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I'm weirdly really into these 'Crocs gone wild' shoes

Sure they're ugly, but are they comfortable?

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The first thing that comes to mind when I think “ugly shoe” is a pair of Crocs. The second thing is a pair of Hydro Mocs by Merrell, followed by the thought, Put them on my feet, please.

I’m a huge fan of ugly, chunky, and/or oversized footwear—and these are no exception. The two shoes have been unofficially going toe-to-toe since the latter’s debut, due to their similarities in style, foam material, and plethora of drainage holes. But how do they compare? I bought one pair of navy Crocs clogs and one pair of green Merrell Hydro Mocs to compare the two. After wearing each for weeks, I found a clear winner.

What are Crocs Clogs?

hand holding navy Crocs
Credit: Reviewed / Kevin Cortez

The timeless and simple "ugly" shoe.

Crocs is an American company that began selling foam clogs in 2002 and has since snowballed into a global phenomenon. The Classic Clog is the brand’s number one product, with nearly 225,000 rave reviews on Amazon. The shoes have become a ubiquitous item in fashion, so much so that we don’t refer to them as Crocs Clogs—we simply just call them Crocs. Love them or hate them, the clogs have become one of the “it” shoes of the last year. Celebrities Ariana Grande Post Malone, and Questlove adore the clog, and others like Justin Bieber, Luke Combs, and Bad Bunny have released sell-out collabs with the brand. Retailers Chinatown Market, Balenciaga, and, um, even KFC, have followed suit with their own takes on Crocs.

What are Merrell Hydro Mocs?

hand holding green Hydro Moc
Credit: Reviewed / Kevin Cortez

The Hydro Moc looks unlike any other shoe.

Merrell is a brand that caters to outdoor footwear and hiking apparel. While you may know it for its Moab (Mother Of A Boots) hiking shoes, its Hydro Moc became a superhit during the pandemic when the New York Times covered it in their story, “Weird Times Call for Weirder Shoes,” and deemed it “a Croc gone wild” fit for at-home use. The Hydro Moc was first introduced by Merrell as a water shoe—quick-drying footwear for safeguarding feet during activities like kayaking and hiking—but has since been embraced as somewhat of a streetwear icon. Hydro Mocs are much newer than Crocs—introduced in 2019—and look like a more extreme version of the clog. There are also rumors that they inspired Kanye West’s much-hyped about (and even weirder looking) Yeezy Foam Runner.

How are Crocs and Merrell Hydro Moc similar?

man standing in pair of navy Crocs, man standing in pair of green Hydro Mocs
Credit: Reviewed / Kevin Cortez

Both shoes are versatile and pair well with a variety of outfits.

Both shoes are lightweight and fit for water activities. The large holes on both Crocs and Hydro Mocs provide plenty of drainage, and I found both pairs to be useful when watering plants in my backyard. While they’re easily washable with soap and water, I didn’t notice any significant odor with either pair. Functionally, they’re solid water shoes that serve well in wet environments.

But really, neither shoe is favored for its sporting qualities so much as its reputation for being “ugly” yet comfortable lifestyle shoes. Crocs and Hydro Mocs are everyday footwear that feel just as great for lounging at home as they do running errands.

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Hydro Mocs are made from EVA (Ethylene-vinyl acetate), while Crocs are made from an exclusive material called “Croclite,” a type of patented foam resin. They’re similar in touch and feel and have a rubber-like sponginess to them. Walking in Crocs or Hydro Mocs is like walking on a playground with foam flooring—there’s sufficient shock absorption along with a pleasant springiness.

Both shoes offer a roomy fit, ideal for people with wide feet. I usually wear a size 11.5 in men’s sneakers, but I had to size down half a size on both to achieve a comfortably snug fit. Each shoe also has optional back straps to help hold your foot in place.

Which shoe is more comfortable?

In my experience, Hydro Mocs are the better all-around performer. The oversized heel on the Hydro Moc makes walking enjoyable, as every step has a better spring to it. The shoe has solid arch support and air circulation, and is comfortable enough for all-day wear. The foam backing, however, requires breaking in, and wearing these straight out of the box can be quite painful. During my first week of wear around the house, the foam scraped the back of my ankle—not enough to bleed, but enough to annoy me. (I found socks to protect against this.) The Hydro Moc’s oversized toe box curves toward the sky, which elevates toes upward. This flattens out as you wear them, but it may be off-putting at first, as it was for me. That said, once you get past the first few days, the Hydro Mocs are quite enjoyable to wear.

Crocs, on the other hand, didn't impress me as much. While I find them suitable as something to wear when running errands, stepping outside, or lounging around the house, the clogs feel unsupportive for longer use. The clog has a flat footbed, which gave me little arch support and virtually no cushioning for my heels. Meanwhile, because the Crocs' drainage holes are lower to the ground than those on Hydro Mocs, it's annoying to walk over sand or dirt without grains invading the shoes. My eventual solution to both of these issues was to wear socks with Crocs, for extra cushioning and guarding against debris. But unfortunately, that also reduces the air circulation for my feet to breathe inside the plastic shoes.

Should you buy Crocs or Hydro Mocs?

pair of green Hydro Mocs by Merrell, pair of navy blue Crocs Clogs
Credit: Reviewed / Kevin Cortez

Both shoes offer their own set of unique features.

It depends on what you’re seeking in an “ugly” lifestyle shoe, but my vote goes to the Hydro Moc. It has the arch support I need for all-day wear, and it’s suitable for any activity, from hiking to grocery store runs. Just brace yourself for the break-in period. The Hydro Moc is available in both regular and wide men’s whole sizes 7 to 15 and women’s whole sizes 5 to 11 and in a variety of colors, from tie-dye to black and white. At $50 per pair, they’re worth it in my book.

However, if Hydro Mocs are a little too funky for you, Crocs are a great alternative. While I didn’t find them as comfortable as the Hydro Moc, Crocs are simpler and sleeker in appearance. They’re lighter and easier to slide on and off and, for better or for worse, are an American icon. Reviewed's style editor, Amanda Tarlton, is a huge Crocs fan. Crocs come in men’s whole and half sizes 4 to 13 and women’s whole and half sizes 6 to 12. They're sold in more than 20 colors and, like the Hydro Mocs, cost $50 per pair.

Get the Hydro Mocs from Merrell for $50

Get the Classic Clogs from Crocs for $50

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Prices were accurate at the time this article was published but may change over time.

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