Footwear / August 23, 2020

Columbia Sportswear Powerdrain Hybrid Water Shoe - Top Performance on Land and in Water

Columbia Sportswear Powerdrain Water Shoe $95.

The Good: The two-zone approach to the design of the sole make the Powerdrains super grippy, even when wet, and the quick cinch lacing system makes it easy to get them on and off.
The Bad: Water drains through the shoes well, but gravel doesn’t.
The Ugly: If you abuse your shoes, the Powerdrains probably won’t last long.

It seems like there’s a shoe for every imaginable use these days, (including uses that don’t need specialized shoes). There’s a shoe for long trail runs, short trail runs, road runs, adventure races, mountain biking, road biking, walking slowly, walking quickly, even shoes for the running with the bulls in Pamplona. But when it comes to finding a way to outfit an outdoors-person with a passion for staying dry and getting wet all in the same day, Columbia Sportswear definitely addresses a need.

The Powerdrain Hybrid Water Shoe is designed for activities that take the wearer in and out of water.  I put my Powerdrains through their paces at Havasu Falls in Arizona, on deck at United States Masters Swimming Nationals, and on countless hikes in Pennsylvania and Acadia National Park. I tromped through thigh-deep creeks, speed-walked across the pool deck and even kept the Powerdrains completely dry on a hike to see if they held up.

The mesh, TPU and EVA upper is designed to let water drain through without compromising comfort. The Powerdrains are definitely among the most comfortable shoes I’ve worn, but they took a beating in the water around Havasu Falls. The rough travertine caused a small hole in the upper right above my baby toe to develop quickly. Even though the limestone is uniquely rough in the creeks there, I was surprised they didn’t hold up better.

The Techlite midsole helps provide lightweight cushioning and support, and it’s naturally antimicrobial. (Read: anti-stinky feet). I’m a minimalist shoe kind of gal, and the fact that they’re super light made them one of my favorite hiking shoes. Be prepared to feel rocks under your feet in the Powerdrains more than in regular hiking shoes.

Columbia’s Omni-Grip technology features different solutions for shoes with different uses, and for the Powerdrains, this means a two-zone approach to traction design. Siping allows water to move under the shoe while the perimeter helps with stability. Even after tromping through water all day and transitioning to smooth rock, I didn’t have any slipping or sliding issues. The quick cinch lacing system means there’s no tying or untying of laces. The 2013 version of the Powerdrains will have a loop to slide extra cord from the lacing system into, but the 2012 version does not.

The 2013 version of the Powerdrains will also feature a finer mesh upper, which will still allow for water drainage, but won’t let smaller particles in. The shoes are designed to be worn barefoot; wearing them in water with socks works if you don’t mind dealing with wet socks. After launching a kayak on a sandy beach in my Powerdrains, the water drained out, but the larger sand particles didn’t. I don’t mind taking the shoes off to dump out the excess rocks, but it would be great not to have to do that.

The bottom line? The Powerdrains are designed to perform well in and out of water, and they do. They’re super comfortable and super grippy, but they might not last as long as you’d want them to. Hopefully, the 2013 version will be more durable.

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Tags:  backpacking columbia columbia sportswear footwear gear hiking mud run running running shoes Shoe shoes trail running Water water shoe watersports Whitewater

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Katie Levy
Katie Levy
Katie Levy - (hiker, backpacker, occasional climber, CrossFit junkie) loves sharing her passion for playing outside with anyone willing to listen. Though currently based in Philadelphia, spending her formative years in Upstate New York and a two year stint in Alaska fostered a lifelong passion for the outdoors. After 13 years as a competitive swimmer, she followed that passion on backpacking trips in the Adirondacks, on sub-zero winter hikes in the Chugach Mountains, and up Mount Rainier. These days, if she’s not out on the trail, you’ll find working on her other passion, Adventure-Inspired, or getting her WOD on at CrossFit Love. Contact her at [email protected]

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1 Comment

Jul 19, 2020

[...] that take the wearer in and out of water.  I was glad to find that my favorite features of the original Powerdrains are a part of the Powerdrain Cool shoes too.  The midsole is engineered using Columbia’s [...]

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