Body Glove Footwear, the worldwide water sports brand celebrating 60 years of innovation and experience in wetsuits, swimwear, clothing, footwear, accessories, and technology accessories, recently sent me a pair of their new 3T Barefoot Max water shoes to put through the proverbial “ringer.”
I took them for a long day of fly fishing on the lower Clark Fork River in western Montana, and here are my notes.
Unlike other “multi-toe” designed shoes, the unique three-toe design does make it a lot easier to put on and take off than competing ones in this class. It also makes sense grouping the smaller three toes into one pocket because those toes do not articulate like the first two toes can. I felt like my smaller toes were more protected in the 3T Barefoot than in a pair with five toe slots (which I also own and have used). Also, I’d rather get my shoes on and go fishing than fiddle with my toes for fifteen minutes. This was a big plus.
The 3T Barefoot water shoes were quite comfortable, even wading in and out of water all day on a variety of surfaces. Though a minimalist type shoe, my feet were not sore at the end of the day. The neoprene top covering allowed flexibility and breathability. The soles provided good traction in an out of the water. Where I fished required traversing a steep trail down to the water, and these shoes provided stability and did not slip. The only time I experienced slippage was when I took a break from fishing and swam out to a rock outcrop. Where these rocks were wet and smooth, I did not have very secure footing, but I believe most water shoes would have had the issues on this surface.
What I also liked about the closed shoe design is how it kept debris away from my feet. With its IDS (Integrated Drainage System) technology, water can flush from the soles of the shoes through small, mesh-covered openings. I did find that if I didn’t cinch the elastic draw cord around my ankle, debris would find a way in. However, when cinched, water did get trapped on the top of my foot under the neoprene. But I’d rather have water in my shoes than rocks.
Overall, the shoes were durable; though after only one day’s use, some of the mesh netting on the soles began tearing away (pictured below). While I don’t believe this compromised the shoe’s overall integrity, I could see it allowing some particulates in over time.
If these shoes interest you, they can be purchased directly at online for $49.99 or may be available at your local stores carrying Body Glove. For sizing, I typically wear between a 12 and 12.5, and these size 12 shoes fit perfectly and left a small amount of breathing room.
Uses: fishing, kayaking, canoeing, stand up paddling, windsurfing, short hikes along creeks.
UPDATE: After publishing this post, Body Glove immediately noted they are aware of the mesh issue and are actively working “on a better solution to manufacturing” these shoes to address that problem. And it appears the newer versions are beefier.