The Amphib Bold 2 sneakers from Salomon are stylish, protective, versatile and quick-draining hybrid shoes for use on land and water. They look the business and perform well when worn for paddling pursuits in warmer months.
Best known for high-end running and trail-orientated footwear, fleet-footed French brand Salomon have gone off on a bit of a tangent with the Amphib Bold shoes, which are designed to offer good performance on the water as well as on dry land.
Over the last few months, I have been testing the second edition of the model – the fine-looking Amphib Bold 2 – during various paddling escapades and coastal capers, to see how amphibious they really are.
Can a piece of footwear that looks so much like a pair of running shoes actually cut it when compared to some of the best kayaking shoes out there?
Note: We may earn a commission when you buy through links on our site, at no extra cost to you. This doesn’t affect our editorial independence.
Salomon Amphib Bold 2 look and feel
With an enclosed upper, quick-pull laces, a reasonably substantial midsole and a highly featured Contragrip outsole, the handsome Amphib Bold 2 definitely looks and feels more like sneakers or trainers than shoes you should be wearing while splashing around in rivers and on beaches.
Closer inspection reveals a slightly different story, however, especially in relation to the upper, which is mostly made from quick-draining, non-absorbent mesh.
Some users and reviewers complained about experiencing next-to-skin discomfort with this material when wearing the original Amphib Bolds, but the new version has a half-sock soft-feel inner that runs around the heel and then seamlessly segues into the tongue, which is much more comfortable against the top of your feet than the mesh would be.
I didn’t find them uncomfortable while wearing them on the water or on terra firma.
In terms of the feel and composition of the midsole, and the performance of the outsole, these shoes do work perfectly well as lightweight runners or rock-hoppers – I wouldn’t choose to wear them for a standard trail run, but I certainly found them good for SwimRun style adventures.
They’re also genuinely good looking shoes, which isn’t often the case with footwear designed for use in and around the water. Once you have finished paddling and exploring it’s perfectly possible to wear the Amphib Bold 2 water sneakers to a beach bar or restaurant in most places, without raising any eyebrows or heckles.
Salomon Amphib Bold 2 design and materials
The chassis of these shoes might enclose the entire foot, but it is made almost entirely of loose-knit, non-absorbent/quick-drying synthetic mesh, designed to let water in and out very quickly.
The soft heel is made to fold down, so you can quickly slide your feet into the shoe and wear them like clogs or Crocs (although I don’t suggest wearing them like this while you’re actually out on the water, lest you lose them to the deep).
The Amphib Bold 2 water sneakers can be securely tightened via a quick-lace system that passes through six stitched eyelets, and there’s an elastic strip at the bottom to place the toggle through, keeping things nice and tidy and preventing a loose loop from flapping around and potentially catching on things.
The midsole is less substantial than you will find on Salomon’s all-out running shoes, but it certainly supplies some underfoot cushioning, and also significant protection from potential puncture wounds.
The outsole, too, is less aggressive than more trail-orientated shoes, but it still features a Contragrip design with little rubber lugs arranged to provide good traction when you’re standing on slippery rocks or launching from a slimy slipway or pontoon.
Ideal for non-technical, warm-weather paddling adventures – such as sit-on-top kayaking escapade and SUP sessions – this sneaker-style amphibious shoe is impressively versatile. The lightweight, synthetic mesh upper is extremely breathable, as well as being quick to drain and fast drying.
They’re easy enough to put on – you can either squeeze your entire foot in and use the Quicklace system to secure the shoe, or you can just push the soft heel down and wear them loose and clog style. A pull loop on the rear would make putting them quicker to put on, but this would impact the collapsible heel.
The Contragrip outsole provides perfectly good protection from potential puncture threats on the floor (from sharp sticks, stones and other nasties), and also supplies good grip, even on very slippery surfaces.
On the downside, the partial sock inner and semi-integrated tongue doesn’t attach to the main mesh chassis (or, if it once did, it has subsequently separated on my test pair), which looks a little untidy and unfinished, and also lets sand, grit and small pebbles into the shoe, causing irritation and impacting comfort.
I’m not completely convinced that the materials will put up with too much rough treatment either, so I suspect this shoe might have a lifespan of perhaps two summer seasons if used heavily.
Also, there is no real toecap to protect your pinkies from stubbing injuries (often sustained in the murky shallows during put-in and take-out). The Amphib Bold 2 doesn’t really offer any thermal protection either, so it’s only really well-suited for use during the warmer months.
But as a versatile water shoe fit for a wide range of aquatic activities, it’s a decent choice.
The smart design and materials used mean the Amphib Bold 2 is a truly amphibious pair of shoes that perform almost as well in water (and in a boat or on a board) as they do on dry land.
This sneaker looks great, and with a reasonably cushioned midsole it also works as a basic running shoe (as you might expect from Salomon) or casual piece of footwear, so you can get straight off the water and hit the coastal trails or beach bar without breaking step.
Whether you’re kayaking, canoeing, SUPing or cantering around coastal paths and scrambling on sea cliffs, the Amphib Bolds will serve your feet well during the warmer months.
As a hybrid shoe, it’s inevitably not quite as high-performing on the water as kayak-specific footwear such as the Palm Rocks, but all the vital ingredients for a fair-weather paddling shoe are present here, from underfoot protection and grippy outsoles through to an upper chassis made from mesh that drains and dries quickly.
And these are not simply utilitarian hoofs for splashing and running around in – alongside all the fantastic functionality, there is a level of sophistication and style to the Amphib Bold 2 water sneakers that’s absent from the vast majority of aqua shoes.
The Amphib Bold 2 definitely works as a hybrid water shoe and sneaker – although serious paddlers and runners will both need to make some compromises in terms of their performance expectations. In reality, like most multifunctional pieces of kit, it hits the sweet spot when you’re engaged in activities that involve a bit of on-water time interspersed with some on-land action – whether that’s a paddle with lots of portages or a long walk to and from the put-in / take-out, or a multi-stage adventure race or Swim/Run event, or just a day at the beach with a stand-up paddleboard.