Gearhead: Keen, Crocs are the best picks for protecting your feet while getting them wet

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Do your warm-weather plans include time spent on riverbanks or streambeds, paddling, shore fishing, tidepool watching and other activities bound to get your feet wet? If so, water sandals are a must.

Good water sandals protect your feet and provide a reliable grip on uneven ground or slippery rocks. To do the job, they requires a thick sole with a pronounced tread pattern and a closed toe that protects your tootsies if they get rammed against submerged rocks. If sandals are lightweight, so much the better.

For women, the Gearhead pick of two summers ago — Keen’s Whisper Sandal — is still a top choice. The Whisper is known for comfort, thanks to anatomically engineered footbed cushioning and an arch support system.

Strong elastic cording quickly nestles your feet into foodbeds, EVA midsoles absorb shock and provide cushion and support, carbon rubber outsoles are durable and give great traction, toe protection is hefty and Cleansport NXT provides odor control. Machine washable. Comes in eight colors. $90 www.keenfootwear.com

For men, the Swiftwater Sandal from Crocs is sturdy, comfy, flexible, light in weight and provides good toe protection.

It offers a mesh upper and has an adjustable Velcro strap for good fit and easy on/off. The Swiftwater line also has a few additional specialized sandals, such as the Swiftwater Leather Fisherman Sandal, which offers comfort for walking on shore or standing in the water.

Crocs aren’t the first brand you’d think of for a water shoe, but the persistent high ratings from owners, and the low price, may change that. $54.99 (now on sale at the Crocs website for $38.49). There’s also a Swiftwater sandal for women. www.crocs.com

To find Keen and Crocs products in Sonoma County, visit the “Find a Store” page on each company

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