The Ugly Shoe Of The Year Award 2024 The Ugly Shoe Of The Year Award 2024

The Ugly Shoe Of The Year Award 2024

It’s that time folks. We’re going to hand out the prestigious Ugly Shoe Of The Year Award for 2024.

Ok, look, that’s not a thing. At least we don’t think it is. But it should be.

And here at The Rock Fight, we’re already prepped to present the winner. I mean, there’s no contest.

There have been plenty of ugly shoes that have succeeded in the past because while they may not have been lookers, they served a real purpose.

Some shoes come out of the gate looking weird but win our hearts because they truly make our lives better.

And then there are those that straight up look bad and leave us all wondering simply… why?

Now, before we get to the main event, let’s take a walk down memory lane and revisit a few of the standout contenders from the past.

Weird but wonderful

First, we have to pay homage to some of the oddballs that have earned their stripes in the footwear hall of fame. I’m talking about brands like Vibram FiveFingers, Hoka, and Altra. These shoes were downright weird when they first hit the scene, but they had a clear and convincing story behind them.

Back in 2009, you couldn’t walk into a running store without seeing a pair of Vibram FiveFingers.

They looked like gloves for your feet. People clowned on them, but for those who wanted to run barefoot while protecting their toes from sharp objects, these shoes were a godsend.

Then there was Hoka, with their over-the-top, thick-soled shoes that looked like something from a Spice Girls video.

Again, people snickered, but then they tried them, and BAM! Those rocking horse-sized soles were life savers for runners with bad knees.

Altra came along with their foot-shaped toe boxes, helping countless runners avoid black toenails and other foot issues.


Sure. But their design made running more comfortable and enjoyable.

When Ugly Becomes a Blockbuster

But then, you’ve got brands that just go for it with bizarre designs and come out on top.

Crocs, for example.

Remember when Crocs first hit the shelves? Everyone thought they were hideous. They looked like rubber clogs with holes in them. Now, they’re everywhere, and everyone from nurses to grandmas to kids loves ’em.

It just goes to show, sometimes ugly can capture the hearts and soles (sic) of people everywhere.

And Then There Are the Mistakes…

But not every ugly shoe has a fairy tale ending. Some are just… mistakes.

They lack purpose or a compelling story, and they leave us scratching our heads, wondering what went wrong.

Take the latest ugly entrant from adidas, for instance. This new sandal-sneaker hybrid came out looking like it time-travelled from a poor 1994 design that should have stayed in the past.

It’s a shoe with designed holes, clearly intended to be a sandal, yet it’s not comfortable or useful enough to make anyone say, “Yes, I need these in my life.”

Add a bungee cord wrapping around the whole thing for no good reason, and you’ve got yourself a shoe that’s asking for ridicule.

And the Winner Is…

Drum roll, please!

The prestigious Ugliest Shoe of 2024 goes to none other than the Merrell 1TRL HydroMoc AT GTX XYZ 77.

Yeah, try saying that five times fast.

This shoe is a mishmash of bad ideas and poor execution.

Picture this: Merrell took their normal HydroMoc, essentially a knock-off of Crocs, and added a Gore-Tex liner to it.

Yes, you read that right—a waterproof liner inside a shoe filled with holes. It’s like putting a screen door on a submarine.

What’s even wilder is that this Frankenstein creation costs a whopping $250.

Talk about a non-solution searching for a problem!

The Nightmare of No Purpose

This shoe is the epitome of trying too hard without a clear mission.

At least FiveFingers were trying to give you a natural running experience.

Hokas were trying to save the knees of older runners.

Even Crocs were aiming for comfort in an easy-to-clean package.

But the Merrell-Burton collab? This thing is just a disaster.

Sure, they talk a big game on their website about innovation and the future of outdoor expansion, but come on.

A waterproof liner in a hole-filled shoe?

It’s a non-solution searching for a problem to solve. That’s not innovation; that’s wasting resources.

Lessons Learned

So, what’s our takeaway from this?

Brands need a balance between innovation and practicality.

We get it; you’re trying to stand out, but at some point, you’ve got to ask yourself, “Does this shoe solve an actual problem?” If the answer is no, it’s back to the drawing board.

Brands get so stuck on trying to crack the next big thing that they forget to make the stuff they already have better. Imagine if all that brainpower went into refining good shoes instead of pumping out gimmicky ones.

The outdoor gear world would be a lot more advanced—and stylish—for it.

The Wild Card Factor

But hey, you never really know what’s going to catch on. Crocs proved that ugly can be beautiful if it ticks the right boxes. Yet, betting on something like that is risky business. Could the Merrell HydroMoc thing catch on with, say, the Mad Max cosplay community?

Who knows?

But for now, let’s just call it what it is: the ugliest shoe of 2024.

Your Thoughts

I’d love to hear what you think.

Got a contender for the ugliest shoe?

Do you think I was too harsh on Merrell?

Let me know your thoughts and pick your own fight by sending an email to

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Until next time, keep those ugly shoes out of your closet and on our radar.