The Columbia Drainmaker III is a great all-around water shoe capable of handling a wide variety of water sports and outdoor activities. If your feet are going to get wet, it’s hard to go wrong with the versatile Columbia Drainmaker III water shoe. In fact, it’s one of the best water shoes for 2017 and it tops our 10 Best Water Shoes list.
Columbia has been refining its Drainmaker shoe for years, and the Drainmaker III is nearly perfect. It has many large drain ports in the sole at both the heel and forefoot. The removable insole provides decent cushion and it, too, is full of holes. The sides and upper are made out of an open mesh material, which again, lets the shoe drain as well as dry quickly.
Columbia Drainmaker III Review: Overall Design
What we like most about the Drainmaker III is the overall design — it looks more like an outdoor running shoe than a boat shoe, river sandal or aqua sock. This lets it fit a variety of style choices — letting you go from the trail, to the beach, to the water park, to the deck of a boat or a small river-town bar.
Columbia says its Omni-Grip non-marking outsole has razor siping — not so much to the naked eye, really — but it all seems to work well. I wore the Drainmaker III in two different rivers 100 miles apart and they provided surprisingly good traction on different kinds of slippery rocks.
You can wear the Columbia Drainmaker III with or without socks and it still looks great, which is one reason why we appreciate it more than other types of water shoes or river sandals.
The laces are traditional, and we like that, too. You can ratchet them down if you’re scrambling around a rocky trail. Plus, if they eventually break, they’re easy to replace.
For durability and toe protection, Columbia added a rubbery toe bumper that’s nicely built into the shape of the toe box.
What about fit?
Most other reviews say the Drainmaker III fits mostly true to size but I think it fits very slightly large. You might be able to size down if you have a small or narrow foot. I have a narrow foot and I did not size down and I’m glad I didn’t — the overall design lets me loosen and tighten the shoe, with or without socks, and I haven’t had any issues with sliding around inside the shoe, wet or dry. So, what seems slightly large right out of the box, in a dry environment, turns out great for the beach, river and water park once you put it to use. Oh, and it’s very comfortable.
Columbia Drainmaker III: Any cons?
Long term, I’m always curious about how well mesh uppers will hold up over time. Will small sticks and sharp little rocks fray it? Probably, but when? Don’t know yet — look for a follow-up note in a year. After a few miles of trail, in and out of three rivers, in and out of two beaches and through a water park, they look as good as new.
All in all, I wouldn’t hesitate to choose the Columbia Drainmaker III again. If you’re looking for a versatile water shoe that drains fast, dries fast and provides good ventilation on hot summer days, the Drainmaker III should make your shortlist.