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NRS Paddle Wetshoe Review

These water shoes, paired with a wet suit or dry suit, are perfect for a long day on the river
nrs paddle wetshoe water shoes review
Credit: NRS
Top Pick Award
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Price:  $64 List | $47.89 at REI
Pros:  Comfortable, warm, great traction on wet rock
Cons:  Little support on rough terrain, no drainage
Manufacturer:   NRS
By Dan Scott and Jacob Clark  ⋅  Nov 8, 2022
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71
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#5 of 13
  • Comfort - 25% 7.0
  • Traction - 25% 8.0
  • Warmth - 15% 9.0
  • Versatility - 15% 3.0
  • Sensitivity - 10% 9.0
  • Durability - 10% 6.0

Our Verdict

The NRS Paddle Wetshoe is the water shoe we repeatedly reach for when going out on the river, making it an easy choice for our Top Pick for Paddling. A Terraprene upper with a fleece lining keeps your bare feet warm and insulated from the cold water and paired with a wet suit an even toastier combination is born. Off the water wet rocks, docking, and scouting the next drop-ins are easy. On the water, plenty of mobility and comfort to swim around and sit in a kayak. While not the best for more terrain-intensive activities like canyoneering, we recommend adding it to your footwear arsenal for whitewater kayaking, rafting, or SUPing.

Editor's Note: This review was revised on November 2022, with info on the updated version of the NRS Paddle Wetshoe.

Compare to Similar Products

 
nrs paddle wetshoe water shoes review
This Product
NRS Paddle Wetshoe
Awards Top Pick Award  Best Buy Award   
Price $64 List
$47.89 at REI
$53 List
$39.69 at REI
$36 List
$40.00 at Amazon
$60 List
$59.99 at Amazon
$80 List
$52.29 at Amazon
Overall Score Sort Icon
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Pros Comfortable, warm, great traction on wet rockCrazy warm, comfortable, great traction on most surfacesSimple slip-on, comfortable, great value for the priceAmazing drainage, supportive sole, lightweightFantastic support, thick cushioned sole, versatile
Cons Little support on rough terrain, no drainageHard to get off once wet, little support, poor drainageTraction on wet slimy rocks, lack of drainage, little insulationPoor traction, lack of sensitivity, near no insulationLack of drainage, poor traction, little-to-no insulation
Bottom Line These water shoes, paired with a wet suit or dry suit, are perfect for a long day on the riverThese shoes check all the boxes for what is needed on the river or ocean for a long dayA simple sip on great for boats and days in the water at an affordable price tagA shoe you can run in with superb drainage, but lacking the traction on wet surfaces others excel withA 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...
Comfort (25%)
7.0
6.0
7.0
6.0
6.0
Traction (25%)
8.0
8.0
6.0
6.0
4.0
Warmth (15%)
9.0
8.0
6.0
5.0
5.0
Versatility (15%)
3.0
4.0
4.0
4.0
6.0
Sensitivity (10%)
9.0
8.0
7.0
7.0
7.0
Durability (10%)
6.0
6.0
5.0
5.0
5.0
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
Removeable Insole No No No No Yes
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 — October 2022


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 streatch 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.

Performance Comparison


nrs paddle wetshoe water shoes review - these booties keep your feet warm and dry.
These booties keep your feet warm and dry.
Credit: Jacob Clark

Comfort


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.

nrs paddle wetshoe water shoes review - the thing sole does well in the traction department, but rocks like...
The thing sole does well in the traction department, but rocks like these are taxing on the feet over more than a short distance.
Credit: Jacob Clark

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.

nrs paddle wetshoe water shoes review - jammed between two boulders while scouting a rapid, this shoe just...
Jammed between two boulders while scouting a rapid, this shoe just isn't burly enough to protect your foot.
Credit: Ellen Daugherty

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.

Traction


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.

nrs paddle wetshoe water shoes review - even on slimy wet logs and rocks likely on the banks of rivers, the...
Even on slimy wet logs and rocks likely on the banks of rivers, the rubber on these proves to be sticky enough to do the job.
Credit: Jacob Clark

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.

nrs paddle wetshoe water shoes review - the thin and inverted lugs on the nrs paddle don't do nearly as well...
The thin and inverted lugs on the NRS Paddle don't do nearly as well on soft surfaces as they do on rock or wood.
Credit: Dan Scott

Warmth


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.
nrs paddle wetshoe water shoes review - with an air temperature in the 40s (f) and frigid water, this was a...
With an air temperature in the 40s (F) and frigid water, this was a pretty cold morning. The NRS Paddle booties are perfect for these conditions, keeping our feet nice and warm.
Credit: Dan Scott

Versatility


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.

nrs paddle wetshoe water shoes review - unlike the burlier adidas hydro_lace, the nrs paddle is not really...
Unlike the burlier Adidas Hydro_Lace, the NRS Paddle is not really well-suited for land-heavy adventures.
Credit: Dan Scott

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 drained or more hiking-focused shoes to give you effective footwear on land and the water.

Sensitivity


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.

nrs paddle wetshoe water shoes review - even on the sand, the sensitivity of these booties is noticeable.
Even on the sand, the sensitivity of these booties is noticeable.
Credit: Jacob Clark

Durability


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.

nrs paddle wetshoe water shoes review - the burly zipper present on these booties held up well for the...
The burly zipper present on these booties held up well for the duration of the testing.
Credit: Jacob Clark

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.

nrs paddle wetshoe water shoes review - while not designed for heavy use on land, these shoes are...
While not designed for heavy use on land, these shoes are well-constructed and plenty durable for lots of use in a boat.
Credit: Ellen Daugherty

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.

nrs paddle wetshoe water shoes review - warmth and extended comfort is what sets apart these booties from...
Warmth and extended comfort is what sets apart these booties from the rest in the water.
Credit: Jacob Clark

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.

Dan Scott and Jacob Clark
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