Cedar Rapids LIghtweight Mesh Hiking Shoe
Travis Smola

Gear Review: Northside Cedar Rapids Lightweight Mesh Hiking Shoes

The Cedar Rapids lightweight mesh shoe is a great versatile summer footwear option.

The fourth of July may have just ended, but that does not mean the end of summer fun. The weather is likely to stay hot for a few more months and that means more activities in both the woods and on the water. I recently got the chance to test a pair of lightweight mesh hiking shoes that have become a key part of my summer fun.

Introducing the Northside Cedar Rapids lightweight mesh slip-on shoes. These have quickly become my go-to casual shoes for almost all my outdoor sports activities, be that fishing, hiking, or even swimming.

I never would have guessed such a simple pair of footwear could provide such a secure fit and comfort. After a few months of use, I may have a new summer favorite.

Versatility perfect for summer fun.

Cedar Rapids Lightweight Mesh Hiking Shoe

Travis Smola

These shoes first caught my eye simply because I had been looking for a new pair of water shoes for my boating and kayaking adventures in the summer. I already have some experience with Northside's work boots and hunting boots and have found them to be of solid quality. The interesting thing about the Cedar Rapids is the fact the company advertises this not just as a quick-drying water option, but as an all-terrain hiking option.

These shoes have a perforated eva insole with a mesh cover. They are extremely breathable, and it makes them a great option for wading or swimming. Most water shoes I have used in the past always felt kind of flat, and with little support. The Cedar Rapids is different thanks to the rubber outsole. Not only does it provide decent traction and grip on a variety of surfaces, it also makes this footwear feel more like running shoes or loafers than a lightweight summer option.

While the shoes are not quite as comfortable as a heavy duty pair of waterproof hiking boots, I have been surprised at how comfortable that air mesh upper is with these. I started rucking to lose weight back in March. More recently my three-mile-a-day hikes have been with the Cedar Rapids. It is simply amazing how well these shoes handle the extra 30+ pounds on my back each hike. My hikes have been on pavement, hard-packed dirt, gravel, and even mud. These shoes have handled it all with ease, even when going up and down difficult trails and terrain. I have even done a little jogging in them. Not once have I felt it the next day. I honestly cannot say that about some hiker boots.

Cedar Rapids Lightweight Mesh Hiking Shoe

Travis Smola

More recently, I have taken them swimming. I tend not to go barefoot these days when swimming or wading simply because you never know what is on a river or lake bottom. It just gives a little piece of mind to know my feet are protected from broken glass, fish hooks, and countless other hazards that may be waiting on the bottom. The comfortable footbed helps to provide such a great cushion in places like Lake Michigan, where sharp rocks on the bottom are most unpleasant to walk over to get to the sandy areas just off the beach. Northside built in an embossed PVC soft toe and heel counter to help provide a little more peace of mind in that regard. So far, they are holding up extremely well to all the abuse I've dished out already.

You could probably consider these athletic shoes in some regard. For me, they are turning out to be the ultimate camping shoes. Especially if you are staying at modern campgrounds. Take them hiking in the morning, down to the beach to cool off in the afternoon, and to the showers in the evening. These shoes have no lacing, opting instead for a quick elastic cord. It is so nice to just throw these on quickly before or after a hike with no lace-up required.

The bottom line.

Cedar Rapids Lightweight Mesh Hiking Shoe

Travis Smola

The Northside Cedar Rapids may be my new favorite summer shoe. I continually find myself picking them over all the other footwear I own. In warm weather, they are just so convenient to slip on and off for a quick hike, or to take down to the river for a quick swim. And at the end of the day, just throw them in the sun for a few hours and they will soon be bone dry and ready to go for your next adventure. If you own a lake house, you will love these shoes. The fact that they are only $55 is another huge plus. That price point means they can fit into just about any outdoor lover's budget this year.

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For more outdoor content from Travis Smola, be sure to follow him on Twitter and check out his Geocaching and Outdoors with Travis YouTube channels