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When it comes to athletic water shoes, it’s hard to get things right. Depending on what you need them for, water socks don’t have enough traction, but serious soles can be too heavy. With the Vibram FiveFingers Signa and Maiori shoes, you can have both warm-water and cold-water versions of truly versatile water shoes.
They may look funny, but the Vibram FiveFingers shoes provide a far better grip performance than bare feet along—yet you can still move your foot as if you were barefoot. This is especially helpful if you’re walking in uneven riverbeds and slippery surfaces like boat decks, stand-up paddleboards, and other such things that make up a water-based vacation.
The Signa shoes are the lighter of the two. Ultra-thin and made for warmer water, or use in wet places that aren’t likely to make your feet cold, these shoes are easy to pack up small and stuff in a suitcase or other bag. These are great for tidepooling, protecting your feet when snorkeling or swimming, or even while stand-up paddling. The polyester mesh fabric on top allows your foot to breathe, and Vibram rubber sole includes drainage holes, added slip resistance, and abrasion-resistance fabric.
The Maiori shoes are your serious, cold-water friends. The neoprene upper will help keep your feet warm, whether you’re kayaking or surfing. The antimicrobial sock liner helps keep the shoes from being too stinky after a few wears. This shoe uses Vibram TC-1 rubber in the sole, and has a different pattern than the Signa, in order to provide increased flex and traction on wet surfaces.
I’ve used mine as surf shoes, to keep my feet warm while swimming, as mud shoes when foraging for mushrooms, and plenty of other travel activities.
The Signa shoes list for $80 on the Vibram FiveFingers website. The Maiori shoes list for $54 (on sale!) on the Vibram FiveFingers website. You can also find both at Zappos and get free shipping both ways.