Editorial: Sometimes backpacking requires water shoes. Here are two options for your adventures in fording streams and sloshing through the wetlands along your trips.

Wolverine Creek Bed Multi-Sport

Over the past few months, I’ve been trying out the Wolverine Creek Bed, Wolverine’s new Multi-sport water shoe.  It’s a lightweight shoe with built in drainage, a mesh upper and high traction sole. The Creek Bed is classed as a Multi-Sport Shoe. Personally, I see the shoe best suited for fishing, canoeing and light hiking activities.

I really like the concept of this shoe and with a couple improvements they’d be excellent.

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  • The drainage in the C3 footbed is something I’ve only seen in one other brand and Wolverine executed it well. They’ve created drainage channels in the sole that gather the water and then drop it out through holes in the outer sole.
  • The traction on these shoes is amazing. They’ve used a soft flex rubber that really molds to the terrain and stops you from slipping. They’ve put in an aggressive traction pattern on the shoe as well, which makes it perform well on soil.
  • Wolverine did an excellent job with the toe cap. I have another pair of water shoes whose toe cap started to disconnect from the fabric, but this shoe seems to be in no danger of that.
  • It may seem strange, but I am really happy with the lacing. It uses traditional lacing, but the laces themselves hold a really nice grip and haven’t loosened or undone themselves for me yet. I don’t know how many pairs of shoes that I double knot and still have to adjust later!

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Where could they improve?

The drainage slats in the inner sole put pressure on my foot. This problem went away with socks, but that kind of defeats the purpose of a water shoe. I got used to it with time and the discomfort started to go away, but I was never 100% comfortable in them after a few hours. This could be easily remedied if Wolverine were to slightly contour the edges of the channels.

I had some problems with the sizing which would make me want to try these on in the store before purchasing. I’m a happy and normal 10.5 men’s, but I had to drop a whole size and go with a wide for this shoe.

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In my testing, the Creek Bed outperformed other shoes for traction, drainage and toe protection but lack a bit in the sizing and fit, as well as the comfort of the inner sole. I’m really interested in seeing the next iteration of the Creek Bed.

Editors Note: The latest model Wolverine Creekbed Multisport shoe now comes with an insert which removes all discomfort from the drainage channels that the tester experienced with last years model. This simple improvement has turned these shoes into his go-to water shoe.

Tech Specs

    • Manufacturer: Wolverine
    • Date available: Spring/Summer 2013
    • Manufacturer’s Website: Wolverine
    • MSRP: USD $82
    • Listed Weight: N/A
    • Actual Weight: N/A
    • Materials: Quick Dry Mesh Upper, C3 footbed. EVA midsole. Dual-density EVA outsole. Strobel construction. Soft flex.
    • Size/Model tested: 10.5 Mens
    • Warranty: 1-year limited
    • Colors Available: Orange, Grey

Keen Clearwater CNX

The Clearwater CNX are a part of the new CNX line of lightweight footwear put out by established and respected brand Keen. The CNX line is their latest innovation to provide the same quality and comfort of Keens while dropping the weight under 10 ounces per shoe. The Clearwater tries to and succeeds at being a shoe for most, if not all activities.

It’s hard to improve on Keen’s designs for shoes, but the weight drop of the CNX line is really impressive. They haven’t compromised quality either. I still abuse these shoes and don’t feel like I need to baby them.

The inner sole is another reflection of the keen quality. They’ve really done a good job making the shoe comfortable and ergonomic. They’ve put in their contoured foot bed, which goes a long way to keeping my feet comfortable when I’m out hiking in them and keeps my toes from chafing.

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I won’t deny it; I don’t have nice smelling feet. I’ve thrown out sandals because they stink so badly. The Anti-Microbial Foot bed has done well to keep the odor down.

I am really happy with the improvements on the out sole. It uses a softer rubber that gives better traction than some of the previous models I’ve checked out.

As is typical of Keens, and is a reason I bought a pair recently for my son, the Clearwater boasts their standard toe protection. It’s a great feature as it turns the shoe from a simple beach shoe into something you can take on rougher terrain.

Where could they improve?

The webbing removes most of the stretching out of the shoe as far as fit goes. The front can be tightened via the shock cord, but the heel strap remains loose. My foot doesn’t slip the vast majority of the time when I tighten the shock cord, but it feels like the heel strap should be tighter. It’s a bit of a catch 22 as if it was tighter then it would be more challenging to slip your foot into the sandal.

They’ve used a finer shock cord and cinch-lock to cut down on weight, but I find that it can slip if you’re really active.

Oh, and one more thing. I still end up doing the Keen Wiggle in an almost vain attempt at removing small pebbles without having to take the sandal off. I’d like to say a meshing would improve that; my wife has the McKenzies, which do have a mesh to keep out everything but sand, and she feels it’s an advantage over the more open-style sandals.

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All-in-all, the Keen Clearwater and new CNX line has hit the mark at almost a bulls-eye, leaving only minor room for improvement. I’m expecting a long life out of these shoes and the drop in weight is noticeable, without compromising quality or comfort.

Tech Specs

  • Manufacturer: Keen
  • Date available: 2013
  • Manufacturer’s Website: Keen
  • MSRP: US$100
  • Listed Weight: 8.4 oz per shoe
  • Actual Weight: 8.8 oz per shoe
  • Materials: Upper: Washable Polyester Webbing, Lining: AEGIS microbe shield treated hydrophobic mesh, Sole: Non-marking rubber outsole with razor siping
  • Size/Model tested: 10.5 Men’s Midnight Navy/Golden Yellow
  • Warranty info: 2-year limited
  • Colors Available: Gargoyle/Super Lemon, Forest Night/Rust, Black/Gargoyle, Cascade Brown/Antique Bronze, Midnight Navy/Golden Yellow, Raven/Burnt Henna

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