Digging into the mud, I ran hard up the face of Stratton Mountain. Then it was down a rocky slope at full blast, up and over a 10-foot wooden wall, and through a deep pond.
I was racing in the Extreme Wolverine Challenge, a 6-mile mud/obstacle event. Appropriately, I was testing shoes from the event sponsor, the Wolverine Creek Bed model.
Strange-looking and made with open-mesh uppers, the multisport/water-oriented Creek Beds were well suited for the Stratton Mountain course. They ran fast with a minimal design, drained water in a second after a swim, and worked fine for the wood walls and 15+ other obstacles on the course.
At $82, the Creek Beds offer a versatile design that I have now employed on the race, for leisurely tubing in whitewater in Denver, and on a bushwhacking adventure along a slippery Vermont creek (see image above).
I am impressed with the shoes’ versatility. They aren’t my favorite trail runners, but I do like the design. As all-around outdoor kicks they get the job done and then some.
This is thanks to a flexible sole and a good-fitting upper. They seem to cinch onto my feet; there’s little movement or rubbing of heels or toes inside. All this is to say they are a fairly comfortable shoe, especially in and around water.
Wolverine added large midsoles. These thick, molded EVA footbeds offer good cushion from the thin outsole underneath and provide a flexible, natural-feeling ride with minimal support and a 6mm heel-to-toe drop.
At 9.8 ounces a shoe (in size 8), the Creek Beds measure favorably with many trail-running shoes I wear.
But the Creek Beds are not meant as primary trail-running shoes. They have a toe bumper but lack any sort of rock-plate or debris shield. Further, sand can get in through the airy mesh, making friction an issue on dry trails.
The sticky rubber soles have low-profile tread. They gripped well around water, but on drier, rockier terrain I would’ve liked a little more tread underfoot to bite the ground.
Where the shoes really shine is in muddy, wet conditions encountered while hiking, kayaking, swimming/tubing, or mud racing. While tubing down Clear Creek in Golden, Colo., I scrambled up wet boulders and through whitewater with very secure footing.
Overall, I like the Creek Beds and will continue to pull the odd orange shoes on for water-oriented pursuits. After a month of extremely varied testing and use, the Creek Beds get my thumbs-up.