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Water Shoes

Vibram FiveFingers V-Aqua Review

Many water shoe enthusiasts remember seeing their first pair of Vibram Five Finger toe shoes in the wild. Vibram is picking up on this trend and running with it, and they are doing so with style. Introducing the Vibram FiveFingers V-Aqua Water Shoe.

These are at the higher end of the price range for water shoes, but are feature rich water shoes and are extremely popular. They maintain popularity for a wide variety of reasons, including the fact that they work, and they work well. It doesn’t matter if you find yourself trudging through thick sand, splashing in strong currents, hiking a leaf-covered trail, or just relaxing on a boat, it is difficult to beat the Vibram FiveFingers V-Aqua Water Shoe for all around comfort and function.

Initial Thoughts on Unboxing

We aren’t going to lie to you. When we first took the Vibram FiveFingers V-Aqua out of their stylish box, we were taken aback with how unattractive they were. We are used to a good blend of style, function and form in the shoes we review. These five-toe shoes were very much lacking in the style department. However, did they make up for it in comfort, function and form?

These water shoes have five separate “toe boxes” as you would guess from the name. But with a heavy duty Vibram outsole, a strong Velcro strap fastener, and a mesh upper with a variety of densities, these shoes were not lacking in functionality and features. 

Note: These shoes are the most size-dependent water shoes that we tested for obvious reasons. When we ordered, we ordered the same size for all shoes. As such, we needed to return these and get one size up. We recommend sizing up a half size when ordering to ensure that you receive as close to the perfect fit as possible. If the shoe is too tight when you put them on, rubbing can be a major issue.

Putting Them Through Their Paces

We spent extensive time testing the Vibram shoes in the elements at Little Talbot Island State Park in Jacksonville, Florida. Our tests included:

  • An ocean test: Sugar sand, waves, and hard packed sand.
  • A river test: Rocky creek beds, sandy shorelines, flowing water.
  • A hiking test: Over pine needles, sand, puddles, and standard trail surfaces.

Here is how they fared.

The Ocean Test

These water shoes are really made for the beach. The Vibram FiveFingers V-Aqua Water Shoe performed incredibly well in the ocean, regardless of depth. We took them through some of the deepest sugar sand, and remarkably had no sand intrusion. We even swam with them, and felt minimal pull-back. Overall, these were top tier shoes for ocean testing.

The River Test

In the river test, these shoes performed great. They had minimal slippage over the river rocks, although we managed to slip once when taking a longer stride from rock to rock. We rolled our ankle as well in the process of slipping, and are unsure as to whether it was an outsole issue or a balance issue that caused the slip. Besides that one incident, though, we felt no problems with these water shoes in Simpson Creek.

The Hiking Test​​​

In the hiking test, the Vibram FiveFingers V-Aqua Water Shoe left a bit to be desired. When we unboxed, we were initially impressed by the thickness and form-fitting nature of the outsole, even with the separate toe boxes. However, when it came time to actually hike, we realized rather quickly that the outsole was not as thick as we would have hoped for these purposes. Overall, they did not perform up to par when hiking.

Advantages and Disadvantages

While the Vibram FiveFingers V-Aqua Water Shoe is a semi-stylish looking water shoe with strong grip and a great beach presence, there are always going to be advantages and disadvantages to every water shoe that we put through our rigorous testing processes. These shoes are no exception to this rule.

Here are some of the pros and cons that we noted with the V-Aqua Water Shoe through the course of our testing and research.

Advantages of the Vibram FiveFingers V-Aqua Water Shoe

  • The separate toe boxes in these water shoes make them look strange, but at the same time help with dexterity and grip ability. As such, these were some of the most versatile shoes that we tested overall. The enhanced grip really helped the thin outsole in the river testing.
  • Speaking of the outsole, the soles of the Vibram FiveFingers V-Aqua Water Shoe provided impressive grip strength when navigating wet (in the case of the ocean test) and rocky (in the case of the river test) terrains.

Disadvantages of the Vibram FiveFingers V-Aqua Water Shoe

  • There have bene multiple reports that, after extended use of the Vibram FiveFingers V-Aqua Water Shoe, they will begin to smell if not properly washed and maintained. We tested this out and did not rinse them after our testing. We found the smell to be pretty bad after extensive use, but a good rinse made this go away.
  • If you are not a big fan of separate toe-type shoes, you are going to really want to steer clear of these options. They are not stylish, and should not be worn by those looking to make a good impression.
  •  As we stated in the note above, it’s crucial to size up a half size when ordering, to avoid getting a shoe that is too tight. We ordered the size we were used to for our testing, and noticed rubbing immediately. We had to return and size up one full size for our “road test” processes.

Our Final Thoughts

Overall, the Vibram V-Aqua is a wonderful water shoe that does exactly what you’d expect them to do. They are incredibly versatile, and truly check the function and form boxes, while leaving the style box with much to be desired. Vibram is a company that knows water sports, and the V-Aqua water shoe pays good homage to this.

If you are on the hunt for a solid pair of water shoes with longevity value that are ideal for most water-based activities, from beaches to rivers, boats to kayaks, swimming and more, look no further than this option.

For more water shoe options, check out our comprehensive guide to the best water shoes.

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