Gear Review: Columbia Sportswear Women's Powerdrain™ Hybrid Water Shoe

It seems like there's a shoe for everything these days. There's a shoe for long trail runs, short trail runs, road runs, adventure races, mountain biking, road biking, walking slowly, walking quickly, and more. Now, thanks to Columbia, we can add "a shoe for making a five-bean salad" to the list. Wait, what? Columbia's Powerdrain shoes are a newer, slightly souped up version of their original Drainmaker, and I was provided with a pair to test out as part of my participation in the #OmniTen team. I've put them through their paces over the past months, and so far, I'm mostly impressed, but with one exception.

The Women's Powerdrain™ shoes and I out for a hike.

Like their predecessors, the Powerdrains are designed to be ideal for activities that take the wearer in and out of water, beginning with the full length Techlite midsole. Techlite is a proprietary technology that provides lightweight cushioning and support, and it's naturally antimicrobial. (So far, no stinky feet!) The New Balance WT10 Minimus are currently my go-to shoe for everything, including CrossFit, and I was excited to find the Powerdrains as light and maneuverable as my minimalist shoes are. Techlite makes for a much easier transition between "normal" shoes and minimalist shoes; a pair of the Powerdrains weighs less than a pound.

The coolest part about the Powerdrains? Water can drain directly through bore holes in the midsole as well as the mesh upper and footbed. I was able to completely submerge the shoes before, during and after a raft race over Memorial Day weekend, and watch as the water drained completely out. They're designed to be worn barefoot, and despite being wet, my bare feet didn't slip out of the shoe while I ran up and down grassy hills after jumping into a creek with them on. (I've also worn them with socks, but wearing socks defeats the purpose of the design of the shoe.)

Omni-Grip keeping me from
slipping on deck at USMS Nationals.
Though water does drain well through the shoes, unfortunately, small rocks and gravel particles did not. The main issue I have with the Powerdrains is that as soon as the shoes drained, I had to take them off and rinse stray rocks out. If you're planning to wear these on a long run, that could be a serious problem, and I likely won't for that reason. I've run into a similar issue with any kind of shoe I get wet, including sandals, and I'm not sure how you'd solve for that. (Columbia, I'm looking at you!) They also seem to take a few hours to dry.

In general, though, I love the way the shoes fit and how stable I felt on a variety of surfaces, even after submerging the shoes. Columbia's Omni-Grip technology features separate solutions for shoes depending on the intended use, including a water-specific traction design. For the Powerdrains, the solution involves two zones on the bottom of the shoe. The first has small cuts in the tread, called siping, to help water move under the shoe. The second zone, the perimeter, helps with stability on any kind of surface. I wore the shoes on the wet, slick pool deck all day at USMS Spring Nationals and didn't slip or slide at all. They also performed well on completely dry, uneven ground in a local state park on a short hike.

For those of us who hate tying laces, and watching as they come untied, the quick cinch lacing system is ideal. Getting the shoes on and off is a piece of cake, and the lacing system moves with your feet as they bend and flex during activities. I have to cinch them down quite a bit to get them to fit my narrow feet, but when I do, they feel great. Generally, they fit true to size.

The Women's Powerdrain shoes are available through Columbia, Altrec and, among others. Have you tried them? What did you think? If you haven't, do these seem like good shoes for your needs? Leave a comment!


Heidi Henry said…
I love, love, LOVE my Powerdrains!
Katie Levy said…
 as far as all-around wear goes, I absolutely love them too. I wear them all over the place just as walking shoes. I'm not sure I'll trail run in them, but they're so comfy I'll wear them for everything else!