END WOW (Walk on Water) Review

END footwearOne of my secret weapons during my MdS training was END’s WOW (Walk on Water) shoe. This minimalist “water shoe” is built for wet conditions with a wide-open mesh upper as well as drainage holes through the sole. Like other END Footwear shoes, there’s no separate heel counterbalance (a cupped midsole provides heel stability and support) and minimal rigidity in the midsole. This makes your feet work harder… but over time strengthens them into another running asset. Personally, I use the WOW on many of my easy days as well as the occasional shorter hard run. Of course, they’re also a great option for a rain-soaked road run. FYI, the ladies have an equivalent to the WOW in the LOL or Laughing Out Loud.

END WOW shoeThe men’s END WOW in battleship/persimmon

Singing (WOW’s Praises) in the Rain
During one rainy training run last autumn, I crossed multiple streams and jumped in many puddles. Each time the WOW was no longer sloshing within a 20 count. There was only residual wetness in my socks. The mesh upper and drainage holes did the job admirably.

Being the analytical sort, I decided to determine how the WOW performed in cold, wet numbers. When dry, my pair (yes, I weigh both shoes) of size 9 END WOW’s weighed in at 540 grams (1 pound, 3.1 oz). When I again weighed them within 20 seconds of ending a run in torrential rain, the pair had gained only 148 grams (688 grams total) or barely 2.5 ounces per shoe! In comparison, my socks weighed 143 grams at the end of the same run.

On one January morning, I ran in the WOW in 33 degree pouring rain while my poor buddy wore “waterproof membrane” shoes and gaiters. You can guess who had drier, warmer feet and no regrets about running through puddles. :-) That said, I don’t even think of the WOW as a water shoe… but as a running shoe that is light-weight, cool, and drains ridiculously well!

WOW and Hot Weather
During another rainy run, I had a eureka moment – the WOW would be an awesome shoe for the Badwater 135 in Death Valley. The light-weight, light in color, and highly breathable WOW would be great for the blistering hot conditions… or any hot weather, for that matter.

Drawbacks
Despite the fact that I’ve loved for 6 months and a couple 100 miles, there are some drawbacks to the shoe. Here they are:

  • While it’s a water shoe, that the sole slips quite easily on metal, wood planks, and rocks that are wet. That said, the traction is fine on wet road or trails.
  • Avoid running sockless in the WOWs in sub-freezing temperatures… BRRR!
  • On my first run in the WOWs the orange dye ran and quickly dyed my socks orange.
  • The insole in one of my shoes tends to shift backwards and curl up. As no one else has reported this problem, I chalk it up to having deformed the insole while wearing the shoe in combination with a heel lift in many of my early runs in the shoe.
The women’s END LOL in ash/fir
(the women’s version of the WOW)

Wrap Up

Despite a few minor drawbacks, I would confidently recommend these shoes to anyone looking for a minimalist road trainer or a road trainer for wet conditions. I will continue to incorporate the WOWs into my weekly training plans and may end up logging tempo runs or … egads … a road race in them! The WOW are available for $80 or less as are END’s LOL for women on Amazon.com.

For more information on END Footwear and the company’s attempt at sustainability, read iRunFar’s in-depth company profile: Part 1 and Part 2.

Questions

  • Anyone else run in a water shoe?
  • END’s WOW?
  • What did you think?

There are 4 comments

  1. Trail Clown

    In my defense, the Vasque Aether Tech's membrane did dry out by the third day after the aforementioned wet run. And the trench foot was gone in two weeks. :) I remember that run like it was yesterday. It was 35 degrees and pouring rain, and you wore running tights, a technical tee over a long sleeve, and those crazy End shoes. By the end of the run, you didn't even look wet, while I was so water-logged in my rain jacket, rain pants and gore-tex shoes that I could have filled a bathtub with my rain-catching skills. Who knew that waterproof means zilch in a heavy downpour? Much better to go minimalist and not give mother nature much to saturate…

  2. TPS 8th Language Art

    I use the WOW's on the trail (awesome sole but shoe accumulates mud in the extensive mesh), the road (the forefoot is thin and lacks "technology", so probably short-lived if used as high mileage road trainer) and even on the track (responsive down to 63 sec quarters). The insole does bunch up. My toes now hang out ove the end because the heel has bunched up so much.

  3. Chris Werner

    I don't know whether anyone reads new comments on old posts, but I though I'd add that Quintin Cassidy would have loved these during that rainy Florida winter at Bruce's cabin.

  4. Bryon Powell

    Chris, I still read old posts (as do some others). Definitely a great shoe on rainy days… So long as it's not too cold out!

Post Your Thoughts