For me the term “water shoe” conjures up childhood memories of ill-fitting neoprene bootie/shoe hybrids and highly chlorinated swimming pools. The NRS Crush water shoe is better defined as a water adventure shoe although I refer to it as a paddling shoe.
When given the option, I prefer sandals over closed-toe shoes and bare feet over sandals. Thus, a paddling shoe has never been high on my priority list; instead, I strap a pair of Chacos to the bungees on my deck and paddle barefoot.
However, bare feet are not the safest or most comfortable option for winter paddling! After receiving a pair of NRS Crush water shoes for my birthday, I decided to give them a chance on a winter SUP outing.
- Attractive Design
- Grippy rubber soles
- Minimizes strain on lower-leg and feet muscles
- Will stay wet all day
- Bulkier option than paddling barefoot or in sandals
Price & Where to Buy:
- $49.95 at Backcountry.com
Works Well on the Paddleboard and On Dry Land
These shoes are designed to serve as an all-around shoe for paddling adventures. This means they are just as capable
However, I likely wouldn’t choose them for an outing that didn’t involve at least some kayaking/canoeing/paddleboarding. Likewise, I wouldn’t wear hiking boots on my board!
On my first outing with my new shoes, I stepped in ice cold shin-deep mud while launching my board. Even with a fresh coat of slippery mud covering my shoes, I was pleasantly surprised at the solid traction the rubber soles maintained on my board. Slipping off my board had been a concern when I first looked into paddling shoes and booties.
A few weeks after my initial outing, I wore them while paddling Sand Hollow Reservoir in southern Utah. I was impressed at how my wet shoes deftly handled scrambling over the red rock. Other water shoes such as the Sea to Summit Ultra Flex Water Booties work well on a board but do not provide the level of traction necessary to safely and confidently maneuver for mildly technical hiking.
Helps With Balance and Fatigue
During long distance paddle sessions, I regularly experience fatigue in my muscles responsible for balance and stabilization. I’m recovering from a lower leg injury that involved extensive ligament damage and, while wearing my Crush paddling shoes, I’ve noticed a considerable decrease in the demand on my lower leg to maintain balance.
Prepare for Wet Feet
While the shoes do not hold water thanks to the side drainage holes, the main downside to these shoes is that once wet, they stay wet. The NRS descriptions
Because of this, be sure to use neoprene socks for any cold water paddling. I do not foresee this mattering as much for warm weather paddling unless you plan to hike or portage long distances.
Style and Sizing
The low cut sneaker design makes them attractive enough to wear around before and after an outing. The shoe is available in teal or grey and comes with two sets of laces.
I wear a women’s size 7 or 7.5 and the 7 is a perfect fit, with room for a neoprene sock but they wear comfortably without.
For a leisurely flatwater paddle on a warm day, I will always opt for bare feet. However, thanks to the traction these shoes will become a staple item on all my long distance and/or cold weather outings.