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NRS Paddle Wetshoe
|Price||$63.95 at REI|
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|$52.95 at REI||$45 List|
$37.20 at Amazon
$69.99 at Amazon
$64.97 at Amazon
|Bottom Line||These warm and comfy booties are ready for a day on the river||These shoes check all the boxes for what is needed on the river or ocean for a long day||A simple, affordable slip-on great for boats and days in the water||A shoe you can run in with superb drainage, but lacking the traction on wet surfaces others excel with||A well-rounded shoe suited well for both wet and dry conditions|
|Rating Categories||NRS Paddle Wetshoe||NRS Kicker Wetshoe||Speedo Surf Knit Pro||Crocs Literide Pacer||Under Armour Micro...|
|Specs||NRS Paddle Wetshoe||NRS Kicker Wetshoe||Speedo Surf Knit Pro||Crocs Literide Pacer||Under Armour Micro...|
|Measured Weight (per pair)||1.9 lbs (size 10)||1.8 lbs (size 10)||1.0 lbs (size 10)||1.25 lbs (size 10)||1.3 lbs (size 10)|
|Size Tested (US Men's)||10||10||10||10||10|
|Drainage Features||None||Thick neoprene upper||S-TRAC designed outsole disperses water||Holes in front, side and back||Contoured midsole|
|Footwear Closure||Zipper, velcro||Velcro||Slip on||Lace||Lace-lock bungee system|
|Upper Materials||3 mm neoprene||Neoprene||Surf knit||Matlite||Textile|
|Midsole||2 mm plastic shim||None||EVA||LiteRide Foam||Micro G Foam|
|Outsole||Rubber||Rubber||S-TRAC water dispersing outsole||Croslite Foam||Rubber|
|Relative Fit||Wide toebox, and stretches to accomodate a wide variety of foot shapes||Wide toebox, fits true-to-size, and stretchy.||Narrow toebox, stretches to fit variety of volumes on the saller side.||Regular fit, runs large||Regular toebox, medium volume midfoot and heel|
Our Analysis and Test Results
Product Update Note
NRS has updated the Paddle Wetshoe since our last test cycle. The photos above show the old version (left) and the new version (right). The updated Paddle Wetshoe adds a hook-and-loop closure across the top of the foot and a pull tab on the heel. There are also design changes to the upper and outsole. While our review pertains to our experience with the old version of the Paddle Wetshoe, we are now linking to the updated model, which is now readily available.
The Paddle Wetshoe is a high-top bootie designed to provide maximum warmth while boating. Made of a flexible stretch Terreprene the booties fit like a glove. Built for boats, it isn't designed for extended periods outside the water but provides all the traction needed. built for water they swim well and keep your feet warm and happy all day long, performing just well enough on land to get you to and from your boat.
The NRS Paddle fits very well due to its glove-like fit. Unlike some other neoprene booties, it has a wide-toe box anatomically shaped that hugs your feet. It doesn't need or have much adjustability just a simple and burly zipper paired with a forefoot velcro strap. With the super stretchy neoprene and zipper (which has a velcro catch to prevent it from unzipping), the bootie stayed on our feet well and didn't move around as we walked.
We liked that this bootie has a stiffer sole than other booties previously tested. The stiffer sole helps with foot fatigue letting them not work as hard pushing against the boat while paddling. This sole strikes a nice balance between support in the boat and walking with the mobility to swim well.
Over rough terrain, the Paddle Wetshoe isn't supportive or protective enough for more than a short distance. Despite a stiffer sole, these booties on long walks or boulder hopping up a stream push a bit past their comfort limits. If you have strong feet and are used to walking or even running barefoot, this won't be as much of an issue, but we doubt that most people will find these boots comfortable for long walks - the price you have to pay for their excellent performance in the water.
With the lack of drainage due to its construction mostly of neoprene, these shoes take a long time to dry. After one day of paddling, we left them in front of a gas fireplace and found the insides still wet after five days. That's by no means a standardized test, but it indicated to us that it would be a good idea to invest in boot dryers (small, low-temperature heaters that can slip inside shoes) to prevent mold growth in wetter climates. If you're wearing these over a drysuit on long trips, this shouldn't be an issue, but these could easily get pretty gross if exposed to bare feet for days on end without drying.
These are among the stickiest shoes we tested. With the flexibility of the sole and design of the footbed, these shoes do quite well on rocks, logs, and other harder wet surfaces. The outsole may not be the stickiest we've tested, but it comes close and is honestly plenty sticky for most paddling applications. We wouldn't hesitate to take on talus while scouting a rapid or scramble up a short section of low-angle rock during a portage.
With the lack of lugs present on the Paddle Wetshoes, muddy or soft terrain proved a bit more difficult. The tread pattern utilizes a mix of lateral ridges and pits (inverted lugs) that stick well on various surfaces but start slipping in deep mud or dirt, such as what you might find in steep river banks. If this is the type of terrain likely to be encountered a shoe with more aggressive lugs is what you'll want.
Similar to running or walking on beaches, the lack of support requires more work from the foot. Unlike a more supportive shoe, your feet flex in response to undulating, slippery terrain instead of allowing you to dig the tread in.
The Paddle Wetshoes were among the warmest shoes we tested. 3 mm of limestone-derived neoprene (Terraprene) plus a layer of soft fleece lining makes these a very warm shoe. However, with more warmth comes less drainage. If you're using these booties for their intended purpose - paddling - the lack of drainage helps to keep feet warm.
The inside of the Paddle is lined with a checkered fleece that feels incredible on bare feet and adds a little warmth. The warmth of these shoes can only get warmer based on their stretchy design. Since they are so stretchy adding layers under them (wool socks, dry suit, etc) is a breeze.
The NRS Paddle Wetshoe is not a very versatile water shoe. We wouldn't use it for much other than kayaking, rafting, or SUPing. For canyoneering, these shoes are alright if you plan on being in the water almost all the time. However, we prefer more supportive shoes for most canyons, which involve hiking to the canyon and substantial walking along the creekbed. These also lack the durability for heavy use outside of a boat.
Off the water, the warmth provided by these booties and the extra strain placed on the feet over soft surfaces will result in feet getting too hot for long walks.
Given that these shoes are easy to squish into a duffel bag, they are easy to bring along on trips, in addition to some more land-focused shoes. For rafting, they come off super fast at camp and can make a great pairing with some better-draining or more hiking-focused shoes to give you effective footwear on land and the water.
With a slightly thicker outsole than other booties we tested, the NRS Paddle strikes a decent balance between sensitivity and protection. While some shoes are more flexible, we didn't find that we really wanted any more flexibility than this shoe provided. Walking over cobbles and logs, the Paddle Wetshoe provides excellent proprioception.
We really loved swimming in these shoes. In our testing in the cold Pacific Northwest and Pacific Coast, we jumped into deep pools in canyons and swam around in rivers while padding, and waded through the Pacific Ocean. With warm feet, swimming for longer (or paddling) is much more bearable and enjoyable.
As a neoprene bootie, durability is not the main focus, especially over sharper and more rugged terrain. Held together mostly by stitching, glue, and flexible layers the resistance to tearing or puncture is low. Flexibility offers resistance to tearing and breaking, bending and stretching more ripping, but can only go so far when the primary use is not on your feet but for the warmth of feet. However, seeing well-worn pairs of these booties on friends, it's clear that they won't hold up to much abuse.
Like most NRS products, the craft on these booties is excellent. All seams are glued neatly, and we found no separation during our test period. The rubber reinforcement patches are thick (we estimate at least a couple of millimeters) and held up even during a day of canyoneering. Repeated use over years will likely develop holes like any neoprene-based clothing that deteriorates under UV-Light and salty conditions in comparison to other natural materials like leather or rubber.
The closure on these shoes is a YKK, large-toothed, plastic zipper. It didn't seem phased when we stepped into soft sand or rubbed it around on a rock. We don't have any reason to believe that it will be any less durable than the lacing systems on comparable water shoes.
These shoes are really meant to be worn on the water. They don't have the reinforcement or construction that would allow them to hold up to lots of walking or scrambling. However, this allows them to maintain a very stretchy, comfortable fit that we find perfect for on-the-water activities.
Should You Buy the NRS Paddle Wetshoe?
As a dedicated paddling bootie, the NRS Paddle Wetshoe is our clear favorite. It was an easy pick for our Top Pick for Paddling Award, with superb warmth, glove-like fit, and flexibility. While it excels in water and not so much on land, we think the people buying will be pleased with it out on the water. These shoes bring a ton of value to a dedicated boater for their price. At an unbelievably low price, you get a simple, clean, and efficient design with high-quality neoprene, and sticky rubber. These shoes almost won our Best Buy Award, missing it only because of their lack of versatility. If you're looking for a shoe to be used primarily on the water, these are very hard to beat both from a performance and price perspective. However, if you're expecting a lot of use out of the water, you can probably get a better value with a more versatile water shoe.
What Other Water Shoes Should You Consider?
If you were looking for a more sneaker-type water shoe than bootie or socks, the Astral Brewer 2.0 is a great all-around shoe we feel is more versatile for water fun with fewer limitations.