Columbia Sportswear Powerdrain Cool Hybrid Shoe $90. columbia.com
The Good: They’re comfortable, perform well on land and in water, and they’re an improved version of an already awesome shoe.
The Bad: With the new finer mesh upper, smaller particles can’t get in, but they can’t get out either.
The Ugly: Omni-Freeze ZERO technology rocks when it’s applied to apparel, but it’s not as effective in shoes.
With shoes out there made for everything from basic walking and running to helping you get in shape without setting foot in a gym (turns out that’s BS…who’d have thought?), it seems like there’s a pair of kicks out there for any activity. But what if you’re planning multiple activities in one day that take you in and out of water? Columbia Sportswear has a storied history of creating good looking, functional hybrid water shoes, beginning with the Drainmaker. With the release of the Powerdrains, Columbia improved on that popular design. But there’s a new, cooler (literally) Powerdrain on the market this summer. I tested the Women’s Powerdrain Cool shoes on day hikes, walking around town, stand up paddle boarding and kayaking to see just how versatile they are.
Like the Drainmakers and original Powerdrains, the Powerdrain Cool shoes are designed to be ideal for activities 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 Techlite technology, which means they’re both lightweight and supportive. I’m used to minimalist kicks and love that a pair of the Powerdrain Cool shoes weighs in at less than a pound. Techlite is also naturally antimicrobial, which is particularly advantageous given the shoes are meant to be worn without socks.
The Omni-Grip outsole kept me feeling stable on a stand up paddleboard and on land. The Powerdrain Cool shoes are as comfortable as the original Powerdrains with plenty of arch support, good cushioning and a cinch lacing system to allow for an ideal fit. Water drains easily through the shoes and the stretchy cinch laces move well with my feet as I’m running around.
Though Columbia did keep some of the best features of the Powerdrains, there are a few things that are noticeably different with the Powerdrain Cool model. One of my complaints about the cinch lacing system with the Powerdrains was once I got the shoes cinched, I was left with an extra length of lace I could easily trip over. The Powerdrain Cools have a small loop of stretchy material to tuck that extra lace length into. The finer mesh upper also makes it tougher for small particles to drain into the shoes.
The biggest change comes with the addition of Columbia’s Omni-Freeze ZERO technology. Cool feet on a hot day? Awesome, right? The shoes are lined with small blue circles made of a special cooling polymer that is actually designed to cool you off while you sweat. When exposed to moisture, the rings swell, creating an instant cooling sensation that lasts until the moisture evaporates. With the exception of the insole, rings line the entire inside of the shoe. I noticed a serious cooling sensation wearing Omni-Freeze ZERO apparel, but didn’t experience the same obvious cooling feeling with the shoes.
The bottom line? Columbia’s Powerdrain Cool shoes are an improvement on the original Powerdrains, but the Omni-Freeze ZERO lining isn’t the best part of the new design. The overall comfort, traction, stability and flexibility of the Powerdrain Cools are what sets them apart.