If you’ll be in the water these first two travel shoe styles are great for keeping some traction while getting wet. On land, all three will keep your feet ventilated in between. We’re digging three new styles from Timberland, Ecco, and Wolverine.
Each year some type of shoe seems to be the new hot thing. In past years it’s been those toning shoes with the rounded bottom, Vibram shoes with toes, Crocs, or barefoot running sneakers.
This year it’s water shoes: we’ve already reviewed some from Hi-Tec and Keen. This trend seems more like a spike (driven by stand up paddleboarding) than a fad though. As long as people keep paddling, boating, tubing, and walking through streams, these water shoes will stay in demand. In the last example, we’re seeing the mesh uppers of water shoes making their way into kicking around town styles as well.
Wolverine Creek Bed
I’m starting off with these Wolverine ones because they look the coolest and feel the best on my bare feet. The whole upper is soft, flexible mesh and the places where the shoes have friction points with your feet there’s cloth to make them more comfortable, including on the tongue. These feel like they could take on some serious river crossings too, with rubber soles in two consistencies and guards on the toes and heel.
The neat innovation in these is built-in channels that funnel water out to the side of the shoes. So as soon as you walk out of the water, your shoes are draining. On dry land, they allow circulation on the bottoms of your feet.
One other little thing on these Wolverine water shoes negates a frustration I have with a lot of others: the laces actually stay laced. They’re flat laces with a braided core, so a knot stays put while you’re pulling a boat onto a beach or rock-hopping across a creek.
Ecco Njord Speedlace
Billed as a “multi-functional watersport shoe,” the Njord Speedlace is comfortable enough to wear around all day long when you’re not by the water. It looks like a regular sneaker, but has more ventilation. It’s the lightest of the three here and with a tight weave and more fabric, it doesn’t leave a waffle pattern on your wet feet.
These shoes have a water drainage system on the bottom that allows them to drain quickly and the rubber sole grips well on wet surfaces. I’ve worn these out kayaking a few times (as when out on my Advanced Elements inflatable kayak at the top) and I have been quite happy with the performance in the sea and on land. They dried after a few hours in the sun.
Once you get these on, they’re not coming off by accident. The Speedlace part of the name refers to the cinch strap system that you can loosen or tighten without tying anything. Half the time when they’re dry I just slip them on like loafers: there’s plenty of elastic in the laces.
Timberland Earthkeepers Intervale
Take the bottom of a light hiking shoe and add the mesh of a water shoe and you get? Hiking shoes that let your feet breathe easier.
These Intervale shoes from Timberland have a good bit of leather around the webbing and a lacing system meant to pull them snug around your foot for scooting down a hiking trail. They’re also meant to provide more support, with a full-length compression-molded EVA midsole. There’s a serious rubber toeguard on front.
The Earthkeepers part of the name applies to lots of steps Timberland is taking to reduce their environmental impact. Some 42% of the rubber is recycled, 100% recycled PET from plastic bottles is used in the lining, webbing, and laces.
I’d love these shoes if they fit me better, but for me Timberland is one of those brands that comes in too narrow every time. They don’t make wide sizes, so if you don’t have narrow-to-normal feet, try them on in a store. If that’s not an issue, order direct from Timberland for $70 (reduced from $90) or check prices at Amazon. Check the style for “ventilated” though—there are a few different ones that have Eathkeepers and Intervale in the name.