My family is a fairly active one, especially in the Spring through Fall seasons. We camp frequently and that involves plenty of hiking, wading through water, climbing and playing sports. We also like to take the kids on frequent outings while the weather’s nice and often as not, that involves walking. Whether strolling through the downtown of a city, tromping through a park or along a hiking trail, visiting the zoo, theme parks or a museum, there’s usually a lot of walking involved. And through the summer, we hit the beach at least once a week as well. Someone at Merrell has obviously read about our undertakings and saw that GeekDad has dabbled in footwear before, as they reached out and offered up some current footwear to put through its paces.
I was happy to give it a whirl. Our kids are pretty tough on shoes, especially my daughter Natasha, who has a well-earned reputation for tackling terrain that’s more difficult than necessary, combined with a fondness for water and picky fashion sense.
Natasha is also a vegetarian, so the Waterpro Z-Raps were a perfect choice. They drain easily when wet, they provided traction for clambering on rocks and climbing trees and they look smart. The mesh doesn’t just help water to drain faster, it also helps provide ventilation. They withstood a solid day of tromping around Canada’s Wonderland without a word of complaint, and that’s saying something. Slipping the shoes on and off was easy thanks to the elastic enclosure and best of all, Natasha embraced these shoes because anything resembling leather was synthetic. My wife is also on a “no leather” tear and she was extremely happy with the Waterpro Pandi shoes she received. She reports they are extremely comfortable for walking, as well as providing support on rocks and grip on slippery surfaces. They also include hydro drainage ports and a ventilated foot bed for quick drying after wading in the surf. And they are vegan friendly.
I was sent a pair of Waterpro Tawas. While my Teva water sandals are quicker to put on and take off (snap buckles vs. laces on the Merrells), I’ve put the Waterpro Tawas through miles of concrete, gravel, grass, beach and some malls as well, not to mention a few casual football, baseball and soccer sessions and they’re currently my favorite, all purpose summer shoes. Well, I’m pretty fond of the Clash Chuck Taylors I scored for Father’s Day too, but those only come out for special occasions… Like the other Merrells we received, any leather used on the Waterpro Tawas is synthetic. They wash well, dry fast and still look virtually brand new. And I have to admit, I’m kind of partial to the funky orange and green color scheme. At $95 they aren’t unreasonable compared to other shoes in this class and I’ll likely buy another pair if/when I ever wear these ones out.
Adult shoes are one thing -it’s not like I’m going to grow out of them, so they are a reasonable investment- but is it worth forking out $55 for a pair of kid’s shoes? The WaterPro Z-Raps will certainly outlast most kids’ use of them, but by the time they move on and grow out of them, I suspect the shoes will still be in pretty good shape. Give them a good wash and if you choose a fairly neutral color, you should be able to hand the shoes down to a sibling and get another full cycle out of them. They’re also good in terms of support, and as someone who’s spent more time than I’d like listening to kids complain about sore feet during a day of walking, the Merrells are probably worth it on that front alone. We’re heading off to Disney World for a few weeks shortly; that will be the ultimate test, but I suspect the shoes are up to it.