Sven and I have had a long running search for the ultimate shoe for riding on the beach. Once the weather gets above freezing and we enter the spring beach season, getting your feet wet, is an inevitable part of almost every beach ride. Swollen creeks and blustery waves will eventually submerge your boots or shoes. A good waterproof pair of boots or sneakers with wool socks and a reserve pair of dry socks is what I usually ended up riding in. I tried riding in wellies, but the soles were too soft and rubber is not that comfortable during constant pedaling motion. My old footwear set, worked well enough on 2-3 hour beach rides, but I wouldn’t call it comfortable. My feet would normally be cold by the time I got back to the truck. The other issue with regular boots and shoes, is that they collect sand and rocks. Even certain brands of sandals, like keens, collect abrasive sand and rocks, that cause comfort issues.
Sven has an idea for a neoprene spat or mini gator that would go over the ankle area of shoes to prevent sand and rocks from entering. I think it’s a good idea and I have a pair of merrell waterproof shoes that have a neoprene collar at the ankle opening that I rode with last fall. I still plan on wearing these shoes, for summer riding, but the neoprene is not 100% comfortable and only about 80% effective in keeping sand and rocks from entering the shoe.
That brings us to the NRS Workboot Wetshoe. A neoprene combat boot with stealth rubber lugged soles. I purchased a pair of size 13 for around $80 from the NRS web-site and I’ve had a chance to wear them on a couple of rides at Illinois Beach State Park in Zion. The water temperature of Lake Michigan was 33 F and the air temperature was in the 40’s on both of the rides. I wore a pair of wool socks and the NRS Workboots. The fit of the boots is true to size. They feel like a neoprene sock. There’s a nice pull tab at the rear or the boot and once you get them slipped on and let the wool socks get situated, they’re quite comfortable. The soles and cordura panels that the neoprene body of the boot is sewn to, create a very secure feeling, athletic, combat boot. The soles are firm enough to stand up to platform pedal mashing and flexible enough for any hike-a-bike.
Just to see how they would handle a soaking, I completely submerged these boots, half way through my ride. These boots don’t keep water from entering. I went up to my knees and waited for the boots to get saturated. Then I hopped back on the bike and pedaled on. My feet never really got cold. They were wet, but not cold.
I wore the Workboots on a beach ride up in Port Washington, after our centennial show celebration, in wet, snowy, cold and windy conditions. The current lake levels are really high, so it wasn’t long before we were riding in water a foot deep…..and that leads to wading in water. My feet remained warm the entire ride and for an hour after, sitting in the American Legion for post ride beers.
I’ve put enough time in, on these boots, to say that I think that I’ve found the answer for my collar season, beach riding footwear. I don’t know if these make sense for Summer beach excursions, but November and March beach rides are where the NRS Workboots will shine. I’ll keep you posted on how durable they are, as time goes forward.
More info at – www.nrs.com