The Kicker Remix is now on closeout, and NRS will replace this water shoe with the NRS Kicker Wetshoe. The photos above show the old Kicker Remix we tested (left) and the updated Kicker Wetshoe (right). While the shoes are similar, updates to the new model include a lower profile design, a hook-and-loop closure across the top of the foot, and some design changes to the upper and outsole. Although our review still pertains to the old version, we are now linking to the updated water shoe, which is now readily available.
The NRS Kicker Remix is a whitewater-specific bootie that keeps your feet warm and easily slips into a small boat. While their sock-like feel is really comfortable and warm, they aren't the most secure shoes, and they offer little protection in rough terrain. They do provide excellent traction on hard surfaces, so if you are looking for the best water shoes just for boating, this is a great value. They also cost half as much as most other water shoes, earning them a Best Buy Award. However, if you need your water shoes to also work well on land, you'll probably want a shoe with a stiffer sole and more protective upper or a second set of footwear.
Editor's Note: This review was revised on August 17, 2022, with info on the new replacement of the Kicker Remix, dubbed the Kicker Wetshoe.
Our Analysis and Test Results
The Kicker Remix is a warm, kayaking- and whitewater boating-oriented shoe. It wraps around your feet like a sock, with a warm, neoprene upper and thin, sensitive, sticky rubber outsoles. While they aren't light (1.8 lbs for a size 12), they compress to a tiny package that's great for travel.
The Kicker's neoprene upper and smooth, stitchless inside make it a very comfortable shoe, whether you are wearing it with a drysuit sock or bare feet. You can fit this shoe well with a huge range of insulation thanks to the high stretch of its neoprene upper. We were comfortable (and usually warm) wearing anything from no socks to thick wool socks under our drysuit socks.
A significant drawback to the Kicker is the lack of a secure closure. The drawstring cinch in the back of the ankle is okay to keep it on your feet, but you might find that your feet slide around a bit as you walk or swim.
The outsoles are among the thinnest of the shoes we tested and provide very little protection from sharp sticks or just rough terrain. If you're used to walking around barefoot, you might find these pretty nice, but if you need protection and support, look elsewhere.
In general, booties like this perform poorly on land, as they don't protect feet well and usually don't have drainage to allow your foot to dry. The Kicker holds onto water and dries slowly, leading to unnecessarily soggy feet if you use it for long periods out of the water. That said, this bootie is not designed for being anywhere other than on the water.
The sticky rubber used on the Kicker Remix is some of the best we've tested for river environments. It sticks great to wet rocks and logs. Getting into and out of a boat and even doing some short portages, we never felt like we were slipping more than usual, given the wet, algae-covered rocks in the rivers we tested these shoes on.
The major drawback to the outsoles on the Kicker is their thin lugs. While this helps a lot with sensitivity, they just won't provide much traction in mud. After climbing a steep, muddy bank with these, we really wished for deeper lugs.
As a bootie, these shoes are warm! The combination of the stretchy uppers and insulation provided from the shoe itself allows you to be sure your feet will stay warm, even boating in the cold winter months.
We were able to fit our feet into wool socks, drysuit socks, and the third layer of protective polyester socks before easily fitting them in the stretchy Kicker. This combination kept our feet warm, boating, even during a frigid, near-freezing early morning lap on the local river.
The Kicker Remix is a boating-specific shoe. Its sensitivity, traction, and warmth make it great for long days on the water. However, its lack of foot protection or drainage and its super-flexible soles make it far less than ideal for any activity in which you'll need to be on your feet for long periods or traversing rough terrain.
We liked the Kicker for boating and swimming, and it would be high on our list as a decent shoe for cliff jumping. It lacks the necessary durability or foot protection we usually look for in a canyoneering shoe. We'd feel pretty odd wearing it as a hiking or running shoe for wet environments.
The Kicker Remix excels at providing a good ground feel and providing a low profile. That means that your feet will feel every cobble, stick, and curve of the terrain. Good ground feel can improve balance on uneven terrain like murky riverbeds by letting your feet sense what your eyes might not be able to see.
That might sound nice if you intend to use these shoes primarily for play-boating or are very comfortable walking around on rough terrain with minimalist shoes. The Kicker also excels for swimming. If you like spending time outside your boat or just like to have some sticky footwear while cliff jumping or spending time by the water, these work great for those applications.
The neoprene upper on the Kicker is glued to the outsole, and reinforcement patches of rubber around the upper front of the shoe. We have had good experiences with the quality of NRS's neoprene in the past and have no reason to expect these to wear out any faster than other booties. That said, neoprene is not an exceptionally durable material. It can easily be abraded or cut by sharp rocks or pointy sticks.
If used primarily inside a boat, you'll mostly just have to worry about drying these shoes after use. Leaving booties wet all season long can degrade the neoprene and the glue that holds the shoe together. Because the Kicker has no drainage whatsoever, you need to be mindful to dry them ideally after each use. However, they are noticeably easier to dry than taller cut booties we tested.
The outsole of the Kicker is a flexible and sticky rubber that wraps around the shoe. We liked the bumper formed by the outsole for protecting the shoe when we accidentally stubbed a toe. While we didn't test these shoes long enough to see how long the rubber takes to wear down, if you plan on using these primarily for boating, it's unlikely that you'll wear through the outsole before tearing up the neoprene upper.
Should You Buy the NRS Kicker Remix?
The NRS Kicker Remix is a great boating shoe at a very reasonable price. It snagged our Best Buy Award with its super low price and adequate performance for kayaking. While it won't get you comfortably down canyons or through long portages, it will do the basic job of keeping your feet warm in your boat and keeping you upright as you heft your kayak around at the put-in and take out. As one of the cheapest shoes we've tested, the Kicker is a great value. If you require a great boating shoe to replace those worn-out and ineffective trainers you've been stuffing your dry socks into, these are just the ticket to save some cash. While the NRS Paddle (a high-top bootie similar to the Kicker) does slightly better in terms of warmth, traction, and comfort, it also costs a little bit more. NRS regularly produces high-quality products at very reasonable prices, and the Kicker is no exception.
What Other Water Shoes Should You Consider?
While we like this shoe, the NRS Paddle Wetshoe is a similarly priced and style shoe with a higher boot style ankle that provides more comfort and warmth. Both neoprene shoes have impressive traction and sensitivity, so that it will depend on your desire for warmth or ankle coverage.
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