My Valley Nordkapp RM has little spare room for big feet. In the summer, this hasn’t been too much of a problem but during dry suit season, finding footwear that can accommodate the extra bulk of socks and the dry suit is a challenge. My solution is the NRS Freestyle wetshoe. Its not just a bigger shoe, but rather one that rather clever at solving several problems.
One problem is that most shoe companies design the toe box symmetrically. This makes the area on the outside edges of the toes larger than necessary and cuts into precious space. NRS has designed the Freestyle to conform to the natural shape of the toes. Trust me, every millimeter counts when you wear a size 13 shoe inside a kayak or in this case, well over a half inch over some of the shoes I tried.
The NRS Freestyle wetshoe has no laces or other extras that could entangle or entrap a paddler. The sole has good grip and traction. While this is a minimalist shoe, support has been excellent for me. When first got these, I was suffering with Painful Os Peroneum Syndrome, an inflation of the peroneus tendon and an ossified accessory bone in my foot. Walking in the wrong shoes was very painful especially on unstable surfaces like beach sand. I was very happy to discover that the shoes were plenty supportive and caused no pain during boat carries to and from the beach.
The shoe has a fleece lining to add a minimal amount of insulation. I have used these many times now in warmer conditions with bare feet and have found the fleece to be quite comfortable and not noticeably warm.
The seal between the lower leg and the top of the shoe works great at keeping both water and sand out of the shoe. Pulverized Zebra Mussels are a big component of Lake Erie’s beaches. The shell fragments are sharp and extremely hazardous to dry suits and this shoe does a great job keeping debris like this out.
I would love to see NRS make a low ankle height version with mesh uppers for warm weather. Overall, I’m very pleased with the Freestyles.
Disclosure: The author purchased this product with his own funds