I recently had the opportunity to review the Riptide performance water shoe by XTRATUF, and I was really excited to put them to the test on my paddle board fishing adventures. XTRATUF specializes in waterproof, slip-proof footwear for all conditions, and the Riptide shoe [MSRP $79.99] is designed specifically for activities such as paddle board and kayak fishing. They are made from a breathable airmesh fabric with drainage holes on the sides and a slip-resistant bottom, and a bungee system replaces the laces so you don’t have to worry about them coming untied.
Light weight, and don’t look too much like traditional “water shoes” – certainly a great step up from the water shoes we wore to the pool as kids. They look more like a standard boat shoe, and I’d have no qualms about heading straight from fishing to a dockside lunch still wearing them. I even wore them to the grocery store that day because I was so excited.
I typically fish in saltwater creeks on the coast in South Carolina, where the creek bottoms are always unpredictable, and the tide can change your terrain in just a few minutes. I can paddle over thick marsh grass to a big, sandy-bottomed flat just as easily as I could paddle over a partially submerged oyster bed surrounded by muck. Until now, I’ve been using an old pair of sneakers, and felt like I was fine getting by – they weren’t terrible, after all. How much different could the new shoes be? With that in mind, I packed up my paddle board and fishing gear and headed to the creek, ready to really put these shoes to the test.
Don’t be surprised if the shoe is a little difficult to get on at first. It fits snuggly against the top of your foot for a reason, as I quickly discovered after stepping in 3 inches of water with about a foot of pluff mud beneath it.
What in the wide world of paddle boarding is pluff mud?
Think of regular mud, make it more like quicksand, and then add the not-so-sweet smell of rotting marsh vegetation. We Lowcountry natives love it, as it’s part of what makes our landscape what it is, but it can certainly be off-putting for someone experiencing it for the first time! The Riptides remained secure to my feet in the toughest stretches of mud, and kept them safe from hidden oyster shells buried in the murky depths.
I was very pleased with how quickly these shoes dried after being submerged for marsh-wading periods. The feeling of a heavy, soggy shoe in the hot summer sun is not a great one, and these were nothing of the sort. If I decided to paddle barefoot for a while, they were easy to slip on and off – even though the fit is snug. Even if I wanted to wear them just while launching the board or while actually standing in the water, these shoes fit inside my tackle kit, out of the way.
There was one plus in wearing the Riptides that I did not expect. Things can get pretty windy out in the marsh, and I often find myself using the bottoms of my feet to “grip” the paddle board and stay in place. Afterwards, the soles of my feet end up tender and sore. With these shoes, I didn’t feel as unstable (thanks to the sturdy, extra-grippy soles), and I could be more relaxed as I stayed upright.
As I’m sure you can tell, I absolutely love the XTRATUF Riptides. They are an excellent addition to my paddle boarding expeditions from both a practical and safety standpoint, and I know I won’t go back to the worn out sneakers they’ve replaced. I have seen the light!
Hollis Lumpkin writes that she is a "simple girl living in the Lowcountry of South Carolina, but I happen to have a great love for the outdoors, particularly hunting and fishing." She is a duck-hunting freak. Hollis pens an exclusive version of "The Bright Side of the Road," for The WON. View all posts by Hollis Lumpkin