As you might imagine for someone whose feet get cold easily, I don’t have a history of going out barefoot. Having worn shoes for most of my life, even as a kid, I haven’t developed tough skin on the soles of my feet. So, going kayaking requires that I have a good set of water or boat shoes. My dainty feet just can’t handle those razors most people call “pebbles.” To that end, I tested the Adidas Climacool Boat Breeze shoes this summer on multiple kayaking trips and came away impressed.
Unlike many water shoes, the Adidas Climacool Boat Breeze shoes look like “normal” shoes from a distance. Save for the large holes at the heel, there are no gaping openings on the sides, and no open toes. Instead, the Climacool Boat Breeze have a tight-mesh appearance on top and nearly two dozen holes on the sole. This combination provides great ventilation while you’re on land or shore, as well as great drainage when you’re pulling your feet out of the water. In my tests, it took an average of just five steps to drain almost all of the water from the shoes. That’s fast.
The the Adidas Climacool Boat Breeze shoes are fully synthetic, so once water’s drained they tend to dry quickly. Sometimes wet surfaces can cause blistering, so such as fast-drying feature would normally be important. But these shoes fit so perfectly, not even a wet surface is likely to cause blisters. I was surprised at just how form-fitting and comfortable the Boat Breeze shoes are. Those big holes at the heel? I never really noticed them, even when walking a quarter-mile along shore. The plastic-y tongue? It never rubbed the top of my foot raw. Oh, and the fact the shoes are from Adidas, which I don’t wear often because they’re often too narrow for my feet? Didn’t matter — these boat shoes fit even my duck feet like a glove.
The only trouble I encountered is ironically related to the same thing that makes the Adidas Climacool Boat Breeze shoes drain water so well. Those holes in the bottom. Although the holes are small, they’re definitely a two-way thing. So, while water can pour right out of them, if you’re boating in a sandy or micro-pebble environment, you’ll find your shoes filled with debris within seconds.
If a small amount of sand makes it in, you can often get rid of it pretty quickly when the water drains. But if more than a couple of teaspoons gets in, and/or if more-coarse materials go through, the holes clog pretty quickly. And then you’re stuck with that gunk in your shoes for a long time.
Clogging seems to be more of an issue with the interior lining than anything else. Adidas lined the Climacool Boat Breeze shoes with a thin mesh material inside that keeps your feet from slipping around inside. The material wears thin pretty easily, so I’m not sure how useful it is. But more important, the material sometimes sandwiches sand between it at the top of the sole, effectively creating a debris dumpling beneath your foot. A few swishes of your feet can sometimes dislodge it, but I generally had to remove the shoe entirely and swish it around in the water for a minute or more to get rid of really nasty sand clogs.
Fortunately, it appears Adidas has learned its lesson. One of the places I tested the Adidas Climacool Boat Breeze shoes this summer was the Open Air Demo at Outdoor Retailer-Summer Market. The sand on that beach was an absolute nightmare in these shoes. It felt like I was walking around on small, flat pebbles all day long. But during the show I saw a new pair of boat shoes in the Adidas Outdoor booth. This new line adds a thin layer of rubber to the sole that covers the holes from the outside so they can drain efficiently without letting-in debris. Great, great design decision.
That’s not to say I won’t keep using the Adidas Climacool Boat Breeze shoes. I just won’t use them in sandy environments. For mountain-lake kayaking they tend to work great, and walking along slick lakeside rocks felt totally safe with the Traxion outsole. But if you’re doing any beach kayaking or beach combing, it’s best to wait for Adidas Outdoor’s next iteration, as these ones seem more suited to all near-water activities.
The Adidas Climacool Boat Breeze shoes were provided for review. All opinions and words are my own and honest, and the article contains no affiliate links.
Adidas Climacool Boat Breeze Shoes
- Surprisingly roomy, even for wide feet
- Lots of openings make water drain quickly
- In spite of their material, they don't rub or blister
- Appear to be regular shoes from a distance
- Nice grippy soles help navigate slippery rocks
- All that drainage on the soles lets tons of sand and pebbles into the shoes
- Speed laces can stutter/stick when wet
- Thin material on the interior wears out easily