Life aquatic: Water shoes ride wave of paddlesports

See the increasing amount of water shoes slated for retail in 2014.
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Throughout the next month, SNEWS will recap its coverage of Outdoor Retailer Summer Market 2013 with select stories from the O.R. Daily we published at the show July 31 – Aug. 3. It’s an opportunity for you to catch up on stories you might have missed in O.R.D., and for us to update and upload the articles to our searchable archives.

It should be pretty easy to project the path for watershoes — just follow paddlesports sales. As the tide rises for watersports, the category is expanding beyond its previous niche status.

A push toward aquatic fitness is driving the surge, too, according to Barry McGeough, vice president of hardgoods at Speedo.

“We’re seeing a really big change in what’s happening in the fitness space,” McGeough explained. “People are looking for more fitness activities in and out of the water environment. Tri is a great example of this. The growth of tri is huge right now.”

Astral_Porter

Footwear that looks good in and out of the water will be popular for spring 2014, said Philip Curry, owner and CEO at Astral. “You’ll see a lot of migration toward a style we embraced and brought to the market, which is more of a sneaker style, more wearable outside the kayak,” Curry said. Astral got its start in life jackets and recently jumped into footwear with the Brewer (MSRP $100) for men and Brewess (MSRP $100) for women, both of which incorporate Astral’s proprietary sticky rubber, G2 (previously, the products were made with Five Ten’s Stealth Rubber). “We’ve engineered [the rubber] to offer more friction and more grip through increased surface area and outsole geometry,” Curry said.

Sperry_H2OEscape_OB

Sperry Top-Sider brings its athletic-looking H20 Escape Bungee (MSRP $90) and more traditional Ricochet (MSRP $80). Both feature Adaptive Wave Siping technology for traction on both wet and dry surfaces and bungee lace closure systems for a secure and comfortable fit. Internal channels in the H20 Escape Bungee allow water to flow through the uppers and midsoles, plus the removable perforated footbeds work with the channels to allow water to drain more efficiently and increase dry times.

Watershoes_Speedo_FST2

Speedo brings a triathlon trainer/water shoe hybrid to market in the FST (MSRP $115), a water shoe that doubles as a trail or road runner. The product, which weighs 7.6 ounces and has a Vibram Ortholite outsole, is designed with triathletes in mind. Speedo doesn’t ignore its core watersports consumer, and offers them its TRBZ (MSRP $80), a dual density, stitchless upper with blown rubber top sole and full drainage, meant for whitewater rafting, being on a Skidoo or any other water activity.

WaterShoes_Keen_MensClass6 copy

Keen (#32183) celebrates its 10th anniversary with several new lines, including the amphibious performance Rapid Series, which includes the Class 6 (MSRP $90). It’s a lightweight, technical sandal for water adventures with a polyurethane shell that wraps around the foot. The sticky rubber outsole and lugs work in the water, on land and on the slippery stuff in between — it looks like a helmet for your feet.

Hikers need not fear soggy boots with the Lotic (MSRP $100) from Vasque (#12001). Vasque’s exclusive Vibram Slickrock outsole with Idrogrip has 3mm lugs and ultra-stickiness for superior traction in wet conditions, plus drainage portals in the soles. Hi-Tec (#32149) offers the hybrid X-Fit Pro for men (MSRP $60) which allows users to brave the elements on land and at sea with its seam-free, breathable nylon mesh upper, Multi-Directional Traction rubber outsole and its low-profile, natural-fit midsole construction.

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