TOP PICK: THE SUPER SOAKER
Nike Air Zoom Orizaba
From the mountains to Central Park, this shoe says "Let it rain"
PORT AUTHORITY: Athletic shoes built around waterproof "booties" can get muggy in humid climes. The hydrophilic Orizaba lets the wet stuff in—and ushers it out—via four mesh ports. Two minutes after crossing a brook, my dogs were nice and cool, and well on their way to dry. HYDRO CYCLE: Those screened ports—sited at the arch and forefoot, on both sides of the shoe—rely on the natural movement of your stride to move water like a hand pump. Post-stream-crossing, I could actually feel my feet squeezing the agua out. GET A GRIP: The Orizaba's low-profile, square-pegged tread is deceptively effective on wet rocks. At the prompting of Nike's own adventure-racing team, the Swoosh molded the outsole from its stickiest house-brand rubber—the same stuff you find on climbing and approach shoes. OFF THE CUFF: If your trail runs take you through gravel and scree, a pair of gaiters will keep the grit out. The Orizaba's three-point gaiter attachments will accommodate just about any aftermarket nylon cuff. Clip one on and tear it up.
»1. Puma Complete Thiella XCR II
This flashy Gore-Tex trail shoe had a lighter, more anatomical feel to it than some of the other, more bootlike water runners; it was snug and quick but still kept the wet stuff out. $100; www.puma.com
»2. Merrell Full Pursuit Gore-Tex XCR
The Gore-Tex on this Merrell will keep water out, and if your feet sweat a little, the nylon lining on the inside of the shoe will help wick that moisture away. $120; www.merrell.com
»3. Salomon XA Pro 2 XCR
Even after dashing through shallow streams, I could not break the Salomon's seal—this shoe stayed light and dry all the way down to its water-resistant Kevlar laces. $120; www.salomonsports.com