With spring thaw and warmer temps on the way for most of the US, kayak anglers are getting back out on the water and some are realizing the old sneakers just aren’t cutting it for water shoes any longer. Here in Texas, a full-length neoprene boot is really too warm already so I went looking for an option I could possibly wear through the summer temps. Today, the NRS Backwater Wetshoes fill out the review card.
About the NRS Backwater Wetshoes
The NRS Backwater Wetshoes are the ultimate wading bootie for kayak anglers moving in and out of the boat in pursuit of fish. Built for comfort and utility, these shoes protect your feet for wading, portaging, launching and landing.
-High-top, low profile design provides maximum warmth and protection during long days in the water.
-Durable 3mm ToughTex™ Neoprene insulation through the instep and front of ankle.
-3mm Airprene around the sides and back of the ankle provide slight ventilation and breathability.
-Gusset-backed side-entry zipper makes the Backwater easy to slip on, whether you’re barefoot or wearing a wetsock.
-Anatomically shaped toe box lets your toes move freely for superior comfort all day.
-Custom NRS rubber compound delivers maximum wet traction.
Let’s get straight to it. Taking off wet neoprene boots can be a pain in the hind end. Having a side zip shoe like this is the best option I’ve seen to combat the humidity and that foot suck that makes you struggle to remove your neoprene after a long day on the water. The velcro over flap is also a nice touch to keep your zipper from getting caught up in a pant leg and then loosening up.
Another big plus for me is that the NRS Backwater is protective yet breathable at the same time. These wetshoes aren’t meant to keep you bone dry. The design is for tolerable water temps but you won’t get swamp feet either. It’s a good combination of circulation and thermal water heating.
Probably the most surprising thing to me was the comfort. On one of my test trips out I actually got out of the kayak and bank stomped for a couple of hours. I wore the Backwater shoes and they were really comfortable. The tread was nice and gripping on the wet rocks and because they rise well above the ankle and lack open vents, I didn’t have to clean gravel out of them after stomping around. Ventilation but no intrusion is a great plus in my book. I’ve spent way too many days digging rocks out of my water shoes.
I haven’t had months to try the Backwater wetshoes out yet, however I love the fact that the shoe has structure and seam reinforcement. Normal neoprene boots are so dang floppy that you feel like a kid wearing their Dad’s socks around. These wetshoes fit like a shoe. The reinforced heel and toe box are great additions so wear and tear won’t happen for many, many miles.
Room for Improvement
3MM neoprene is going to work for lots of areas but in July, in Texas, these may just be too warm without my feet in the water all the time. I’d love to see the NRS Backwater in a half top version where the top of the shoe would be at the top of the ankle reinforcement seam. It would cool off easier and allow the advantages of this wetshoe to still be the star without having to move to something else. Or maybe I just need to get a pair of the NRS Crush watershoes for summer.
The other thing you will find with the NRS Backwater and really any other neoprene shoe is you are going to have to remember to clean them or the stink monster will take over. Moisture sticks around for a LONG time in neoprene and in that moisture, you’re going to find foot funk, lake funk, and everything else. Make sure to read up on how to clean neoprene shoes/boots and follow it. It’s more maintenance but well worth it when done because vultures won’t circle you and they’ll last a long time.
Lots of watershoes run between $60-$100. The NRS Backwater Wetshoes are right around $70 and the lower end of that price spectrum. They are well thought out, done by a company whose life has been on the rivers, and they double as shoes, not just a wetsock or neoprene booty for slipping into a different shoe. You’ll see me in these probably anytime the air temps and/or water temps are 50-80 degrees Fahrenheit.