Two years ago, we published a thorough review of a product that you can’t buy anymore, the Blacktip Jetsports’ slip-on neoprene water shoes. In fact, the water shoes weren’t available at the time of publishing either, with Blacktip discontinuing their water shoe line in late 2014. (We know, it was sort of a dirty trick on our part. Sorry.) But, with SBT, Inc. launching its own “SBT Racing” line of apparel, the masterminds at Short Block Technologies, Inc. saw fit to resurrect the neoprene water shoe, just under a new name, the Hydro Shoe. Thankfully, much of the shoe has remained wholly unchanged, so now your chance to pick up the very same shoes.
Unlike our previous review, we thought it wise to photograph our new SBT Racing Hydro Shoes before thoroughly beating them to death. If you click the link to our previous review, you’ll see how the Hydro Shoes hold up after 8 months of constant use. The Hydro Shoes are made with a breathable neoprene sock that is cut low below the ankle for an easy, unrestricted range of motion. Equally, the shoe’s liner features a durable elastic band around the opening that remains taut regardless of use. The neoprene sock is glued to a two-part rubber sole that supplies a thick, cushioned sole similar to a tennis shoe more than boat shoe.
Because the Hydro Shoes are strictly slip-ons, there is no lacing required to keep them on. Unfortunately, this also means that you cannot cinch the shoe up any tighter than it already is, which might not work for persons looking for that extra bit of tightness or support. Although the neoprene drains and wicks water well, there aren’t any drains perforating the soles making for a slower drain and drying time. We noted that traction is equal to most racing boots and water shoes we’ve come across, so there’s no loss there either. We did wish that there was a little bit more padding at the toe and heel though, as those points tend to get beat up more than elsewhere.
For whose with experience, neoprene booties typically don’t age well. The soft, breathable material has a tendency to snag, tear and lose much of its springiness. This is often attributed to plenty of exposure to the elements, as well as use in salt water and being embedded with sand, silt and mud. Obviously, proper care will ensure your Hydro Shoe will last longer than those who do not, so do as your mother asked and take better care of your things! In our previous pair of water shoes, we found the glue bonding the neoprene sock to the sole began to leech out, discoloring the two parts and looking rather unsightly. Thankfully, in our two months of use, the Hydro Shoe hasn’t shown such signs, so hopefully a better glue has been employed here.
Priced an incredibly bargain-friendly $21.95, SBT Racing’s Hydro Shoes are one of the better deals we’ve encountered. Whether you’re looking for a new pair of go-to shoes, a spare pair to keep in your gear bag, or something to keep on hand for a friend, these are worth the minor investment, like having an extra rope on board or can of sunscreen.