The North Face Water Shoe Review
TNF Padda - TNF Padda with Boa - TNF Padda 2
I personally still rock my original padda's, while 2 of my friends have the padda with the boa wire
system and the new padda 2's with the drawstring/lock style lace system. The new padda 2's represent the progression of functionality and input as my original padda's laces will come untied in long term water usage and the boa lock style tended to over time get some sand and dirt that could inhibit function, so the drawstring (or quickpull lace lock) is a great addition.
Functionwise these shoes all perform and feel the same, so on to the review.
Understand I put these shoes through much more than probably intended, so some people may not have a need for this much information, but I believe an informed decision helps. Also my reviews are not aesthetic if you are interested whether or not the rubber will make your feet smell or how comfortable these would be for a night on the town I frankly don't know, as I've never used them for those purposes.
Main testing ground, Gyeokpo South Korea, cliff/coastal hiking, terrain everything from smooth algae covered granite to volcanic rock, to vertical shale and barnacle's. Average distant covered 7-10km, shoes worn for 7-10 hours.
Second testing ground, Arkansas River Colorado, worn as paddling shoes in rivers and creeks.
Grip, first of all let me say that ALL shoes to some degree will slip, ultimately it's the amount of
slippage that warrants a good or bad water shoe. The Rubber on these shoes is solid, the reduced tread keep maximum amount of shoe/ground contact, while not reduced to the point that it's flat as to cause "hydroplaning" on a very smooth slick surface.
Tactile/Padding, very little, I actually like this, walking in these shoes is like walking barefoot with
a VERY tough foot, you will feel every bump/pebble/rock on the terrain, which for the sea cliff hiking I love, simply because knowing what is under me gives me a better sense of balance and connection to the hike. For those with very sensition feet, or to people that don't go barefoot often, there will be an adaption period.
Comfort, fit like a glove, I buy the same size as every other TNF shoe, some recommend going a half size smaller. I didn't want a fit that snug because I like to be able to fit a neoprene sock under them for cold water. So keep that in mind.
Swimming, I had to cover it, most of my coastal hikes require it now and again, everyone at some point has had to swim in tennis shoes and feel their feet bogged down and dragged behind them. Not with these,the shoes shed water so fast you can swim as if you aren't even wearing them.
Durability, excellent so far, over 1 year old, 2 dozen hikes and little to no signs of wear. Impressive
considering the barnacles/volcanic rock usually shreds rubber like razor blades do paper.
Support, none. If you need ankle support these this might be a deal breaker, view these as a barefoot experience except your feet are armored.
Picture is of original Padda and Padda with Boa, Padda 2 picture up soon.
Edit (I also paddle quite a lot, creek/river performance is same as above comments, superb)