Water shoes, as an unspoken rule, are techy to the point of dorkiness. They’re a lightweight conglomerate of mesh, elastic and rubber that protects from one element (rocks) while moving another freely throughout (water). Teva’s new outdoor shoe, the Wilder, employs many of these aspects. But, at last, it uses them in a manner that maintains performance without sacrificing one thing that outdoorsy types often eschew with pride: style.
The Wilder is not explicitly an in-water-only shoe. Technically, it’s a multi-sport hiker. Teva built its mesh and neoprene upper on a grippy, lugged outsole. That upper is reinforced for support with a heel cup in the back and rubber vamps toward the front. Dual climbing shoe-inspired tabs make getting in easy, and a speed lace system locks the foot into place.
The practical use cases for the Wilder are easily imagined: rafting, kayaking, canoeing, hiking and so on. Given the recent adoption of functional outdoor clothing elements by the fashion industry — from down jacket baffles to strappy Teva-like sandals — it’s also easy to see how the Wilder can work in places like New York City and Tokyo. It’s about time the inherent nerdiness of water shoes washed away as jetsam and left behind something like this; utilitarian footwear that might be worn confidently in settings far from rivers or oceans.