The Outdoor Foundation and The Coleman Company, Inc. recently released a Special Report on Paddlesports, which found more than seven percent of Americans paddled a kayak, canoe or SUP in 2014. Kayaking remains the most popular sector, with SUP the least, yet both are growing.
Paddle sports are gaining popularity among the urban set who often live closer to rivers and lakes. These consumers still prefer footwear that doesn’t scream water sock all the way home from the river or lake.
Following the do-it-all trends in outdoor footwear, new water shoes mean there’s no need to bring a sandal and a water shoe. Whether you want to stand on a deck, a board or a slippery rock, these savvy shoe companies offer footwear that puts the old neoprene scuba slip-ons to shame.
Adidas Outdoor’s Climacool Voyager looks like a retro running sneaker, but the hike and water shoe features a side drainage system and plenty of breathability. The EVA cushioning gets harder on the sole’s outer edges to provide more stability.
The Rugged Shark Aquamesh 4 is the old neoprene “water sock” with a sturdier sole. An EVA midsole support the nylon mesh upper and molded sock with drainage ports.
Another sneaker-like option is OluKai’s Kamiki, a 6.1 oz. shoe with breathable upper, and toe cap to for extra protection. The rounded outsole helps give the foot a toe-off and sticky-rubber grip gives more traction on SUPs and rocks.
Of course boat shoe brand Sperry has water shoes, but the H2O Escape Bungee is made to stay in the water much longer than the old Captain slip-ons. This shoe looks like a trainer until you notice the water ports in the sole. The bungee lacing is secure and easy to adjust on the water. Sperry’s Wave-Siping outsoles are designed to use natural foot movement to push water away.
Chaco, known chiefly for its sandals, has helped grow SUP as a sport since 2013, and its water-friendly OutCross Evo Free was designed with them in mind. The side-laced shoe is basically an open-sided version of its trail shoe. The sole works fine on trails, but it’s the grip while wet that makes it choice for the paddle sports crowd. Chaco includes its Luvseat midsole, a well-regard footbed that adds comfort and durability. The elastic lacing keeps the shoe close to the foot while providing plenty drainage and breathability.