Why Sperry's New Line Is the Ultimate Shoe for Your Next Beach Vacation

We tested the brand's new outdoors collection

Sperry water strider

Courtesy of Sperry

When you hear Sperry's name, your first thought is likely the brand's iconic boat shoe, a prep school staple for years. But now the brand is branching out—and if you're anything like me, its newest line is going to be a staple in your summer beach bag.

With the launch of Sperry Sport, the storied brand returns to its outdoorsy roots, launching six new styles that are made for wearing in the water and on the shoreline.

"We've built the best gear for people to play on the world's biggest playground," said Sean McDowell, Sperry's senior vice president of product creation, a 22-year veteran of Nike. "These products are some of the most innovative and highest performing vehicles we have ever produced—and so many of the products can be used for a wide range of activities and for all ability levels."

The critical component to the new line-up, which includes everything from a high-tech sailing boot to a versatile, slip-on water shoe, is the brand's surprisingly high-tech technology. While the Top-Sider might be the Sperry shoe you know the best, the company's roots lie in products made for the water, dating back to 1935, when founder Paul Sperry created a pair of sailing boots with traction inspired by his dog's paw. That innovative technology, called Adaptive Wave Siping, still exists today and is a trademark of the new collection, ensuring that you have a slip-free grip whether you're on the deck of a catamaran or walking across slick river rocks. Other features seen across the line include hydrophobic materials, which mean the shoes dry very quickly and are easy to clean, and an anti-vibration midsole, making them as comfortable as a pair of sneakers.

Sperry Water Strider

Courtesy of Sperry

I had the chance to test the Water Strider, which retails for $54.95, in Miami for several days of kayaking, swimming, and general water activities and was impressed by the shoe's comfort and versatility. However, the perfect fit isn't accidental—Sperry scanned more than 3,000 different foot shapes and sizes during the Water Strider's development. While so many rubber-like shoes can cause blisters or, worse, slip off your feet entirely in water, Sperry's design stayed put (the brand describes the design as "plunge worthy") and comfortable, even while carrying a kayak across the park to the boat launch and walking to and from my hotel.

If you're sailing, you'll want to look at the company's new SeaHiker Dinghy Boot ($119.95), a lightweight molded rubber bootie with a perforated neoprene to help keep feet cool and dry. Another chic option, ideal for boating or fishing, is the Wave Rocker ($119.95), a sneaker-inspired shoe with a sock-like upper made from neoprene.

While the shoes are made the withstand the rigors of watersports, McDowell also emphasizes that you'll feel good wearing them no matter what you're up to. "Sperry Sport is serious design for serious fun," he said.

The new collection is available for purchase at Sperry.com and select retailers.