1. TEVA Gnarkosi The day-glo Gnarkosi was built for wakeskating, a hybrid sport that combines wakeboarding and skateboarding. The shoe has holes placed throughout the body and sole to drain water and the materials shed water brilliantly so it doesn’t get heavy like a soaked tennis shoe. The flat outsole and proprietary rubber are designed to give wakeskaters more purchase on their boards in the water. What all this means for river junkies is you’ve got a legitimate shoe that offers solid purchase in wet conditions but doesn’t get waterlogged. And the Gnarkosi delivers something that sandals can’t: street cred. $100
2. Sperry SON-R Ping The most sandal-esque of the lot we tested, the SON-R Ping, is Sperry Top-Sider’s foray into an adventure shoe. The kicks have solid water-shedding capabilities and are much more comfortable than your typical sandal, but they also tap into the “barefoot shoe” movement. The Ping has an extra flexible outsole, similar to a minimalist running shoe, and a textured insole, a combo meant to mimic the sensation of walking in a river barefoot, only without the stubbed toe syndrome. $90
3. Columbia Drain Maker Much like the Gnarkosi, the Drain Maker is a fully “drainable” shoe with tiny holes scattered throughout the mid-sole, while the upper is built from an open cell mesh that dries surprisingly fast. The lugged outsole performs well on slick river beds, so you’ve got a solid-performing river shoe for a variety of activities. Even more impressive is the overall feel of the Drain Maker, which is by far the most comfortable water shoe we’ve tested in years. And the understated design means you can go straight from the river to the pub without changing your kicks. $80
4. The North Face Hydroshock This ultra-light shoe looks and feels more like a traditional river bootie, but the sticky rubber outsole and synthetic suede upper provide much more support in and out of the water. It’s a low profile shoe, perfect for the boat where space and a snug fit are priorities. $90
5. KEEN Owyhee This shoe-sandal hybrid can handle rugged river adventures as well as tough trails. The Owyhee was super-grippy on slick river rocks, but its traction was even more impressive on a riverside trail run. The webbing and laces were secure and snug, and the sandals shed water quickly. $90
You Stink, Your Shirt Doesn’t
I’m a stinky dude, so there’s no better test for the anti-microbial properties of a garment than my body. I wore Icebreaker’s new GT Run shirt for a month of workouts. It was on my body for Monday afternoon yoga, Tuesday morning trail runs, and the Wednesday evening group bike ride. And I never washed the thing. And each day I asked my cohorts to smell me.Their verdict? While I personally still stink, the shirt doesn’t. One month, no washing, no stink.
And how did the shirt perform otherwise? Beautifully, up to a point. The GT Run wicks sweat well, dries quickly after pulling it off, and has that patented soft feel of merino wool that makes you want to hug a sheep. The only drawback of the GT Run line is one of the characteristics that will attract runners to the shirt in the first place: it’s ultra thin. This is a bonus while running, but it also makes the shirt unusually delicate. I ripped it on two separate occasions while taking it off.
There’s no telling how well the GT Run’s odor-fighting capabilities will hold up after a year of abuse. Both merino and polyester baselayers tend to acquire a signature odor over time, even with regular washing. A silver-based solution like Agion Active is worth considering to fight odor over the long haul. You add this treatment to your clothing during the wash and the natural silver ions continue to battle odor, regenerating with each wash. I tested a shirt that was pre-treated with Agion Active and found it to be refreshing, even after months of use and wash cycles. $60