Some companies make little water shoes that have a flexible elastic upper with a minimalistic sole. They are supposed to be for walking around on rocks in a creek or along a shore, but barefoot/minimalistic runners sometimes like to use them for their running.
They are sort of like Vibrams, but without the toes and a lot cheaper ($5-$15). Some people report getting 200+ miles of running out of a pair of $6 water shoes. There are many different types of water shoes, and particularly if you are looking for them in non-summer months, finding them in local stores may be difficult. This page aims to review all the water shoes out there, as they pertain exclusively to running.
I will be adding more shoe reviews as I see more water shoes and try them. If you have tried running in a pair of water shoes please contribute your review of them to this list by emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org or commenting below.
Traits of a Good Running Water Shoe
There are certain attributes of water shoes that make them better or worse for running:
- Upper Durability — Will the stitches hold together?
- Outsole Durability — Does the rubber rub off too easily?
- Sole Thickness and Shape — Should be flat, flexible, no arch, with a bit of padding, and a wide toe box.
- Upper Breathability — Do you want mesh to keep you cool or neoprene for warmth?
The Running Water Shoes:
DBX Water Shoe
Upper Durability: Stitching has already loosened a bit because I pulled one shoe on too fast.
Upper Breathability: Mesh, keeps your feet pretty cool.
Outsole Durability: In some spots tread worn off to smooth after only 4 miles
Sole: no arch, no heel, slightly padded, gravel running feels great. Wide toe box.
I bought these the night before a sprint triathlon and am very happy with how well they worked. They were very comfortable and the mesh upper kept my bare feet very cool. I only ran 4 miles in them and it wore off some of the tread already, but it might be because my achilles tendon was swollen at the time (due to over-training and under-stretching) so I had to scuffle along more than usual. I hope to get many more miles out of these water shoes once my tendon is back to normal. They are extremely comfortable and I did not even begin to provoke any blisters. I also wore them canoeing and they do work very well for their intended purpose.
I believe these are Dick’s Sporting Good’s own house brand, so you can only get them at your local store, or order them online from Dick’s. I highly recommend them. One reviewer on the Dick’s page said the insoles slip out but mine are secure and look like they will stay that way.
Speedo Surfwalker Water Shoes
I think I saw a pair of these at Kohls for $21. I will have to recheck to make sure it was the Surfwalker that I saw, as listed on their website (now only $15). They were very good quality but their soles had a raised heel, which is unforgivable.
More reviews when more is known…