSW Volley walker Dave Noble confessed as much when he told aus.bushwalking that Volleys “tend to rot a bit quicker in the acidic buttongrass water - and you can only get about two weeks solid walking out of a pair.” But more than that, Volleys can’t always be successfully extracted along with the foot when you step into a deep mudhole. Thus do buttongrass moorlands become graveyards for inadequate footwear, and deliver us the wonderful game: “Vhere’s Volley?” For this game you simply need a rubber-and-canvas-seeking equivalent of a metal detector, and a pen and paper to keep score. I admit I haven’t tried it out yet, but I would envisage world record scores coming out of places like the Cuvier Valley.


The rest of my long exploration of how bushwalkers and buttongrass get along together, can be found on my blog here http://auntyscuttle.blogspot.com/2010/12/from-one-quaking-tussock-to-next.html

cheers

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Re: Death of the Dunlop Volley

Postby Nuts » Mon 30 Jan, 2012 2:41 pm

Just when we thought it safe to leave the humble Volley to their mud sucked grave along comes the debris gaiter: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Inov8-Debris-Ga ... B002XI3R3E

thus ensuring future Sydney uni student generations the ability to wear such slippers without too many losses. Afterall they are likely from poor families that can only afford one crate of volleys at a time..
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Re: Death of the Dunlop Volley

Postby jackhinde » Mon 30 Jan, 2012 6:31 pm

oh dear, i did the macquarie rivulet yesterday and wearing volleys down the water fall abseils made me the only one without bumps and scrapes. they were the perfect shoe for such activities, but my pair are getting very long in the tooth... i'll be quite sad if i cannot replace them
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Re: Death of the Dunlop Volley

Postby corvus » Mon 30 Jan, 2012 7:57 pm

Must look out my old genuine Volleys and see if they are worth selling on ebay :lol:
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Re: Death of the Dunlop Volley

Postby FatCanyoner » Wed 01 Feb, 2012 10:28 am

Haha. I forgot that there would be a few Tasmanians celebrating the death of us Sydney Uni folk walking around in sand shoes!
I'm sorry to hear so many others have had the same experience, but it is good to know it wasn't just my own misuse (or size) that led to the new Volleys failing so badly.
I am glad to hear several others have contacted the company. I'd appreciate to hear what response, if any, people get. I'll update it myself if the company actually replies.
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Re: Death of the Dunlop Volley

Postby Rob A » Wed 01 Feb, 2012 9:47 pm

The original Volleys were made out at Bankstown. Everything moved offshore.
The standard Volley out of asia has a soft plastic sole that often gets mistaken for rubber because it is soft and plyable. It skates on wet roofs, pebblecrete, tiles.
Is the knot hat comes through the sole a locking stitch from the joining of the upper?
They do make a rubber soled 'Volley', but the sole appears stiffer and holds its shape like a sperry topsider. It isnt the one in the images above.
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Death of the Dunlop Volley

Postby JoshT » Thu 02 Feb, 2012 8:17 am

Rob A wrote:They do make a rubber soled 'Volley'.


I'm not sure what type of volleys all the previous posters are referring to, but just to let people know, there are two main styles of Volley out there. The more popular one are from KMart and similar places for $15 or so, and have the plastic sole which is useless for doing pretty much anything. These are called Volley Internationals.

There is a second style called Volley Classics, which apparently are styled on the 70s tennis volleys, and have a vulcanised rubber sole. They seem much better to me, not perfect but I happily use them for canyoning. They are only available at a few places, most common is Payless Shoes (in NSW at least) and a few online disposals type stores
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Re: Death of the Dunlop Volley

Postby kaite » Fri 03 Feb, 2012 7:12 pm

i love dunlop volleys still, though yes they don't last long - maybe mine are old stock..? but had heaps of pairs break up in many ways. Sometimes i wonder if they work out all that cheap in the end but they are just great for creek walk where you end up half the time in the water, which is much what happens this time of the year. I usually buy the cheap version which up here is around $20.00. Last year i bought similar shoes in Thailand, Thai school kids seam to wear them , they are sort of rust red canvass with green soles and they are also very grippy and let the water run through them i think they cost about five dollars.
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Re: Death of the Dunlop Volley

Postby FatCanyoner » Tue 14 Feb, 2012 10:13 am

I just rang up the Dunlop re the fact that I still haven't had a response to my email from over two weeks ago. I spoke to a very helpful woman who confirmed that they have received a very large volume of complaints recently about the quality of the new design. She confirmed that my email, along with others, have been sent to the product development team. Allegedly we will get a detailed response, but she couldn't say exactly when.
I suppose it is a positive that we haven't just been fobbed off with a polite email from a customer service person. That said, unless they are willing to spend the dollars to fix their manufacturing (which I imagine could be substantial) nothing will change.
I'd appreciate if anyone else who has contacted them with similar complaints can share the company's response if / when they receive one.
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Re: Death of the Dunlop Volley

Postby JohnM » Tue 14 Feb, 2012 11:19 am

Anyone complaining to Pac Brands might want to let them know that you'd be happy to pay 80 bucks for a pair of Volleys that were actually made well.

They're 40 bucks when not on sale, so I'm not sure what you'd expect at that price. They won't be able to make the kind of shoe people like us want, at that kind of price. It's just not possible. Ultimately you get what you pay for, and these guys are making shoes to a price, not a quality standard.

Maybe they could have streetwear volleys (cheap and disposable) and original volleys (quality construction and priced accordingly).
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Re: Death of the Dunlop Volley

Postby tom_brennan » Sun 11 Mar, 2012 12:09 pm

The silly thing is that until the latest re-design, the quality was still OK. Sure they didn't last forever, but what do you really expect from a lightweight pair of canvas/rubber tennis shoes, regardless of how well made.

"Now, the Volley International has been reset to its original 1975 specifications" - (http://www.volley.com.au/heritage/). If they simply "unreset" it to last year's specifications, most people would be pretty happy.
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