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Wild Sky Adventure Guides

The Bestard Wildwater Pro is Wild Sky Guides pick for best all around shoe.

The Bestard Wildwater Pro Review

The Bestard Wildwater Pro: The Most Versatile Canyoning Shoe On The Market.

Wild Sky Guides Lead Guide Sam Keller visited the Bestard Factory in Lloseta Mallorca.
Wild Sky Guides Lead Guide Sam Keller visited the Bestard Factory in Lloseta Mallorca.

This spring I had the opportunity to visit the Bestard factory in Lloseta Mallorca. What I saw was a company that has succesfully defied the forces of globalization and kept their identity in the global marketplace. A unique company with the highest standards of build quality. A company where the owner works on the factory floor finishing shoes. A company who designs their shoes to be worn for several resoles. I left the  factory impressed, carrying a pair of Wildwater Pro canyoning shoes. I will admit, after having seen the Mallorca factory, I wanted to like this shoe. But I was unsure how it would compare to the competition.

Unboxing and First Impressions:

The Bestard Wildwater Pro: My pick for the most versatile canyoning shoe.

I began testing the Wildwater Pro in Mallorca. I wore it around the house, down the street, on long walks. I wore them cliff jumping, and canyoning. I  wanted to see how they felt on my feet for long days. Soon I took them to Madeira. I took them on long hikes, immersed them in water for long periods as I guided clients through obstacles, and put them through the paces on long days. Finally, I took them to SE Utah, for the ultimate test of durability, North Wash! 

Durability: The Best On The Market.

The most unsuprising finding in this whole process is how durable this canyoning boot is. Living in Mallorca I have seen many 2nd or 3rd hand pairs  of Bestard Canyoning shoes floating around. I have heard tales of friends shoes  on their 3rd or 4th resole. When I went to the Bestard offices, their representatives spoke proudly of their tradition of quality, how unlike most modern shoe companies, Bestard shoes are designed at every step of the process to last several resoles. 

But Mallorca isn’t the North Wash. The North Wash is where gear goes to die. I was secretly looking forward to thrashing the Wildwater Pro’s in the desert and coming back to Mallorca with a pair of destroyed shoes as a point of pride. What I wasn’t prepared for was how well the Wildwater Pro’s would take the abuse.

I was worried that the riveted metal drainage plugs in the side of the shoe would grind against the canyon walls when walking in tight slots and quickly wear through the sidewall of the shoe. What I found was that the placement of the rivets was ideal, and they rarely touched!

cONCLUSION: 5 STARS!

Comfort: Multiple Variations For All Day Wear

As canyoneers we need a shoe that can be worn with a neoprene sock and without one depending on the canyon conditions. Also, some of us like to approach in our normal socks and then put on our neoprene socks just for the canyon. This can lead us to choose an oversized canyoning boot that we slop around in during the hike into the canyon, or an undersized canyoning boot that is too tight in the canyon with our neoprene socks on. 

Bestard has solved this problem with their removable insole combined with a “Poron” integrated insole. The double insole of Bestard canyoning boots means that you can wear the insole for the  hike in, then remove it and put it in your bag when you are canyoning. The Poron insole  is comfortable enough to be used all day. 

I was very comfortable in my Bestard Wildwater Pros. Whether I was  wearing normal socks with both insoles, or neoprene socks with only the “Poron” insole, these shoes provided all day comfort. 

Conclusion: 5 Stars!

Bestard Wildwater Pro edges with the best of them

Edging: A Rigid Shoe That Edges With The Best Of THEM.

The Wildwater Pro excels in edging. The toe and side of the shoe are very ridgid and pronounced, giving it a very firm connection to the rock, these canyoning boots do not feel smeary, or like your foot is rotating in the boot while you are edging, a common problem in some canyoning boots. I tested this out in wet and slimy limestone, slippery volcanic basalt, and soft and crumbly sandstone. I feel confident when edging, even on micro-edges that I wouldn’t feel confident on in other canyoning boots.

Conclusion: 5 Stars

sTEMMING: Suprisingly Grippy In Sandstone.

I will admit, when I was packing my bags to head to Utah I was very nervous to leave my normal canyoning boots behind. That nervousness stemmed from my worries about how the Wildwater Pro’s would handle stemming in North Wash and Robbers Roost. I am used to “Terrex” rubber, and I was nervous to see how the “Vibram Hydrogrip” would handle highstemming in sandstone. 

The results were  suprising. “Terrex” is still the King. The Hydrogrip is almost there, but when stemming, you feel that there is some small details lacking from the “Vibram” rubber. I am no materials scientist, but my observation is that the “Hydrogrip” is slightly too hard at the microlevel. With Terrex you get the feeling that the rubber molds itself to the sandstone to grip it almost like a lizard. With “Vibram Hydrogrip” you get close to that level of security, but you still have the sensation that the rubber is just pushing against rock, not molding itself to it.  

I felt more secure than I expected high stemming in Wildwater Pros. There were moments where I was putting high shear forces on the shoe and they held up wonderfully. Not the best connection in the world, but at the top of its class.

Conclusion: 4 Stars

Climbing and Smearing: An Area Of Weakness.

The lowest moment I experienced with the Wildwater Pros was climbing the exposed exit of Not Mindbender Canyon. Anyone who has climbed out that exit will remember the one smeary move. It is about 15 feet off the ground and only has a dimple for your hand to press against. I am an experienced climber who climbs in the 5.11 range. The “Vibram Hydrogrip” did the job, I made the move and the rubber held as I smeared with my right foot. But, it wasn’t as comfortable as I felt with other shoes. 

A shoe that is versatile and well suited for all canyoning conditions cannot be the best in class for every criteria. And this is  the category that I feel like the Wildwater Pro is the weakest. The question of grip is an interesting paradox. The shoe performed quite well smearing, but it didn’t feel like I had a solid connection to the rock. In an objective sense it functioned at a high level, but it doesn’t transmit that subjective feeling of confidence that it will do it’s job. The rubber is just a little too hard. 

Conclusion: 3.5 Stars

The riveted drainage system gives Bestard shoes the best drainage of any canyoning boot.

Drainage: Innovative, Best In Class Performance.

All Bestard Canyoning Boots come with an innovative drainage system that can only be found in Bestard boots. The side of the boots have riveted 2-sided metal drainage plugs. This drainage plug allows for instant drainage of the shoe. 

I was initially worried that these plugs would allow in lots of sand in Utah. The tiny, rounded, grains of sand get everywhere. So it made  sense  that they would get into my boots! I was pleasantly suprised to find that was not the case. My boots stayed sand free. 

I found this feature especially well suited to Utah canyons; where  you are entering and exiting ankle to shin high potholes over and over. The shoes  drained and kept my feet warm, avoiding the sloshing feeling common in other canyoning boots. 

Conclusion: 5+ Stars

The Mt. Rainier Canyoning Expedition is our 3 day canyoning adventure
Waterfalls are cool.

Warmth: Great Drainage Does Not Make For Warm Shoes!

The great drainage of the Wildwater Pros is their greatest weakness when it comes to warmth. Because the shoe is constantly flushing there is no opportunity to warm up the water inside your boot. This isn’t an issue in most canyons. You don’t spend all day immersed in water in most canyons. 

However, this is a real issue in PNW canyons, where you can spend hours standing in cold glacier-melt water. I haven’t yet taken these shoes to the  PNW, but according to experienced PNW canyoners with high level knowledge using many different types of canyoning boot, they are noticeably colder. 

I  suggest that you wear a wool sock under your neoprene boot in PNW canyons in order to keep your foot warm and toasty.

Conclusion: 4 sTARS

Wild Sky Guides: Professional Adventure Guides.
Buy once, cry once. The money is worth it for a shoe that will take you to places like this for years and years.

Value: A Shoe That Will Last You For Years And Perform At A High Level In All Different Types Of Canyons.

As a canyoning guide I have become accustomed to churning through 1-2 pairs of canyoneering boots a year. The Bestard Wildwater Pro may be the shoe that breaks this cycle. I have been very impressed by this shoe and it’s ability to perform at a high level in all the different locations where I guide. It’s a shoe that is at home in Mallorcan Limestone as it is in North Wash sandstone. Bestard has durability built into their DNA. The build quality of this shoe is so impressive that it is in a class of its own. It evokes a bygone era where boots were designed to be taken to cobblers and resoled and repaired every couple of years. The fact that there is a vibrant market for cobblers in Mallorca, where Bestard shoes are very common, speaks to this value. 

When I take my climbing shoes to get resoled at my favorite shop in Mallorca there are always many pairs of resoled Bestard shoes in the rack of finished work. 

Conclusion: In A League Of Their Own.

Recommendation: Wildsky Guides Endorsed - Best All-Around Shoe On The Market.

I came into this experience wanting to like Bestard shoes. I am an American living in Mallorca. Bestard is a Mallorcan company who lives up to a set of extremely admirable values; they provide good jobs to local artesans. They haven’t outsourced their manufacturing to Sweatshops in order to compete in the global market. They have durability and “resoling” built into their company DNA, it is a priority at every level of their  processes. But first, I needed to be sure that the Wildwater Pro could perform. 

I am very happy to say that the Bestard Wildwater Pro exceeded my expectations. This is my honest evaluation of  this shoe, and I am proud to endorse it as the most versatile canyoning shoe I have  ever used.

Where Can You Buy Them?

Bestard is not a common shoe sold in the USA. From what I can tell Adventure Plus out of St. George is the best place to buy these shoes.

You Can Buy The Wildwater Pro On The Adventure Plus Online Store!

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